False Teaching: Rick Warren Encourages Lying to Children

Rick Warren has come under a good deal of fire for preaching a gospel that is focused on personal fulfillment rather than repentance of sin and dieing to self. I believe that criticism is well earned. But that is not the only problem with his teaching.

Last spring, just after he launched his site Pastors.com (the about page starts, “This blog is a place for pastors to have an honest dialog about issues they face as leaders of their churches.”) he posted an article in which he encouraged people to lie to children when a pastor is removed due to sin. This directive is not just off message, it is outright telling people to sin and to sin against the vulnerable. It is calling sin good. Here it is, complete with two compliments. Note the paragraph on what to tell children [bold mine]:

What Happens When a Staff Member Falls (letter mentioned in podcast)

May 1, 2007 · 2 Comments

Dear Saddleback MemberIn 2007, I plan to write you several times to help you understand some of the behind-the-scenes procedures and strategies of our church family. In this letter I want to explain what happens when a staff member at Saddleback must be removed because of some sin.
TAKING THE INITIATIVE (Proverbs 28:13)
If a staff member voluntarily confesses to me, or to our Staff Pastor (Bob Baker), and repents before being found out, Bob or I counsel that person privately. Depending on the violation, they may be allowed to remain on staff while recovering. If a staff member does not take the initiative, they are suspended from staff immediately while the elders consider their situation. If a staff member continues to lie about their sin, they are fired immediately.
WHO IS TOLD? (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
Sin is to be confessed only as widely as it affects others. Private sin requires only private confession to God. Personal sin that involves others requires interpersonal confession to the people involved. Public sins (those that affect a large group of people in our congregation) regrettably must be dealt with publicly as a warning to others. The Bible says that those who teach are held to a greater public accountability because of their visibility to those they teach. (James 3:1, 1 Tim. 5:20)Children have a fragile faith and often idolize their leaders. Parents should be careful not to talk about fallen staff in front of children so they don’t lose heart. If asked, you should simply say “They resigned,” That’s all children need to know.RESTORATION (Gal. 6:1)
The goal of church discipline is the restoration of a person’s life, marriage, and possibly ministry. This is hope and prayer, but it is not an automatic conclusion. Our church has a specific restoration process which includes 1) confession and restitution 2) counseling and testing, 3) regular accountability to a group of pastors, 4) prayer, 5) refraining from ministry to focus on maturity, 6) strengthening character and marriage, 7) Bible study and Scripture memorization, and 8 ) rebuilding and proving credibility. The fallen staff member must humbly cooperate with our restoration process which may last up to a year or longer.

Restoration does not mean being restored to the staff of Saddleback. That would not be best for the former staff member or the volunteer workers in that ministry. We are a high-visibility, fast-moving congregation. After the restoration process is finished, we would want to see that person slowly re-enter ministry in a less visible church with smaller demands. Usually after restoration, the person re-enters a different type of ministry than the one they led before their fall. This is because our most effective ministry always comes out of our own deepest hurts and experiences.

SPIRITUAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY (Gal. 6:2)
Sin always hurts others who are innocent, so we provide spiritual and emotional support to the family of the offender. Depending on the situation, severance pay may be provided so the former staff member can focus 100% on rebuilding his/her life.

OFFERING FORGIVENESS & REBUILDING TRUST
(2 Cor. 2:7-8)
Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Forgiveness is offered immediately, even before it is asked for, but forgiveness does not remove the consequences of sin. (Gal. 6:7). Leadership is built on trust, and trust must be earned. While trust can be destroyed instantly by a single decision, it takes time and proof of change before anyone can be restored to ministry or leadership. The Bible commands that they be tested first. (1 Tim. 3:10, Philip. 2:22)

DOING ALL THIS IN HUMILITY & LOVE (Eph. 4:2, 1 Cor. 10:12, )
The Bible says “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” It also says, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.” Now is the time to review your own life and marriage. If you haven’t heard the message by Kay and me “Affair-proofing Your Marriage” I strongly recommend you get a copy this weekend.

Satan is always trying to destroy or discourage God’s Flock by defeating the shepherds (pastors). We are a church family and we must stand together with Craig and his family during his restoration process over the next year.

Saddleback is a strong, mature, and healthy church. In past situations like these, our church family has pulled together, rallied, and become even more stronger and committed. We believe in Romans 8:28. I love you and I look forward to seeing you this weekend.

“Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we’re doing or why, but it’s hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God.”
Hebrews 13:18 (The Message)

PASTOR RICK

Categories: Rick Warren Ministry Podcast

2 responses so far ↓

  • Ray McKay Hardee // May 18, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    We have JUST encountered a situation like this in our church and are using a Spiritual Care Team.The wisdom you provide in this letter is priceless!
  • Steven Taylor // June 12, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Thank you. We are facing a situation right now concerning a moral failure of a volunteer staff member. Your letter is a godsend!

My husband Scott had submitted a short comment criticizing the post but it was not approved by the moderator. I posted an additional comment pointing out the problems and encouraging Mr. Warren to amend the article, but my comments were not approved either.

This is my rejected comment:

My husband sent this article to me and I am concerned with the advice given to be dishonest with children about leaders removal from service.

Chiefly, straight out, scripture tells us not to lie. Telling children that some one resigned when they were in fact removed is a lie.

I could just stop there, but as a family therapist, I think it is important to discuss some of the destructive consequences of such a policy.

First, Warren makes the point that children “often idolize their leaders”. Yes they do, and that is sin in itself. (1 John 5:21 – Little children, guard yourself from idols.) That idolization should not be protected, it should be challenged. Children should learn from their youth that everyone who thinks they stand should “take heed lest they fall”, and that even the most well respected leaders can fall into disobedience to God.

Now this should be done in an age appropriate manner, and details of the sin need not be disclosed, but leaning the lesson that disobedience to God results in painful consequences at age 6 makes a powerful impact that may spare a child from falling into serious sin at age 16 or 26 or 66. When you see that one of the most influential people in your community cannot get away with sin, you learn the fear of God and the respect for the rules that keep you out of danger.

Second, and this should be blatantly obvious, not telling a child that someone is no longer a trustworthy leader puts them at risk for victimization and false teaching of all kinds! Why would you allow a child, whose minds and hearts are so mailable, to remain respectful of someone who is in selfish/unrepentant sin and not being lead by the Holy Spirit?

We don’t want children to idolize respectable people much less untrustworthy people.

Third, children are not stupid. If you lie to them, they will eventually figure it out, even if it is not until adult hood, and they will stop trusting you. If someone at 26 finds out that they were lied to about what was going on in their church, they may question everything that was told to them during their entire experience at that church and with those who lied. I have seen it happen.

I think that there are few things that shake ones faith more than being lied to by a church.

Fourth, again, lying is a sin. Don’t do it. Even to protect someone.

Such unfortunate events are potential teaching moments. They can wonderfully enhance a child’s understanding of grace, and, most dynamically, secret and unrepentant sin. They give them a chance to learn important lessons from others mistakes so they don’t have to learn from their own.

I am sure Mr. Warren sincerely believes that this policy is helpful in keeping children innocent, but I strongly encourage him to rethink this and change this article. Because bottom line, it is telling people to sin against their children.

Ginger Taylor, M.S.

When I looked through the site, I noted that the only comments that had been approved were those that praised Mr. Warren or his comments. (If you know me, you already know my feelings about silencing dissenting opinions).

Because the comments were not posted, I sent an email to the site. After a short email exchange with Eric Busby, Saddleback’s Pastor of Channel Development, it became clear that although he stated that his claim that, “we are unlikely to develop a policy prohibiting critiques of Pastor Rick Warren because we want to encourage honest dialogue on matters that concern the entire listening audience”, his follow up comment, “Unfortunately, we do
receive a large number of comments and are unable to approve them all”, was just PR speak for “we are not posting your comment, buh-bye”.

I noted that currently pastors.com seems to be continuing the same, ‘only fawning comments welcomed’ policy.

So… with twenty thousand people going to his church, has not one person stood up and insisted that he change this article so that it is not telling people to sin?

If not, why not?

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Author: Ginger Taylor

I am a thirty something wife of a wonderful man and mother to two beautiful boys. I am a Johns Hopkins educated family therapist with a current case load of one, my autistic son Chandler. I want to God and what He really has to say to us and especially what He really wants from me. I approach Scripture from the Reformed perspective of Luther and Calvin and those that followed them, and encourage lively debate here at Daily Discernment.

55 thoughts on “False Teaching: Rick Warren Encourages Lying to Children”

  1. Ginger — I love this. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, very few are willing to stand up and ask questions. I wish there were more. All the best with the new blog.
    — jim

  2. Greetings,

    Just my two cents here, but Warren is not telling people to outright lie to children. The actual statement from Warren is, “you should simply say ‘They resigned,’ That’s all children need to know.”

    In other words, he’s simply telling people to not be too quick to divulge information to a child that they might not be able to handle.

    If a pastor resigns for moral failure, then the only thing a young child needs to know is that the pastor resigned–period. Do you really want to start getting into all the gory details of such a situation with a 7-year-old?

    When dealing with difficult/mature issues and children, we often seek to express/explain to them only that which is absolutely necesssary.

    It’s not that complicated, or nefarious, a concept.

    peace,

    R. Abanes

  3. Richard,

    Thanks for the comment.

    The purpose of this blog is to encourage everyone to think more critically about the messages that are really out there, what they really mean and if they are really true or not.

    This is a great example of something we can work on our critical thinking skills with.

    The entire article is about what happens when a church leader is REMOVED from their position due to sin. Yet Warren directs, “you should simply say ‘They RESIGNED’.”

    Is being fired the same thing as quitting?

    No. There is a huge differnence. To say someone quit when they were in fact fired, is not true. It is an outright lie.

    “In other words, he’s simply telling people to not be too quick to divulge information to a child that they might not be able to handle.”

    That is not what he is saying. Read it carefully again. You have actually put words in his mouth. You are saying that he is telling people to give children the truth in a measure than they can process (you and I are agreed on this) but that is not what he has said. Warren is actually telling people to tell kids THE OPPOSITE of what is true.

    So many times we see what we want to see, rather than seeing what is really there. (This is the most dangerous when we do it with God’s word). So forgive my frankness, but in this case, are you seeing what you want Warren to be saying, or are you seeing the actual words that he has put on the page?

    “If a pastor resigns for moral failure, then the only thing a young child needs to know is that the pastor resigned–period.”

    To be specific, remember, we are not talking about “resignation”, we are talking about REMOVAL. Even if someone is ‘asked to resign’ they are still being removed from their position. Fired is fired no matter how lovingly it is done.

    which brings me to the place where we are in complete agreement:

    “Do you really want to start getting into all the gory details of such a situation with a 7-year-old?”

    Absolutely not. If you read my comment to Warren again, you will see that it is not giving truths to big for kids to handle that I am advocating. Quite the contrary.

    I wrote, “this should be done in an age appropriate manner, and details of the sin need not be disclosed…”

    Just because the truth may be difficult, it does not give us license to lie to kids. This is why I encouraged explaining it to them in an age appropriate manner.

    Once we have decided that kids should be told the truth, that the person was removed from their position due to sin, the next is to decide in what measure the child can handle.

    Here is a way that my husband and I bring complicated biblical issues down to size for our kids.

    Since my oldest was 5 (he is now 7) we have been trying to teach him God’s model for repentance found in Numbers 5:5-7:

    “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

    “Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty,

    then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged.

    ‘But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution which is made for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, besides the ram of atonement, by which atonement is made for him.”

    Complicated for a 5 year old to be sure.

    We teach it to our kids this way:

    When you do something wrong, God wants us to repent. Here is how you repent:

    1. Stop what you are doing wrong.

    2. Say what you did wrong out loud.

    3. Clean up your mess.

    If you ask our 7 year old how to repent, he will give you all three steps.

    If some unfortunate circumstance occurred in the church that we were attending today where the pastor was found to be cheating on his wife, we could explain, with out the subject of sex ever being breached, that the pastor made a mess and did not want to clean it up. Eventually his mess got so big that he can’t take care of the rest of the people in the church, because he is going to have to spend a long, long time cleaning up his mess.

    That could start a wonderful conversation on, ‘keeping short accounts’ and when you know you have done something wrong, or are even thinking about doing something you know is wrong, to repent right then so that your ‘mess’ does not get so out of control that bad things start to happen.

    We left a church two years ago because of sin going on there, and we worked very hard to keep the kids from bearing the full weight of the burden that might have been put on them. Because they would not be under the influence of any of the people involved, we chose NOT to say anything about most of the situation (when they are older, if the sin still is not repented of, there will come a time to tell them the whole story, but that is a decade or so away).

    However, one day my super curious 5 year old who asks questions about everything, came in to my husband’s office when I was crying. He was of course concerned and wanted to know why I was sobbing. Scott very deftly told Webster that someone had lied and that mommy was very hurt by it. Webster the Junior Investigator wanted to know every detail, so Scott explained that mommy had seen a woman doing something she should not have been doing, and because the woman did not want to repent, and didn’t want to get in trouble for what she did wrong, she lied about mommy so that she could get away with her wrong doing.

    Scott deflected all his questions about who lied and what the lies were, saying, ‘that is not important, what is important is that you can see from how sad mommy is that lying is really, really hurtful, and when we do something wrong, instead of lying to cover it up, God wants us to repent… and how do we repent?”

    That conversation lead into lots of others, and while he still tried to find out several times who lied about what, we just moved past that and talked about the lessons and applied them to his life.

    Then came the day when he got busted for something and he lied and said his brother did it. His brother is autistic and he cannot defend himself against such lies. We reminded him of how hurtful lies can be, and how God sees all wants us to repent instead, and how that when we repent and clean up our mess, we are completely forgiven and can go on with a fresh start.

    Webster copped to the lie and to the crime, apologized to his brother (who had no idea what was going on) paid his dues and was completely forgiven.

    So the fall of a pastor is a teaching opportunity. We have the options of telling the truth in an age appropriate manner or withhold the truths that are too much for them, but we do not have the option to take something that did not happen and present it as the truth. (The pastor did not resign.)

    Read Warren closely and you will see that is telling people to lie to children.

    Lev. 19:11 “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

  4. HEY Ginger!

    > Is being fired the same thing as quitting?

    Actually, I believe Warren, at least as I read it, seems to be taking into account the fact that when most pastors are removed form their position, it is usually through a resignation – they avoid the whole nasty firing angle of it, and in agreement with a board of elders (or leaders) often choose to resign (same thing happens in government).

    This approach, in fact, is the one I have seen over and over and over. So, given the fact that Warren is talking to pastors (and church leaders), I think there is an assumption on his part of how someone is “USUALLY” let go — i.e., through a mutually agreed upon decision for the pastor/leader to “resign.”

    Warren really says nothing about how slightly older children might respond with more pressing questions, etc., etc. etc. Nor does he get very specific about firing vs. reignations.

    > You have actually put words in his mouth.
    Uhm, well, actually, I am not. I am interpreting the rather vague and limited words he did say, taking care to not go too far with them. Look at Warren’s setup:

    “If a staff member does not take the initiative, they are suspended from staff immediately while the elders consider their situation. If a staff member continues to lie about their sin, they are fired immediately.”

    But this is not always the case. Many pastors/leaders often do take the initiative — I have seen it happen. They confess, meet with elders, then with those leaders, come to an agreement to resign.

    I do wish that Warren would have spent more time on that particular scenario and children. Then, he could have talked more about cases where pastors are forcefully removed, spending more time articulating what should be said to children under THOSE circumstances as well.

    I have found that on many occasions in his writings, Warren jumps back and forth between specifics and generalities. I will be the first to say that this weakness of his in the area of writing has, does, and probably will continue to lead to instances of confusion about various things 9some important, some not-so-important).

    Now, as for my own views, I think we see eye-to-eye. Kids need to be told as much as possible – i.e., what they can handle. Now, if a pastor is fired, then a pastor is fired — as opposed to the oft-used resignation (a required resignation, to be sure, but still a resignation). And if fired outright, then some way needs to be found to communicate that gently to kids.

    TBH, I’ve never talked to Rick about this. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I might bring it up with him. If he ever did advocate flat-out lying to kids, then I’d certainly disagree with him. (I don’t agree with Rick on everything, God knows).

    Interestingly, now that you’ve brought it up, it is also a kind of lie to children the traditional stories about the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, too. So we all need to think these things through rather carefully.

    >So the fall of a pastor is a teaching opportunity. We have the options of telling the truth in an age appropriate manner or withhold the truths that are too much for them, but we do not have the option to take something that did not happen and present it as the truth. (The pastor did not resign.)

    I agree 100% with you, as long as it is true that the pastor did not resign. If he did “resign” officially, then I can see how it would be acceptable to simply impart that fact. Other scenarios would require ther methods of dealing with it.

    At the very least, I would say that Warren in this instance is being terrifically unclear, so unclear in fact, that I can easily see how you would interpret it as him telling people to lie to kids. At this point, however, I’m not fully convinced. Yet I also could not say with absolute certainty exactly what Warren was saying regarding all situations, for all kids, at all ages. There’s just not enough text there, IMHO.

    I appreciate your thoughts. And I loved the story of your little son’s inquiries — although of course, the situation was indeed tragic. Sounds like you had a sharp-as-a-tac 5-year-old. Awesome.

    R. Abanes

  5. Richard,

    I think that you may be speaking from your experience that fallen pastors are allowed to resign, but I don’t see that as the context that Warren has used. Look at the setup before the set up you mentioned. He states the purpose of the article in the second sentence, “In this letter I want to explain what happens when a staff member at Saddleback MUST BE REMOVED because of some sin.”

    He notes that some staff may have the chance to deal with their sin while in their jobs, but that those continuing in sin are ‘immediately fired’. Here he seems to be talking about the exception to the ‘removal rule’ but then goes on to talk about what happens ‘when a staff member is removed’.

    “I do wish that Warren would have spent more time on that particular scenario and children…”

    This is an important point that you have made… I wish it too. And frankly that is kinda the point of a blog. He posted an article, I submitted a critique and he then had the chance to go back and amend or expand on his comments (just like you and I are doing now with mine). If he really did mean what you think he meant, he could have said that himself.

    But instead of allowing posting the criticism and allowing the ‘honest dialog’ that they claim is the goal to take place, they just don’t let criticism to see the light of day, and don’t even clarify or comment privately to the person commenting.

    So it leaves people like you and me to have conversations like this elsewhere to parse and speculate.

    “At the very least, I would say that Warren in this instance is being terrifically unclear, so unclear in fact, that I can easily see how you would interpret it as him telling people to lie to kids.”

    So even if you and I are not in the same place of saying that he is encouraging lying, we are at least at the same place that he could seem to some people as if he is encouraging lying.

    So if that is the case, and if one of the requirements of the bible is that pastors be “above reproach”, then isn’t there a big problem here?

    I mean, if someone thought you were encouraging lying to kids, and you meant nothing of the sort, wouldn’t you jump on the chance to clarify that? I would.

    Bottom line, when you claim to speak for God, and the one of the primary jobs of a pastor after all is to communicate God’s message to God’s people, you have to get it right. The things that the bible has to say about false teachers are really serious.

    And Warren here is not just pastoring on Pastors.com, he is aposteling (if that is a word), as he is teaching pastors how to pastor.

    If this was a mistake, or sloppy writing, then it is time for him to cut way back on his output so that he has time to make sure his message is biblical.

  6. > So it leaves people like you and me to have conversations like this elsewhere to parse and speculate.

    Sure. And thankfully, we have this kind of forum.

    > . . . .we are at least at the same place that he could seem to some people as if he is encouraging lying.

    Oh sure, I am hopefully fair/objective enough to where I could see it being taken that way, as I think I already mentioned. Sure. It’s unfortunate.

    > I mean, if someone thought you were encouraging lying to kids, and you meant nothing of the sort, wouldn’t you jump on the chance to clarify that? I would.

    I would think so. The only problem is…actually getting to Rick and alerting him of this particular issue (which, compared to the myriad of other things, is relatively minor — i.e., something that is subject to the interpretation of who knows how few people). I really can’ t even describe to you how large of an operation Saddleback is, and how non-stop Rick’s life is, dealing with everything from 10 hour plane trips, to meetings, to interviews, to appearances — all the while still needing to spend time w/ family, plan a sermon, and sleep/eat. I couldn’t do it, I don’t think.

    > Bottom line, when you claim to speak for God, and the one of the primary jobs of a pastor after all is to communicate God’s message to God’s people, you have to get it right. The things that the bible has to say about false teachers are really serious.

    Yes. But, of course, as you know, we are all human — sad to say.

    >If this was a mistake, or sloppy writing, then it is time for him to cut way back on his output so that he has time to make sure his message is biblical.

    Agreed. Sometimes we get to busy. I have noticed this especially with pastors. They often take on a great deal — sometimes too much.

    peace,

    R. Abanes

  7. I’ve seen Richard Abanes doing the “defend Rick Warren” thing for a long time. I’m glad that my ministry from Jesus is to defend Jesus and the Truth, and not just some man.

  8. So we are to always “tell the truth”?

    Your overweight wife asks “Do i look fat in this dress?” Do we say YES? Or do we consider what it is she really wants to hear, “that we we still love them and accept them as they are” so we say “You look fine, honey!”

    The Bible has illustrations where lying was used for the greater good. (not that I am agreeing with the notion that Rick Warren is promoting lying)

    What is the greater good? Do our children deserve a full answer to every question? Are we not to hide our brother’s sin?

    I have lied to my kids and I will continue to do so when the situation warrants. There are times to withhold information for the sake of the child or the other people involved.

    As a long time pastor I have seen a lot of sin. I know a lot of dirt on people. Awful things. Hurtful things. Does everyone deserve an answer when asking about “so and so? No!

    I have a serious debilitating condition that renders me incapacitated on many days. I am in great pain. When people ask “How are you?” I say”fine.” Most days that is a lie. But, people are just really being polite. They don’t REALLY want to know how you are. (and I don’t want to tell them either)

  9. Dear NN Preacher,

    I want to make a distinction here between with holding information and perpetrating a falsehood. Note the example I gave in the comments of my conversations with my own son where we shared with him the pieces of the story that were relevant to him, but told him that he didn’t need to know everything he wanted to know.

    It was absolutely correct to with hold information from him, but to be completely honest in the information that we did offer him.

    You are correct in your point that not everyone needs to know everything, but God does give us guidelines who is to know about who else’s sin.

    God’s specific direction for ‘overseers’ who are in unrepentant sin is that they be ‘rebuked in the presence of all’. 1 Tim 5:20

    All means everyone, including young everyones (again… In the measure appropriate to their maturity, I cannot emphasize that enough).

    This keeps the flock safe from false teachers and lets earnest Christians know that the leader that they have trusted and followed is no longer a safe person to follow, because their chief end is no longer the glory of God, it is their own desires.

    A miserable proposition for everyone, to be sure, but that is what God has commanded and we are very, very foolish to second guess God.

    …and I know that this might be presumptions of me… but I will offer some suggestions for the question of your pain. I hope you will indulge me (or forgive if the advice is unwelcome).

    “I have a serious debilitating condition that renders me incapacitated on many days. I am in great pain. When people ask “How are you?” I say”fine.” Most days that is a lie. But, people are just really being polite. They don’t REALLY want to know how you are. (and I don’t want to tell them either)”.

    I am sorry to hear about your hardship, and you have no idea how well I can identify with this. I have an autistic son, and the first few years were more pain than I have ever known. Tears almost daily.

    Having a terrible day with him, and then having to greet all my care free happy friends with healthy babies at church was isolating, because I knew that if I shared with them the full force of what was going on, despite the best of intentions, none of them would know what to do with it.

    So we learned to measure what we shared, and give the rest to God.

    But saying things are ‘fine’ when they aren’t IS dishonest.

    Further, it also robs people of the chance to see you as a fellow ‘human’ with struggles and to minister to you. Some people won’t know what to do with that, and we have learned to accept them where they are and not further burden them with something that they are not equipped to deal with, but some do and it leads to rich relationships with them.

    My very wise youth pastor used to teach us, “Transparency breads transparency”. And even if people don’t know what to do with your pain, it does set a precedent that when they are in pain, it is ok to talk about it openly. It makes your church a safe place for people.

    … and if your wife asks if she looks fat in that dress, say, “Yes! You look huge! But you are so freaking hot that I cannot resist you! Let’s make out right now!” And then chase her around the house until she capitulates or dies of laughter.

    Just a little tip on practical ways to “speak the truth in love”. 😉

  10. “…..Warren is not telling people to outright lie to children.”

    Here is great evidence of the problem. Rick Warren never tells anyone to “outright” do anything. In other words his ambiguity is unbelievable. At best he gives half truths. As I have written before and shared on the air, why can’t someone as articulate, intelligent, educated and well known as Rick Warren preach the Gospel with total clarity? My only conclusion is that he chooses to be vague, broad and general. He chooses to dilute the Gospel and his cavalier, casual use of Scripture is an abomination.

  11. Ken and Mike,

    Thanks for the background. It is helpful.

    Mike your point is important and speaks to something Richard said. (are you still around Richard?)

    When I said this:
    “I mean, if someone thought you were encouraging lying to kids, and you meant nothing of the sort, wouldn’t you jump on the chance to clarify that? I would.”

    Richard Replied:

    “I would think so. The only problem is…actually getting to Rick and alerting him of this particular issue (which, compared to the myriad of other things, is relatively minor — i.e., something that is subject to the interpretation of who knows how few people). I really can’ t even describe to you how large of an operation Saddleback is, and how non-stop Rick’s life is, dealing with everything from 10 hour plane trips, to meetings, to interviews, to appearances — all the while still needing to spend time w/ family, plan a sermon, and sleep/eat. I couldn’t do it, I don’t think.”

    And in response to further criticism replied:

    “Yes. But, of course, as you know, we are all human — sad to say.”

    Which seem to me to let Warren off the hook for his sin, and say that it is ok for pastors to, “phone it in”.

    I can see no precedent in scripture for letting pastors off the hook for false teaching if they are to busy to correct it. Quite the opposite.

    That last ‘we are all human’ comment is a whole other post waiting to be written. Acceptable replies to God when being confronted with our sin and false teaching, do not include ‘well God… I’m only human and it is relatively minor anyway’.

    Pretty much the correct reply is, “have mercy on me a wretched sinner. Thank you for showing me my error. I repent and will go fix that right now.”

    Matthew 18 says, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you”.

    If your ministry causes you to sin. Quit.

  12. Ginger,

    As I read through all this, I see you have an agenda against Rick Warren and really do not seem to concerned for the truth yourself…

    Do not lie to yourself that this is all altruistic and for the children… be honest, you seem to hate Rich Warren.

    iggy

  13. I’d like to chime in.

    I read RW’s post, I read what Ginger wrote in response.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that she did not mischaracterize RW’s words. She did not intentionally twist his words to make her point.

    He said that if a staff member MUST BE REMOVED then we tell the kids that he resigned.

    If they understand the difference, and I’m assuming that they do since RW instructed us to use that particular word instead of “had to be removed” or “fired”…then what’s wrong with telling them the truth….Let’s see how that could go, shall we?

    Little Billy: “Mommy, how come Pastor Rick is not giving us the message every sunday like he usually does?”

    You: Well Billy, the church had to fire him.

    Little Billy: “what’s that mean?”

    You: “It means that he can’t work here anymore”

    Little Billy: “Why? Did he do something wrong?”

    You: “Yes. Do you know how we are always talking about sin, and how it angers God? How we show him we love him by what we do, not just what we say?”

    Little Billy: “Un huh”

    You: Well, Pastor Rick sinned against God and now he can’t be our pastor anymore. He has to repent, just like any Christian would.

    Little Billy: “Oh Ok”…

    Why is that tough? Why would we have to say “resigned” rather than “fired.”

    Maybe we the kid asks about Pastor Rick not being there and we say; “Oh, he got fired” and then they say “ok” and that’s the end of it…

    My point is…why mischaracterize what happened?

  14. Thanks for your insights, Ginger. It’s important to tell children the truth in an age appropriate way. Even elementary school age children will be hearing things and picking up on tone and body language if a leader, especially one of their leaders, is removed. I have taught the 10 commandments to K-5, and #7 is tough to teach, but the children do understand. Credibility will be built by being tactfully honest at a young age.

  15. I would think so. The only problem is…actually getting to Rick and alerting him of this particular issue

    Yes, this is always a problem with these sorts of organizations that turn their pastors into some sort of unreachable CEO. I think that’s probably why that’s not how God structured his church – not that many people care how God wants things done anymore.

    This is why you end up with men in very high positions saying really dumb things or getting caught in egregious sins (cf Ted). There’s very few people willing to confront them with problems and generally none of them are actually able to do so.

    (which, compared to the myriad of other things, is relatively minor — i.e., something that is subject to the interpretation of who knows how few people).

    That’s not really an accurate assessment of the problem. I read through your arguments, and I agree with your underlying point that we should be careful to read other people’s words as charitably as possible.

    However, this really isn’t that minor of an issue, and the problem is quite clear in the tenor of the post as a whole. It is not inconsistent with the general body of his “teaching” either.

    If Mr Warren were generally a biblical preacher, striving to remain faithful to the Gospel and to the truth of God’s word then I think most of us would do what Ginger and her husband did and contact him about it and express our concerns about his phrasing. I would expect, as Ginger noted above, that such a man would spring at the chance to clarify his words lest ANY be led astray.

    Yet instead, we have a mentality even on the part of his staff that he is not to be questioned and that whatever he writes is “good enough”. That mentality is a direct result from the example set by their pastor in his careless handling of God’s word.

    I really can’ t even describe to you how large of an operation Saddleback is, and how non-stop Rick’s life is…

    If his life is so busy that he can’t take the time to communicate clearly and make time to be available to his congregation and to make corrections or clarifications when he errs then he ought to either step down or shut down some of his other activities. Clearly his priorities are misplaced.

  16. As a long time pastor I have seen a lot of sin. I know a lot of dirt on people. Awful things. Hurtful things. Does everyone deserve an answer when asking about “so and so? No!

    That’s just absurd. Refusing to answer a question is in no way the same thing as lying. It’s not even close to what is under discussion here. If Rick had said that the parent should tell them its none of their business, then we might still disagree but nobody would be accusing him of instructing people to lie to their children.

  17. It is truly sad to see that Warren won’t allow contrary views on his comments.

    I must say though that I disagree with your statement (reposted below)

    “Chiefly, straight out, scripture tells us not to lie.”

    I think that the familiar paraphrase of “thou shalt not lie” is as clear a misrepresentation of the actual commandment as the transformation of “thou shalt not murder” to “thou shalt not kill.”

    As the commandment clearly reads, it forbids “bear[ing] false witness against your neighbour.” Exodus 20:16. While you can lie about your neighbor, not all lies are bearing false witness against your neighbor.

    What makes the matter all the worse is that I’ve known fellow Christians who considered those who lied to Nazi troops about Jews hidden during WWII as having sinned since their statements involved telling a lie- their position was based on this kind of misconstruction of God’s commandment.

    However, I agree with the rest of your points. I think it is best for children to know that the person has fallen (although I doubt they need the nasty details) and that they are leaving the church. This is best to keep them from idolizing the person and to give them the knowledge necessary so they won’t fall under that persons influence thinking them a paragon of virtue.

  18. Iggy,

    I started this blog to write about making fine distinctions between truth and error. To take critical looks at messages that are out there to see if they actually line up with what Jesus taught.

    When we are careless with His message, or worse, when we stubbornly insist it says something that it doesn’t, then we put people in jeopardy, primarily ourselves.

    Paul told the Galatians in 1:6-9

    I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
    which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
    But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be accursed.

    And I don’t want anyone who believes that they are a Christian to be accursed either because they did not take seriously enough their duty to make sure that that they were preaching God’s wisdom and not just man’s wisdom dressed up in Christian speak.

    Proverbs 14:12
    There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

    When I read scripture, and see all the warnings to get God’s teaching right and not to add or take away from the word of God, I honestly think that being a pastor is the most dangerous job there is.

    For Rick Warren, because he has the huge platform that he does, is put in danger because God has said, “To whom much is given, much is required” and “Let not many of you become teachers knowing you will incur stricter judgment”.

    So far from hating Warren, to try to correct him (and I tried to go about it privately to no avail) is to encourage him to take his charge to teach the lessons that only God is really teaching, and keeping himself far from the risk that Paul discusses in Galatians 1.

    Part of the thing that puts Warren at risk is that there is no mechanism for correction in place (at least at the pastors.com outlet). I had a substantial exchange with the pastor over it, and he claimed that they wanted healthy debate on the blog, but they do not approve any posts that critique what Warren writes.

    Read the comments for yourself. They are almost all uniformly, “What a blessed message, thanks so much”.

    I know that you think that I hate Rick Warren. But let’s say for the sake of the argument that I was really earnest in my belief that he was in danger of rebuke from God for writing something that encouraged people to lie to children. That I was even more worried for him, than for the kids. How would I, random mom living in Maine, offer him correction?

    What if, since the comment has been up for more than 6 months, 100 different people have tried to encourage him to change, or at least clarify his message, and none of them have been posted?

    What should I have done, and at what point should I decide that Warren’s organization is not actually open to the debate that they claim to be, and write about it publicly?

    There are a myriad of posts on the site you came from, and I won’t have time to answer them until this weekend.

  19. Bob,

    We are thinking along the same lines.

    I was not even thinking of being that blunt, probably because my kids are younger.

    Add to that conversation about, ‘You know how when you get really mad and refuse to do what mommy asks and you get a time out until you do the right thing?’

    and

    Lessons about still loving and praying for and being kind to and forgiving from the heart people who do wrong even when they are in trouble and rebellion

    and

    depending on age, the lesson that because we are at a church that removes pastors that are no longer looking out for the needs of the flock above their own desires, you can rest more easily that the pastors who are at the church are people you can trust with your problems.

    and on and on.

  20. totaltransformation,

    Thanks for the challenge.

    I should have quoted scripture there. I was thinking of, Lev. 19:11 ‘ You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.’

    A much more black and white verse.

    I have learned a lot about sticking as close to scripture as possible in the months since I wrote the comment.

  21. The Rahab question has been brought up.

    ‘If Rahab was saved for lying about the spies, does that not say that Christians can lie in certain circumstances’?

    My response is that she was not saved for lying any more than she was saved for being a prostitute.

    Here is a good examination of the question:

    http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/535

    “Should we be surprised that a prostitute, living in pagan surroundings, would lie to governmental authorities? Hardly. But she was not saved because she lied—a critical point that needs expanding. In addressing this idea, Allen Webster wrote: “Rahab lied, true, but God never complimented this action. She was a heathen, not yet even converted to Judaism…. She was saved in spite of her lying, and not because of it. She was a prostitute, but this text does not authorize such activity” (1993, p. 2, emp. in orig.). This is a part of the story that seems to have been missed by the Bible critics who have isolated Rahab’s lie not only from the context of the story itself, but from the remainder of her life and additional biblical commentary on that life.”

  22. Just because a pastor has a large following and reach does not warrant anyone thinking they have a right to rebuke him. Church discipline is a local church matter. If the members of Saddleback have a problem with what Rick Warren has done then it is up to them to deal with it.

    But………I suspect your logic here is…..Warren=heretical, lying preacher…..what kind of Church members could he possibly have, eh?

    According to all the so-called righteous judgment on this thread I am a liar. IF we take the “all the truth, nothing but the truth, all the time approach we ARE ALL liars. I guarantee you we could go over every persons speech and find a time and place where they told less than the complete truth.

    The above isogesis on Rahab is an attempt to skip and jump around the fact that Rahab lied and the lie was used for a greater good.

    I, for one, do not think Warren lied at all. And if he did, do protect young children, good for him. We need a few more liars like him.

    I love this discussion

    Bruce

  23. Ginger,

    You have only given one side and still have not answered this one…

    So will your husband be accursed the next time you ask if the dress your wearing makes you look fat and he lies and says “no.”?

    That is the sort of “lie” we are dealing with and you are stating leads to some sort of damnation…

    I suspect you do not take that as a lie but as you wake up with rhino breath and you hair matted from sleeping and you are in that tattered night coat, you husband states that “You look beautiful this morning.” and you know better, again you take that as an act of love not that he is a lair…

    So again, you have an agenda against Rick Warren.

    Understand this, I am not a RW fan, I was part of a PDC that had both good and bad things about it. Yet, I think so many seem to go overboard in discrediting Rick. In that I often do not even see room for reconciliation unless he totally tows the accusers theological lines.

    I appreciate you not wanting to be accursed, but please leave room for Grace and the truth that nothing can separate us from the Love of God. The Cross took our sins and the Resurrection gave us His Life… trust that and you you will not be accursed.

    be blessed,
    iggy

  24. Iggy…

    I would never be so foolish as to ask that question of my dear husband, for I know the answer. 😉

    The precedent for that was set early in my marriage, when vastly pregnant, I turned to walk away from my silly husband and he yelled at the top of his lungs, “look at the size of that butt”!

    I think we laughed for 15 minutes straight.

    Because my butt was huge.

    Despite the fact that I am no longer anywhere near the size four he married, he treats me like like I am a starlet, which is why he could outright mock my weight and it wouldn’t hurt.

    You may have missed it in the above comments, but I offered advice to another man who posed the same question:

    “… and if your wife asks if she looks fat in that dress, say, “Yes! You look huge! But you are so freaking hot that I cannot resist you! Let’s make out right now!” And then chase her around the house until she capitulates or dies of laughter.

    Just a little tip on practical ways to “speak the truth in love”. ;)”

    I will answer the rest of your questions… but I have to go work right now.

  25. Just because a pastor has a large following and reach does not warrant anyone thinking they have a right to rebuke him. Church discipline is a local church matter. If the members of Saddleback have a problem with what Rick Warren has done then it is up to them to deal with it.

    Once again you are missing the point, and your argument fails to hold water. Yes, church discipline is a local church matter, but nobody here is trying to discipline him. They are trying to bring the issue to his attention, and warn others who are potentially being led astray by such teaching.

    Church history is rather replete with examples where people in churches went astray and other churches offered them counsel and if it went unheeded they warned others as to their error. Pretty much every time a heretic gained a foothold in society.

    According to all the so-called righteous judgment on this thread I am a liar. IF we take the “all the truth, nothing but the truth, all the time approach we ARE ALL liars. I guarantee you we could go over every persons speech and find a time and place where they told less than the complete truth.

    Yes, I’m sure so. What a surprise, we’re all sinners. Of course, it doesn’t follow that all of us having sinned means none of us should bother holding each other accountable to the truth.

    The above isogesis on Rahab is an attempt to skip and jump around the fact that Rahab lied and the lie was used for a greater good.

    Er…Christ was crucified and that was used for a greater good – does that mean we should feel free to brutally murder people if we think some good might come of it? Joseph was betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers – a clearly wicked act that God used for good (as Joseph himself notes) does that justify their actions? Are they held blameless because of God’s blessing on his people?

  26. Are Christians allowed to say ‘capitulate’? 🙂

    Having first hand experience at the whole church staff thing, I have wanted to shield my children from knowing the entire truth to why something has happened, as I didn’t want it to skew their thinking of God or perhaps even endanger their walk with Him.
    The problem with that was that my son knew there was more to the story than he had been told.
    The problem with lying to a child is that most of the time, at least in my case, they can see right thru you.

    Tell them the truth and pray that the Holy Spirit will keep their hearts and minds right and fixed on God.

    Peace

  27. Sure it holds water……….maybe not in your bucket, but it holds water. How many of the writers here know Rick Warren? How many have personally talked to him? Emailed him? Wrote him a letter?

    Somehow you equate Rick Warren’s letter to heresy. What cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith did he violate? Or is the real issue you already consider him a heretic (a very strong word that ought not to be used very often) and the letter only adds to your heresy picture of Rick Warren?

    The only people Rick Warren is accountable to is his Church. He does not owe anyone an explanation for anything. If the Church feels he erred then they should take appropriate action. If they do not…….it is their problem.

    Apples and oranges with the Rahab and Jesus comparison. The subject is lying. Rahab lied. It was used to a greater good. Abraham lied. It was used to a greater good.

    Show me one person who has told the truth in every instance, all the time? That person does not exist. The heart of the matter here is a literalist fundamentalism that judges everyone that doesn’t measure up to the self-established standard.

    Why should Rick Warren care about what is written here? Do any of his detractors really have his wellbeing at heart? I doubt it? Instead, it is all about standing for some perceived standard of truth by which you can be made to look like you are standing up for God. God really doesn’t need out help.

    For the record I am not a PDL fan. I have never used it in any Church I have a pastored. I am pro-pastor and I oppose those who think they are the self appointed critics of any pastor who doesn’t measure up to the critics (not God’s) standard of truth.

  28. Ginger,

    I do appreciate you answer to the “Does my butt look big?” question… yet you seemed to skirt the core of the issue.

    Is a husband of a not as enlightened woman you yourself, then accursed as you so state Rick Warren is, if he does “lie” to his wife? In that you have yet to answer as if you hold RW in this high of standard, then you also must of all husbands who seek to live at peace, who choose to “lie” to their wife so that she will not feel bashed by the one she loves.

    Now, I also had a situation in which my wife is a twin. Most people cannot tell the two apart, yet I can tell from a distance which is my wife… she is of course the prettier one of the both.

    Now, my wife’s sister asked me to be “honest” as she asked me if I thought she was pretty. (Again, to me there are major differences between to two). Being a man, I took her at her word, gave the “honest” answer…, and said, “Sorry, not really to me.”

    That was a major mistake that took a year to correct and to this day, my honesty harmed that relationship.

    The point again, is not all people are sophisticated to deal with “the truth” as you are stating all should be.

    Therefore, again, if I had stated a lie and said, “I find you as attractive as I do my wife.” (which has in it other issues, as they are twins.), am I then accursed as you so stated of Rick Warren?

    And also, how does Grace and Mercy work in your “fear of being accursed” theology… do you not believe that Love covers a multitude of sins? Do you not believe that we have a mediator when we do sin?

    Also, as far as this even being a lie, I still think you are missing that Rick is not stating to tell the child the resigning pastor “Went to Disneyland to work” rather that they resigned and that is enough to satisfy the child… as I still think even a 6 year old does not need know all the facts of the situation when a pastor or leader steps down. Some churches have very sick rumor mills in them… and in these guidelines, I see and attempt for the resigning pastor to be restored at a later date.

    Now, if the pastor had done such a thing like molestation, I think that one can still talk to the child in a way not to instill fear, but to help them be safe with a bit of knowledge, but I do not think one need go into the gruesome details in how the pervert assaulted the child… To say “he was a sick person and hurt some children should be enough and if anyone tries to touch/harm/ or whatever, let me know… no matter what.” I think should get the message across just as well.

    Again, my point is that I think you are a bit overboard on this to call Rick Warren a liar and a heretic… in fact I think it is closer to being slanderous.

    iggy

  29. Iggy,

    Let me start by making another distinction.

    Paul does not tell people that they are ‘accursed’ for not telling the truth about the way people look, they are ‘accursed’ for not telling the truth about the gospel.

    Additionally, the way you present the dilemma with your sister in law is the way that a number of the people who have criticized my stance, is to offer a false dichotomy. It presents a problem and insinuates that there are only two options, in this case, telling the truth and hurting v. lying to make some one feel good.

    There are many other options.

    You could have answered the question in a dozen different ways, or you could have side stepped the question all together and not answered it.

    Not all questions have to be answered, and I know I am making a judgment with out knowing the people involved, so let me know if I am way off, you could have confronted her on asking such an inappropriate question. (I will defer to you on whether or not that would have been a good choice). But of course, with in laws, things can be sticky.

    Because I have trouble keeping my fingers out of people psyches’, I would have used it as a launching point to talk about her self-image and see if I was interested in talking about finding her value in God as opposed to her appearance or who is attracted to her. But that is just me.

    If obedience was easy every one would do it. If we are stuck between scripture and a hard place, we are not to move God’s commandments, that stays there, everything else is movable.

    Ephesians 4:29
    “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

    Instead of sacrificing the truth, out job is to choose our words carefully so that they move others closer to God. To learn to “Speak the Truth in Love”.

    Just because that is difficult sometimes, does not give us the right to sacrifice the truth.

    Finding truthful words that bless can be difficult, but getting better and better at it is a part of the sanctification process.

    “The point again, is not all people are sophisticated to deal with “the truth” as you are stating all should be.”

    Again… I have said this more times than I can count… and I don’t think that I am being heard. For those who are not sophisticated, even those young in the faith, we do not need to tell them everything.

    There is a middle ground that does not compromise the truth.

    “And also, how does Grace and Mercy work in your “fear of being accursed” theology… do you not believe that Love covers a multitude of sins? Do you not believe that we have a mediator when we do sin?”

    Absolutely we have a mediator, and no pastor, but Christ, has gotten all their teaching perfect, but the mark of a true Christian is humility, teachability and repentance. If an earnest bible teacher receives legitimate criticism, the listen and study further and refine their message because, out of love for Our Mediator, they will want to get it exactly right.

    I seek to be someone like that. Time will tell if I am able to do that on this blog.

    Here is where I want to point out a few things, please forgive if you feel I am being picky, but again this blog is about being critical of messages that are out there.

    “Also, as far as this even being a lie, I still think you are missing that Rick is not stating to tell the child the resigning pastor “Went to Disneyland to work”…

    I have stated several times… His thesis statement is about REMOVAL, children are told RESIGNATION. They are two very different things. Whether or not Warren meant the contradiction, or was just careless with his words, what is on paper is ‘if a pastor is fired, tell the child they quit’.

    “rather that they resigned and that is enough to satisfy the child…”

    Satisfying the child is not the goal, edifying the child is.

    “as I still think even a 6 year old does not need know all the facts of the situation when a pastor or leader steps down.”

    I know this might sound harsh, but we need to get our standard right. What you or I ‘think’ becomes irrelevant when it contradicts what God thinks. God thinks we should not lie, we should be lovingly truthful. Who the heck are you and I to second guess God’s judgment???

    additionally, OF COURSE the child does not need to know all the facts! This was part of the thrust of my post. Please read it more carefully. I have said this over and over.

    You don’t have to tell them everything, but what you choose to tell them has to be accurate.

    “Some churches have very sick rumor mills in them… and in these guidelines”

    Then we need to correct the church and get the culture of that church back in line with scripture. Rather than avoiding the problem by disobeying God’s command to rebuke openly, we do it and then deal appropriately with the fallout.

    “I see and attempt for the resigning pastor to be restored at a later date.”

    And that restoration should only come when this pastor’s sin is a part of his public testimony. When HE can talk openly about his sin and repent of it and be of aid to those struggling with what he was struggling with. A recovering addict who has a long sobriety can speak with great transparency about his addiction. Recovering pastors should be able to do the same.

    And those who judge him after he has publicly repented or gossip or do the ‘thank you Lord that I am not a sinner like him’, well then they are in sin and need to be encouraged to humble themselves and realize that we are all sinners standing shoulder to shoulder before a Holy God.

    And Iggy… I really need to correct you here:

    “Again, my point is that I think you are a bit overboard on this to call Rick Warren a liar and a heretic… ”

    I have NEVER said this. I think it would be appropriate for you to retract this statement.

  30. Bruce,

    Respectfully, I think you are way, way off course.

    “the fact that Rahab lied and the lie was used for a greater good.”

    The point of the life of a Christian is not to bring about the greater good, it is to glorify God.

    If we make ‘the greater good’ the goal, we can justify any thing we want. I can go back in time and murder Hitler’s mother, I can remove all civil rights, including the basics of free speech for the sake of security, I can force people into churches at gun point.

    But if my goal is to glorify God, the only way to do that is to worship Him, and obey Him in exactly what HE WANTS, going back to confess and clean my my messes when I miss the mark.

    I am going back to the end of the book of Job again. Never was there ever a more reasonable (according to our human perspective) complaint made against God’s judgment. But God’s response was not, “its no big deal Job, you are just working for the greater good”.

    Gods response: ‘Job who in the world do you think you are to question Me and My judgments??? I am God!!!’

    “Job 38
    God Speaks Now to Job
    1Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
    2″Who is this that darkens counsel
    By words without knowledge?
    3″Now gird up your loins like a man,
    And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
    4″Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell Me, if you have understanding,
    5Who set its measurements? Since you know.
    Or who stretched the line on it?
    6″On what were its bases sunk?
    Or who laid its cornerstone,
    7When the morning stars sang together
    And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
    8″Or who enclosed the sea with doors
    When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
    9When I made a cloud its garment
    And thick darkness its swaddling band,
    10And I placed boundaries on it
    And set a bolt and doors,
    11And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
    And here shall your proud waves stop’?…”

    God goes on like this for 4 chapters!

    So, again respectfully, Bruce… if God says, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Lev. 19:11.. who are you to tell people that it is ok?

  31. Ginger,

    I understand the distinction clearly… yet it was you who brought it up…

    Now, you still have not addressed the core issue I brought up and honestly I do not think you will. Mostly becuase you are now on the defensive and it is hard for a person to see things from another’s point of view in that mode.

    So, take some time and really look at what you are saying here and pray about it… is this really about the children or that you have an antipurpose driven agenda.

    All I pray for you is blessings… and in these blessings I pray the words of Paul…

    “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

    Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

    Blessings,
    iggy

  32. Iggy,

    “Now, you still have not addressed the core issue I brought up and honestly I do not think you will.”

    I would be happy to. Sorry I have missed it thus far.

    Can you tell me what specific question it is that I am failing to offer clarification on?

  33. Is it the ‘anti-purpose driven agenda’ question?

    Please allow me to speak to that…

    It is much wider than that. It is ‘anti-anything other than what scripture says’ agenda.

    My agenda is deconstructing a wide range of messages that sound good on the surface, but don’t really stand up to scripture.

    It is a result of coming out of a church where pastors preach one thing from the pulpit and then another behind closed doors. Being in the middle of a process and going, “wait a minute… that is not what the bible says”.

    There are no sacred cows here. Not even me.

    Now I have read bits and pieces of the criticisms of Warren, and they seem to have some validity to it, but since I have never actually read Warren’s book, it would be irresponsible for me to make the blanket judgment that he is preaching an errant gospel. At this point from what I see, it could be possible, but I would have to do a lot more research to say that.

    I did watch the Christmas thing he did on Fox News, and it seemed to be the ‘gospel light’ and his book was pushed a lot, but my husband works in TV so I know that what makes it to the screen sometimes bears little resemblance to what is shot. So

    Last summer my brother in law did send me a letter with a Warren quote that I thought was bad theology, and wrong interpretation of scripture (something to the effect that conflict was always a bad testimony) and I deconstructed that argument. (He is still at our former church and argues that we should ignore the illegal activity by the staff for the sake of unity). If Warren did say what my BIL claimed, I would be surprised if Warren advocated ignoring law breaking given the fact that the above article is about church discipline.

    My disagreement with my BIL is over the practice of church discipline, and apparently Warren’s church practices it, which is a good thing.

    So that is my full Warren disclosure. If I see more from him that I think is off, I will write about it, but the thrust of this blog is not bashing the person who is offering errant teaching, it is the errant teaching itself and helping us all train ourselves to consider ALL the messages we are getting as we walk through life and measuring them against scripture before we swallow them.

    I don’t have plans to read Warren’s book, if for no other reason there seem to be plenty of people out there that have that debate covered. This article was just something my husband sent me after he tried to post a comment and it was not approved.

    I was given another book two years ago on forgiveness called, “The Bait of Satan” that I am more concerned about, and will be writing a critique of that soon. It is a nice message on the surface, “Forgive Everyone!”, but it has some important holes in the reasoning that leave room for a lot of abuse to take place in the church.

    I will probably spend a lot more time writing about the errant messages that we were getting from our former church, because that is what has influenced my thinking the most and was the impetus for waking my brain up after years of slumber.

    And if you want to know my agenda for kids, I have written a series on my other blog, Adventures In Autism, called Autism in God’s Economy. It is a six part series that looks at Jesus message that, “What you do to the least of these, you do unto Me”, and applies it in real terms to those vulnerable to mistreatment because they are autistic.

    … and if I have still not gotten to the core of the question you are asking, please let me know if I have missed it again, and give me a very specific question to answer.

  34. How many of the writers here know Rick Warren? How many have personally talked to him? Emailed him? Wrote him a letter?

    So now it’s not enough to have listened to him speak, and to read what he has written, I have to be a close friend to be able to apply discernment to the things he says? His words and actions are not enough to represent him?

    Somehow you equate Rick Warren’s letter to heresy.

    No, I didn’t. You alleged that it was not permissible to contradict the teaching of someone in another church. I demonstrated this to be false and gave you an example of how the church has dealt with heretics and heretical teaching throughout church history. You made a very large leap that is not justified from what I wrote. I guess only Rick’s writings are to be read charitably.

    Or is the real issue you already consider him a heretic and the letter only adds to your heresy picture of Rick Warren?

    Hmmm…I’m not sure I consider him to be a heretic. He’d have to actually teach something of substance before we could go that route. I don’t believe his methods or content are in line with Scripture, but because they are contentless, not necessarily because they are heretical. So no, that’s not really the point here. If [insert some in-common respected teacher here] were saying this I’d be saying the exact same thing. The issue in question is one of truth, not personality.

    The only people Rick Warren is accountable to is his Church. He does not owe anyone an explanation for anything.

    You are correct, he is not accountable to me or to Ginger. Neither of us said he was. However, he is accountable to God and as such if he actually cares about the people he is trying to reach he ought to jump at the chance to clarify his intent or to make corrections if he errs. No matter where the correction comes from.

    If I am caught in a sin by a brother in Christ from another church I would rather he follow the principles of Matthew 18 and not just shrug his shoulders and assume my church will find out about it and take care of it. Especially if it is related to my teaching and people listening to me might be led astray by it.

    If they do not…….it is their problem.

    Theirs…and all the people who listen to him and are led astray as a result.

    Apples and oranges with the Rahab and Jesus comparison. The subject is lying. Rahab lied. It was used to a greater good. Abraham lied. It was used to a greater good.

    Ok…so from this you are saying that lying is a special exception? That sin in general isn’t justified by whether it is used to a greater good, only lying specifically? Or is lying not a sin? Can you justify any of this by Scripture? And by this I don’t mean your erroneous exegesis of these texts but rather an explicit teaching either through a biblical interpretation of those texts in this fashion or direct teaching that lying is ok if good results from it?

    Show me one person who has told the truth in every instance, all the time? That person does not exist. The heart of the matter here is a literalist fundamentalism that judges everyone that doesn’t measure up to the self-established standard.

    Jesus Christ, obviously.

    That said, show me one person (aside from Christ) who never sins, ever. That person does not exist. What does that prove? Absolutely nothing. Yes, I judge everyone who doesn’t measure up to an established standard – God’s standard. Be holy as I am holy. “These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another”, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. “, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD”.

    Do any of his detractors really have his wellbeing at heart? I doubt it?

    Yes, actually. One day he will have to give an account for the things he has taught and what fruit they have borne – for good or ill. Further, I have the wellbeing of his hearers at heart, which is what is primarily at issue here.

    Instead, it is all about standing for some perceived standard of truth by which you can be made to look like you are standing up for God. God really doesn’t need out help.

    Yes, it is also about standing for truth, but not because of me. None of you know me from Adam. It doesn’t give me an ounce of glory to post about this here.

    You are right God has no need of our help. He doesn’t need our help to save people either. He doesn’t need our help to sing his praises – he can cause the very rocks to cry out. He doesn’t need our help to refute false doctrine and heresy.

    Yet we have all been given his truth for a reason, and commanded to keep his commandments and to encourage others to do so. We are called to rebuke one another for the sake of the brethren. We are, each of us, privileged to be used of God to this end.

    For the record I am not a PDL fan.

    Ok….I don’t see how that has any relevance to this conversation but…congratulations.

    I am pro-pastor and I oppose those who think they are the self appointed critics of any pastor who doesn’t measure up to the critics (not God’s) standard of truth.

    Amen. Me too. I’m also opposed to people who would take God’s words in their mouth and then use them to justify the sins of others. Those who would call good evil and evil good.

  35. I am just going to say ditto to Shamgar’s comments and add two things.

    “Rahab lied. It was used to a greater good. Abraham lied. It was used to a greater good.”

    Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery and the result was that the family was saved from starvation in the famine and became hugely rich and famous and turned into the nation of Israel.

    I have a brother in law that really causes problems, can I throw him in a pit and then sell him into slavery?

    It would be for the greater good, so God will bless me right?

    “Show me one person who has told the truth in every instance, all the time? That person does not exist. The heart of the matter here is a literalist fundamentalism that judges everyone that doesn’t measure up to the self-established standard.”

    As Shamgar said, no one but Christ.

    But because a pastor cannot model perfection, he must model repentance. They are to be the most teachable to set the standard for the rest of us.

    So God’s standard that I am holding out for Warren, and the rest of us, is WHEN we fail (not if… when) we are to go back and fix it.

    If pastors are wise (especially famous ones), they will set up systems that make it easy for people to correct them so they don’t become like Elvis. Surrounded by yes men, self-important, wreckless and ultimately scoffing at correction that is offered them.

    I am not saying that Warren is that, but not even allowing legitimate criticism to be posted on the comment section of a blog is taking a step in that dangerous direction.

    Where ever you preach, you need to offer a platform for people to offer correction.

    Warren does not just preach to his own church, he has stepped outside of the confines of those walls. He is still accountable to God for his words, and I am still accountable to God for pointing out false teaching when i see it.

    I tried several different ways to reach him first to give him a chance to check himself re: Matthew 18:15, to no avail.

  36. Shamgar,

    In reference to your comment:

    “I don’t believe his methods or content are in line with Scripture, but because they are contentless, not necessarily because they are heretical.”

    You have hit on something here that was a big revelation to me in leaving our old church. Pastors were not doing what they were supposed to be doing, and I was baffled because our senior pastor had given sermons that contained lessons that he was disobeying himself.

    How could he sand in the pulpit and say one thing, and do the opposite? Wasn’t he convicted?

    In one of the cases, a year after we left, I went back and listened to his sermon online and kept waiting to hear him quote those specific verses that he had totally disobeyed.

    He never quoted them.

    They were vital scripture passages that were central to the lesson he was teaching, and he had never used them. He gave a brief and general description of the correct behavior, but never referenced the verses.

    It made me realize, in replaying a sermon in my mind, I had inserted the appropriate scripture, because I knew it, but that he had never actually said it.

    This reflects the ‘contentless’ phenom that Shamgar is touching on.

    It was not what the pastor was saying from the pulpit that was the biggest problem, it is what he was NOT saying. He was leaving out the most vital parts, likely because they were the most difficult and convicting parts.

    And he had a Ph. D. so it is not like he was not educated on these parts of scripture.

    Anyone who takes on teaching scripture has to teach the whole of scripture.

  37. I have to just shake my head a little when I read a post like this one, then all the hoopla that follows. It’s kind of sad, and exemplifies one of the main problems that Warren faces — or ANY public figure faces. Such persons are scrutinized WAY, WAY, WAY beyond what is reasonable.

    Look, Warren is JUST a man. He does the best he can as a human being to reach people for Christ. He preaches there is only one eternal Triune God, that Christ was 100% God/Man, that deliverance from eternal separation from God is completely by grace alone thru faith alone in Jesus and His death/resurrection for us, and that one day our Lord will return. And yes, he even teaches that if we call oursleves Christians, we ought act like Christians.

    This is what each of us are trying to preach in our own lives — whether we are public figures or not, whether we are saying everything perfectly or not, whether we are able to make everyone understand us or not. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we’re in the middle somewhere. We do our best, God does the rest.

    But Warren is given no latitude at all. No room for error or unclarity. No room for his way of speaking. No “benefit of the doubt” — AT ALL. He always must be perfect — no matter what the issue. he must say precisely the right words on every issue, on every doctrine, in every forum. Even then, he has to say it all in a way that is “perfect” according to what his critics see as “perfect” or “biblical.”

    This is usually the case when he is speaking in general terms, or using analogies, or trying to draw illustrations. That approach leaves room for a critic to launch into all kinds of attacks about how his general comment, or illustration, or analogy wasn’t right for this reason or that reason — rather than seeing the overall point he was trying to make in context. This is called heresy-hunting. It’s not apologetics, it’s not defending the faith, its not biblical.

    Oddly, when he has actually made some very, very, very specific statements about things such as God, salvation, sin, repentance, the atonement, heaven/hell, other religions, etc. etc. etc. — these comments are summarily ignored! Either that, or viewed as some attempt on Warren’s part to deliberately lie or flip-flop. Again, this is not apologetics, this is witch-hunting. It is not looking at the full scope of a movement, preacher, or religious leader — it is searching for material to prove a foregone conclusion.

    Just my two cents.

    Richard Abanes

    Oh, and Ken, you said: “I’ve seen Richard Abanes doing the “defend Rick Warren” thing for a long time. I’m glad that my ministry from Jesus is to defend Jesus and the Truth, and not just some man.”

    Well, just to be clear, I have never defended Warren. I have always defended truth, and also what biblical apologetics should be. What I see going on with the Warren attacks have nothing to do with either truth or apologetics. The hateful rhetoric, nit-picky arguments, half-truths, misinformation, disinformation, lack of love, baseless assumptions, and outright lies coming from so many of Warren’s critics reveals a slew of tragic problems within the Body of Christ. These problems are what I am trying to correct as I stand for truth — and truth alone.

  38. Ginger,

    how do you define the phrase “step down”?

    Is it fired? Or can it mean also resign?

    I guess my question is this… were you in the office when the pastor confessed and was told to step down?

    In that really, discipline has taken place and the processed of restoration is in place.

    We have the ministry of reconciliation. We need to look at this as that.

    I wonder though again, if this sort of nit picking is truly beneficial to the Body of Christ.

    iggy

  39. This discussion is a reminder of why I shouldn’t get into such discussions.

    Thou shalt not lie is not an absolute that demands truth at all times in all circumstances. You may say you believe that but you don’t practice it. No one does. In general we are to tell the truth. We are also to weigh the ramifications of our words. What we say matters.

    I pastored a man who took the absolute truth at all times approach. He nearly drove himself insane and he sure ticked off a lot of people in the process.

    In the end this is much ta do about nothing. I doubt Rick Warren will lose any sleep over this little dust up but all the self professed warriors for Jesus can feel good about slaying another heretic. To bad the heretic won’t come out and play your game.

    I bid you, good day.

  40. Iggy,

    “He stepped down” is resignation.

    “He was asked to step down” is removal.

    But again… this is Warren’s thesis statement:

    “In this letter I want to explain what happens when a staff member at Saddleback must be removed because of some sin.”

    And I am right there with you on the ministry of reconciliation.

    There is nothing that we can do that is outside of what God will forgive, so for us, there is to be nothing that others can do that is outside of that which we will forgive.

    But for a pastor who is truly repentant, not only will he be in a place that he does not mind the truth being told about his sin, he will want to confess that sin publicly on his own as a part of his testimony about how far God’s Grace has extended to cover him!

    And for those pastors who are not repentant, who have come to the ‘ministry’ for the power or the fame or because down deep they think that their works save them, and who are not truly repentant, they MUST be exposed so that the true sheep are not trusting their salvation and sanctification to someone who is actually a wolf.

    Not every pastor should be restored, and we have lots of famous examples of that.

    But the truly restored don’t need to ‘save face’.

    When I was in college I had an abortion. I had been a Christian for 10 years and I knew better. I killed my own child. It was the single most selfish decision I ever made and lead to years of drinking, self-destructive sex and self-sabotage.

    When I had decided that I was not longer fit to live, I began to plan my own suicide, God in his infinite grace decided that I had done enough damage and plucked me out of my circumstances and dropped me down in the middle of a whole different world of loving Christians and it became safe for me to start unraveling all of the sin and the lies that I had constructed to cover my sin. I began repenting a little a a time, and began to feel lighter and more loved and more forgiven each time God gave me enough strength to look at what I had done and openly repent of it.

    And eventually I got the message from God even though He hated what I did, because I took the life of one of his innocent ones, that because of what He did on the cross, He sees me as innocent of the one whose life I took.

    THAT IS GRACE!

    When you own that kind of grace in your heart, you don’t care who knows what your sin is.

    I am 38 now, and that was a lifetime ago, but I am not afraid of confessing my sin even now for everyone with a computer screen to see. I have no need to save face or protect my reputation in the Christian world.

    And having my sin known publicly in no way has prevented the ‘ministry of reconciliation’, quite the opposite, it is proof of that reconciliation!

    And it has lead to reconciliation to God of other women who have been hiding their secret sin for years, and were afraid to confess it until they saw how it lead to healing in my life.

    “I wonder though again, if this sort of nit picking is truly beneficial to the Body of Christ.”

    This is always a good question to ask.

    It is if it is discussed in the context of Grace.

    (Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.)

    And if any of us are not doing it in the context of the fact that the only thing that saves us is God’s grace, and the most important thing we have to offer one another is God’s grace, then of course it is just nit picking…

    but…

    If our intent is to get things in our life as perfect a possible because we are just so loving Christ for what He has done for us, and want our whole lives to be a big giant ‘Thank You’, then yes… it is a great conversation to have.

  41. Richard,

    This is not a witch hunt. This is a hunt for the truth.

    It is not about measuring the man, it is about measuring the message.

    This blog is about becoming a critical thinker, and parsing the messages that you hear to be sure that they are the messages that come from God.

    It is also about scrutinizing the messages that we put out into the world to make sure we are not weaving worldly wisdom into what we say. It is about refining ourselves to be more like Christ.

    Can everyone stop throwing around the word heretic please?

    “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing you will incur stricter judgment.”

    Is there a more well know preacher than Warren today? His message is reaching crazy amounts of people. Do you think God is concerned how His message is represented to all those people?

    Even if a pastor teaches 100 things right and only 1 thing wrong, should he not be challenged on the one error?

  42. Since Bruce is gone.. this is not the best way to have the conversation end, but this is an important point, so I will make it.

    “Thou shalt not lie is not an absolute that demands truth at all times in all circumstances.”

    That is indeed exactly what that means. “Thou Shalt Not” is an emphatic statement. How could God have been more clear?

    “You may say you believe that but you don’t practice it. No one does.”

    Of course I don’t practice it! Check my “About” page. My heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things! I can’t even know it!

    We all lie!

    That is the point of this blog. To find the truth and hold ourselves to it, even when it hurts.

    But there is a difference between what you and I are preaching. You are preaching tolerance for lies, and I am preaching repentance of lies.

    When we lie, is our response, “no big deal, God understands” or “I am sorry God.. that was not actually true, I altered it to suit my needs. I will go back and straighten it out”.

    We all lie… does God call us to let it slide or fix it?

  43. Oh… and also this:

    “I pastored a man who took the absolute truth at all times approach. He nearly drove himself insane and he sure ticked off a lot of people in the process.”

    Then this guy might have needed to work on speaking the truth in love, and choosing his words according to the edification of the need of the moment.

    I am not calling people to walk through their offices at work and point people out and say, “you are going to hell, and you are going to hell, and your dress is ugly and you are kinda dumb”.

    Go back to my original comments to Warren. It is about measuring out truth appropriately.

  44. What a thread. I think Rick’s PR guy got it right when he passed on posting the comment (if that is what happened), this is clearly nit-picky stuff and I am sure Warren would be the first to clarify that he doesn’t advocate misleading children. His point was clearly to help people realize that you need to be careful how you tell kids when there are details they may not be ready to understand. You guys sure can go on and on about something…. I can’t believe I wasted the 10 minutes to read it all. Don’t you have anything better to do tan dive into the weeds and making up stuff to talk about?

  45. I don’t argree with Rick Warren’s teachings but what about Matthew 18:15-17? It is hard to me beleve everything with anyone is exposing is ture or not or if this person is really repented or not.

  46. I just discovered this site via google. I too am an advocate for truth and will defend the name of Jesus against any man regardless of their status in ministry or life. However, I must admit that like Curious Pastor, I was disappointed by the nit picking.
    I read Rick Warren’s article and I did not interpret it the way you did. I read it the same way I read my recipes. If I don’t like a particular ingredient, I replace it. The bible is the only book I read and try to follow to the letter. Everything else, I take the bits that the Holy Spirit prompts me to and the rest I leave well alone. We are all human and no matter how well meaning we think we are, a bit of ourselves gets into our messages we put out to others.
    Ginger, I’m not being flippant or funny but leave it. Unless he has denied or left out Christ out of his messages, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. When men start preaching entire messages to their congregations without one mention of Christ, then it’s time to take action. That is generally what I contend with all the time. That and showing a hurting and unloved world that Jesus Christ is love and cares about them. As I read somewhere once, “People don’t care what you know, they only want to know that you care.”

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