For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:7-8, ESV)

Believing Protestant Reformation Doctrine And That The Church Of Rome Is Christian?

In an August 15, 2008 interview by Jake Tapper of ABC News postevangelicalism’s Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren was asked “about the criticism that he offers a sort of glib, new age Christianity.” The context for this question by Tapper concerned:

Rev. Bob DeWaay, author of a book criticizing Warren’s approach, [who] says “the Bible’s theme is about redemption and atonement, not finding meaning and solving problems.” How does [Rick Warren] respond to the charge that he offers a shallow 40-day approach to Christianity?

“I flatly deny it,” Warren says. “The average message I teach on a weekend contains fourteen passages of scripture. I am a multi-generation pastor which many of these critics don’t [sic]. I am a Bible scholar. I’ve had six years of Greek and Hebrew. They don’t know what they’re talking about… (Online source)

I will now counter that instead it’s actually Warren, the self-proclaimed “Bible scholar,” who doesn’t know what he’s talking about even with his “years of Greek and Hebrew.” And it would also seem that Warren has found time in his busy schedule of solving world problems to get in some additional schooling since his 2005 Pew Forum appearance where he says, “Now, I’ve got three advanced degrees. I’ve had four years in Greek and Hebrew and I’ve got doctorates.” (Online source)

Earlier in the Apprising Ministries feature article Rick Warren Says “Great Spiritual Awakening Coming” I brought to your attention that not long ago Warren said:

I believe God is preparing the church for another reformation. The first reformation focused on what the church believed; this one will focus on what it does.

For too long we’ve separated the Word of God from the work of God. As the church, we’re called to be the body of Christ – the whole body. (Online source)

And the fact is that Warren makes his own personal position quite clear in that he believes the Roman Catholic Church is part of this “whole body” when he states, “The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity — including Catholicism” (Online source). However, as you’ll see below,  the problem is that at the very same time Warren is saying this he is also telling us, “the First Reformation, begun by Martin Luther, was about the creeds [i.e. doctrine]. Our doctrines were established by the First Reformation.”

Men and women, the question we need to ask here is: Which Rick Warren are we to believe? The one who says the Church of Rome with their false gospel of grace plus works—which thereby negates grace—is part of the Body of Christ; or should we instead listen to the Rick Warren who tells us, “Our doctrines were established by the First Reformation.” The idea that Roman Catholicism is simply another genuine expression of the faith once for all entrusted to the saints is diametrically opposed to Protestant Reformers like Luther and Calvin who clearly called the Roman Catholic Church apostate (and worse). 

Doing Good Deeds Does Not Require Turning Away From Proper Protestant Doctrine

So Biblically we would now have to refer to Rick Warren as being double-minded when it comes to the Church of Rome and the Reformation. And then from a February 5, 2008 article in The Washington Post (WP) we are reminded that the secular world views Rick Warren, one of the most visible Southern Baptists in the world, as:

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 previously pointed out that in addition to being a Southern Baptist pastor 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, as one of the critics who was invited to a recent meeting with Rick Warren, my main concern remains his woefully wrong position regarding the Roman Catholic Church.

Along with the aforementioned WP piece longtime Saddleback member and well-known Christian apologist Richard Abanes fills us in that:

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. (Online source)

Warren believes the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation to be just fine as they are and that we shouldn’t “replace or abandon” them? That’s odd; for following is Rick Warren’s position on the Roman Catholic Church, which as I mentioned before, was deemed apostate [i.e. no longer Christian] by the Reformers who hammered out those doctrines Warren is supposedly saying we ought not “replace or abandon” at the risk of their own death is in direct opposition to that of “the First Reformation”:

“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,….” 
(Online source, emphasis mine)

The Church, in all its expressions—Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others—has 2.3 billion followers.” 
(Online source, emphasis mine)

But then Abanes tells us that out of the other side of his mouth Rick Warren is also 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 Solus Christus. 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. Rick Warren wants a return to the evangelicalism of Charles Spurgeon? Really? Well, below follows 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)

This is why I can sympathize with my friend Bob DeWaay when he says in his Christian Worldview Network article My Visit to Ask Rick Warren to Preach Christ:

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. (Online source)

Out of one side of his mouth Rick Warren asserts that he “believes orthodox theology” and yet, as we’ve just seen, out of the other side Warren is busy reversing the Reformation. So I guess, as another Southern Baptist once said, it all depends on what “your definition of is…is.” But here’s the question that we need to ask: How is it that one of the most powerful and prominent pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention—the largest Protestant denomination in America—flatly contradicts the doctrine of the Reformation he says he believes in and yet still no SBC leader has stepped forward to call Rick Warren to account for his sin:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
(2 Corinthians 6:14-15, NASB)

See also: