John Piper interviews Rick Warren on doctrine and the Purpose Driven Life

John Piper interviews Rick Warren on doctrine and the Purpose Driven Life May 31, 2011

Back in 2009, I wrote about why, unlike many other reformed bloggers, I really appreciate Rick Warren. So you can imagine my pleasure was as great as some others displeasure when John Piper invited him to speak. A detailed meeting of the minds was promised, but delayed due to family health issues that prevented Rick from actually being at the conference.

I love long interviews. This one, though to be fair I have not yet watched it all the way through, promises to be very interesting indeed. Often we pick our tribes and then fail to really appreciate what others are saying. This is so true in for example the Arminan vs Calvinist debate where many are in danger of simply writing off many of their brothers and sisters who disagree with them on the five points but love Jesus and tremble at God’s word. There are so many people that we can and should hold at a distance for gospel reasons, I think we must allow new alliances to form with those who take the Bible seriously.

Many dismiss Warren for purely stylistic issues. They do not know of his avid devouring of Biblical theology. They are not aware of his love for God’s Word. They see a style that seems focussed on practical issues, and very simple teaching. They do not appreciate that there is a very clear and thought-through method that lies behind the way Warren communicates, nor that it is so much harder to explain things in a straightforward way.

Piper is very different stylistically to Warren. Yet I love the fact that he appreciates him so much. In the introduction to the video Piper is very clear that he values Warren’s efforts in the social action arena. He is not afraid to say that he is concerned that doctrine be at the foundation of all we do. Warren agrees with him on this and states that it is doctrine that drives him.

I love how Piper assesses Warren in his post accompanying the video:

Rick is not known for being a doctrinal preacher. One reason for this is his intention to be theologically sound and practically helpful without using doctrinal or theological terms in his public ministry. Inside of Saddleback there is a greater intentionality about building biblical and theological categories into the people’s minds and hearts . . .

Rick and I are very different in methodological instincts and inclinations. I take almost the exact opposite approach in preaching—wanting to make the theological categories explicit and to show how I got them from the text. But then I am not even close to the fruitful evangelist that Rick is.

We both have chosen risky ways. There are pitfalls of short- and long-term unfruitfulness. But in the end we do not govern the impact of our lives. God does. We do what the Bible and our hearts call us to do. I believe Rick’s is a faithful heart. Listen to the clarity of his doctrinal commitments and hear the heartbeat of his love for Christ and those perishing without him.”

Piper gets it. Warren is an evangelist. Very different in style to Billy Graham. But an evangelist nonetheless. By God’s grace he has accomplished so much for the gospel in a unique way that his gifting enables. How dare so many Christians despise what God has done through him. I encourage you to watch the video below or you can read more on John Piper’s Blog Here it is to watch.  Get yourself a coffee or tea, press play, and make yourself comfortable:

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