Despite Warren’s recent tweet condemning imaginary people for reading the cross into every verse of the Bible, Warren himself has been guilty of eisegesis. Let me show you just a few examples.
In case the word is unfamiliar, eisegesis is “the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas,” according to Merriam-Webster.
Last week Chris Rosebrough pulled a Rick Warren chapel speech out of the archives to demonstrate Henry and Richard Blackaby’s negative impact on the church. In that speech from Cal Baptist University from 2007 (you can watch it on Vimeo), Warren ignored important details from the passages, read himself into Scripture and allegorized God turning Moses’ staff into a snake (which the Bible clearly explains was meant as a sign to the Israelites that Moses had actually spoken to God). I recommend listening to the Fighting for the Faith podcast instead so you can listen to Chris refuse Warren and provide the missing context for each passage cited. It begins about 1 hour and 1 minute into the podcast.
Just see if your eyes pop out like mine did when he had the audacity to abridge John 3:16 to “For God so loved the world he gave,” when he was talking about monetary giving.
Another great example of the way Warren sees what he wants instead of what the Bible says is Saddleback Church’s “Daniel Plan.” The Daniel Plan website says, “The Daniel Plan is not just another ‘diet’. It’s a lifestyle based on the biblical story of Daniel, who forsook the king’s rich food in order to honor God’s best for him and his friends.”
The important question to ask about the biblical passage is why? Why did Daniel refuse the king’s meat and wine? It certainly had NOTHING to do with it making Daniel fat or because he could stand to lose a few pounds. So to use that passage as justification for a church-wide diet program seems an awful lot like eisegesis to me.
Warren uses the passage literally, implying that dietary changes are honoring to God and completely misses the point — which is Daniel’s heart. He wished to remain obedient to God, in spite of very difficult circumstances. The food is less important than whether Daniel would remain faithful to God while under pressure from pagans.
Under Old Testament law the Jews were told not eat “unclean” animals. The decision may have also been because of pagan religious practices involving animal sacrifices. My Bible reader’s companion notes “The only way the young man could be sure of having a truly kosher diet was to avoid all meat. Some have also noted that most meat in pagan societies came from animals which had first been dedicated to some deity. The decision to avoid meat may also have reflected the young Jews’ rejection of idolatry.” Others have suggested that it was about relying on God rather than the king. Whichever reason it was, it was not that Daniel was too fat.
Honestly, if Warren thought his church was getting too heavy why didn’t he just preach some sermons on gluttony or idolatry? There are verses on the subject that wouldn’t have needed any twisting and the Holy Spirit could have then convicted people of their sins. I’ll come back to the Daniel Plan in another post because there are some other huge problems that should be addressed.
Now let’s quickly turn to another speech, this time Warren was delivering a convocation sermon last September at my alma mater: Liberty University. I found this video online today when I was watching clips of Warren. He begins by telling the audience that he’s come “to invite them to start a revolution.”
“I believe in you, I believe this place, this campus, this university could do it. There’s more than enough people. Jesus took 120 people and turned the world upside down. We got more than 120 right here in Vines Center. Okay, so we can do this,” Warren declared.
Okay, hold the phone. Warren just told the crowd to join some currently unspecified revolution and his justification is that there are plenty of people so it will work, because Jesus only needed 120 people. Let that sink in for a second.
This parallel is not so parallel since Jesus is actually God! So it kind of figures that when he sent his disciples to go preach the gospel it would shake things up. Rick Warren isn’t God. The gospel rocked the entire known world because it was the truth. Not a truth, THE TRUTH. Furthermore we don’t need to be joining any new revolution. Christians already have their marching orders and they come from Jesus Christ and no one else. All we need to do is get better acquainted with our Bibles and we’ll know what our mission is.
Just a couple minutes later in this video Warren gets to the passage he’s going to use to support his call for the students to join his P.E.A.C.E Plan. In this instance the passage is Isaiah 49. Warren paraphrases the passage before he quotes it claiming it shows that Isaiah was discouraged and having a “pity party.” He then says that God’s response was “You’re not thinking big enough.”
The problem with that paraphrase is that Isaiah 49 is obviously Messianic, especially when you arrive at verse 6 which includes this prophecy: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Who is God’s salvation unto the ends of the earth? Jesus Christ. It is prophetically expressing the sadness of Christ at Israel’s rejection of him, and the promise that the light given to and rejected by Israel would go to the Gentiles. I haven’t gone to seminary but I could figure that out with my Bible and Google.
I won’t dissect that entire speech because I think you get the picture. Warren habitually fails to handle scripture as a teacher of the Word should. The Bible needs to be taught faithfully by every pastor and teacher. Yet time after time Warren tortures texts and forces them to convey a meaning rather than “rightly dividing the word of truth” as 2 Timothy 2:15 commands. So please, please — every time to read something by Warren (actually, by anyone!) or listen to him speak it is imperative that you see if the Bible says what he is saying it says.
- Rick Warren Week at Steak and a Bible (steakandabible.com)
- Rick Warren Proves His Theological Ignorance, Yet Again (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Rick Warren Is A Miserable Exegete Who Twists Scripture (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Rick Warren (standupforthetruth.com)