Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019)
But there was poison in the pot due to his commitment to the ecumenical, rock & roll, New Evangelical philosophy.
A chief danger of spending time with New Evangelical authors and ministries is the danger of being influenced by their philosophy of “lighten up, be positive, don’t be so strict, be more tolerant, have a broader tent of associations.” This is very enticing, and it is doing more than any other one thing to build an apostate “church.”
Dr. Wiersbe was a staff evangelist with the extremely ecumenical Youth for Christ (1957-61), which has long partnered with the Roman Catholic Church and has had Catholics on staff. He pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky (1961-1971), where he completed his chapter-by-chapter Expository Outlines. He pastored Moody Church (1971-78) and was an associate editor of and regular contributor to Christianity Today (1978-82). He was a board member of the National Religious Broadcasters, preached at Willow Creek Community Church and at Billy Graham’s “Cove” center in North Carolina, etc.
Dr. Wiersbe made a commitment to the ecumenical philosophy as a young preacher. At his ordination in 1951, he was asked what he “thought about fundamental churches joining with liberal churches in evangelistic meetings.” He replied, “If God could use an unclean raven to feed Elijah, maybe He could even use a liberal” (Be Myself, p. 86). He dodged the question and should not have been ordained. The issue is not whether God can use a liberal in some way; the issue is whether it is right according to God’s Word for a Bible believer to yoke together in ministry with an unbeliever, and the answer is a resounding “no”! When Wiersbe was at Moody, he supported Moody’s policy “to give the speakers a list of things not to do or say” (p. 164). This is the ecumenical principle of limiting the message for the sake of a broader tent of ministry, and there is zero authority in Scripture for such a thing. The command to “preach the Word” is the command to preach all of the Word, and the command to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints is the command to contend for all of it. Later Wiersbe said, “I see my convictions, not as walls to isolate me from others, but as bridges to help me reach out to others” (p. 216), and, “I thank God that He has given me a ministry of the Word that leaps over denominational walls and manmade barriers” (p. 322).
Wiersbe’s autobiography ends with a slanderous mischaracterization of biblical separation and not a word of warning about the worldliness and apostasy that is spreading everywhere in his world of “evangelicalism” today. He couldn’t say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight,” because he didn’t believe in the fight.
In the 1980s, when I was a young missionary in South Asia, I wrote to Dr. Wiersbe, who was then an advisory editor of Christianity Today and still sometimes spoke at fundamentalist forums. (He had spoken at Tennessee Temple when I was a student there in the 1970s.) In my letter, I asked him how he could be associated with a publication like Christianity Today that promoted all sorts of heresies and heretics, including the “evangelical Catholic” error. He wrote back that “some of us need to take off our gloves and pick up a towel. Perhaps if people began to wash one another's feet, there might be more love and unity.” In other words, he advised me to stop worrying about things like doctrinal purity and be concerned solely with a positive approach to Christianity. I considered his advice before the Lord and tested it with God’s Word and determined that Dr. Wiersbe’s counsel was unscriptural and therefore dangerous. The Lord has plainly and emphatically instructed me to stand for doctrinal purity, to rebuke error, and separate from it (e.g., Ro. 16:17; 1 Co. 15:33; 2 Co. 6:14-18; 11:1-4; Ga. 1:6-9; Eph. 5:11; 1 Ti. 1:3; 6:3-5; 2 Ti. 3:5; 4:3-4; 2 Jo. 1:7-11; Jude 1:3; Re. 2:6, etc.), and as a young preacher I determined to obey God in these “hard things” regardless of the counsel of popular evangelical leaders.
As the years passed, Dr. Wiersbe became increasingly weak in spiritual discernment, in fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” In his later years, he even recommended The Message, the most corrupt version in existence. He made this amazing statement, “The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I’ve ever read.” In fact, The Message is more like a New Age channeling than a true Bible translation. Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message, was a universalist who recommended Rob Bell’s book Love Wins, which says that hell is in this life and most men will eventually be saved. Peterson was a big promoter of Roman Catholic contemplative mysticism and did not believe that homosexuality is a sin. The church he pastored hired a homosexual minister of music.
Consider a couple of quotes from The Message which was so heartily praised by Warren Wiersbe:
KJV “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
MESSAGE “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
Comment: Being poor in spirit means to be at the end of your rope? If that were true, vast numbers of unsaved people are candidates for heaven!
KJV “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
MESSAGE “You’re blessed when you get your inside world, your mind and heart, put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
Comment: This must be transcendental, because it doesn’t make any non-transcendental sense.
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