Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pastor Rick Warren...
"I'm Always Happy to be a Back Channel for Peace."

I wrote an article a few weeks ago concerning some of Mr. Warren's social gospel agenda subtitled, "...when a pastor tries to be a politician." That same sentiment has been echoed in an excellent piece written by Bryan Preston for Michelle Malkin on her tremendous blog at HotAir.com.

It is a legitimate thing to question Mr. Warren when he is acting more like a statesmen than a shepherd. On one hand, he claims the following:

"I'll go anywhere as long as I'm not muzzled. Now, if they put restrictions on what I say, that's a different issue. But I have a basic message that says you were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life isn't going to make sense. And if I [don't] get the opportunity to share that, then I don't go. I don't ever go into these places as a politician. I don't go in as a diplomat. I don't go in as trying to take a job that's not my job. But if I get an opportunity to go in and bring hope, encouragement, and the message of the good news, I'm going to do it." (emphasis added)

BUT, then on the other hand he says this,
"PASTOR RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, "THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE": I'm always happy to be a back channel for peace. (emphasis added).
As Mr. Preston brilliantly points out that phrase is nothing short of politics--
"It's possible that Warren thinks he's being a back channel for peace just by being an American and showing up in Pyongyang and Damascus and shaking hands with the monsters that rule there. But, isn't that engaging in diplomacy and politics?"

And that should be a concern that deserves all our attention.

Here is an important question for us all to ponder: where in the Word of God has the Lord given guidelines for any of his pastors to act like politicians, bartering the centrality of the cross, the gospel of sola fide, and the exclusivity and glory of Jesus Christ in order to be co-belligerent with nonbelievers to battle and/or cure cultural, societal maladies? The answer to that question is critical to understanding how a pastor biblically should function, confront, and be a voice for the gospel and the veracity of Scripture in a secular society. To paraphrase Luther, Mr. Warren's thoughts of Scripture, the pastorate, and a biblical model of ministry "are far too human."

Why didn't Mr. Warren call any of these "monsters" to repentance from their sin; to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives? You know why... politics won't allow what the gospel commands.

I would strongly encourage you to read Bryan Preston's insightful and lucid article.

21 comments:

Steve said...

Thanks for such an insightful post.

john said...

Steve,
You asked:

"Where in the Word of God has the Lord given guidelines for any of his pastors to act like politicians, bartering the centrality of the cross, the gospel of sola fide, and the exclusivity and glory of Jesus Christ in order to be co-belligerent with nonbelievers to battle and/or cure cultural, societal maladies?"

Isn't it a matter of loving people. If I see injustice against a group of people, doesn't scripture teach me to stand up for them? If I see poor people, doesn't scripture teach me to help them?

I think Christians have lost sight of the fact that we're not here for ourselves - to further our counter-culture. We're supposed to be salt and light in the culture at large.

That's going to mean learning to work together with those we don't agree with. Do you imagine that rescue workers at Ground Zero after 9/11 asked the faiths of those around them before heading into the destruction to search for survivors? Of course not!

Being a Christian should not mean that I can't work side by side with those who don't share my beliefs. Show me in scripture where I'm commanded to do that? Doesn't Paul say to be "in the world" but not "of the world"? We can't withdraw from society.

CounterCultureJoel said...

Excellent point John. While I do not fervently hold the same positions as Rick Warren, I believe we must engage our culture and earn the right to share God's love with them. I believe Paul also said "I am all things to all men so some might be saved."

Overall, Steve this was a good post. The God does call us to share the gospel, not demand repentance. Let us leave conviction and salvation to the work of His hand.

Merry Christmas (can I say that or must I demand that all people who read this to "Repent, and thou shalt be saved!!" and then say "Merry Christmas"?) Just some witty humor! Blessings all.

SJ Camp said...

Good thoughts expressed by all. I appreciate hearing the "other side" knowing that we all desire to please the Lord and reach others with the gospel for Christ.

Grace and peace,
Steve

cyd said...

Dear John:

In his own words, Rick is trying "act or create a culture of civility". From a 'pastors' lips, this is terribly confusing to me and many others.

According to 2 Tim.4:1-5 , a pastor is to "preach the word, be be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching..."

He is not to trade that calling for a peaceful coalition for social causes. This is the context of the post.
His calling is to do the work of an evangelist.

Loving our neighbor is not an issue of partnering with non-believers on social issues. It is a command given to all believers,
as you have well stated in your examples.

Question for you: how do you think what Warren is doing fulfills his pastoral calling?

Thanks so much

Cindy

************

Dear CCJoel:

Proclaiming the gospel and calling people to repentance are not to be compartmentalized. They go together, wouldn't you agree?

(Mk 6:12; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 26:20; Romans 2:1-11; Heb. 6:1-6; 2Pt.3:9)

The gift of repentance and faith to believe is indeed the Lord's work, start to finish. Aren't we glad!!

I do hope you will be careful about making light of repentance for the sake of wit -- it is far too precious a subject.

Thank you!

Cindy B.

john said...

Cindy,
I believe one of the most powerful ways to evangelize is simply to love and serve people - all people; to live sacrificially and make basic things like food, clothing and shelter a priority for everyone.

Rather than leading with the message of sin and repentence, you lead with love. Once you have a relationship with those you're trying to reach, words will mean more and you'll win a hearing.

So I think that in working together with others - believer or not - to meet basic needs is a GREAT way to evangelize.

gigantor1231 said...

While we live in the world should we have fellowship with those that are in darkness?
While it is true that we are in the world to be light and salt Mt 5:13-17, it is also true that we should have no fellowship with darkness, 2Cor 6:14-7:1 we have nothing in common with them, those that truly believe in Christ are diametrically opposed to those that do not believe in Christ and any act to bridge that gap with anything other than the pure unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ is futility. Unless one has accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ he is dead and he can not even understand the things of the spirit and there can never be any agreement, that is unless you want your agreement to be on the level of the flesh and you want to abide in the flesh, of course that would be sin for any Christian John 15 especially verse 5 1Cor 2: especially verse 14. And the Gospel simply put 1Cor 2:2 Jesus Christ and him crucified, God descended as a man and dwelt among us as the light of men, the word of God John 1, Mt 1:23, Is 7:14, He is the only way to God the Father John 14:6 and his name is the ony name under heaven by wich men must be saved Acts 4:12. Please keep in mind that while Christ was in the world he was not from the world and the world knew him not and as we know the world hated him and had him crucified, see all four gospels. While it is true that the world crucified him he also layed down his life of his own accord John 10 and John 3:16.
Jesus and Paul did not fellowship with anyone of the world (κοινωνία [koinonia /koy·nohn·ee·ah/] enhanced strongs lexicon 2842) rather they taught them the truth, they fed them and they left them, those that believed and followed had fellowship with them, Romans 1:16 for I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for Salvation TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES, to the jew first and also to the greek. When Paul said that he became all things to all men that did not mean that he became gay to reach the gay man, yes this is a extreme example, but the point is that Paul sacrificed who he was in worldly stature so that some might come to the knowledge of the saving truth of Jesus Christ 1Cor 9:22. This was no easy or light thing for Paul but a sacrifice, it grieved his soul just as it did Christ's to see the evil of the world and he was no friend of the world. Paul's spirit was provoked within him at the Areopagus on Mars hill in Athens, the word provoked here means to be deeply troubled or grieved Acts 17:16-33.
Forgive me for going to such lengths to explain this but Mr. Camp has posted these truths about men such as Rick Warren because they do not hold to the fundamental truths of the word of God, they preach another Gospel of unity through syncretism and ecumenicalism, the mingling of man made philosopy with the truth of God. This is antithetical to everything the word of God teaches from Genesis to Revelation, God did not allow Israel to mingle themselves with the pagans and he still feels the same today, He is a jealous God Ex 34:14. In short, Mr. Warren and others like him preach a new gospel a worldly gospel that sounds good and is very philanthropic but it in no way coincides with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Simply put the problem of man is not the plagues, wars and famines but sin and until the truth is preached to the world and realized all of the plagues, wars and famines will continue until the full consumation of Jesus Christ when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Until that time comes we must remain in this world and preach the Gospel all the time praying come soon Lord Jesus.

gigantor1231 said...

John
While it is true that I am going to feed and take blankets to the poor God did not mandate me to earn there right He did tell us to preach the gospel to all men until his coming. The problem of man kind is sin, not hunger or homelessnes or war or disease these, I hope you will agree, are a result of sin. Romans 10:12-15 when you give the blanket you preach the gospel, when you feed you preach the gospel, when you aid the suffering in war you preach the gospel and please keep in mind that the world will hate you on account of this Gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified. If you wait for the right to preach you will probably never get it but if you preach perhaps you will save some. Take them the full Gospel, tell them the good and bad of it, yes take the message of eternal separation from God too, as soon as you can because in only a moment, a twinkling of the eye the oportunity may be lost forever. It is only for you to sow the Gospel and God will bring the increase. This is the way God has chosen that it be done, I would obey God fully if I were you.

john said...

The idea that we should totally disconnect from the culture at large is not scriptural.

Didn't Christ say that it's the sick who need a doctor? Light will shine in darkness, but only if we take it there.

The fact is that Jesus hung out with non-believersa and made a difference. Many believers today do NOT hang out with non-believers. That's why I think the Church is largely irrelevent in our culture.

Scripture certainly teaches us to be socially responsible and involved.
James reminds us that true religion involves caring for widows and orphans and that real faith yields real good works. Matthew 25 talks of remembering the poor, sick and oppressed. Scripture teaches us to be IN the world, yet not OF it.

I believe we've lost the battle for the hearts and minds of our nation because we've withdrawn to our church buildings. Many of us have become content with our material wealth and have found all sorts of justifications for ignoring the "least of these".

I think it's possible and totally appropriate to work with non-believes and not compromise our values and beliefs. I think this is vital to the relationship of the Church to the culture at large.

gigantor1231 said...

John
I never said that Christ was not around those of the world, it is quite obvious that he was. There is a distinction however when it comes to fellowship because darkness and light have nothing in common. Christ preached the Gospel plane and simple, and it was unaduterated, the apostle Paul did the same thing. The bottom line is that the gospel is what the world needs and sin is the problem and until that is addressed it will not make any difference how much compassion one shows for the lost, and yes we still should show compassion irregardless of ones standing with God even unto death if need be. Whether the individual does works toward personal salvation or the individual does works to win the salvation of another it is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit only that regenerates the man. Why preach the gospel one might ask? The answer is simple, it is because God has chosen this method to draw those he has chosen to him.
I would caution you at laying the blame of this nations spiritual state at the feet of the bride of Christ. The truth is that the Gospel has been available to the people of this nation and the people of this nation have chosen not to respond to Christ, they have chosen sin and death. As I said and as the bible says the Gospel is the power of God to salvation and it is man's sin that has seperated him from God. We can link arms with all the un-godly people, mormons, buddhists, U2 fans, democrats and republicans and all who would choose to do what the world would call "good works" to solve AIDS, hunger, disease,war or whatever problem you want to choose, if man kind does not turn from sin and confess Jesus Christ as Lord then man kind will be judged and populate hell. It is very deluded to think other wise. I would challenge you to search the scriptures and within the context and the confines of the word of God to show otherwise. If this is not true I would like to know.
As you know one day Christ will separate the sheep from the goats, the righteous from the unrighteous and those that are the goats will say "did we not do the things you said in your name" and Christ will send them into eternal punishment because they did not abide in him the true vine Mt 25:31-46 and John 15. Apparently those who were the goats thought they were doing a good thing but God did not.
The Gospel has been preached backwards and forwards, up and down in this nation and God will not hold the church responsible for the salvation of one individual because salvation is not the responsibility of the church, we are commanded to preach the gospel and that does include compassion for the poor and down trodden but as I said if there is no Gospel preached no men will be saved but for the Grace of God all would be lost.

gigantor1231 said...

OK John, checked out your blogs, I understand your philosophy now. I am curious as to know wheter or not 1. you hold the scriptures to be true, are they 100% the word of God?
2. Do you believe the atoneing sacrifice of Christ is the answer for all man kind, in other words was Christ's death upon the cross sufficient to solve man kinds sin problem?
3. Is salvation by grace alone, it is a gift of God lest any man should boast? We respond in love to God by doing the works he commands us but do not do works to attain salvation!
I am sincerely interested in your answers to these questions.

john said...

1. I'm struggling through an understanding of how scripture fits into our faith. I believe it is inspired, but not necessarily completely correct in the form we have it today. There are obviously translation errors. But overall, I think scripture is the primary way God communicates with us - though not the only way.

2. Yes. Christ's sacrifice restored our relationship to God. I also believe He died for all - that anyone can accept His gift.

3. I think that because He died for us, we should live for Him. People are precious to Him and they should be to us as well. I don't think God cares less for non-believers than believers, so I don't make a distinction either. If a brother is hungry, I feed him. If an unrepentent sinner is hungry, I feed him as well. While those in the faith receive my first attention, I don't think we leave others out in the cold. "We'll help you if you'll get yourself straightened out." I just don't see it that way.

As for sheep and goats, Matthew 25 is pretty clear that the difference is that the sheep cared for "the least of these" while the goats ignored those in need.

As for laying the blame at the foot of the Church, I absolutely lay it squarely there. In Deuteronomy, we're told that if we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, God may hear us and heal the land.

But that's not what we do. We fight amoungst ourselve, try to build our 501(c)(3) organizations and build our own kingdoms - hording our riches and consuming the rest upon our lusts. We cling to the idea that 10% of what we have is God's even though we could exist very comfortably giving him 20% or 50% or 80%.

Many pastors are becoming millionaires and our buildings are growing larger and larger while there are people living on the street, sick people who can't afford medical care and widows and orphans are largely ignored. Christian book stores pedal overpriced drivel while whole continents whither with hunger and disease.

The Church is the only hope for this world. We must wake up! We must begin to live for Him and for others. We have the resources to really make a difference, but we've got to stop throwing it away on meaningless junk! We need to begin to moderate our own lifestyle to help others.

One of my favorite examples of believers truly living like followers of Christ is set in London during the great plague. As disease swept throught the continent, people were terrified of the disease. If someone in a family fell ill, often the rest of the family would simply move out - head to the country. But some Christians stayed behind to care for those left. Many died as a result.

To me, that's a beautiful picture of the Church. That's a bride Christ would be want to marry. That's what I wish I could be like and the Church could be like.

gigantor1231 said...

John
As james says, faith is dead with out works and I agree whole heartedly with you on the materalistic society that we live in, how it is shameful that we are so materialistic. Having viewed your web site and seen some of your posts and comments you seem to mingle pure with impure in your doctrine. What I see is, and forgive me if I am wrong, that as long as the objective is obtained then it makes no difference what the means of achieving that objective is. Is this what being a Christian is to you, do you just pick and choose the passage of the bible you consider worthy to follow? No offense intended here, I am interested in knowing if this is what you are about?
As far as drawing a distinction between the saved and the un saved, on one hand we are all sinners in need of a savior, Jesus Christ, on the other hand it is the true Christian, the redeemed ones, that will respond to Christ and serve those in need, those lost, in the hope of seeing some saved, however, we can only take them to the foot of the cross and either the holy spirit does the rest to compel the lost to come to him or he does not, this is simply the way God has chosen to work. As for the lost, you will find they will always hate and despise Christ and those who belong to Christ, it is simply their nature, it all started in Genesis. My task here is to obey and serve and rejoice when I suffer for the sake of the Gospel, I am here to bring God glory.
As I said before though, all the good works in the world will not be enough to save one sinner, as a matter of fact blankets, food etc... they are all limited in quantity they will run out and unless the unsaved hear the gospel you will simply keep them warm and fed or maybe you will leave them hungry trying to help them before they populate hell. My point is the gospel needs to be preached in season and out of season that some might be saved.

gigantor1231 said...

John
I forgot to add this, the scripture you quoted in Deuteronomy was not written to the church rather to Israel, we are two seperate entities, those who are gentiles and are saved are grafted into the true vine, Christ, we are not native. Just as God's promise to Naaman the leper to be healed if he dipped himself in the Jordan 7 times does not apply to us, the passage you quoted in Deuteronomy does not apply to anyone but Israel at that time. As far as the scripture is concerned and error, do you believe in the sovereignty of God? That he is able to keep his word pure and un adulterated? There are some very reliable translations that follow the original texts.
As far as extra biblical communication from God, one must be careful to test all things in light of the scripture, no personal interpretation 2 tim 3:16 states that all scripture is breathed out by God and either you accept that or not, I guess you do, I honestly do not know what the translational errors are you refer to? My point is the Bible is the only perfect work there is and it is the only plumb line we can measure all else by. I hope God blesses you in your search for truth and may he lead you into it 2peter 1:20, 21 no prophecy of scripture comes from someones own interpretation, this is a pretty absolute statement.

john said...

gig,
Respectfully, I would contend that scripture is not a perfect work. Here's a link to a site that addresses some translation errors.

Here is a list of contradictions.

The older I get, the less I believe that God has preserved scripture perfectly for us. I think the way God has set things up, we always have free will. We can choose to sin. Popes can choose to corrupt and warp scripture. Scribes can mess up. Translating from languages like Hebrew or Greek is extremely difficult and errors have obviously been made.

So I would believe that our modern scriptures are inspired, but probably wouldn't characterize it as "inerrant".

I know this creates a huge slippery slope for our faith, but I must acknowledge the reality of the situation. For years, I used the "God can keep it perfect" clause to explain away errors, but I can't do that anymore. I want to know the Truth.

gigantor1231 said...

John
I am a little disappointed in that you have done what many people do when it comes down to seeking the truth, they take the easiest route, the road of least resistance. I can go on the web and I am sure I could find sources that say that the world is controlled by the sugar plum ferry if I wanted to. The fact is if finding the truth was so important to you, you would seek it with rigor, not to say that you haven't put forth that type of effort it just appears that you have not! If you want I would be glad to direct you to some places that can open the truth to you but you need to understand that it is going to take hard work, please read this text and it will give you a good description of what it will cost you Job 28, this is how you will find the truth if you want it.
Also, do not rely on what others say but seek God yourself, learn Greek and Hebrew if it is important to you, you do not need to, there are many resources that can help, impartial and non biased resources. I have learned Greek and I hope to learn Hebrew as well because it is a tremendous aid to me and I love the word of God. You also need to know that the word of God is a book that can only be spiritually discerned, I have already quoted these scriptures to you and I am sure you have heard them before so I will not bother you with them again. Search for the truth with rigor, go hard after Christ until you catch him and do not let him deny you, he will not turn you away. As for free will, you are correct in that you can choose the way that you want to sin, unfortunately man has no way to God with out Christ calling him, man is dead and blind to all the things of God and until God enlightens and regenerates man, there is only darkness, that is why the Gospel must be preached, it is the way God has chosen to draw men to himself.
I have been to your blogs, as you know, and I have to say that I see a lot of confusion and darkness in the things that you write, I will pray for you. I also see your heart to help others and that is good. Nice looking kids, I have been a foster parent and I have three girls of my own that I raise, my wife died of cancer in 02 and so I raise them by myself. I guess I have had atleast twenty kids come and go through my household, of course now it is just my girls and I since I want to focus all my attention on them since their mom is no longer with us but with Christ.
The Bible is the most incredible book I have ever encountered in my life, and know I did not grow up in a Christian home but in a stable envioronment where I grew with what the world would deem good things but I would have to say the most memorable things were the screaming and cussing my parents did toward each other, I used to see my brother get his body pummeled by my dad on a regular basis, my brother is a bitter abusive alchoholic because of that and I was abused by my older brother as well too. I only tell you this to give you a idea of who I am and what I could have been. The thing is that God chose to change me and direct my life in another direction, and when I say change me it was in a big way. I have sought after truth around the world and this country, I have viewed many different religions and beliefs and have come to the conclusion that the God of the Bible is the only true God, and there are none like him.
I hope that what ever happens to you that you will come to the true God in Christ. I do not mean to close this on a negative note but "There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death" Pr. 14:12, don't follow what you think is right but follow the things that have been tested by yourself and time. I am always amazed at how people deny that Christ is who he says he is but at the same time they use his name in vain daily, they don't use buddha's name or allah's name or any other false god's name to curse but only Jesus Christ or God, this may seem trivial but I think that it is no coincidence, the world hates true Christianity and all that it stands for. Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God Rom 10:17.

gigantor1231 said...

John
I did not say it but I will look at these apparent contradictions and errors, it seems many come from the KJV 1611 translation and some of the older versions where the technology or the learning was not available to check for errors or compare texts for translation. Also when we say in errant we do not refer to typography or syntax, it is obvious that there will be a missing letter or a mispelled word, when I refer to in errant I am refering to the scope of the message of the bible as well as the consistent theme and the message, also the prophetic aspect of the word as well, yes men will and can twist the word as we have seen but that does not take away from the fact that it is inerrant. I think also that we need to look at the fact that over the many years that the entire canon of the bible has existed there has been no one that has been able to disprove the main theme or the scarlet thread that runs through, as well as the prophecies that have been fulfilled, many have tried but none have been able to shake the foundation! Amazingly enough most who have endeavored to disprove or sully the word have ended up being converted themselves, this must say something for the Word of God. Also, there are some very reliable non biased tranlation today, ESV, NAS, NKJV.
I do not mean to trivialize what you have forwarded me and I will look at the information, I would hope that the individuals that have written the material presented have no bias in what they have written.

gigantor1231 said...

Just thought I would post this link here for anyone to see. The video is of one of Rick Warren's presentations and it epitomizes who Rick is and what his true ministry is about. Please take note as to where the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands with Mr Warren, take note as to what he tells the listeners about God and how he feels about them, what their purpose in life is. This is very telling.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/new_details3.asp?ID=9658

Douglas said...

"john said...

gig,

Respectfully, I would contend that scripture is not a perfect work. Here's a link to a site that addresses some translation errors.

Here is a list of contradictions."

Dear john,

I would contend that Scripture is a perfect work in the original manuscripts, I believe in the inerrancy of the Autographa. I am happy with the copies we have today, they still point to the truth of God's word with a very close degree of accuracy apparently. That's reassuring.

Here are a couple of links or three that may help you out of your quandary relating to translation errors and so called contradictions that atheists and others with an axe to grind like to use against Christians and Christianity generally to mock and scoff at and try and discredit the true-truth, wicked sinners they are, eh?:

Bible Contradictions and Other Bible Difficulties

Tekton Apologetics Encyclopedia

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

. .But examine everything carefully . . . (1 Thess. 5:21).

"Bible contradictions and Bible difficulties are nothing new to Christian apologists and non-Christian critics. The Bible is constantly under attack and Christians need to know how to give an answer to everyone who asks (1 Peter 3:15). Are there really any Bible contradictions?"

Here is a link to some excellent articles on Inerrancy that should be a real joy and pleasure for you to work your way through, such a huge blessing I reckon. Getting to really know the truth and the truth sets us free, eh?

Enjoy your studies, study is a real joy! Study can be very hard work too but oh so very rewarding, discovering the precious gems and other treasures contained in the mine of God's word

gigantor1231 said...

Douglas
Appreciate your posts of sights that deal with bible difficulties and apparent contradictions. I have no problem with the inerrancy of the word of God, it is nice to have something extra under the belt to direct individuals to such as John. Most of the things dealt with as far as what he and many others term as bible error usually are very petty and self explanatory, such as old antiquated translations of the scripture, or simple gramatical mistranslation of of Greek or Hebrew texts. As you said and it seems to be the trend here, most people are just to lazy to take the time to work through things, and or they have some axe to grind, they love the world not the word etc....

Douglas said...

gigantor1231,

you are most welcome.

I was just thinking, I reckon every new baby Christian should be given a copy of R. C. Sproul's book "Knowing Scripture" and the links to those websites and most of their problems would be solved within a very short time at the sart of their spiritual journey in their walk with God, receiving a good solid understanding of His word and all the misconceptions that go with it. Errors die a very slow death.

Keep up the fight of the faith.