Connecting the Dots – Rick Warren, Joel's Army, and more

See here, first Rick Warren’s connections with Paul Yonggi Cho nee David Yonggi Cho

You will have to go to the original post for the original, as I am clipping just a bit.

Quite possibly one of the earliest warning signs of the level of Rick Warren’s ongoing embrace of NAR groups dates from the famous Talk to Action series on the “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” game–a game which had connections to Saddleback via the international church director (later forced to step down from both Left Behind Games’ board and Saddleback’s board due to the controversy).


According to Mr. Warren, the establishment of this earthly kingdom requires “foot soldiers.” As part of his plan, Mr. Warren said he would encourage laypeople to “adopt” needy villages overseas in order to plant churches, expand business opportunities, educate children, influence governments, and overthrow corrupt political leaders, whom he described as “little Saddams.” Mr. Warren said his purpose is to enlist “one billion foot soldiers for the Kingdom of God” in the developing world. And the stadium crowd roared its approval.

In fact, here it is right from Rick Warren’s mouth:

What are the problems that are so big in this world that don’t seem solvable? The UN has failed at them. America has failed at them. Business has failed at them. Governments have failed at them. I came to the conclusion that there are several big problems–the global Goliaths.

Number one is spiritual emptiness. Most people don’t know that they’re not an accident. That they were made by God and for God, they were made for a purpose, this life is not all there is, they’re made to last forever. This life is preparation for the next. Jesus came to earth so that their past can be forgiven, they have a purpose for living, and a home in heaven.

The second biggest problem is egocentric leadership. Poor leadership is the cause of poverty and disease and illiteracy. They tried to solve these problems without the church which is the only thing big enough. The only thing growing faster than the AIDS pandemic is the church.

I went to the scriptures and I said, “God, what is the plan?” That is where I came up with this PEACE plan, the antidote to these global giants.

P – Plant a church or partner with a church if there is one there. It always starts with a church… in, through, and to the church.
E – Equip servant leaders.
A – Assist the poor.
C – Care for the sick.
E – Educate the next generation.

It’s the five things Jesus did when he was here on earth. The first thing he did was he planted a church. The second thing he did was equip leaders. He spent three years training these disciples. The third thing he did was he cared for the poor. In fact, in his very first sermon, he says, “I am here to preach the good news to the poor.” He cared for the poor. Fourth, he healed the sick. One-third of his ministry was a health ministry. The fifth thing is he taught. Particularly he cared about the next generation.

So for the last two years, underground, stealth, we have been working on this PEACE Plan. We’ve been developing a prototype of it in 47 countries. We won’t let anybody do the PEACE plan by themselves. You have to do it in a team, in community.

There are 2.1 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ. If you just mobilize half of them that would be a billion people. That would be quite a force.


It’s also notable that Warren has a strong emphasis on what he terms “Stealth evangelism”–which can be more properly termed “bait and switch” evangelism, and is a hallmark of both coercive religious groups (who tend to use deceptive methods of recruitment) and particularly NAR-linked neopentecostal dominionist groups. (The “Alpha Course”, a bait-and-switch recruitment campaign developed by a CoE church steeplejacked by a Vineyard-linked “Cuckoo church”, is a particularly popular method–people get pulled in by dinner dates and are eventually pressured to go to weekend “retreats” where particularly hard-sell conversion tactics are used (such as Matt Taibbi rather famously described re a John Hagee “Deliverance Weekend”). It is also notable that the “Alpha Course” has been officially endorsed by Saddleback Church.)

As it turns out, I’m not alone in noticing the Joel’s Army linkage–Let Us Reason (an anti-dominionist Christian apologetics site that is very aggressive at monitoring and warning against the NAR targeting evangelical churches) has also noticed this strong similarity:

1. The term “transformation” is used to describe a planned, intentional “Second Reformation” (also called “New Apostolic Reformation”). An early proposal for a “second Protestant reformation” appeared in The Emerging Order (1979) by New Ager Jeremy Rifkin, who called for a re-definition of Genesis 1 to create a stewardship mandate for a dominion over the earth. Rick Warren, of purpose-driven fame, positively referenced Rifkin’s proposal for this new Reformation. Just this year Warren launched what he calls the “Second Reformation.” Other evangelical leaders calling for this new reformation include Ralph Neighbour, Bill Hamon, Luis Bush, C. Peter Wagner, Jim Rutz, Robert Schuller, Donald Miller and many others.

2) This “transformation” is not personal but is applied corporately to groups and entities. One example is: “Social transformation was defined as seeking positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially and spiritually, by recovering our true identity as human beings created in the image of God and discovering our true vocation as productive stewards, faithfully caring for our world and its people.”

3) This “transformation” is to be accomplished by a “mission” strategy of doing “whatever it takes” to launch political, social, and cultural reforms on a global scale. A philosophy of “the end justifies the means” has been embraced to accomplish these colossal goals.

4) Extremely sophisticated psycho-social marketing techniques are employed to facilitate this “transformation.”

5) State-of-the-art statistical measurement and assessment methods evaluate this “transformation,” judging “effectiveness” by pre-set, man-made criteria.

6) A plethora of intricate spiritual activities with new names, new techniques, new methodologies, and new doctrines purportedly cause “transformation” to take place in the heavenlies and then on earth. These include strategic-level spiritual warfare, identificational repentance, prayer evangelism, on-site praying, spiritual mapping, prayer walks, labyrinths, spiritual formation, and a host of other newly-concocted doctrines with corresponding activities. (The reader is challenged to find any of these in the Bible.)

7) A re-alignment of church hierarchical structures, not unlike network marketing, is said to be essential for “transformation” to take place.

8) These new authority and accountability structures must be superimposed between believers and God. The model is touted as a return to the early New Testament model, in which churches met in homes. In reality it is a data-driven model with a top-down hierarchy of authority and control. It is variously called cell church, G12, shepherding, House2House, etc.

9) This “transformation” dialectically thrives on a diet of constant change which is accelerating rapidly. Continuous change in the church is pointed to as “revival,” despite the fact that it utilizes business marketing methods such as Total Quality Management.

10) The claim is made that submitting to and participating in this radical and comprehensive “transformation” is necessary to fulfill the Great Commission. Thus “transformation” has been inextricably linked to the modern missions movement.

11) This “transformation” is said to be incomplete until the Bride of Christ is perfected on earth and “God’s kingdom is seen on earth as it is in heaven.

12) Therefore, believers are told they are co-creators and co-redeemers, renewing the earth through their various “transformative” activities.


For that matter, it can be argued that Warren’s talk of a “Second Reformation” is itself a bit of a NAR dogwhistle–neopentecostal dominionists, and particularly NAR neopente-dominionists, *do* see themselves as a second reformation, or as a “Third Wave” of pentecostalism (which they see in and of itself as a “Second Reformation”). The actual term “Second Reformation” itself has also shown up in Joel’s Army circles proper on occasion.

At least one site has directly compared the tactics of Warren and NAR-linked groups such as Youth With A Mission and C. Peter Wagner’s various orgs:

Rick Warren and many other postmodern types of ministries have approached evangelism from a new paradigm. This model has changed from using the Word of God, to building relationships and becoming friends and then eventually Christianizing them, not to a real conversion in Christ, but to the tune of a different gospel, even a different (view of ) Christ altogether. I have seen this happening as the major emphasis on evangelism has changed through the efforts of the International Congress on World Evangelization and the Lausanne Covenant. YWAM has been using this same model for years through the input of C. Peter Wagner and Fuller Theological Seminary where Rick Warren was involved.

The similarity has also been noted in at least one discussion forum focusing on coercive religious groups, this time with ex-Wagnerites discussing the similarities with Warren’s program:

The relationship between Warren and “Mr. Joel’s Army”

In fact, as it turns out, Rick Warren was personally mentored by none other than C. Peter Wagner himself–Wagner being, in essence, “Mr. Joel’s Army” (as both the person who coined the phrase and has led the rebranding of NAR groups since to things like “Elijah’s Army” and so forth once the “Joel’s Army” brand got to be too well known in apologetics circles).

Not only was Warren mentored by him, but apparently still praises the dickens out of Wagner and looks up to him as a role model in his book “The Purpose Driven Church”:

4. Dr. C.Peter Wagner. This man has also been cited as a successful leader by Rick Warren. You have noticed his name above. Who is Wagner and what does he believe? He is the professor of Fuller Theological Seminary, School of World Mission, Pasadena California. He believes in Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now, which is the premise that the Kingdom of God is already here! Wagner’s spiritual warfare book, “Territorial Spirits,” is a compilation of the writing of such people as Paul (David) Yonggi Cho, Larry Lea, Jack Hayford and others who accept the neo-dominionist doctrines.
. . .
On p. 127: he mentions favourably C.Peter Wagner, an apostate teacher…

In case you were curious, yes, this would be the same C. Peter Wagner who has literally accused non-NAR churches of being demon possessed for wishing to maintain their orthodoxy.

And it appears that Rick Warren was quite the good little student:

Saddleback Church promotes and endorses C. Peter Wagners book “Your Spiritual Gifts can help your church grow” here on saddlebacks website as part of there SHAPE class 301

Warren did his D.MIN. in 1993 under Peter Wagner at Fuller NEW CHURCHES FOR A NEW GENERATION: CHURCH PLANTING TO REACH BABY BOOMERS. A CASE STUDY: THE SADDLEBACK VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH (California). In it he wrote “We must establish new churches to reach this new generation of Americans. It will require new churches that understand the Baby Boom mindset and are intentionally designed to meet their needs, tastes, and interests.”

Ministry Advantage at Fuller features articles from various “Christian leaders” Warren is listed among others like Ted Haggard, Jack Hayford, Bill Hybels, Peter Wagner, John Wimber etc. (….)

All this means Fuller sees him as being in agreement with these men and what they are teaching. Peter Wagner who taught at Fuller optimized his vision of church growth with executing a new Church government, ie. new apostles and prophets laying a new foundation for today (ICA).

Yes, you read that right–Wagner and Warren do rather extensively cross-promote each other, and also include a number of other partners in crime (including John Wimber, who we’ll get into in a moment).

According to the FACTnet thread earlier, Warren actually cites C. Peter Wagner no less than eight separate times in the disseratation in question–NOT exactly a good sign.

Let Us Reason (always a reliable source for reporting on what is going on with NAR leaders) notes the relationship goes so deep that Warren is involved in several Wagner-operated groups including a megachurch association and Mission America:

All this means Fuller sees him as being in agreement with these men and what they are teaching. Peter Wagner who taught at Fuller optimized his vision of church growth with executing a new Church government, ie. new apostles and prophets laying a new foundation for today (ICA).

Peter Wagner, is the Founder and President of the American Society For Church Growth (ASCG). Rick Warren is a member of the American Society For Church Growth (ASCG) which is located at Fuller Theological Seminary. Saddleback Valley Community Church.

Rick Warren, Founding Pastor (ASCG member at large) is found alongside many names which includes Global Harvest Ministries of C. Peter Wagner, Founder, President (the ASCG Founding President); The World Prayer Center C. Peter Wagner, Co-founder.

“Saddleback Community Church senior pastor Rick Warren is on Mission America’s Facilitation Committee [ 1997].

A person does not become part of a board unless they are in agreement with the doctrines and philosophy of ministry of those who are part of the board.

And as for Mission America’s philosophy? It’s pretty much a pure Joel’s Army group. This becomes rather apparent by looking at the membership list for Mission America, which is a veritable “who’s who” of the New Apostolic Reformation…and which prominently includes Warren.

More proof of Mission America’s status as a de-facto Joel’s Army org comes from the Board of Directors–with only about two or three exceptions, every member is linked to or a leader of a group tied to the NAR. Some of these include orgs like Campus Crusade for Christ, Aglow International, and International Foursquare (itself an “Assemblies daughter” and the earliest known)–all of which have been linked with the “stealth candidacy” of Sarah Palin.

And, it would appear, the linkages don’t stop with Cho *or* Wagner.

There is always more, of course, the general idea is the same. These people are not existing, preaching, building, planning in a vacuum.

Rick Warren’s Connections to Joel’s Army | Corrente.

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

6 thoughts on “Connecting the Dots – Rick Warren, Joel's Army, and more

  1. At least they are doing it all in their real someone once said..”Jesus I know,paul I know of..but who are you?” And another said…”leave these men alone!For if their activity is of human origin,it will fail. But if it is from God,you will not be able to stop these men;you will only find yourselves fighting against God” If indeed they are vessels of Satan, at least they are successful has a built a congregation of a million..I wish I was that sucessful for my God.Dr.Ed.your friendly false prophet.

  2. Edmond, I can only pray that you are not that successful unless to come to the knowledge of God. Otherwise, I agree with you, of course, the only real way that anyone can build a congregation like these is to preach these false doctrines.

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