Christianity,  Theology/Bible

John Piper Interviews Rick Warren

Last October, I attended the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I was greatly looking forward to hearing John Piper’s Q&A with Rick Warren. As providence would have it, Warren had to cancel his appearance at the last minute and delivered a pre-recorded video message instead. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of us were very disappointed that we didn’t get to hear Piper and Warren mano a mano.

At the conference, Piper promised to do an extended interview with Warren at a later date and to post the video online for everyone to see. Today, Piper and Warren make good on that promise, and you can watch the video above.

Piper has written an introductory statement at the Desiring God site that you should read before watching this video. In general, Piper’s aim is constructive. He’s trying to build bridges (not burn them) with a pastor who has “very different… methodological instincts and inclinations” than Piper has. Piper says that he takes “almost the exact opposite approach in preaching” in comparison to Warren. Nevertheless, Piper confesses, “I am not even close to the fruitful evangelist that Rick is.” So in spite of differences, Piper is generally appreciative of Warren.

I anticipate that this interview will generate much discussion within the reformed community and beyond in the coming days. There is much good here from Warren—even many points of clarification on specific doctrines. Below is a list of the topics that Piper covers with Warren with the appropriate time-markers. I am sure that we will have occasion to discuss this interview further at a later time. In the meantime, go ahead a take a look at it for yourself.

0:00 Introduction
3:29  The glory of God.
7:16  David Wells and the weight of God’s reality.
9:00  Would you write the book the same today?
12:00 The sovereignty of God.
18:47 How do you speak of God’s sovereignty in the presence of tragedy?
22:01 How do all things work for bad for those who reject Christ?
24:14 Do you hedge on Larry King?
27:00 Unconditional election.
30:18 The importance of eternity.
34:42 How do you conceive of eternity: in heaven, on earth?
38:53 What is the Gospel?
42:00 What did Jesus achieve on the cross?
43:40 Repentance.
50:50 Why don’t you call yourself a Calvinist?
53:09 Propitiation.
54:39 Prevenient grace.
1:00:01 Total depravity.
1:03:00 Hell.
1:09:10 Eternal destiny of those who never heard.
1:12:40 The extent of the atonement.
1:17:00 Do unbelievers always do the devil’s bidding?
1:18:40 Your view of the Bible.
1:22:40 Expository preaching and doctrinal depth.
1:28:10 Rick Warren’s sacred trust.


  • Sam

    Great interview. Dr. Piper is an amazing study–though he is consistently Reformed, he has repeatedly distanced himself from the aggressive partisanship of so much of NeoCalvinism. I am amazed at the amount of venom that Piper’s ministry is catching (just for a friendship!).

  • Robert I Masters

    Iam sorry but this is a mulligan that John Piper offered Rick Warren on Reformed theology.
    We might call it The Purpose Driven Life Reformed Edition 2.0
    The problem is we have Rick Warrens whole ministry to evaluate not just this sanitized interview.

    Dr Piper this is a the Downgrade.

    I recommend Ian Murrays “Evangelism Divided”

    From the Southern Baptist Geneva
    Robert I Masters

  • Ted

    Your spot Sam. Plus given the amount of flak Piper gets from the Jesus Creed and Scot McKnight crowd, you can tell he is right in the sweet spot.

    The interview just goes to show that most people have not actually taken the time to listen or read guys like Piper and Warren that carefully. Rather, they have just made caricatures so it is easier for them to place them in their theological spectrum.

  • Ted W.

    This was an outstanding interview that demonstrates how differing Christian perspectives can lovingly dialogue.

    Particular Impressions:

    Warren’s great observation that everything about God’s glory doesn’t have to be “weighty,” ie. serious. Playing with your grandchild can glorify God. I hope Piper takes that to heart because his personality is often so serious.

    Warren’s admission that the Purpose Driven Life’s explanation of salvation was an afterthought inclusion because the material was first written for his church, not for unbelievers. To me, one of the weaknesses of PDL is its unclear explanation of how to be saved.

    Warren’s statement that he didn’t intend for PDL to make him rich and famous. Notoriety was hoisted upon Warren and he quickly realized its potential to ruin him.

  • Ken Silva

    “The problem is we have Rick Warrens whole ministry to evaluate not just this sanitized interview.”

    Dead on. The question I have is: Why does Dr. Piper suddenly seem to feel such a need to try and repair Warren’s rep?

    Dr. Michael Horton brings out some key points re. Rick Warren here:

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