I don’t keep up that much with Rick Warren, but I have read many of his books.

I have always scratched my head in confusion as so many Christians want to burn him at the stake. Well, I scratch my head a lot at all the friendly fire that is out there. We shoot stun darts at enemies and bazookas at our family. With Warren, at every turn, I see “discerning Christians” trying to rub him out.

These type of Christians stake out in front of the house of their target and don’t leave—ever. I suppose that I could go there and see where they are coming from. I suppose that I can understand their wiring. After all, from their perspective, they are standing up for the truth of the Gospel. They are “contending for the faith.” Grace must take a backseat to truth since, after all, it is truth that produces grace, right? Mercy must stand in line as it waits for contention to run its course. Maybe we will get to those things later, but the foundation must be laid. Onward Christian soldiers!

I call this “the gift of parochialism”:

1) The ability of Christians to target and focus only on the bad in others; 2) The chronic display of other people’s shortcomings; 3) The gift of the Holy Spirit to be excessively narrow in our findings; 4) The uncanny ability of being indignant of other people’s theological shortcomings and indulgent of our own.

But it is easier. It is easier to attack than it is to be tactful. It is easier to lead rash assaults. “Skip the reconnaissance. Did you hear what he said?” After all, hastiness is natural. “‘Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death!'” . . . “Master, we saw him casting out demons in your name and we tried to stop him.” . . . “Master, do for me whatever we ask (for I am worthy and I can handle anything). Grant to me that I sit on your right hand, so that I can act as the judge and you can get a break.” . . . “Cut off his ear!” (Loosely, Matt. 26:65-66; Mark 9:38; Mark 10:35-41; Jn. 18:10).

In fact, you will always have a following if you are hasty and rash because it appeals to the same in all of us. Wisdom, understanding, grace, and tact are not welcome when we are inciting a lynching. “He deserves death!” Everyone is a rookie of grace, but an expert at “monster.” The human body comes standard with pitchforks. Bandages are optional.

Back to Warren.

I feel sorry for Rick Warren. Well, I don’t feel too sorry for him because I know that he has thick enough skin to take what is being dished out. I also know that there are a lot of people who appreciate and see all the good that he does. Has he said some stuff that is theologically off? Possibly. Who has not? Has he misrepresented our faith here and there? Certainly. We all have (and do). Is he perfect or imperfect? Please use a number 2 pencil and shade in the circle next to “imperfect.” In fact, do that for everyone but Christ.

Why today? Why Warren? Why this post?

Because I read a blog post that was warning people about Warren and, simply put, it hurt to read. I get Warren’s tweets through my tweet catcher, TweetDeck. I have been impressed by his daily thoughts. Impressed and encouraged. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they tweet. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with Twitter, what it amounts to is quick thoughts that are 140 characters or less.)

Here are some of the more encouraging ones that Rick Warren has posted over the last 28 hours:

“If someone is full of bitterness hate, no amount of logic will change their mind. Absorb their hurt, love, forgive & pray for them.”

“What we think is a deadend is often God’s detour to a better way.”

“For Kay & me,our best way to pray together is conversationally, back & forth aloud, rather than 2 uninterrupted prayers.”

“The most common way Jesus comes into our lives is through a broken heart.”

“Prayer is dialog, not mere monolog. 50% is quiet listening.”

“Prayer isn’t convincing God to do our will but alligning ourselves with His will, which requires overcoming evil with good.”

“Neither the length nor eloquence of your prayers causes God to answer. God responds to faith. See Mark 11:24

“It’s dumb not to learn from others because u disagree with much of what they say.Even a broken clock is correct twice a day” [oh, the irony of that one]

“We’re always just one heartbeat away from eternity.”

“Giving up faith in God because perversions of faith occur is as irrational as giving up sex because rape & incest occur.”

“If u think divorcing& marrying another will bring u happiness know this:74% of 2nd marriages AFTER a divorce end in divorce.”

And last but not least:

“Many CLAIMING to hold to Sola Scriptura actually trust manmade confessions.The WORD,not us,is inerrant,so we need humility!”

Wait, one more,

“The darkest blindess is refusing to see the truth.”

I hope you were encouraged by his words. I hope you saw his heart here.

I am not cherry picking. However, I did leave out this one:

“Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.”

This tweet caught the eye of some of our friends who were were staked out, binoculars in hand, in front of his house, in a dark alley. What? . . . You don’t see the problem? Desensitized fool! Oh ye who don’t have the gift of parochialism. Oh ye without the ability to discern. You who do not appraise what you eat. Take a close look at the leaven being put into your mind. 

(The sarcasm here is about to make me point my canon straight up!)

The problem that this particular group has with this quote is this: “Rick Warren’s choice [for tweet] today was New Age mystic, Henri Nouwen, a Buddhist sympathizer who believed all paths lead to God.” They go on to dissect what this must mean about Warren. In short, he is attempting to lead people to universalism.

I tweet. I tweet often. Many times I quote from Christians who are not of the same ilk as me theologically. I just encouraged people to follow my friend Paul Copan, who is an Arminian. I have quoted Francis Beckwith, who is a Roman Catholic. Last week, I even tweeted this: “I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening.” This comes from Aleister Crowley, an occultist. It does not mean that I have a secret plan to lead people to occultism. I also, like Warren, tweet straight from the Bible. Just this morning, while reading Genesis, I tweeted this, “Gen 6:1. Angels? ‘The sons of God saw the daughters of men were beautiful; they took them as wives.’ At least they married them 1st!” 

If people are waiting for me to “slip” by quoting or saying something that is a bit off, they won’t have to wait long.

Here is what I think to myself about the attack on Warren here:

1) Who cares if Warren quotes from a guy who is off theologically? Does this mean that he endorses all Nouwen’s theology? Why would we ever think such?

Most importantly…

2) Didn’t they read all of Warren’s other tweets? Didn’t they see how rich they were? His heart is on his sleeve. These other tweets were as orthodox as you can get. He is defending Christianity, not universalism. Why, out of all these, do they pick the Nouwen quote? Why not one of the others? He is quoting the Bible. He is defending marriage. For goodness sake, he is even standing strong on sola Scriptura!

When did grace get put in the trunk? When did reason get flicked out the window? Why do those of us who care about theology so dearly become back alley back stabbers of our own family?

We need to learn to have grace in our theology. We need to recognize those of the same DNA and commend before we condemn. We need to be seen as people of grace before we ever have a right to prune.

Folks, if we are hanging out on theology corner looking for a fight, we can find one. We will also always have an audience who is willing to watch and cheer as we beat someone up. But what we will find is that we become blood thirsty after a few rounds. The cheers of the crowd will become our heroine. However, in the end, we might discover that we are punching the face of our brother.

We need to be theologically discerning. We need “appraise” things. But when we realize that this is all we are doing, I think we need to appraise ourselves.

Grace and Truth. Truth and Grace. What a difficult combination to find.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    125 replies to "Give Rick Warren a Break!"

    • Dave Z

      Cheryl, I appreciate your responses and the gracious tone in which you’ve made them. I don’t mind honest disagreement and I don’t feel a need to convince you of my point of view. I trust you to consider the information you receive and make up your own mind and I feel like our exchanges have been good, so I’m content and (I think) done with this thread. My time and energy are fading too. You are certainly correct that neither grace nor truth can be left out of our thoughts and interactions.

      I would encourage you to look at the Piper video in my last comment and consider what he says. Also look at the followup comments.

      Thanks for the good discussion.

    • cherylu

      I would really like to thank you too, Dave, and all of the others that have been a part of this gracious discussion.

      I will hopefully get a chance to watch the Piper video you linked.

    • cherylu

      One more comment….

      I came across this article regarding Rick Warren’s meeting with a Muslim group. I would like to reference it simply because it has direct bearing on the specific things we have just been discussing. It is found here:


      There are some direct quotes and then some statements from the articles author:

      “I will tell you that I am not interested in interfaith dialogue. I am interested in interfaith project. There is a big difference,” said Warren to attendees of the 46th annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention Saturday evening.


      “You know as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ,” Warren stated. “But you also need to know that I am committed not just to what I call the good news, but I am committed to the common good.”

      He called on the members of the two largest faith communities in the world to not only figure out how to live in peace and harmony with each other, but also to find a way to work together for the greater good without compromising each group’s convictions.

      In his speech, Warren suggested that Muslims and Christians work together to challenge the mischaracterizations and stereotypes in the media about each other’s faith; to restore civility in America by showing that people can “disagree without being disagreeable;” and to promote peace and freedom, particularly freedom of speech and religion, together.

      At least in this instance, he said he was not interested in interfaith dialog.

      Then a direct quote coming from this source that is from the same meeting: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs019/1101818841456/archive/1102630976959.html “Muslims and Christians can work together for the common good without compromising my convictions or your convictions.”

    • […] six seconds after CMP posts on Rick Warren, the slice of hate crowd comes out to put a stake into him (both CMP and […]

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    • Brian

      Regarding Tony Blair’s aim to eliminate religious conflict, I don’t think he is talking about theological disagreement and debate and competing claims of exclusivity, as much as about bringing an end to situations like we’ve seen in India, where Christians were physically attacked by Hindu nationalists and their houses and churches burned just because of their faith, or like the actions Martin Luther was quoted as recommending against Jews early on in this thread, or Christians being killed in riots my Muslims based on a rumor that the local bishop said something disrespectful of Mohammed. I think he’s talking about physical, bodily-harm conflict (which followers of Christ are told to turn away from, turning the other cheek), not conflicting ideas.

      I think there’s something to be said for evangelizing through respectful dialogue and examination of ideas, and that’s more easily accomplished when there are no fears of physical violence..

    • cherylu


      I wonder if you are right about that, I hadn’t thought of it in that way.

      I quoted him in comment 74, I believe as saying, ““If faith becomes a countervailing force, pulling people apart, then it becomes destructive and indeed dangerous.”

      Granted, countervailing may be a pretty strong word. But “pulling people apart” sounds to me like something less then physical violence-something more like the division that can come when Jesus is preached as the only way. Anyone else have any thoughts on that?

      I came across this statement by Rick Warren explaining why he took the position on the advisory board of Tony Blairs Foundation:

      “The vision and values of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation are desperately needed today when every major issue in our world is influenced for good or harm by faith factors. It would be foolish to ignore how religious conviction impacts personal and national identity, poverty and education, extremism and reconciliation, disease and development, peace and progress. In any effort to help people learn to live and work together, we must engage the vast networks, resources, wisdom, and influence of the faith communities. My friends, Tony Blair is uniquely prepared with the gifts of temperament, knowledge, experience, leadership, and global respect essential for a task this great. I honestly don’t know of anyone better suited for this challenge. It’s why I agreed to serve on the Advisory Board. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s potential for doing good is staggering.”

    • cherylu

      Sorry, I didn’t include the link for that last statement by Rick Warren. I found it here:


    • Candace

      I’ve was reborn almost 4 years ago, at the age of 50. In the decades before I came to Christ, I read widely, about all kinds of spirituality, and had basically ditched the whole mess for the last 15 years before the Lord dramatically intervened.

      The thing that always gets me about these sorts of conversations/debates (the accusation-and-defense, truth vs grace stuff, generally over someone well known and his theology or lack thereof), it always makes me shake my head.

      I have to hope it is all just in the way of exercising brain muscles, but I fear not.

      Where are the Christians who trust the LORD to do his job, and do not feel they must do it FOR Him? Do you feel as though He is incapable? Do you feel as if the rest of humanity lacks the ability to discern? Do you think that anyone profits at all by your rancor? Didn’t Paul say something about not caring who was teaching as long as the word was getting out?

      Call me a newbie, but I do have a brain. Despite all my investigation into false gods, the Holy Spirit did work in me, and eventually I was transformed by that and by the Lord Himself. As far as I know, everything is eventually going to turn out in accordance with God’s plan, and the justice and grace will be His to wield.

      Some of it, I trust, will be applied to those among us who feel their own discernment is to be forcibly applied to the rest of us.

      I don’t recall Jesus ever doing that. I think I’ll continue to follow HIM.

    • Bill honsberger

      I am curious as to why no one is drawn to comment on the integrity issues I mentioned in #11?

    • A.M. Mallett

      I left a church over the Purpose Driven nonsense. I’d leave again sooner if I had to do it over again.

    • Steve Martin


      He’s just another So. Baptist preacher under the guise of non-denominationalism.

      He’s all about the ‘self’ (what WE DO). It’s just law, and the law works like a dangling carrot to keep people going on the religious treadmill. Sure, he knows the gospel, but he covers it with so many layers of law that it can barely breathe.

      Just the fact that his church is SO BIG…tells me that they are doing something wrong. Christianity has never been that popular.

      People don’t need to have themselves handed back to them (at worship)…they need to be killed off…and then raised again by the gospel. But they are much too busy (“driven”) for that.

    • cherylu

      Bill honsberger,

      I have been wondering why the first item he lists as the 5 global giants that need everyone working on them together to solve seems to change with the audience he is speaking to?

      When he unvelied his P.E.A.C.E. plan, the first probelm he said needed addressing was spiritual emptiness. And that is still listed on the Saddleback Church webpage when you go looking for info on the P.E.A.C.E. plan. However, in quotes to other groups of people, like the Muslims I quoted him speaking to above, he lists conflict as the first problem. Here is that quote from the full transcript of his speech: Number 1 is the problem of Conflict. War, confrontation, hostilities, terrorism, refugee camps. All of the things that cause hostility between generations, hostility between races, hostility between nations, hostility between ethnic groups and economic groups, and it is just an evidence of our unwillingness to reconcile with God and to reconcile with each other.


      What is up with that I wonder?? It doesn’t seem to me like one equals the other. Spiritual emptiness may certainly lead to conflict, but they are not the same thing!

    • Hodge


      Thank you for discerning for us in regards to our discernment. I guess we should follow what you have said then?

      As a new believer you may be unaware that we are commanded by God to “discern” for others. It’s called rebuke, correction, admonishing, exhortation, etc. The Holy Spirit works primarily through us, not primarily despite us. And no Christian teaching, except that which is heretical, considers the human brain capable of discerning apart from the Holy Spirit’s use of the Scriptures as they are preached and taught by humans in the Church.
      I would suggest spending your time learning ecclesiology, biblical anthropology, hamartology, and pneumatology rather than lecturing us who have been learning these things since we were toddlers. Praise God that you have come through the door, but don’t let that cause you to think that you’ve come to Him in all things. There are many thoughts still left “uncaptive” to Christ. He sets His ministers up for that reason (Eph 4:8-16). It is, therefore, we who are ministers who should shake our heads at those who dismiss our correction as foolishness.

    • Dave Z

      Aw, c’mon Hodge, lighten up a little. While your points may be correct, they were delivered with a bit of an unnecessary jab, IMO.

      To Candace – Christianity teaches that we are involved in what is actually warfare in the spiritual realm. As in any war, there are battles and skirmishes. Not pleasant but reality. Speaking for myself, and without going into too much detail, I jumped in whan I felt an attack had been launched – unfair accusations had been made. I feel strongly that such attacks must not be allowed to pass unchallenged and misinformation must be corrected. I agree that it is unpleasant and should be unnecessary. Ideally, we should be able to discuss issues in a respectful manner, searching for truth instead of just trying to prove our side of the argument. Such discussions are possible and I felt the exchange between myself and Cheryl was an example of that.

      But the bottom line is that, if the Bible is true, we are at war in a spiritual reality. Unpleasant battles will continue until God’s plan is complete.

    • Hodge


      I disagree. Having been a pastor, I’ve come across this sort of hubris before. It needs to be very plainly addressed. The person who has a “better” way is usually the person who is most unteachable of all. I just want Candace to learn instead of teach at the age of four.

    • Sylvain

      Eckhart Tolle, Oprah, Obama and George Bush all claim to be Christians too. Can’t we just forget about the evil, can’t we ignore the war crimes, can’t we put aside the demonic roots, be politically correct, ignore the negative and only focus on the positives of these brothers and sisters in Christ?

      I hope no one seriously believes what I just wrote. If it wasn’t for the work of some of these discernment ministries along with the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I would have been one that was so deceived.

      We don’t poke at only the negatives in others, but because so many people believe that we MUST NOT mention the negatives of anything in the politically correct and man centered churches there days, there are those wise men out there who DO point out the negatives for the benefit of all who listen, to compensate for the weak and undiscerning who teach and publish works that keep us from seeing the whole picture.

    • Veritas

      Rick Warren made the following statements concerning his P.E.A.C.E. Plan that was pitched to the United Nations.

      “Billions of people suffer each day from problems so big no government can solve them…”

      “The only thing big enough to solve the problems of spiritual emptiness, selfish leadership, poverty, disease, and ignorance is the network of millions of churches all around the world.”

      That’s pretty haughty in my opinion.

      Bottom line: Millions of churches operating under the influence and approval of the United Nations CANNOT solve those problems, and it doesn’t matter how hard they try or how organized they are.

      Only God’s Kingdom under the rulership of His Son, Jesus Christ can solve the problem of spiritual emptiness, selfish leadership, poverty, disease, and ignorance.

      It looks to me like Rick Warren is placing his hope and trust in men to solve problems, and in the United Nations especially.

      Psalm 146:3 advises us against this when it says:
      “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.” (NIV)

      Daniel 2:44 points us to the only government that will ever solve the problems that humans face in this fallen world: “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” (NIV)

      look for further comment…

    • Veritas

      Rick Warren seems to be very involved in politics. So much so that he is working in union with the United Nations, was present to give the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration, and even hosted a Presidential Debate at his Mega-Church between Obama and McCain.

      What’s wrong with that you may ask? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about Christians being politically involved.

      John 6:15 – “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (NIV)

      John 17:16 – “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (NIV)

      James 4:4 – “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (NIV)

      What is the point you might inquire? Well, as 1 John 5:19 says, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
      Also, at John 14:30, Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world.” The point is that it doesn’t matter what worldly government or organization a person might support or place their trust in, because either way they come under the influence of Satan.

      Although as Christians the Bible commands us to remain neutral does that mean our hands are tied when it comes to helping others?

      Certainly not. Christians should know well and put forth an earnest effort to apply the command repeated by Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) Paul also counseled: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal. 6:10) As Christians the greatest good we can do for anyone is to share with them the good news of God’s Kingdom, which will forever solve the issues facing mankind and which allows those who embrace it the wonderful opportunity of everlasting life.

    • Ed Kratz

      Latest Rick Warren tweet: “The value of anything is whatever someone’s willing to pay for it.”God paid for YOU with the lifeblood of Christ”1 Pet1:19”



    • Dave Z

      Latest Rick Warren tweet: “The value of anything is whatever someone’s willing to pay for it.”God paid for YOU with the lifeblood of Christ”1 Pet1:19″


      Ah, yes, you see it … the subtle poison so carefully blended into Warren’s lie. In his unashamed humanism, he places the value on man, not on God’s glory. Scripture, on the other hand, says Christ died for the Father’s glory, not for me. Once again, the deceiver, Warren, is attempting to seduce ill-informed Christians with his New-Age, man-centered, so-called “gospel.”

      (Maybe this post will result in an invitation for me to write for a discernment site)

    • Brad R

      Dave Z,

      “Christ died for the Father’s glory, not for me.”

      Uh, Dave? I think your ways are higher than my ways. Not getting your point. I think the first part of your sentence is on target (Christ died for the Father’s glory), but totally confused with the second (“not for me”). Jesus and his death is absolutely about the redemption of people as taught throughout the Scripture, yes? Am I missing something? Please don’t tell me that after five years of Greek and four years of Hebrew studies that I missed that his atoning death wasn’t for you and me. If so, I’m going back for my refund! If God didn’t love the world (John 3:16) please let me know. I still believe in a God that doesn’t want anyone to perish, which makes his passion for people/humanity stand out.

    • GregE

      CMP, I love your website, been reading for several months now and I appreciate your honesty on each subject you write about.

      Hodge, in your response to Dave, you wrote the following concerning Candace, a relatively new believer (posts 115-117).

      “I disagree. Having been a pastor, I’ve come across this sort of hubris before. It needs to be very plainly addressed. The person who has a “better” way is usually the person who is most unteachable of all. I just want Candace to learn instead of teach at the age of four.”

      I, like Candace, came to know the Lord later in life. It would have been nice to be “called” as a toddler, as you were, and spoon fed ecclesiastical, anthropological, and other theological truths while potty training, but such was not the plan of God in mine and many other’s lives. Could it be sir, that the spirit (notice the little “s”) with which you have written to Candace is the reason you speak of your pastorate being in the past tense. As to being unteachable, maybe adding a bit of mercy and grace into your “teaching” would be a better way to help Candace understand further theological study would benefit her. I happen to agree completely with Candace, but I’ve only been a believer for 14 years, so I’m sure my opinion doesn’t matter to you either.

      Your attitude towards Candace is the very reason I refused the pull of the Holy Spirit on my life for so long. But finally a pastor, who fits the model of RW almost perfectly was able to help me see where I was wrong. You see, my statement to him was, “I don’t want to go to church with a bunch of hypocrites.” His reply to me was, “I would rather go to church with them, than to go to hell with them.”

      Many in the world today believe the same thing I did back then and do not want anything to do with Christians. If we want to show ourselves as Christ’s disciples we will have love for one another.


    • Michael Karpf

      A few months ago, you wrote an article, “Do Joel Osteen and I worship the same God.” I believe Mr. Warren and I do worship the same God. I won’t compare him to anyone else, but I have read both his books; The Purpose Drive Church and The Purpose Driven Life. They are not perfect, but I gained a lot of practical advice in his books. Mr. Warren has his own style, but I believe he does adhere to the Bible more so than Mr. Osteen. If I am really suffering, I might prefer others than Rick Warren, but when I need simple, practical advice for life or church, I frequently refer to his books and I am always encouraged when I read them. I believe God will reward him.

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