Rick Warren

Background Information:

Full name: Richard Duane Warren
Born: January 28, 1954 San Jose, California
Education: B.A. from California Baptist University
M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary
Occupation: Senior Pastor at Saddleback Church
Author of A Purpose Driven Life


Richard Duane Warren is the Senior Pastor at Saddleback Church, which has many satellite campuses worldwide. His influence, therefore, is immense. As Saddleback Church is one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, which is in turn one of the largest evangelical denominations, Warren has major influence in American evangelical Christianity. Unfortunately, Warren, the author of A Purpose Driven Life, preaches an insufficient gospel, chooses therapeutic language over Biblical language, seeks to undercut the necessary division between Christianity and other religions (particularly Islam), promotes mask mandates, promotes a globalist agenda over the authority of the Church, and has overseen the ordination of three women as “Pastors” at Saddleback. All of these things are only the surface of Warren’s Woke teachings and practices.

Rick Warren’s Insufficient Gospel:

One of the duties of every pastor is to ensure that the Scriptures are clearly, unmistakably, and accurately exposited from the pulpit. Given Rick Warren’s position as Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church, it would seem that he should have a right view of the Gospel, and that when he speaks about entry into the family of God, he should do so with great care and precision, so that an unsaved person would not receive false assurance of salvation. In reality, however, Warren has undercut the severity and the grace of the Gospel by cheapening it to mean something less than it really means. According to Reformation Charlotte, in Warren’s “A Purpose Driven Life,” he produces something akin to the “Sinner’s Prayer,” but without the language of sin and necessity of repentance for salvation. Instead, he simply writes:

“Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you, and I receive you.’ Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!” While it is true that belief in Jesus is sufficient for salvation, Warren does not explain the reality of sin (the transgression of the Law of God), which causes all human beings to be destined to an eternity apart from God without His intervention through the life, death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God Incarnate. He does not explain that entrance into the family of God is salvation from an eternity apart from the blessings and goodness of God, which is a vital truth which needs to be explained in all evangelistic efforts. Moreover, he does not explain that saving faith in Jesus is not relegated to belief as mental assent, but that brings forth repentance, which is why James tells us that “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-26).

John MacArthur, Senior Pastor at Grace Community Church, explains that Rick Warren’s book has an inadequate Gospel. “Where is the Resurrection?” MacArthur asked concerning Warren’s presentation. “How does he know who’s in the family of God? No repentance, no judgment, no hell, no Heaven, no self-denial, no discussion of sin, no laying down of the law of God against which the sinner is broken, no sense of guilt, no sense of condemnation, no fear of eternal torment– that is an inadequate gospel. That is a gospel that I will tell you will contribute to apostasy.”

Rick Warren Chooses Therapeutic Language Over Biblical Language:

Rick Warren has been criticized by political scientist Francis Fukuyama in the book “Identity” for his embracing of therapeutic terminology that negates the Biblical language of sin. Per Fukuyama, via Capstone Report:

“Rick Warren, whose Church Growth Movement has transformed many thousands of evangelical churches in recent decades, has put forth a similar therapeutic message. His trademarked Purpose Driven Life movement emphasizes the importance of pastors attending to the ‘felt needs’ of nonbelievers, deemphasizing traditional Christian doctrine in favor of an overtly psychological language.”

[From Francis Fukuyama, Identity, p. 100.]

This is typical of “seeker-friendly” churches which seem to be more concerned with getting people through the doors than with teaching Biblically-sound doctrine. While Christians can be therapists, the reality is that modern therapeutic practices are usually run in a secular fashion in accordance with a secular, government-determined pseudo-ethic, complete with secular rules against encouraging Biblical practices and beliefs in the lives of patients. When Fukuyama identifies Warren as someone who uses “overtly psychological language” rather than “traditional Christian doctrine,” he highlights this reality.

Churches are not to be run as secular therapeutic businesses or practices. Pastors have a responsibility to teach and act in accordance with right doctrine, which is, in many cases, contrary to secular therapeutic language and practice. Sin, for example, is not a discussion in secular therapy, but in Biblical Christianity, sin is viewed as a core problem in the lives of all men and women. Churches should operate without regard to secular methods or desires, opting instead to bring the desires of outsiders into alignment with Christ’s teachings.

Rick Warren and Islam:

Rick Warren is often identified as one of the primary leaders of efforts to unite Muslims and Christians in what has come to be known as “interfaith dialogue.” Interfaith dialogue attempts to soften the dividing lines between Christian orthodoxy and false religions, Islam being one of the primary targets for unification. This attempt to soften the lines is sometimes termed “Chrislam.” One instance of this in Warren’s life was his inaugural prayer, in which he prayed the following words: “I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus [with an Hispanic accent], who taught us to pray, Our Father…” Now, one could object that he was simply using the Arabic name for Jesus, but that Arabic name has a particular meaning to those who hear it, and that meaning is not the one derived from the Bible. In Islamic mythology, “Isa” is not God, not the Son of God, not the ultimate Creator of the Cosmos and everything in it; rather, “Isa” refers merely to Jesus as a prophet. This is a reductionistic name for Jesus derived from the Qur’an. Language matters, and Warren’s language indicates an eagerness to compromise Biblical truth and references in favor of interfaith dialogue.

Rick Warren on Masks and Vaccines:

Regarding COVID-19, Warren has failed to act as a voice in favor of the Church’s right to act in accordance with God’s will rather than the will of the government. In that sense, he has promoted the errors of pietism. Disguising the political machinations of the Leftist medical strongarming of churches across the U.S. under a thin veil of Christian-esque language, Warren claimed that complying with state mask mandates is “loving.” The investigative efforts of Woke Preacher Clips revealed that Warren, in an online interview, said the following on the subject:

“The Bible says, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The most practical way right now you can love your neighbor as yourself: wear a mask. Okay? And to not wear one basically says, ‘I don’t care about you, or I don’t even care about your fears.”

In this quote, the reader can see the rhetorical and argumentative strategy that Warren employs in the service of mask-wearing. First, he begins with a proposition that all Christians agree upon: the “second greatest commandment,” which is to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. Beginning with that universally-accepted Christian foundation, he then asserts that loving one’s neighbor requires mask-wearing. This is not a Biblical claim, but he ties it to the Biblical principle of the love of neighbor, which allows him to conflate the two as if they are somehow interchangeable. This is an example of gaslighting believers by twisting the meaning of the Scriptures.

Additionally, in that same interview, Warren’s deception gains another layer: a veneer of humility. “I couldn’t imagine,” Warren asserts, “going to Heaven and saying that I let people, members, die because I had such an ego I needed a crowd to speak to. I’m not willing to gamble the health of my members to nurse my ego that would like to have a live audience.” Rather than admit that he compromised on the Biblical command to gather together in person as a body of believers, Warren hides the unbiblical nature of his position behind the appearance of concern for the health of his members. That isn’t to say that Rick Warren doesn’t care for their health; Wokepedia is not in a position to judge the inner thoughts. However, from what he has stated, it is clear that his priorities are not aligned with the priorities given to leaders of the Church in Scripture. Caring for the sick is not accomplished by quarantining the healthy.

Rick Warren’s Globalist Church Propaganda:

Utilizing the events of the COVID-19 phenomenon, Rick Warren has identified certain “global giants” which he believes are the “biggest problems on the planet.” He spoke about these problems and proposed a solution in a video for the World Economic Forum— the same World Economic Forum that has promoted the “Great Reset” in no uncertain terms. Among those “giants” are “extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, illiteracy, corruption, and spiritual emptiness.” Leaning into the global nature of these issues, Warren hints that the solution must be global in nature. “These problems,” he says, “are so big, nobody’s been able to solve them. The U.S. hasn’t solved them. The U.N. hasn’t solved them. Nobody’s solved them. And I think it’s because it’s going to take a three-pronged strategy to do this. There is a role for the public sector, there is a role for the private sector, and there is a role for the faith sector.” While this may not appear to be globalist propaganda in and of itself, readers are encouraged to consider Warren’s statement which followed:

“Each of them can do something that none of the other three can do. Government has a role to set agenda, government has a role to set priorities and things like that and move nations. And there are some things that only governments can do. Businesses have a role which they have: they bring expertise, they bring investments, they bring all kinds of innovations to the market. But then, also, houses of worship have things that businesses and government will never have. In the first place, we have universal distribution. The church was global 200 years before Davos started talking about globalization.”

Warren’s “three-pronged” approach to the “global giants” is undergirded by the idea that the Church should adopt a unique role in “universal distribution.” Warren does not say that the Church should set the standard, or that governments should look to the Church to determine what its agenda ought to be. Rather, Warren promotes the idea that the governments themselves should get to “set agenda” for these “global giant” problems. After government has created the agenda, then businesses produce “expertise” and invest in that agenda, as well as form “all kinds of innovations.” The role of the Church is that of “distribution.”

What precisely should the Church distribute? It seems clear from Warren’s words that he desires for the Church to distribute propaganda in favor of the global, government-set agenda. The Church’s universality makes it an even better “distributor” than the secular media, per Warren, because the Church has been “global” for centuries, among other advantageous qualities. The Church is comprised of millions of congregations across the world, and each congregation receives some kind of message, most of the time, in the form of an homily or a sermon.

Warren remarked further that: “We [the Church] have hundreds of millions of people who volunteer around the world in villages and cities on a weekly basis. And we don’t have to pay them. The third thing that they have is that they have local credibility. At the local level people trust that priest or that pastor or for that matter any imam or a rabbi; the religious leader of their faith because he’s marrying, he is burying, he is helping them through the stages of life. When the crisis comes, NGOs come and go, nations come and go; but, for instance, the church has a 2000-year track record.”

The utility of the Church, then, on Warren’s view, lies in the fact that it can promote the global agenda set forth by the world’s governments, and that the Church is superior to other distributors of that agenda in no small part because it comprised of more people than the world’s most populous nations, and because religious leaders are seen as trustworthy figures. Rather than seeing the Church as the Body of Christ subject to His headship alone, Warren sees the Church as a useful tool of the globalist regime, a means to dispense Leftist propaganda in service of supposedly fighting the “global giants.”

The Ordination of Three Female Pastors at Saddleback:

On Friday, May 7th of 2021, Saddleback Church made a Facebook announcement regarding three new ordinations. All of those ordinations were given to women— namely, Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards. This stands in direct contradiction to the Biblical qualifications for the position of “Pastor,” which are outlined specifically in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Nowhere in Scripture is there an indication that the role of “Pastor” is to be occupied by women. Historic Christianity holds that women may serve the Church in a variety of ways, but none of those varieties include authority over men. The Pastor serves as a representative of Christ, and therefore must be a man, according to Scripture. Warren’s church is, therefore, acting in sin, so long as it continues to ordain women to a role that God originally intended (and still intends) for men.

Unfortunately, Warren’s sin of failing to properly oversee his church bears not only upon Saddleback Church itself, but upon the Southern Baptist Convention, of which Saddleback is a part. As of yet, the Church has not been removed from the Convention, nor does it seem that the Convention has issued any public rebuke. One of the requirements for being a Southern Baptist Church, however, is to refrain from ordaining women. It remains to be seen whether the S.B.C. Credentials Committee will rebuke Warren and Saddleback, or whether they will continue to overlook the error.

Strategic Retirement:

A month after Warren’s church ordained three female pastors, on June 6th of 2021, Warren announced that he would be retiring after the search team at Saddleback found someone to replace him. This appears to be a strategic move on Warren’s part to avoid the consequences of breaking the moral laws of God concerning the concept of a female pastor. However, no successor has yet been named as of the writing of this article. Perhaps it will be a woman who takes Warren’s place, given Saddleback’s recent trend.