The Heresies of Warren Wiersbe Demand Exposure and Separation, Not Acceptance or Ignorance
Updated: Sep 9
The points below cover some of the more important reasons why one should not read or endorse Warren Wiersbe but rather warn about this man who by all appearances was a false teacher and wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Warren Wendall Wiersbe (May 16, 1929 - May 2, 2019), was an evangelical pastor, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works. Wiersbe is perhaps best known for his series of 50 books in the "BE" series: Be Real, Be Rich, Be Obedient, Be Mature, Be Joyful, etc., and other theological works. His most popular positions included pastoring the Moody Church in Chicago (1971–1978) and director of Back to the Bible radio ministry and editor of Christianity Today (1978-1982).
But Wiersbe’s commitment to a corrupted gospel, corrupted fellowship (ecumenicalism), corrupted “Bibles,” corrupted doctrine and corrupted worship demands exposure and separation.
1. Wiersbe embraced and promoted a false gospel that included false teachings on the Holy Spirit and repentance.
He believed that the Holy Spirit only convicts man of one sin before salvation: unbelief, so thats the only sin he must turn from. Thats both a lie and false repentance and thus a false gospel. There is no place in the Bible that even remotely teaches repentance in such a manner. Not even close. And repentance is not just a change of mind (link). His philosophy denies many important things concerning salvation and since repentance is an important component of the gospel (Ac. 20:21, 24; Lk. 24:44-48; Mk 1:1-6; 6:12; Matt. 3:2; 4:17), he is teaching a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). It also tells me that he was likely never a truly saved Christian but merely one by name, since no one is getting saved without true repentance. The rest of the points below further reflect this truth, including his personal testimony of salvation. Wiersbes testimony of salvation which consisted of taking part in Billy Grahams easy believism and quick prayerism crusade in 1945, is highly suspect.
The heretical teaching on “unbelief” is intricately tied to Keswick “theology,” which makes the same claims, and is found plentiful in Wiersbe’s commentary and radio show. Like Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges before him—all very vocal voices and proponents of Keswick theology—Wiersbe is similarly confused over the true gospel. It’s not a coincidence that all four of these men were associated with the heretical Dallas Seminary, a bastion for Keswick theology, all similar in belief consisting of the same unscriptural gospel (not only preaching a false repentance but even aggressively opposing true repentance as turning from sin and self) and perversion of Scripture, so that they created two classes of repentance: "justification repentance” and “sanctification repentance.” The former apparently did not involve turning away from sins, while "sanctification repentance" (during the Christian life) apparently did. Nowhere, does Scripture anywhere establish this alleged distinction. Its a Keswick-related antinomian heresy and it is indeed a false gospel that can save no one.
Warren Wiersbe was the director of Back to the Bible for five years, retiring in mid-1990. BTTB was very much "anti-Lordship" and for "easy-believism" which isn’t surprising at all considering Wiersbe’s own alleged testimony of faith. Wiersbe even wrote a glowing endorsement of Charles Ryrie's so-called "exegetical scholarship" in the forward to Ryrie's book So Great Salvation, in which Ryrie claims that the repentance God calls us to is a changing of our minds about Jesus, but not turning from sin (So Great Salvation, p. 94). A “change of mind” repentance is a false repentance, exposed here, and that means Ryrie was a false teacher propagating a false gospel, like Wiersbe. Wiersbe obviously had no objections to this false gospel as he penned a glowing endorsement for his book.
The apostle Paul warned of men like Wiersbe who pervert the gospel:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8-9).
2. Wiersbe was committed to the practice of unBiblical ecumenicalism.
He was unscripturally associated and yoked with extreme heretics and apostates such as Christianity Today (where he was even one time editor and regular contributor from 1978-82, a publication guilty of such things as promoting theological liberals and "evangelical Catholics" as true Christians, a publication absolutely loaded repeatedly and thoroughly with heresies and heretics), preached at Billy Graham’s “Cove,” was a staff evangelist with the extremely ecumenical and heretical organization Youth for Christ from 1957-61 (which has long partnered with the Roman Catholic Church and has had Catholics on staff), a board member of the extremely heretical National Religious Broadcasters, preached at Willow Creek Community Church, Wiersbe has warm fellowship with Catholics, liberals, and other apostates. These are all unBiblical and apostate organizations that demand separation, NOT fellowship and association!
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 as the typical neo-evangelical compromiser and should’ve never been ordained. But worse, he is actually giving credence to apostates which is so far removed from true Christianity (2 Cor 6:14-18), one can only conclude he was one in similitude. The issue is not whether God can use a liberal in some way (God uses unsaved people all the time for His purposes); the issue is whether it is right according to God’s Word for a Bible believer to yoke together in ministry with an ungodly 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 evil and diabolical 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. I personally know of Mennonite “evangelical” churches that are guilty of this practice, and they reflect the same spirit. In fact it represents a demonic spirit underlying that so-called ministry, something noted in majority “evangelical” churches. 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. The true believer has no issue with this and loves to fight the good fight of faith, but not false teachers who serve their belly and not the Lord Jesus Christ. 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)
“I thank God that He has given me a ministry of the Word that leaps over denominational walls and manmade barriers” (p. 322).
Wiersbe does not understand Gods Word, since God is a God of separation. It is His chief characteristic, the angels singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” around the clock. 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 ungodly “evangelicalism” today including in his world. He could never say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight,” because he didn’t believe in the fight. Wiersbe was a heretic and a false teacher.
In a personal letter many years back, David Cloud 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 to Cloud,
“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 Cloud to stop worrying about things like doctrinal purity and be concerned solely with a positive approach to Christianity. Wiersbe’s counsel was unscriptural and therefore dangerous. The Lord has plainly and emphatically instructed the born again believer to stand for doctrinal purity, to rebuke error, and separate from it (e.g., Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14-18; 11:4, 12-15; Gal 1:6-9; Eph 5:11: 1 Tim 1:3; 4:1; 6:3-5; 2 Tim 3:5-9; 4:3-4; 2 Jn 1:9-11; Ju 1:3; Rev 2:6; etc).
One of the key principles of neo-evangelicalism is that of neutralism and toleration as contrasted with Bible separation and militancy against error. That defined Wiersbe but it’s heretical and ungodly to the core. As one that had been closely associated in leadership positions with neo-evangelicalism's major publications and institutions, Wiersbe was a typical neo- evangelical that cared nothing for defence of the truth and obedience to Gods Word but rather doing that which was right in his own eyes. Rather than withdrawing from those who “teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words” (1 Tim 6:3-5), cleansing himself from dishonourable vessels as commanded (2 Tim 2:20-21), avoiding and marking those who teach and preach contrary to sound doctrine (Rom 16:17-18), and having “no fellowship with the unfruitful workers of darkness” (Eph 5:11), Wiersbe, by his own admission and actions, fellowshipped with them. That is far from Biblical Christianity and once again proves he was nothing less than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Scripture is actually quite clear that professing Christians that don’t separate from heresies and heretics (which are mostly dangerous unregenerate and ungodly sinners, even wolves in sheep’s clothing), are professing only, nominal, merely “Christian” by name:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Ps 1:1-6)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6:14-18)
3. Wiersbe pastored the extremely compromised and heretical wishy washy neo-evangelical Moody Church.
Naturally one would have to be of that mindset and belief to be pastoring a church of such standard, yea, and further, really the catalyst behind the heresies. None of this should come as surprise considering this man also edited the extremely heretical and unBiblical Christianity Today publication.
4. Wiersbe teachings in Back to the Bible were heavily saturated with unbiblical and ungodly psychology and his commentary contains plenty of false doctrine.
Not only did he reject the critical doctrine of separation, which is intimately associated with salvation (2 Cor 6:14-18), he brashly encouraged others to disobey the same. Back to the Bible has identified itself with a wide range of false teachings and false teachers. Wiersbe’s soteriological and sanctification teachings were a mishmash of Keswick theology and Calvinism.
5. Wiersbe endorsed and loved the exceedingly blasphemous perversion of the Bible called The Message.
Of this seriously perverted book that calls itself a “Bible,” he amazingly said:
“The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I’ve ever read.”
Wow. It is certainly the most evil and blasphemous perversion on the face of the planet and that’s really the only comparison that can be made. It is the most awful and horrendous perversion of God’s Word and in the greatest extreme of adding to or subtracting from Scripture (cg. Rev 22:18-19).
Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message, was a universalist who recommended the ungodly heretic 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 some quotes from The Message which was so heartily praised by Wiersbe:
Matt 5:3 in the KJV,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt 5:3 in The 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.”
Being poor in spirit means to be at the end of your rope?! Many are at the end of their rope but they are not broken or poor of spirit before God. The second half doesn’t even make sense and has zero relevance to what the Greek Scriptures say.
Matt 5:8 in the KJV,
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Matt 5:8 in The 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.”
This must be transcendental, because it doesn’t make any non-transcendental sense.
Matt 9:34 in the KJV,
“But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.”
Matt 9:34 in The Message,
“The Pharisees were left sputtering, ‘Hocus Pocus. It’s nothing but Hocus Pocus.’”
This is awful and clearly a “translational-paraphrase.”
The Message is much more like a New Age channeling than a true Bible translation.
That is unsurprising since Peterson was a New Ager through and through. In the book As Above, So Below, Ronald Miller and the editors of the New Age Journal say:
“This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked” (quoted from Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, 2004).
In light of this, consider the following quotations from Peterson’s The Message.
Matt 6:9-13 in The Message,
“Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best — AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge!”
Col 1:16 in The Message,
“For everything, absolutely everything, ABOVE AND BELOW, visible and invisible . . . everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.”
The Message is an environmental hocus pocus Bible, as well. In Rom 15:13, The Message says, “May the God of green hope fill you up with joy” and in 1 Cor 6:9-10 it says that those who “use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t quality as citizens in God’s kingdom.”
The Message is pro-homosexual, playing right into the hands of those who teach that homosexuality is a natural condition that God can bless instead of a sin that needs to be repented of. Every passage that condemns homosexuality is tampered with in The Message. For example, 1 Cor 6:9-11 in the KJV warns that “effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” will not inherit the kingdom of God without being born again. In The Message this becomes the vapid and almost meaningless “those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex.” In 1 Tim 1:10, “them that defile themselves with mankind” is changed to “the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever.”
Yikes. How frightfully awful to tamper and mess with the very words that God gave. It is not surprising that Peterson told Religion News Service on July 12, 2017, that he did not believe that homosexuality is sinful. He said,
“I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do. I think that kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over. People who disapprove of it, they'll probably just go to another church. So we're in a transition and I think it's a transition for the best, for the good.”
Let’s not forget that this man and his “Bible” were highly endorsed by Wiersbe.
6. Wiersbe was committed to rock & roll music and the neo-evangelical unBiblical philosophy.
Wiersbe’s philosophy was the “lighten up, be positive, don’t be so strict, be more tolerant, have a broader tent of associations.” This is doing more than any other one thing to build an apostate “church,” which is the majority “churches” of our day.
The Bible commands separation and exposure of all false teachers and heretics and compromisers and that’s my point here.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 Jn. 1:9-11)
Wiersbe transgressed and did not abide in the doctrine of Christ for many reasons including the ones noted above.
The Bible teaches that we are to test all teachings (1 Jn 4:1, 6; Ac 17:11; 1 Th 5:21), expose those teachings that are false (Eph 5:11), confront and rebuke false teachers (Ti 1:9,13), and then separate from those who persist in false teaching (Rom. 16:17; Ti. 3:10; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Jn. 1:9-11), lest in the end, we are disqualified for service (2 Tim. 2:20-21), or worse yet, we are identified with the false teachings and the false teachers themselves (2 Jn. 1:10-11), or even worse than that, God chastises us with sickness and/or death (Heb 12:5-11; 1 Cor. 11:28-32). No person or organizations embracing such a large range of error and false teachers should be trusted, or entertained, or learned from or yoked together with. God’s Word forbids it.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Eph 5:12)
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom 16:17-18)