Rick Warren will speak at the Desiring God national conference – connected to Pastor John Piper – Friday amid some criticism of his theology.
Some supporters of the Desiring God ministry had complained that Warren relies more on pragmatism than biblical doctrine – in other words, that he relies more on methods than on God to achieve results.
But Piper defended his decision to invite Warren to the annual conference. In a video, Piper listed Warren's shared beliefs, including that the Bible is totally inerrant, God is sovereign over everything and that people who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their savior will go to hell.
Warren also memorizes scripture every week, plants a church every year, rejects the prosperity gospel, and believes the only way to change the world is to change people's hearts through Jesus.
"I'm going to need help to know why you feel bad about this decision," said Piper in a video addressing people's concerns about his invitation to Warren.
He stated that Warren is on the same page with the central tenets of the faith.
"I'm not going to push somebody like that away when he has so much to offer," stated Piper.
Piper also complimented Warren for how he leads Saddleback Church in Southern California.
"I think here he just puts me to shame with his aggressively, in-your-life, transformative discipling of his church," Piper said.
"They have membership covenants and it's really rigorous," he noted, pointing out that there is no such thing as an inactive membership at Saddleback Church.
The Minnesota pastor is still on his eight-month leave of absence and this conference is one of the few speaking engagements he has scheduled. In May, he took his first leave of absence from ministry and his church, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, to examine his soul and focus on his family. He said his break was prompted by "ongoing character flaws" – including pride – and the stresses they have caused to others.
Rick Warren will be the conference's first plenary speaker, delivering a message titled, "Thinking Purposefully for the Glory of Christ: Developing the Mind of Christ," Friday evening. Afterwards, Warren and Piper will hold a discussion on theology.
This year, the Desiring God conference's theme is: "Think: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God."
Other speakers at the event include: R.C. Sproul, Tullian Tchividijian, Albert Mohler, Jr., J.D. Greear, Francis Chan, and Piper.