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    So… Why DID John Piper Invite Rick Warren to Speak at His Conference

    So… Why DID John Piper Invite Rick Warren to Speak at His Conference

    Many of you may be aware of the controversy regarding Rick Warren being asked to speak at John Piper's Desiring God conference this year.  It seems that some are really up in arms at this invitation.

    John Piper, in this video, explains his reasons for asking Warren, and does a great job at admonishing those who disagree.  The sad thing is that this is only fueling the fire with those people.  I think John does a great job of explaining 'secondary separation' issues; and nails the reason that some people get all bent out of shape.  See what you think:

    Why is this SUCH a big deal?  Can we never agree to disagree?

    Would Jesus invite Rick Warren to speak at his conference?  (My guess is that Jesus would never probably have a conference.  But if he did, I think we'd be really (REALLY) surprised at who he'd invite to share the platform with him.

    Your thoughts?



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    1. Peter Hamm on Mon, April 05, 2010

      John Piper just became my new hero of real Christian Unity.

      “Check out the reality if not the language.” I wish RW’s critics would do that like Piper does here. Sadly, any minute, right here on this page, I bet this will not happen.

      “I’m gonna need help to know why I should feel bad about this decision.” Well, don’t worry, you’ll get that help, probably a bunch of it right here… But don’t feel bad!

      “I hope we can disagree about who we hang out with.”
      YES! I can anyway!

      This is some GREAT stuff!

    2. Bobby Capps on Mon, April 05, 2010

      This controversy is a witness to the deep divide in the church and rather than love each other passionately from the heart, for love covers a multitude of sins, we are deeply divided and then according to Paul, carnal.

      Fortunately Piper is showing leadership. His followers are kicking and screaming though.  I trust he uses this as a teaching moment for them and spends time teaching them the scriptures about division until they drop the hate and rhetoric.

      One of the sinful byproducts of the reformation is this club, man-following mentality where my boys are great and godly and yours are heretics.  There should be great fear of God to so judge a brother. 

      This is all grievous and to be honest, until this, I had no clue how deeply divided the reformed bunch are from the rest of the church. And the really sad part is the take great joy in their division and defend it with vigor instead of grieving it as the dark sin against Christ’s bride that it is. 

      I still love these guys, love the delight they take it parsing verbs and ferreting out the riches of scripture and historical doctrine, but love and a deep understanding of their place in the church universal and a love and joy for the rest of Christ’s body accompanied with a humility to know that “we all see in part… and though a glass dimly” is seriously lacking.

      I trust the Piper Warren debate and subsequent conference will bring repentance and healing, love and unity and Christian maturity so the world can know we are one.

    3. joe on Mon, April 05, 2010

      I guess JP knows it all. He says if he could have 30 minutes with RW, he could convince RW to change his mind about limited atonement.

      If JP is all for unity then why can’t he accept someone else’s belief about UNLIMITED atonement?

      I guess all calvinists are special because God chose them. I’ve never met a calvinist who was willing to tell their small children: “Listen, my sweet 5 year old child. God chose me to be saved but it is possible that He didn’t choose you to be saved. So, you run the risk of going to hell because it is possible that God didn’t choose you.”

      Funny, isn’t it? How all adult calvinists have children who “have been chosen”? I guess you have to be born into the right “chosen” family in order to “inherit” God’s VIP designation.

      The love of God is for all…no special class of VIP’s.

      JP’s belief in limited atonement is just as divisive as anything RW believes.

      Oh, and by the way, Chirst died for all.

    4. David Buckham on Mon, April 05, 2010

      While I am not a Calvinist I REALLY appreciate JP’s approach! It reminds me of Stone/Campbell two guys who disagreed on quite a few things, but did some amazing work together, for the sake of the Kingdom.

      As believers, we share the blood of Christ, let’s celebrate that.

      all about Christ,
      David Buckham

    5. David Buckham on Mon, April 05, 2010

      And for what it’s worth, I think I could, using the Bible, change my brother in the faith, JP’s, mind about Limited Atonement in less than 30 minutes wink

      all about Christ,

    6. David McClain on Mon, April 05, 2010

      I am a recovering Pharisee and remember all to well how I used to feel and respond to people like Rick Warren.  It was not until I attended a church for six years that was strongly Calvinistic, had in depth Bible teaching but during the whole six years I very few baptisms or new salvations and now one in the church seemed to think much of that.  We used Evangelism Explosion but it lasted only a short time and there was nothing in place to connect new believers.

      This reality bothered me greatly and gave me reason to ask, “What are churches that are effectively reaching people for Christ doing that is not being done here?” I have since learned it has nothing to do with theological compromise- it has to do with a genuine love and passion for the lost and making reaching them a priority.  Ingrowness is the bane of every church and people in established churches tend to resist focusing outward.  I think for some Calvinism and secondary seperation is a way to justify why we are not reaching the lost.

      Like Warren I have issues with the doctrine of limited atonement (and I have read Piper’s and others defence of it) but this or other doctrines should not be the basis of seperation or hinder us from reaching out to the lost.  If we have become that narrow then something is amiss.

    7. Tony Whittaker on Mon, April 05, 2010

      From the perspective of those of us on the other side of the pond, if this had been 1 April, I’d have been inclined to take it as an April Fool in rather poor taste. If I was a conference organiser here in UK, I would give my last shirt to get either or both of these men to speak, and would doubtless be congratulated for doing so by people across the evangelical spectrum. I have learnt much from both. If we can only learn from people who believe precisely the same as we do, then we are either in a cult, or a church with one member, us.

    8. CS on Mon, April 05, 2010

      Joe touched upon a key point in this whole debate:

      “If JP is all for unity then why can�t he accept someone else�s belief about UNLIMITED atonement? “

      The larger problem with this whole debate of the Warren-Piper speaking arangement, and evangelical Christendom in general, is that we cannot have unity at the expense of truth. 

      More and more, when people are shouting for unity within Christianity, they are doing so in areas that compromise the truth of the Gospel.  We cannot stand with someone whose views on essential doctrine differs from biblical truth.  And the Apostles, over and over again in the Bible, illustrated how we cannot partner with someone when the message of truth is discarded.

      Within this specific debate, there are many people (like me) who believes that while Warren has an excellent faith statement, educational background, and sharp intellect, he does not actively preach or promote these ideas, thereby compromising the truth of the Gospel.  His teaching and actions prevent unity from occurring, because it could compromise truth.  This is why there is such a backlash and people feeling hurt by Piper’s decision to welcome Warren to his theologically-sound forum. 

      I listened to both videos Piper released, and it seems even that he is second-guessing himself in this choice.  I have to wonder how this will affect Christianity in the short and long term.


    9. Peter Hamm on Mon, April 05, 2010


      [...we cannot have unity at the expense of truth.] AMEN! Well-said!

      You’re right. The point of unity might not always be for you and I to be convinced of the same thing.

      A better question might be this. “Is this an issue or point where if we disagree it is not salvation-threatening, and I can at least agree on the more pointed issues?” Piper has obviously decided that he can share a platform with Warren, and at least based on what I’ve seen in this video, I’m mystified by what you think is “second-guessing”. He is merely answering his “followers’” concerns, very well I might add.

      I think, also, brother, that you should seriously consider whether there is something for you in Piper’s statement to �Check out the reality if not the language.” In my opinion, you are very often more hung up about words than ideas.


    10. Oliver on Mon, April 05, 2010

      maybe I am missing something, I don’t go to “piper” conference, but I would imagine that if I did, I wouldn’t be the kind of person to go to a RW conference.  The problem isn’t separatism, but this conference probably isn’t a ecumenical conference.  The problem is that piper people are going to get their piper battery recharged and they find RW there to do it.  They read PDL and don’t like it.  Its like going to hear the three tenors and the opening number is Miley Cyrus!  I’m sorry, I can’t blame them for the controvers.

    11. David Buckham on Mon, April 05, 2010


      I agree that we cannot compromise Biblical Truth or Essential Doctrines. But we must be unified. The hard part is defining Essential Doctrines and Biblical Truth. Both Calvinists and Non-Calvinists claim to argue their belief from the Bible, thus making it Biblical truth. The arguments have gone on long before Calvin or Arminius.

      Can I be so arrogant to think I am right on all my theological understandings. I hope I am right and I believe I am, as a preacher I have a responsibility not only to the church I serve, but God. However, do we walk the line of unchecked pride to say we know exactly what God means about this…of course, I am thinking of when Satan said to Eve the first theological division, you surely won’t die.

      Also, I would love hear, because I do respect your comments on this forum (don’t always agree with you, but respect you) what makes something an Essential Doctrine?

      all about Christ,

    12. David McClain on Mon, April 05, 2010

      Oops! That should read “other similar doctrines” (i.e. secondary separation, double impunity) that are distinctives held by some in the Piper camp.

      The point being, “Not all theological battles are worth dividing over or drawing blood over.”

    13. CS on Mon, April 05, 2010


      “Piper has obviously decided that he can share a platform with Warren, and at least based on what I�ve seen in this video, I�m mystified by what you think is �second-guessing�.”

      I was referring to the point when he was saying, “I�m gonna need help to know why I should feel bad about this decision,” and the content of his other video.  I got the impression that he was not totally certain in his decision, rather than trying to figure out why people were saying he should feel bad.

      “I think, also, brother, that you should seriously consider whether there is something for you in Piper�s statement to �Check out the reality if not the language.� In my opinion, you are very often more hung up about words than ideas.”

      In this particular case, the reality is that while Warren has great theology on paper and when directly questioned about specific questions, his preaching, writing, teaching, and actions leave something to be desired in this area.  His language is good, but the reality is not.  That’s why I’m hung up on this particular debate.

      David Buckham:

      “Also, I would love hear, because I do respect your comments on this forum (don�t always agree with you, but respect you) what makes something an Essential Doctrine?”

      I realized after I made my post that I should have put a disclaimer on bridging off of the context of Limited Atonement, that that wasn’t the focus of my point of Essential Doctrine.  Here’s a quick summary for my perspectives.

      Within Christianity, there seems to be three levels when it comes to matters of faith.  The first level are essentials, on which salvation hangs; there can be compromise or gray areas here.  The second level are the convictions, which are areas where we believe firmly, and usually if two people don’t share the same, while they may not choose to worship together (i.e. tongues versus non-tongues), they would still regard each other as brothers.  The third level are the preferences or abstractions, where differences here don’t matter so much, such as beliefs about the authorship of Hebrews.

      What would I lump in with the essentials?  Things like:

      -God as Trinity; the deity of Christ.
      -The fall of man and doctrine of sin.
      -The incarnation of Christ and the virgin birth.
      -The penal substitution of Christ on the cross.
      -The need for faith and repentance.
      -The final judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

      Please let me know if you would like more specifics.


    14. CS on Mon, April 05, 2010

      “The first level are essentials, on which salvation hangs; there can be compromise or gray areas here. “

      Ack!  That should have said, “NO compromise.”  Boy, talk about shooting yourself in the foot.


    15. David Buckham on Mon, April 05, 2010


      Thanks for clarifying. And for fixing the typo. I thought, when I first read that, I hope that is a typo. Thank you.

      While I would agree with most of your list (I think definitions and terminology would clarify the rest) it’s hard for me to put down a list of essentials. I have tried to sum them all up in as short a phrase as possible, but even then it breaks down into semantics and I feel it falls short of the glory due to God. Here it goes anyway: Sinners need Christ.

      I believe this to be something most Christians would agree with…something we can be unified over. I believe it is Biblical Truth. So unified, but, at what cost. How do we determine who has it right? Four major questions come from my summation. Who are sinners? Why do they need Christ? How do they “get” Christ? Who is Christ?

      Anyone else see a four part sermon series?

      I allowed a minister to speak at the church I serve who I didn’t agree with on Creationism (I am a creationist, he an evolutionist). To me, while it is a deeply important issue, it is not a salvation issue. To some, creationism is a salvation issue. Besides, he wasn’t preaching on Creation.

      all about Christ,
      David Buckham

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