The question: How could Rick Warren read all 22 volumes of Jonathan Edwards and still preach the way he does?

The big news among the Reformed/Calvinistical camp is that Rick Warren has read all the volumes of Jonathan Edwards works. Let’s say that it is so. Let’s assume that he didn’t skim but underlined and took notes. The question that occurs is how could one preach the best and the brightest of theologians and show so little influence from Edwards in his preaching and writing?

For some reason Warren is on the path toward the reformed. I am not sure why. For some reason John Piper is on the path toward Rick Warren. I am not sure why. Though this isn’t the first time Piper has merged with another “evangelical” luminary. For a while John Wimber was on his radar-that is, before it all got very embarrassing. The same might happen with Warren, though Warren is a bit more “within the camp.”

Here is Piper’s interview with Warren. Here is Challies response. Here is the response at Pyromaniacs.

I think Piper’s heart is a big-tent heart. He wants a big tent. Seeks a big tent. And when there is a chance for a big tent he takes it. (Unlike John MacArthur, who has never been accused of forsaking his post or seeking alliances with those who are softer where MacArthur is hard and fast). Some (maybe many) are just too far away from reformed Christianity to make a big tent reconnaissance mission – like Greg Boyd, the emergents, out and out Arminians like Roger Olson, IVCF, CCC, etc. But when there is a chance Piper seems to want to take it. He doesn’t want to be narrow. I don’t he enjoys being narrow. His trajectory is to link arms where he can. When you are this way, sometimes you will seek to link to something that is not there.

Warren might be able to say he believes in unconditional election, monergism, total depravity, etc. But one doesn’t get the feeling that he or his communication style is shaped by these. He asserts that he preaches these things without using the words, as in preaching a whole series on sanctification without using the word sanctification. For him this is a good thing. I am not sure why, except he thinks it is better communication. Of course, what it does is break down the church’s ability to talk to itself. Should we preach the Bible and make sure that we don’t use any words found in the Bible? Is this an accomplishment of some kind?

I am at a loss as to why Piper does not ask these questions and press the point, other than the fact that he seeks to be kind and to give the benefit of the doubt, careful not to press things that are secondary into primary things. But he should have. Warren is too influential, too big, to determinative of evangelical culture to get off with answering fluff questions. Waren is a big boy and could have taken it. And for being a big boy, he sure can dodge punches. Piper is not a fluff kind of guy. What is happening here?

All in all, the interview makes no contribution and leaves the viewer where he was before the interview. This is the exact opposite of what an interview should be about.

At Pyromaniacs the question is asked why Jonathan Edwards, if he influenced the Purposed Driven Life as much as Warren says he did, is not even mentioned or quoted there? It’s not like Warren did not quote people.

 If Edwards was such a profound influence on PDL, why is his name so conspicuously-absent from it? Others are plainly mentioned in the book: Brother Lawrence is mentioned 5 times; Dr. Hugh Moorehead is quoted 3 times; Mother Teresa is cited twice; Hudson Taylor is mentioned once; Billy Graham is mentioned once; George Bernard Shaw was mentioned; Lane Adams [an author with fewer readers than this blog can claim] is quoted; there are others…Plainly, these influenced Pastor Warren’s writing of this book. Why not mention Jonathan Edwards if he had, as Warren said in the video, greatly influenced PDL?

I think this is a good question. I don’t think I have ever met a person who is immersed in Edwards who cannot stop quoting him. Warren quotes many lesser lights. Exceedingly strange.

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