Rick Warren, Perry Noble and Mudslinging Christians

dirty handWhy are some Christians so quick to believe the worst about each other?

Last week, I wrote a post entitled, Rick Warren’s Surprising Video On Church Size & Attendance. It was well received by most people. But there were some folks who don’t like it whenever I say something nice about Rick Warren. And they always let me know.

I’ve never met Rick, but I like him. A lot. I believe he has been a gift to the body of Christ like few other ministers have been in the last 25 years or so.

But now I’m being told that I’m not supposed to listen to anything Rick Warren has to say because he’s a proponent of one world religion and a supporter of Chrislam (a hybrid of Christianity and Islam) who’s gone soft on the teachings of Jesus and is trying to get everyone in the world to follow the Pope.

Oh sure, Rick’s been preaching the Gospel faithfully for decades. But apparently this has all been a multi-decade ruse to earn our trust so that he can lure the faithful away from the teachings of Jesus and into following a watered-down pseudo-Christianity.

How do we know this? Because people on the internet say so, that’s why. (No, I’m not going to link to those posts. They don’t deserve the attention they’d get from that. Google it if you dare. You’ll get thousands of responses.)

Every time I mention Rick Warren in a positive light, people tell me all these horrible things about him.

There’s just one problem with their claims. They have no proof.

Yes, there was an article in the Orange County Register in 2012 which seems to be “ground zero” for the Chrislam rumors. (You can read the Register article here.)

Never mind that Warren immediately and regularly denounced the claims made in that article. (You can read Warren’s response here.) Or that he has declared on thousands of occasions that he believes Jesus is the only way to heaven. People on the internet say otherwise, so they must be true and Rick must be lying.

After all, Warren has admitted to [gasp!] being friends with his Muslim neighbor! And he was invited to speak at a Muslim conference! And he actually went there! (see the video, below). Then, when he arrived, he told them he loves Muslims! And Hindus! And (hold on to your hats) Gays, Straights, Republicans and Democrats! And many others with whom he has disagreements.

Loving people he disagrees with? Get a rope.

So why does Warren speak to Muslim groups? Here’s why, in his own words:

As an evangelist, I spend much of my time speaking to non-Christian groups. You cannot win your enemies to Christ; only your friends, so we must build bridges of friendship and love to those who believe differently so Jesus can walk across that bridge into their hearts. (ChristianPost.com)

You may disagree with his methods. Even his theology. That’s a valid debate. But I choose to believe what he says about his own motives. Not because I’m naive, but because his 40 year record of leading people to Jesus backs up his statements. And because I want people to do the same thing for me.

Ed Stetzer put it well in his post about the Orange County Register misstatements when he said, “when we read well-known Christian leaders quoted as saying something in a local paper that seems out of character or contrary to their views over many decades, perhaps we might give that person the benefit of the doubt.”


Internet Christian Soldiers, Marching As to War – Against Each Other

In the Brave New World of the internet, anyone can say anything about anyone and a lot of people will believe it.

The sad thing is that Christians are as quick as non-believers to read, watch, believe and pass along gossip, rumor and innuendo as though it was fact. Often about each other.

If there’s the smallest hint that a well-known minister said something that might possibly be construed as anything other than pure orthodoxy, then never mind a forty year history of preaching the Gospel. Forget about their denial of the rumors. That one rumor trumps all.

And God forbid that they might actually say something that’s incorrect. It used to be that if someone misspoke, they could offer an apology and it would disappear. Not any more. If it’s on video, audio or in print, it will live forever.

Take Perry Noble for example. Last Christmas, he preached a sermon on the 10 Commandments, based on a false assumption about the word “commandment”. The video went viral. Pastors denounced him. On one Facebook discussion page for pastors, the minister who posted the video commented, “I’ll bet this guy is a big Joel Osteen fan,” thus hitting two fellow ministers with one tersely-worded stone.

That’s not healthy debate or even healthy disagreement. It’s mudslinging.

Not to mention Noble’s acknowledgement of and apology for his error hasn’t been passed around nearly as much as the video.

Here’s a link the video of Noble’s Christmas message where he made his mistakes. Here’s a link to Noble’s apology.

Many think Perry’s apology didn’t go far enough. That’s a fair debate. This post is not intended to be a defense of Perry Noble. Or of Rick Warren. Or of anything stupid, debatable or wrong that I may have said or written.

This is not a call for less disagreement. It’s a plea for greater civility in the way we disagree.


Love Speaks Louder

TGM box sale 250cI don’t agree with everything Rick Warren says. Or Perry Noble. In fact, I’ve challenged some of their teachings in my book and on my blog.

But I don’t agree with everything I’ve said or written either. Because I’m as capable of making mistakes as anyone else is. I use Rick Warren’s “10% Grace Rule” because I want people to treat me that way, too. And I really do believe Jesus meant that whole “do unto others…” thing. (Oh yeah, that.)

You don’t have to agree with Rick Warren’s approach to Muslims. Or Perry Noble’s interpretation of the 10 Commandments. I have questions about both. Being nice should never trump being truthful.

But believing the worst about someone is not the same as defending the truth – or the faith. Jesus never said “By this will all men know you are my disciples. If you maintain pure theology and talk bad about fellow believers based on rumors and misspoken words.”

Theology matters. A lot. But love speaks louder. At least it should.


 See How They Love One Another!

The world will not be attracted to Jesus by watching us fight over what we believe. The greatest attraction of our faith to an unbelieving world is “see how they love one another!”

For those of you who are already warming up your typing fingers to remind me that it’s not loving to let someone continue on in false teaching, I agree. We should always seek truth. And we can and should have strong, vibrant debate in the church. But that can’t happen when we pass along rumor as fact, when we believe the worst about each other instead of the best, and when we won’t accept someone’s apology when they do misspeak.

I will continue to challenge fellow believers – and especially fellow ministers – when something needs to be corrected. In private when possible. In public when necessary. Just like I’m doing in this post.

After all, one of the foundational principles of The Grasshopper Myth and NewSmallChurch.com is to challenge some of our faulty presuppositions about church health and growth.

We don’t always have to agree. But we should always disagree in an agreeable way.

The goal should always be to lift each other up, not tear each other down.

Always seek the truth first. The truth from scripture. The truth about what was said. And the truth about what they meant to say.


Two Videos

By the way, for anyone who hasn’t seen the “gotcha” video that supposedly “proves” Rick Warren is a proponent of Chrislam, here it is.


And for those who want a clear, recent statement from Rick on what he really believes about heaven, hell, Jesus being the only way and more, this video interview with John Piper is just one of hundreds of ways you can hear that in his own words.


The Non-Negotiables

You don’t have to like Rick Warren, Perry Noble, Joel Osteen, Mark Driscoll or me. We don’t even have to agree with each other. In fact, it’s a guarantee that we won’t – on some very important issues. But as Christians we have to do three things:

1. Seek the truth

2. Ignore the rumors

3. Speak and act with love


If you want to believe the worst about fellow believers and ministers, you’ll find a willing audience to go along with you.

But count me out.

So what do you think? Are you doing everything you can to speak the truth in love?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Dirty Hand photo from Leo Reynolds • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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28 thoughts on “Rick Warren, Perry Noble and Mudslinging Christians”

  1. I lost count the number of people on Facebook who have Unfriended me every time I quote Rick warren. My attitude is too bad so sad. All of these people are quoting from sites that are so filled with hate I doubt they would accept the Appstle Paul as a Christian. The other sites quoted are those that are deliberate sites spreading news on the level of magazines publishing stories of president Obama being a love child of aliens. I too grow tired of deluded Christians who are too lazy to read.

    1. As someone who attended Saddleback for over 20 years and watched person after person who had dedicated their lives to Saddleback by leaving corporate positions for less money to serve under King Rick as he is known by many who “know” him be fired; people who were effective and loved in their roles as ministry leaders, as someone who was never asked a single question after decades of leadership and ministry service when a false accusation was made against her, but given the cold shoulder by people at the “top” I can say without pause that what people are picking up on is that something isnt right. They may not understand what is not right however, but as someone who knows I am telling you that Saddleback is a business (they have teams who pushed the book sales and had to make quotas for PDL and these people are hand selected and you have to know someone, for a while, who is close to the top to be hand selected ~ I know, I was one), and Saddleback does not care about people. Rick will tell you, find Jesus here and go find another church to make room for new people, this way he never has to be accountable, he doesnt have to truly lead the flock. I could go on and on but the bottom line is people are finding flaws in his speaking and teaching b/c they know something is off, they are right, but what is off is really so much simpler, he is a self promoter (which really who cares) but the problem is Saddleback hurts people deeply and many of the staff that is there now is not in alignment with gospel but the one world religion thinking. It has gone this way due to Rick’s lack of oversight and need to be powerful, he constantly name drops from the pulpit, its disgusting. I was feeling like I needed to leave when everything went south for me, it was God moving me but it was still so painful to be treated as if I was nothing to a place that I served for 2 decades, with a spotless record. God first but people from your church should still know better.

  2. I find the intolerance of some fellow Chirstians to be arroagant. They say “I/we have the truth”. I can’t follow those having the truth while they are filled with aggrogance and are not loving. I have a lot to say, but it will just get me in trouble. I’m greatful for Karl, as my pastor, teacher and friend. Lord Jesus through Pastor Karl has put in me the need to search and glean the truth from scripture on my own, not by what I was taught or told to believe was truth. I have a question for all, it has been asked before, Why do YOU really believe in what you believe?

  3. Rick Warren is in good company – the same complaints were lobbied against Jesus!
    I’m thankful 1. that I’m perfect (a perfect mess) 2. that God loves me messed up and all.

  4. This is a good bit longer than most of your posts, Karl! (wink) It’s amazing to me that this is how things seem to be in the local church, too. No matter how many hours the pastor has counseled a couple (free), no matter how many of his own dollars he has spent keeping them afloat, no matter how many acts of kindness have been performed (also free), the first time he says a cross word or a serious word of correction, off they go. Because he’s “unloving,” or “uncaring,” or whatever. Right. And then they’re sure to tell everybody in town about it, too. Funny how they never said a word to anyone about the help he gave them. As a certain someone was (once of twice) “guilty” of saying, “This would be a great business if it weren’t for the people!” (This said in jest, of course. Kinda.)

    1. I’ve had that experience many times. Chris. And I know you’re in a good position to have seen it happen, too. It’s always good to remember that we’re doing it all for Jesus first and that his reward is what matters. But the rejections still sting.

  5. Thank you for taking time and effort to address this issue. A few years ago I received a phone call from a very concerned church-goer regarding this very Rick Warren issue. I did some digging for facts and found answers, as you did, directly from Rick’s mouth…pen.

    I honestly can’t tell you how many times I have done this similar response-research over the past thirty-four years of pastoral ministry. Amazing how some corrected saints do not accept objective facts when spoon fed to them. Further amazing how many do not bother to correct the gossip with others they’ve shared their sanctimonious claptrap with.

    As an unofficial review, I believe Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Rick Warren make the top three list for having unsubstantiated drivel said about them.

    Oh well….guess this gives me something (legitimate) to vent about. 🙂

    PS – I appreciate your New Small Church ministry Karl. Thanks.

    1. I know, right? Some people will believe bad news so fast! And things that are completely out of character for the victim of the rumor. The nice thing about the responses to this post is that it’s confirming that there are a lot of Christians who refuse to sling mud. The other voices may be loud, but their volume is bigger than their actual numbers.

  6. This is wonderful stuff. Thank you so much, Pastor Karl. You have taken the time to articulate so thoughtfully and passionately what being a Christian is all about. I watched both videos. I didn’t doubt Rick Warren’s authentic Christianity before, but even less now. What a challenge he laid down for us to take Jesus’s commands seriously.

  7. Outstanding post! My fingers ache from trying to “defend” Rick Warren, Katy Perry’s Christian parents, Joel Osteen, and more. It seems that everyone’s opinion are so set in stone, that there can be no reasoning. I’d rather error on the side of grace, than to attack other believers.

    BTW, I know Rick and Kay Warren personally, and will share this link with Kay tonight. And if it matters, I know Katy Perry’s parents. I have regular contact with these families and share in the pain that the Body of Christ creates.

    They are all lovable people with the best of intentions. And, they do not say half the things attributed to them.

    Way to go, Karl!

  8. So tonight I went to a mosque, and it blew my mind.

    Warmth, joy, enthusiasm of people of all ages, both genders, multiple skin colors, ethnicities, languages.

    Amazing food, served to the women first.

    Women in beautiful head scarves. Women without head coverings.

    Men with various sized beards. Men without beards.

    I met police officers which were equally welcoming. They were nicer than officer friendly.

    I learned that the leaders of the mosque regularly ask local law enforcement, the FBI and homeland security to be involved in their activities, because they know that they need them to keep them safe from hate acts that are so prevalent around the world towards mosques.

    There was a panel of 6 speakers doing a symposium on racism.

    The first speaker was eloquent, passionate, fearless, bold, self-evaluative. This speaker spoke of alliances that must be formed with anyone who is marginalized, and that the battle against discrimination must start within our own cities, places of worship, and homes. The first speaker was a woman.

    I took my 9 year old daughter with me. She was offered her choice of 8 head scarves from a high school girl I know from the school where I teach. She picked one, and the teenager put it on her. My daughter like it. She loved the food. She asked me, “Daddy, why do all of these people know each other? I’ve met more people tonight than I have in my whole life at our church.”

    “That’s because they eat together three times a week, and have a big meal together once a month”, I told her. “They play together, they do life together.”

    Ultimately, they are better at living together than we at our church are.

    I asked an 18 year old young man to explain how they decide what customs to uphold when they have meetings like this one, where there were Mexicans, African Americans, North Africans, Pakistanis, Indians, Syrians, Saudi’s, Jordanians and other ethnic groups.

    He explained that often someone will question someone’s behavior and say, “How can you act like that, that is not true Islam”, only to realize from their conversation that the behavior at question is merely a cultural tradition and not a religious one.

    “At the end of the day, we agree on the essentials and find ways to celebrate our differences”, he told me.

    I had a rich conversation with my daughter on the way home. She knew that I was compelled to visit a mosque after the past few weeks of Islamophobic hysteria in France. I explained that fear of someone you’ve never met can lead to hate, and that hate can justify horrible acts. I asked her if after spending a night at a mosque, if she was afraid of muslims in any way.

    “Why would I be afraid of them, they were so nice. And the food was so yummy.” She said.

    Tonight I thank God that my daughter loves more fully more of the people that He has made. I am thankful that she is choosing love over fear. I’m thankful that I am, too.

    Perfect love casts out all fear, after all.

  9. Right on. It’s tempting to jump on the bashing wagon at times… But it never pleased or serves anyone but the devil. It seems that the list of sins of the flesh from Galatians gets lived out publicly online by many “Christians”. Not the binge drinking and debauchery, but the slander, malice, gossip, dissension, factions, and the like. Let’s give it a rest and trust that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, through Paul, “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:3

    I’m pretty sure I heard several quotes from Rick Warren saying just that…

  10. Awesome post brother! I think of the old song “Don’t Shoot The Wounded” by Chuck Girard” (am I dating myself?)

    Don’t shoot the wounded, they need us more than ever
    They need our love no matter what it is they’ve done
    Sometimes we just condemn them,
    And don’t take time to hear their story
    Don’t shoot the wounded, someday you might be one

    Keep up the good work my friend!

  11. Great post. It astounded me to find how much people were putting faith on the unsubstantiated say-so of someone on the internet, or their friend. There is also a bit of peer-pressure going on – go with the flow with those in the know, you know?

    We also need to take into account how “viral” happens on the internet. Algorithms have a role to play. Of course bad news, shocking news, and controversy is more likely to be shared and viewed – even when someone does not agree with it – which increases the reach of such things. People are less likely to share a retraction, or rebuttal, unless it contained more shock value. Well meaning (or not) non-Christian friends are quick to point out to their Christian friends any inconsistency, or that a role model has feet of clay. No, I am not defending gossip, but noting how the internet amplifies gossip.

    It is sad to hear how we can be quick to judge, and to cast the first stone. Have we learned nothing from Jesus? Disagreeing shouldn’t mean shunning – there is room for healthy debate – and keeping that civilised and respectful.

  12. I attended Saddleback for three years when I lived in California.

    solid church solid leadership solid programs

    I heard the scuttlebutt and read Rick’s reply in the OC Register. I’m satisfied.

    I think the questions are worth raising because we need to remain on the alert but at some point we need to let the man speak for himself and take his word for what it is. and let it go…

    we are in this world but not of it…we are called to be a holy people a holy nation…yet Christ said to go into all the world and preach the gospel…

    we need to build bridges…but maintain the integrity of the Lords work. and I’m confident Rick Warren is quite capable of doing this.

    the fruits of his labor over the past 25 to 30 years are self-evident and we ought to be able to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    by the way I’m not a fawning fan of Rick Warren and saddleback. I have some theological differences that leave me in the position of attending another denomination.

    but we remain under the tent of orthodoxy and I think that ought to be enough…we ought to be able to link arms in unity when addressing the larger world.

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  14. Thank you brother for this article. I have struggled so much on how to respond to these malicious attacks and it helps to know that others are exercising true biblical teaching in dealing with them. I spent well over two years building a ministry that was ‘associated’ with Pastor Warren. Then one morning out of the blue, my senior pastor approached me and asked me how well I knew Pastor Warren. I told him I did not personally know him, I just knew of his teaching principles and that he had successfully been sharing the gospel for many years.. He then challenged me on how well I actually knew his doctrine. I informed him that I closely followed Pastor Warren’s teaching and although I did not agree with everything he said, I found his doctrine to be biblically sound. Then the bombshell…..He informed me that Pastor Warren’s programs (including the ministry I was associated with) were being banned from our church because of his [Warren’s] liberal and unbiblical views on gay marriage. I could not believe what I was hearing, especially since this occurred at the same time that Pastor Warren was at the Vatican sharing his views that marriage should be according to what the bible teaches us, not what society accepts. I tried to share this with the Sr. Pastor, but he had already rendered his judgment. Needless to say my heart was deeply saddened and after speaking to my wife and prayer, I decided that we could no longer be a part of a church under such leadership. I then found out that this pastor and his colleagues had read the rhetoric on the internet and instead of investigating to find out the facts, they had accepted what they had read and had implemented the ‘ban’ based on the one article. To make matters worse, he is now telling others in the congregation that Pastor Warren is an apostate pastor and that anything he teaches or is associated with should be disregarded. So in one brief moment, Satan used those in the church to destroy a ministry that encouraged spiritual healing and recovery. Many of the participants were ‘faithful’ church members that had never been taught to give their struggles to God, so they carried them in their daily lives. The only word I can think of is tragic. I often wonder if the time and energy that so many use to attack other Pastors and their beliefs was used to attack the true enemy how much different our world would be. Thank you again brother for this article and God Bless.

  15. Mr. Warren joins spiritual hands with catholics. Want to be friends? Fine. Friend as many as you want. But Warren calls the Pope OUR pope. He either doesn’t know the catholic gospel is not a biblical gospel, or he doesn’t care. Neither is an excuse, especially for a “pastor”. This causes serious confusion for immature/new believers who are growing in their faith.

    Also, where is the biblical mandate for us to “build bridges for Jesus”? Just so we are clear, Christ is the creator of the world, walked on water, healed diseases on command, defeated death on the cross and was resurrected, and will someday return to earth as judge where he will slaughter armies of the world with the words of his mouth. But he cannot save people unless we do the groundwork? Ridiculous.

    The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not our marketing methods. Our mandate is to preach the gospel to everyone, then trust that the Holy Spirit is able to convict and save who Jesus draws. Rick apparently thinks the thrice holy God is only as effective as his “bridge building.”

    Joel Osteen is not a pastor. He is a sunday morning life coach in a suit. He has NEVER rightly divided the gospel from his pulpit. Not once. There should be no confusion among believers on this guy.

    Finally, can we stop saying that … “I know he is a man of God because so many have come to Jesus through him.”
    Mormons come to Jesus everyday. Problem is that it is not the right one.

    1. Thank you!!!! It’s called DISCERNMENT with the Holy Spirit!! And what truly is Warren’s (and the others) goal?? Because if he knows the scriptures about the last days and the coming of Christ… there will be a one world religion! You’re so correct in saying there is no command in the Word about “bridge building”… but that Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him.

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  17. I really like what you said in your article. I also believe that Christians are too quick to pass judgment on one another. It saddens me that this happens so often.

    No wonder some people don’t want to be associated with Christians.

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