Now to the meat of it… I have posted a few times now about my desire to see the various factions within the larger Church stop shooting at each other and instead focus their energy, resources, and time on loving lost souls. You can read my post about why I love Rob Bell, even though we disagree… My post about excellence in art used for Kingdom purposes (which somehow became a long, aggressive discussion about church methodology)… or my post called “Rick Warren is not the Anti-Christ…“ In other words, I’ve been here before. I know that the name “Rick Warren” tends bring out the fangs of some Christians – like chum in the water. I do not mean to denigrate those who lovingly but firmly keep the church grounded on solid biblical truth. We do need watchers – Spirit-led, mature, loving, wise, discernment filled brothers and sisters who keep the Church on the straight and narrow.
However, there is a particularly strident stripe within the church who has no hesitation calling out the grievous errors of other brothers, but they do it with seemingly no sense of responsibility to maintain civility, to say nothing of a loving and gentle spirit. If my words are chafing you right now, and you feel a righteous anger rising up, then I probably am challenging you to some self-examination. I am wary of posting another argument-inducing post today. I don’t want to incite contention merely by bringing up Rick Warren, so if you would like to comment, I’m just asking in advance that we all keep the dialog respectful. Even in disagreement. Perhaps especially in disagreement.
The issues at hand are these:
(1) John Piper, Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and founder of Desiring God Ministries, whom MANY within the Church in America hold in high regard for his commitment to the doctrinal purity of the Gospel message, his integrity as a biblical scholar and teacher, and his passion for the supremacy of God in all things… John Piper has invited Saddleback Church Senior Pastor and “Purpose Driven Life“ author Rick Warren to speak at the 2010 Desiring God Conference coming up this October in Minneapolis, MN.
(2) There are a wide range of opinions about the scriptural integrity and efficacy of Warren’s teaching on the Church. Therefore, there are a number of vocal critics of Warren who normally would support Piper and are now in a quandary. John Piper invites Rick Warren to have a platform at the Desiring God Conference? How can he do that? How can he give a false teacher/dangerous heretic like Warren any platform at all? And this leads us to…
(3) The issue of “Secondary Separation.” In other words, although “Person A” normally would align himself with John Piper, Person A is at odds with Rick Warren, but now that Piper has seemingly aligned in some way with Warren, Person A therefore must now be at odds with John Piper. This is secondary separation. And it is not always necessary. And it is not always healthy.
The best possible way for me to address the issues raised above is to allow John Piper to speak for himself. I think there is so much discussion about this raging under the surface of the Church in America right now, and the stakes (Christian unity and the advance of the Gospel!) are so high, it is important to sort it all out. Think it through for yourself. At what point do we decide not to associate with another brother or sister in Christ? At what point do our disagreements become barriers that cannot be crossed? Here’s what John Piper has to say:
For the record, I’m a huge John Piper fan. I’m not a Baptist nor a Calvinist, but we agree on the majors. Likewise, I believe I have made my feelings about Rick Warren clear in earlier posts and the comments that followed. I don’t agree with either man on every point. But I do see the value in shouldering the Gospel TOGETHER – as brothers, who may not always see eye to eye. After some of the other interactions I’ve had in this forum (and so much heated rhetoric I’ve read and experienced in other forums) I’m not under any illusions that I will change a Warren-opponent into a Warren-supporter. That would have to be a supernatural work of God, because my words do not carry enough weight, nor is my logic advanced enough to argue anyone into a change of heart. Rather, I just long for more unity. Not tolerance of a false gospel. But God-ordained unity around the core tenets of the Christian faith. (See John 17)
I see John Piper actively pursuing this unity, as well. So I’ll stand with him. Where do YOU stand on all of this?
“john piper invites rick warren to desiring god 2010 :: what are we supposed to do now?” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.