Rockport Sermon

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rick Warren at the Desiring God Conference

So, some have asked me to comment on my thoughts regarding Rick Warren's talk at the Desiring God National Conference.  Here we go with a humble attempt to offer some (not exhaustive) thoughts concerning this.

First, I was grieved at the amount of energy, time, bandwidth, and emotion was given to using personal attacks and assumptions prior to the conference.  I remember standing in line at the conference to register and they announced that Rick Warren would not be able to appear personally because of family emergencies.  There were some in the crowd that were filled with bitter anger and were expressing this verbally because they were looking forward to the opportunity to publicly take a stand against him.  After one of the sessions there was a man with a public address system holding signs outside of the convention center condemning Rick Warren and publicly mocking him and associating him with the promotion of sin which the scripture condemns. I heard people claim that John Piper should apologize for asking him to speak. All that filled my mind at this point was "what is the watching world thinking of us biting and devouring each other?"  So many people in the conference hall next to us could see what was going on, could feel the tension of some (though not many).

With those things in mind, I attending the session that would be presented by Rick Warren via video.  He was up until midnight the night before recording this video.  Then I heard him give a talk on some practical applications based on the theme of "Think."  What I heard Rick say during this talk could not be considered heretical.  There were many things (especially close to the end of his talk) that many of us would have "rephrased" to "tickle the ears" of some of the "reformed and angry" listeners.  However, Rick Warren either did not know how to say those biblical words for which "reformed people" look for or he was not interested in using them.

Rick's talk contained a different "meter" or design then you would find from RC Sproul, John Piper, or others.  Then again, it is not proper to judge one's work on the standard of another man.  There could be a reasonable objection to the use of some of his statistics and what others perceived as "self exalting" numbers that described the amount of missionaries sent by his church. For all we know He could have been making a statement with no hint of selfish pride.  If we were a close friend of his or a mentor we might ask him about his intentions behind these statements, but the statements in and of themselves were not cause for rebuke.

In summary, I found several points very convicting and enlightening to those who are more content with our books, studies, discussion over coffee, and less familiar with being on the "front line."  Should John Piper apologize?  Well, if John Piper or the Elders with whom he serves are convicting that what has been done is wrong in the sight of the Lord, then yes.  Do I believe anything was said that is going to "shipwreck" the faith of God's elect?  Certainly not!  Would you and I say things in the same way, lead a congregation in the same way?  Probably not.  However, my dear friends, on the day of our Lord's returning we will see the results of labor.

There is more to say...but I hope that this is a gracious start.

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