Hank Hanegraaf & CRI Continue To Endorse Rick Warren
by Sandy Simpson, 1/30/04

I wrote an email to Hank in 12/03 about my concerns regarding Rick Warren's influence in the churches.  I asked them to further investigate his ties to ecumenism, Robert Schuller, the Third Wave, New Apostolic Reformation, etc.  I have many articles detailing his connections and his unbiblical statements.  Here is a list of them:

Niche Marketing, Audience-Driven, Full Service Churches: How We Got Here? by Orrel Steinkamp, The Plumbline, Volume 8, No. 1, January/February 2003
Proponents of Willow-Creek Seeker Sensitive evangelism and the wider public have little knowledge of the historical genealogy of this movement.  Most simply assume that George Barna and associates originated the marketing model now employed widely in seeker sensitive evangelism.  Barna, however, is a late-comer, who actually adapted and expanded ideas that had been earlier discovered by Robert Schuller.

The Market-Driven Church by Gary Gilley, 6/00
While we will examine the writing of various individuals who speak for the market-driven movement, we will focus often on the two flagship churches: Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California, and Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. These churches serve as the models that are reshaping the way we "do church" today. As a matter of fact, many refer to these churches and their clones as "new paradigm churches." Churches all over the world, even those who would claim to reject the church growth movement, are imitating the many methods promoted by Saddleback and the "Creekers." Others have written about church growth, but these two churches have made it work, and for their success they are idolized and adored by the modern evangelical community. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The Purpose Driven Life - An Evaluation by Gary Gilley, 11/03
A two-part evaluation of the popular book by Rick Warren.  Read Part 1, and Part 2.

Critique of the "Seeker-Sensitive, Purpose-Driven" Church Method by Pastor Dan Norcini, Copyright © 1999 Sovereign Grace Bible Church
These early Christians knew what to expect for confessing Jesus Christ before men. They knew the price they paid would be dear but they possessed something which made all of their tribulations seem light and momentary (2Cor 4:17) – genuine faith working through genuinely fervent love for the person of Jesus, who had loved them and given Himself for them. Can the same be said of any of the converts of this system? Time and the providence of God will tell. 10 part series.

My Visit To Saddleback Church by David Cloud, Fundamentalist Baptist Information Service, 11/03
Rick Warren claims that he has not compromised the Word of God with his principles and methods, that he has only
modernized them; but when I look into the book of Acts and the Epistles, I see a different kind of Christianity, a different kind of church there, than the one that Rick Warren has devised. Thus, I must reject Warren's Purpose-Driven methods and I must warn those who have an ear to hear, regardless of how small that crowd may be, that they not heed the siren call of the contemporary church growth gurus.

The Church Growth Movement - An Analysis of Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven" Church Growth Strategy by by Dennis Costella, ©FOUNDATION Magazine, March-April 1998
AFTER PERSONALLY covering the Saddleback Community Church "Building a Purpose-Driven Church" seminar held in Southern California this past January, it became clear to me that some of today's most influential religious leaders misunderstand and misrepresent the true purpose of the church today.

The Book of Numbers - Rick Warren's purpose-driven attack on American Christianity by Chris Lehmann, MSN Culturebox, Posted Monday, March 17, 2003, at 11:33 AM PT
This, rather than the abundance of marketing techniques and showman gimmicks that inflect Warren's style of self-presentation, is the most troubling feature of Warren's purpose-driven approach. It has historically been the nature of the Christian God to be something of an unstinting task master. Warren's God "wants to be your best friend." And this means, in turn, that God's most daunting property, the exercise of eternal judgment, is strategically downsized. When Warren turns his utility-minded feel-speak upon the symbolic iconography of the faith, the results are offensively bathetic: "When Jesus stretched his arms wide on the cross, he was saying, 'I love you this much.' " But God needs to be at a greater remove than a group hug. Surely we lose something if we apprehend the Bible, and the language of faith, as little more than a lesson book. "If you're not preaching life application," Warren has told one interviewer, "you're not really preaching." Yet if you're only believing in life application, what are you really believing?

Rick Warren Connections - especially to the ecumenical Third Wave New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and "Positive Thinking" Movement compiled by Sandy Simpson, 1/04
Connections of Rick Warren to the Third Wave and Schuller.

The Church Growth Movement by James Sundquist, 5/03
Three part series on the Church Growth Movement, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren.

  1. Biblical Christianity or the Church of Laodicea?
  2. Carl Jung's Influence on the Church
  3. Influence of Carl Jung on the Church Part II
The Church Growth Movement by Eastern Regional Watch
Good web page to read articles on Church Growth.

Recognizing Deception & Apostasy - Chapter 8, The Church Growth Movement by Dene McGriff
In the next chapters, we are going to discuss several major movements in evangelical Christianity – The “Meta Church” and then the “Cell Church” Movement, followed by a discussion of the Apostles and Prophets Movement.  If we are in the “last days”, one would expect some very good counterfeits.  The Meta Church, also know as “The Purpose Driven Church” or “Seeker Friendly Church” represents an extremely successful movement in terms of church growth.

Rick Warren & The Church Growth Movement by Mike Oppenheimer
A number of articles on Rick Warren and his "purpose driven" agenda.

Community Connections - About Rick Warrens associations and endorsements (read this first before you read anything else on Warren)
Growing a Purpose Driven Church - Background and history -what is this all about?
Rick Warrens Global Peace Plan - Is this a solution to the worlds problems?
The seeker friendly church - A new way of doing Church to reach the 21st century population
The Purpose Driven Life - Book review on what some have overlooked is being said.
I also have a number of negative reviews of his books.

The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Nathan Busenitz
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Rick Meisel
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Go For God
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Berit Kjos
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Dennia Costella
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Jim Delany

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren - Reviewed by Gary Gilley
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren - Reviewed by E. L. Bynum

I was sent a reply from CRI on 1/29/04 that basically confirmed their continued support for Rick Warren.  CRI continues to promote and sell his book "The Purpose Driven Life" and I believe this is one reason why so many churches, who would not normally use these kinds of materials, decided it would be fine to use them because of CRIs endorsement.  Following is the text of the letter I received from CRI.

January 19, 2004

Sandy Simpson
PO Box 1759
Wadesboro, NC 28170

Dear Sandy,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We appreciate your interest in the ministry of CRI and your confidence in our ability to offer discerning evaluations of groups, individuals, and other topics of vital interest to Christians.

We believe that the beliefs and teachings of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, are generally in line with the Bible.  There is no deviation from the essentials of the historic Christian faith (see CPO701 enclosed).  We carry and recommend his books, The Purpose-Driven Church (B527/$20 + shipping) and The Purpose-Dniven Life (B698/$19.99 + shipping), and he has been a guest on the Bible Ansuer Man program on a number of occasions.  While we may not necessarily agree with everything that he teaches, we consider him to be a gifted leader and brother in the Lord.

Also note that Saddleback is a large "seeker-sensitive movement" church, a movement controversial in some theological circles.  We have enclosed two articles (DC248 and DC249) that provide information, both pro and con, about this movement.

Research for this letter was made possible through the faithful gifts of our constituents.  We pray this letter is helpful and equips you in ministering to those around you.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always!

In His service,

Andy Milliken
Research Consultant
Christian Research Institute

Included in the letter were also a contribution invoice and return envelope, a statement on what CRI considers to be the "essentials" of the Faith (no mention of the bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth to rule and judge!), and the two articles aforementioned.  One article was by Greg Laurie (the evangelist seen on TBN who is taking TBN funds to air his program) which was the "con" and an article by Mark Mittelberg which was a mixed review.  I have to wonder what kind of research CRI is really doing these days?  The fact that CRI is sending out a "pro" and "con" response on the very unbiblical Church Growth movement shows that they themselves are hazy on the subject, and their promotion of Rick Warren and his methods basically makes them collaborators in his ideology.  I blame them as a major player in getting good churches to sign on to Warren's unbiblical pragmatic ideas.

In response to the CRI letter, I wrote a letter back to them and sent them a number of the above mentioned articles to read.  I attempted to show them some of Warren's quotes that prove he holds unbiblical, and in some cases, heretical views.  Following is the entire text of that letter.


Andy Milliken
Christian Research Institute
30162 Tomas
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688-2124

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your kind reply and the articles you sent.  I have been supportive of your ministry for a number of years.

By reply to you I am going to provide you with the research we have done on Rick Warren, hoping that CRI will reconsider your position on Warren and stop selling his books.  In brief, let me give you some quotes and a bit of other information, which is contained in more detail in the paperwork I am sending you. They prove that Warren is NOT "generally in line with the Bible" and the "essentials".  I'm not sure what CRI considers to be the "essentials" but let me tell you the core doctrines upon which we base our apologetics at ACT (I call it apologetics because we are dealing with heretical error INSIDE the Church these days!).  There are five core doctrines that we do separate over if they are not being taught or demonstrated.  These are:

1. Theology - The Trinity: God is one "What" and three "Whos" with each "Who" possessing all the attributes of Deity and personality.
2. Christology - The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.
3. Eschatology - The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.
4. Soteriology - Salvation: It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
5. Bibliology - The Scripture: It is entirely inerrant and sufficient for all Christian life.

We also deal with issues concerning the theological areas of Christology (Christ), Ecclesiology (Church), Antrhopology (Man), Eschatology (Things To Come), Soteriology (Salvation), Pneumatology (Holy Spirit), Bibliology (Bible), Hamartiology (Sin), Satanology/Demonology (Our Adversary the Devil), and Theology Proper (The Living God).  But the above are five of the most important "essentials" according to the teaching of the sixty six books of the Bible.  Teaching and/or actions that deny ANY ONE of the above essentials is a basis for rebuke and rejection of heretics who are unrepentant.  Would you not agree?

On this basis, Rick Warren has demonstrated that he is unbibical, and in some cases heretical, by going against the following:

Soteriology (Salvation)

Warren is part of the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention, and all his senior staff sign on to the SBC's doctrines, such as the literal and infallible Bible and exclusion of women as senior pastors. Yet Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women. "I'm not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won't try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?" he asks, citing as his model Billy Graham, "a statesman for Christ ministering across barriers." ("This evangelist has a 'Purpose'", by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY,  7/21/2003, http://www.usatoday.com/life/2003-07-21-rick-warren_x.htm)

(DITC Comment:  How can someone who claims to be a biblical Christian teach "pastor-training" to Mormon cultists and to other religions like Catholics and Jews?  This constitutes an agreement with these groups that the essentials are not important, thus a denial of them all.  What are the essentials to Rick Warren?  Apparently nothing that already separates us from these groups.)

The message, which was titled "The Potential of a Single Life," was a witty, motivational challenge to single people to dedicate themselves to God. Rick Warren said, "You are as happy as you choose to be. You can waste your life on vanities, spend your life on yourself, and invest your life for God." Mother Teresa was used as an example, with no warning about her false gospel.  (http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/visit-saddlebackchurch.html)

(DITC Comment:  To laud Mother Teresa without mentioning her stand on the Gospel is a denial of the Gospel.  Here is what Mother Teresa thought of the Gospel: “I love all religions. ... If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there.” She upheld that there are many ways to God': “All is God--Buddists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.” (12/4/89 Time, pp. 11, 13) While we can agree to love all religions and people there is a vast difference as accepting them as valid. Mother Teresa told everyone no matter what their religion: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. ... What God is in your mind you must accept” (from Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, by Desmond Doig, (Harper & Row, 1976), p.156))


Warren says, “The truth is this: Spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by behavior than beliefs.”  (The Purpose Driven Church, p. 336, http://www.thetribnet.org/Apostacy/recognizing_deception_and_apostasy_chapter_8.htm)

(DITC: According to the Bible both are important.  James says our faith will be evident by our actions.  But according to Heb. 5 and Eph. 4 the whole reason we are to become mature in the Faith is so that we will be able to distinguish between what is good and evil and not be blown about by every wind of doctrine.  Warren seems to be all about introducing new doctrines based on postmodern humanistic ideas, clearly evident in his books and methodology.)

Scripture Twisting

During the five weekends of November, we'll teach five messages on the P.E.A.C.E. plan: a strategy to have every small group in our church,  and then tens of thousands of small groups in other churches, become engaged in solving the five biggest problems in the world: Spiritual Lostness, Lack of Godly Leaders, Poverty,  Disease, and Lack of Education. (Rick Warren P.E.A.C.E. plan letter, http://www.saddleback.com/home/todaystory.asp?id=6213)

(DITC Note: The Bible NEVER states that problems like poverty and disease will be solved until Jesus Christ returns.  This is Dominionist theology in a clever deceptive package.)

"I love this book ("An Unstopable Force" by Erwin Raphael Mcmanus) because Erwin loves the church. Growing churches requires growing leaders. This book will help you along the way." – Rick Warren, Lead Pastor, Saddleback Church, Author, The Purpose Driven Church, http://www.anunstoppableforce.com/warren.html, http://www.fuller.edu/cll/ce/Storage/events.html)

(DITC Note: Warren endorsed "An Unstopable Force" by Erwin Raphael Mcmanus. This book is Dominionist and Apostolic.  It promotes the idea that there are foundational Apostles today, which is impossible as no one meets the biblical criteria to be a foundational Apostle today.  The teachings of the foundational Apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20) are what the Church is built upon, Christ being the chief Cornerstone and Foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-11).  The Apostles were those who saw the Lord while He was on earth before he ascended into heaven (1 Cor. 9:1) and the Lord did true signs, wonders and miracles through them to authenticate their ministries (2 Cor. 12:12). They wrote Scriptures (Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, etc.). They were persecuted and all but one (John) were martyred for the Faith (1 Cor. 4:9 and the Pre Nicene Fathers writings). Finally, Paul said that he was the last, in sequence, of the original foundational Apostles (1 Cor. 15:7-8).  We are to use the Word of God, through Jesus Christ, taught to us by the Apostles and prophets, as the basis for our Christian life (2 Peter 3:2, Jude 17). There is no one today who can meet the biblical criteria to be a foundational Apostle.)

Hamartiology (Sin)

Every person, although endowed with the image of God, inherited a disobedient heart from Adam, the very first man. This attitude of disobedience (called sin in the Bible) – unless rectified through Christ – forever keeps man from forming a relationship with his Creator. (http://www.saddleback.com/flash/believe2.html)

(DITC: Does man simply have an attitude of disobedience, or is he entirely sinful?  This sounds like Semi-Pelegianism.)

These are just a few areas where Rick Warren has demonstrated he is beyond the pale of orthodoxy.  But his connections to the Third Wave, New Apostolic Reformation, and New Thought ought to be obvious to your organization, since you have done research on some of these subjects in the past.  That you would endorse this man and sell his books cheapens your stand for the truth!  I cannot continue to recommend people to your ministry if you continue to endorse those who promote the Third Wave agenda of the International Coalition of Apostles.  I suggest that you need to do a lot more research as to what is going on in the Third Wave these days and the methods by which they are trying to introduce heresies and false teachings into all the churches.

Please read the accompanying articles.  I will wait for your reply.

In Christ,

Sandy Simpson
Apologetics Coordination Team
P.O. Box 1043
Wadesboro, NC 28170
Email: ssimpson@hawaii.rr.com
Web: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/


Here is the reponse to my reply to CRI above.  Please note that I also received another plea for money and return envelope with this letter.

February 5, 2004

Sandy Simpson
PO Box 1759
Wadesboro, NC 28170

Dear Sandy,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We appreciate your interest in the ministry of CRI and your confidence in our ability to offer discerning evaluations of groups, individuals, and other topics of vital interest to Christians.

Thank you for your recent reply to our position on Rick Warren. At present, we stand by our general endorsement of his teachings.

As indicated in our previous correspondence, we don't necessarily agree with everything he teaches, endorses, or is associated with.  Also, as indicated, many take issue with aspects of his seeker-sensitive approach to nunistry; however, as an organization, we do not take an official position on this topic.

As with all teachers, denominations, and movements, we refine our positions in light of new developments that come to our attention; therefore, it is conceivable that we would provide a more nuanced evaluation of aspects of the seeker-sensitive movement, and/or Rick Warren's teaching, in the future.

Research for this letter was made possible through the faithful gifts of our constituents.  We pray this letter is helpful and equips you in ministering to those around you.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always!

In His service,
Andy Milliken
Research Consultant
Christian Research Institute

I am stating that, barring their pulling of Warren's books from their bookstore and their discontinuing of favorable interviews with Warren, the Apologetics Coordination Team including the Deception In The Church web site will no longer support CRI and Hank Hanegraaf.  I can only hope they will actually do the research needed on Rick Warren, but at this point I see no movement or desire to move in that direction, even when presented with overwhelming facts about the unbiblical statements and affiliations of Rick Warren.

In light of these facts, I find that there is just too much compromise for me to continue to promote Hank Hanegraaf.  He has some good biblical answers to many questions, though I disagree with him more than I used to these days, and sometimes on major issues like Eschatology.  I do not agree with the Reformed theological positions that Hanegraaf seems to promote, on Amillenialism and Preterism, allegorizing parts of Scripture like Genesis and Revelation, and hyper-Calvinism.  Yet even those things do not necessarily constitute a reason for biblical separation, as it is our policy only to separate and rebuke those who do not hold to the core doctrines.  But when a heretofore excellent discernment ministry starts to endorse someone like Warren who is, knowingly or unknowingly,  carrying out the agenda of the New Apostolic Reformation and endorsing books by its leaders, I find myself in the position of no longer being able to support CRI.  This is sad because it was a good and viable ministry under Walter Martin, and earlier in Hank's career with his excellent books exposing the Word-Faith heresy and the counterfeit revival movement.  But I have had so many letters complaining about Hank Hanegraaf on a number of issues that this situation has finally reached "critical mass" for me.

Until CRI stops compromising with people who are tolerant of and even espouse Latter Rain and other false doctrines we have to pull our endorsement.  It is our prayer that they will wake up and start to do better research soon.  They have hardly addressed the issue of the New Apostolic Reformation with C. Peter Wagner and the International Coalition Of Apostles at all, even though that is the biggest issue in the churches today.  They seem to be sorely behind the times, relying on past research and other people's materials to continue what they do, and without giving proper credit to those who do the hard research on these issues.  But when any ministry finds itself in the position of having to continue support for a teacher like Warren who twists Scripture and writes whole books based on faulty premises because the book sales are so financially appealing, that ministry is in deep trouble.  ACT materials, with the exception of books and tapes which cost money to manufacture, are available and even sent out for free.  We don't send donation slips to people who ask us questions.  We continue to offer, free of charge, thousands of materials from hundreds of ministries who also offer free materials, by in large.  CRI has become, over time, an enterprise that seems to jump on any Christian book bandwagon that is a big seller because it brings money into their coffers.  They have promoted a number of books lately with dubious, even unbiblical theological positions, not the least of which are Rick Warren's books.

If CRI decides to pull Warren's book from their store and make a statement that they no longer support his Church Growth agenda, I will gladly put my support back behind CRI and remove this article. I pray that CRI will come back to proper apologetics because we need all the help we can get these days to stem the tide of apostasy and a famine of the Word in the land!