Rick Warren – Big Shot for Jesus?

The church used to be a lifeboat, rescuing the perishing; now it is a cruise ship, recruiting the promising. – Leonard Ravenhill

What follows are some quotes from Mega-Pastor Rick Warren taken directly from a transcript of the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life (May 23, 2005).  I think Rick Warren’s banal words speak for themselves.  Warren’s a real “Groyseh Macher” for Jesus, hobnobbing with all the “influencers” to get his pragmatic “social gospel” message out to the masses.

Warren is a self-confessed “pragmatist” and therefore would doubtlessly excuse his excesses under the rubric that “the end justifies the means…” He  is willing to sacrifice truth and theology for the sake of a recipe or “methodology” that seems to work.  Jesus, on the other hand, would never sacrifice duty to God for the sake of political or religious expedience. After all, Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world with all their “glory” in exchange for merely a “compromise” on the subject of “theology” (Matt. 4:8-10).  Jesus’ rebuke of the devil (and repudiation of idolatry) is a rebuke to all pragmatists like Warren who likewise reason that the end justifies the means…

Indeed, the devil is the ultimate pragmatist, appealing to people to abandon the idea of unchanging truth for the sake of expediency.  Satan is the ultimate liar, the ultimate propagandist, the ultimate con artist.  He is a “master” at enslaving and deceiving people.  Jesus, on the other hand, brings OFFENSE.  There is NO GOSPEL MESSAGE apart from offense — first, the offense of being convicted as a law breaker, and second, the offense of the Cross of Jesus Himself.  People like Rick Warren offer up an “inoffensive” gospel that appeals to the “felt needs” of seekers (i.e., pagans).  There is NO model for this approach given in Scripture, and especially not in the teaching and ministry of Jesus…

Warren and other false teachers regard big numbers, big events, big money, “big deals” to be the measure of the success of the Gospel.  Nonsense.  There is more power in the lowly faithfulness of one unknown soul working in the vineyard than 10,000 Rick Warrens and other Christian entertainers…   Look, drawing a crowd never resulted in large-scale conversions in Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus called individuals to take up the Cross and follow Him. Jesus knew the nature of the crowd, the mob, the power of “groupthink” (John 2:23-25). The fickle crowd that once hailed Him as King later chanted “crucify! crucify!”



You know, when you speak to 23,000, 24,000 people every weekend, crowds don’t impress you anymore….

Last night, I was in Miami speaking to this huge international convention of all of the Spanish-language publishers and they gave me the city key to Miami….

As you can imagine, I get a lot of invitations to speak – I get about four or five a day – and so I have been choosing pretty carefully which ones to accept. And I came here because I only speak to influencers, and God has given you a degree of influence.

You know, when you write the best-selling book in the world for the last three years, that changes your life and I’m not the same person I was three years ago….

Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America.

Bono called me the other day and said why don’t you come up to the U2 concert at the Staples Center because we’re both active in AIDS prevention. My wife and I have given millions to the prevention of AIDS and those afflicted and those orphaned by AIDS. And we were working together with him and he came back to us and I said, “What have you learned in this data plan that you’ve got?” And he said, “That I was wrong about the church. They have been the most receptive, and I didn’t expect them to be receptive.” And we began to talk about that, but that’s a trend, and one of the trends you’re going to be hearing about in the future is a thing called the Global Peace Plan…

Ten percent of the churches in America have now done 40 Days of Purpose and that’s just now. We will take another 10 to 15 thousand through it this year, and on and on and on. And there’s a little story of how that got started in churches and then it spread to corporations like Coca-Cola and Ford and Wal-Mart, and they started doing 40 Days of Purpose. And then it spread to all the sports teams. I spoke at the NBA All-Stars this year because all of the teams were doing 40 Days of Purpose. LPGA, NASCAR, most of the baseball teams – when the Red Sox were winning the World Series, they were going through 40 Days of Purpose during the Series. So the story of the 40 Days of Purpose is more than the story of the book. And maybe we can get back to why that touched such a nerve around the world, because The Purpose Driven Life is not just the best-selling book in American history; it’s the best-selling book in about a dozen languages.

And that’s why, by the way, the religious right does not represent evangelicalism. I’m not a part of the religious right and I don’t know any of my friends who are part of the religious right.

Then the other story that I would encourage you to look at is this evolving alliance between evangelical Protestants and Catholics, particularly in the evangelical wing of Catholicism. In 2004, there were three big surprises in our culture. One of them was the success of the movie The Passion, which was roundly panned by everybody and then went on to become the third biggest best-selling movie in history – grossing $600 million. The second was, for the second year in a row, my book was the best-selling book in the world. A book by a pastor – how’s a book by a pastor selling that many, almost a million a month? And the third was some of the so-called “values voters” from this past election. And really, I happen to agree with some of what’s been said, that there’s a lot of over-emphasis laid on that. But in all three of those, Catholics and evangelicals came down on the same side of the fence in many areas. Now when you get 25 percent of America, which is basically Catholic, and you get 28 to 29 percent of America, which is evangelical, together, that’s called a majority. And it is a very powerful bloc, if they happen to stay together on particular issues….

I spoke at Harvard last month. I did a series of lectures for the faculty in the Kennedy School and also in the law school. I spoke to several groups of faculty and several groups of students and I started with this quote from Peter Drucker: “The most significant sociological phenomenon of the first half of the 20th century was the rise of the corporation. The most significant sociological phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century has been the development of the large pastoral church – of the mega-church. It is the only organization that is actually working in our society.”

Now Drucker has said that at least six times. I happen to know because he’s my mentor. I’ve spent 20 years under his tutelage learning about leadership from him, and he’s written it in two or three books, and he says he think it’s the only thing that really works in society.

There is a difference between “evangelicalism” and “fundamentalism” and “the religious right.” And people use them like they are synonyms. They are not – they are very, very different. I am an evangelical. I’m not a member of the religious right and I’m not a fundamentalist….

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