The Kuyper Calvinism of Rick Warren

Rick WarrenThe Calvinism of Rick Warren

by Brenda Nickel Friday, 25 November 2011 –

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California often finds himself at the center of controversy for joining hands with those of questionable doctrine and practice. One of the more surprising partnerships in recent years is his attachment to Calvinism and not just any Calvinism but what he cleverly calls “Kuyper Calvinism.” His switch to Calvinism has made for some interesting bedfellows as people on both sides of the issue are now related to one another and trying to manage their new found “cousins” in their family.


Albert Mohler


Rick Warren’s shift to Calvinism was officially announced in 2007 when he was accepted into the membership of Together for the Gospel (T4G), a Calvinist organization that began with conservative Calvinists Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Al Mohler and C. J. Mahaney for the purpose of promoting Calvinism’s core “Doctrines of Grace” (aka TULIP). Warren released a statement explaining his association with T4G shortly after his acceptance saying, “I know this is going to be difficult for many to accept, but in the famous words of Martin Luther ‘My conscience is captive to the word of God!’ I look forward to building relationships with those with whom I have disagreed for so long. I am excited to now be a part of the Together for the Gospel team.” While this was Rick Warren’s “coming out” event, it’s not his first mention of Calvinism. He’s apparently held to the sovereign predestining purposes of God for some time.

 width=In a 2004 interview with Modern Reformation (read here), Rick Warren admitted not only to being a Calvinist but also confessed to incorporating Calvinistic ideas into his Purpose Driven Life book. He cites chapter two as proof which begins with a telling quote by Albert Einstein; “God doesn’t play dice,” meaning God is completely sovereign and doesn’t gamble with random events in the universe. Rick Warren then tells his “Purpose Driven” reader that God “thought of you first,” “prescribed every single detail of your body,” “left no detail to chance,” “planned it all for his purpose,” and “Nothing in your life is arbitrary.” He follows up with, “This is a truth to build your life on,” and “If there was no God, we would all be ‘accidents,’ the result of astronomical random chance in the universe.” Such statements could easily be spoken by traditional Calvinists, even though Calvinists repeatedly claim their sole focus is on the “glories of God.” Once the reader’s feelings of God’s love are heightened, and they are filled with notions of God predestining them individually, their pride is easily puffed up with a grandiose sense of purpose. Thus Calvinism is the perfect vehicle for taking people captive to Warren’s Purpose Driven agenda which is mislabeled God’s plan for your life.


Rick Warren also calls himself a “monergist,” the Calvinist term crediting God alone for expending the energy for bringing about the salvation (start to finish) of those He’s preselected to save. Warren says, “Theologically, I am a monergist and firmly hold to the five solas of the Reformation. It’s pretty obvious from the book that I believe in foreknowledge, predestination,….and, especially, concurrence-that God works in and through every detail of our lives, even our sinful choices, to cause his purposes to prevail” (read here). Monergists defend an exaggerated view of God’s sovereignty and accuse anyone who claims to believe in the gospel from their heart of “working” for their salvation. God alone must be worshiped as sovereign and man can have no sovereignty in himself. Therefore, God is credited with predetermining everything that happens in history. If Warren really believed in monergism as he says he does, there would be no point in him writing books to help others discover their God-given “purpose,” or in organizing his worldwide P.E.A.C.E plan (read here) because God would sovereignly bring His purposes about. However Warren can baptize his plans under the sovereign will of God where others won’t question his motives. Biblically speaking, Jesus Christ announced His plan for believers in the moments before His ascension into heaven where He is presently seated at the right hand of the Father. In this Great Commission He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Mt 28:19-20a).

Kuyper Calvinist

Rather than going into the world to make disciples of all nations, Rick Warren can easily use Calvinism to further expand his P.E.A.C.E agenda where the church resolves the global ills that are facing humanity to bring about the kingdom of God. Labeling himself a Kuyper Calvinist should raise the concerns of those familiar with hyper-Calvinist Abraham Kuyper. He was a renowned statesman, prime minister of the Netherlands, journalist and fundamental Calvinist living at the turn of the 20th century. He is considered the father of Neo-Calvinism which strengthens Calvinism by blending it with politics. His theory of common grace for enabling the moral living of society morphed into his seven sphere theology (read here) now memorialized at Princeton University’s Center for Public Theology (find here). Ask yourself what is meant by public theology and why this is a topic of study if there’s a separation between church and state? Then ask yourself why the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) has modified Kuyper’s seven sphere theology into their seven mountains strategy for taking dominion over society. Both Neo-Calvinism and Dominionism believe the church has a “cultural mandate” to take dominion over the spheres of human life and bring them under the authority and Lordship of Christ. When one realizes that Rick Warren has ties to Dominionism, the label Kuyper Calvinist certainly applies.

Dominionist Ties


C. Peter Wagner


Chuck Pierce

Like many Kuyperians, Rick Warren has connections to both Calvinists and Dominionists. Theologians such as Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til and Rousas Rushdoony have all followed this same mixture of Calvinism and Dominionism which promotes Christian Nationalism (the Christian founding of America rather than religious freedom of America) and Christian Reconstructionism (reconstructing society under the authority of God). The goal is coalescing church and state under Old Testament Law as dominion over society is taken for God.

Rick Warren established his association with the Dominionist camp by writing the foreword to Dr. LaVerne Adams book, “Driven By Destiny” released 10-10-10, the same day Warren launched his Decade of Destiny plan. Dr. LaVerne Adams has pastored the Cathedral of Praise Community Church since 1997 and has close ties to Chuck Pierce. Pierce is considered the heir apparent to dominionist C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation and International Coalition of Apostles empire. Wagner has ingeniously organized and internationalized the independent Charismatic churches into a globalized authority structure (read here).


John Piper and Rick Warren

John Piper

The Calvinist community was completely baffled by John Piper’s invitation of Rick Warren as the keynote speaker for his 2010 Desiring God National Conference. He and Warren became fast friends over a common interest in Jonathan Edwards (more here). Unparalleled in popularity, John Piper’s endorsement of Rick Warren is profoundly significant as he introduces the church to a change agent of epic proportions. Calvinism has historically rejected all forms of Purpose-Driven teachings as a pragmatic (the ends justify the means) anathema to its sovereign predestining purposes of God.

John Piper is not that dissimilar to Rick Warren as he’s made unexpected moves in recent years reaching out to unlikely theologians to speak at his conferences. Christians need to beware of men who not only teach false doctrines, but give platforms to those who teach falsely as well.


Rick Warren and Islam

Other Affiliations

Rick Warren is purportedly a signatory for the landmark 2007 document called, “A Common Word” that promotes unity between Christians and Muslims and which has recently been back in the news as author Prince Ghazi reaffirmed it in the presence of the Pope in Amman, Jordan. This is not his first overture toward the Islamic faith. When giving the Inaugural Prayer for President Barack Obama in January of 2009, he closed his prayer in the name of Isa, the Muslim conception of Jesus who is not the Son of God, for Islam says that Allah has no son. Instead, Islam says Jesus was a Muslim prophet who never died on the cross, but ascended to heaven and will return at the end times to help the 12th Mahdi defeat the Antichrist before establishing 40 year peaceful rule under the authority of Islam after which he will die. Obviously the Muslim Jesus is not the


Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus of the Bible.

Rick Warren has also given his Purpose Driven church award to Catholic Churches in the past. Through the publishing and massive success of his “Purpose Driven Life” books, Warren has ties with Rupert Murdock, who received the highest Catholic honor of knighthood from the Pope. Interestingly, the Catholic Church recently changed the liturgy wording in their Mass (found here) from his blood shed “for you and for all” to his blood “poured out for you and for many.” Calvinists have long claimed that Jesus didn’t die for “all” men, but for the “many” which to them means the elect. Add to this the controversial Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul philosophies which are moving Calvinists step by step closer to Rome. Rick Warren has also sought advice from prosperity evangelist David Yonggi Cho.



Mark Driscoll

Calvinism is a powerful deception that maintains loyalties to its leaders even when they join hands with the likes of Rick Warren. Shouldn’t we re-evaluate the theologies of men such as John Piper whose conscience allows him to give a platform to men such as Rick Warren and Mark


John MacArthur

Driscoll to speak error into the lives of the unsuspecting? What is in the theology of Calvinism that allows for this coupling? When anomalies such as these occur, we should watch for the ties that bind. Both John Piper (watch here) and Mark Driscoll (watch and read) are considered to be charismatic Calvinists, who along with Warren all reject the pre-tribulational rapture and the pre-millennial return of Christ. Correct eschatology keeps our focus on Jesus and His soon return while incorrect eschatology reveals much about a person’s theology. This puts the untouchable and unquestioned “Evangelical Pope” John MacArthur a bit on the sidelines as these new relationships are forged, though in the past he’s had much in common with John Piper, less with Mark Driscoll and none with Rick Warren. What isn’t readily apparent is how Calvinism provides an intellectual sense of legitimacy to the experienced-based practices of charismatic and emergent spiritualties.

Satan uses men and their philosophies to take Christians captive to unbiblical ideas so that while the scripture is used and preached, it is expounded upon to embed a message that will serve Satan and his agenda rather than serving God and His Great Commission. Men like Rick Warren gain trust and entrance into various sectors of Christianity by establishing common ground with unwary Christians. This relaxes and drops the guard of those befriended, who rest rather than watch to see if his actions meet his words. Reversing his stand for solid biblical principles has earned him the title of chameleon by some (read here). He is a diaprax (neutralizing of absolutes) and dialectic (synthesizing through dialogue) all his own as he blends opposites through his affiliations, stances and actions. The end result is that people are moved away from biblical truth toward a universal brotherhood of man where doctrinal differences are dismissed.

All Christians need to take a hard look at the teachings and movements promoted by various leaders so they will not unwittingly participate in the schemes of Satan who is moving mankind toward a unified world religion and government. Calvinism and Dominionism work hand in hand to bring this “new reformation” about. The notion that the world can be made a better place through the devices of men ignores the teachings of scripture that says only Jesus Christ is able to weed stumbling blocks out of His kingdom and to rule in righteousness and justice. His ambassadors will be the perfect leadership that mankind longs for today. Only then will religion and government be perfectly unified and executed under the lovingly sovereign and benevolent King and God, the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


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9 Responses

  1. Lydia Nel says:

    Thank you for keeping our minds set upon the Word of God. It is quite unbelievable how easily one can drift off track by listening to the words of men and not make the Word of God the matrix of this life to be able to build upon the only true Foundation, Jesus Christ. Actually, He has made is so simple and easy ~ read the Bible yourself and do not eat second hand. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to reveal that which is often veiled and vague!! Kind regards!

  2. Thanks Lydia

    Right now in the ‘discernment world and end times ministries’ men have risen who appear to be kosher but I am slowly but surely finding out that they are not. They have been very good at hiding their ‘secret identities’ by preaching the truth on a certain subject like emergent Christianity but at the same time having contact with unsound preachers and taking the stage with them. The problem is the ‘wolf’ seems to be appearing more like the ‘sheep’ than every before, in other words it’s becoming very difficult to spot the baddie – UNLESS you start adhering to ALL of the Word of God. The last couple of days for me has been a tough one, because I have been deceived by these men… granted I didn’t fixate myself on them like other people do with other preachers, but I did look up to them… and now…now I am angry. But a righteous anger for I sit here contemplating how I am going to write about these 2 men and possibly others. I know that the backlash I will receive will be tremendous because these men are so dearly loved – but someones gotta do it and stand up for what is right and true.

  3. Deborah, Thanks for posting that article. I have no arguments whatsoever! Well said!

    I would add one thing. If we think about the Mother of Harlots of Revelation 17, it would be wise to define just what is a daughter?

    Jesus is the only “begotten” son of God, which means that He is the only natural son of God, who is God by nature. In other words a son is like his father. He is made of the same “stuff” as his father. In the same sense a daughter is made of the same “stuff” as her mother. My wife is a woman, just like her mother. A daughter is a woman who comes out of a woman.

    So, if the mother in question is a church, we should expect her daughters will also be churches. If the Roman Catholic church is the “Mother of Harlots”, we should expect the churches who came out of her to have some of her characteristics as well. They are her daughters.

    Do you remember how when Rachel and Leah left their father’s household, they took some of his idols with them? (Gen. 31:19) In the same sense, the daughters of the Harlot have stolen away with things that did not belong to them.

    Every doctrine of Rome is suspect. Calvinism comes from Augustine, the Arch-heretic, founder of Roman Catholicism.

    It is pretty easy to find Romish errors in Lutheran, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches, but you can find Rome’s errors in Baptist and Plymouth Brethren churches as well.

    To the extent that any church preaches the truth, we ought to check out the scriptures ourselves, and if it matches a consistent literal biblical interpretation, then by all means hang on to it. On the other hand, if “Christian traditions” are not found in scripture we ought to look at them with suspicion. If they didn’t come from the Word of God, someone else slipped them in and has a motive for doing so. I don’t trust those motives and neither should you.

    Someone once said “eat the meat and spit out the bones”. I tend to agree. There is no perfect church on this planet. They are all made of sinners just like you and me. Hang on to the truth and reject the errors. Above all hang on to Jesus, He is the only one who can save you. Be attuned to the Holy Spirit, and leave when He directs you.

    II Timothy 2:15
    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Yeah, some of the things taught by Christian churches will one day cause us to be ashamed.

  4. Steve240 says:

    Have you heard what Mahaney has admitted doing and that he has stepped down as leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries? It looks like at best Mahaney is an exampe of do as I say vs. how he does.

    The worst thing is how Mahaney blackmailed the cofounder of their group Larry Tomczak and that Mahaney hid this sin for 13 years.

    A few blogs to look at are:

    Hope this helps.

  5. Bill Toebes says:

    The road to truth cannot be forecast by anyone our biggest problem is we have no confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to change direction in someone life.I moved through the rigmarole of being an ardent Calvinist. Brought up in the an Evangelical Dutch Reformed Church.became a pastor in the CRC was filled with the Spirit and God changed the direction of my life experiencing the left boot of fellowship.Life is a growth process.Led of the Spirit walking in the Spirit I am thankful for the church which gave birth to my pursuit of God finding instead being pursued by God.I am forever grateful for being taught the catechism.The word of the first question always on my lips and in my heart’ WHAT IS YOUR ONLY COMFORT IN LIFE AND DEATH the answer.THAT I IN LIFE AND DEATH BELONG UNTO MY FAITHFUL SAVIOR WHO WITH HIS BLOOD HAS PURCHASED ME.

  6. Bill Toebes says:

    One last thought.I read much of Abraham Kuyper’s thought.He was Christian through and through.He loved Jesus and fought for the church in his political and spiritual life.He that is without sin let him cast the first stone.Anyone???? Read what he says then form an opinion.Not abaseless condemnation of Kuyper and all the Puritan’s with them and my friend Okke Jager,Jack van duinen. Because most of the gospel I love I learned from Calvinist preacher.Great lover of God without a doubt.Abraham Kuyper was christian statesman.Understand the times then understand everyone has to walk in the light they not what they don’t have.

  7. Dave Sharp says:

    Isn’t it enough already that this guy is the poster boy for church growth at the expense of any real concrete faith and grace for the seeker sensitive bored on a Sunday joiner? It is not even news what this man would swallow and regurgitate on the floor of his church when he does not really understand in his own mind what faith he truly believes. He bounces from frying pan into the fire and not a wit of difference does it make, since he his departure from his former beliefs leave him no further from his starting point to where he is now. I’ll be surprised if he has a congregation in a few years embracing a more disciplined belief displacing that the new age crap he embraced earlier or finding some new way to homogenize them both.

  8. Anonymous says:

    IMHO: In the case of Calvinists, it has nothing at all to do with doctrine and everything to do with their desire to grab their piece of the “Christian” pie. If Calvinism dies on the vine, that would produce empirical evidence that God is not promoting them, and all of their Pharisaical claims would be worthless. In order to keep this from happening they must utilize every Rick Warren, Annas, Caiaphas and Pontius-pilate available. Yes they have an image to protect and polish (i.e. John Calvin). But increasing the power-base is the top priority.

    For all who are “of the earth earthy” the mode of operation will always be “end justifies the means”.
    When Goliath shows up, you simply baptize him, use him to slaughter your enemy and then claim God’s sovereignty was on your side.

  9. Redeemed says:

    Anonymous wrote:

    IMHO: In the case of Calvinists, it has nothing at all to do with doctrine and everything to do with their desire to grab their piece of the “Christian” pie. If Calvinism dies on the vine, that would produce empirical evidence that God is not promoting them, and all of their Pharisaical claims would be worthless. In order to keep this from happening they must utilize every Rick Warren, Annas, Caiaphas and Pontius-pilate available. Yes they have an image to protect and polish (i.e. John Calvin). But increasing the power-base is the top priority.
    For all who are “of the earth earthy” the mode of operation will always be “end justifies the means”.
    When Goliath shows up, you simply baptize him, use him to slaughter your enemy and then claim God’s sovereignty was on your side.

    Well said Anon. Warren has no boundaries, but is all encompassing but at the same time he claims to embrace fundamental Christian beliefs. He is a true chameleon.

    One’s heart has to go out to Warren and his family with the recent tragedy of the suicidal death of his young son. But one has to wonder how the Calvinists handle situations like this. Would they not say that their sovereign “god” ordained it? That the young man was destined to take his own life? I suppose they will dance around and find some sort of convoluted answer. But the truth is that they teach a lie and distort the true God of the Bible.

    I would disagree with you on one point. I do believe that the convictions to their TULIP that Calvinists adhere mostly comes from a deluded mindset and is quite sincere apart from monetary gain or power. That may be true in some cases, but as with any false belief, it is driven mostly by an sincere and blind conviction from a false spirit.

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