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Strange Bedfellows Creeping Into Calvary Chapel

Commentary by Roger Oakland
Understand The Times International: Roger Oakland Ministries

For printer friendly version, please click here

I was reminded recently of a commentary I had written a number of years ago that reverberated around the world and throughout the Calvary Chapel movement. You can find it on our Understand The Times website.[1] A discussion about that article was posted at a website frequented by many Calvary pastors called Phoenix Preacher.[2] The purpose for posting this was to show that the credibility of my article was bogus as well as to pit Rick Warren’s apologetics bulldog Richard Abanes against Understand The Times and create a controversy.

Quoting from the Phoenix Preacher website, we read:

If you have attended a Calvary Chapel for any length of time, you may know Roger Oakland of "Understand the Time.” Roger's ministry is affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement. He states that he “has spoken at hundreds of churches and conferences by invitation of Calvary Chapel pastors worldwide.”

He considers "Understand The Times" to be a discernment ministry. He defends Calvary Chapel for pulling all of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life/Church materials from their distribution. His statement can be found here:

Oakland outlines four reasons that he believes CC has pulled Warren’s materials as:

1) Differences in beliefs on eschatology (Warren encourages focuses on establishing Kingdom of God now so that Jesus will return, Smith/CC focuses on the imminent return of Jesus)

2) Warren has endorsed the Emerging Church movement; Smith has been very outspoken against it.

3) Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism - CC movement has always been based on systematic teaching of Bible not experience-based Christianity - Warren has clearly indicated willingness to investigate and even align himself with leaders in these teachings.

4) Church Growth Philosophy - Smith does not promote church growth programs - and has stated on numerous occasions that the growth of CC is not by human effort or cleverly designed plans.


The Phoenix Preacher article then referred to Richard Abanes and a book he wrote defending Rick Warren and Purpose Driven Life. The PP article quoted Abanes who challenged me and UTT regarding the four points I had previously made:

" (1) Differences in beliefs on eschatology (Warren encourages focusing on establishing Kingdom of God now so that Jesus will return, Smith/CC focuses on the imminent return of Jesus), ***FACT: This statement is incorrect. Warren/Saddleback DOES NOT teach establishing God’s kingdom to bring in Christ’s return. Warren/Saddleback is pre-mill, pre-trib, standard Southern Baptist eschatology. Warren/Saddleback, however, DOES teach that it is the responsibility of Christians to better the world by loving others, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and clothing the naked—quite biblical, actually. 

(2) Warren has endorsed the Emerging Church movement, Smith has been very outspoken against it, ***FACT: Certain ASPECTS of the Emerging Church are supported by Warren, and also certain aspects of it are NOT supported by him. The above statement is simplistic to the point of being misleading and inaccurate. Warren does not support those aspects of the movement that are tending to stray from biblical soundness, but hopes that in time leaders in it will rise up and lead the movement in the right direction.

(3) Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism - CC movement has always been based on systematic teaching of bible not experience-based Christianity - Warren has clearly indicated willingness to investigate and even align himself with leaders in these teachings,
***FACT: Again, we have a declaration that is simplistic in the extreme, so much so that it is erroneous. It is not unbiblical to remain quiet before God and contemplate his greatness, as you might do if you are sitting on a beach and gazing upon the ocean, in awe of his creation, or perhaps just sitting quietly before him, not ASKING for anything, just waiting for his presence to fill you with his love, and EXPERIENCE his being near to your heart, touching your soul. That is not occult mysticism. (see my book for more info). Also, it is NOT unbiblical to teach topically, rather than systematically. Jesus himself taught topically.

4) Church Growth Philosophy - Smith does not promote church growth programs - and has stated on numerous occasions that the growth of CC is not by human effort or cleverly designed plans.***FACT: This is absurd. First, any outreach in the community, witnessing trip, or church event is done by way of our human talents (gifts that God gave us to us to use—love God with heart, soul, MIND, and strength). Second, the plans that Warren makes are designed on biblical principles, and he ALWAYS, as far as I have seen, credits ANY success and growth to GOD’S spirit working, and GOD’S blessings, not any human inequity. (again, see my book for what WARREN himself has said about this issue). I personally went on a Mexico mission trip with Calvary where we showed Raul Ries’s life story film in an open field to attract local residents. Was that “Human effort” or “cleverly designed plans”? I must say I doubt seriously if this person is ex-PDC by his/her answers.

Hunt has even shown a worse side. He actually met with Warren, together with me, and two other individuals. We had lunch for about an hour and he never ONCE asked Warren a single thing about doctrines, his teachings, or voiced ANY concerns to Warren. He simply talked about himself and his new book about Muslims and hoping that Warren could get it to the president.  It was at last year’s PDC conference, which Hunt very much enjoyed. He even prayed with me and others, asking God to BLESS Warren and continue to use him to reach so many souls for Christ.

His mind had completely changed and he had very few concerns. Then, under pressure, once he got back home, he changed his tune again and jumped back on the anti-Warren bandwagon, apparently to keep pleasing his board, supporters, and keep selling his resources. he also admitted to me that when he did his long series of anti-Warren radio shows with TA McMahon against “The Purpose Dirven Life” —He hadn’t even read Warren’s book! I bid you all peace. I have no interest in fighting with anyone or having long drawn out arguments. But I shall close by saying some of the WORST offenders at bearing false witness against Warren on these matters are: Deborah Dombrowski of Lighthouse Trails, Bob DeWaay, Southwest Radio Church, Richard Bennett, James Sundquist, Gary Gilley, Paul Proctor, and Dave Hunt.

Their pens, in my personal opinion, are filled with poisonous half-truths, misquotes, unsound reasoning, twisted words of Warren, and what I see as a lack of real Christian love or a desire for truth. It’s sad, really, very sad. Is Warren perfect? No. Does he make mistakes? Yes. Do I agree with everything he has said? No. Is he being used by God and bringing people to the Christ of the Bible for salvation? Yes, with all his imperfections, yes he is. The truth is out there. Don’t get caught up in unrighteous hate, jealousy, envy, and religious fanaticism done under the guise of “contending for the faith.”

R. Abanes[3]

The Abanes critique of my commentary is lengthy, but it is also important. If you may be wondering why I would dig up old bones buried 10 years ago along with the analysis of my article by Richard Abanes and Phoenix Preacher, there is a legitimate reason.  Of course, the Bible says to forgive, forget, and move on. God forbid if I am unrighteously hateful, jealous, full of envy, and a religious fanatic disguised as a “contender for the faith” as Abanes claimed.

The Old Testament prophets were relentless in their pursuit of the truth. They never shut up. When a leader went astray from Scripture, they continued to warn them and never let up. The word of the Lord went forth in fury as they chastised the false teachers. For example, here is what Jeremiah proclaimed under the anointing of the Holy Spirit:

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore, thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.[4]

Ten years have passed since I wrote the article commending Chuck Smith for removing The Purpose Driven Life from Calvary Distribution. Time and facts have a way of proving who is right and who is wrong. Warren has continued to move down the pathway to ecumenical unity with the Pope and embrace New Age mystical practices promoted by Leonard Sweet and other emerging proponents. Further, his purpose-driven obsession has damaged countless denominations, pastors, and churches worldwide. His view of the end times and the endorsement of the P.E.A.C.E. plan for the formation of a One-World Religion for Peace is clearly his goal and helps prepare the way for the End-Times delusion clearly outlined in the Bible.

The following quotes are just a sampling of things Rick Warren has made over the last decade, and they illustrate the direction Warren has been heading. He has never renounced these statements so we must assume he still stands by them:

“'This is why God made me. Everything else I have done was simply preparation for the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.' If you choose to lead your church to participate in the P.E.A.C.E. Plan it will be a wild ride and an amazing spiritual adventure for your members as they get God's heart for the world, as God uses them to change lives, and together we bring global glory to God!"[5]

"Personal computers have brand names. But inside every pc is an Intel chip and an operating system, Windows . . . The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church."[6]

“I did a series of lectures for the faculty in the Kennedy School … I started with this quote from Peter xe "Drucker"Drucker: “The most significant sociological phenomenon of the first half of the 20th century was the rise of the corporation. The most significant sociological phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century has been the development of the large pastoral church—of the mega-church. It is the only organization that is actually working in our society.” Now xe "Drucker"Drucker has said that at least six times. I happen to know because he’s my mentor. I’ve spent 20 years under his tutelage learning about leadership from him, and he’s written it in two or three books, and he says he thinks it’s [the mega-church] the only thing that really works in society.”[7]


“The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity—including Catholicism.”[8]

I would encourage you to look at this evolving alliance between evangelical Protestants and Catholics, particularly in the evangelical wing of Catholicism.”[9]

“I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs. This one is going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This one is going to be about deeds. It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.”[10]

I could list page after page of quotes by Rick Warren showing his consistency in the direction he is going. You can find this information on my website and in my books. These quotes have not been taken out of context. Warren is working to develop a global P.E.A.C.E. Plan and a new reformation that will be all inclusive.

Now the question to ask is this: where do the leaders of Calvary Chapel stand with Rick Warren ten years after my commentary that exposed his motives. Once more, the reality of time speaks volumes. The facts also shout loudly at us.

The photo below shows Rick Warren on the platform with many of the mega Calvary Chapel pastors at Chuck Smith’s memorial held at the Anaheim Honda Center. The invitation to Warren to be front and center indicates that Warren has been brought into the Calvary Chapel fold as a prominent leader. He is the well-known pied-piper of postmodernism in the church that leads to Rome. He has been with the Pope and Roman Catholic bishops on a number of occasions—something that is no secret to Brian Brodersen, Raul Ries, Greg Laurie, Don Mc Lure, Jeff Johnson, Skip Heitzig, Joe Foch, Lloyd Pulley and other well-known Calvary Chapel leaders.

How and why this has happened will be the topic of other commentaries in the future. Will someone at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa please stand up and tell the truth?

For now, let me say, there seems to be a holy alliance that has buried discernment and the love of God’s Word in favor of purpose-driven tactics that lead straight toward ecumenical madness and mystical demonic experiences.

While Understand The Times may have created a few waves in the past with regard to the Warren-Calvary union, I will go on record to say there is a tsunami on the way. Lowly and humble Calvary Chapel pastors are ready to pull the plug and call a spade a spade and move away from the Pope-Cardinal-Bishop-Priest purpose-driven scenario and follow Jesus Christ alone and not man-made hierarchies. Those who refuse to do so and remain on the “mother ship” will be enablers remaining part of the “Dove Club” only because of their fear of man and fear of loss of physical and carnal comfort and financial security.

Photo taken at Chuck Smith’s memorial. Notice the Calvary Chapel Cardinals with their newest “super star” 4th from the left on the back row next to Brian Brodersen. In the front row: Jeff Johnson, Raul Ries, and Greg Laurie.



[2] Used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act, which permits the use of copyrighted material for the purposes of education, critique, and review.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jeremiah 23: 1-3

[7] Rick Warren, “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church” (Event hosted by the Pew Forum on Religion, 2005), see transcript:

[8] Rick Warren, speaking at the Pew Forum on Religion, “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church” (May 23, 2005, Key West, Florida, see transcript at:

[9] Ibid.

[10] Interview by David Kuo with xe "Rick Warren"Rick Warren, “Pastor xe "Rick Warren"Rick Warren of Purpose-Driven Life talks to Beliefnet about Africa” (Belief,



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