Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Attacking Rick Warren's Purpose


This past Saturday, Pastor Rick Warren, successful writer of such Christian mega-sellers like "The Purpose Driven Life", spoke at the Islamic Society of North America's 46th annual convention in Washington. He urged Christians and Muslims to "partner" together to "end what he calls "the five global giants" of war, poverty, corruption, disease and illiteracy."

He added "It's easier to be an extremist of any kind because then you only have one group of people mad at you," he said. "But if you actually try to build relationships — like invite an evangelical pastor to your gathering — you'll get criticized for it. So will I."

And despite his seemingly innocuous speech promoting ecumenical good, Warren is right. He's not only being criticized but attacked. Just out of (morbid) curiosity, I opened the link following the MSNBC.com article for reader comments to read numerous responses filled with venomous barbs- the sharpest being from fellow evangelical Christians. Here's a sampling:

  • "The problem is as a so-called Christian, Warren is not supposed to cuddle up to false religions in an effort to gain their support. His faith and his allegiance should be 100% to Jesus the Christ and he should be closed minded to other religions...I believe it is time to disregard Rick Warren as anything but a one man show bent on getting his face back out in the public and his books sold."
So he's a "so-called" Christian because he advocates working with others outside the faith for the betterment of society? I disagree and think this writer is guilty of being a Judgey McJudegy-pants. We don't know Warren's heart, only God does, so to accuse him of making such overtures to merely sell books isn't fair.

  • Rick Warren has just gotten so full of his popularity that he is willing to forsake his calling to preach the Word of God. Don't be surprised if he runs for some political office soon-he is seeking self-glory.
How do you know he's forsaken his calling? He's continued to oversee Saddleback Church, and has done numerous other appearances speaking to the Christian faithful, such as a speech in front of the new conservative Anglican church a couple of weeks ago. And what makes him "so full" of himself? And what if he does decide to run for office? Believe me, I'm no fan of mixing religion with politics, but he wouldn't be the first evangelical pastor to make the foray into government. What say ye of Mike Huckabee?

  • Warren does not speak for all Southern or Independent Baptist. What can anyone expect from him as he said the so called prayer at the biggest Mus lover (O'Bama) inaguration in the country. Warren needs to repent and turn from his evil ways. The Koran teaches hate, my Holy Bible teaches love. You will find no where in the New Testament of the killing a non-believer. With so called evangilist like this no wonder America is headed straight to hell on the fast track. God help us ! ! !

Oy vey! Ok, this one speaks for itself. Just plain crazy. I'll make a few comments, though. First, what's wrong with Obama loving Muslims? Perhaps this writer forgets we as Christians are commanded to love others, even (especially) people unlike us. So if Obama loves Muslims, kudos to him. Second, what are his "evil ways"? Aghast, speaking to Muslims? Aiming to eradicate illiteracy? I wish this commentor would elaborate. Lastly, if this writer thinks he'll be winning hearts to Christ with lines like "The Koran teaches hate...", he's sadly mistaken. How is a diatribe against the President, a fellow Christian and people of another faith a good witness? I'm just stumped.

Over on Wintery Knight's blog, he took issue with Warren, too, questioning his orthodoxy: "My advice: Never trust Christians who think that Christianity is just about helping the poor. That is a peripheral issue, which some Christians focus on in order to avoid debates about the main issues of Christianity. The main issues are “Does God Exist?” and “Who was Jesus?”. Why people follow these left-wing social justice mega-church pastors instead of solid Christian scholars is beyond me. Just another reason why Christians should be fiscal conservatives."

Ouch... although he's not blaming Warren for the sorry state of the nation, he has managed to smoothly link him to the scourge of the social gospel and the most abhorred "left-wing". It's beyond me why so many Christians believe attacking fellow brothers and sisters will help in the spread of the Gospel. It makes us look like we have the severest case of sibling rivalry ever- "Nuh uh, Father God LIKES me more than you because you are doing all these things wrong and I do them right!" It's just silly and embaraasing at best and hateful and defeating at worst. I'm not saying we can't disagree or that we can't be upset; but how we handle our differences is what counts. The Bible says to "Be angry, but sin not." So if someone disagrees with Warren's writings or speeches, critique his words. But claiming to know he's just out to sell books (which by the way, wouldn't benefit him too much since he donates 90% of income earned from sales to charity) is just plain wrong. We don't know his "purpose" or intent, since we are not God.

Also, and this is just my humble opinion, I don't agree with the claims that by working on social issues, one has forsaken spiritual ones. It is true that some would rather work to heal this world rather than speak of Heaven or Hell. And Christians should never neglect to spread the whole Gospel- of redemption, salvation and eternity. Jesus was born to die- so that all may live. This should never be hidden, diminished or forgotten. But if we are to look at Christ as our guide, we should not overlook how many times he met people's physical needs- feeding the hungry, healing the sick and reaching out to all- from kids to undesirables. Reality is, many won't start thinking of Heaven if they're living through Hell now. Christians are told to help "the least of these" and when we do, we'll be doing it for Christ.

Regarding the assumption that all good Christians pledge allegiance to a particular political party- read my blog, "Five Things I Hate About Us: An Open Letter." That pretty much sums up my feelings.

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