Warren's Second Reformation
(Deeds, Not Creeds)
July 2005, while speaking in front of the Baptist World Alliance, Rick
Warren declared: "I am praying for a second reformation of the church
that will focus more on deeds than words. The first Reformation was
about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior."
He has elsewhere stated: "I'm looking for a Second Reformation. The
First Reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs. This
one's going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This
one's going to be about deeds. It's going to be about, not what the
church believes. But what is the church is doing?" (listen to audio clip).
And on February 5, 2008, in a Washington Post
article titled "Megachurch Pastor Warren Calls for a Second
Reformation," the following text appeared: "Rick Warren, a megachurch
pastor and philanthropist who is courted by political leaders
worldwide, says he thinks Christianity needs a 'second Reformation'
that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be 'about
deeds, not creeds.'"
fallout of such remarks has been nothing less than a deluge of violent,
vicious, and vehement denunciations of Warren, accusing him of all
manner of heresy, traitorous acts against scripture, and denials of
God! Consider the small sampling taken from the literal torrent of
attacks that have been launched against Warren because of his stated
desire to have a Second Reformation of deeds, not creeds:
'Deeds Not Creeds' Challenge - Are J[ehovah's]W[itnesse]'s Now
Christians? . . . If you attend a church where the lead pastor believes
in "Deeds NOT Creeds" (like Rick Warren) . . . then you are forbidden
from pointing to any doctrine or creeds as a means of distinguishing
'True Christians' from 'False Christians'. If your pastor does not
value sound doctrine and creeds enough to promote them and teach them
from the pulpit and you keep attending a church like that, then you
haven't earned the right to use doctrine and creeds as a means of
distinguishing your version of Christianity from the JW's version. . .
. You can't treat doctrine and creeds with contempt one minute then use
them to help you the next minute" (A Little Leaven).
OFFICIAL: AMERICA'S PASTOR RICK WARREN OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
MAY NOT EVEN BE A CHRISTIAN! . . . [A]long with the Curator of A Little
Leaven, we point out that this 'interview on beliefnet.com was about
Warren's Second Reformation. (That's Warren's
own personal reformation of Deeds NOT Creeds.)' Still however, I find
myself in agreement as the Curator then goes on to say: 'We admit that
Jesus' death and resurrection sure do sound creedal and
mentioning them in an interview about Warren's Second Reformation
would probably confuse people. But here is something to think about. .
. since Warren isn't willing to affirm Jesus' death and
resurrection as part of his Second Reformation we probably
shouldn't even call it a 'Christian' Reformation.' . . .
And as we look at all of this one might now have very good reason to
conclude that America's Purpose Driven Pastor Rick Warren is an
amazingly immature 'Christ-Follower' at best and indeed he just might
not even be a Christian at all. . ." (Apprising Ministries).
"The Deeds Not Creeds Heresy—Rick
Warren may be thrilled with his good deeds but unfortunately he is
claiming that his effort 'is' Christianity. It is not. Atheists do as
many good deeds towards their fellow man as Christians do. 'Deeds not
creeds' is not a new mantra. The compromised, self-congratulatory,
self-absorbed teachings of Rick Warren and the Church Growth Movement
have delivered a bankrupt Christianity that is filled with 'Christians'
that are 'pleased' with themselves and their activities. (Christianity
does not teach self satisfaction; the Pharisees of Jesus day were
pleased with themselves, but stood condemned since no one can keep
God's law" (TSF Protests blog)
Little Leaven has an exhibit that brilliantly demonstrates the deceit
and shallowness of Rick Warren's Deeds NOT Creeds mantra. The
exhibit shows how Jehovah's Witnesses have adopted the EXACT same type
of seeker-sensitive messages that we find in today's modern
mega-churches" (Christian Research Net).
probably heard it a million times, but it is worth reminding you that
Rick Warren wants a 'Second-Reformation' of deeds instead of creeds, of
behavior instead of belief. In Warren's way of thinking, it
shouldn't matter what you believe, the only thing that should
matter is what you do" (Extreme Theology).
"What's Plaguing the Church—Lack
of Deeds, or Creeds? . . . I agree with the White Horse Inn guys that
employing a motto such as 'Deeds, not Creeds', is a
terrible thing to do, and does nothing to unite the church or further
the kingdom. I would say that true good works flow from correct
doctrine…and not apart from it" (Voice of the Sheep).
is almost impossible for me to comprehend how such a simple statement
by Warren could be so twisted, perverted, and warped. These
individuals are not listening. In my opinion, they are not apologist
(discerning defenders of the faith), but are "heresy-hunters" who have set
themselves up as watchdogs of orthodoxy and arbiters of what is, and
what is not, biblical based on prejudice and an agenda to prove that
Warren is a false teacher (for whatever reason). They have thrown both
caution and care to the wind, and have ceased to
be concerned about truth. Instead, they have fixated on finding
error/heresy—even where none exists.
THE NEW REFORMATION: WHAT IT IS—WHAT IT ISN'T
has nothing to do with
incorporating "all religions" into Christianity (which is the
implication being made by Warren's critics). It is a Second
Reformation that is meant to bring life to the social-related commands
of of scripture found in James 1:27 ("Religion
that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to
look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself
from being polluted by the world") and James 2:14-17 ("What good is it,
my brothers, if a man claims to have
faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or
sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but
does nothing about
his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself,
if it is not accompanied by action, is dead").
It is to be a reformation of deeds, rather than creeds. Why? Because
the First Reformation was about creeds/doctrine. It is Warren's hope to
now match up the right beliefs of Christianity in the heart with the
of Christianity in the world. He is NOT saying that we need to get rid
of the creeds and replace them with deeds. Warren is directly
talking about a NEW Reformation that must occur as a follow up to the
old reformation, and this new reformation is about deeds, not creeds
(established through the First Reformation). Anyone should be able to
discern this (especially if they are a discernment ministry, for example Lighthouse Trails Research Project). Warren's intentions might best be put in an basic
Q&A format for us to consider:
would a Second Reformation be about deeds, but not about creeds?
the First Reformation, begun by Martin Luther, was about the creeds
(doctrine). Our doctrines were established by the First Reformation.
Our deeds must be established by a Second Reformation.
Warren is not saying we should replace or abandon the First
Reformation. He is merely stating the obvious: we have been woefully
negligent, in his opinion, when it comes to alleviating human suffering
on a large scale. So, he feels we need a Second Reformation of deeds.
That is what the P.E.A.C.E. Plan is about, and that
is why he is
calling it a Second Reformation. Other religions come into play only
insofar as they are willing to assist and join with Christians in
helping alleviate the suffering of the masses. His explanation of this
issue was laid out very clearly during my interview with him, which
appeared interview with him, which
appeared in my book Rick Warren and the Purpose that Dives Him:
What has happened is that for some reason Warren seems to be rather
hated among a certain segment of the church, and in their rush to
continually find something negative about him, they are unendingly
misinterpreting just about everything he says in the worst possible
way. In this instance, they are rearranging his words/intent to mean
that he advocating a rejection of the creeds in favor of deeds. But
that is not what he is announcing at all.
Note in the first quote by one Warren
critic (A Little Leaven), the individual states: "If you attend a
church where the lead pastor believes in "Deeds NOT Creeds" (like Rick
Warren). But this not what Warren declared. Warren, in fact, believes
in the main Christian Creeds and all of the essentials of the faith
that they express (see The Doctrinal Essentials of Christianity—and Rick Warren).
And in the above excerpt from my interview, we see Warren
perfectly fine with the doctrines that came from the First Reformation.
This is why they do not need to be re-visited (or REFORMED). They are
just fine as they are. The church needs help now only in the area of
deeds, not creeds.
The third critic above rails, "The Deeds Not Creeds Heresy—Rick
Warren may be thrilled with his good deeds but unfortunately he is
claiming that his effort 'is' Christianity. It is not." But truth
be told, it IS Christianity, according to James 1:27 and James 2:14-17. Good deeds, of course, are NOT
the Gospel, nor the way of salvation. But Warren is not saying that
good deeds are the way of salvation. This critic has invented in his
mind what Warren is saying about good deeds, asserting that he is
equating good deeds with salvation. But that is a false charge (for
information/documentation on the way of salvation taught by Warren, see Saddleback Church: The Cross, Sin, and Hell).
In the quote from Extreme Theology, we have this lie: "In
Warren's way of thinking, it shouldn't matter what you
believe, the only thing that should matter is what you do." The truth,
of course, is that Warren's "deeds, not creeds" remark has nothing to
do with one's beliefs with regard to their spiritual connectedness to
God. And Warren is certainly not saying that the only thing that really
matters is what you do! During my interview with Warren in 2005, he
made this very plain when we discussed doctrine (excerpt taken from Rick Warren and the Purpose that Dives Him):
me tell you what I do believe. The message must never change, but
the methods must change. If you change the message you are a heretic.
Here's a direct quote 'YOU ARE A HERETIC IF YOU CHANGE THE MESSAGE. THE
BIBLE SAYS IN JUDE, IT
IS THE FAITH 'ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.' IT
Anyone can see that Warren has held
true to his word by talking a look at Warren's teachings on salvation,
grace, the cross, sin, hell, and repentance (see Saddleback Church: The Cross, Sin, and Hell).
BEING UNEQUALLY YOKED?
One of the most common objections to
Rick Warren's P.E.A.C.E. Plan relates to Warren's willingness to work
with not only secularists, but also people of other faiths in his
efforts to alleviate the suffering of the masses throughout the world.
The standard biblical passage used to raise this criticism of the
P.E.A.C.E. Plan is 2 Cor. 6:14-15, which commands Christians to not be unequally yoked to unbelievers. But this is a misapplication scripture.
Second Corinthians 6:14-15 is one
of the most abused and misused verses in the Bible. It is often cited in order to
condemn the enjoyment of secular friends, dating unbelievers,
celebrating Christmas/Easter, working for social betterment with
non-Christians, and even continuing to have contact with a family
member who hasn't accepted Christ.
The follow up verse (2 Cor.
6:17-18) has been abused in the same way, and worse, often being
used by cults/aberrant groups to not live within society (e.g.,
isolationist sects like the Branch Davidians, the Jim Jones cult, and
others), or not dress in colors/use modern machinery (e.g. the Amish).
Both of these passages, however, have a far more plausible
interpretation, which is also much less intolerant and isolationistic.
And whichever interpretation a perosn takes, there is certainly room
for disagreement since this passage has nothing to do
with the doctrinal essentials of the faith (see my article The Doctrinal Essentials of Christianity—and Rick Warren).
The context, per the Eerdman's Commentary,
the main thrust of Paul's warning is to keep clear of worldly
attachments—i.e, getting bound up in a way that would divert us
from a spiritual, fruitful, doctrinally sound walk with Christ.
According to the Eerdman's Commentary,
Paul is apparently making a sharp reference to some incident/topic
present at the Corinth church, undefined to us, but apparently
understood by them: "In this passage, Paul prohibits some particular
though unspecified relationship with unbelievers (v. 14). The veto
somehow concerns heathen sacrifices; and certainly any association with
heathen worship [in Corinth] involved immorality of the worst kind' (Eerdman's, p. 1081).
The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries
adds to this thought by explaining, "One of the great problems of the
Christians in a pagan city such as Corinth was to know how far they
ought to segregate themselves from those who were outside their
fellowship. In the first Epistle the apostle had advised them on the
subject, and advocated that , while every care must be taken to avoid
idolatry, complete separation was unnecessary" (p. 98). We then read
the Tyndale conclusion,
which speaks of the contents of v. 17-18: "Paul continues what is, in
effect, a chain of Old Testament quotations, but inserts the word
'wherefore' to show that he is now drawing practical implications from
the great truth that the Christians are the temple of the living God.
The older shrines were separated off from the world around them; so the
Christians must be SPIRITUALLY and MORALLY withdrawn from the pagan
society in which they have to live" (p. 99).
Notice—NOT SOCIAL. This is not a social issue. Consequently, when it comes to Warren and his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, neither of these passages would apply.
A Christian should certainly be able to remain spiritually and
morally separated from others (no matter what their religions might
be), if they are working with them SOCIALLY to build an
orphanage, feed a starving child, or pass out clothes to people who are
wearing rags. In fact, that would be a golden opportunity to share
Jesus with that person. Nevertheless, some Christians feel that this is
wrong. And that Christians should only work with other Christians in
the social realm. But, as we see, working only with Christians is not
mandated by scripture. It must be viewed as more of a personal
On a personal level, I cannot understand an unwillingness on the part of Christians to work with those of differing beliefs in order to help alleviate suffering in the world. In a recent blog, I addressed this
very issue when responding to a Christian who felt it was
improper/unbiblical to work with non-Christians in the social arena.
Consider my following comments, originally posted at simplemindedpreacher:
you telling me that on 9/11 if you were in NYC, you would NOT have
helped survivors of the terrorist attacks if your search/rescue team
was being coordinated by a Buddhist? Or that you would NOT pull debris
off an area where there might have been survivors if your team
consisted of 3 atheists, a Hindu, and 4 Jews (a very possible mix in
about Katrina in New Orleans? You would NOT have gotten in a boat to
rescue stranded people unless your whole boat was full of Christians?
What if you found out that one of those "Christians" was a liberal from
a United Methodist Church in New Orleans? Would you turn the boat while
people were drowning?
remind you that we are to be in the world, but not of it (John
17:14-15). And also, in Romans 10:15, Paul declares, "And how shall
they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How
beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!"
I am thrilled that ambassadors of Christ will be walking on those
beautiful feet in all parts of the world thanks to the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
the Bible forbids us from helping out in the world socially with people
who do not happen to be Christian. If you or anyone else does not want
to help alleviate the suffering in the world unless you're working with
other Christians, then fine. But please, allow others who feel
differently to respond to James 1:27 and James 2:14-17 without fear of
being labeled a compromiser, a New Ager, a pluralist, a false teacher,
a deceiver, and all manner of other names.
In conclusion, all Warren is saying is that it is time for our good
deeds as Christians to be just as uppermost in our minds as our
beliefs. He sees the church lacking in this area, just as the church
was lacking in doctrine (creeds) in Martin Luther's day. Consequently,
Warren feels like we need to have a SECOND reformation, but this one
needs to be about deeds, rather than creeds. Christians, according to
Warren, must be equally as concerned about deeds as they are about
creeds. Only by having balance in these two areas can believers live in
obedience to not only the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), but also the Great
22:37-40), coupled with James 1:27 and James 2:14-17.
To use another quote by Warren—a quote that I have NEVER seen mentioned by even one of Warren's critics—"The Christian life is far more than creeds and convictions; it includes
conduct and character. Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds,
and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior" (The Purpose Driven Life, p. 183).
This quote fully, clearly, and
directly explains precisely what Warren means when he talks about a New
Reformation about deeds, not creeds. So why is no one bothering to
quote either it, or permutations of it, which are readily available at
Warren's pastors .com? (see Discipleship: How We Grow, Ministry Toolbox, #59, 7/17/2002 and Helping Your Members Mature Little By Little, Ministry Toolbox,
#161, 6/30/2004, under "Saddleback Sayings"). My personal belief is
that far too many of Warren's critics are looking to condemn him, no
matter what he says or does. And that is a tragedy.
For more information on Rick Warren and his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, seemy two articles What is the P.E.A.C.E. Plan? and Rick Warren and Reconciliation.