“But examine everything carefully;
hold fast to that which is good;
abstain from every form of evil.”
1 Thess 5:21-22, NASB
For six weeks, my church gathered together in small groups to watch video teachings from Rick Warren, read daily from his book and hear his sermons weekly. Meeting together in small groups as believers is an important part of our Christian walk. It is very important to study God’s Word together, to hold one another accountable, to build one another up, to spur one another onto good works and to reach out to the lost. We must also exhort, admonish, encourage, correct, rebuke, train and disciple one another in the way of righteousness. If this is the reason for our getting together, I am all for it.
Rick Warren has had an IMMENSE influence on churches around the world who are adopting his teachings and small group format. It should go without saying that it is very important to test everything that I write here, what your preacher teaches and anything you hear on TV or read in a book against the Word of God. Rick Warren and his teachings are not by any means an exception. Words have real meaning, and the Word of God is the truth and shows us the way of eternal life. What it tears down and divides in heart and soul, bone and marrow it does in order to build us up in Christ. If Paul, being the chief apostle and an eyewitness of Christ, exhorted people to test what he wrote, then for sure we need to test the teachings being delivered to us by Rick Warren.
My purpose in writing these articles is not to divide the body of Christ, nor to speak against or for the man Rick Warren, but simply to help you divide the true from the false in order to be a good Berean (Acts 17:11). My aim is to do everything in love, as it is my goal to edify the church and to maintain the unity of the Spirit. However, just like a good immune system in our bodies, there is also need of a healthy immune system in the body of Christ. Where there is error, it must be expelled to maintain the health of the body. And when the truth is muddled, it needs to be clarified–especially concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I want to point out something very important here: If at any point you feel that there is something that I have misquoted or if I have made a misrepresentation or other errors, please correct me by posting a comment (see the link at the bottom of each message). And, if you disagree with any position I take and are willing to contend with me, I would love for you to respond with your comments. I will endeavour to answer your challenges and to respond to your comments or correct any errors as soon as I am able.
Some Warnings to Heed
I want to briefly list a number of things here which you should be wary of as you take in Rick Warren’s teachings.
- Rick Warren often quotes from paraphrases such as The Message (MSG, by Eugene Peterson), the Living Bible (LB), and many other non-literal translations such as the New Century Version (NCV), etc. These often contain many errors and liberalities which should not be taken with the Word of the eternal, omniscient and all-powerful God. This is not to negate everything that Rick Warren states, or to say that all non-literal translations are wrong, but it is an exhortation to take care that we absorb and teach only what the Word of God teaches in its context. How do we know the truth? Scripture says that His anointing teaches us (ie. every believer who places their trust in Him and asks for wisdom) all things (1 John 2:27). This almost always requires that we earnestly seek Him for wisdom and search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). And, it is important that God’s Word be used accurately and not simply as a tool to support our human ideas and agendas. Please ensure that you read every reference that he uses in a literal translation such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB), a Literal Translation (LITV), or the King James Version (KJV, NKJV or MKJV).
- Consider not only what is being said, but what is not being said. Make sure to read all verses in context (never read a single verse–read the verses before and after the verse quoted). There is more to this in determining the full context, but this will give you a very, very good start.
- Please remember: stating half the truth as though it was the whole truth is considered a felony (perjury) in a human court of law where temporal physical punishment is at stake, and it is no less important — in fact, more important — in God’s eternal court where the eternal lives of people are at stake.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find this material edifying and faith building (John 8:32 “…The truth will set you free”).
May God richly bless you as you study His Word and as we put it into practice together.
Your brother in Christ,