John Piper and Rick Warren at Ralph Winter's FuneralCollin Hansen’s article in Christianity Today points out that pastor John Piper’s invitation may reveal a larger split within the Evangelical community, and a backlash against Saddleback pastor Rick Warren:

“You see, a lot of folks who like John don’t like Rick. So now some of John’s friends aren’t sure they want to hang out with him anymore. They may not come to his party in Minneapolis. And they aren’t sure that you should either.”

But what specifically is Piper aiming to do? He tells us in the following four minutes of video. Although Piper’s gesture is offered with open palms, it’s also an attempt to get Rick Warren to “lay his cards on the table” and “tell us what makes him tick.” And, Piper also posits that, despite widespread opinion, Warren’s not just a pragmatic preacher who focuses solely on results:

“I do think he’s deeply theological. He’s a brilliant man. … I like him, and I’m frustrated by some of his stuff.”

John Piper and Rick Warren talk at Ralph Winter’s funeral. (photo: Hudson Tsuei/Christian Post)

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Strange, arrogant...does this kind of discourse bring about unity in Christ or further division?

"Anyone who's willing to sing when he sings badly...I like him."

Doesn't a comment like this say a lot--and isn't this precisely what Piper is "calling" Warren on? Warren "sings" a tune that, in Piper's observation, isn't theologically rooted. But of course it's rooted in whatever internal theological discourse that Warren (or any of us) has going on.

In any event, Warren is smart (if the goal is to be successful, and by successful I mean getting a lot of people to show up, or selling a lot of books). I'm unconvinced that any of it is transformative. And statistics are showing that ALL of this is shuffling deck chairs on the one is really listening, and it's all becoming less relevant than ever before to a broad populace that is so tired of it all.

No one wants to spend any time hunting for authenticity. "Lay your cards on the table" indeed!

As a born and bred Baptist preacher's kid who has been a church pilgrim ever since leaving home 50 years ago, this is the kind of stuff that drives kids away from their evangelical roots -- this need to pigeonhole people, to approve or disapprove, to sort the sheep from the goats. I do not reject my evangelical roots; there is so much that is good and productive there. But it is so liberating to just let the Almighty do the sorting out of hearts. The church of Jesus Christ pops up, after all, in all kinds of unchurchy places, unruly vine that it is...