Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rick Warren's Subject

Listening to Rick Warren preach raises a fundamental question. On the one hand, he denounces self-centeredness, while on the other hand he presents Scriptural principles as a means of obtaining spiritual benefits for ourselves. Despite his claim in The Purpose-Driven Life that "It's Not About You,"  his sermon entitled "Transformed: How To Get Closer To God" presents closeness with God in terms of "feeling His presence." Thus, he subtly makes things "all about you."

To be fair, Warren stayed surprisingly faithful to his text, Luke 15:11-24 (the story of the Prodigal Son). Because he typically uses Bible verses in fragments and out of context to bolster his points, the fidelity to the text caught me off guard. Too bad he doesn't handle God's Word that honestly more often!

That concession made, I still noticed Warren's overarching message that closeness to God has more to do with our spiritual well-being than with the Lord's honor and  glory. In the very beginning of his sermon, he makes it clear that his "50 Days Of Transformation" series (the sermon I watched today being the second in the series) would help me change things about myself that I don't like. What about changing things about myself that grieve the Holy Spirit? The sermon neglects to mention anything along those lines.

The 50 Days Of Transformation webpage on Saddleback Church's Community Blog clearly states the man-centered focus  of the campaign:

Starting in January, thousands of churches across America will begin Pastor Rick’s new seven-week small group study, Transformed. In addition, we will begin the new weekend series, 50 Days of Transformation. Together, this exciting new group study and weekend series will show you how real change—lasting change—can actually happen in your life.
Every small group member will receive a free leatherette-bound workbook, which includes message notes, small group studies, personal goal-setting worksheets, and 50 daily inspirational readings.

Do you see anything about the  Lord there? Neither do I. The free leatherette-bound workbook sounds kinda cool, but again, what does that have to do with God's glory? For all Warren's talk about avoiding a self-centered life, so much of his preaching and writing keeps the spotlight on us, with God as our most devoted Fan. That humanistic thrust makes it difficult to believe that Warren accurately understands (let alone preaches) the Gospel.


  1. Is there a money back guarantee if I don't change or if I change in a way I don't like? Also, do I get to keep the leatherette-bound workbook?

    Just a little humor to reiterate that it is all about the person and not truly seeking to know God and glorify Him. Once again, good post.

  2. No matter how much good he teaches if he gets the main focus off Jesus he is building on the wrong foundation and it eventually all will collapse


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