With the conclusion of the 2010 Desiring God conference yesterday in Minneapolis, MN those within reformed circles and to an extent, evangelical circles, were interested in the response that Rick Warren would draw after speaking at the event and then after sitting down in a Question and Answer session with Desiring God Ministries founder and Bethlehem Baptist pastor John Piper who was solely responsible for inviting Warren to this year’s event. Unfortunately, do to multiple illnesses in his family, Rick Warren was unable to attend the conference, but provided a previously taped message. I’ve read through the transcript, but have not as of yet watched or listened to all of the message. What I take away from it is typical Warren-esque communication and delivery wrapped around a pragmatic purpose driven approach rather than a Christ-centered gospel driven message. You can watch the video and judge for yourself here: http://desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/the-battle-for-your-mind
While the rest of us will have to wait for the Q&A session between Piper and Warren (I suspect this will occur after Piper’s leave of absence concludes in January as he notes he has 13 pages of questions to ask Warren), I did find an interview from this weekend with Christianity Today most interesting. Below is the first of the question/answers from the interview:
You invited Rick Warren; would you say he exemplifies “thinking”?
No, I don’t think he exactly exemplifies what I’m after. But he is biblical. He quoted 50 Scriptures from memory. Unbelievable, his mind is Vesuvius. So I asked him what impact reading Jonathan Edwards had on him. What these authors like Karl Barth and Edwards do for him is give him a surge of theological energy that then comes through his wiring. What I wanted to do with Rick is force him to talk about thinking so pragmatists out there can say, “A lot of thinking goes into what he does.”
It might well be noted that a few of the passages Warren quoted were taken out of context and it’s never a good idea to use multiple translations for the sake of “wordplay” to fit a theme or application, and that he actually read most of the verses from his notes not via memorization but I digress. If by biblical John Piper means Warren is knowledgeable from a pragmatic application standpoint, then I agree. But regarding exposition and exegesis he needs work.
A second, and perhaps more interesting question and response from the interview is below:
You received some negative feedback for inviting him.
It was real risky. I don’t even know if I did the right thing. If somebody said, “Are you sure you should have invited him?” “No.” I think the first thing I’d say—maybe the only thing—is I think he’s been slandered. I think we probably need to work harder at getting him right.
I actually think it is refreshing to hear Dr. Piper admit that 1)It was a risky decision 2)Question whether it was the right thing 3)No he’s not sure he should have invited him. This at least lets me know that Piper is acutely aware of the discrepancies between things that Warren has said/done/written/taught and what the Bible teaches. However, he leaves a slight opening in the door by being a Warren apologist stating that “he’s been slandered” and we “need to work harder at getting him right.” Has he been slandered? I’m sure quotes have been taken out of context or he has been misquoted and in doing so people have jumped to conclusions, but at the same time his Purpose Driven Life contains no semblance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his ecumenical, pluralistic pragmatic methods are not Biblical. Is it slander to point that out? Or is it contending for the faith in making others aware of the dangers? Nobody doubts that Warren is an intelligent man and an effective communicator, but it would be the hope of most everyone who questioned his invitation to this conference that he would apply a more solid Biblical foundation when using those gifts.
More to come when the Piper v Warren Q&A takes place.
You can read the full John Piper interview here:
For all of the 2010 Desiring God Conference sessions see the Desiring God blog: