Warren apologist Richard Abanes has decided to respond to the charges made against him recently in one of my very recent posts. I would like to welcome Richard first of all to my blog, and it is my hope that this response and possible correspondence would not go the way of previous interactions with Abanes (like here, here, here and here), though Abanes would probably try to make it that way. Hopefully, my use of presuppositional apologetics against Abanes would work, though I somehow doubt so.
The first issue to respond to is with regards to Abanes' defence of Rick Warren. I think it would be evident to all that most of Abanes' defence of Warren is almost devoid of doctrine, and he does so by stating that Rick Warren did profess to believe such-and-such a doctrine. Whether be it the fundamentals of the faith, salvation by faith alone, the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, or any other doctrine for that matter. Abanes is an 'expert' in finding quotes by Warren that somehow supports his thesis that Warren does believe in cardinal Christian doctrines.
Now, it must of course be admitted that Rick Warren professes those doctrines, for I am sure Abanes did not fabricate those quotes. However, profession ≠ confession. Rick Warren most definitely professes the faith, the question is does he confesses the faith. For surely mere profession counts but little. Even the Liberals profess the faith, especially before the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy of the early 20th century. After all, the Confessional Standard of the apostate PCUSA remains the Westminster Confession of Faith. Similarly, the confessional standard of the Epicospal Church USA remains the 39 Articles of the Church of England. And the ordination rite still demands that the person to be ordained must profess that they abide by the confessional standards of that particular apostate denomination. Therefore, it can be seen that mere profession counts but little. Anyway, isn't it written that 'Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven' (Mt. 7:21)? Even our Lord does not esteem a mere profession of the faith, so why should we?
This then is the main problem with Abanes' apologetic for Rick Warren. So what if he can produce all manner of documentation that Warren professes [put in whatever doctrine you desire]? Abanes somehow think that stating and showing that Warren professes the faith somehow means that therefore he is orthodox. No, what it shows is that he claims to be orthodox. Whether he is truly orthodox is not by what he says he believes, but 'by his fruits/works' (Mt. 7:16). And this of course is non-disputable. For example, how much spin can you place on such a denial of the faith like what Warren did at the WEF at Davos? I certainly didn't see Abanes trying to defend Warren here (Perhaps I'm wrong; so please show me). When Warren accepts Roman Catholics as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, isn't that a practical denial of the centrality of the doctrine of Justification by faith alone (which Rome still condemns as heresy today by the way)? So what is the use of documentation being shown that Warren claims he believes in the doctrine of Justifcation by faith alone and perhaps even preaches it, when he most certainly did not truly show that he does in fact believe it? After all, if a person claims to believe that Jesus is His Savior, yet continue to worship idols and does not desire to worship God, will you call his profession genuine?
Abanes therefore continues to fail in his task in defending Rick Warren, as I have mentioned before in my review of Abanes' book Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him (Not to mention that I have shredded his entire defence in my book Driven Away by Purpose exposing the PD apostasy). The fact of the matter is that it is no point pointing out what Rick Warren professes to believe, if he continues to deny them by his very actions, in the same way as there being no point trying to convince any true Christian that a person who claims to believe in Christ, but who persists in continuing to worship idols, should be considered a Christian.
The second issue of contention with Abanes is of course the label of being a 'Warren apologist', which I am absolutely convinced is correct. Look at all the interactions Abanes has engaged in which I have hyperlinked to in my first paragraph (there are more which I didn't bother to find) and you will see a recurring pattern. In all of these posts, Abanes defends Rick Warren, and not only that, he writes profusely in defence of Rick Warren. Judge for yourselves if any man ought to deserve such passion except for the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps Abanes should take stock of how many words in total has he written/typed in defence of Rick Warren as compared to Jesus Christ (ie the ratio). Not to mention of course that almost all such defences have the same style of "Warren believes such-and-such, therefore your accusation is wrong", which of course still focuses on what Warrren professes and that is a non-issue. After all, as I have written in my book also, Warren has a forked tongue. He does not so much deny doctrine as he engages in dialetics and changes the message to suit the audience, thus engaging in the very action condemned by Scripture in James 3:10-12. What Abanes needs to do is to show that Warren did not do such things (whatever the compromise is, which are mainly facts unfortunately and thus cannot be denied), rather than focus on what Warren states he believes in, which is plainly irrelevant in his case.
The mere fact that Abanes has written a book for one reason only (defending Rick Warren) clearly does not help him in his bid against being labeled as a Warren apologist. Between this and his tireless campaign to defend Rick Warren, how can this label not be appropriate?
In his attempted refutation of the charge as seen in his comment, Abanes wrote:
I suggest you familiarize yourself with my body of work, rather than simply making this kind of accusation, which is totally unfounded. My work and life have been devoted to defending truth, scripture, and Christian doctrines related to God, Christ, and salvation.
Recently I have been dealing quite a bit with Warren because what is happening around him is a perfect example of how NOT to do apologetics. This is an important issue - Warren is simply a side issue that has served as a catalyst to talk about "TRUTH" as well as the right and wrong way to defend the faith.
Now, of course, if we were to base Abanes' ministry merely on the books he writes and the entire timeline of his 'ministry', most certainly so. But this is most definitely not the way to approach the matter. Rather, we are to evaluate why is it that Abanes has spend so much time defending the indefensible against all types of people. As I have shown in my former post also, Abanes has been willing to attack all manners of people, churches and denominations who have warned others against Rick Warren, most of whom do so in a cordial manner (ie Pastor John MacArthur). Not to mention that his critique is almost always the same and equally useless.
With this done, I would like to interact with the remainder of Abanes' response.
I can only say that all I see is someone so blind that he cannot even see his own pride and arrogance.
RA: Well, Daniel, I would be most appreciative if you'd actually quote some of these things, rather than just making the accusation. I'll review any examples, and see if either: a) I somehow did indeed stray into arrogance/pride; or b) word something in a way that was taken not how I meant it (since I am sure that you know how difficult it sometimes can be to effectively communicate in this blog medium).
I will say, however, that your words are terrifically harsh and seem to be a judgment beyond your field of knowledge -- i.e., how can you read my heart? Interesting.
The stench of self-righteousness just radiates from him
RA: Really? An actual stench? And a digital stench at that. Incredible. :-) Might you care to explain how I'm displaying self righteousness? Is it self-righteous to present disagreements with pastors and others? Is anyone beyond criticism? That sounds a bit like idolatry to me -- and not on my part
First of all, I am not judging Abanes' heart, but his actions. It is a fact that Abanes is not open to correction at all, as seen in his various interactions on blogs. I doubt that I am the first to tell Abanes that profession counts little, but will he listen? Why is it that Abanes' modus operandi always remain the same, and he always uses the same fallacious logic in defending Warren? Not to mention that he refuses to be corrected by various pastors and in facts attacks them (read his attack on Pastor John MacArthur in a 2005 Challies.com interviews here, and Pastor Ken Silva here). If this is not pride and arrogance, what is?
With regards to whether anyone is beyond criticism, of course the answer is no, and THAT includes Rick Warren and Richard Abanes. There is nothing wrong with displaying diagreements with pastors, but what is the attitude in so doing? Is it to treat them with contempt, question their devotion to truth and so on, and most importantly, all the while NOT using Scripture in so doing? I disagree with for example John Piper regarding his theory on the Two Wills of God, but I most definitely did not state that John Piper knows nothing about the topic, or to disparage him or his ministry the way Abanes did of MacArthur. Since we are on this topic, perhaps it would be good to see Abanes' attitude towards the criticism of Warren by MacArthur et al.
And people who have made such false accusations need to be held accountable, especially the more influential critics of Warren such as John MacArthur, Todd Wilken, and Greg Koukl—three men whose ministries have done a great deal of good. But now their irresponsible accusations about Warren have really caused me to question their motives and their concerns for truth. (Source)
Is this the way to treat men of God, ministers of the Gospel? The only reason to attack someone like that is only if those people are false teachers (ie not true pastors), which I am convinced Rick Warren is. So is Abanes thinking that John MacArthur, Todd Wilken, and Steve Koukl are false teachers in order for him to treat them so contemptiously?
opposes Rick Warren will feel his wrath, regardless of who or what they are.
RA: I hardly see anything I have said as..... "wrath."
I'm sure those who are on the receiving end like those mentioned above would sure beg to disagree.
I just can't understand how such an individual can function really, so deluded
RA: And might you list ... say, three things about which I am deluded? That would be enlightening. Just curious here.
Just this once, I will accede to your request. 1) that Rick Warren's official teachings constitute his true belief, 2) that whatever Warren does has no bearing on what he claims to believe, 3) that anyone who criticizes Rick Warren hates him
I know that this may be giving publicity-hungry Abanes some spotlight,
RA: Ahhh...more accusation...personal attacks ... statements regarding my motivation of the heart. Interesting
Again, this has noting to do with your "motivation of the heart", but your actions. Just because I do not comment at various sites in which you have made a fool of yourself several times over does not mean I do not know of the fact that you have been defending Rick Warren all over the Christian blogosphere. Do you have a search engine software that somehow alerts you anytime any person anywhere comments negatively on Rick Warren?
... but it is severely hoped that he repents of his defence of heresy and circumlocution, and submits himself to the Word of God.
RA: First, I have nothing to repent of since I have NEVER defended heresy or circumlocution (nice big word, huh?) :-) . Second, I have been submitting myself to the Word of God for nearly 30 years now. If you can show otherwise by my doctrinal views and/or my lifestyle conduct -- please do so.
Please tell me you are lying. You have NEVER defended heresy? Oh, I forgot, you do not think Rick Warren teaches heresy ... silly me. And that is why you are blind, and worse for you now because you claim to be able to see. As Jesus Himself said, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains" (Jn. 9:40b).
As a side note, do you believe in what Rick Waren says, that "The future is not about secularism, but religious pluralism"?