The Gospel According to Rick Warren

By Ingrid Schlueter  - January 25, 2006






The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story on Rick Warren on Sunday, January 8, 2006 that tells us a great deal about the man who is changing the face of American evangelicalism. Here's an excerpt: 

"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. Fear of each other.'"

This remark is no surprise to Pastor Bob DeWaay of Twin City Fellowship in Minneapolis. DeWaay has just published a book that shines the spotlight on Rick Warren's brand of Christianity and its sobering implications for the church. The title of DeWaay's new book, Redefining Christianity: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement describes what a growing number of Christians are seeing. Rick Warren has subtly and critically changed the message of the Gospel.


In the forward to the book, Gary Gilley, author of This Little Church Went to Market and pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois, writes,

"Bob (DeWaay) painstakingly shows that Rick Warren has done for the church what McDonald's has done for the restaurant industry.  Unfortunately, the church is not in the hamburger flipping business.  Applying franchising principles to Christ's church may result in outward success, but true success cannot be measured by simply reading the bottom line of  'nickels and noses,' buildings and programs. 


But there is a bottom line by which to measure the church: it is doctrinal integrity. The church is the pillar and support of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). If the church fails in its God-given mission of upholding, defending and propagating the truth then it fails. Period.  It is on this level that Bob DeWaay challenges Rick Warren's 'Purpose Driven' agenda.


Is the Warren franchise successful? By every criteria that a retail franchise can be measured, the answer is a clear yes. But how is the Warren franchise doing with the all important commodity of truth is concerned?..."

In his steady, scholarly way, Bob DeWaay demonstrates that the Gospel of Rick Warren is not a biblical call to sinners to throw down their rebel arms at the cross and embrace the salvation offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere in the Purpose Driven Life are readers told that sinners (what an archaic term now) are under the wrath and curse of God unless they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice on the cross.  Rick Warren instead retools the Gospel message to appeal to the unregenerate. He does not believe that God's purposes are declared in his revealed Word, but rather teaches that the unsaved should go on a journey of self-discovery in order to locate God's purposes for their lives.


To Rick Warren, church growth is not the result of the Holy Spirit converting sinners as seen in the book of Acts but is the result of the latest marketing techniques that will make church attractive to those who don't know Jesus Christ. Thousands of churches are now Purpose Driven franchises with success hungry pastors taking their cues and even their sermons from Rick Warren. Rick Warren calls this "Church-in-a-box" and he offers it on his numerous websites. But the true Gospel of Christ, the narrow way that Christ spoke of in the Bible, has been altered to suit the world. Numerical success may be achieved, but the Gospel must be obscured to do it Warren's way.


Redefining Christianity has excellent chapters in which the author deals with Rick Warren's redefining of terms like "vision" and "commitment" and his misuse of countless Bible versions and paraphrases in trying to justify his teachings. The most important chapter in the book deals with the Gospel according to Rick Warren. The author points out that when original sin and the blood atonement are removed from the message, there is no "good news". The world is then being given a gospel that is false. It really is that serious.


Rick Warren's distaste for Christian fundamentalism as expressed in the Philadelphia Inquirer is a result of his distaste for the fundamentals of God's Word. Those who insist on hearkening back to the Word of God stand in direct opposition to Warren's "Purpose-Driven" marketing tsunami. Rick's much vaunted PEACE plan, his unprecedented popularity with the secular media and his continuing ascendancy in American evangelicalism is dependent upon those pastors and leaders who are willing to set aside the clear dictates of God's Word in order to ride the coattails of Rick Warren and his temporal success. Fundamentalists get in the way.


In the midst of the marketing hype and popular clamor for Rick Warren's man-centered Gospel, may the clear voice of our Savior Jesus Christ cut through the din.  

"Enter ye in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13-14

2006 Ingrid Schlueter

Ingrid Schlueter has been producer and co-host of the Crosstalk Radio Talk Show on the VCY America Radio Network for 18 years. She is author of numerous articles on current issues and is a regular columnist for Wisconsin Christian News. She has also authored, Parent Police: The UN Wants Your Children. Email:  Website:  

Other articles by Ingrid Schlueter: Thirty Small Singing Soldiers

Eternal Vigilance: The Price of Sound Doctrine | Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy is Destroying the Church


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