Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thoughts on Rick Warren

I'll be the first one to confess that I've been largely critical of the Purpose Driven Life phenomena over the last few years. It's not the man, Rick Warren that I don't care for, but the evangelical frenzy over "shiny things" that come about in the evangelical sub-culture (ie. PDL, WWJD, Prayer of Jabez, Promise Keepers). I realize that people are sometimes encouraged by these fads, but I still believe the collective adoration of Evangelicals toward these things is nothing short of idolatry. Only Jesus Christ should occupy our attention with such fervor, in my opinion.

Anyway, it comes as no surprise to me that Rick Warren, being as popular as he is, would be invited to pray at a President Obama's Inauguration, or address the Islamic Society of North America. Likewise, it doesn't surprise me that there would be an evangelical uproar in response to these actions.

From what I've been able to tell from the news reports, the gist of Warren's message was "let's work together on addressing some social plights in the world." Heresy!? Not quite, but at the same time, I don't believe the mission of Jesus Christ and his body (The Church) is solely to address social issues either.

What I find disturbing is the evangelical attitude toward Warren for even attending and participating in these events. It reminds me of the response of another group of religious people a few thousand years ago.

In one example found in reading of the Gospel of John, I see Jesus breaking all sorts of social and religious taboos by deciding to talk to a Samaritan women - about religious things. This women had totally different ideas about God than Jesus, not to mention she was a women, not to mention she was an adulterous women, etc.

Yet, Jesus' love for this women is apparent in scripture. He didn't have a separatist attitude toward Samaritans like the religious people of his day (who happened to miss Jesus' entirely due to their religious fervor). In many ways, I think that the American "Christian" sub-culture has made enemies with groups of people (ie. Muslims, Homosexuals). This is contrary to the Gospel because it seeks to cut off certain people from the Cross of Calvary.

Jesus's message to the Samaritan women at the well (who was there for thirst quenching mind you) was that the current religious categories and practices (at that time) don't matter, God was looking for Spirit and Truth worship from Spirit and Truth worshippers. Please, don't misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying that God wants Islamic and Christian worship. What he wants is people who know and worship him. He's gathering those people from every conceivable people group on earth those "born" into the "christian" sub-cultures of the west, as well as those born into Islam - even religious, mean-spirited people fortunately!

How else, aside from relating to people are we going to build relationships with those who are perishing? If the ISNA wanted to work together with Christians like Warren to build strip clubs across the nation, I could understand the hesitance, but wanting to relate to one another around something social is not synonymous with evil. It's not being yoked together as we're told not to be, but it's an opportunity to relate to one another which is why the Church is here on earth and not in heaven!

We'd all do well to learn that relating to one another does not equate to condoning the beliefs or actions of one another. Separating ourselves entirely from others is not the answer, and it's not something Jesus did. Jesus was nearly always surrounded by CROWDS of people.

In summary, perhaps Christians need to simmer down and holster their weapons. Rick Warren's actions do not make him an enemy of Jesus Christ, nor should he be made an enemy of followers of Jesus. They guy is building relationships with "Samaritans". When's the last time you and I did so?

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