We all know the impact Rick Warren had on the evangelical church. His Purpose Driven roller coaster has been swinging people almost to the point of dizziness. The evangelical church has been captivated by this man’s programmes and without very much discernment one should say. He launched his P.E.A.C.E. plan, as well as the Daniel Plan and he is getting ready to take the world by storm with his new and updated purpose driven program.
One of the problems with Warren is, that he himself is tapping into Mysticism and he is bringing these practices into the church with these programmes of his. He has a definite affinity for those who themselves practise mysticism. Here is a quote from Gary Thomas, of whom Warren says:
“I think highly of his work … he tells them [readers] how they can make the most of their spiritual journeys. He places an emphasis on practical spiritual exercises.”1
This is Gary Thomas on centering prayer:
“It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer.Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing.” 2
Wait! Has the man gone bonkers of did he just not read Matthew 6 yet? Let us see what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (vers 7)
Ok, so Thomas says you should choose a word and repeat it for about twenty minutes. Jesus says DO NOT repeat words as that is the practise of the heathens. Warren endorses Thomas and not the words of Jesus in this verse! Need we say more? The logic of the argument is that either Warren had not read this verse, or he ignores the warning in it and purposefully leads the flock into a life of false, unbiblical meditation.
On the well known Henry Nouwen Warren says:
“My wife, Kay, recommends this book [In the Name of Jesus]: “It’s a short book, but it hits at the heart of the minister. It mentions the struggles common to those of us in ministry: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. I highlighted almost every word!”3
So, no doubt, there is a definite favorite here. No one higlights almost every word if he does not endorse those teachings. Well, what did Nouwen write that he loves so much?
“Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love … For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.”4
To make you mark as a Christian leader, you have to move from a moral stand to become a mystic! That’s a concern if you happen to have a high moral stand on the Word if God. You have to move to mysticism.
The Bible is clear that Josua had to follow God’s Law, not become some floating mystic! He had to lead by the standard of God’s Word (Josua 1:8).
These two examples of Warren’s endorsement of mysticism and his ignoring the clear paths that God’s Word lays down, is enough reason to stay as far away from his teachings as possible. It is no doubt full of these anti-biblical, experience driven gobbledeegook. Church leaders need to start discerning what this man’s impact is on the sound Christian life and teachings in their churches. They need to stand up and start banning this non-biblical teachings and practices and let the Spirit of God lead by His Word.
1. Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, “Book Look” section (Issue #40, 2/20/2002)
2. Gary Thomas, (from Sacred Pathways, 1 st ed. p. 185)
3. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002)
4. Henry Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, pp. 6, 31-32