by Mike Ratliff
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3 ESV)
On Friday morning Ken Silva sent me an email with a link to this article he had just posted. About a third of the way down through it there is a paragraph, which really got my attention:
Men like Brian McLaren are hijacking the visible church by taking it away from the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura and into a highly subjective murky mysticism where one decides truth about God by what they “feel” He is saying. Well, guess what; this is already beginning to happen within broader evangelicalism as evidenced by The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond, the latest book by Church Growth Movement guru Bill Hybels, and Recognizing God’s Voice. The latter is the March 12-13 sermon below by Purpose beginning Pope Rick Warren where—beginning at 5:57 in—he makes the outlandish claim to his congregation that by following these 7 tests they all can be “absolutely certain” when God is speaking directly to them.
Please watch the video at this link.
I had a lot of work to do and I let that video run as I did it. I have listened to Rick Warren do “his thing” with sacred Scripture many times so I was not really shocked at how he used verses out of context to make them support his points even though they absolutely do not, when put in proper context, support what he was teaching at all. In fact, right at the beginning of his outline he used a passage that I would like us to focus on before I address a certain part of the video. That passage is John 7:17, which he quoted from The Message, “Jesus: “Anyone who wants to do God‟s will can test this teaching and know whether it’s from God or whether I’m making it up.” Here is the that same passage in context from the ESV:
 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching.  The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?”  So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.  If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.  The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.  Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”  The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”  Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it.  Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.  If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:14-24 ESV)
Notice that Rick Warren used this as a text to introduce the concept to those attending this seminar, isolating v17 from the dubious The Message translation, to sell the fact that it is possible for Christians to have the mystical ability to hear directly from God and know for sure, through feelings, that it is so. However, what is Jesus really saying here? He is saying that those who seek only to do God’s will for His glory alone AND are indeed sent by Him to do it are true and in him is no falsehood. He is talking about Himself.
As I said, I had a lot of work to do and I let it run as I worked. However, there was one part that I had to stop it and rewind and re-listen several times to see if what I was hearing from the man was what I thought he said. At about the 23:20 minute mark of the video as he hits point #5 he talks about his warped idea of Biblical wisdom and discernment. He comes out and clearly says that if anyone is in any way critical about anyone else’s ministry then they are “not from God,” but are “from Satan.” He then goes into a short rant about Internet bloggers who love to criticize “everyone.” He insinuates that they are no better than fools, idiots, babies, or monkeys. Then he says that the only ones who practice true Biblical wisdom seek to find the beauty in every person as well as the good in every person and situation. He states in no uncertain terms that when we “criticize” him and his “ministry” or that of others we are only being critical of surface issues and that we only be immature and those who are truly, spiritually mature act like he does in seeking to find the good and beautiful in all things and everyone instead of going after these obviously unimportant things.
Sigh…well my brethren, I don’t think I have every criticized Rick Warren or is ministry or that of anyone else on SURFACE ISSUES, but on one thing only. How are they on lining up doctrinally with what God’s Word says? You see, that is all that matters. He claims that those who do what we do are the ones causing harm and division in the church, but it is him and those who do likewise who have done the most harm in the church visible it, making nearly impossible to find a decent church in a major city in the USA that has not become contaminated with the Seeker Sensitive disease of becoming so doctrinally shallow that the “gospel” that is preached is nothing more than a man-centered, man-focused, self-esteem, what can Jesus do for you today type of presentation that make the Lord Jesus nothing more than an add-on on their lives not their Lord with them as His slaves.
Go ahead and watch the video. That is my evidence. See for yourselves. I’m not making this stuff up. I pray for God to give you the wisdom and discernment to recognize Rick Warren for the deceiver he really is.
Soli Deo Gloria!
When God showed up to Job and his friends from out of the storm, the first thing he said is, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge”? God was prepared to take down Job’s friends for speaking their own mind as if it were God’s. Every one who writes a Christian blog take heed. I take very seriously the messages I give on my site because I know I will be held accountable. The Pastors of these mega-churches who feel they can take interpretative license with God’s holy word are going to have a rude awakening one day. You cannot make the bible fit into your message. Your message must always fit into the bible. Rick Warren was given the chance to bring the gospel out loud and clear when he did the prayer for President Obama. Instead, to please everyone, he compromised it so as not to offend. I have no patience with those who will not stand firm in the truth no matter what the cost.
Marianne, neither do I. Ken and I discussed this after I had watched it. My response was that I would not be at all surprised that those who read my blog and commented regularly, if they watched that video, would have absolutely no problem seeing the doctrinal fallacies he promoted all through it and would see the scripture twisting, et cetera. I saw it just a few minutes into it and it never stopped. Ken agreed and we both wondered why it is that we have no trouble and my readers have no trouble seeing this, but men like John Piper and others can’t or won’t.
Good question, Mike!
Do not judge a minister . . .
(Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”)
“Consider carefully what you hear.” Mark 4:24
It is sad to see how many preachers in our days, make
it their business to enrich men’s heads with high, empty,
airy notions; instead of enriching their souls with saving
Fix yourself under that man’s ministry, who makes it his
business, his work to enrich the soul, to win the soul, and
to build up the soul; not to tickle the ear, or please the
fancy. This age is full of such light, delirious souls—who
dislike everything—but what is empty and airy.
Do not judge a minister . . .
by his voice, nor
by the multitude who follow him, nor
by his affected tone, nor
by his rhetoric and flashes of wit;
but by the holiness, heavenliness, and spiritualness
of his teaching. Many ministers are like empty orators,
who have a flood of words—but a drop of matter.
Some preachers affect rhetorical strains; they seek abstrusities,
and love to hover and soar aloft in dark and cloudy expressions,
and so shoot their arrows over their hearers’ heads—instead of
bettering their hearers’ hearts. Mirthful things in a sermon
are only for men to gaze upon and admire. He is the best
preacher, not who tickles the ear—but who breaks the heart.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and
persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s
power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom,
but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5
Rick Warren is a pleaser of the people, he preaches what folks want to hear not what they need to hear.
Anyone who bases their ability to communicate with God outside His written word is in dangerous territory. Anytime you rely on emotion or feelings to guide you is frightening. We cannot trust our own hearts (Jer.17:9), we certainly should not let emotions, mood or feelings dictate our worship and communication with the Lord.
As for being critical of false ministries…praise God for those who expose the wolves. I fear exceedingly for Mr. Warren.
Bless you Mike!
“That passage is John 7:17, which he quoted from The Message,….”
That portion itself is enough to discredit and condemn any preacher, teacher or pastor for wrongly using God’s word and teaching a different Gospel. No person with a shred of Seminary training or rudimentary knowledge of Bible translations could possibly be unaware of the agenda and problems of the message translation. Warren is obviously not able to use ignorance of it as any type of out.
You may not have criticized Warren or Babylon-Saddleback for “surface issues”, but I will. Because that’s all he and it has, surface with nothing underneath.
Amen Cristina, thanks for that from Thomas Brooks!
Thank you Lyn!
Michael, one of R.W.’s defenders contacted not long ago and reprimanded me for continual “criticism” of him and his ministry. He stated that if I would just sit down with him one on one and talk with him then I would see that his heart was right and that he really isn’t a heretic. No, he is just purposely preaches things in a shallow way to reach the highest number of people.
There are several things wrong with that. First, Rick Warren would never agree to sit down with me one-on-one for a serious theological discussion. I would do it, but he won’t. Oh, he may offer to to do so conditionally, but I would never agree to those conditions. Second, the minister of the Word is NEVER to water it down, but to preach it relying totally on the Holy Spirit to reach the people according to the Will of God. That is the part he doesn’t get.
“……the minister of the Word is NEVER to water it down…”
Amen and Amen!
My husband’s name has been much slandered because he was considered too hard/harsh, he named names and had a very HIGH standard, which according to his accusers was not attainable. I found this quote by Spurgeon:
“We hear complaints that the minister speaks too harshly and talks too much of
judgment. Saved sinners never make that complaint.” ~SPURGEON~
Amen Berean Gal!
It absolutely blows my mind when I hear these sorts of appeals about “building bridges, not walls”…
It has become THE classic defensive maneuver…
But this position is actually just, hilarious to me, when I think for even two seconds about all the people/instances in the New Testament where either Jesus or the Apostles would’ve been guilty of doing the very thing which Warren rails against…
It just amazes me, because anyone who has personally spent even a minor amount of time in the Word can plainly see that Jesus did not go around “finding the beauty” in things like the hypocracy of the Pharisees… The apostles did not resign themselves to “finding the beauty” in the false teaching of the gnostics, or the Judaizers, or liars like Annanias and Saphira, or the act of making sacrifices to idols, etc…
They did not seek to “build bridges” with people who would peddle the Gospel for profit, or with those who said that the Resurrection had already happened, or that grace meant that we have license to sin as much as we want…
They did not hesitate to “criticize” when people would abuse the Love Feasts, or tolerate sexual sin, or discriminate between Jewish and Gentile believers…
There is nothing at all in scripture which talks about “finding the beauty” that is inherent in people. If there IS any beauty in any of us, it is only because of Christ shining through us!
How incredible… An entire sermon which is supposedly all about learning about “discerning the spirits”, and yet one of the central tenants of his whole teaching is that you cannot say anything which could be deemed as “critical” or “divisive”. In the end, his whole “lesson on discernment” amounts to little more than indoctrinating his followers to believe that God would never have them question Rick Warren…
From one blogger to another, we’re getting under his skin, Mike. He’s feeling the heat. 🙂
Thanks Marsha, yes, I got that impression as well. 🙂
Very well said Daniel!!!