Rick Warren and His Purpose Driven Gospel

Pastor Rick Warren appearing on CBS show 'This Morning' on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012.

Saddleback pastor Rick Warren was on the “CBS This Morning” show to promote the re-release of his extremely successful book “A Purpose Driven Life.”  Apparently 20% of Americans have read his book since it came out in 2002, a record for any devotional or spiritual non-fiction book.

Charlie Rose and Nora O’Donnell, as expected asked the tough questions… but the answers given by the pastor were not anchored in biblical truth.  He gave sound answers on the topic of abortion, but I was deeply disappointed in the way he addressed the issue of homosexuality, gay marriage and most importantly… Jesus!

He was asked why he opposes gay marriage.  He invoked the concept of tolerance and stated about gay marriage that “it is not a big issue to me.”  In the capacity of a pastor whose primary goal is to represent the Bible accurately, he could have very well said that the Bible states that a homosexual relationship is forbidden and that is why he opposes it.  A plethora of biblical text could easily back up such a statement.

However, this was point in the interview where correct biblical doctrine went out the window.  The pastor went ahead to define and discuss tolerance, emphasizing how one can tolerate sin without agreeing with it, and brought Jesus into the discussion stating that “Jesus accepted everybody no matter who they were.”  Leaving this statement out there without following up on Jesus’ firm condemnation of sin is a gross misrepresentation of Jesus’ teaching.  This statement is the basis of a watered-down, cheap gospel of acceptance which has made its way into the Anglican, Episcopalian, Lutheran and some evangelical churches.

In fact, the way Warren worded his answers led the Christian Post to draw the following conclusion in their article about the CBS interview: “The California mega church pastor said that according to the Bible, people need to be tolerant of all views, just like Jesus was – but that does not mean approving of all choices.”  

Despite the not “approving” comment that followed, if after you invoke the Bible and the teaching of Jesus, reporters are left with the idea that Jesus was “tolerant of all views,” you have succeeded in proclaiming a false gospel.  As a pastor, one cannot alter the gospel message based on who is in the audience; it does not matter if the it is the liberal CBS audience or the Sunday morning church membership;  the Gospel must be proclaimed accurately especially when the prompt has to do with human depravity!

The Gospel is the good news that there still is room at the foot of the cross for salvation for all who repent… including Rick Warren.