Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Phil Johnson: The John Piper-Rick Warren Controversy: A Balanced Response (Part two)

MP3 Available Here

Phil Johnson, Executive Director of "Grace To You," the radio, television & tape ministry of world-renowned radio Bible teacher, author & pastor, Dr. John MacArthur, will address the theme: "The John Piper-Rick Warren Controversy: A Balanced Response" (Part Two).

As many of you have heard, it was no "April Fools Joke", as our guest Phil Johnson tweeted (thumb-in-cheek). John Piper, highly sought after conference speaker, popular Reformed author, founder of the ministry Desiring God (see, and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN (see, has invited controversial Southern Baptist pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren to speak on the theme "Thinking Purposefully for the Glory of Christ: The Life of the Mind and Global Reality", at the 2010 Desiring God National Conference . Warren is on a speaking roster that includes such powerful defenders of the Reformation as Al Mohler, R.C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile and John Piper himself.

This has come as a shock to many who greatly value John Piper and his ministry due to the fact that Rick Warren has publicly taken positions on various important issues and has spearheaded activities that most folk in the Reformed/Sovereign Grace community consider to be antithetical to Reformational thinking. In addition to Warren's invitation to Barack Obama (then Senator), a militant pro-abortionist and pro-homosexual rights advocate, to speak at his church in December, 2006, for his Global Summit on AIDS, many of Warren's theological positions are disturbing to many who love and admire Piper.

As Michael Horton, cohost of " The White Horse Inn" radio broadcast and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine , so aptly put it:

"I admire Rick Warren’s zeal for reaching non-Christians and concern for global challenges. I respect him for giving away much of his income for charitable purposes.

"At the same time, I believe that his message distorts the gospel and that he is contributing to the human-centered pragmatism that is eroding the proper ministry and mission of the church... While I applaud his concern for social justice, I am concerned that he confuses the law with the gospel and the work of Christians in their vocations (obeying the Great Commandment) with the work of Christ through his church in its ministry of Word and sacrament (the Great Commission)...

"...When USA Today asked him why Mormon and Jewish leaders are involved in his pastoral training programs, Rick Warren reportedly said, 'I’m not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?' (USA Today, July 21, 2003). Rick Warren endorses a host of books, from New Age authors to Emergent writers to conservative evangelicals. So why not include Calvinists?...

"...We can be so proud of getting the gospel right while we don’t bother to get the gospel out to those who need it. Furthermore, we can be self-confident in our theological integrity while ignoring the Word of God when it impinges on questions of social concern.Yet the answer is not 'deeds over creeds,' but to be re-introduced to the creeds that generate the deeds that are the fruit of genuine faith. Getting the gospel right and getting the gospel out, as well as loving and serving our neighbors, comprise the callings of the church and of Christians in the world. However, confusing these is always disastrous for our message and mission." (Read entire article here:

While our guest Phil Johnson is extremely concerned over John Piper's discernment in inviting Rick Warren to speak at his 2010 Desiring God National Conference, he is equally concerned over the slanderous reactions of some brethren who deem Piper himself to be a heretic, or worse, a non-Christian, over this news.

Phil Johnson, also maintains "The Spurgeon Archive", the largest collection of Charles Haddon Spurgeon resources on the world wide web, and his blog site,


Jason & Vanessa said...

The link to the audio is not working :(

Lou Martuneac said...

The link is not working, but allow me this pre-emptive thought:

We are well aware of Rick Warren's many issues including soteriological reductionism. But now that Piper has invited, embraced and defended Warren, where is MacArthur on this controversy?

IMO, the high-profile men of T4G who meet next week would like for this to go away and will have nothing to say about it. Their fellowship is fragile enough as it is with Piper and Mahaney's charismatic theology. This issue with Rick Warren is bad news for the T4G and the Gospel Coalition.

This has the potential to be a deal breaker for them. I do suspect, however they'll choose unity at the expense of fidelity to the Scriptures that mandate the believer’s response to this sort of compromise and disobedience.


Fred Butler said...

We are well aware of Rick Warren's many issues including soteriological reductionism.

You mean like the non-lordship salvation heresy?

Lou Martuneac said...


Yes, and in one of its most egregious forms would be the Crossless and/or Promise-ONLY gospel originated by the late Zane Hodges, perpetuated by Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society.

IMO, there is no more extreme reductionist assault on the Gospel ever introduced to the NT church by one of its own.


MRWBBIII said...



Frank said...

Pardon my ignorance, but can someone tell me who T4G is (or are)?

Anonymous said...


I believe T4G stands for "Together For the Gospel". According to their website ( "Together for the Gospel is a biennial conference that encourages pastors to take their stand together for the gospel."

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