Quite a number of people have contacted me recently asking for an opinion on the recent interview between John Piper and Rick Warren that had been promised at last years Desiring God conference but had to be postponed. It was supposed to be where John Piper would ask the deep probing doctrinal questions that swirl around Rick Warren. Is he a Calvinist? Does he hold to all five points? Does he preach penal substitutionary atonement etc etc. I really took no interest in this interview and have not even watched it in its entirety because I believe it has been a tragic exercise in missing the point.
We all know Rick Warren is a smart operator. His MO is always to adapt to his audience and Piper is no exception. It is bizarre that Piper recognizes Warren as a pragmatist, and Warren's pragmatism demands that he gives Piper the answers he wants. Trying to understand Warren doctrinally is like shooting at moving goalposts, and yet Piper just doesn't see the pointlessness of this exercise. Warren tells Piper he believes in the doctrines of Grace and then tells an inter-faith forum (made up of Hindus Muslims etc) that he has no interest in seeing them converted but wants to work together with them. He said on national TV that "God's not mad at you, He's mad about you" and then tells Piper his hero is Jonathan Edwards (who preached Sinners in the Hands of an angry God). And then tells Larry King his hero is Ghandi, tells Barack Obama his hero is Martin Luther King, and tells the Catholics his hero is Mother Theresa. The man is a chameleon. Warren told his church he is opposed to homosexual marriage and then denied it on Larry King. He positively commended the President of Syria (in person) for his treatment of Christians and then told Syrian Christian refugees who live in America that he never did such a thing. He can talk to Muslims for an hour without ever mentioning the Lord Jesus Christ and then tell Piper it's his central focus. Warren can tell Piper that penal substitutionary atonement must always be there in Gospel preaching, but I can't find a single sermon with him talking about it (in fact I can find several where he actually undermines this doctrine).
Even the pagan worldly media can see what a godly and discerning man like Piper seems oblivious to. It is perplexing to say the least. (Disclaimer - the following video is in no way an endorsement of that program. It merely serves to show that even carnal worldly members of the media have picked up on Rick Warren's continual double speak).
If John Piper (who I love dearly but think he is making a massive and damaging error in judgment with this) was going to ask questions about Warren's many conflicting statements through the years, his track record on gospel proclamation, and his handling of Scripture - then I would have wanted a front row seat to the interview. I am reluctant to even discuss the content of the interview as I still feel exhausted by my blow by blow critique of the "sermon" Rick Warren preached at the 2010 Desiring God conference. It was a TERRIBLE sermon which contradicted so much of Piper's core theology and yet Piper commended it. It doesn't fill me with hope for the interview. Nonetheless, for the sake of those who have asked, I will examine some of the content from the interview and post my thoughts. So stay tuned . . .
Go On To Part 2