Proposition What? Rick Warren Did Not Lie

If  you watch this video: News & Views 10/23/2008 Part 3 (Prop 8 ) at about the 30 second mark you will hear the following.

“We support Proposition 8 and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.”

If you read this transcript Interview with Pastor Rick Warren (Aired April 6, 2009) you read:

PASTOR RICK WARREN, DELIVERED PRAYER AT OBAMA’S INAUGURATION: Yes, you know, Larry, there was a story within a story that never got told. In the first place, I am not an anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist. I never have been, never will be.

During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never — never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.

If you look around the web you will see articles with content that reflect the title of this one: Rick Warren disavows support for Prop. 8 However, a little further down the transcript we read:

KING: Did you not encourage your flock to vote yes on Proposition 8?

WARREN: Oh, yes. You know, I don’t think that the definition of marriage should be changed.

KING: So you did ask your people who worship with you to vote that way?

WARREN: Yes. I just never campaigned…

I don’t always agree with Rick Warren.  In fact, our agreements probably make a much shorter list than our disagreements.  In this case though the watchbloggers got it wrong.  This attack on Warren seems a timely example given the recent blogging on watchbloggers such as: Evil As Entertainment which is answered somewhat in Established Elders [3] and more directly in Blogging, Watchblogging And Ministry and Turning a Blind Eye to Evil Is Evil, Too.  All four good posts by fellow bloggers whom I respect and appreciate.  The watchbloggers just got this one wrong about Warren lying.

However you look at it Rick Warren can’t win this one.  On the one hand some Christians are now saying he supports gay marriage.  Yet, on the very transcript above someone made a statement that Warren cannot tell his gay son who he can or cannot marry.  So…which is it?  I will say this, atleast Warren has an audience with some unbelievers.  However, this audience actually gives way for the largest of criticisms.  He needs to bring the Gospel even at times like the above appearance with Larry King.

If your deeds lack creeds how will anyone know true motivation?  Getting involved in social orginizations to help people is not a bad thing.  However, if you’re a Christian – especially a pastor, especially a popular pastor to whom controversy follows – and the Gospel is absent then how are you really helping by leaving Jesus on the sidelines?  The Gospel is already offensive and since people are just waiting for the next offense to charge you with go ahead and let the Gospel shine!

Further Propositions…

Given that Rick Warren can’t win with the people in this battle I propose another one for him to bring out.  Let’s get to the heterosexual side of things!  The context and motivation could be taken from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (ESV – emphasis mine)

Let’s just take the sexually immoral and adulterers and submit a new proposition.  We’ll call it Proposition S which states:

Only sexual relations between a man and a woman who are married to each other is recognized as legal in California.  Sexual relations include viewing nudity and any type of sexual interaction for the purpose of sexual stimulation.

Of course, now you have everyone whose not a Christian or a highly moral person like a Mormon mad.  It would be a very interesting discussion.  Funny that though because even as you begin to examine and unpack the implications of my fictitious proposition you begin to see just how important marriage is.

For what it’s worth…


Let's connect!

tagged as , , in Church Issues,Culture,Gospel,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Reformatus April 9, 2009 at 9:51 am

I was glad to see your link on Twitter today. I appreciate your clarification! I can’t help but thinking he has waffled a bit. But perhaps that’s not how he sees it. I have passed your clarification along to some friends. Thanks.

2 johnMark April 9, 2009 at 10:03 am

Thanks brother. I didn’t expect such agreement on the first reply. 🙂 Just reading Warren’s statement in the context of King’s questions lead me to my post. Even so, there is still something that just doesn’t sit right with me in the way Warren communicates at times.


3 Reformatus April 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

Yes… good phrase “The way he communicates at times.” … And Obama didn’t bow to the King of Saudi Arabia either. He merely grovelled 🙂 !!!

4 Thomas Twitchell April 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Hey jM-

Well, actually, Warren did lie. I’ll be putting three videos up at A Rose that demonstrate it. He said he didn’t endorse Prop 8 when in fact he did. Beyond that, he lies about the support of marriage by redefining through exclusion.

Here’s the deal. Warren equivocates. He says he is for marriage, one man, one woman, but isn’t against civil unions because he is for equal rights. But, what is marriage? Who sanctions it? Isn’t it both a spiritual union as well as a civil one? If he is for civil unions for homosexuals, he is for their marriage. Isn’t the civil government responsible for the punishment of evil doers? Doesn’t Warren have a responsibility to call all men to account for sin?

How about the right to believe life begins when one wants it to. Isn’t the right to believe anything one wants a civil right? So does belief in the civil right legitimize the right? The catch is, is it right, not is it a right. Warren seemingly doesn’t differentiate.

Scripture defines marriage in terms of deepest intimacy pictured as sexual union. For Warren to say that civil unions are not marriage is to lie. Redefinition is a lot of what Warren is about. And what you get from him is equivocation which makes the definition of marriage different than civil unions. The long hard fight again civil unions was premised on the very thing that there is no difference. Once granted, the homosexual lobby moved to erase even the language barrier. Warren might be kidding himself. Hoever, I suspect he knows his political neck is on the line and his agenda hangs upon the favor of those who hate Scripture and its author.

One thing you’ve got to give him, he is as fat as any good ole boy in the SBC. He really needs to get off the fried chicken. And speaking of the SBC, with the controversy over the FBC embracing homosexuality, I wonder what the SBC will do with this boyo’s passive endorsement of homosexual unions, seeing that to excommunicate him will bring them into the cross-hairs of the media and lose them a $$$$valued$$$$ member.

5 johnMark April 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Hey Thomas,

I don’t necessarily disagree about Warren’s equivocations. It can be tough to clearly charge him with this though since he speaks so vaguely and without solid definitions.

On the particular point of lying that I am addressing I don’t see it. Read Warren’s context. He did endorse Prop 8, but he didn’t campaign for it. He said, “..never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.” Within his own paradigm, he’s not lying.

It seems that we can use a better approach than “he’s lying”. We need to go to the Gospel and see where that is in his social actions. As long as the critics just go after the surface level charges of lying it allows him to answer as he did in the recent CT article. That is, he blows right past the real issues of the Gospel and picks on the smaller stuff.

He seems to be of the mindset that “I’m personally against X, but I wouldn’t want to pass laws on X to push my beliefs on others.” He’s clever though because he does this without actually saying it.

I’m sure your analysis will be thorough as always.


6 Thomas Twitchell April 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm

“Within his own paradigm, he’s not lying.” Well with definitions being so fluid…

If you’ve gone to my place you will see the comparison and just why it is that people call it a lie. Yeah, he didn’t campaign, but yes he did endorse. And more, he produced a video that was meant to influence people outside his church. I guess you can call it not campaigning since he wasn’t part of a formal organization that did, but…

“I didn’t have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky…” all depends on was is is.

7 MarieP April 9, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Mark, you know I love you as a brother, but I gotta admit, Thomas has the upper hand….though I did hear you out…

And yeah, I was thinking of the CLinton quote too.

8 MarieP April 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved”

– Martin Luther

9 johnMark April 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm

In my post above I referenced exactly what I am talking about with Warren. To quote the headline “Rick Warren disavows support for Prop. 8“. OK, where does Warren disavow support for Prop 8? If he does not disavow it then who is really lying?

The same article says, “Garlow admits he is confused and troubled by Pastor Warren’s decision to apologize for supporting Prop. 8.” Where did Warren say he apologized for supporting Prop 8?


10 Thomas Twitchell April 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Well okay. If it is only words that we are measuring, then he doesn’t disavow. However, when he says that what he really backed in Prop 8 was free speech, and that it was his definition of marriage, nor really what marriage is, and is for civil rights, then when the cracker box is empty there are no more crackers no matter how much it is claimed that there are some left.

First, it is clear that he endorsed it. When he did, he didn’t make the clarifications that he did on Larry’s. So, yeah, on the one hand he doesn’t disavow, but with the other he takes away what he has given by saying that he supports gay rights in civil unions. What this amounts to is word mush that can be formed into any shape easily swallowed by any sucker. The title is appropriate because even though he doesn’t use the words he grants both sides equivalency. And he is apologetic, even defensive (especially if non-verbals mean anything) for having caused discomfort in the homosexual community. He called his friends, and set them at ease. And thus the cause to be confused and troubled.

I don’t know how it feels, but that picket fence has gotta be uncomfortable. And it seems by all the traffic on the subject that most people understood where Warren sits. Yes, he does not say he supports gay marriage, and to say that he was not an anti-gay marriage advocate is not the same as saying he is pro-gay marriage. When you sift through all the mealy mouthing, though, he must stand somewhere. That where is what is being challenged.

I have stated that by endorsing gay rights to civil unions he indeed has overthrown his support of Prop 8. For what is the difference between them and marriage. Let him come out is opposition to both, then he may have credibility. Until then, naht.

11 johnMark April 9, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Thomas, I hope you know I appreciate you brother.

I do understand. I just think it gets fruitless to simply focus on this one issue and saying Warren lied. However inconsistent and equivocating he is it’s more about what he didn’t say than what he did. When Jesus and the Gospel is left out, even left out by critics, then the whole ordeal is reduced to conservative moralism.

He mentions the Bible, once I think, and seems to leave out the most important part of the Bible, Jesus. I can’t see how his gay friends would accept any apology if he still believes, as he publicly says, that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

I do hope he has a saddle for that fence.


12 Thomas Twitchell April 9, 2009 at 10:50 pm

I am reading and studying Knowing God with a friend and this thing hit home: It doesn’t matter. We speak out when necessary, when we’re convinced that it is necessary in defense of the righteousness of God. What is the difference? It doesn’t matter. What matters is can I tell the world that I have known God.

“When Jesus and the Gospel is left out…” You are really right here, and convicting because in my criticisms I have to ask did I testify to the righteousness of Christ and his Gospel, or just carp on the unrighteousness of another?

Now see what you’ve done? Thanks.

13 sjcamp April 10, 2009 at 12:10 am

Good post and you are spot on. Excellent work. Accuracy always trumps politics or pandering.

Btw, thanks for linking my article. As you know I didn’t mention or address Warren in my post; but if I had on this issue I would have landed where you did.

Happy Resurrection Weekend!
2 Cor. 13:11

14 johnMark April 10, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Thomas, any particular pages of Knowing God? I’d like to look it up.

I’m becoming more and more convicted of this lately. I’m praying how I can see absence of the cross in my life and how I can bring it in focus. This goes even for discerning where we might see short comings of folks like Warren. If Warren is a brother in Christ with a wide influence, and I think he is both, then it seems we should try to bring the cross into focus as the real solution because it is. I’m starting to ramble. Thanks, brother.

Steve, I appreciate the encouragement brother. Looking forward to Starbucks tomorrow.


15 Thomas Twitchell April 10, 2009 at 10:30 pm

My friend and I are in the 2nd Chapter. One of the things that I took from it was a sense of how idolatrous we are. It is easy to fall prey to knowledge, it is just as easy to fall prey to business. At the same time it is easy to forget the things which are important parts of Knowing God.

One of those part is the defense of God. On the other hand, it cannot matter. To often we are caught up in “civilian affairs.” Arguing for the win and not the right.

“I’m praying how I can see absence of the cross in my life and how I can bring it in focus.”

My desire too is to see the cross in focus, to know nothing except Christ and him crucified.

16 MarieP April 13, 2009 at 7:25 pm


Wanted to tell you that I now see both sides of the argument about Warren. I still think that what he said was less than true, but I also see how all this blogging on him clouds the true issue. I think this is something that a friend of his should address and not something that should be splashed across the internet. I for one removed my Facebook comment linking Warren’s interview and Peter’s denial of Christ. First, it was not such a black and white event as Peter denying Christ before the servant girl. Second, Jesus took care of this with Peter in private. Like Challies said over on his blog, you don’t fight fire with fire.

17 sam April 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Did the word “endorse” change its meaning? Regardless if you support something to your congregation or to the general public, it still is endorsing.

Rick said that he did not “endorse” Prop 8 and clearly he did. Bottom line.

Lets not redefine the word endorse to try and rationalize and justify this whole matter.

I do not think he intentionally set out to lie but unfortunately that was the end result.

18 johnMark April 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm


I too see both sides of the issue, but to call him a liar on an issue where he didn’t lie opens a whole other issue. I do understand about going to someone privately. However, what is done in such a broad public view can affect, or infect as some might say, many more than can be reached in private. Again, the tone might be where the real issue lies. Is it correction for the sake of correction or for the Gospel.


If you would read Warren’s statements above you’d see that you still misread them. Warren said never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.

Then he said he never campaigned.

Thanks for stopping.


19 sam April 13, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I did read Warren’s statement.

He gave an “endorsement” of Prop 8 to his congregation and in that “endorsement” he said he was also going to send the “endorsement” to other pastors. This was while prop 8 WAS running and before people went to vote on it thus Warren’s video asking people to support Prop 8.

He may not have officially campaigned for it but most certainly he did give an endorsement for Prop 8. And the video in which the endorsement ran was shown in his church which surely consisted of non-members and well as members of Saddleback church. Check the definition of “endorsement” and i think you will see there is no way getting around of saying that Warren did not “endorse” Prop 8.

Again, I do not believe that Warren intentionally set out to lie on Larry King but that was the end result. I think he misspoke in his attempts to refute some accusations that were levied against him. But again, for you to state that Warren did not lie is not an accurate depiction of the events that transpired.

20 Thomas Twitchell April 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm

You’ve prolly seen it, but Stedtzer had a FYI citing clarifications that have been issued.

The question is, why the clarifications if Warren was so well understood? Perhaps those who recognized “lies” actually weren’t all that wrong?

Your response to Sam highlights one of the ongoing problems today, especially in the realm of politics. Care needs to be taken in the exactness of words used by men in more critical positions or by men held in high regard. When an assumed spokesman for the Church (and by default the SBC) addresses the world, the more necessary it is to speak with measured certainty that the words will not become other than what was intended.

Maybe the clarifications will reaffirm that Warren does believe that homosexuality is as condemnable as incest and pedophilia. It is certainly not a victimless sin. If he persists in his endorsement of the behavior and civil unions, the SBC needs to evoke the constitution and rid themselves of him. They need to make a statement which is loud and clear concerning it. If they don’t they make themselves one with him. Maybe he can some how condemn the behavior and the unions while protecting his relationships with the secular world and the SBC. That will be a miracle worth noting. Perhaps the SBC can walk the picket fense, too. Though wouldn’t that confirm the world’s suspicions that we really don’t believe what we say we do?

One of the vindications that took place on the cross was the justice of God against sin. How are we to put ourselves there? Should we set aside the righteousness of God for liberty and acceptance? These are big questions and easy to ask behind the screen of a puter.

21 johnMark April 13, 2009 at 10:36 pm

OK, so the “campaigning” issue is off the table, good.

As to the endorsement statement, Warren said he didn’t give endorsement within the 2 years Prop 8 was going. So, for your understanding to be correct Warren’s video must have taken place in that time frame. I understand the connotation he was making. We speak like this daily in using words like “always” and “every time”.

Are you really going to blame Warren for giving his flock a specific message where someone who just happened to visit that day heard it and say he was endorsing it as if he sought out people to give the message to?

Besides, if you don’t believe Warren lied, but merely misspoke then you aren’t one of the watchbloggers in question.

At the end of the day the Gospel was absent so it really doesn’t matter.



22 johnMark April 13, 2009 at 10:42 pm


Funny the direction some posts/comments take off in. I’m not disagreeing with you. If I am so poor at pointing out my particular position in this situation as are my brothers who disagree then why don’t some of the “big boys” explain it all?

I would like them to answer the question on liberty and acceptance. Just what is being passed over in the name of liberty and what are we being asked to accept as it all relates to the Gospel?


23 abclay April 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm

“I will say this, atleast Warren has an audience with some unbelievers. However, this audience actually gives way for the largest of criticisms. He needs to bring the Gospel even at times like the above appearance with Larry King.”

If brother Rick were to bring the Gospel, I submit that he would quickly lose his standing as “America’s Pastor” and lose his audience with unbelievers.

Would we be making such a big deal of Rick’s riding the fence if we weren’t inundated by those quotes we hear from “Christian” leaders that cause us to cringe like, “God made these people homosexuals”, and “Jesus partied with the homosexuals”, and “God accepts you just the way you are”?

Could it be that this issue is magnified by the equivocation that we see on this issue by “Christians” worldwide?

And your point is taken about proposition “s”, but I don’t see the “Christian” community openly accepting practicing adulterers as they are homosexuals.

Forgive me if I have missed your point altogether, but school is wreaking havoc on my brain.


24 Thomas Twitchell April 14, 2009 at 12:12 am

“Are you really going to blame Warren for giving his flock a specific message where someone who just happened to visit that day heard it and say he was endorsing it as if he sought out people to give the message to?”

I wouldn’t blame him for that, however the appeals message that he made was one in which he is speaking for the congregation to those outside and it was posted online for public dissemination.

What’s the real issue here? Watchblogging? Homosexuality? Or is it the integrity of the Gospel? That is what I meant by high profile cases. Homosexuality is the occassion, watchbloggers do a service, sometimes bad or good, on the occassions that highlight the real message. We get lost in the occassions. When you think about it Easter was a holiday experience for most. They got lost in the occassion. And most forgot the real message because it took second place.

For me at least it is Warren’s reputation as a holder of truth that is at stake. And not his reputable character, but the reputation of the truth. Undermining his character, his integrity, may have the unwanted effects of damaging the Gospel. But, how do we stand on both sides? Even if wrong, it would be better to say yea or nay, wouldn’t it? That’s why it is crucial for the SBC to take a position on this loudly in public. We need to hear the clear voice, a unified voice on the occassion so that we might say what the real celebration is all about.

25 johnMark April 14, 2009 at 10:24 am

I think what’s really at stake is the hiding of the Gospel. You’re not going to see its integrity if it’s unseen.

My main point in all of this is to say that regardless of all else Warren did/does on this one point he wasn’t lying. It doesn’t matter though because if one only sees red and the “lie” matters more than about everything else from Warren skipping over the Gospel to being unclear, then what? Is the solution merely to win the day by convincing others that Warren lied? I don’t think so, but this is along the lines of why people complain about watchbloggers.

It seems we need more balance and more Gospel.


26 sam April 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

Oh, i fully agree. The Gospel IS THE ISSUE. But when a minister’s credibility is damaged then it affects how people receive what he proclaims.
The “lie” and that is what it was. I still dont know how you can parse the word “endorse” and try to redefine what it means but Warren plainly contradicted himself. It is just not the “watchbloggers” that are making an issue about it but unbelievers as well. It didnt help Warren’s case either that he canceled a scheduled appearance on an ABC talk show immediately following his statements from Larry King show. Again, i dont think that Warren intentionally set out to deceive anyone. And in his mind, his video that was shown in the church was not an “endorsement” but by the very definition of endorsement and by the rest of the world’s standards, Warren clearly supported, endorsed, and urged others to go out and vote in support for Prop 8.
Again, small issue. However, given Warren’s stage and tremendous opportunity to proclaim the gospel to millions, he should be more careful and measured when he speaks on TV. As someone said, MacArthur or Mohler do not have such issues when they appear on TV.
We can agree to disagree on Warren’s “lie” but one need only to look at the news stories by the secular media about Warren to see that his effectiveness and integrity has been compromised to unbelievers. That, my friend, does harm to the Gospel that he proclaims. And you are right THAT IS the larger issue.

27 sam April 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Example from Hardball:

They seem to think that Warren contradicted (i.e. lied) himself as well. It is just not the “watchbloggers” that have levied this charge. Just google “Rick Warren” and read the news articles that are being written.

28 sam April 16, 2009 at 11:25 am

From Voddie Bauchaum.

he recognizes it as a lie as well.

Does that make him a watchblogger? Did he get it wrong as well?

29 johnMark April 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm


First to your questions. Q1. No, it doesn’t make him a watchblogger. Pastor Baucham to my knowledge doesn’t go around hanging on to nor harping on over and over again every word someone like Rick Warren says. Who ever purposed that position?

Q2. Yes, he gets the initial position wrong as he was repeating what reported. I quoted Onenewsnow and then the original source to show they cut words out of context. The parts that keeps getting cut out are underlined never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going…and I just never campaigned…

Onenewsnow also states that Warren apologized to his homosexual friends for making comments in support of California’s Proposition 8. Okay, so where exactly does Warren say he apologized for supporting Prop 8?

Anyways, Pastor Baucham also went onto to point out, as I did, that it is the Gospel that is at stake. I appreciate Pastor Baucham. So much so that I suggested and encouraged a friend to check out his church recently. I also enjoyed hearing him preach here in Atlanta not long ago.

Thanks for the link to Pastor Baucham, I’d forgotten to put it in my reader.



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