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False Teacher of the Day #36: Rick Warren

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Making #36 on our False Teacher of the Day series, Rick Warren could be one of the most well-known pastors in America. Ranking as the second largest Southern Baptist church in the nation, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA has never failed to be at the forefront of controversy over the years.

Rick Warren has an enormous amount of influence within Evangelicalism. Rising to stardom in the late ’90s and early 2000s with his “Purpose Driven” series of books, he set Southern Baptists and Evangelicals on an Emergent “church growth” trajectory that would infect churches across the theological spectrum.

Sadly, Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” theology is built upon a false gospel.

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Warren teaches that salvation comes through repeating prayers.

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“Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for,” Warren writes.

“Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe,” Warren continues, “Will you accept God’s offer?”

“Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’ Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!”

Notice that Warren’s gospel is devoid of any biblical substance; it involves no repentance and actual saving faith. Warren’s gospel teaches that salvation is the result of performing a ritualistic act. This false gospel set the stage for the next two decades of heretical movements that came out of Rick Warren’s church.

Warren also affirms the pope. Bible-believing Christians understand without controversy that the pope of the Roman Catholic Church is a deceiver, a liar, and an enemy of God. Yet, leave it to Rick Warren to refer to him as “Holy Father.”

This took place during a conference that Warren–along with Southern Baptist Ethics leader, Russell Moore–attended at the Vatican. Warren signed a statement on “marriage commitment” that affirmed the pope as “Holy Father.”

Rick Warren also openly rejects good theology, separating it from ministry and confirming that he believes it to be a stumbling block.

But this is all older stuff, he’s improved since all of this, right?


Just recently, Rick Warren ordained three women to the pastorate at Saddleback Church. Not only is this a violation of the Biblical command for men to lead the Church, but it flies in the face of the Southern Baptist Convention’s official statement of faith.

Here, you can see Rick Warren twisting the Scriptures to try to justify his rebellion against God, comparing those who hold to biblical doctrine on men and women’s roles in the Church to Pharisees.

Rick Warren, though he has been around for quite some time, should be marked and avoided at all costs, labeled a false teacher, and exposed for the heresies, watered-down gospel, and ecumenical alliances he continues to promote which bring destruction upon those who engage in them.


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