Audio: Rick Warren praises Syria’s “moderation” Update: Cover-up at Saddleback?

posted at 9:57 am on November 28, 2006 by Bryan

Rev. Rick Warren earned criticism a couple of weeks ago for appearing in Syria and becoming a propaganda tool of the Assad regime. Warren responded with a press release that essentially blamed it all on bloggers, and Franklin Graham. Here’s the letter Warren sent out to his Saddleback community once the Syria controversy broke:

Dear Saddleback Family,

Tomorrow our team heads home from a three-nation P.E.A.C.E. plan
tour of Germany, Syria, and Rwanda. Our trip began with a P.E.A.C.E.
Plan briefing for 44 Christian missions organizations we’d gathered
in Atlanta.

In hindsight, I wish we’d been better prepared for our visit to
Syria. We would have handled some meetings differently, watched our
words more closely, and been more aware of the agenda of their state
press. We wanted to just slip in and out, but that’s nearly
impossible for me to do anymore. It’s been a learning experience. Be
sure to read the press release at the end of this note that gives
you all the details.

Why did we go to Syria? The simple truth is that I was invited by my
neighbor, Yassar. When we arrived, our first event was a home cooked
meal with 20 of Yassar’s family. Then, we were shown many of the
historical Christian sites in Syria: the road to Damascus where Paul
was converted, Straight street where the Holy Spirit led Paul, the
house where Ananias prayed for his healing, the wall where Paul was
let down in a basket to escape the Romans, the tomb of John the
Baptist and the oldest Christian church building in existence.

Next, my neighbor arranged for us to meet some key Christian
leaders, Muslim leaders, and government leaders – including the
president of Syria. Franklin Graham has had years of experience with
Lebanon and Syria, so I asked him what to say to the Syrian
President. Franklin told me, “Thank him for protecting the freedom
of Christians and Jews to worship there.”

As we left, the official state-controlled Syrian news agency issued
some press releases that sounded like I was a politician negotiating
the Iraq war by praising the Syrian President and everything else in
Syria! Of course, that’s ridiculous, but it created a stir among
bloggers who tend to editorialize before verifying the truth. Does
it seem ironic to you that people who distrust Syria are now
believing Syrian press releases?

In our meeting with the president, I explained (as usual) the
Saddleback P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he gave us permission to send teams
to Syria.

Friends, I am aware that inaccuracies, misquotes, and misperceived
motivations get reported about me in the press daily. Most of the
time, I just ignore them. Jesus said, “If the world hates you,
remember that it hated me first.” (John 15:18 – NCV)

I love the paraphrase of Matthew 5:11-12 (Msg): “Count yourselves
blessed every time people put you down or speak lies about you to
discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for
comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that
happens—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven
applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and
witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

Just don’t believe everything you read on the Internet or hear in
the media.

I love you all and I’m praying for this weekend’s FOR THE NEXT
GENERATION OFFERING. I’m excited about getting back home to see you!

Pastor Rick

My friend Chris emailed that letter to me on Nov 17th, and I’ve been hanging on to it expecting another shoe to drop. And now audio has emerged that, if authentic (and I have no reason to think it isn’t), catches Warren praising Syria for its religious tolerance and its “moderation.” That sort of praise is what got him in trouble, and which he tacitly denies in the letter above. Courtesy Lighthouse Trails Research:


The audio is apparently from a radio interview Warren gave to 1170 AM radio in Tulsa around the time of the Syria trip. In it, Warren clearly praises Syria’s “moderate” record and even drags the Apostle Paul into the discussion, characterizing Paul as a Syrian. Which is a strange view of history. It’s typical of Warren’s slippery use of selected facts to suggest meanings that simply don’t apply to a fair reading of all the facts. It’s true, Paul was from Tarsus, technically a city in first century Cilicia and modern Turkey, but never mind that. It’s also true that he was on the road to Damascus, currently Syria’s capital city, when he converted to Christianity, and sought out Christians living there immediately after his conversion. But it’s also true that Paul knew a very different Syria than the one that exists today, and it’s also true that Paul was every inch a Jew, not an Arab and certainly not a Muslim since Islam didn’t exist in the first century, until his conversion to Christianity. In terms of citizenship, Paul was Roman, not Syrian, but never mind that too. Equating the Syria of Paul’s time with the Syria of our time is beyond silly, yet that’s what Warren is doing by injecting Paul into his praise of Assad. Syria in the first century was one of many provinces of the Roman Empire; today it’s an Arab police state that sponsors terrorism in Lebanon, in Israel and very probably in Iraq. Syria is moderate only by comparison to even worse terrorist states. By comparison to nearly any Western state, Syria is a police state run by a hereditary dictator that sponsors terrorism and is working toward the destruction of Israel, with which it has considered itself at war constantly since 1963.

As for Syria’s religious tolerance, Warren has a point — but it’s a pretty weak point. Officially, Syria does have freedom of religion, and that’s more than you can say even for liberated Afghanistan. Syria is more tolerant of Christianity than, say, Iran, but according to the US State Dept and human rights groups, the Syrian secret police also monitor every single church (and synagogue and even mosque) in the country and forbid evangelism. Missionaries working in Syria may do so legally, but must be very discreet. The Jehovah’s Witness sect is banned outright. Jews are barred from holding government and military office, out of fear that they might be Zionist operatives. Add all of that up, and it’s something less than total freedom and tolerance. It’s closer to dhimmitude than actual freedom. The Assad regime holds Islamists at arm’s length domestically, out of fear that they’ll overthrow the secular dictatorship and install one based on sharia, but Syria seems eager to align with Iran and Hezbollah, and is using the latter to destroy Lebanon’s democratic government. By constitutional decree, Syria’s president must be a Muslim. And Syria’s Muslim president stoked up Muslim anger over the Mohammed cartoons earlier this year, showing that he’s not above Islamic and Islamist grandstanding. So taken as a whole, Syria deserves far less praise than Warren lavishes.

Here’s the basic problem with Warren: He’s very shrewd, but ultimately unprincipled in how he uses words, history, text and basic facts in order to build his message. Now that he’s been caught out expressing the very kind of support that the Syrians credited to him — and which he subsequently denied — expect him to spin out a new story. Or stonewall until it goes away. Warren’s way is very Clintonian. That word, I chose to use very deliberately.

(h/t Chris R.)

More: Having read over Warren’s letter a couple of times, I’m struck that he’s using verses that speak of taking criticism from people outside the church to deflect criticism coming from within the church. The two verses Warren cites in the letter are meant to encourage believers who find their faith under assault from non-believers. But in the Syria question, non-believers aren’t the ones criticizing Warren, and the criticism isn’t directed at him because he’s doing something right. The criticism is coming from fellow Christians, and we’re criticizing him for praising a police state that doesn’t deserve praise. It’s just typical of how Warren cherry-picks verses and uses them out of context to justify his stances and positions.

Update:
Thanks an alert commenter and WND, there’s another twist in this story. Warren or someone at Saddleback may have engaged in a cover-up regarding a recording of Warren’s comments.

I am much obliged to Bruce Delay, a talk-show host at KFAQ 1170 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for downloading the audio version of Rick Warren’s YouTube video, recorded while in Syria.

Now, keep in mind, Warren has been telling the world he was misquoted by the Syrian press when he extolled the virtues of the totalitarian police state.

But before anyone questioned his statements, Warren’s Saddleback Church had recorded him as he strolled down a Damascus street explaining what a peaceful and tolerant place Syria really is.

As soon as I hotlinked to the YouTube video last week and questioned Rick Warren about it, the church yanked it. I didn’t have time to download a copy, but, thankfully, one johnny-on-the-spot talk-show host did.

You may not be able to see it, but you can at least hear it. Here is a word-for-word transcript of what Warren said in the 50-second video:

“Syria’s a place that has Muslims and Christians living together for 1,400 years. So it’s a lot more peaceful, honestly, than a lot of other places because Christians were here first.

“In fact, you know Saul of Tarsus – Saul was a Syrian. St. Paul, on the road to Damascus, had his conversion experience and so Christians have been here the longest, and they get along with the Muslims and the Muslims get along with them. There’s a lot less tension than in other places.

“It’s a moderate country, and the official government rule and position is to not allow any extremism of any kind.”

This is what Rick Warren said about Syria.

That is where the audio I posted above actually came from — Warren said what he said in Syria. I had that part of the story wrong, and I regret the error. And make sure to read the rest of the WND article. Farah explains quite well the longstanding relationship between Syria and terrorism, and between the Assad regime and the Christian and Jewish minorities in Syria.

But this means that the Syrian state-controlled press got its paraphrase of Warren more or less right. Warren said what they said he said, in Syria. And Warren has been denying it since the story broke, which means he has been lying about what he said.

Instead of holding him to account, someone yanked the smoking gun video from YouTube. That’s a cover-up in my book. The question is, whether Warren had any direct role in removing the YouTube video.


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Rick Warren Useful Tool Idiot

JasonG on November 28, 2006 at 10:24 AM

I’d gladly give Rick the Paul-was-a-Syrian point if he concedes that, historically, Palestine was always Jewish.

Niko on November 28, 2006 at 10:24 AM

Warren is Christianity light.

vcferlita on November 28, 2006 at 10:30 AM

I serve at a “Warren-esqe” Purpose Driven model church. I have had some concerns on some directions he has been going with the PEACE plan- not that it is a bad thing, but I am curious as to where his first calling to evangelism is. I agree with meeting needs and helping the hurting and poor, but some of the lines seem to be getting blurrier. I’m sure a press release will come out for this as well.

danarchy on November 28, 2006 at 10:39 AM

This deserves some review, as *SOMEONE* is going to look at all of this Rick Warren stuff and *MISTAKENLY* think that it has *SOMETHING* to do with Christianity.

It doesn’t.

First of all, what are Saddleback Church’s P.E.A.C.E.P.L.A.N.S. when they’re at home? Other than a tortured acronym that’s damned hard to type, here they are, from Saddleback’s page:

P lants churches to attack spiritual blindness
E quip servant leaders to attack corrupt leadership
A ssist the poor to attack poverty
C are for the sick to attack disease
E ducate the next generation to attack Ignorance

P urpose Driven Model
L ed by small groups
A ttacking the giants
N etworking from church to church
S ending to the whole world

…isn’t that all…er…acronym-y….

I see that they’re “attacking” both poverty and disease…presumably with torches and pitchforks, as when Frankenstein or the Wolfman come to town. Attacking corrupt leadership they’ll find to be a more difficult undertaking…corrupt leaders tend to attack back.

“Kumbayaaaaaaaa!” isn’t much of a battle cry….

…so, what are people supposed to do with all of this:

Through P.E.A.C.E. your small group will become equipped to address the world’s five global giants: spiritual lostness, corrupt leadership, poverty, disease and lack of education…The P.E.A.C.E. Plan is designed to mobilize ordinary church members to do normal tasks that can change the world.

…so…apart from this being a statement indicating a profound political naivete, he’s assuming that he has a congregation full of diplomats.

“Spiritual ‘lostness’”? Will men never ask directions because of their “gender-perpetuated lostness”?

This is an assault on the English language. Words cobbled together with the suffix “-ness” to form some sort of abstract concept, when another word already exists — spiritual disorientation, isolation, confusion, bafflement — smacks of simplifying the language for children. We don’t speak of “health”, we speak of “wellness”. We don’t speak of “size” or “dimensions”, we speak of “bigness” or “smallness”. Earlier, he wanted to plant churches to aid people with their spiritual blindness. At least “blindness” is an actual word.

This should go a long way toward selling a lot more of Mr. Warren’s no-doubt upcoming “Purpose Driven Diplomacy”. It should go platinum.

We wanted to just slip in and out, but that’s nearly impossible for me to do anymore. It’s been a learning experience.

…nearly impossible for him to slip in and out. Oh, the life of a celebrity minister.

I guess that, as he says he went there to have dinner with the family of his neighbor “Yassar”, along the line, visiting the place where Paul was lowered in a basket or that oldest church, he met the country’s president and was asked home for tea. Who *WOULDN’T* go on record, in that nation’s own notoriously self-serving press, and praise the hospitality of such a bluff fellow, well met?

Does it seem ironic to you that people who distrust Syria are now believing Syrian press releases?

What a diva….

This is all “church of works righteousness” stuff, which is the worst sort of self-delusion, and, in this case, the worst sort of geo-political thinking.

I keep saying it…two kingdoms, Rick.

What more can we expect from the “Purpose-driven pastor”? Diplomacy purposely-driven off a cliff? Time will tell….

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 10:45 AM

Purpose Driven Strife.

Valiant on November 28, 2006 at 10:46 AM

No extremism like Hamas, let’s say. They don’t exactly get along with the Jews, but I didn’t hear him say they did

doginblack on November 28, 2006 at 10:50 AM

Warren caused a bit of a kerfuffle(thanks Katie Couric for that word) by inviting Obama to one of the functions at his church.

vcferlita on November 28, 2006 at 10:58 AM

I serve at a “Warren-esqe” Purpose Driven model church…I am curious as to where his first calling to evangelism is. I agree with meeting needs and helping the hurting and poor, but some of the lines seem to be getting blurrier. I’m sure a press release will come out for this as well. — danarchy

For the “first calling to evangelism”, try Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. One makes disciples by spreading the Gospel.

Planting churches isn’t an end in itself, nor is “attacking” poverty, disease or “corrupt leadership”. Those are all praise-worthy things among men, but what people need is the Gospel.

Works righteousness — the concept that we can *EARN* salvation by “attacking” stuff, for instance, or by just ever-so-neatly organizing our time and effort, or by the whole “deeds not creeds” movement — is worthless. Go through the Book of Romans, especially Chapter 3.

Faith, not works. Works proceed from faith, but first you have to have faith. For faith, you have to have the Gospel…all of it…including the “just and angry God” part, the “God who hates sin” part, all that stuff about “wrath”, the “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”

…then, keep reading. The disease is clearly described, and then the cure is as clearly laid out. The cure is the Gospel.

Seek out orthodox Christianity (not necessarily Orthodox, with an upper-case “O”, but with a lower-case “o”, as in “adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith”, or more to the point as in “adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds.”

It’s creeds, not deeds, that’ll lead you home. The tendency in the last 100 or so years, especially in the last 40, has been to throw the creedal baby out with the bathwater. We don’t need modern and modernist pseudo-diplomats, marketing whizes and “bums in seats” method of measuring piety redefining Christianity. We need solid doctrine today as never before. That’s found in good biblical exegetical preaching — not using isolated verses as props, “come-ons” on the church’s front sign, or as launching-pads for the minister’s experiential exposition of his own “fix yourself” philosphy.

Mankind needs the Gospel.

Without the Gospel, we may shovel enough sand to dig this or that poor fellow out of his hole, be that of poverty, ignorance or disease…but we’ll have nothing to give him when he’s free. We can’t save the fellow from the cycle of poverty, etc., by our own good example, either. That poor man needs the Gospel.

No matter how you slice it, good works without the Gospel, proceeding not from slogans and feel-good self-help “theology” but from sound, creedal and orthodox Christianity, are akin to Communism. Communists and socialists want to end poverty, disease, and ignorance. Even impoverished, the Cubans have done a great deal to advance medical care and education…what they then offer is sterile, self-serving and finite. Without the Gospel, we can live long, healthy, productive, aesthetically pleasing, educated, and socially contributive lives…with no meaning, focus or end beyond ourselves or some idol substituting for God (money, the state, El Li’der, Der Fuehrer, etc.). Look what good *THAT’S* done for Eastern Europe, Cuba and points beyond.

/rambling hip-pocket sermon

…don’t mind me…I’m just a Calvinist with a short theological fuse.

I just don’t like, nor do I trust, Mr. Warren’s work, from what I’ve seen of it. Good man that he is, anything, any work, any call to work, which doesn’t proceed from good, solid orthodox exegetical Christianity *ISN’T* Christianity. We’ve been getting “liberalized” and misrouted since Finney squirrelled around in the 19th Century.

We can’t dig our way out of the world’s problems. We can’t because we can’t fix human nature. That *IS* the problem. Being nice, energetic, sincere or organized isn’t a fix.

The fix is the Gospel.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 11:11 AM

It’s true, Paul was from Tarsus, technically a city in first century Cilicia and modern Turkey, but never mind that…

…yup…drove right by there in the Army once…and I never left Turkey, as I remember it….

…and it’s also true that Paul was every inch a Jew….

…a Pharisee, in fact, as he says more than a few times himself. Pharisaical is the direct progenitor of modern rabbinical Judaism.

He’s very shrewd, but ultimately unprincipled in how he uses words, history, text and basic facts in order to build his message. Now that he’s been caught out expressing the very kind of support that the Syrians credited to him — and which he subsequently denied — expect him to spin out a new story. Or stonewall until it goes away. Warren’s way is very Clintonian.

…”Clintonian”? In this instance, from its beginning, I would agree…overall, I don’t know.

What I see isn’t shrewdness, and certainly not in this case. What I see is a fellow who’s read a little too much of what’s been written about him.

He’s quite the celebrity in modern evangelical circles, evidently. Not being a member of a modern evangelical church myself, not having any interest in modern evangelicalism, I only see what he’s done by their effects, and what I’m seeing is nothing new.

Doctrinally, he’s selling more of the same: give the people what they want. Sin is an act, not a condition. Man is basically good, just needing good examples and seven-easy-steps to put him on the right road. That sort of thing. Man needs to be fired up by righteousness, as if he’s capable of it himself, from within himself. I’m the first to admit that I’ve not read *ANY* of Mr. Warren’s work, but it seems, from what I *HAVE* read, that he’s the latest in a long line of, as someone earlier on this thread put it so well, Christianity-Lite lights to surface.

Christianity isn’t “lite”. It’s damned serious, if you’ll pardon the use of the term. It’s as important as eternity…and speaks actually rather clearly. If it’s being made easy or palatable to human tastes, it’s being presented falsely.

Christianity should hurt.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 11:25 AM

…but ultimately unprincipled in how he uses words, history, text and basic facts in order to build his message.

Very well said there, Bryan.
My initial concerns were how Warren felt that he had to justify his actions. Pure thoughts and actions need NO justification. The honor and purity behind them are self evident and powerful.
In trying to do something good, he got in way over his head yet he doesnt know how to say that, so he bungled it up even more.
His arrogance is starting to show more as well:

We wanted to just slip in and out, but that’s nearly
impossible for me to do anymore.

‘Impossible for ME to do’ he says…like any Christian leader negotiating with Syria wouldn’t have been national news?
.It wasnt the messenger, it was his choice of destinations.
He just wasn’t ready to dance with the devil.

shooter on November 28, 2006 at 11:26 AM

Well said Puritan

doginblack on November 28, 2006 at 11:28 AM

Excellent points in both posts Puritan.

vcferlita on November 28, 2006 at 11:31 AM

Puritan…Glad to see someone else feeling the same way as myself! It is noble the work that he is doing. I just get really nervous when church starts going diplomatic and political (and yep…I am a “religious right”). I get nervous when we start dabling more in the social need than the spiritual need…there should be a balance, but the spiritual need is the heart of it all.

I love the purpose driven model for our church, but I appreciate the fact that my pastoral staff doesn’t follow Rick more than Jesus. He’s a man, just like me…prone to failure and mistakes.

danarchy on November 28, 2006 at 11:40 AM

Christianity should not hurt.

shooter on November 28, 2006 at 11:59 AM

We would have handled some meetings differently, watched our words more closely, and been more aware of the agenda of their state press. We wanted to just slip in and out, but that’s nearly impossible for me to do anymore

No sh*t, sherlock.

Pablo on November 28, 2006 at 12:05 PM

I keep saying it…two kingdoms, Rick.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 10:45 AM

And it’s not beneficial to God’s Kingdom when his actions and words blur the line between the two.

infidel4life on November 28, 2006 at 12:13 PM

Rick Warren, Ted Haggard, et al. are the reasons that Paul wrote in 1st Thessalonians 4:11, “Lead a quiet life…”(NKJV), and why Jesus warned us against seeking the praise of men (see Matthew ch.5, Matthew 23:12). In fact, our Lord said at one point, “He who will be greatest among you, let him be a servant.” When we put up human “leaders”, we are just inviting Satan to come along and shoot them down.

BigOrangeAxe on November 28, 2006 at 12:14 PM

When purpose driven life came out and churches jumped on the Warren bandwagon a few years ago, the church I attended at the time did too. Everyone was encouraged to use the book as a study in small groups, there were Sunday school classes, you name it. I balked. I wasn’t impressed at all. My daughter succumed to the pressure and read the book, took the class. She was also not impressed. It was like a huge “duh.” Much ado about nothing, tempest in a teacup, etc.

It left me with a strange feeling inside, and this is exactly the thing that bothered me at the time–creepy, almost–I can’t really explain it.

Disappointing, to say the least, though.

Bob's Kid on November 28, 2006 at 12:17 PM

It is noble the work that he is doing. I just get really nervous when church starts going diplomatic and political (and yep…I am a “religious right”). I get nervous when we start dabling more in the social need than the spiritual need…there should be a balance, but the spiritual need is the heart of it all. — danarchy

I couldn’t agree more…back at ya….

*IF* Mr. Warren is doing good, his ministry can start medical centers, spread secular books so’s people can learn to read, is helping to spread opportunity about, then he is doing *NOBLE* work, without doubt. That work should be praised by man, and should be supported, so long as it is presented as Christians working for the poor and needy as Christ would have us work.

The problem comes when the work *BECOMES* Christianity. The work is a product of Christianity. Christianity itself is justification, the transformation of a sinner *IN CHRIST*, *BY CHRIST*, by the righteousness *OF CHRIST*. Such people, still in the sinful world, would be wise to join together to help out in the world as well as they might.

We should never “dabble” when needs are real, but we should never forget that we don’t work to be *AS* Christ. We should work because we are *OF CHRIST*. By this, I don’t mean Christ as good example, quotable guru, or “Buddy Christ”. I mean Christ as Prophet, Priest and *KING*.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 12:41 PM

Christianity should not hurt. — shooter

…I thought that’d get more discussion that this, but the day is young.

Christianity *SHOULD* be painful. That is becuase it contrary to *EVERY* cell and sinew of human nature.

Paganism is human nature projected on the divine. Gods are selfish, they need to be appeased, Odin was a drunkard, Zeus was a ladykiller, and the less said about Krishna, the better. Any religion, philosophy or “path” which reinforces decisions we’ve already made, buttresses our own self-opinion, or makes it easier to “find ourselves” isn’t worth the paper its written on.

Think of yourself in a gym. If the exercise is easy, it probably isn’t doing you any good. They used to tell me that pain was “weakness leaving the body”.

Repentence isn’t easy. Having to look not at the peripheral sins one commits can be uncomfortable, but confronting the condition of sin each of us finds himself or herself in — complete, total, attended by easy and fluent excuses, and in line with every urge of human nature — is excruciating.

Excruciating isn’t easy.

Look at Christ’s life: he turned over tables, welcomed sons who left their family obligations, completely redefined righteousness for a people who thought they had righteousness before a just God all figured out…and for his troubles was hated to his death by the powers of the day. That wasn’t easy.

What did he ask? Mark 12:29-31, Love God and obey his commandments, and love your neighbor as yourself. Those are both completely contrary to human nature. Don’t be anxious? Don’t worry about your dress or about where your next meal is coming from? Love your *ENEMIES*? Heavens!

Christianity is a transformation to start with, and gradual, humbling lessons in how far we have to go — and how little power we have to get there, short of Christ — thereafter. We Americans are self-help folks. We want to “climb Jacob’s ladder” and storm the precincts of heaven. Some folks actually encourage this. Such encouragement is folly.

Transformations are never ever neat or easy or painless, be they transformations of persons or societies. This is *THE* necessary transformation of ones own life, but more importantly of God’s own people, as he reveals them to themselves.

Christianity should be painful. It is weakness leaving the soul.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 12:57 PM

Christianity should be painful. It is weakness leaving the soul.

Excellent.

Bob's Kid on November 28, 2006 at 1:17 PM

Christianity should not hurt.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Dying to self hurts.

vcferlita on November 28, 2006 at 1:20 PM

My friend Chris emailed that letter to me on Nov 17th, and I’ve been hanging on to it expecting another shoe to drop

And another shoe: Warren’s in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)!!!–according to a Nov 20th article by Joseph Farah on WorldNetDaily, which quotes Warren saying,”as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Oxford Analytica, I might know as much about the Middle East as you.”

Barnabas on November 28, 2006 at 1:38 PM

Purpose Driven Life was written as a study not an end all word straight from The Mountain, nothing more/nothing less. It is a study like any other that most churches go through. You study, talk, pray, fellowship and continue your walk.

I’m certainly not a defender or detractor of all that is Rick Warren. His comments above do make you wonder about his intentions. Is he in over his head?

Bic on November 28, 2006 at 1:42 PM

Preachers should stick to preaching.

Politicians should stick to politicking.

mom of girls on November 28, 2006 at 2:12 PM

Hell is hot, Mr. Warren. Jesus warned us about people like you:
Matthew 7: 15″Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

He’s stabbed persecuted Syrian christians in the back.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 2:20 PM

Christianity should not hurt

Shooter is right in one sense of the word: His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

However, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, to death if necessary.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 2:36 PM

Hell is hot, Mr. Warren. Jesus warned us about people like you…He’s stabbed persecuted Syrian christians in the back. — PRCalDude

…I certainly wouldn’t rush to consign Mr. W to the “Land of the Permanent Suntan”, and I don’t think that he contributed to their being any more screwed than they already are under the Ba’ath Party….

I was thinking more of 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

…the “itching ears” in support of “their own passions” describes much of evangelism today, unfortunately. There’re folks today who want to impress upon us “new perspectives” on Paul, which, in light of the letter to Timothy above, is rich.

Also, there’s 2 Peter 3:15-17

“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

…hard to understand…so let’s simplify, edify and ultimately crucify what he says. Peter cautions us to be wary of our spiritual and doctrinal interpreters, I believe. So, I tend to be a bit perhaps too strident where modern church celebrities are concerned.

Most of the guys whose books I’ve read or whose stuff I esteem aren’t being hosted by Middle Eastern dictators. They aren’t widely enough known to be useful.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 2:58 PM

Rick Warren is a pompous manipulator. Saddleback Church is far too big to be effective. It serves those who are famous and wealthy. Those not special are told to form Small Groups, because the Leadership is far too busy to assist the have-nots.

It does not surprise me that Mr. Warren would make these statements, as he not only believes that he walks in the footsteps of Jesus, he may think he is close to being Jesus or, at the very least, a Disciple thereof.

Oxybeles on November 28, 2006 at 3:33 PM

I’m struck that he’s using verses that speak of taking criticism from people outside the church to deflect criticism coming from within the church. The two verses Warren cites in the letter are meant to encourage believers who find their faith under assault from non-believers. But in the Syria question, non-believers aren’t the ones criticizing Warren, and the criticism isn’t directed at him because he’s doing something right. The criticism is coming from fellow Christians, and we’re criticizing him for praising a police state that doesn’t deserve praise. It’s just typical of how Warren cherry-picks verses and uses them out of context to justify his stances and positions.

This was my thought as well. It’s classic deflection, and employing scripture to work this deception is reprehensible. I wonder how many members of the Saddleback community recognized the wool getting pulled over their eyes.

Another thing that bothers me is Warren’s apparent feeling that he only answers to the church he pastors. He claims to be a believer, he’s taken a leadership position – he’s accountable to the WHOLE community of believers and should direct his comments to all.

The Ritz on November 28, 2006 at 3:58 PM

By the way, his letter of explanation to Saddleback contained a denial but explained nothing.

I’ve repeatedly asked for a clear explanation via the info at Saddleback email link with absolutely no response. . . from anyone.

Unaccountable, yes. Slippery, yes. Leadership, NO!

The Ritz on November 28, 2006 at 4:03 PM

…I certainly wouldn’t rush to consign Mr. W to the “Land of the Permanent Suntan”, and I don’t think that he contributed to their being any more screwed than they already are under the Ba’ath Party….

I wasn’t consigning him there, God consigns men there. I was calling him to repentance and faith in Christ. By his fruits, Warren has made known his status as a false teacher. He’s preaching another gospel. 2 Peter 3 is indeed appropriate, because Warren is one of the lawless people carrying away others. The Lord is patient, however, and hopefully Warren can realize the deception he is propagating and repent unto life. While he’s alive, there’s still hope for him.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 4:17 PM

I wasn’t consigning him there, God consigns men there. I was calling him to repentance and faith in Christ. — PRCalDude

Please don’t think that I thought that you were “damning” him. I had been rather strong in my words about him earlier, and wanted to try to back-paddle a bit, in case anyone felt I was dismissing the man.

For the most part, I don’t like the modern evangelicals. They all seem cast in the Robert Schuller mold. There’s a lot of that “no creeds but deeds” stuff going on, and pastors who’re “dumbing” Scripture down for “the masses”. We need to act, but first we need to believe.

The NASB translates the 2 Timothy passage with the words “wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires”…the point being that we should be on the lookout for pastors selling us what we’re buying. Instead, we should be buying what they’re selling, and they should be selling the Gospel.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 4:46 PM

But… but… but he wrote a book that made a bunch of people feel good! How dare you criticize him, he’s a celebrity… you will bow before Rick Warren!

RightWinged on November 28, 2006 at 5:20 PM

Rick Warren was educated by Schuller: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/012/1.42.html .

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 5:21 PM

Drat, dead link.
http://www.apprising.org/archives/2005/08/setting_richard.html

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 5:22 PM

How dare you criticize him, he’s a celebrity… you will bow before Rick Warren! — RightWinged

…well, I’ll bend over…how close is that?

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 5:25 PM

Rick Warren was educated by Schuller… — PRCalDude

…explains a lot.

The guys at WhiteHorseInn.org did an interview with Schuller a while back. He’s quoted on the MP3 I have of it saying “just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean tht you preach it”. He was all worried about scaring people away. It’s an absolutely *FRIGHTENING* interview, considering the attention paid to him.

…then again, he’s got this whopping church building build all of glass…and the church I attend had to go into hock to reinforce its buildings foundations…I guess psycho-theraputic ministry sells…at least….

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 5:29 PM

Drat, dead link. http://www.apprising.org/archives/2005/08/setting_richard.html

Puritan,
Can you put a link up for that WHI interview. I’ll have to ask Dr. Riddlebarger about that later.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 5:30 PM

Can you put a link up for that WHI interview. I’ll have to ask Dr. Riddlebarger about that later. — PRCalDude

…nope…they keep their audiofiles on OnePlace, and you’d have to turn over rocks there to find it. It was up there for a while, then taken down. I got a copy when I subscribed to “Modern Reformation”, from an archive they had for that purpose at the time.

Send me an email, and I’ll see what I can do from my double-secret stash.

Or, maybe Dr. Kim can get you a copy.

It’s a long interview — Schuller actually walks out at one point, and walks back in as they continue the discussion amongst themselves — but its worth it. It must’ve been scripted by Stephen King. Scary.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 5:51 PM

I’ll email Dr. Riddlebarger.

Schuller is scary, so is Warren. I can’t see Horton, Rosenblatt, Riddlebarger, or Jones backing down from any line of questioning. The true shepherds are the ones who confront the wolves. Sheep are to flee the wolves.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 6:18 PM

Standby for a link to that interview.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 6:24 PM

…those are highlights…the actual interview is 1:23 and a bit long. A roller-coaster ride of almost- and sorta-Christianity…meets Horton, et.al. Back down? Not a chance.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 8:00 PM

Can’t find a link to the complete interview. Schuller is pretty slippery, but he contradicts himself several times in the interview, and denies stuff he wrote earlier. Horton I think was pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim at the time. Dr. Riddlebarger later became the head pastor. Throughout the interview, you get the sense that Horton was trying to win Schuller over.

PRCalDude on November 28, 2006 at 8:17 PM

PRCalDude. Email me.

Puritan1648 on November 28, 2006 at 8:50 PM

Go here to read J. Farah’s direct accusation that Warren lied about this incident. Pretty strong.

If true, Warren’s behavior in this circumstance has never risen above self-preservation – much less attained the elevation of “nobility”.

The Ritz on November 28, 2006 at 9:38 PM

Trying to figure out this link thing . . .

The Ritz on November 28, 2006 at 9:39 PM

I give –

go to http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53092

If anyone can school me in using “link” I’d be humbly grateful.

The Ritz on November 28, 2006 at 9:41 PM

Miraculous. . . I accidentally got it right.

The Ritz on November 28, 2006 at 9:42 PM

Rick Warren should take a page out of Billy Graham’s play book. Every time Graham dabbled in politics it hurt his ministry. He said in his biography that in retrospect he should have stayed out of the political world altogether. Billy Graham had one of the most amazing ministries of the 20th century. Rev. Warren should would do well to emulate his predecessor.

Rick’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” is wonderful and I would suggest that ALL of you read it. We just shouldn’t be fooled by the Muslim Hitlers out there. It’s 1938 baby.

Mojave Mark on November 28, 2006 at 10:53 PM

The Ritz–thank you for the WND link. I’ve updated the post with that story.

Bryan on November 28, 2006 at 10:58 PM

I agree with Mojave. Any pastor who has dipped into politics has hurt their ministry. Bill Hybels of Willow Creek invited Clinton to his leadership conference to talk leadership as a former prez. It ended out turning into a Clinton rally for Al Gore’s bid. Falwell (my dad’s employer) gets so political (even though I am on his side) that is hurts him more than helps him.

Warren’s gotta learn something from this. I love the Purpose Driven model, but he’s dipping into something that may sink him for awhile. Now he has Obama coming out to an AIDS conference?

danarchy on November 28, 2006 at 11:29 PM

Usually political activist groups with the word “Peace” in their names end up providing anything BUT.

JG2K6 on November 29, 2006 at 12:51 AM

Mark,

Rick Warren is a clone of Billy Graham. Billy Graham did virtually the same thing as Warren when he went to the USSR and reported that he found no persecution of Christians there. Moreover, Graham has been saying for a long time that Christians and other religions worship the same God. He even said so in an interview with Robert Schuller. Ye know them by their fruits.

Puritan,
How do I get your email address????

PRCalDude on November 29, 2006 at 2:22 AM

http://www.biblebb.com/files/tonyqa/tc00-105.htm

PRCalDude on November 29, 2006 at 2:23 AM

Mark,

Here’s another link for you:
http://www.genevaopc.org/resources_html.asp?res_id=34

PRCalDude on November 29, 2006 at 2:25 AM

I don’t like the fact that Rick Warren always seems to refer to paraphrases(The Message) instead of the real deal (The Bible).

And a really skewered paraphrase at that.

Mat 16:25 Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. (MSG)

Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (KJV)

Honestly…

Here’s a pretty good critique of PDL while were at it.

emmaline1138 on November 29, 2006 at 5:52 AM

This is a problem that is taking shape in the Christian Community today. It’s the case of “swollen head Syndrome”. As much as I am a fan of the book, which is an inspirational book in my opinion, it seems that Warren has the case of SHS. I hope it is not the case but from what I see the pastor has stopped relying in God and is relying on his own message, success and view. God forgive me if I am wrong, but it happends. I am glad that other Christian leaders are calling him into account, and I am very disapointed that rather than admitting that what he said was wrong, he had the church pull the audio/video. It reminds me of the case of Luis Palau who went to China and said that the underground church (Kept underground from fear of persecution) should register with the official state churches and “I feel that the Chinese people are able to worship openly in China.” This statement of course is ridiculous, but sometimes these people used by God get the case of SHS and rely on themselves rather than what got them there in the first place. There are people that God uses and calls to make an effort in these matters. People should use the gifts that God gives them and not try to go beyond what God has in store, if it results in headcases. I’ll pray for Warren, but I think he is dead wrong on this one.

JVelez on November 29, 2006 at 8:42 AM

Not to kick a man while he’s down (OK, maybe just a little):

Downsizing at Saddleback

BigOrangeAxe on November 29, 2006 at 9:54 AM

RW,

I received Warren’s book (PDC) as a gift, but set it down after about Chapter 5. I don’t buy his theology, so it was pointless.

And I don’t want to question a minister of Jesus Christ, but found it odd that someone fresh out of seminary would start his ministry by doing a demographic feasibility study on the entire U.S. to find the wealthiest potential population growth center not presently served by a huge church…unless you wanted to have the biggest, richest church in the country.

This leaves a strange taste in my Christian mouth, with all due respect to Willow Creek and Bill Clinton.

Jaibones on November 29, 2006 at 12:02 PM

Puritan, How do I get your email address???? — PRCalDude

…hmmm…somebody help me out here. How do people get access to your profile here? My email addy’s there.

Puritan1648 on November 29, 2006 at 12:07 PM