Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Saddleback Controversy

Richard Abanes, author of Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him (Harvest House, 2005), recently criticized Scott for his post entitled "15 Things I Learned at Saddleback." Richie, as was his stage name during his dancing and acting days, questioned Scott's accuracy on the following two issues:

1. Who was the speaker at Saddleback who said, "God taught me how to live victoriously as a single between my first and second marriage."?

2. The message of Saddleback is "affirmation" not "transformation" of a person's life as taught in the aforementioned sermon about Zacchaeus.

It just so happens that I was with Scott when he "learned" this. The man who taught upon the subject of living victoriously as a single was Bill Butterworth. The sermon title was "Living Life to the Max" and was preached March 2-3, 2002. In fact, in the sermon hand-out we filled in blanks as Bill spoke upon this subject. As he listed so-called "traits of fulfilled single adults", his first point was "Unconditional Acceptance of Myself." The scriptures given to prove this were Proverbs 23:7, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is." And Isaiah 62:5, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you." Of course, if anyone takes this advice I hope they like being single, because I expect no one will want to marry such a conceited, self-centered person who thinks everyone, including God, must accept them just like they are. (My wife and God are still working on me. Ouch.)

Concerning the second issue, I heard the same sermon preached as Scott did. In fact, it was Saturday August 26, 2000. That was the same service where we were specially noticed as out-of-towners because we carried Bibles. The sermon that day was preached by Rick Warren from Luke 19:1-4, entitled "How Much You Matter To God." Using the Message Bible, Rick read a portion of Luke 19:5, "When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up." Point number one was "No Matter How Insignificant I Feel, Jesus Notices Me."

After an interlude of special music, Rick transitioned to the second point by reading from the Living Bible a portion of Luke 19:5, "Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name 'Zacchaeus!' he said." Rick then says (and in amazement I wrote it down), "When Jesus said Zacchaeus' name, it was the first time Zacchaeus had heard his name in years." (Now from where did Rick learn that? I could not find it in any of his 25 favorite translations or paraphrase Bibles or my Greek New Testament.) By the way, the second point in the sermon was, "No Matter What Others Say About Me, Jesus Affirms Me."

Now let it be remembered, the reason that I have posted this additional information is because Scott's integrity was questioned by Richie. Furthermore, I believe that Saddleback's unbiblical gospel message is in the same line of psycho-babble-christianity as
Joel Osteen and others. I spend most of my time preaching the Gospel and some of my time defending the Gospel from Biblical distortions of our era. This post fits the latter.


Kyrie166 said...

Thank you, Jason and Scott, for speaking the truth about the unbiblical nature of Rick Warren's teachings. Richard Abanes has attempted to rebut or shut down anyone who speaks the truth of God's Word on this issue but he will never prevail. Truth tellers are generally not well received in this world that prefers feel good fables. But we speak on anyway, as Christ did. We have all eternity to rest from this life, let's continue to speak out for truth while we still can.

God bless you.
Visit my new site some time,

rabanes said...

Dear friends,

I am not attempting to "shut down" anyone. I thought this was America instead of Iraq? I thought Freedom of Speech was what made this country so great? Hmmmm. I have no problems with people making legit criticisms of Warren—hey, I've done it myself. But there is FAR too much vicious rumors, gossip, and misrepresentations going on. There is a expose-the-false-teacher-deceiver-new-Ager bandwagon that everyone has jumped on at the expense of truth, thoughtful discourse, and Christ-like attitudes.

The above comment by Jason is a perfect example. "Richie"???? What was that all about??? Was this meant as some kind of nasty dig??? Odd. Really odd to me. What in the world does "Richie" have to do with anything???

And as for our friend Ingrid Schlueter, if you want a glimpse of her alternate reality, then please read my three articles on her:

And as for Bill Butterworth, he was a guest speaker. But exactly when did divirce become the unforgivable sin?? Moreover, as for affirmation, I already pointed out in one of my posts that transformation is the goal (i.e., salvation and becoming Christ-like), but that affirmation is not mutually exclusive to living a transformed life. Affirmation doe snot mean condoning sin, which is how people seem to be interpreting it. It just means God loves you—no matter how others make make you feel or what others might say.

And Jason said: "unbiblical gospel message." Ok, fine. Jason, please, for everyone, please post at least 1-3 statements wherein he clearly declares a doctrine that compromises any one of the central/essential doctrines of Christianity as declared in the earliest established and accepted creeds of Christianity: Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, or Chalcedonian Creed.

This should be easy to do if Warren is preaching a false gospel. You might want to start by reading Warren's Easter 2004 gospel message as well as what is actually contained in PDL

Sure sounds like the gospel to me. But hey, what do I know, I'm a New Ager!!!! (yeah, right)

Oh, and Jason, I ofund your comment, "because I expect no one will want to marry such a conceited, self-centered person who thinks everyone, including God, must accept them just like they are" o be most interesting. Talk about ouch. Man, all Butterworth is saying is God created you and he loves you. Lighten up.


Tim Wirth said...

I just finished Richie's little booklet "Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him". And I'll be reviewing it on my blog this weekend. It says a lot of nothing and doesnt address most of the issues people are concerned about. Also a lot of smoke and mirrors here in the booklet-but more to come.
Does Richard prefer to be called Richie or Adonis? ("sounds like Adonis")
This was off Richie's self promoting link at Wikpedia.
which Richie wrote about himself.
How can you really take anyone seriously that states.
PS I am not for book banning or burning, Harry Potter teaches neither Satanism, nor Witchcraft (capital "W"), and Rowling is not a witch. Let's start from there, shall we."
This is a guy who wrote a book bought by hundreds of Christians about Harry Potter and The Bible.
another Richie gem
" Actually, I am being paid quite handsomely by the anti-Christ (sorry, I can't reveal his name for obvious reasons), whom I contact on a regular basis through Peter Drucker. Blanchard launders the money for me using an anonymous bank account in the Cayman Islands that is guarded by elite Gurkha mercenaries from Tibet. Thanks to the new funds that are pouring in, I have almost finished building the tunnels underneath my seaside mansion, which is erected over my gorgeous temple to Dagon and Ashtoreth (ya know I gotta have some place to make all of those human sacrifices).

RA "

I just have a problem with Warrens minister of propoganda defending Slick Rick as Warren continues to push his own agenda and weaken Christianity.
From Richies own blog site he states refering to Rick Warren flying out to New Orleans
"In an email from Pastor Rick, he has mentioned now that we must begin implementing the PEACE Plan here in our own country to help our own citizens."
The people in New Orleans need Jesus not Rick Warrens Peace plan they need food, and water as well.
This all shows the ego's at work here on the part of Richie and Rick.
Warren has also exposed thousands of pastors to false teachers like Paul Yonggi Cho who Slick Rick would probably not let preach in his own church but will expose thousands of pastors to this guys false teachings because Rick will fellowship with anybody.
In Richies little booklet about Rick Warren and the Purpose that drives him-Warren states about Ken Blanchard "No. Blanchard's not a postmodernist. He's just not a deep Christian".
But Rick will promote, encourage and give a platform to guy who by his own words is not a deep Christian teach thousands to lead like Jesus.
Will Ken be teaching at Saddleback? Probably not but Slick Rick will help Blanchard screw up thousands of leaders by his endorsement.
This is why Christianity is so weak in our country.
I think Rick Warren need to become less so Jesus can become more.
But Warren has gotten himself a great excuseoligist-spin doctor deluxe.
Talk about alternate realities.

Tony Langdon said...

“… his (Butterworth's) first point was "Unconditional Acceptance of Myself." The (scripture) given to prove this were Proverbs 23:7, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is."

Context, context, Richie:

Prov 23:6-8
6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies;
7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments.

How do you get "God created you and loves you" out of that?

Maybe if we look at the Greek…

ColinM said...

That is exactly what he was looking at while he should have gone to the hebrew...wondered why Proverbs wasn't wasn't in Aland's GNT...

Scott Hill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scott Hill said...

Guys, I think Richie sufficiently shot himself in the foot with this comment.

ABANES: Fair enough. But let's draw a distinction between: Expository preaching (which is not necessarily the end-all-be-all of preaching)

Richie, you comment as if we are grasping at straws, but our issue with Rick is he is either biblically accurate or he is not. The point is that Symantec’s matter, because they reveal the core your theology which therefore drives your methodology. It is a black and white issue, but I see a lot of pretty colors in some of your comments.

Also the more you comment the worse you make yourself and Saddleback look. I suggest you delete your blog and take a sabbatical. During this sabbatical take a few books here are my recommendations. “Think Biblically” by John Macarthur, “Scripture Alone” by RC Sproul, “Sola Scriptura” by collaborators, ‘Understanding Spiritual Gifts” by Dr. Thomas and “The Bible” by Jehovah God. Use a good translation such as the NASB, NKJV, or ESV. I would stay away from The Message or The Living Bible. Then come back and we will be happy to discuss Rick’s ministry with you.

Jason E. Robertson said...

The following comment was emailed to me, and I decided upon permission to post it.

May God bless each of you!

One would wish that if Richard Abanes was defending you he might do it and actually make some sense. Reading his comments, I'm put in mind of the little blue fish "Dori" with the short term memory problem from "Finding Nemo." They read almost like "I like cheese. the sky is blue.
Therefore I'm right." And then he has the gall to come around and try to instruct everyone in how to avoid fallacious argumentation. What a laugh! But he's not as loveable or amusing as that little blue fish.

My 12 year old daughter is enjoying some of the Fide-o pages I printed off for friends (the 15 things I learned at Saddleback and the Unabridged version). I think that might become a running joke among Warren's critics, for anyone targeted by someone as illustrious as Richard it must mean they've 'arrived.'

We just got purpose driven from our Evangelical Covenant church (many are leaving the Covenant as they go apostate but local churches are trying to keep the most damning info under wraps and billing themselves as 'bridging the gap between the liberal and conservative sides of the church' so that naive conservative-minded Christians just keep sending in their money. They're very good at being just behind the crest of
the latest wave/fad so that they are not as blamed for initiating the apostasy, but they endorsed the ordination of women way back in the 1970's! A few years ago in their national magazine they lamented that it has not 'caught on' much in local churches. The latest Ordination Ceremony trotted out (I suppose the cream of the Covenant female minister Crop?) a Judith McCullough that really made no sense whatsoever. (the video is available for download at

For example - *connections to Emergent Church philosophy - Doug Pagitt's church is an E Covenant church.

* Jim Wallis of Sojourners LOOOVES the Covenant and the Covenant
newsletters reflect much of what is on Sojourners' minds

E Cov president Glen Palmberg on staff at Call To Renewal along with the illustrious Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis among others I'm not as familiar with

*E Covenant being an NGO of the the UN, et al
(Even the JW's had enough sense to get out of the UN!)

Still trying to locate the conservative groups the E Covenant is affiliated with, since they are a 'bridge' between sides.

May God bless you all,
(PS you can post this if you want - I just didn't want to sign up for
*another* site...I have too many logins to keep track of. :-)

Church Dog said...

Hey Tim,
Why not leave out comments from R.Abanes that are obviously in jest. Such as, "Actually, I am being paid quite handsomely by the anti-Christ (sorry, I can't reveal his name for obvious reasons), whom I contact on a regular basis through Peter Drucker. Blanchard launders the money for me using an anonymous bank account in the Cayman Islands that is guarded by elite Gurkha mercenaries from Tibet. Thanks to the new funds that are pouring in, I have almost finished building the tunnels underneath my seaside mansion, which is erected over my gorgeous temple to Dagon and Ashtoreth (ya know I gotta have some place to make all of those human sacrifices)." I know almost nothing about the man, however, only a modest amount of discernment convinces me that he was JOKING!

And I guess his opinion of the Harry Potter books is also offensive to you and other "hyper-phobic-theres a demon behind every lampost" fiction literature critics.

I am not a fan of the Saddleback Church model, however, the degree of animosity related to this issue has risen significantly and I thought I'd throw a little back at you.

Your welcome!

Tim Wirth said...

Thank you!
Its just hard to take a guy serious that talks like this.
I'm not a Harry Potter fanatic either way. I do thing it teaches and encourages occult practice.
It really is causing a lot of kids to look at this in perhaps a way that could be dangerous to them spiritually.
And my comments with Richie Adonis excuseoligist was just that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth on Harry Potter. He posts to suit the blog(sometimes depending on the ages of the blogger even sometimes). I believe thats the problem because he learned how to play to the crowd from Slick Rick who also speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

Tim Wirth said...

PS I meant Richie Adonis here-
"Its just hard to take a guy serious that talks like this."

Bradley Howell Shaw said...

Oh, I believe RA, Richie, Richard,....(him), about being paid. I think he believes that he is benefiting personally in some form. Maybe book sales? Why else would he "purposely" be drawing attention to himself and Saddleback, and trying to confuse the real issues in such a negative and sarcastic light? I’m glad to hear of Tim’s book review. After reading Rich’s “defenses’ of PD, I know his books won’t be worth buying. I will need some insight to warn others.

KCBill said...

How I got banned from Richard Abanes' Blog - constant exposure of the Saddleback Repentence-free salvation message which is as follows:

Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God´s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin´s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.

If anyone can find where this calls for repentance, please point it out to me because I'm unable to find it.

Due to my failure to accept Mr. Abanes' poor excuses for justification of PDL and Saddleback's gospel from a Rick Warren Easter sermon, which may actually contain the "full-meal deal" as an ever concerned about being hip pastor may have stated it - but that is not, nor was it ever the point. Saddleback's Beliefs, which one can only assume reflect those of the Senior Pastor - have nothing about repentance - anyone with any influence in SoCal at Saddleback may want to point this out to Rick before he launches the PEACE plan and has worldwide exposure of this significant error.

Jesus said John 3:16 but He also Luke 14:26, 14:27, and 14:33. So who determined you can throw out the Luke passages and keep only the most quoted passage in the Bible?

Saddleback beliefs, see it for yourself: