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Rick Warren and the Undermining of the Faith

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
June 24, 2022 10:00 pm

Rick Warren and the Undermining of the Faith

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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June 24, 2022 10:00 pm

GUEST: TOM BUCK, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church (Lindale, TX)

In late May, pastor Tom Ascol, who was then a candidate for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), joined us to discuss some of the pivotal issues facing the largest Protestant denomination in America. Their annual convention came and went in mid-June in Anaheim, CA, with Ascol finishing second in the voting for president behind a less biblically-conservative candidate named Bart Barber.

There is a major debate taking place within the SBC that is representative of the larger debate within the Evangelical church on issues related to gender, race, and sexuality.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, is the most well-known pastor within the denomination. His church and best-selling books, The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, have impacted the evangelical church’s ecclesiology (i.e. the doctrine of the church, including methodology) more in the last 25 years than anyone or anything else.

Last year, in clear violation of Scripture (e.g. 1 Tim. 2:11-14; Titus 1:5-9) Warren led the way in appointing three women to pastoral roles at Saddleback and just recently announced a husband and wife will be replacing him in a kind of dual pastoring role when he retires this year.

Despite Warren’s actions being in violation of biblical and denominational beliefs, the SBC chose not to disassociate from Saddleback and gave Warren six minutes to speak at their annual meeting. We will air the audio of that on this week’s program. Our guest is Tom Buck, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, TX and a noted theological conservative within the SBC.

“This is 2022…get over it” is not the right response to the issue of appointing female pastors. The response to this question is tectonic, determining whether a church or denomination remains faithful to God’s word or regresses into more rebellion.
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Rick Warren and the Undermining of the Faith. Tom Buck, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, joins us today right here on the Christian Worldview Radio Program, where the mission is to sharpen the Biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

I'm David Wheaton, the host. The Christian Worldview is a nonprofit, listener-supported radio ministry. We are able to broadcast on the radio station, website, or app in which you are listening today because of the support of listeners like you, so thank you for that.

You can connect with us by calling our toll-free number, 1-888-646-2233, or by visiting thechristianworldview.org. The historic 5-4 decision on Friday, June 24, by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the terrible federal abortion law that has led to the killing of over 60 million unborn human beings in our country, came right at our weekly production deadline for the program. We will address this next week, but in the meantime, let's remember to thank God for this decision.

Now to the preview for the scheduled topic of the day. In late May, Pastor Tom Askel, who was then a candidate for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, joined us to discuss some of the pivotal issues facing the largest Protestant denomination in America. Their annual convention came and went in mid-June in Anaheim, California, with Askel finishing second in the voting for president behind a less biblically conservative candidate named Bart Barber. There is a major debate taking place within the SBC that is representative of the larger debate within the evangelical church on issues related to gender, race, and sexuality. You could say the role of women in the church, social justice or racial reconciliation as they often call it, and on the issue of homosexuality and transgenderism.

For instance, can someone be what's called a same-sex-attracted Christian? Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, is the most well-known pastor within the denomination. His church and best-selling books, The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, have impacted the evangelical church's ecclesiology, in other words, the doctrine of the church, including how they do church or methodology, more in the last 25 years than anyone or anything else. Last year, in clear violation of what Scripture teaches in 1 Timothy 2, verses 11-14 and Titus 1, verses 5-9, Rick Warren led the way in appointing three women to pastoral roles at Saddleback and just recently announced a husband and wife will be replacing him and his wife Kay in a kind of dual pastoring role when he resigns later this year. Despite Warren's actions being in violation of biblical and denominational standards, the Southern Baptist Convention chose not to disassociate with Saddleback and actually gave Warren six minutes to speak at their annual meeting.

We will air audio of that today on the program. And our guest is Tom Buck, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas and a noted theological conservative within the SBC. You might hear someone say, this is 2022, get over it, women are going to be pastors at churches. Well, that is not the right response to the issue of appointing female pastors.

The response is, what has God said and how do we faithfully follow His word? Because how this question is answered is really tectonic, earth-shaking within the church and it will determine whether a church or denomination remains faithful to God's word or regresses into more rebellion. Let's get to the interview with Pastor Tom Buck. Tom, the vote for president at the Southern Baptist Convention was about 60 to 40 in favor of Pastor Bart Barber over Pastor Tom Askel. A tweet by a man named Nate Brooks, who's a professor of Christian counseling said this, who was at the convention and voted, he said, even though I agreed more doctrinally with a different candidate, I think he's referring to Tom Askel there, I voted for Bart Barber because, quote unquote, winsome is as important as, quote unquote, reformed. The more reformed candidate, and again, I'm assuming he's referring to Tom Askel, has declared our convention to be slipping into apostasy and he vilified those supporting abuse survivors. Now, I'm not sure if that's accurate about Tom Askel that he vilified anyone supporting abuse survivors.

What are your thoughts on the vote for president and what do you expect from Bart Barber? When I read that he said that Tom Askel had done those things, I thought that was not very winsome of the way he put that because Tom did not vilify anybody. I don't even know what they mean by winsome.

Winsome sounds like that you speak in soft pale pastels rather than bold colors when it comes to issues. Bart is not a liberal per se. I think that my biggest problem with Bart is I've often used the term company man, and by that I mean that when Bart talks about winsomeness or unity, Bart is willing to overlook things that I am not. Women pastor issue would be a great example of that. Bart personally does not believe in women being pastors, yet he is unwilling to boldly speak out that Rick Warren's church and Rick Warren should be this fellowship from the convention. In fact, Rick Warren endorsed Bart Barber publicly, which tells you, in my opinion, all that you need to know about how Bart stands for issues.

So it's not where he personally stands on certain issues, but his willingness to say, I wouldn't do that, but I'm not going to say somebody else shouldn't do that. So I think that he has a far too rosy picture of what we see as problems in the Southern Baptist Convention. Tom Buck with us today here on the Christian Real View. Speaking of Rick Warren, his church Saddleback in Southern California is a Southern Baptist Convention church. Rick Warren was at the convention. Now, just the history leading up to this is that Rick Warren, I think it was last year, late last year, they put in position three female pastors at Saddleback for the first time.

And then just recently, Rick Warren is retiring and they have put in position a man and his wife who were pastoring up, I think, in Northern California to become the new pastors, co-pastors. Rick Warren spoke at the convention in about a five-minute floor speech. It's important, I think, to understand this, not just about who Rick Warren is, because you're going to learn a lot about him from hearing these audio clips, but you're also going to learn a lot about this really critical issue that's being debated within the Southern Baptist Convention. So let me just play portions of this sound clip for you, Tom. I will stop and then you can comment on various things that we play along the way. So here's how he starts out his five-minute or six-minute message to the so-called messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention.

You know, first, everybody welcome to Orange County, Southern Baptist of 149 Southern Baptist churches here, 90 of them started by Saddleback Church. You know, it's customary for a guy who's about to be hung to let him say his dying words. I have no intention of defending myself.

I have taught my kids and grandkids for years. I am most like Christ when I refuse to defend myself. The Bible says Jesus spoke not a word unto them when Pilate accused him of all kinds of things. So I have no intention. I have most of you on my mailing list anyway, and I can write you and tell you what I believe about the gift of pastoring as opposite from the office of pastoring.

But I'm not here to talk about that. Let's stop there for the first bite here, Tom, and just get your thoughts on this. If I heard that correctly, Rick Warren is comparing those who have pushed back against him and Saddleback Church for appointing women to be pastors as somehow like Pilate questioning Christ.

Your thoughts? He's setting himself up to be a martyr. He is framing the argument in a way that is unfair in every way. And if he really was being genuine, which he is not being genuine, he should have finished those sentences and walked out. Because if Jesus didn't say a word, Rick Warren followed that by several thousand words, if you will. And he did most certainly defend himself. He didn't walk away and send emails to us.

He then decided that he would defend himself completely. I think one of the most troubling things in what he said is when he made the statement that 90 of those 149 churches were started by Saddleback that he was talking about. That's part of the problem in the Southern Baptist Convention, is that we have churches that for many years have been influenced by unbiblical thinking and ecclesiology that Rick Warren has been perpetuating for years.

And so we are seeing the reaping of what we've allowed Rick Warren to sow. Tom Buck with us today on the Christian Real View. What is the purpose-driven church, and is that any different than the Bill Hybels model at Willow Creek of the seeker-sensitive church?

It's very similar to that. Some of the things that he said in his book were helpful. The church shouldn't be program-driven and a variety of things that he said. But he was developing a model for church growth that has come to be known as Saddleback Sam. He was designing the church based upon what the average person looked like, which interestingly enough in the modern social justice movement was a white male of the area in which he lived. So the whole church was built upon what they perceived to be the average white male who lived in Orange County where Saddleback was and appealing to their desires of what they would feel comfortable in a church. So although he called it purpose-driven, it was really based upon what worldly thinking would be, how an unbeliever, the Saddleback Sam unbeliever, would be appealing to them to come and to hear the message. So he claims we're not changing the message, but we are going to adjust the way in which we appeal to the lost world based upon what they want to hear and what their desires and their worldview is, so to speak. Okay, let's hear the next part of the address by Rick Warren.

Lunchtime, I wrote you a love letter, and I'd like for my possibly likely last convention to read it to you. Kay and I could have not built Saddleback Church to its size and influence in any other denomination. I love Southern Baptist. I am a fourth-generation Southern Baptist pastor. My great-grandfather was led to Christ by Charles Spurgeon and sent to America as a church planter. Saddleback was sponsored by the North American Mission Board. I served on the staff of the California State Convention and the Texas State Convention as a teenager. Billy Graham picked me up when I was 18 and for the next 52 years mentored me because I started at 16 years old, hired by the California Convention to preach youth revivals, and I had preached over 120 harvest crusades before I was 20. Billy took this long-haired, skinny Californian and mentored me for the next 52 years. He said at the beginning that Kay and I built Saddleback Church with SBC Help. And then he linked himself with Charles Spurgeon in being almost a direct disciple of Billy Graham.

What did you make of this time? The way he starts it tells you is problematic. Kay and I built Saddleback. Kay has preached at Saddleback multiple times. He clearly reveals in his thinking that she has been, and of course every pastor's wife is an integral part of the pastor's ministry. There's no doubt of that. But I would never say Jennifer and I built Saddleback.

First of all, I don't think Rick built Saddleback either. It's very egotistical in everything that he says. There's no doubt it's arrogant the number of times that he says I. And then even when he talks about others, whether it be Spurgeon or Billy Graham or whoever, it's used in such a way to build himself up. Which he said that's not what Jesus did, and he's right, that's not what Jesus did. He said that's not what he was going to do, but that's exactly what he does do.

But he says some things that are factual that we need to point out that are problematic. He says that Kay and he built it. I do believe that that's correct, that Saddleback is more built by him than it has been upon the Word of God. He says he could not have done it without the SBC.

Sadly, I think he's absolutely right. The SBC makes it possible for monstrosities like Saddleback Church to be built and to flourish and then to be platformed as a model for others to follow after. And then he made it clear that it was a NAM church plant, which only shows that the North American Mission Board has been about planting unhealthy churches for a very long time.

And so the fact that they're continuing to do that should be alarming to SBC. And the fact that the two people that are coming in, Andy and Stacey Wood, to take over for Kay and Rick Warren are also both NAM related. Their church was a NAM church plant at Echo Church, and up until recently when I pointed out that she was a woman preacher, Stacey Wood, who was a co-pastor at that church, NAM was having them train as a church other NAM church planters as a part of the SEND network. So the biggest problem in this section of Rick Warren is not what he said that might be false, but actually all the things he said that would be true, which are the SBC problems that still exist today. We will have more Rick Warren churches because the SBC and NAM continues to platform such people. Tom Buck with us today here on the Christian Worldview radio program, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Let's get to the next soundbite audio clip from that message by Rick Warren, where he talks about ad nauseam statistics and specific statistics about what he's compiled as to the scope and scale of his ministry.

Here's my love letter to you, because I really am grateful if this is my last convention. Because of Southern Baptist polity, I was allowed to serve one church for life. That's not possible in those denominations. And grew it to become the largest church in this convention. Because Southern Baptist gave me a passion for evangelism and mission, we baptized 56,631 new believers. And as a Southern Baptist church, sent 26,869 members overseas to 197 nations. Because Southern Baptist taught me the value of a membership covenant, 78,157 members of our church signed our membership covenant after taking a four-hour membership class. Because Southern Baptist taught me to emphasize the priority of Bible study, we now have 9,173 home Bible studies in homes in 162 Southern California cities. Because Southern Baptist taught me the value of church planting, that I already mentioned, we planted 90 in Orange County alone and literally thousands around the world. Because Southern Baptist taught me to honor and love the local church, I've had the privilege for 43 years of training 1.1 million pastors. Sorry friends, that's more than all the seminaries put together.

I owe you all so much. So I sincerely say, thank you Southern Baptist for shaping my life. The verse comes to mind, let another man praise you and not your own lips. For a pastor and a very notable pastor to be going over your so-called results, it just hit me very, very boastful and arrogant. What are your thoughts on that? Rick Warren was feeding Southern Baptists what they love to eat.

That's all he was doing. Rather than saying, here's how God's word shaped me, here's what God's word has done for my thinking. He is feeding Southern Baptists the numbers they love to hear. What is it that Southern Baptists love to hear? How many baptism numbers we have, how many numbers we have for this and that. We talk about that we have 14 million members in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Although you could not find 11 million of them if you even tried on any given Sunday. He is boasting about himself because Southern Baptists as a whole love to boast about themselves. If you were to listen to any entity speech that was given at the Southern Baptist Convention, it would have been saying the similar things, how wonderful the entity is. How we've done wonderful things and given all the numbers about how great the Southern Baptists are. Because that's part of the problem in the Southern Baptist Convention. It's the most telling part of his speech. So everybody can rip on Rick Warren for being self-aggrandizing. He has learned well what Southern Baptists like to eat and he served it up to us in grandiose style.

Okay, more with Tom Buck. After some ministry announcements, you are listening to The Christian Worldview. You can help us sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ by calling 1-888-646-2233, visiting thechristianworldview.org or writing to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. And God loves you so much, you became a human being, suffered and died on the cross to take the punishment for the sin of the world. That means you don't have to end up in hell. God can legally forgive your sins because he's the lover of your soul. And then Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death. Mario, if you give up the battle and just say, God, I'm a rebel and you repent and trust in Christ, God will forgive every sin you've ever committed and grant your everlasting life as a free gift. Do you believe what I'm saying? Yes. It's the gospel truth.

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I'm David Wheaton. You can visit our website, thechristianworldview.org, to get connected with this nonprofit radio ministry. Now back to the interview with Pastor Tom Buck. Tom, now this next audio clip from Rick Warren's message is really short, but there's a really deep theological point he is making in this next portion of his message.

You're never going to find another Baptist who agrees with you completely on everything. There are Baptist brothers here today who don't believe Jesus died for the whole world, but we imagine somehow get along with them. Okay, so now that was a big tell as to what Rick Warren believes about atonement. And so the question is, Tom, if Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of the entire world, of every sins in the world that they're paid for, the conclusion to that would be that everyone is then going to heaven.

Answer that theological question that he just made. Yeah, it's probably one of the biggest misrepresentations that's made of those who believe in particular redemption. The issue of atonement is not whether Christ died for the whole world, you know, the way he frames that, but what the extent of the atonement was and what it was meant to accomplish. So everyone limits the atonement that's a true Christian, either in application or scope. So anybody who believes in universal atonement believes that everybody's saved. So if the atonement of Christ is applied to everyone in a universal fashion, then absolutely everyone's saved. No one believes that.

No Southern Baptist believes the Baptist faith and message believes that. They would at least believe the atonement is only applied when someone believes. Those of us who believe that it's in scope, we believe that when Christ died on the cross, he actually accomplished salvation and provided atonement for all who would believe. So we're not saying that there are not effects that even unbelievers receive under common grace because of the death of Christ. We're saying that when he went to the cross, he actually accomplished salvation.

He didn't just make salvation possible, he accomplished it. And that shot that Rick Warren was taking was actually, I believe, at Tom Askell, because he knows Tom Askell believes in particular redemption. He endorsed Bart Barber, who does not believe in that. And that was just a side shot, I think, in the kidneys that he took and a cheek shot, because it's not what we believe the way he framed it. OK, one more soundbite here from Rick Warren's message, where he gives his conclusion.

So as Western culture grows more dark, more evil, more secular, we have to decide, are we going to treat each other as allies or adversaries? Second, since this is the year 2022, that means we are 2022 years from the birth of Christ. Now, we know Christ started his ministry at 30 years of age. Luke tells us that, had a three and a half year ministry. Christ died in A.D. 33. He was resurrected in A.D. 33. He gave the Great Commission in A.D. 33.

He sent the Holy Spirit and started the church in A.D. 33. That means 2033, just 11 years from today, is the 2000th anniversary of the Great Commission. I hope one of you, because I won't be here next year, will make a resolution that Baptists take the next 10 years to finish the task of the Great Commission in our generation before the 2000th anniversary of the church. Are we going to keep bickering over secondary issues? Are we going to keep the main thing the main thing? We need to finish the task and that will make God smile. Thank you everybody.

I love you. Okay, that's how he concluded his five or six minute message at the Southern Baptist Convention. There's so many things that are being significantly said here about him and about the convention and about issues going on in the church right now in America and probably elsewhere that he's bringing up here.

Aside from the fact that Christ probably didn't die in A.D. 33, he wasn't born in zero. But anyway, that is a secondary issue probably. But he said we keep bickering over secondary issues. And again, by inference that has to be referring to the fact that the pushback he's been receiving about putting female pastors into his church and now a husband-wife team to co-pastor the church. Talk about how he uses the Great Commission to sort of shame those who would push back on unbiblical positions he's taking. Well again, he's feeding Southern Baptists what they love to eat.

And that is an anemic theology that boils everything down to a little more than, if you will, the four spiritual laws and the sinner's prayer and getting as many responses and baptisms as possible. This is nothing new to the convention. In 1954, there was a slogan called a million more in 54. This has always been the Southern Baptist's way of doing things, this numbers game. I love what Vance Havner said in 1954 right after they gave that challenge of a million more in 54.

He got up and said, if we get a million more that like we've already got, we're sunk. And that's the problem, is we continue to get people that are not discipled well. So let's just think about the Great Commission. I'm all for accomplishing the Great Commission, right?

That's what we ought to be about doing. But let's remember what the Great Commission says. It doesn't stop at baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit.

That's where Rick Warren and the rest of the SBC stopped. But Jesus continues by saying, teaching them to do what? To observe some of the things I've commanded?

For them to observe all the things that I've commanded. Which he made it very clear that he was sending forth his apostles and that the Holy Spirit would lead them into writing and end up being the New Testament to help us understand all that Christ is commanding. Which includes his church, how he intends to build it, the means by which he built it, the ecclesiology obviously that we have that structures it, which includes the role of men and women. Jesus didn't choose any female apostles. There were no deacons who were chosen in Acts chapter 6, even though that was the situation that directly involved the handling of women.

Not one woman was chosen to lead in that situation. And then when you have the pastoral epistles, which clearly is laying out, Howard ordered the church, as Paul tells Timothy. This is how all the churches are to order themselves. He makes it clear that women are not to serve in the role or function of the pastor. So Rick Warren is playing a shell game here. And he is switching around the issues rather than showing you the full-blown understanding of what the Great Commission is.

We need to be accomplishing it, but all he seems to want to do is it to be around baptism number. Tom Buck with us today here on the Christian Reel View radio program, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas. So let's get into this particular issue a little more.

You set it up there well. There is this distinction being made within the Southern Baptist Convention and elsewhere now that there's a difference between a title of pastor, like we can give women the title of pastor as long as they don't have the office of pastor, as long as they're not actually preaching to men. And I'm assuming though that's actually in reality not what is going to be taking place at Saddleback Church. Now if they have three female pastors and a female co-pastor, they are going to be teaching men.

Correct me if I'm wrong. So why is this distinction being made between title of pastor and office or function of a pastor? Well, you're right that they're already teaching men.

In fact, Stacy Wood who will be coming in regularly preaches at their church, and Kay Warren preached at their church and men were present. So the issue comes down to what is 1 Timothy 2, 12 and following, what is it addressing? Paul says in that section that he does not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over men, and that is immediately before he gives the qualifications for an elder overseer. So that's the function and the reason that no woman can be in the office of elder is because a woman is not permitted to perform the function of an elder. So Paul gives the function and then he gives the character for the office.

To separate these things is to do a complete damage to the text, to turn it upside down on its head. So we cannot separate the title, the role or the function. Those things are united together by Paul himself in 1 Timothy 2 and 3. What Rick Warren and others in the Southern Baptist Convention want to do is say they want both things. They want to say a woman can have the title of pastor, she can even do the function of pastor, but there's some nebulous type of thing that they haven't even spelled out of what's the difference between the office. If this woman is doing absolutely everything that the male pastor does in the office of pastor, then it's a distinction without a difference. Tell me what the difference is other than this woman doesn't have to have any of the spiritual qualifications apparently that the man in the office does. So she can perform all of the functions of the duties of the pastor without any of the character qualifications of chapter 3.

It makes no sense whatsoever. Now I'm sure there's someone listening today who is listening to two men talking about that women shouldn't be pastors of churches. Why did God ordain it this way, that the man should have leadership role in the church and also in the home? Yeah, I don't know if the right question is why did God do it this way, it's just the question is did he do it that way? 1 Timothy 2 makes it very clear when Paul gives that he doesn't permit a woman, he doesn't say after that because women aren't as smart as men.

He doesn't say because men are better leaders than women. He doesn't give any of those things because this is not an issue about equality, it's an issue about God's design. He goes back to creation and he says this is how God has designed it to be. Then he makes it clear that when that order of creation was defied, that's what led to the fall. When Eve usurped the position of Adam, it led to her being deceived. That's what Paul is saying there.

So it's not saying that women are more easily deceived than men. He's saying that look what happened back in Genesis 3 when they defied the order of creation, that's what led to the fall. So when we defy God's order, it's going to lead to the same type of results that occurred in the first place when the fall happened. I think this is one of the reasons why there's been agreement on this issue. He calls it a secondary issue. By that it would be like we disagree with Presbyterians for example on baptism, the issue of baptism, the mode of baptism.

Therefore that's a secondary issue and we're able to partner together with them. But isn't it interesting that both conservative Presbyterians and conservative Baptists throughout church history have agreed on the issue of the role of men and women in the church because it's a more fundamental issue than even the mode of baptism because it goes back to the order of creation itself. So while I can partner with a Presbyterian brother and sister in Christ, a conservative evangelical Presbyterian, while we disagree on the secondary issue like mode of baptism, that's not nearly as fundamental as the issue of how we structure our church and leadership because the Bible is actually more clear on the issue of role of women in the church and men in the church than it is on the mode of baptism. Tom Buck with us today on the Christian worldview. Christians who are theologically conservative see the Southern Baptist Convention, as you mentioned at the top of the interview today, as a microcosm of what is going on in greater evangelicalism. You have the seeker, the purpose-driven church model. You have this issue of egalitarianism versus complementarianism, whether women's role in church structure. The issue of social justice is a big one now that's dividing evangelicalism. Homosexuality and transgenderism, the idea that you can be kind of a gay Christian or a same-sex attracted Christian.

These are issues going on in our culture but that now the church is really wrestling with and accepting them to a very troubling degree. The former president, pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, James Merritt, after the new president Bart Barber was elected, said, Congrats to Bart Barber on being elected as SBC president. So proud of the SBC for this vote. Our convention is headed in the right direction and there is no, when he capitalizes all caps, there is no drift, none. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.

How does this drift happen and how can it be denied? Let's just take the facts because one of the things that someone has said before is, you know, if you want to understand things, put a bag over the people's head, so to speak, and just watch what they do. So there may be a lot of good things to say about James Merritt but here's what we know. He has very recently, within the last few months, openly tweeted in support of his son who is an open homosexual and was promoting a sermon that his son preached that was completely unbiblical in a variety of ways. So here you have James Merritt promoting a homosexual preacher, happens to be his son, I understand that. There's probably some blindedness that he has regarding that because of his love and affection for his son.

But that's the point. He is obviously, at the very least, blind to these things. He has softened his views on even issues like same-sex attraction and homosexuality in favor of showing public support to his son. So he's compromised, if you will, in that, and therefore he's either incapable, compromised, or unwilling, or complicit, I don't know which it is, regarding what's going on in the SBC. There is no doubt that there's a drift. It's very clear that there is. And if you can't see the fact that half of the messengers got up and applauded Rick Warren after his love letter to himself and his promotion of women pastors, then you're just willfully blind. So I think there's a clear movement in the SBC.

I think some people probably have motives that are nefarious, while others are just so blinded by their love for the SBC that they're unwilling to see the problems that are just screaming at them right in the face. What do you say to someone today to encourage them to hold the main things, the main things, and to walk away from this conversation not just being discouraged about the state of the church? We need to be taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world, and we need to be holding that hope out to them.

But we don't do that by any means necessary. We do it directly by how Jesus told us to do it, which is to teach those who come to Christ to observe all things that he has taught. Because all that God teaches is what we need for our lives to flourish in this world, to be who God has created us to be.

In fact, your best life now, to take a phrase from Joel Osteen, is found in full submission to Jesus Christ, both here and in eternity. But yet what we have is being portrayed that we need to water this down and that all the other teachings don't matter of what Christ has said. We need to get this gospel to a lost world. They need to hear all that Jesus has said, and they need to fully submit to it. The worst thing that a Southern Baptist church can do is to just sit by passively and trusting the current leadership to do what it wants to and just absolutely not be involved.

You're actually more or at least as much of a problem as those who are leading us in this bad direction. Tom, thank you for coming on the program today. Thank you for your forthrightness in the way you analyze what's going on within the convention and the church more broadly, and just for your fidelity to God's Word. We just wish all of God's best and grace to you.

Thank you. Okay, we have some follow-up thoughts on this issue with Rick Warren at the Southern Baptist Convention after these brief ministry announcements. You are listening to The Christian Real View.

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Transcripts and short takes are also available. Now back to the topic of the day on Rick Warren and the undermining of the faith. Now the verse from Jude comes to mind when thinking of Rick Warren, where it says, Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you, appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Verse 4, For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only master in Lord Jesus Christ. Now those are very strong words, and some might say that's too strong to categorize Rick Warren. But if you think about it, Rick Warren is a false teacher. He's teaching false things for sure, like women can be pastors of a church.

This is an egregious error. It's not a secondary issue as Rick Warren contends. It's a primary issue of biblical authority. Who gets to decide the qualifications for a pastor in the church of Jesus Christ? Rick Warren and his committee or pastoral staff?

Or is it God as he has written in his word? Really, when you think about the arrogance of Rick Warren thinking he knows better, above and beyond what God has clearly written, thus saith the Lord in his word. Tim Challies, a popular blogger, wrote in a 2011 column on Rick Warren, he said, Warren has been lauded in the secular media for speaking for a long time to a large group of Jewish leaders without ever using the name of Jesus. He is now being lauded by Calvinists for affirming the doctrines of grace. He has received praise from Roman Catholics. After all, he recently wrote the introduction to a special edition of Time magazine that celebrated the life of Mother Teresa. This introduction praises the woman and holds her up as a model of Christian virtue. Warren tells about a handwritten note by Mother Teresa that adorns the wall of his office. He proclaims that Mother Teresa, quote, offered the same unconditional love our Savior did. By being the hands and feet of Jesus, this petite Albanian nun became one of the great evangelists of the 20th century, unquote. He declared her, quote, Exhibit A of a true hero, a saint, unquote. Mother Teresa, though, was a Catholic of Catholics, a devout follower of her church.

She was also a universalist, Challies writes, and one who saw no reason to seek to convert people to the gospel, that from Tim Challies. So Warren takes conflicting positions depending on his audience, which just creates confusion and sort of gives him this plausible deniability. You can probably find something good that Rick Warren wrote and something that's clearly unbiblical that he's said or written elsewhere. That leads, that confusion leads to people not fully understanding just how much of an underminer Rick Warren actually is.

In fact, you probably heard of the organization Nine Marks. It's a church planting organization, I believe, started by Mark Dever and others based out of Capital Baptist in Washington, D.C. They had a 2010 review of Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Church, where they wrote, Indeed, Warren is part of our own household. On the spiritual battlefield, he is our ally. His understanding of salvation is biblical. He trusts in the sovereignty of God. Evangelistic zeal pulsates from his heart. He affirms the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture. He believes in regenerate church membership, and he has been practicing church discipline for 21 years now. In fact, his beliefs and values are ours in so many ways that we are wary of questioning his methods, lest we be seen as turning our turrets on our own trenches. What's more, his evident productivity in evangelism is nearly unrivaled, which makes his methods seem sacrosanct in critically evaluating them taboo.

So there you go. Rick Warren is sort of whatever you perceive him to be, and that's how he's able to undermine things that he wants to rebel against in God's word. So just two points on Rick Warren. Underminers, or false teachers, maybe that's the more biblical word, are intelligent and shrewd.

They creep in sort of unnoticed. Now, he's not unnoticed. He's very noticed. But he's skilled at coming across as your good buddy. But he understands the issues he's dealing with, and he understands people and how to manipulate and move people. So notice what he does, and I won't play the audio again.

We have that six-minute message linked at thechristianrealview.org if you want to hear it again. I would actually encourage you to watch that video again, where he thanks the Southern Baptist Convention over and over. He gets emotional and tears up.

He uses humor. He creates a straw man about being hung and saying his last words, knowing full well he's not going to get hung. He knows the majority of the SBC is on his side, and so he makes himself this victim, and he compares himself to Christ. And yes, Christ never needed to respond to anyone who accused him of anything because everything he did was perfectly right. So Rick Warren is saying, what I'm doing is right, and I have no need to answer my critics. And critics aren't just critics. They're like the ungodly pilot who interrogated Christ and had him let off to be crucified.

What a comparison. This decision by Rick Warren to select three female pastors at his church and then a man and a woman to lead the church, this was not a spontaneous decision. He knows exactly what he is doing. To be clear, what he is doing, he is rejecting the God of Scripture and also, to a lesser extent, less important extent, the tradition of 2,000 years of, let's say, orthodox church history.

And he knows this very well. I mean, these passages in the New Testament that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus cannot be interpreted correctly any other way. 1 Timothy 2, verse 11, a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness, but I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.

And as Tom Buck mentioned today, this is not an issue of value or worth or capability. It's a design that God established from the very beginning for his own good purposes. And then read for yourself Titus chapter 1, where it talks about the character qualities of a pastor or elder in a church and also what gender, male, he is to be. So Rick Warren thought about this and concluded that he has a better way, a purpose-driven way, than the way God designed the church and the home to be.

So that's the first point, that underminers or false teachers are shrewd and intelligent, no doubt. Number two, they're also very skilled at using truth to undermine the faith. If you look at the tenets of the purpose-driven church from his book, there's five points, five purposes of the church that he pulls from the great commandment to love God and love your neighbor and the great commission. So he kind of merges those two together to form these five purposes of the church. The first one is worship, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. The second purpose of the purpose-driven church, he writes, is the ministry, to love your neighbor as yourself. The third purpose is evangelism, that's from the great commission, Matthew 28, go therefore make disciples. The fourth purpose, he writes, is fellowship, baptizing them, again from the great commission, identification with the Christian community. And number five is discipleship, teaching them to obey all that I command you, again in the great commission. Now all those sound just wonderful right straight from the Bible, so how can it be wrong?

Well, the devil is in the way, pun intended, these are implemented. How these five things, these five purposes, are taken by Rick Warren and used pragmatically to gear the church for the culture. It's a model for attracting non-believers for church growth. These five points sound great, like lots of churches have good doctrinal statements that sound like they're biblical, but the proof is in what they teach and what they do week to week.

And the purpose-driven model is really nothing different than the seeker model of gearing church, not for the sound teaching of the saints, for fellowship, communion, and prayer, all to the glory of God with fidelity to God and His word, but primarily for the culture around you. Because if you just say Jesus or gospel or great commission enough, people's defenses will be let down. And that's what Rick Warren is very skilled at. Or giving lots of spectacular numbers, the number of the thousands of churches they've planted and the people of them then saved. The 1.1 million pastors who have been trained.

That's irrelevant. Faithfulness to God and fidelity to Him is the standard. And the question really is, what kind of churches are being planted? Are these churches that are honoring to God and His word? What kind of Christians are supposedly being saved? Are these Christians that accurately handle the word of truth? What kind of pastors are being trained for pastoral ministry? And since he's creating disciples in his own unbiblical way, our response should be not, wow, this person's amazing who's done so many great things for the kingdom. We should be saying, this is terrible that Rick Warren has led this many people, this many churches, this many pastors down the wrong road toward pragmatism while violating God's word. This is why Paul wrote to Timothy, an under pastor to Paul, so to speak. He said, pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching. Persevere in these things, for as you do this, you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

It wasn't about accumulating these numbers and keeping track of them and then boasting about them. It's about fidelity to God and paying close attention to God's word. Thank you for joining us today on the Christian Worldview Radio Program.

In just a moment, there will be information on how you can hear a replay of today's program, order transcripts and resources, and support this nonprofit radio ministry. Be encouraged. We may live in a challenging church of underminers. But remember this, Jesus Christ and His word are the basis, and they are the same yesterday and today and forever. We need fidelity to Him.

So until next time, think biblically, live accordingly, and stand firm. The mission of the Christian Worldview is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We hope today's broadcast encouraged you toward that end. To hear a replay of today's program, order a transcript, or find out what must I do to be saved, go to thechristianworldview.org or call toll-free 1-888-646-2233. The Christian Worldview is a listener-supported nonprofit radio ministry furnished by the Overcomer Foundation. To make a donation, become a Christian Worldview partner, order resources, subscribe to our free newsletter, or contact us, visit thechristianworldview.org, call 1-888-646-2233, or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. That's Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. Thanks for listening to the Christian Worldview.
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