The Psychology of Rick Warren

In my Previous posts on Rick Warren’s appearance on Nightline I quoted the following:

Warren said that there is a danger in merging Christianity with psychology.

“Absolutely, there’s a danger,” he said. “Because what it does is feed this self-centeredness … I say, it’s not about you. It’s all about God.

OK, it sounds like he is opposed to the merging of psychological philosophy with the church.


Oh, but wait… then there’s this. An article from written by Warren entitled Six Physical Factors that Affect Your Worship Service is all about psychology. He advocates manipulating environmental factors to help grow the church!

Here are some selected quotes from the article with commentary.

Facilities and physical environment have a lot to do with what happens in a weekend worship service. The shape of your building will shape your service. Walk into some buildings and your mood will instantly brighten. Walk into other buildings and you’ll feel depressed. The shape of a room can change a mood instantly; so can the temperature of room; so can the lighting in a room. Be aware of these factors and use them. Figure out what mood you want your service to project and then create it.

My comment: So… if facilities and environment have a lot to do with what happens in a service then does that mean the preaching of the word and the work of the Holy Spirit have little to do with what happens in a service? In PDL churches this may indeed be accurate. Warren also appears to be suggesting that mood is a determining factor in the worship of God. Salvation, too, I suppose, depends on the mood of the seekers attending the service. ‘A happy seeker is a saved seeker’. Watch, this will soon become another one of Pastor Warren’s cute little aphorisms. Notice his advice to ‘Figure out what mood you want your service to project and then create it’. If this doesn’t constitute mixing psychology and Christianity, I’m not sure what does.

Lighting has a profound effect on people’s moods. Inadequate lighting dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker’s face reduce the impact of any message.

… Here’s an experiment: This week secretly replace all the light bulbs in your worship center with twice the watts, then notice the change in mood in next Sunday’s service. You may have revival!

My comment: Where to begin… I guess lighting has replaced prayer and preaching as the prevailing power of influence in a service now. The Holy Spirit’s ministry can be hampered by shadows on a speaker’s face? I knew the forces of darkness were powerful but who would of thunk…

Surely Pastor Warren is jesting when he says proper lighting can spark a revival. Somehow though, I don’t think he is. He must of graduated from the Charles Finney School of Evangelism. Again, the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation is stripped away and given over to mere human means. Revival is a sovereign act of a Holy God, not the environmental manipulation of church facilities to evoke artificial emotional responses. This is blasphemy!

When my friend, Larry Dewitt was called to pastor a church in Southern California he found a small, clap-board church building in a high-tech suburban area. Larry recognized that the age and style of the building was a barrier to reaching that community. He told the church leaders he’d accept the pastorate if they’d move out of the building and start holding services in a Hungry Tiger restaurant. The members agreed.

Today, after moving to different facilities, that church has grown to several thousand in attendance. It would have never grown that large if they’d stayed in their original building. The shoe must never tell the foot how big it can get.

My comment: The sin nature of man is the great barrier to salvation and what ever excuse the deceitful heart uses to pardon its corrupt behavior. Never, in all my discussions with unbelievers have I had one tell me he turned away from the faith or even a particular church because of the facilities. No, not one!

The Holy Spirit is the lone agent of conversion through the faithful preaching of God’s word. Warren throws the Holy Spirit out of the equation once again, claiming the church would not have grown without the proper facilities! I am mortified. Lord, forgive him, for he knows not what he is saying!

Bigness is the singular obsession of the PDL/Church Growth movement, staying true to the American motto, ‘Bigger is Better.’ Unfortunately size comes at the expense of gospel preaching, true discipleship, theological training and holiness toward our Sovereign God. There are no longer any requirements to become a Christian other than casually chanting a canned prayer in mere intellectual assent to certain biblical truths. As a result, God’s house is being trampled beneath a herd of unwashed swine tracking through the sanctuary. I guess this is good in the eyes of PDL Pastors who thumb their noses at an all-powerful sovereign God, who cast his Holy Spirit out 0f PDL churches in favor of psychologically manipulative techniques.

Like Pastor Warren always says, “It’s not about God. It’s about you.” *

Wait a minute, I got that backwards…

Or did I?

* The actual quote is “It’s not about you. It’s all about God.” Lest I be accused of false misrepresentation.


7 thoughts on “The Psychology of Rick Warren

  1. you know – your both right. the Holy
    Spirit can use lighting or atmosphere or not when He’s moving in people’s hearts and minds. with God, more often than not, there’s not one way that’s the only way to reach people. when something works in a particular situation why not share? we can all use others wisdom when it comes to furthering God’s love.

  2. Chill24,
    From your comment, I suspect you are both a synergist and a pragmatist. If so, your perspective is understandable.

    You sound synergistic when you say the Holy Spirit makes use of human means not prescribed in the scriptures to affect people’s hearts and minds. Man’s methods in combination with the Spirit’s work do not produce converts. The truth is the Holy Spirit renews our hearts by a sovereign act of God in spite of our best-intentioned efforts – provided we preach the whole gospel. ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’. (Rom 10:17) I don’t see any reference to psychological manipulation anywhere in the bible.

    You sound pragmatic when you say ‘when something works in a particular situation why not share?’ ‘Whatever works’ is the mantra of Megachurches everywhere. Honestly, salvation from our sins is not manufactured by replicating the environmental factors from a place where the Spirit has done a great work (or supposedly so) to other locations. God’s sovereignty in salvation through faithful gospel preaching is the foolish method He has ordained to bring many sons to glory. We need to trust in God to bring the increase over the seeds we have planted and watered.

    Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
    (Joh 3:7-8)

  3. Im an ex-evangelical Christian and hope you accept this thought in the spirit of free discussion. I think one must ask why Saddleback and other churches are so well attended. Here is my contention. Unlike Catholic churches where you are expected to go to the church in your parish, evangelicals, not bound by geography or even specific denominational affiliation, can choose to go wherever they want. Thus, it seems only natural that people will go to a church that tells they what they want to hear. Sadly, rather than hash out issues or differences (or even economics-like how much do we spend on lighting and A/C) evangelicals simply find another church that ostensibly ‘preaches from the word of God’, but realistically tells you what you want to hear.

  4. Two new studies show why some people are more attractive for members of the opposite sex than others.

    The University of Florida, Florida State University found that physically attractive people almost instantly attract the attention of the interlocutor, sobesednitsy with them, literally, it is difficult to make eye. This conclusion was reached by a series of psychological experiments, which were determined by the people who believe in sending the first seconds after the acquaintance. Here, a curious feature: single, unmarried experimental preferred to look at the guys, beauty opposite sex, and family, people most often by representatives of their sex.

    The authors believe that this feature developed a behavior as a result of the evolution: a man trying to find a decent pair to acquire offspring. If this is resolved, he wondered potential rivals. Detailed information about this magazine will be published Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    In turn, a joint study of the Rockefeller University, Rockefeller University and Duke University, Duke University in North Carolina revealed that women are perceived differently by men smell. During experiments studied the perception of women one of the ingredients of male pheromone-androstenona smell, which is contained in urine or sweat.

    The results were startling: women are part of this repugnant odor, and the other part is very attractive, resembling the smell of vanilla, and the third group have not felt any smell. The authors argue that the reason is that the differences in the receptor responsible for the olfactory system, from different people are different.

    It has long been proven that mammals (including human) odor is one way of attracting the attention of representatives of the opposite sex. A detailed article about the journal Nature will publish.

  5. The merging of Christianity with psychology is no surprise, especially coming from Rick Warren. All he is doing is following the example of Robert Schuller, who set the example for him.

    Schullerism is just psyhology baptized with theology. As John MacArthur said when he was teaching one of my classes, he’d be better off leaving out the theology and just teaching psychology.

    Rick Warren is just better at selling the heresy of Schullerism.

  6. Hello Tim,
    Warren is a master salesman. He takes the marvelous, priceless product of the gospel, hollows out the valuable portions, inserts psychology as filler, puts a price tag on it and sells millions of copies to an unsuspecting public.
    He is intelligent and savvy – but also blind and dull of hearing.

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