Saturday, December 11, 2010

Phil Johnson: The John Piper-Rick Warren Controversy Revisited

MP3 Available Here

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

As many of you have heard, 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, invited controversial Southern Baptist pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren to speak on the theme "The Battle for Your Mind", at the 2010 Desiring God National Conference , which was held October 1-3. Warren was on a speaking roster that included such powerful defenders of the Reformation as Al Mohler, R.C. Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile and John Piper himself. Although Pastor Warren could not deliver his message in person at the conference due to a number of family emergencies, he spoke to the conference audience via a video message he submitted. You can view it here:

This invitation to Rick Warren by John Piper came as a shock to many who greatly value Piper and his ministry, due to the fact that 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, some 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:

Tonight Phil Johnson will address the actual message delivered by Rick Warren, and the new controversy surrounding the next Desiring God National Conference scheduled to take place at the church where Rick Warren pastors, Saddleback Church in California.

In addition to his duties with John MacArthur and Grace to You Ministries, Phil Johnson maintains "The Spurgeon Archive", the largest collection of Charles Haddon Spurgeon resources on the world wide web, and his blog site,

You can also listen to a two-part interview Phil conducted on "Iron Sharpens Iron" on this controversy April 6 & 7, before the 2010 Desiring God National Conference took place:
Part One:
MP3 Available Here Part Two: MP3 Available Here

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