The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. (Proverbs 17:18)

Rick Warren Thinks There Needs To Be A New Reformation

From a February 5, 2008 article in The Washington Post we are reminded about how the secular world views Southern Baptist Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren:

a megachurch pastor and philanthropist who is courted by political leaders worldwide, says he thinks Christianity needs a “second Reformation” that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be “about deeds, not creeds.”

Speaking today to a group of Washington Post reporters and editors, the evangelical author said he had an “epiphany” in recent years due to his wife’s battle with cancer and the success of his book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has sold more than 25 million copies. Humbled and scared, he said he decided to focus on helping the needy and the sick, particularly those with AIDS. (Online source)

I have mentioned before that in addition to being a Southern Baptist pastor myself I also happen to be a former Roman Catholic whom God graciously delivered from apostate Roman Catholicism into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And that’s why the primary concern of this particular post from Apprising Ministries is Warren’s statement, “Christianity needs a ‘second Reformation’ that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be ‘about deeds, not creeds.’ ”

And it’s certainly not the first time that Warren has talked about this so-called second reformation. Longtime Saddleback member and well known Christian apologist Richard Abanes tells us:

In July 2005, while speaking in front of the Baptist World Alliance, Rick Warren declared: “I am praying for a second reformation of the church that will focus more on deeds than words. The first Reformation was about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior.”

He has elsewhere stated: “I’m looking for a Second Reformation. The First Reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs. This one’s going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This one’s going to be about deeds. It’s going to be about, not what the church believes. But what is the church is doing?” (Online source)

Abanes also informs us that reaction to Warren’s statements concerning his dream for a coming reformation of a new form of pietism “has been nothing less than a deluge of violent, vicious, and vehement denunciations of Warren.” And not only that but Abanes wants us to know that there has apparently been a “literal torrent of attacks that have been launched against Warren because of his stated desire to have a Second Reformation of deeds, not creeds.” Well now, perhaps he’s stretching the truth here just a wee bit.

But be that as it may, among the “deluge of violent, vicious, and vehement denunciations of Warren” in this “literal torrent of attacks” Abanes singles out the AM piece It’s Official: America’s Pastor Rick Warren of the Purpose Driven Life May Not Even Be A Christian! This is not the first time Abanes has been foolhardy enough to lay into this labor in the Lord. In fact, that is actually what lies behind A Pastor’s Assessment of Richard Abanes.

The sardonic screed that folows next from Abanes should forever put to rest criticism leveled against men like me for supposedly not being kind and gentle in how we speak of other “brothers and sisters” in Christ. You see this is exactly who Abanes himself is speaking of:

It is almost impossible for me to comprehend how such a simple statement by Warren could be so twisted, perverted, and warped. These individuals are not listening. In my opinion, they are not apologist (discerning defenders of the faith), but are “heresy-hunters” who have set themselves up as watchdogs of orthodoxy and arbiters of what is, and what is not, biblical based on prejudice and an agenda to prove that Warren is a false teacher (for whatever reason). They have thrown both caution and care to the wind, and have ceased to be concerned about truth. Instead, they have fixated on finding error/heresy—even where none exists. (Online source)

O, But It’s Only Mean-Spirited When Someone Else Says It

As I’ve said a number of times that kind of polemic in and of itself doesn’t bother me an iota. My point in bringing it out is only to say that if one such as I is to be criticized for writing like Abanes has above then this self-styled spokesman for Rick Warren ought to be held to account as well. And since I have already had the following exchange with Abanes today at Extreme Theology, the website of my friend Chris Rosebrough, we need not say more:

RA: these so-called “watchmen” (as they liked to be called), standing for truth is something that went out the door long ago. It has become for them a matter of attacking, being right, winning a fight, destroying someone, nit-picking, accusing the brethren, slandering others, and dividing the church.

Silva: This is a sinful statement of judgment. How does Richard Abanes know these people “like” to be called this? Answer: He doesn’t. How does he know they are not doing their best “standing for truth.” Answer: He doesn’t.

How does he know it “has become” for these people “a matter of attacking, being right, winning a fight, destroying someone, nit-picking, accusing the brethren, slandering others, and dividing the church.” Answer he doesn’t. Abanes needs to repent for these careless comments.

Posted by: Ken Silva | June 04, 2008 at 08:35 AM

RA: The so-called “watchmen” to whom I refer have NOT been following biblical guidelines for apologetics/discernment, have NOT been sticking to facts (but instead, have been twisting/perverting truth and facts to serve their own agenda to attack someone), and have NOT been acting in a Christ-like. loving manner (but instead, have resorted hateful, mean-spirited, and nasty personal assaults based on half-truths, misinformation, and sometimes outright lies).

R. Abanes

Posted by: Richard Abanes | June 04, 2008 at 08:40 AM

KS: How does Richard Abanes know these people “like” to be called this? …… How does he know they are not doing their best “standing for truth.”

1. because I see these “watchmen” referring to themselves as “watchmen” incessantly on the Internet – almost wearing it as a kind badge of holiness and righteousness.

2. because when they are given basic facts and truth that easily proven with evidence, they do not apologize, retract comments, or correct anything – but simply keep spreading their lies.

KS: How does he know it “has become” for these people “a matter of attacking, being right, winning a fight, destroying someone, nit-picking, accusing the brethren, slandering others, and dividing the church.”

RA: See above. And you, ken, are a perfect example, of….all of it. But I have tried to help you in that area, giving you several opportunities to do the right thing. I still wish you all the best in hopes that one day things change in a more biblical/godly direction for you.

But let’s not start all that again. I’d like to stay on topic for the thread.

R. Abanes

Posted by: Richard Abanes | June 04, 2008 at 08:46 AM

RA: “almost wearing it as a kind badge of holiness and righteousness… I’d like to stay on topic for the thread.”

KS: Within this topic is the fact that there are those of us who are fed up with you monopolizing the comments sections of this site.

We’re tired of having to listen to your perspective while you as the well known “apologist” (who doesn’t speak for Rick Warren) are speaking for Warren and simply blowing off those who dissent.

Then when you’re confronted about it, which I just did as a pastor, you just continue on always being the one who is right. And why; well, because you are the elected apologist…so, of course you must be right.

And you have some nerve, and in my opinion the over inflated ego, to say that these “watchmen” allegedly are “wearing it as a kind badge of holiness and righteousness.”

Posted by: Ken Silva | June 04, 2008 at 09:34 AM (Online source)

Rick Warren Is Perfectly Fine With The Protestant Reformation

What I wish the Body of Christ to focus their attention upon now is what Abanes next tells us about Rick Warren as it pertains to this so-called second reformation. Amazingly Abanes tells us that Warren’s ministry is right in line with the Protestant Reformation:

Warren is directly talking about a NEW Reformation that must occur as a follow up to the old reformation, and this new reformation is about deeds, not creeds (established through the First Reformation)… Warren’s intentions might best be put in an basic Q&A format for us to consider:

QUESTION: Why would a Second Reformation be about deeds, but not about creeds?

ANSWER: Because the First Reformation, begun by Martin Luther, was about the creeds (doctrine). Our doctrines were established by the First Reformation. Our deeds must be established by a Second Reformation.

Warren is not saying we should replace or abandon the First Reformation…we see Warren perfectly fine with the doctrines that came from the First Reformation. This is why they do not need to be re-visited (or REFORMED). They are just fine as they are…

In conclusion, all Warren is saying is that it is time for our good deeds as Christians to be just as uppermost in our minds as our beliefs. He sees the church lacking in this area, just as the church was lacking in doctrine (creeds) in Martin Luther’s day. (Online source)

Really; is he serious? Warren is “perfectly fine with the doctrines that came from the First Reformation”? Well then, in addition to “stealth evangelism” Warren must also be teaching stealth Protestantism. The central doctrine which came emerging from the Protestant Reformation was that the Roman Catholic Church was apostate because it was preaching another gospel. These men, and subsequent Protestants e.g. like Charles Spurgeon, rightly do not consider the Church of Rome as a part of the Body of Christ.

In the Abanes article in question he quotes Rick Warren as saying:

I am calling for a return to nineteenth-century evangelicalism. It’s more muscle and less mouth. It was the evangelicalism of Charles Spurgeon, who started schools and orphanages all around England as well as teaching the Gospel… We figured out the correct beliefs 500 years ago. We got our doctrinal beliefs. Here’s what the Bible says. Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria. (Online source)

By the way we note here that the other sola which Warren didn’t mention is Solo Christo. I really could understand why those around Warren would also be wishing for a Christianity with “less mouth” because one wonders if Warren even listens to himself. Warren wants a return to the evangelicalism of Charles Spurgeon? Really? Well here’s Charles Spurgeon on the Roman Catholic Church:

In these times, when liberality is the only popular virtue, and zeal for truth the cardinal sin, it is worth much to let the public know assuredly that Popery is not the angel of light it professes to be. “Distance lends enchantment to the view;” but, to the rightminded, to see Romanism is to abhor it. It is a system which is as dangerous to human society, as it is hostile to true religion…

The sooner we let certain Archbishops and Cardinals know that we are aware of their designs, and will in nothing co-operate with them, the better for us and our country. Of course, we shall be howled at as bigots, but we can afford to smile at that cry, when it comes from the church which invented the Inquisition. “No peace with Rome” is the motto of reason as well as of religion. (Online source)

Nineteenth-Century Evangelicalism Rejected Rome With The Reformers

If Warren really believes that the Church “figured out the correct beliefs 500 years ago,” and if he really does want a return to the evangelicalism of Charles Spurgeon, then out goes his highly ecumenical PEACE plan. But yet in Rick Warren and Saddleback Church: Prayer Is Not For The Novice I show you that Warren is promoting the Reformation-reversing Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) of The Cult of Guru Richard Foster, a Quaker mystic.

By the way this spurious CSM actually developed within apostate Roman Catholicism and was roundly rejected as unbiblical by the Reformers whom Warren is allegedly fine with. Then in Rick Warren: “Every Facet of Christianity — Including Catholicism” I documented for you from primary sources Warren saying the following about the Church of Rome, which Dr. John MacArthur has rightly said is, “Satan’s best front for the Kingdom of God”:

“The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity — including Catholicism.”

Rick Warren, (Pew Forum)

“Now I don’t agree with everything in everybody’s denomination, including my own. I don’t agree with everything that Catholics do or Pentecostals do, but what binds us together is so much stronger than what divides us,” he said. “I really do feel that these people are brothers and sisters in God’s family. I am looking to build bridges with the Orthodox Church, looking to build bridges with the Catholic Church,….”

Rick Warren, (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Church, in all its expressions—Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others—has 2.3 billion followers.”

Rick Warren, (Forbes)

However, as you saw above the nineteenth-century evangelicalism of Charles Spurgeon that Warren says he wants to return to agrees with the following from Martin Luther:

Since the papal church not only neglects the command of Christ but even compels the people to ignore it and to act against it, it is certain that it is not Christ’s church but the synagogue of Satan which prescribes sin and prohibits righteousness. It clearly and indisputably follows that it must be the abomination of Antichrist and the furious harlot of the devil. (Online source)

And the below from John Calvin:

To some we seem slanderous and [mean-spirited], when we call the Roman Pontiff antichrist…it is certain that the [Pope of Rome] has impudently transferred to himself the [very] properties of God and Christ, there cannot be a doubt that he is the leader and standard-bearer of an [evil] and abominable kingdom.
(Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, 384)

This is why I can sympathize with my friend Bob DeWaay when he says:

One of the disconcerting things about dealing with Rick Warren is that in spite of many problematic, public teachings, he claims to agree with orthodox Christian doctrine… In our private meeting Warren again asserted that he believes orthodox theology. He said, “I am not a hyper-Calvinist, I am a Kuyper-Calvinist”… (Online source)

You might also find it interesting to know that Abraham Kuyper was responsible for what we know as neo-Calvinism just as Rick Warren may one day be known for initiating a movement we might call neo-Pietism. Space doesn’t allow further discussion but essentially in this neo-Pietism of the new Purpose Driven religion of the “changed life” we have the “spiritual disciplines” of Richard Foster as the supposed way to get us closer to God. And dove-tailing alongside in this new reformation of reimagined Pietism we also have the “deeds, not creeds” of Rick Warren as the proposed way for us to more fully please God.

But in the end we are still left wondering, which Rick Warren are we supposed to listen to? Do we believe the one who privately claims to be in line with men like Charles Spurgeon; or do we instead listen to the Rick Warren who teaches pragmatism publicly and has said, “I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody.” (Online source) And as I asked before: Is Rick Warren’s open denial of the Reformation position that the Roman Catholic Church is apostate really consistent with the theology of the Southern Baptist Convention?

After all the SBC just happens to be the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, at least on paper.