Rick Warren – Pelagianism – and the Desiring God Conference

by Mike Ratliff

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 ESV)

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius who was a theological opponent of Augustine of Hippo. Pelagius and his followers believed that original sin did not taint Human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s aid. Therefore, Adam’s sin simply set a bad example for his progeny, but this did not impute a “sin nature” to them that the Orthodox view held by Augustine called the doctrine of “Original Sin.”

While most of you reading this would read that definition of Pelagianism and view it as foreign and rightly as not Christian, it is actually the predominate theological position of much of the “seeker movement.” This view holds that man must “do” and “earn” and so “be blessed” by God. It nullifies the Cross of Christ making it just a background piece of the puzzle for show. The emphasis is on the person and what he or she does not on Christ and what He has already done.

When I was driven from the SBC and my old church because of it going Purpose Driven back in 2006, I struggled mightily with addressing the complexity of PDC paradigm. It is overwhelming. Here we are more than four years later and are way past writing posts about the symptoms of the PDC like the unbiblical sermons and emphasis on entertainment and meeting felt needs, et cetera. Addressing these things always seemed to me like trying to stop a gushing fire hose with your hand. However, God has allowed something that I see as a tremendous gift. Rick Warren was invited to speak at the Desiring God Conference 2010. I and many others were outraged at this and said so. However, at the last minute Rick Warren backed out and instead of appearing personally, he sent a video which was played at the conference. The link to it is below if you haven’t watched or heard it yet. However, as I shared in yesterday’s post, Rulers, I consider Rick Warren and those like him to be deceivers so we must be prepared before we listen to what they have to say. If you listen to him in that “lecture” please have the whole armor of God on my brethren. Here is the link to Rick Warren’s “lecture.” However, as a very good alternative to simply watching that video or listening to Rick Warren speak, how about listening to both the “lecture” and Chris Rosebrough’s sermon review at the same time? That is what I did. Here is the link.

After listening to that, I must say that I was both horrified and gratified. I was horrified that someone like Rick Warren who is obviously a heretic would be allowed such an elevated speaking position in the visible church, but I was grateful that God allowed it to happen so that those with discernment could actually see clearly that what we have been saying for years about Rick Warren is true. Also, those who are still in darkness probably will remain in that darkness unless God has mercy on them and there will probably be further division in the visible church over this, but isn’t it clear that we cannot consider this man to one who speaks the Word of God and feeds our Lord’s sheep?

Soli Deo Gloria!

For more input and good reading on this go here for a post from my friend Justin Edwards and here for a post from my friend Daniel Neades

30 thoughts on “Rick Warren – Pelagianism – and the Desiring God Conference

  1. I second Chris’ review as a must-listen, Mike. I wrote earlier today that Warren’s speech made it more clear to me than any other material I’ve read or heard of his before that Rick Warren is a heretic, and Chris did an excellent job in pointing out the heresies and Scripture-twisting within the speech.

    I guess we will see this continue to play out and no doubt there will be division. We know that God will separate the wheat from the chaff in these last days, and it’s controversies like this and the Glenn Beck scandal (et al) that seems to serve His purposes.

    By the way, did you by chance read Michael Horton’s post on Pelagianism at Monergism several weeks ago? I thought it was excellent and recommend it if you haven’t had a chance: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/pelagiannatural.html

    Thanks, brother!


  2. Hi Mike,

    I listened to some of his sermon. After he claimed we all had mental illness, I left. (I thought we had the mind of Christ.)

    I could not get to Chris’s site using the link. Would you tell me the name of his website please. I have to hear this.

    Thank you Mike 🙂


  3. Sigh.
    I can’t get the sermon review to load on my computer at the moment, but will keep trying. So I had a brief look at the ‘sermon’ itself.I’ve not heard him speak before. Its just not of God. If you don’t know you’re self deciveived then you haven’t been convicted of your sin and you’re not a Christian. That is quite basic, why is he telling leaders that? Its so shallow and I notice he notes quotes from the living bible at the end! Its just him sitting there talking about his own ideas and opinions. 5 point steps and accumilating books? No no no. Just wrong. I mourn when I think of the amount of people that are deceived by this. I have been lost in this rubbish in the past. But then I suppose God brought me out and there are many he still will bring out.Its a sorting of the wheat from the chaff isn’t it?
    Gods will be done.


  4. Mike ~

    Excellent piece brother! I have yet to listen to Chris’s review of Rick’s sermon and also have not listened to anything that Rick said during the conference. I just shutter and get this cold feeling up my spine when I hear him speak. As someone who came out of that deception called Purpose Drivenism I know the dangers of it. You can see in Rick and many who follow him that “file card theology” that Pastor Bob DeWaay says Rick is great at doing.

    Thank you for sharing this Mike!

    ~ David


  5. I do hope you get to listen to Chris’ analysis Fiona, it is excellent. So is this article by Justin Edwards. I agree with you completely on what Rick was preaching. It is just man-focused, unbiblical philosophy backed up by his attempt at Bible twisting using any bible translation that is “close” to the point he is trying to make even if it is totally out of context. Chris goes point by point through all of that so it is well worth listening to.


  6. ‘deciveived’ ! Sorry about that .
    : )

    Am half way throught the sermon review. Yes,it is very good. Am off to read the J Edwards article now.
    Thanks Mike.



  7. Thanks for yet another stellar piece, Mike. Good refresher on Pelaginism. I’m posting this on my news report. Listened to Chris dissect Warren’s “talk.” Warren is a powerful speaker, even made several good points…but his message is man-centered, not Christ centered which has been my complaint all along. During the Q & A (on the DG website), Piper gushed all over RW and the guys on the panel gushed over Piper. Sigh. What I want to know is how R.C. and Mohler reacted to what Warren said. Do you know?


  8. Very good article to add to the body of material that continues to expose false teachings and doctrine to the light of scripture. By body of material I also mean others such as Mr., Roseborough.

    Thank you also for not having every other post be a video, or having tweets of yours or anyone’s plastered about the site.


  9. I have a list of “wait and see” pastors of which Piper was on. There are a few others that I won’t get in to. However, this conference thing has allowed me to scatch a few more “wait and sees” off my list.


  10. When I was a bank teller in the 1970’s we study the true bills so we could tell the counterfiet bills that was trying to be passed off as real. This has held true in my christian walk as well. I study the Holy Bible (kjv) translation good since 1611 for millions of Christ followers and stay away from focusing on the counterfiet… otherwise your vision will become blurred and you will not be able to discern true from false as your vision will be mingled. Let only the watchman on the wall such as this author sound the alarm…all others stay focused on the true.


  11. Mike, excellent post. I think God is using this whole thing to prove who are truly His by sifting out the tares. This whole fiasco says a lot more about Piper than it does about Warren. Afterall, we already knew about Warren’s heresies.We saw his duplicity, his twisting of Scripture, his humanism, and his lies. He is what he’s always been: a wolf, a heretic, and a huckster. We knew what was coming from Warren.

    The problem is with John Piper who has continued his DEFIANT defense of Warren. This isn’t the first case, either; its just the most recent one. Biblical truth is not an option, nor is holding hands with false teachers. Sadly, we’re seeing “Christiain hedonism” in all its horror.


  12. Keep up the good work Mike!

    I’m carrying the church that I pastor through a critique of “The Purpose Driven Church” to show its unbiblical teaching. For a book written on the church it violates everything taught in Ephesians (and other places) and is philosophy rather than theology.

    You are right to point out his pelagianism. Many don’t know that Rick Warren’s teachings are nothing more than the fleshing out of Robert Schuller’s philosophy. Schuller (who greatly influenced Rick Warren) says that sin is not wickedness but an “innate inability to adequately value oneself.” That’s pelagianism!


  13. What do you expect if Rick Warren is up and about bewteen the emergency room and attending Islamic conferences.He hardly has time to purposeflly read his Bible. The least he can do is churn out a recycled whoop-whoop message and a quick ‘God bless ya’ as he scampers off to the next event. Count your self lucky to even see him on video….next time it will be a multi-faith hologram.


  14. Excellent article and I have listened to the review of the lecture by Chris. All are on target and I agree with what many have already wrote.

    It makes one wonder of todays supposed “heros of the faith” who have shared the stage and not said a word of what was spoken by Warren. Several I admit I like to listen to regularly and I have emailed them and asked them to stand up and reject publically the message of Warren since they were present.

    As of yet, I have received no replies.



  15. I am of the same mindset here. Where are the pastors to come out and reject and correct what Warren spoke on. Warren is a professional speaker. I dont consider him to be a bible teacher. So I am not surprised by Warren, but I am left scratching my head on Piper and Sproul and the others. I dont know what to think and I am sadly disappointed in them. Why are they not coming out and standing on Truth? I know this must be committed to much prayer. I am also thankful that I dont look to any of these preachers for my hope and biblical teaching. It is so imperative for the elect to be studying Gods word for themselves and measure everything by Gods Word, not mans opinions. Thank you Mike for making us aware. I am praying for all of them and I continue to cover you in prayer as well.
    God Bless


  16. Hey Bryan….follow the money trail…..that is probably your reason….that and wanting to be accepted and please MAN rather than God.


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