How Much Do You Hate Rick Warren?
— Thursday, September 28th, 2006 —
How much do you hate Rick Warren? Enough to endorse an atheist humanist book that ridicules not just Warren but Jesus, the Bible, evangelism, and the Gospel itself?
Prometheus Publishers, an atheist publishing house, has just released The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For? by Robert M. Price. Price begins the book by discussing his evangelical Christian background, his studies for ministry, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, his loss of faith in the authority of Scripture, and, ultimately, his abandonment of theism.
The book is a take-off on Warren’s best-selling Purpose-Driven Life, with chapters that make it clear there’s no divine meaning in life. It turns out, according to the book, it is all about you after all. The author scoffs at biblical authority, the doctrines of the Christian faith (including the deity of Christ and salvation itself), and holds his heaviest fire for evangelism, which he rejects altogether. In the end, the book is deeply sad, the hopelessness of a lost soul out to sea in a cold, impersonal universe.
This book did not make me angry. It made me sad, sad enough to pray that the author will find the Christ he’s rebelling against. What made me angry was an endorsement blurb on the back. The first two are non-surprising, John Shelby Spong and Don Cupitt, two Anglican atheist clergymen. The third, however, is an endorsement by Clark H. Pinnock, a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Pinnock writes: “The Reason-Driven Life is a no-holds barred polemic against a piece of popular evangelical theology and will make any and all readers think.”
If it were not for Clark Pinnock, there would probably be no conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. His few years in the 1960s as a solid, biblical inerrantist theologian at my alma mater, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, shaped an entire generation of faithful Bible-believing Southern Baptist leaders, men such as Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines. As the years went by, however, Pinnock began to falter. First he abandoned inerrancy and verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, then he denied the necessity of explicit faith in Christ for salvation, then he rejected hell as everlasting punishment, then he cast aside the omniscience and omnipotence of God. Has he fallen now, at the end of his life, to endorsing anti-theist attacks on Christianity, even if only to say such things are commendably thought-provoking?
Full disclosure: I don’t hate Rick Warren. I wouldn’t do everything exactly the way he does it. I don’t agree with some of his political stances. I’ve never worn a Hawaiian shirt. But I thank God for his ministry, and for all those who preach the Gospel. I’ve given The Purpose-Driven Life to unbelievers, when I thought it would prompt them to think about the Gospel and start a conversation.
But, even if one judges Rick Warren to be dangerous, how dismissive would one have to be to endorse a book that attacks not just Warren, but Jesus himself?
Let’s pray for Robert Price. But let’s pray for Clark Pinnock too. Watching his slide more and more into sub-Christian liberalism should break our hearts. Let’s pray that he will return to the faith of his fathers.
And that he’ll love the Gospel more than he hates “popular evangelical theology.”