Rick Warren Teaches Pelagianism at John Piper’s Desiring God

Posted on October 7, 2010


By Justin Edwards

From Apprising Ministrie

This year’s controversial Desiring God Conference came to a close Sunday evening with a keynote lecture from Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren. Earlier this year, John Piper’s invitation to Rick Warren sparked a firestorm among fundamental and reformed evangelicals as Warren is known for his pragmatic pulpit, Scripture twisting, and man-centered gospel that has served to do more harm to the Body of Christ than perhaps any other modern church movement. While Warren makes no apologies for his unbiblical methods and even heretical teachings, the fact that John Piper believes he is biblical “at root” left many scratching their heads this past spring. Following the public announcement of Rick Warren’s invitation, Piper said,

At root I think he is theological and doctrinal and sound. (Source)

I wonder if John Piper still thinks this to be true. I just got a chance to listen to the entire lecture given by Warren at DG2010 through the review of Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio. And what has been made clear more than any other material I’ve heard or read of Rick Warren, his speech on Sunday left no doubt that he is a heretical Pelagian.

In a nutshell, Pelagianism denies original sin and teaches that man is morally neutral. Man therefore has the capacity to choose God through rational thought and free will apart from the grace of God. In fact, man is born with the same moral purity as Adam before the fall, and it is only the influences of his environment and making poor intellectual decisions that leads man to sin and bad behavior. In other words, man has the ability to fulfill or obey the commands of God by his will alone (for more on the heresy of Pelagianism , please see Pelagianism and Pelagianism: Religion of Natural Man).

So what does this have to do with Rick Warren? Well, as Rosebrough said on his October 4th program, Warren’s lecture Sunday was Pelagianism run amok.  Warren believes “all behavior is based in a belief” and “behind every sin is a lie I’m believing” (per Rosebrough from Saddleback’s 2008 Purpose Driven Community Conference). In other words, sin only consists in the separate act of the will and if we just learn what the truth is, we can stop sinning. If we just change the way we think, we can change the way we behave. The obvious thing missing here is the grace of God and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Rick Warren’s lecture at the DG conference was on “The Battle for Your Mind.” Warren asked the audience to listen to his message like their lives depended on it. He makes the claim that “ineffective Christians” are that way because they don’t know how to fight the battle in their minds. He even goes so far as to call sin a mental illness and if Satan can get you to believe the lie, then you will sin. What Warren is doing here is denying the total depravity of man and reduces sin to a mental capacity of choosing to do the wrong thing, rather than sin being the very essence of human nature. What’s more, Rick Warren outrageously made the comment that we must “put on the fruit of the Spirit”. As if this is something that man does in putting on joy, peace, patience, and love, etc. The fruit of the Spirit are the character traits of God manifest in the lives of the born again believer, not something that man can just choose to try out to see if it works ala the Purpose Driven Pope’s pragmatic “just try Jesus”.

By presupposing a faulty view of sin, Warren believes man can choose to obey God through the Law and thus believes man can be sanctified by submitting to a moralistic list of do’s and don’t’s. Rick Warren preaches a works-based, man-centered gospel that leaves the grace of God, the redemptive work of Christ, and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit totally out of the picture. As Rosebrough says, this is rank Pharisaical moralism.

If you have been unclear as to why John Piper should have never invited Rick Warren, you must listen to Chris Rosebrough’s review. The heresy that was taught at the DG2010 conference must not be left to silence by Piper, Al Mohler, and even John MacArthur who did not speak at the conference. Rick Warren is a hypocrite who says only methods should be changed and not doctrines, while he is doing just that by being at root theologically and doctrinally unsound. To make this point abundantly clear, Warren said the following in closing,

The biggest limitation of your ministry is your imagination…God can’t help you reach a goal unless you’ve got a goal. A goal is a statement of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God.

How much worse can you twist Scripture, Rick Warren? This is what the Scripture actually says in Hebrews 11:6,

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

This is about saving faith, Mr. Warren, not about dreams and visions.

In any case, Chris Rosebrough’s review is well worth the full 2.5 hours where he discusses much more than I have laid out in this post. I pray we will hear from John Piper and other leaders soon as the crossless and man-centered law gospel of Rick Warren must not be left to silent endorsement.

You can stream the show through the video below or download the mp3 here: Rick Warren’s Lecture at Desiring God

I also recommend Daniel Neade’s Enough! Scripture Twisting Is Not ‘Doctrinal and Sound’

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