Rick Warren: Redemptive Criticism (and Other Virtues)

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The only way you learn redemptive criticism is to just get in the middle of it.

How have the past 10 years changed me? I hope I’m more dependent. The most important thing to me in the Christian life is depending on Jesus. You make a declaration of dependence.

I’m much less independent than I’ve ever been in my life. When you’re young, you’re cocky. You’re prideful. You think, I know how to do it. Nobody is more arrogant than the third-year seminary student who thinks he’s got a plan to build the church and hasn’t built anything.

It takes about 10 years to knock the ego you built in seminary out of you. After 10 years, then God can really start using you.

When I get up in the morning, my feet don’t touch the floor, I don’t get out of bed, till I have a long prayer that I pray every morning. Part of that prayer is, “Dear God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to love You more and know You better, because that’s what I was put here on earth to do.

If at the end of the day I don’t know You a little bit more and love You a little better, I’ve missed the first purpose of my life.” Because God didn’t put me on earth to mark things off my to-do list.

It doesn’t matter how many things I accomplish or how many awards I win or how many interviews I do, if I’m not closer to Jesus, if I’m not walking with Him. Jesus is my best friend, and I’ve walked with him now for over 50 years. And I talk with him just like I’m talking to you. In fact, I’ll often talk to Him and talk to you at the same time.

And so, being more dependent on God is the most important thing.

Being more gracious is the second most important thing. You can tell a person’s relationship to God not by their theology, but by their kindness and their joy. A lot of guys have a great theology, but they don’t know God—you don’t see it.

Amazingly, sometimes people who know the most about the doctrines of grace are the least gracious; they’re ungracious. And I want to be more like Jesus. I so want to be more and more gracious. If I’ve experienced grace, I want to show it.

Rick Warren Dr. Rick Warren is passionate about attacking what he calls the five “Global Goliaths” – spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy/poor education. His goal is a second Reformation by restoring responsibility in people, credibility in churches, and civility in culture. He is a pastor, global strategist, theologian, and philanthropist. He’s been often named "America's most influential spiritual leader" and “America’s Pastor.

More from Rick Warren or visit Rick at http://www.rickwarren.com/

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  • Algoria

    I had previously read parts of The Purpose Driven Life but not thoroughly. I have now done so. This time I read it in small portions and took time to think about it, as Rick Warren recommended, instead of plowing through it as I sometimes do. I read 2 or 3 chapters a day so it took about 15 days. (He suggested a chapter a day but I didn’t feel like going that slow.)
    This is only my opinion, but I think I’m right to say this is an excellent book. It would be worth any Christian’s time to read it systematically in small portions as he recommended. I hope you do this.
    At the time you listed some Christian authors who had influenced you. For me that would include JI Packer (Knowing God), CS Lewis (Mere Christianity), Richard Wurmbrand (In God’s Underground and Tortured for Christ), Roy Hession (We Would See Jesus) among others. Now I must add Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life)

    • amos8

      Thanks for the reply/comment, Algoria. [care to give any background explanation of the the name? ... It is obviously close to AlGore ... and I'm not sure if it is a play on that, and, if so, what is the meaning ... BTW, it is a cool name.]

      To be clear, “The Purpose Driven Life” is the least of the problems with RW. Are there parts of that book that are okay, if not helpful? Sure. Is it mixed with some errors and false teachings? Sure. But the bigger concern is RW’s overall ideology and methodology … one of which is–ironically given this article–how he avoids/evades critique/correction. [To give him--and people like him in similar situations--the benefit of the doubt: it is very hard to respond to that many people who are trying to point out concerns/problems. Nevertheless, I would hope that he--and all of us--would gladly respond to correction IF we are indeed in error.]

      As I have said many times in many places, RW is a supreme “pragmatist” [i.e. pursuing "whatever works" (or seems to work, but not in reality) often at the expense of purity of truth/God's Word (this is either intentional or unintentional].

      So, in this misleading mindset and endeavor, small (or even big) compromises are justified (in our deceitful hearts) because … “it is helping people,” “it is working…” “look at all the people that are benefiting from ______.”

      Notice that Eve justified eating the fruit because 1) It was “good” for food (there was truly “some good” in it) 2) It was pleasing to the eye 3) It was desirable for attaining wisdom.

      Rick Warren could be the poster child for what happens in pragmatism AND … How subtle compromises (however well-intended) lead a person (and many others0 AWAY FROM THE TRUTH.

      Case in point, for the past couple of years he has been openly embracing 3 men (i.e. “The Daniel Plan” … please research the problems here) who are clearly false teachers AND he is having them/their ideas taught from his pulpit … and in other venues. This is no secret or wild accusation. As always, I ask others to please do the research for themselves in order to discern and know for themselves (Acts 17:11).

      The three men are: Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman. All of them have beliefs and teachings that are decidedly against Scripture … YET RW eagerly blends with and touts their ideology. This is a GROSS violation of God’s commands for us–especially “Christian leaders.”

      Here is a summary of just a few of their anti-Christian ideas (This is taken from a very good discernment website that perhaps specializes in New Age and mystical teachings):

      1. Dr. Amen is a proponent of tantric sex (the combining of sexual activity with mystical practices), which is probably the most extreme form of meditation.

      2. In Dr. Hymen’s book, The Ultramind Solution, Hyman emphasizes meditation, saying that it doesn’t matter what religion one has to benefit from it (p. 322). Dr. Hyman suggests that “Mindful meditation is a powerful well-researched tool, developed by Buddhists” (p. 384).

      3. In January 2010, Dr. Oz brought a Reiki master onto his show to demonstrate Reiki and then ended the show saying, “try Reiki” as the #1 “Oz’s Order.” It would make sense that Dr. Oz would tell his viewers to try Reiki – his wife is a Reiki practitioner.

      Further from this article:

      “After seeing the evidence, there can really be no doubt that Dr. Hymen, Dr. Amen, and Dr. Oz each have a strongly devoted affinity to the practice of entering altered states of consciousness through meditation in order to attain to what is known as the ‘higher self’ (i.e., the divinity within every person).”

      These are not small errors or minor deviations. These are very harmful.

      God’s instruction in this manner are clear:

      “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, DO NOT TAKE THEM INTO YOUR HOUSE OR WELCOME THEM. ANYONE WHO WELCOMES THEM SHARES IN THEIR WICKED WORK.”

      [I'll let you read all of 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 to further emphasize God's directives in situations like this.]

      And now, not only is RW writing a book (soon to be released) with these flagrant false teachers, but is promoting their mysticism on his “Daniel Plan” website (which is owned and operated by RW’s church). [He also promoted mysticism in PDL (look up "breath prayers" to see their real meaning and source) and has also done so on his churches website]

      Furthermore, this is just one of many problems with RW and his teachings. [e.g. he teaches a lot of pop-psychology (i.e. "love yourself," "believe in yourself," "forgive yourself," etc)] The PDL–with whatever good or bad in it–is not the measure of who he really is. Be even more discerning with those who mix good with bad … and those who justify it.

      “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference
      between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

      • Algoria

        My bad. I should have done my homework. I’ve done a little belated research and what you’ve said about Rick Warren and the Daniel Plan is true. This is disappointing because Warren is such an influential figure in the evangelical church. “The Purpose Driven Life” seemed to be a helpful book which has encouraged many Christians. I’m willing to overlook imperfection in leaders, because God knows I’m not perfect, but this mixing of New Age and eastern religious beliefs with Christianity is not wise.

        I really want to give others the benefit of the doubt. I’ve encountered Christians who find fault with every leader including Billy Graham. No, he did not get everything right, but neither did his critics, and most of them seem to have done almost nothing fruitful with their own lives. There are those who are more exclusive in their religion than God himself, and I’d prefer not to be one of them.

        My human discernment has sometimes proven to be very fallible over the years. I’m going to have to depend on the Holy Spirit more than ever, as well as being diligent to search the scriptures (and sometimes the internet) as things “go south” on this earth.

        As far as the name goes, when I began commenting online some years ago it was mostly on secular and political sites and the name somehow seemed appropriate at the time. Now I’m trying to focus less on politics and more on what really matters so the moniker may be a little out of place on a site like this, but I guess I’m stuck with it.

        • amos8

          Yes, it is a cool name … worthy of keeping!

          Kudos to you for owning up, and your desire for discernment. It is challenging, and takes a lot of practice (Heb 5:14; Acts 17:11). The thing with compromise is that it is often small, so the slide toward error can be hard to see in the subtle changes/errors.

          Also, we tend to gloss over the “small” errors because they are, well, small. Just about everyone can see the big problems, but discerning and dealing with the subtle, nuanced problems can be quite challenging … especially when we are so frequently discouraged for discerning (as in this article).

          As I know you know, and have seen all too much on this website, deception and error are running rampant, and only getting worse. Blessings to you …

          • Algoria

            You’re right about the Daniel Plan. We can unite in a common cause with fellow believers in Jesus Christ even if we have some serious disagreements with them, but must not join with those who are false teachers.

            I think “The Purpose Driven Life” is a different issue however. Rick Warren wrote it about a dozen years ago, well before this strange alliance with these three doctors. There are things I disagree with in the book but I still don’t want to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath-water. It seems to have helped many people find God. This makes his project with the New Age inclined doctors seem even more dismaying.

            That was a good quote from Spurgeon about the “difference between right and almost right.”

            Here’s another one I ran across a few days ago in one of his devotionals, about the other side of the coin.

            “Wherever this abiding love of truth can be discovered, we are bound to exercise our love. No narrow circle can contain our gracious sympathies, wide as the election of grace must be our communion of heart. Much of error may be mingled with truth received, let us war with the error but still love the brother for the measure of truth which we see in him; above all let us love and spread the truth ourselves.”
            C. H. Spurgeon Morning and Evening Daily Readings – Morning October 25