There are a few minor critiques that taken by themselves probably would not have necessitate a post. These are not major issues, but still in my passion to be ever truthful I must mention them.
- Warren's conclusion on God's purpose for Creation is typical modern evangelicalism. God created the world just for me and so he could love me. Now, God did create the world with a secondary purpose of creating us to display and give His love to us (not to mention other attributes). But the primary purpose (which Warren does not mention) is that God created the world and the galaxies and everything to display His splendor and His worth. When we put ourselves as the central purpose for Creation we open the door for neutering the gospel.
- This is very minor and really a point of semantics, but I did not appreciate Warren's definition of fundamentalists as "someone that stops listening". It depends on what you mean by fundamentalist. Do you mean going back to the fundamentals and keeping essential these fundamentals? If so, then Warren is saying that the framers of the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed are people that stop listening. Carl Henry is a person that stops listening. The list could go on and on, so his definition is not helpful and can be harmful to the discussion.
- Warren's doctrine of eternity is also suspect. I am not certain where he gets the idea that life is a practice ground so we are not a doofus in heaven.
- His statement about his book being historical Christianity made simple is very debatable. Saying there is nothing in that book that historical Christianity has not taught for 2,000 years is actually a little off. Actually, as we will see in a moment, the problem so often is not that he says things that are unorthodox; it is that often he fails to say things that are orthodox.
- Warren saying I have connections at the end about getting Jesus on the show. I understand that he was just joking, and I'm sure given the situation I may have made the same joke. Perhaps I was just so upset at this point that it caused me to boil over, but I found the way he said that highly arrogant.
There are also a few major errors in Warren's presentation. Most of which lie in what Warren failed to say. Bryan Chapell tells a story in his book Christ-Centered Preaching that has stuck with me. Many times in his seminary classes Chapell has played a tape of a preacher's morning meditations. They all nod in agreement. When Chapell says that this man is the leader of a local cult, his students are always astonished. They argue that he clothes his heresy. Then Chapell says, "The radio preacher has not hidden his heresy; he exposes it every time he speaks in what he fails to say. The real problem is that evangelical preachers inadvertently and so frequently present such similar messages that Christians fail to hear the difference between a message that purports to be biblical and one that actually is."(p.267-268, First Edition) What did Rick Warren fail to say?
- Jesus. The only mention of Jesus came from the lips of Colbert when he asked, "If we ask Jesus to come into our life will he?" To which Warren responded, absolutely. That's good, and maybe this should be in the minor section. Because we do not always have to mention the name of Jesus (although it certainly would be a good practice). Where I have a problem with his lack of mentioning Jesus is in the next points
- Twice it was as if Stephen Colbert (or perhaps the Holy Spirit) were begging Rick Warren to preach the gospel. When Colbert asked, "Am I living my purpose", or "what is the purpose of everyday" that was an invitation to preach the biblical gospel. Warren could have easily spoke of Creation (but again remember his purpose for Creation is not God revealing His glory, but us) then moved into our sinning against our Creator. (This would not have been as awkward as it seems because you could have easily used Colbert's "am I living my purpose" as a launching point). After briefly (it would have to be brief, yet pointed, given the format) discussing the aspect of sin you could preach the Cross. Fairly easy within about a minute. Yet what did Warren do? He did not even mention Jesus, sin, God's glory nothing. He told Stephen Colbert that as long as he is being a good doofus then he makes God smile. What?!? Where does he get the notion that God gets enjoyment out of watching you be you? Colbert being Colbert would be blaspheming God and trampling His glory. God does not enjoy that!
That is enough of a critique. Where does this philosophy come from and what can we do not to slip into it? I believe it is a rejection of the truth behind 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 as well as a rejection of the many places in Scripture that we see God's Word and His Gospel is His power unto salvation to those that believe. Warren has the underlying philosophy that we have to "make the gospel simple". There is a part of that which is true, but what often happens is that in "making the gospel simple" we neuter it of any value. In which case we end up preaching on things like purpose and fail to mention the name of Jesus nor be faithful to the biblically revealed Gospel. When men feel like they have to dress up the gospel to make it attractive interviews like this are all you are going to get.
Earlier I mentioned Denny Burk breaking the story. His belief is that Warren should not have even attended the show, so as not to cast his pearls before swine. That very well may be true, but Warren did not cast any pearls. This may be controversial but I am also not so sure that Colbert is swine. I am not sure I would go so far as to say Warren should not have appeared on the show. Maybe not. Maybe. What I do believe is that if were going to go on the show he should have not felt the need to clothe the gospel and preach it unadulterated. I've rambled enough, here is the video, tell me what you think: