To be (a Fundamentalist) or not to be- that is the question?
Being the most popular known writer should bring responsibility. People often respect you simply because of many of your books sold. Yet, what does Rick Warren actually believe in the essentials of the Christian faith? How does he explain the core doctrines? Different persons may express things in different ways and use words in a different manner, yet, it is not his expressions that are the problem but his explanations.
When it comes to the core doctrines on Christ, salvation, heaven and hell one must be clear and in agreement with the Bible and historical Christian teaching or we have a problem. I think it is a necessity to address some of these statements considering the following this man has gained.
Lets begin with fundamentals- In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Bill asks: “People who don’t have a deep faith in God respond to this book? Or do you have to have the fundamentals before you read it?”
Warren: “No, if you’re asking can anyone benefit from it the answer is, of course... I got letters from Jewish friends, Muslim friends, from Hindu friends from people who have no religious background at all.” (Bill O’Reilly Interview - Fox News (mid. Dec., on Rick Warren’s book).
So they all benefit from the book despite their different religious persuasions. His own words describe the presentation that is found in the book. One does not have to be familiar with or accept Christian teaching to benefit from his book. There is a duality – to those who are religious- it is a religious message that is broad enough for any religion, to those who are in business- it is viewed as a secular message for improvement.
The Dallas Morning News asked him, “have you noticed any local differences in how your message is received?”
Warren: “Not at all.… It’s cross-cultural -- I get letters from Hindus, from Muslims. [The Purpose Driven Life] didn’t get niched as a religious book.” (As quoted in “Pastor found ‘purpose’ in spreading God’s word” by Emily Ramshaw, The Dallas Morning News, May16, 2005).
Are Hindus and Muslims different cultures or different religions? Warren makes no distinction, especially when it involves promotion of his book- this certainly offers the book as a broad way.
Certainly selling so many books and being pushed into the limelight can make ones head spin, but this is not the case. Warren has some consistent views that that have shaped his philosophy of ministry. On the Fundamentals of the Faith Warren had commented: “But what happened is Protestantism split into two wings, the fundamentalists and the mainline churches. And the mainline churches tended to take the social action issues of Christianity – caring for the sick, for the poor, the dispossessed, racial justice and things like that. 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” (emphasis mine).
MR. WARREN: Well, I tell you, that's the reason I accepted this meeting, because I'm just tired of having other people represent me and represent the hundreds of thousands of churches where the pastors I've trained would nowhere, no way, relate to some of the supposed spokesmen of a previous generation.
“Now the word “fundamentalist” actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity” , and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones. ... that group is shrinking more and more and more” (“Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, transcript of the The Pew Forum on Religion biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life) (emphasis mine).
Warren is right; it is narrow, and for a good reason. Our Lord said there is only the narrow road to follow Him - what we believe will shape how and what we follow. Churches that still preach the gospel in clarity (addressing sin, explaining righteousness and judgment) hold to the fundamentals of the faith. The Five Fundamentals of Faith that have been accepted by Christians throughout its history everywhere are: 1.The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. The Virgin Birth. 3. The Blood Atonement. 4. The Bodily Resurrection. 5. The inerrancy of the scriptures.
Being a fundamentalist in this way does not make one exclusive to other denominations as Warren insinuates, but has them hold to the Christian distinctive that the church has held throughout its history. Just because churches are not mega size or smaller does not mean they are less effective. In fact the average church would be 100 members or less. Warren makes a standard that is not a biblical one, that church size equals effectiveness and proclaiming the truth.
If in fact fundamentalists are shrinking, I would take the position that it is not good. One can be either a Charismatic or a cessationist and still be a fundamentalist in these core doctrines, it does not necessarily mean one subscribes to a certain denomination, at least in my viewpoint.
In his Larry King Interview KING asks: “Before we talk about Rick
Warren's peace plan, are you a fundamentalist?”
This is demonizing the word fundamentalist. To preach the gospel means one is presenting to people the ONLY way to be saved from sin, from hell, by the gospel. Warren is more accurately a neo- evangelical. In fact, we find Warren soft peddling the issue of sin as the disease that is killing us all and the cause of all things wrong in this world (besides the Devil).
Rick Warren, in the Philadelphia Inquirer stated, “Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be “one of the big enemies of the 21st century.” “Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they're all motivated by fear,” he said. “Fear of each other.”
(http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm Jan. 08, 2006 The purpose-driven pastor By Paul Nussbaum).
This article was in context of right wing fundamentalists who speak out politics and governments. We know this is the position, because Warren said the same in his interview with Larry King Live on December 2, 2006.
How anyone can equate Christian fundamentalism (which means that one is adhering to the core beliefs presented in the Bible, as he stated in his Pew Interview) as the same as Islamic fundamentalism is beyond me. It does not seem rationale. These are two completely different concepts. It amazes me how someone who is supposed to represent Christianity can have something this negative to say about what makes Christianity distinct from other religions and cults, our fundamentals.
Where does the term fundamentalist come from? The modernist controversy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries denied the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. Those who opposed their new found liberalism were called “Fundamentalists,” they were named after a document drafted called “The Fundamentals.” Much like the early church, when they were challenged on core beliefs, they came up with the creeds to codify what they believed as the church.
“The five basic doctrines of the Christian faith are taken from a book called “The Fundamentals” edited by R.A. Torrey with contributors such as H.A. Ironside and C.I. Scofield.” It “Consisted of messages written by well-known defenders of the faith from several different denominations. These twelve volumes of The Fundamentals were mailed free to over 300,000 ministers, missionaries and other Christian workers in different parts of the world. (From the 5 Fundamentals found on- www.deceptioninthechurch.com)
The cults that claim to be Christian deny at least one, if not all of the fundamentals. There should be no challenge by any Christian on these essential doctrines taught by the apostles in the gospels and their letters to the church. Yet Warren’s position is that they are too narrow and dangerous. We know he believes in some of these fundamentals, so why even say this? What is his purpose of saying this!
Warren has stated he IS NOT a fundamentalist, and certainly views it as an enemy along with any other fundamentalism. Of course Baptists (who are considered fundamentalists) and others would have trouble with this statement made in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Warren received enough mail on this that it prompted him to respond on his website, pastors.com. He responded in an article “Rick Warren on fundamentalism” by staff to give us “the context and background of Pastor Rick's statement”. They start off with us “often misunderstand each other is that we use labels too quickly and easily.”
Within Christianity, there's a large group of believers who affirm that there are certain facts about our faith that must be embraced, even if it isn't popular to proclaim these facts as true. These are facts such as – Jesus was God in the flesh God raised Jesus from the dead, and The Resurrection opened the singular path available for men and women to intimately and eternally connect with God.
These are among the fundamental truths of our Christian faith (or, to use another phrase, they are foundational truths to our faith).
Now, if you believe that these fundamental truths are essential to the Christian faith, then you are a "fundamentalist" in the very basic sense of the word, and within that definition and context Saddleback Church is unapologetically fundamentalist.
There is, however, another kind of fundamentalism that has nothing to do with fundamentals of the Christian faith; instead, it is about keeping the right rules in the right way order to please the right people.”
They make it clear it is not referring to God-spoken standards; “I'm referring to the fanatical pursuit of keeping – and insisting that others keep – rules that are man-made and often culturally influenced, rules that insist all Christians must look, act, and smell the same in order to be considered genuine believers.
That is a category mistake of no small magnitude. What he is saying would be labeled as legalism, NOT fundamentalism. Warren knows what the term means, he’s not devoid of understanding this and he made it clear in his other statements. What about the rules he has made up- such as signing a covenant with him to read through his book or every Saddleback Church member signs a covenant that includes a promise to protect the unity of our fellowship” (PDL p.167) in signing the covenant agreement one must be active or they are asked to leave. Is this found in the Bible? There are more examples but this main one seems to fit his own definition of fundamentalism. Let me ask the question-Do not those who follow the Purpose Driven church and life fall under this interpretation of fundamentalism?
He said in the Pew interview “Now the word “fundamentalist” actually comes from a document in the 1920’s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity”
“This form of fundamentalism is, quite frankly, just another form of religion, one that diminishes the intimate relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ. This religion requires that we follow every jot and tittle of the law in order to be holy before God,”
That is what we call a cult, not fundamentalism.
The Dictionary gives this definition for the word fundamentalism (or fundamentalist)
1 a often cap : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching
b : the beliefs of this movement
c : adherence to such beliefs
2: a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles
Again the beliefs of the fundamental movement were the core doctrines of Christianity. These are which Warren has stated are narrow view and legalistic.
What is an Evangelical according to the Dictionary
1: of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel esp. as it is presented in the four Gospels
3: emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual
4 a cap : of or relating to the Evangelical Church in Germany
b often cap : of, adhering to, or marked by fundamentalism : fundamentalist
c often cap : low church
5: marked by militant or crusading zeal: evangelistic <the evangelical ardor of the movement's leaders — Amos Vogel> (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Notice 4b an evangelical is-marked by fundamentalism.
The fundamentals of the faith is adhering to Christian teaching.
In another interview on doctrine-- “Now, what is the purpose of the Bible? Well it says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work." People misread that verse most of the time. The purpose of the Bible is not for doctrine, not for reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. Those are all "for this" in the Greek. For this, for this, for this, in order that. The purpose is in order that. So doctrine in itself is not the purpose of the Bible. Reproof in itself is not the purpose; correction, training are not the purpose. The bottom line is to change lives. "That the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work." So every message must be preaching for life change” (Purpose-Driven Preaching: An Interview with Rick Warren Michael Duduit, Editor (September-October, 2001) http://www.preaching.com/preaching/pastissues/rickwarren.htm
This is a subtle twisting of what it actually says. He first asks what is the purpose of the Bible?
The Bible is Scripture and ALL Scripture is given for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” this text is telling you what the purpose of ALL Scripture is about, not just this passage. You can’t get to the purpose unless you know what the Scripture means. Then the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
Warren says doctrine in itself is not the purpose of the Bible. Maybe not all encompassing, but it certainly is not to be belittled or diminished by new age paraphrase translations like the Message or paraphrases that he uses that muddy the word instead of clarify what the Scripture is actually saying.
The word “for” pros (pros); a strengthened form of; a preposition of direction; forward to, i.e. toward (with the genitive case the side of, i.e. pertaining to; with the dative case by the side of, i.e. near to; usually with the accusative case the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation”
(Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary).
This defines what the Bible (which has doctrine- teaching) is about- it is FOR- the end result produces salvation which then leads to good works in a person-- All of these begin to make one to be complete. 2 Tim. 4:2 says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
Titus 1:9: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
By sound doctrine to do what? Exhort and convict- those who oppose the word.
Paul tells Timothy “That you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). So we are to teach doctrine. In fact John makes the point “Whosoever ... abides not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God” (2 John 1:9). What does doctrine then mean in light of what Warren is saying?
Warren also states, “I also go back to the paradigm of 2 Timothy 3:16. Doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness is basically these four things: what do I need to believe as a result of this text? what do I not need to believe as a result of this text? what do I need to do as a result of this text? what do I need to not do as a result of this text? That is doctrine for reproof for correction and instruction of righteousness. So, I use that format. Start with personal application, then you go for the implication — what people need in their lives” (Purpose-Driven Preaching: An Interview with Rick Warren Michael Duduit, Editor (September-October, 2001) http://www.preaching.com/preaching/pastissues/rickwarren.htm
You cannot learn what the Scripture means by starting with personal application. You must start with the objective meaning in its context, the thought the writer is trying to convey before you interpret or apply it to your life.
what do I need to do as a result of this text would then dictate how you see it and not how the Lord may want you to see it. Clearly, Warren is introducing a new paradigm of interpretation. What is a paradigm: 1. model, pattern… 2 : a systematic inflection of a verb or noun showing a complete conjugation or declension 3: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
American Heritage Dictionary 1. An example that serves as pattern or model. 2. A list of all the inflectional forms of a word taken as an illustrative example of the conjugation or declension to which it belongs. from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknunai, to compare : para-, alongside.
Here is what Paul instructed Timothy who he discipled and was appointed as a pastor- You’re a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). It is doctrine we follow. The Greek words used by Paul for doctrine, didache and didaskalia, these refer to the teaching of Christ as the absolute authority from God as our instruction for our spiritual growth
This is why he instructed the church, “Till I come give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
In 2 Timothy we are told to: Hold to sound doctrine (1:13). Teach sound doctrine (2:2). Abide in sound doctrine (3:14). Preach sound doctrine (4:1-2). The reason is because in the last days doctrine will be belittled. 2 Tim. 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine”
Warren is not just disagreeing with actively keeping fundamentals but what the Bible teaches to adhere to.
Since Scripture is given is “for” doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction according to Warren. Surely we should see a Biblical precedent in the application of doctrine.
Warren’s pastor-training program welcomes a variety of those who believe differently or not at all. “…Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women. ‘I’m not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?’ (“This evangelist has a ‘Purpose’” by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, July 21, 2003, http://www.usatoday.com/life/2003-07-21-rick-warren_x.htm. (Emphasis added)
Is salvation through Mary or a Eucharist essential? Is the Mormon gospel essential? Is believing in Jesus an essential? Is believing Jesus is not an angel but the one true God in flesh essential? I think so. Mormons, Jews do not. Warren calls what these believe (denominations) as non-essential. Really!
At the Pew Forum’s Conference, Rick Warren was asked, “So are you saying doctrine won’t be important or
is not important if you bring together all these –.” his reply: “No, no. I think, though, it’s what Augustine
said: ‘In the essentials, unity; in the non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.’ And I think that’s
Warren’s philosophy is ministry is -- the five biblical purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. Everybody agrees on that!” (Rick Warren “What a purpose driven church is not” by Rick Warren, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, Issue #208, 5/25/2005) (Emphasis added).
He is correct, these are what everyone would agree with; even the cults. Because what is missing are the fundamentals, those teachings that have to do with doctrine. Let Warren explain it in his own words, “And so it doesn’t demand that they change from being Lutheran or Methodist or Nazarene or Assembly of God or Baptist or whatever. I don’t really care what your doctrine is. What I care about is, do you have a process by which you bring people into membership, build them up to maturity, train them for ministry, send them out on a mission, for the glory of God?” (Rick Warren as quoted in “The Church Growth Movement in the 21st Century—Have the Rules Changed?” by Dennis W. Costella, FOUNDATION Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2004 Issue) (Emphasis added).
Warren’s focus is on “doing” instead of doctrine. But how can you build them up to maturity without them being grounded in the doctrine. If this training was coupled with doctrine or doctrine based there would be no problem but because this practice is isolated, it becomes an open door for any practice. Stating I don’t really care what your doctrine is” speaks volumes, since his purpose is to unite with other churches and put into practice this neo evangelicalism. In it most basic function it is really humanism but it is called Christian good works.
As with anything we must go under the surface of words to get to the meanings. As we look at his answers posted to questions on his website, we gain insight into what Rick Warren actually believes on these matters. Many are good answers to questions, some are not. Although Warren may not be directly answering these from his own mouth, he is responsible for these answers to these questions that go up on his website. This needs to be addressed in an adequate manner for those who go to Warren’s website (or promote his way of church) and think that this is what Evangelical churches believes.
“Question 32. What about people who live in a country without
Romans 1:19-23 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will
be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not
believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not
heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how
can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written,”How beautiful are
the feet of those who bring good news!”
Commentary: If Warren upholds, “There is only one way to get into heaven” by Jesus Christ, then having faith like Abraham becomes ANOTHER WAY. You cannot have one way for “those who haven't heard about the cross” and another for those who do. Neither can you apply what was before the cross to us today as if Jesus did not make the ONLY way for all mankind to be saved. He came and we have the gospel so to argue with any pre- cross alternative is moot. It is also presumption to postulate that those who believe in God would “recognize that Jesus was the name of the one they believed in if they were ever to hear His name and story.”
In answering another: question, 48. Salvation – Unbelievers, Warren seems to contradict this position by saying the correct answer: We are separated from God, and we don't have the strength and power on our own to get back to him. That is why he had to send a savior.”
This is correct, but you cannot have two ways, plan A and plan B, if plan A does not take place, plan B goes into action. If people can be right with God without hearing the gospel and believing in Jesus, then the logical conclusion- to preach the gospel would not be necessary to make anyone right with God. This offers the broad way along with the narrow way, confusing the truth.
There a growing number of people who believe in a wider grace-a wider mercy for salvation. This certainly falls into the category of inclusive salvation. In our day inclusivism has become popular for the simple reason that it makes Christianity less opposed to the average person’s concept of God; it is more “seeker friendly.” There are people who reject Christianity on the basis that God says there is only one way and there is a judgment on those who refuse. To offer another way for those who have not heard makes sense to an unbeliever and is more appealing to those who are repelled by the narrow teachings of Jesus.
Warren appears to be in this camp by his answer[s]. Unfortunately the Bible gives only one way for ALL people, Jesus is the way for all people, not just some of them. So their position not matter how well argued is wrong: Heb. 9:26 “but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
The Bible makes it clear, the message is centered on the Son who died for our sins and nothing else will suffice, lest it become another gospel. God's Word teaches without a decision without having faith in Jesus Christ, there is no hope of salvation. “He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:12).
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). You can’t be called a true evangelical without holding to this statement by the apostle[s].
John 3:18: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him”(John 3:36).
Warren’s confusion is that he is disregarding some important facts. Abraham’s encounter with God took place before the cross. Abraham was looking forward to a fulfillment, today we look back at the finished work. Warren says, “They can be saved the same way that the people in the Old Testament were saved. The book of Romans tells us again and again that Abraham was saved the same way that we are, by his faith.”
Does it say this? Not the way Warren is representing it. It is actually the opposite- we are saved the same way Abraham was saved- by faith. Let me explain….
When did God say this to Abraham? Abraham had God specifically reveal himself to him and was called to father the nation of Israel. God had a purpose in calling Abraham (Gen. 22:18). Rom.4:3: “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Today we are to believe God by His gospel message for salvation.
This dualistic view of salvation is not clarifying the Bibles position but bringing confusion.
One cannot have faith in the true God like Abraham if the final revelation of God came and that is supposed to be the message the church speaks for men to be saved. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Acts 10:42-43 “And He commanded us to preach to the people, …. through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”(see also Acts 16:10; Romans 10:15). Nowhere do we have another way to be forgiven. 1 Cor. 1:23: “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.”
Nowhere do we find any record of the apostles allowing for another way to those (Gentiles) they could not reach. Paul made it clear, “to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you” (2 Cor. 10:16). Even an angel in the tribulation preaches the gospel to the people (Rev.14:6). There is NO OTHER way.
In fact, Paul addresses the other way, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). The gospel is the good news of how one can be forgiven of their sins. Paul is saying if anyone tells you something other than this way they are NOT preaching the gospel delivered to the apostles.
Gal 3:14: “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” This is very important to understand in relation to what Warren and other neo-evangelical positions teach in their wider mercy doctrine. It is found In Christ Jesus. This is a term for those who believed in the gospel and were saved through Christ’s atonement, not through faith by itself. Gal. 3:22: “…that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Believe what, just having faith? Absolutely not, Paul has been juxtaposing the law with faith in his teaching and sums it up by faith placed in the Messiah, not just having faith itself- by faith in Jesus Christ. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). Believing in Jesus is the faith of Abraham.
Romans 3:25-26 tells us about the sacrifice v.26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Then Paul asks in Rom 3:29-30 “Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”
So he is saying both the Jews and the Gentiles are justified by faith. And we know what this means because Paul explains that in this dispensation- But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference” (Rom 3:20-22). No difference- we all have sinned and we all come to God the same way.
In fact it become clear throughout the book of Romans where Paul writes about the faith of Abraham And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:22).
Rom 5:1: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
This is Paul’s message never detouring from the gospel that was given to him- “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Warren’s answer states, “A person who trusted in God without hearing the name of Jesus would be of the heart to immediately recognize that Jesus was the name of the one they believed in if they were ever to hear His name and story.” We are discussing those who have not heard the name and may never hear it.
The concept of salvation cannot be this nebulous. This view is like an alternative evangelism. There are numerous Jews who trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel; and do not recognize Jesus as the name they believed in, so his optimistic viewpoint is quite wrong. Yes. God still reveals Himself to people who haven't heard the name of Jesus today. But he leads them to the gospel message to be saved, not just by having faith in God. The faith of Abraham is to believe in the Messiah God gave to Israel and his work on the cross. Not just faith any God, not even believing in the God of Israel can save without the Messiah. Otherwise we need not bring the gospel to the Jews who already have a belief in the true God (but not faith).
The Book of Hebrews makes it very clear that the Old Testament system
is no longer operative, and there is no longer any other way of salvation
outside of Christ and His gospel. What was true for Abraham
This brings me to another aberrant view that Rick Warren holds. On other religions teachings Warren does not hold the evangelical position that Christ is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE. He states, “there’s truth in every religion, I, I, Christians believe there's truth in every religion. But we just believe there is one savior. We believe we can learn truth from, I believe I’ve have learned a lot of truth from different religions. Because they all have a portion of the truth. I just believe there's one savior Jesus Christ” (Larry King Live “Interview with Rick Warren” Nov.22, 2004).
Truth in other religions that have a different God?
“I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.” (Rick Warren (Emphasis added) Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren). (http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.901097/k.C0C7/Agenda.htm.
Transcribed from the audio available at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm referenced from the book “In the Name of Purpose, Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity” by Tamara Hartzell).
You can follow Jesus in other religions? How is this possible when Jesus said to forsake all pick up your cross and follow Him (only). Only the religion of Judaism has related teachings of the Messiah.
“I have known many people who believe in the Messiah of Jesus, regardless of what religion they are, because they believe in him. It’s about a relationship, not a religion” (Interview with Rick Warren, CNN Larry King Live, December 2, 2005, Transcript, (Emphasis added).
What question should pop up in response to this statement with those who think biblically? This broadens Jesus’ narrow road to be all encompassing.
“You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish or Jain, or you have no religion at all. I’m not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion. He came for us to have a relationship with him” (Rick Warren United Nations, Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, September 2005 (Emphasis added).
This might have played well to the crowd at the UN but to those who have their allegiance to Jesus Christ it is clearly compromise. Statements like these especially to the public and those who have positions of power in the global should not be overlooked. This is diminishing Christianity as distinct from other religions. There are other statements of this genre, which support this direction, especially with Warrens emerging church associations.
Question 50. Salvation - Unbelievers
Commentary: This may not be a major point but it is important enough to mention. While I understand the concept that it becomes our decision, and it is true that by rejecting the only way to salvation they go to hell, how do you think one gets there? Jesus Christ becomes their judge and sends them there (Mt.25:31-46). He has the keys to death and Hell.
This answer is certainly is a seeker friendly way to explain it and avoid a direct biblical answer. We are not just separated in “a place where we are totally apart from God, His goodness, His grace. This is not the description that Jesus gave. Jesus himself said, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matt 25:41). Matt 25:46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Read Rev.20-21, Rev 20:15: “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
2 Pet 2:9: “ then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, Jesus warned “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
The Bible talks about hell as much as it does heaven and warns the unrepentant sinner. God will judge“ in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”(2 Thess. 1:8). This is also contrary to Warren’s view of people being saved without the gospel, by having the faith of Abraham.
Warren’s avoidance of saying hell has punishment is made clear on another Larry king interview Rick Warren: “Yeah, the rule, the rule is grace, you see, you have to do the almost impossible to go to hell, you have to reject the love of Jesus Christ, now why would anybody reject that?”
Larry King: “Why is it so crowded down there?”
Rick Warren: “Why would anybody reject the love of Jesus. He’s done everything possible, you saw the Mel Gibson movie Jesus stretches out his hands on the cross and says I love you this much. It’s like I’m doing everything possible, I’m doing everything possible so that you don’t have to go to hell so that you don’t have to depend on your own efforts because uh, it is, uh it’s by grace. The message of the evangelical, the message of the Bible is not judgment, the message is grace. It is I don’t deserve but I get to go if I trust him” (Larry King Live, Nov.22, 2004)
He sidesteps answering Larry Kings pointed question. I have to disagree- the message of the Bible is twofold- one of blessing if you accept the message and one of punishment if you reject. Jesus made this clear even when he was training his disciples. Mark 6:10-12 Also He said to them, "In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. "And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" So they went out and preached that people should repent” (also Matt 10:12-15). I guess repentance and turning to God is a bit old fashion and too strong a language for postmodern preachers, yet God’s message has not changed. As Paul gave the message to the Gentile philosophers of his day “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, "because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained” (Acts 17:30-31).
Question 56. Trinity
Commentary: This is completely confusing even though he is quoting the Scripture to show Jesus is God. God is not one in person and three in persons at the same time. God is one in being and three in persons. The Trinitarian statement does not ever confuse the persons. As Athanasius coined the phrase, “not dividing the substance nor confusing the persons.”
To say one person is God is to imply the Father is God and then becomes the son as Modalism teaches
A.H. Strong; “In the nature of the One God there are three eternal distinctions…and these three are equal. “The doctrine of the Trinity does not on one hand assert that three persons are united as one person, or three beings in one being, or three Gods in one God (tritheism); nor on the other hand that God merely manifests himself in three different ways (modal Trinity of manifestations); but rather that there are three eternal distinctions in the substance of God” (Theology, A.H. Strong p.144).
In Modalism, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do not exist at the same time, but proceed one after another, and that is how there is only one person. In historic Christianity, it is taught that God exists as three in person- simultaneously.
This is sad to see the most popular pastor; the most read pastor not able to define the Trinity accurately and bring confusion to God’s nature. He may mean well but this definition is very flawed. Should we be listening to someone who cannot define the Trinity correctly?
Question: Will Saddleback Church baptize a person who lives
unmarried with another person?
While we will baptize unmarried persons living together without
benefit of marriage, we will not accept them into membership because
their living arrangement would not support the Testimony of the Church
and violates not only God's commandment prohibiting adultery, but also
the more general lifestyle guidance of Philippians 1:27 “Whatever
happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Comment: This conveys a misunderstanding of what baptism is. It is always for believers as shown in the pattern in Acts 2, 10 (which they quote). Baptism is for the repentant.
Warren has elsewhere written, “You became a member of God’s family by your second birth” (p. 118 Purpose Driven Life), but at the same time you cannot be a member of his church without these other requirements. This then has his own church in the category of a fundamentalist that they gave the definition of as negative. This kind of fundamentalism is about “keeping the right rules in the right way order to please the right people.” “I'm referring to the fanatical pursuit of keeping – and insisting that others keep – rules that are man-made and often culturally influenced.”
To add additional rules after baptism, such as to attend Saddleback's Membership Class and signed our Membership Covenant agreeing with Saddleback's Statement of Faith and agreeing to abide to their rules certainly puts their own church in this classification.
To baptize someone is not just giving testimony to the local church (like Saddleback) but to Christ. In fact, baptism shows that one has entered the body of Christ- the church. Warren denies them a place in his church unless these other church rules are kept.
To quote- baptize any who confess that they have accepted Jesus Christ and then turn around and say they are not members of his church – but in actuality are members of the body of Christ makes no sense at all.
In fact, this contradicts what he wrote in his popular book “Why is baptism so important? Then I realized it is because it symbolizes God's second purpose for your life: participating in the fellowship of God's eternal family. . . . " (Purpose Driven Life p. 120). But because of their living arrangement and violating God's commandment of adultery they are not welcomed to participate - they are not accepted into church membership. Then the church should not consent to baptism if they are known to be in this condition. In fact the only reason one would allow this is because they either do not understand what baptism is or to boost their attendance. Having them attend without membership would probably not exclude them tithing to the church.
What Bible verses support membership by attending ‘Saddleback's Membership Class and signed our Membership Covenant agreeing with Saddleback's Statement of Faith” Warren has made his own requirements for his church membership.
As we can see these are more than quirky teachings being promoted at Saddleback church. Some of these are errors that affect the gospel and core teachings. Warren’s flawed hermeneutics of Scripture was easily spotted in his book by those trained in the word. We should be made aware of what he really believes on these Biblical issues, these answers need to be corrected by him.