Thursday, December 11, 2008

What?! (Rick Warren on Hannity & Colmes)

I haven't taken the time to read any of Warren's books. Were I a pastor, I'd have the time, and would feel obliged. As it is, neither is the case.

I did once read an extensive interview with him in which Warren insisted he was totally Reformed and Calvinistic. But I've seen some pretty wretched quotations from him, along with a few decent ones.

Warren was shilling a new Christmas book on Hannity and Colmes. Colmes, evidently a graduate of the Larry King One-Note School of Interviewing Christians, elicited one example of each. To wit:
COLMES: ...But if you don't accept Jesus, if you're not something who goes that route religiously...


COLMES: ... can you find your way to heaven? Can you still be — go to the same place when it's all said and done?

WARREN: I'm not the authority on that, but I believe Jesus is. And everybody's betting their life on something. Jesus said, "I am the way." I'm betting that he's not a liar. I'm betting that he told the truth.
That's really not bad, unless you want to quibble with the use of "bet." Warren's stand with Christ, unabashedly. He's putting the weight where it should be: on Jesus and His Word.

But... in the very next exchange:
COLMES: What about — what does it say for all those people who do not accept Christ as their personal savior?

WARREN: I'm saying that this is the perfect time to open their life, to give it a chance. I'd say give him a 60-day trial.


COLMES: Like the Book of the Month Club.

WARREN: Give him a trial. See if he'll change your life. I dare you to try trusting Jesus for 60 days. Or your money guaranteed back.

COLMES: Really? You're going to give me the money back?

WARREN: Absolutely.
Oh boy.

You know, if somehow, some bizarre and inconceivable way, I had come up with this as a method to challenge people with the claims of Christ... the moment this rank unbeliever says "Like the Book of the Month Club," I think I'd be wondering if it was such a good idea after all. "Special Offer Jesus: Just Like the BoM Club!" No, no no no.

That interview fits right in with my impression of Warren: a mix. He says some good things about war, peace, conflict, human nature. But it's sugar-coated and watered down. And the exchange above pretty well mars the whole.

I think he went wrong just before the portion I quoted. It was here:
COLMES: Well, what about those people who don't — you know, I happen to be Jewish. Not everybody — and Jesus, by the way, I have a lot in common with. Same religion.

WARREN: Absolutely.

COLMES: So not everybody necessarily goes that route.
"Absolutely" was the wrong answer.

I think it would have been better to respond with questions. Something like this:
You are? Honestly, I had no idea. So you take the entire Torah as being the very words of God, binding on your conscience and life? You know yourself to be guilty and condemned before God, without a hope of forgiveness unless an innocent victim dies a bloody death in your behalf? You expect God to send a redeemer who would be born of the line of David, of a virgin, in Bethlehem, before the fall of Jerusalem; who would die as an atoning sacrifice for His people's sins? Who would rise from the grave? Who one day would rule over the universe? And you believe that any Jew who rejects Him is under the judgment of God? Because, you know, I got all that from the Torah, which I think should define Jewish religion, as the whole Bible should define Christian religion.
But no, Warren, wanting to be liked and sell books, allowed himself to be put on the defensive. The Gospel ended up in the same position.



JackW said...

I've read PDLife and PDChurch and let me assure you, you can save your money. Total milk, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't cherry pick verses and even versions of verses out of context to make his points.

The only reason I can see why people might like him so much is that he seems harmless enough.

DJP said...

Well, that's fairly damning in itself. Were I a pastor, and anyone's verdict of my ministry was "seems harmless enough," I'd feel obliged to go back to the furnace and re-stoke the coals.

JOYce ♥ said...

Rabbit trail warning ~ Fox News and Rick Warren is over the cliff of ad nauseum

CR said...

I'm so glad I missed H&C last night. I usually don't have time for it anyway. I can't think of more terrible responses from a pastor than ones offered by Rick Warren.

Rick Warren has always been a little bit of an enigma. He's done a few Christmas specials on Fox News Channel. He's talked about Christ, sin and Hell. You heard me correctly.

Then he writes stuff like Purpose Driven Life (???). I don't go to his church or listen to his messages, but I wonder what he talks about weekly. He does a lot of stuff with AIDS work and the poor. This is great, we should be doing more of that stuff - question is, as he's doing that, does he preach Hell? I've heard him preach it on the FNC specials. Does he preach it in his Sunday sermons or his ministries for the poor and AIDS.

But then again, let's say he does that. Should he be doing that if he is a pastor? Christians should and must perform deeds of mercy, but is that the job of the pastor? It would appear the answer to that question we have from the example of Scriptures is - No. And therefore, notwithstanding his terrible work of PDL, despite his great deeds of mercy, is setting a poor example. His congregants should be doing more of the deeds of mercy (and proclaiming the gospel along the way), not him.

The Doulos said...

"Try Jesus for 60 days." Doesn't sound much like the Gospel I read proclaimed by Paul, Peter, Jesus Himself or anyone else in the Bible. I expounded on this theme the other day over at my blog.

CR said...

Yeah, it's pretty shameful Doulous. The gospel is not some diet plan.

LeeC said...

Weigh Jesus in the balance and if you find Him wanting....


Wow, when the real judgement comes and THE judge of all asks some poor soul why he/she should be spared judgement and they say "Well Lord, one of your shepherds told me to judge your Son and see if I liked what I saw and I didn't at the time so I went back to what I was doing. He didn't make it sound like a big deal or anything, just 'try and see'..."

Oh my.

Kim said...

Oh my.

I think the reason people like him is because he seems to promote the "I'm okay; you're okay" philosophy.

Kristine said...

Pity, indeed. >>shakes her head, and breathes a heavy sigh of bewilderment<<

Rita Martinez said...

"I think it would have been better to respond with questions. Something like this:
You are? Honestly, I had no idea. So you take the entire Torah as being the very words of God, binding on your conscience and life?..."
seriously? Mr. Phillips you ask too much of this man.
He's the man who in his last book said that "When the Romans nailed Jesus to a cross, they stretched his arms as wide as they could. With his arms wide open, Jesus was physically demonstrating, “I love you this much! I love you so much it hurts! I’d rather die than live without you!” The next time you see a picture or statue of Jesus with outstretched arms on the cross, remember, he is saying ‘I love you this much!’”"

DJP said...

I'm saying that would have been better than the answer he gave.

But Rita, are you serious? Did Warren actually say that?

Rita Martinez said...

Yup he did, here's the link to Challies' review on his las book titled The Purpose of Christmas:

DJP said...

Oh my. Challies, eh? Never would have seen it. I'll take a look.

DJP said...

Oh, mercy, Rita. I don't know whether you heard my last sermon, but I actually took off after that very statement, not knowing Warren had just made it.

professorpolisci said...

The PD line of books, tapes, and CD's is pure garbage as JackW says. It is moralistic milquetoast. Steve Camp already took RW to task on this interview, going so far as to question whether he is truly Christian. Mark Dever strongly criticized PDL a few years back. Christians would do well to run from RW's version of christianity-lite.

DJP said...


Are you Rob Mellen, Jr.?

Yes or no, please.

Gilbert said...


Last paragraph.

And "Pity." is not how I would have put it. You were much more cordial than I.

ThirstyDavid said...

I was going to say something about how I would not have said "pity," either, but rather something that rhymes with it, but I'm a gentleman, so I won't. I also would not have said the gospel was put on the defensive. I would say it was thrown in the trash. Why does he always--always--do that? Every time MacArthur gets a national audience, he goes straight to the gospel, and proclaims it clearly. Warren just obscures it, and gives every indication that he's actually ashamed of it. Or maybe he really doesn't understand it. If the best he can do is the Message version of Pascal's Wager, I really wonder.

Michelle said...

This man plays fast and loose with scripture in his books and preaches a "gospel-lite" that is a cheap, man-centred substitute for the truth. His influence is not pitiful, it is downright dangerous. Thankfully it has been discussed and exposed in depth over the past five years or so.

NoLongerBlind said...

Rick W. thinks pretty highly of himself.
In his book, "The Purpose Driven Church", he states something along the lines of "I can lead anyone to Christ if I find the key to that person's heart."

That would rank him up there with the greatest evangelists of all time; no, wait a minute, that would actually rank him atop the list!

jmb said...

Dan, did you mean "Torah," The Five Books of Moses, or the entire Old Testament, called in Hebrew "Tanakh"?

CR said...

One last thing, some of my co-workers about 4 years ago (actually one worker in my department and another lady in my company) tried going through the PDL with my former director in my department who was not a professing Christian. That fizzled pretty quickly. If anyone is thinking about something for a BDL (Biblically Driven Life) and want to introduce the gospel to others over several weeks, Christianity Explored is a good series. It takes you through the gospel of Mark. Anyone can do a google search and find more information.

I've been thinking about starting something like that at my work but I'm a terrible speaker and a much better writer and plus I'm a born follower, not a leader. So, we'll see.

JackW said...

CR ... a "born follower" is just the type of leader the Lord is looking for.

Chris Ross said...
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DJP said...

Oh, rats, I'll have to take back that place where I said Warren is the Devil!

{ looking.... }

{ looking.... }

{ looking.... }

texscot said...
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texscot said...
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Rita Martinez said...

"I don't know whether you heard my last sermon..." i did, it was an excellent sermon! :)

As for Warren all I can say is Lord have mercy!.

Chris seriously?

texscot said...
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JackW said...

See Dan, he's just harmless ... like the bumpersticker says, "Try Jesus, if you don't like him, the Devil will take you back."


DJP said...

Well, Chris... Tex... whatever — how about if you back 'WAY up, and start by talking about what I actually did discuss in the post, and not what I didn't discuss? Let's start there.

Rita Martinez said...

I actually have read PDL, a catholic friend gave it to me as a gift soon after I was saved. I didn't think it was that good, but I couldn't put my finger on why. During that time I was beginning to read the bible so I wouldn't have noticed is use of different translations, I didn't even know there were different translations back then.

RT said...

Wow, "even much more orthodox than Schuller"! Is this like saying the Sahara is drier than the Mojave? Just how far down the road to Perdition do you have to go before such comparisons are meaningless?

Michelle said...

Oh boy, this subject touches a nerve for me. We went through an annus horribilis in a Southern Baptist church when we spoke up and said we couldn't in good conscience participate in their "40 Days of Purpose".

It doesn't surprise me that Rick Warren can recommend that someone "try Jesus" for 60 days. In the gospel-according-to-Warren, man's biggest problem is not his sinfulness, it's his lack of purpose.

False teaching will always come with some truth in the mix. Satan masquerades as an angel of light.

Rachael Starke said...

We hear a lot about the dangers of Nike Christianity - as in, "Just Do It."

But I call Rick Warren's approach Mikey Christianity - as in, Mikey from the old Life cereal commericals.

"Try it, you'll like it!Heeeey, Mikey likes it!."


OTOH, I can't help thinking back to the Presidential Forum thing he did during the election. I thought it would be a diasaster, but in hindsight it was way more revealing and helpful than the ridiculous excuses for debates. It made me wish he'd do stuff like that fulltime instead.

texscot said...
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CR said...

Texscot: Dan, to answer your question, you began by admitting you hadn't read any of Warren's books, but had heard some 'wretched quotations from him'. Which ones?

We do have this interview that he did on H&C. What do you think of how Warren answered Colmes' questions and what do you think of how he should have answered it, that Dan suggested.

Texscot: Is it possible that Warren is a brother who ACTUALLY wants to see people saved, and errs by going too far in the direction of pragmatism to do so? Might we cut him some slack?

Maybe if Warren was a new professing Christian for a few weeks, I think we might "cut him some slack." But he is a shepherd! And he says people should give Jesus "a try for sixty days?!"

Texscot: (Maybe there's some key quotation I haven't seen that would be the clencher, and then I'd feel full liberty to bash Warren too, but I haven't seen it yet.)

Did you read the quote on this meta on the H&C interview?

Dan said...

Dan, excellent summary of what a Jew is "suppose" to believe! Why... Why cant guys who get on TV just defend what they claim they believe? I get so sick of all the capitulation. I mean sick!
I saw this video the other day but your response that should have been given in classic!

texscot said...

CR, I think Warren's 'Try Jesus for 60 days" was odd at its worst. I do have issues with some of the things he has said and done; I just don't think it warrants the criticism voiced here. I've removed my comments and have taken up my concerns with Mr. Phillips personally. I don't want to foment any more argumentation, and I fear I am. Let's just agree to disagree.

CR said...

I was listening to one of the recorded messages preached from Lloyd-Jones today. (Man, WHAT a preacher!)

Contrast Warren's response of giving Jesus a 60 day trial to Lloyd-Jones message of "Nothing short of the power of the gospel will make you a Christian." The contrast makes what Warren said, as scandalous.

texscot said...

CR, to which I would posit, maybe there's a place for both Warren and Lloyd-Jones in the body of Christ. Each has different gifts, different personalities, different ministries. Vive la difference.

Michelle said...

Texscot, are you serious? Not sure if I should laugh or cry.

tck said...

This story even made the Christian Newspaper "Dagenmagazinet" in Norway.

.. the dreadful part? The person who wrote about Mr. Warren's interview concluded that the gospel presentation was radical and uncompromised.

I tend to disagree with that.

texscot said...

Warren has just done an interview with Steven Waldman at Beliefnet. Link:

I would suggest to folks that they read his book for themselves, and read about what he's done for other causes worldwide -- read more than simply what others say about him -- and make up your own mind. Avoid getting caught up in the pro- or anti-Warren hype.

FYI, I am a big Dan Phillips fan ... I just got animated with my minority opinion in this case. No offense meant to Dan or any of you.

DJP said...

You're welcome to express it, Tex; no problem.

texscot said...

May your tribe increase, DJP.

Stefan said...

To be honest, I tried reading Purpose Driven Life before I was even saved, and found it superficial in its treatment of faith and Scripture.

Granted, that was just my subjective opinion, and not being a Christian at the time, my opinion would have been coloured by that, but the impression has stuck with me.

Not all that Pastor Warren has said or done is bad, but like others here have said, his public utterances (both written and spoken) seem to be uneven in their solidity and consistency.