Apprising Ministries has been keeping you apprised concerning the invitation from Dr. John Piper to Rick Warren asking him to be a keynote speaker at the Desiring God Conference 2010, which has opened up a bit of a Warrengate across the blogosphere. Today Justin Taylor offers The Piper-Warren Connection Revisited over at his Between Two Worlds for The Gospel Coalition.

In his post Taylor points us to “two thoughtful entries on the debate.” One is a post by Trevin Wax called John Piper with Rick Warren: Compromise?; and yes, it is compromise. While Dr. Rick Warren says he holds to Reformed theology his open and very public embrace of the apostate Roman Catholic Church as brothers in Christ actually reveals his stance to be decidely contra Reformation theology.

Wax begins with a quick recap of what brought this Warrengate on:

A couple weeks ago, John Piper announced that he had invited Rick Warren to speak at the Desiring God conference this fall. His announcement caused an uproar in some parts of the Reformed blogosphere. Some even questioned Piper’s commitment to the gospel, wondering out loud if he is a “wolf” in sheep’s clothing… (Online source)

Then Wax discusses the issue of separation as it pertains to Independent Baptists before offering some his “thoughts regarding this controversy.” The other post Taylor points us to is On the Warren-Piper Connection by Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs. You may know Johnson is also executive director of Grace to You, which is the ministry of Dr. John MacArthur, who is himself very good friends with John Piper.

Johnson reminds us “Rick Warren will headline the list of speakers at next October’s Desiring God Conference”; and then shares his view:

Of course I think it’s a bad turn of events, and I didn’t find Dr. Piper’s rationale for handing his platform over to Warren satisfying at all. I was surprised when I heard about it, but on second thought, I have to admit that it is consistent with Dr. Piper’s modus operandi. Last year some people were appalled, others delighted, when Doug Wilson spoke at the conference. The year before that, the blogosphere was all abuzz with strong passions for months because Mark Driscoll would be the featured speaker. In 2007, it was John MacArthur, who (let’s face it) is hardly a John Piper clone...

as much as I differ from Piper on the question of who deserves his imprimatur, there’s at least an equal measure of difference between what I think is the proper way to respond to Piper and the way some of his most vocal critics have responded. I’m appalled and ashamed at how some on my side of this debate have expressed their disagreement with Dr. Piper. (Online source)

For Johnson Warrengate “reflects in microcosm why the evangelical and fundamentalist movements of the 20th century have both failed so egregiously.” He then offers “some observations about John Piper, Rick Warren, the critics, and the biblical duty of separation,” and not only from “false teachers (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 7-11), but also “from deliberately, incorrigibly disobedient brethren (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:11)” as well.

Phil Johnson, rightly in my estimation, speaks well of John Piper’s labors in the Lord even though he respectfully differs “with him on some fairly important issues, mostly related to his belief that the charismatic gifts are still fully operative.” I know I fully agree with Johnson when he says that “ungodly passions are a massive problem in the church today,” and further, “especially in the charismatic fringe.” I’d suggest that it’s even deeper into mainstream evangelicalism than most people know.

Like Johnson I also wish “Dr. Piper were more vocal in warning against that kind of imbalance” as well as the imbalance from those evangelicals becoming involved with the corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism of Richard Foster, and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard, whom Dr. Piper’s been known to quote favorably. And Johnson’s also dead-on-target when he says:

Furthermore, human passion and biblical discernment can be like oil and water—a truth Dr. Piper acknowledges in principle. Unbridled passion and feelings-based judgments are deadly to discernment. Hang onto that thought, because it will come up again later in this post. It’s a principle that works both ways. (Online source)

Johnson then gives a very accurate assessment of Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren:

I can’t think of anyone who would make a finer poster-boy for the pragmatic, spiritually impoverished, gospel-deprived message of modern and postmodern evangelicalism than Rick Warren. He is shallow, pragmatic, and chameleonic. He is a spiritual changeling who will say whatever his audience wants to hear. He wants desperately to be liked and accepted by Muslims, evangelicals, and everyone in between…

Warren has squandered too many opportunities to proclaim the gospel accurately and muffed too many questions on national television to be given a platform by one of the leading figures of Together for the Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, and similar movements whose central goal, after all, is to undo the damage Warren’s philosophy has caused in the evangelical movement.

The massive problems with Warren’s ministry philosophy are well documented. The same with his practice of softening, omitting, or denying key gospel truths about sin, judgment, the wrath of God, and the necessity of repentance. A preacher doesn’t have to affirm heresy or overtly deny truth in order to be dangerous… (Online source)

Agreed; however, Rick Warren is heretical in, at least, his double-minded stance concerning the Roman Catholic Church. Please know I’m not saying Phil Johnson doesn’t believe that; my point is, while Warren can possibly hide in the weeds concerning his strong-arm bullying tactics with hostile PDL church take-overs, his pragmatism and such, he has absolutely nowhere to hide concerning his sinful embrace of the Church of Rome as being “in God’s family.” [1]

Rick Warren’s fellow DG 2010 speaker Dr. R.C. Sproul is right when he says:

I admire the Church, the Roman communion of the 16th century for at least understanding what apparently people don’t understand today, and that is what is at stake here. That they understood that somebody is under the anathema of God! And we can be as nice, and as pleasant, and as gentle, and as loving, and as charitable, and tolerant as we can possibly be, but it’s not going to change that folks.

Somebody is preaching a different gospel! And when Rome condemned the Protestant declaration of “Justification by faith alone” I believe, Rome, when placing the anathema on “sola fide (L.),” placed the anathema of God upon themselves. I agree with his [John MacArthur] assessment, that the institution [Roman Catholic Church] is apostate! (Online source)

This means that Rick Warren is in sin to accept as Christian an organization who has cursed the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself; it also makes him double-minded biblically because he claims to “hold to the five solas of the Reformation.” [2] Therefore, following Romans 16:17-18, John Piper should be marking Warren out publicly as I just have; and because Warren’s sowing division in the visible church, Dr. Piper he should not be offering Rick Warren a forum in Christian fellowship.

Johnson also discusses the issue of criticism surrounding Warrengate:

Speaking of Twitter chatter and Facebook feedback, I can’t touch on this whole subject without pointing out that the tone of some of the criticism leveled at Dr. Piper is simply revolting…  I remarked on the radio this week that I think a lot of Dr. Piper’s critics have been too shrill, too hysterical, too trigger-happy, too eager for immediate reprisals, and too disrespectful to Dr. Piper… (Online source)

Since AM isn’t on Twitter or Facebook I can’t really speak to that; however, what I will say is that from what I’ve seen in my 5+ years doing online apologetics and discernment work, there’s no shortage of people attempting to be “discerning” who actually are quite “odious.” And, sadly, it does reflect badly upon those of us whom Jesus has sent into this oft-ugly, and largely thankless, mission field. Johnson then finishes up his post with a teaching on separation, which is also worth the read. 


1. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05316/605324.stm, accessed 4/9/10.
2. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/03/31/rick-warren-monergist/, accessed 4/9/10.

See also: