Friday, March 02, 2012

Rick Warren the Anabaptist, on Twitter

Some time ago, Rick Warren tweeted the following:

I replied with the following tweets, following which it seems Rick Warren decided to block me from following him.

The Schleitheim Confession was the confession of faith of Anabaptists connected with Michael Slatter. As with many Anabaptists and their related documents, it is thoroughly moralistic in tone.

While Anabaptism is varied and diverse such that one should speak of AnabaptismS, yet a common motif is one of moralistic change. As opposed to the Magisterial Reformation, Anabaptists focus greatly on visible reform of practice and morals. Doctrine generally takes second place to that of moral reform, with the idea of "separation" from the world running amok in the Hutterites establishing communes distinct from the "evil secular" world around them. That is why I do not like the nomenclature of the Anabaptists as being part of the "Radical Reformation." It is radical alright, radical Medieval spiritualist revival that is.

The Schleitheim Confession is one such moralistic document. Looking at it one understands why Rick Warren loves it, because both of them are basically Semi-Pelagian legalists in orientation. Rick Warren, unless the Spirit works repentance in his heart, does not treasure sound doctrine. Rather, everything is all about having an immediate (i.e. without mediation) encounter with Jesus through "spiritual disciplines" and "40 Days of _____ (Purpose, Community, Vision etc)."

Those who wonder why Warren loves the Medieval mystics should not be surprised. In fact, I would be surprised if he does not identify with his spiritual forebears. Warren as a practical Semi-Pelagian share the same soteriology as the Medieval mystics. As the Reformation rejected the Medieval mystics (together with the trappings of Roman piety) and the Anabaptists, so also those of us who truly follow Christ according to the dictates of His Word should likewise reject Rick Warren.


Matt Stone said...

We believe faith is transformational, and that faith that effects no transformation is dead. We simply affirm with Paul "Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake." (Romans 1:5)


PuritanReformed said...


precisely the problem. You confuse faith with the effects of faith.

And Rom. 1:5 simple says "the obedience of faith." Whatever version you are using, it is interpreting the text in a way that I do not think is correct. I happen to think that the genitival phrase in Rom. 1:5 is primarily speaking of the obedience which is faith, not the obedience that comes from faith.

Matt Stone said...

I disagree, I are well aware of the difference between faith and the effects of faith. But distinction need not imply disconnection.

The tail does not wag apart from the dog. I am not suggesting we are saved by anything other than grace alone through faith alone and would assert there is no argument between the Anabaptist and Reformed traditions on this most important point. Ethics has no eternal life in itself.

However, where we may very well differ is on this point: we affirm any ethic worthy of being called Christian will be centred in Christ alone. The ethical tail, if it is to have life, needs to be connected to the dog. If ethics is severed from christology and soteriology the ethics withers.

Furthermore, and this is where I suspect we differ further: the tail indicates the health of the dog. Salvation that has no room for talk of transformation suggests the path of cheap grace, which is surely a less glorious gospel. Where we place our trust in shapes our behaviour. To the extent our behaviour is shaped by the world we must question how deep our faith is and if we are in any way conflicted in our faith. I therefore would encouraged my Reformed brothers to look at the connection between soteriology and ethics, between worshipping Jesus and following Jesus more seriously, lest by our poor behaviour the gospel be robbed of power.

PuritanReformed said...


you believe that ethics apart from faith will wither. I think that one can be ethical without faith. One does not need to look far into the various philosphers and founders of religions to see that.

It is true that faith will results in works. But works does not necessarily mean that one has faith. A person without works certainly should have his salvation doubted, but a person with works can be either saved or not saved.

Lastly, the whole issue has nothing to do with the Anabaptists, who are mostly semi-Pelagian medievalists.