Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quotes (and A Few Random Thoughts) From Rick Warren's Interview with Oprah

Posted by Christine Pack

Saddleback pastor and Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren (dubbed "America's Pastor" by Time magazine) recently joined Oprah Winfrey on Friday, October 5 on her livestreaming Lifeclass. Below are a few comments by Rick Warren taken directly from his interview with Oprah, along with some of my commentary.
Rick Warren: “I highly recommend you make God the most important person in your life. Because He loves you unconditionally.”
What about the biblical proclamation that the wrath of God abides on ALL men, unless they come to him in the way He has ordained....through the shed blood of Jesus?
Rick Warren: “If you build your security around a man, he can die. But if you build your security in your relationship to God, that can never be taken from you.”
But no mention of Jesus or how to be in a right relationship with God to this audience.
Rick Warren: “All of us have things we want to change in our lives......If you want to change the way you act, you have to start....with your thoughts.”
This is a Christianized version of something called "New Thought" which is a New Age practice. This is a practice in which one believes, and acts upon the belief, that their thoughts have God-like power to change circumstances. This belief is also what undergirds the Word of Faith movement.
A woman from Norway called in and said: "Who is God? What does that mean? I was raised Catholic....."
In response to this woman, who was clearly receptive to hearing from a pastor about how to be in relationship with God, Rick Warren did not give the gospel. He is response was something along the lines of, you've got to find God and find God's purpose for your life (paraphrasing). As they were cutting away to break after that segment, Rick Warren leaned over and asked Oprah about that caller, and indicated that he had been expecting a different caller. Oprah and the producer replied to him that this caller's question had seemed more urgent, and that's why they put that caller at the front of the line.
Rick Warren: "God is love."
This reason this bothers me is because so many professing Christians today, when asked about God, will say exactly this: that God is love, as if love is the most important attribute of God, and somehow trumps all of his other attributes. But the truth is that all of God's attributes (love, mercy, grace, justice, wrath, sovereignty, omnipotence, etc.) are in perfect, balanced proportion. I'm not saying God is not loving....but that in this interview (and what I hear at large from most Christians) is that God is the Beatles song.

Rick Warren is addressing this audience as if they all know and affirm what he means by God (as in, the God of the Bible).
Rick Warren: “When God wants to do something great in your life, the first thing He does is give you a dream.” 
Rick Warren: "God is more interested in your character than your career......You're not taking your career to heaven, you are taking your character." 
Really? I hope I'm not taking my character to heaven.....I need the imputed righteousness of Christ. That is the ONLY way I will stand faultless before the throne.
Rick Warren: "It's all about service." 
He has said this a few times. This is pure LAW-based teaching. But this is NOT what "it" is all about. "It" is all about knowing God rightly as He is revealed in his Word, and responding in humble obedience to his command to repent and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This is works righteousness.....this is a false gospel.
Rick Warren: "God never wastes a 'hurt." 
He's completely mischaracterizing Rom 8:28-29 to this audience....those promises are for believers only. Is he somehow under the impression that he is addressing Christians?

The only thing Rick Warren said that came even close to a gospel message was when he said something like, Jesus loved you *this much* (stretching out hands so they're in the hanging-on-the-cross position). Warren paraphrased Jesus's message for us thusly: "I love you so much I'd rather die than live without you." That last part is a direct quote, even though it's Warren paraphrasing, because, well, Jesus never said that. Jesus said "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." But to hear Warren tell it, poor needy Jesus is up in heaven, wringing his hands, just hoping you will let him come and live in your heart. That is just an abominable way for a pastor to describe the Lord of this Universe. Jesus is NOT some needy stalker girlfriend who's emotionally overwrought at the idea that you don't want to be with Him.

 Additional Resources 

Rick Warren and Joel Osteen Join Hands With Oprah

Rick Warren Get's John Piper's Stamp of Approval?