Rick Warren: on Barack Obama, and being a “back channel for peace”

posted at 12:15 am on December 19, 2006 by Bryan

I’ve been out of every conceivable loop for the past few days, and now that I’m back I see that Rev. Rick Warren has done it again.

By “it,” I mean Warren has managed to tee off conservatives and Christians.

On Dec 15, America’s pastor was on CNN’s Situation Room to discuss his recently concluded AIDS conference. The conference featured 60 speakers, including Republican Senator Sam Brownback and Democrat Senator Barack Obama. The Brownback invitation was uncontroversial and generated no buzz. Obama is the media’s flavor of the month, but he’s also a hard left liberal if you go by his voting record. He’s every bit as liberal as Ted Kennedy, even if he’s nowhere near as annoying. Warren’s invitation to him was and remains controversial, because Obama’s voting record is so far to the left and therefore far out of step with Christians who look to Warren for leadership. And, those of us who don’t.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Warren his thoughts on Obama post AIDS conference. That’s when Warren did “it” again.

BLITZER: What did you think of Barack Obama?

WARREN: He’s an amazing man. I think…

BLITZER: Do you think he’s got it? In other words, he’s got that potential like so many other presidential prospects, to be the president of the United States?

WARREN: I think he does.

BLITZER: Because?

WARREN: I think he has good character. I think both Sam Brownback and Barack Obama — the reason I invited them both, first, they’ll tell you the truth. They’re not just going to beat around the bush. They’ll tell you what they believe. And I appreciate that.

Second, they’re men of civility. And I’m so tired of the rudeness we’ve got in our society where people are just mean to each other. We need to return to civility, which says, I treat you with respect even if I violently disagree with you. That we’ve lost the “civil” in civilization.

So being “amazing” and civil and of good character qualify one to lead the free world while it faces off against a militant and totalitarian ideology? It’s fair to say that we all want and desire a civil president who is of good character (even if in 1992 and 1996 a plurality voted for the exact opposite), but it’s loopy to say that those two qualities are enough to make the grade. Obama has no military experience, no foreign policy experience, no executive experience, and hasn’t even run a national political campaign. His biography is interesting, some might even call it amazing, but, at 44 years old and only a senator for two years, it’s far from complete. Obama seems like a decent enough guy, but the word “unqualified” should float behind him whenever anyone mentions him for the White House.

Maybe Warren’s just being nice. It’s possible. Elections do turn on issues, though, and after these comments it’s not as clear as it once was which issues and beliefs Warren sees as qualifiers and disqualifiers for the highest office in the land.

I’m actually not much bothered by what Warren said about Obama. On a scale of 10 it’s about a four. Warren didn’t come out and positively endorse Obama as his candidate in 2008. Warren just did what he usually does–say nice things that, after a little investigation, don’t add up and leave you wondering what Warren’s really up to.

Like his statements about Syria and North Korea, in the same interview with Wolf Blitzer.

At the top of the interview, in a little video intro Warren says of his trips to Syria and North Korea:

E.J. DIONNE, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think what you’re seeing with Rick Warren is almost a new version, a 2006 version, of Billy Graham. SNOW: But unlike Graham, who’s always seen in suits, Warren is often dressed in Hawaiian shirts. Most people know him as the author of the best-selling book “The Purpose-Driven Life.” It sold some 20 million copies worldwide.

He’s taken his message around the globe, even traveling to controversial countries like Syria. This past summer he tried unsuccessfully to enter North Korea.

PASTOR RICK WARREN, AUTHOR, “THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE”: I’m always happy to be a back channel for peace. (emphasis added)

“…a back channel for peace.” Hang on to that comment. It’s fascinating. Generally, when you’re a “back channel for peace” to states that are more or less enemies of the US, you’re acting on behalf of the government to some extent or, like Jesse Jackson and Jimmy Carter tend to do, you’re conducting freelance foreign policy. Even if your trip is unofficial and off the books, you have a political dimension that you’re working, while you might also be working some other agenda.

Well, later on in the interview, Warren had this to say about the two trips to the two pariah states:

BLITZER: You’re ready to reach out to Kim Jong-il and North Korea to do what?

WARREN: Well, to preach the gospel. I’m a pastor, not a politician. And I report to a higher authority, where Jesus said, “Go into all the world, to every nation.”

Does that involve Syria? Yes. Does that involve North Korea? Yes. Does it involve Iran?

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)

A couple of things should leap out at you from these two exerpts. One, the “back channel for peace” has morphed into “I don’t ever go into these places as a politician. I don’t go in as a diplomat.” That doesn’t square up at all with the earlier line about his being happy to be a “back channel for peace.” So which is it? Blitzer wasn’t agile enough, or something, and didn’t ask Warren to make the ends meet.

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?

The second thing that should jump out is that Warren said that if he’s muzzled or isn’t allowed to preach when he goes to Syria and North Korea, he doesn’t go. Well, Warren is invited preach to 15,000 in North Korea next year. But in a country where millions subsist on grass and whatever they can dig up out of the dirt, just who will occupy the seats in that stadium? In a country run by a Communist personality cult, what sort of person will get the privilege of seeing and hearing the visiting pastor? In a country where real Christian evangelism will get you a ticket to a prison camp and where the government approves and monitors all churches and where the ultimate deity is that fellow with the poofy hair who walks around in the Dr. Evil suit, why might Warren have been singled out for the invitation to preach? Could it be because the visit’s propaganda value to Kim outweighs any threat Warren’s watered-down gospel might pose?

And in Syria, why is there no record of Warren having preached to anyone at all? The only thing we know about the Syria trip is that Warren got the go-ahead to ship in his PEACE Plan manuals and materials (minus the Purple Haze intro, no doubt), and that he lavished praise on the Assad regime. That would be the Assad regime that is right now helping Hezbollah re-arm for its next attempt to destroy Israel, and allows Syria to be the HQ for more terrorist groups than any other country on earth.

Is Syria a country that needs the gospel? You betcha. Is there any evidence that Rick Warren breathed a word of that gospel while he was in Syria? No. We do know that the one part of historical Christianity he did cite in defending his trip, he got completely wrong. Paul was not a Syrian, and it wouldn’t matter in today’s world even if he had been. It’s not at all out of bounds to wonder that if Warren got that basic fact wrong about one of the most famous Christians in history, what else does he get wrong? But that’s another topic for another time, and probably another venue.

Regarding Obama, Rick Warren has at least been consistent. He said nice things about Obama before and after the AIDS conference. Regarding his trips to North Korea and Syria, which I consider to be the more serious issues, Warren contradicts himself and may be lying about why he goes to those countries and what he does while he’s there.

Since my last posts about Warren, I’ve gotten a few emails from people who attend his church. One or two of them asked me not to continue writing about Warren, because it amounts to airing the church’s dirty laundry in public. That’s a fair point, but my response then and now is that I don’t post about Warren as long as he doesn’t stray into topics that I write about. I tend to write about politics, the war, sports, and occassionally pop culture (and I’ve been falling down on that last one–sorry, BSG fans). On this blog I don’t write very often about faith unless it intersects with politics or the war. Unfortunately, Warren’s words and actions keep bringing him back into the arena of things I write about. So I write about him.

If Rev. Warren or his supporters prefer him not to be criticized by bloggers who tend to write about politics, perhaps he should live up to what he says and actually stay out of politics.

By inviting politicians to speak at his church, and by visiting heads of state in Syria and North Korea if he goes there next year, Warren inserts himself into politics. And I write about it.


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Assad is laughing at this self-important tool as we speak.
I do not want him representing ANY of the interests of my country, he is putting his misguided sandal into arenas where he has no more experience than his little friend Obama HUSSEIN .

bbz123 on December 19, 2006 at 12:30 AM

Aggrandisement for the little guy in NK and for Mr. Warren. And, yes, for the Dr. in Damascus too.

Entelechy on December 19, 2006 at 12:33 AM

Sorry, Rick, but from where I stand, “back channel” is just a fancy term for an @sshole.

This is no different from Michael J. Fox getting involved in the November elections. If Warren is going to enter the political arena, then he becomes fair game for criticism from political bloggers–especially if he’s running around being a useful idiot for dictators. Nobody gets a free pass, and no adult should expect one. And this “America’s pastor” stuff makes my molars grind.

ReubenJCogburn on December 19, 2006 at 12:53 AM

I have a solution, really I do – Campaign Finance Reform II – no candidates may appear on television, ever! I suppose that would include internet video.

Radio will suffice for speeches and such.

People will have to select their presidential candidate by reading about said candidate. Reading about their views, accomplishments, voting records, and so on.

This is terrible, I’m sure Dick Nixon would agree. The only reason he is getting so much buzz is because the camera likes him. This could open the door in the future to various moonbat actors who can “charm” their way into office, just like Slick Willie – oh, now I’m getting isck to my stomach…

reaganaut on December 19, 2006 at 12:58 AM

So being “amazing” and civil and of good character qualify one to lead the free world while it faces off against a militant and totalitarian ideology?

Yeah, like Sir Neville Chamberlain.

Rick on December 19, 2006 at 1:00 AM

I’m not a religious person so i don’t know much about Warren, but from what Bryan has been posting i would’nt be surprised to learn that Warren was approached by Howard Dean at some point to try to get Christians to vote for Democrats.

Unfortunately, i know all too well from my liberal friends how hostile and hate filled the left is towards Christians.But if you look at the last election, Democrats do seem to be having some success at convincing Christians to vote for them, even in the mid-west.

Scot on December 19, 2006 at 1:08 AM

Warren who? Someone actually watches CNN? Do you really think this has any impact at all?

Scotsman on December 19, 2006 at 1:37 AM

Bryan,
Your criticism of Warren about Paul is off base. Warren never said Paul was a Syrian in that letter you reference. He simply recounted some of the sights he visited that are mentioned in the Bible in relation to Paul’s travels and actions there. If one visits say New York city and visits the site where Washington was sworn in as president and the houses were he had his headquarters and sites of battles he engaged in in and around NYC is that person implying George Washington was a New Yorker?
Also Warren’s reference to being a back channel for peace doesn’t have to refer to peace in a political worldly sense. He can be referring to the peace that comes with hearing and accepting the Gospel. The use of “back channel” was a poor choice of words. True, he is inconsistent and extremely naive about how he can be used by Muslims and Communists. I deplore him allowing himself to be used like that. But he does say the Syrian episode was a learning experience and I think he will be more circumspect in the future.
As for who he takes the Gospel to that is of little importance to Christians. It is his job to take it to all the world. It doesn’t matter who hears it (because if is for everyone), what matters is they do hear it. What they do with it afterwards will be between them and God. If the N. Koreans allows Warren in that is fine as long as he remembers that Jesus said, “…I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” I think he will be more wise in the future. We shall see. If you want to criticize what about the stupidity of bilateral talks with the little Korean megalomaniac by our State department. What we give up there is more damaging that Warren’s inept statements.

Theseus on December 19, 2006 at 6:53 AM

WARREN: Well, to preach the gospel. I’m a pastor, not a politician. And I report to a higher authority, where Jesus said, “Go into all the world, to every nation.”

Once again I find that people like Rick Warren read a different bible than what most of us carry to church.

He also reports to his congregation, where he is judged more harshly as a leader. Thus his conduct is put under stronger analysis.

Second the New Testament makes it clear that, on earth, Rick is to follow the dictates of the government in power.

So before he even gets a chance to plead his case before the Almighty, or begins to state that he will go out and do Gods work, he must first plead his case before the millions that he preaches to or hear him preach, and second he must follow the dictates of the government. In other words, make sure his life and church is in order, and second no “back channel for peace” without the states consent. Best he stays in the pulpit, and do what he thinks he is called to do, and preach.

I am looking for the passage where Jesus askes his chruch leaders to “go forth and become a back channel”.
It could be in “First Gullible, verse 8.

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 7:56 AM

Theseus on December 19, 2006 at 6:53 AM

Some comments on your post.
Very seldom did Jesus go anywhere and seek out the leaders, he met with the people the populance. He was dragged before leaders, or they approached him, but he seldom if ever sought them. Paul was the same, he went to the masses, not to the leadership. There is a valuable lesson there, that religious leaders like Warren miss. Forget the photo-op, and take the opportunity to reach the people. If he goes to meet the leaders, I question (his) intent.

The men and women who sneak the bible into China, or who meet underground in any thousands of churches around the “un-free” world, risking there life; do more good than a thousand Warren’s preaching to “his” masses. He is nice and safe, writes some good books, packs more than a few people into his church (nice church BTW, in a very nice area), talks to some heads of state. A no risk ministry. Not exactly putting his faith or life on the line for Christ. He is no mother Teresa.

As a side note, please do not compare Warren to Billy Graham. There really is no comparison.

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 8:22 AM

WARREN: Well, to preach the gospel. I’m a pastor, not a politician. And I report to a higher authority, where Jesus said, “Go into all the world, to every nation.”

This guys so full of crap cats keep trying to bury him. He’s playing politics, obviously suffers from an extreme case of vanity and is probably getting cash under the table from the dems somehow. The dems know they must secure at least a portion of the Christian vote to have any chance in ’08 and they’re using this hypocritical false prophet bastard to do it.

darwin on December 19, 2006 at 8:44 AM

I deplore him allowing himself to be used like that. But he does say the Syrian episode was a learning experience and I think he will be more circumspect in the future.

Theseus,
When does that circumspection begin? He’s still running around out there giving press statements and interviews. He’s inserting himself into the game of politics while claiming he’s not. Conservative christian or not, we can tell when we’re being hoo-doo’d!

Warren’s persistently popping up in political venues – even converted his church into one with the recent conference. His actions belie the demurring statements he makes after the fact. Every time he takes the initiative to put in another politically oriented appearance, he makes his misguided aspirations more visible.

Don’t defend the indefensible.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 8:47 AM

Theseus, I should have been clearer. It’s in the audio clip that Warren refers to Paul as a Syrian, based on Paul’s birth in Tarsus. Tarsus at the time was in Cilicia and is in modern Turkey now.

Bryan on December 19, 2006 at 9:02 AM

Syria and North Korea are perfect environments for Warren. There aren’t any places left in America where his ego can find a suitable match.

On a more serious level, it’s impossible for me (or any of us, I suppose) to fully appreciate the scale of Warren’s operation. I think he fails the “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” dictate on both sides, but then, I have no idea what he’s trying to do.

He seems to lack Graham’s transparency and sense of propriety, and his timing, I think. And his judgement. But he’s not my pastor, and he never will be. Is it possible that the Obama genuflect is just a crass attempt to reach across from the “conservative-evangelical” side to the Christian left, to expand his already astonishing reach? First the global warming nonsense and now Obama’s Suit?

Jaibones on December 19, 2006 at 9:13 AM

I think that this incident is completely overblown. Rick Warren is a best-selling author and darling of the media circuit. But he doesn’t have the clout that Billy Graham did. Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and Dr. James Dobson are more recognizable and have more influence among the rank and file than Warren does. As for political clout (from a religious leader), I would guess that Fr. Richard John Neuhaus is the most influential (and 99.8% of Americans have never heard of him); I’d put Dobson second.

Warren is already being hurt by this. It’s caused a rift within his own church and he’s asking critical parishoners to leave. Billy Graham, Dr. Dobson and a very few others have been able to blend politics and religion (they aren’t necessarily independent), but it is a tricky and dangerous business.

cmay on December 19, 2006 at 9:29 AM

cmay,

He’s asking critical parishioners to leave? What sources do you have to support – not questioning, just very curious!

Doesn’t appear to be so open and accepting after all. I’d understand if these were critics from outside who are doctrinally opposed to Warren, but these are his own parishioners? Sounds like Warren’s beginning to score low marks on his routine self-exam.

Pro 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 9:38 AM

‘In fact,” Warren added, ”as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Oxford Analytica, I might know as much about the Middle East as you.”

This is Warren’s arrogant response to Joseph Farah after his Syrian experience. He has willingly been mainstreamed by virulently anti-Christian forces and needs our prayers and vigilance.

Valiant on December 19, 2006 at 9:44 AM

Second the New Testament makes it clear that, on earth, Rick is to follow the dictates of the government in power.

Could you please provide these verses?

JaHerer22 on December 19, 2006 at 9:54 AM

Since my last posts about Warren, I’ve gotten a few emails from people who attend his church. One or two of them asked me not to continue writing about Warren, because it amounts to airing the church’s dirty laundry in public. That’s a fair point, but my response then and now is that I don’t post about Warren as long as he doesn’t stray into topics that I write about. I tend to write about politics, the war, sports, and occassionally pop culture (and I’ve been falling down on that last one–sorry, BSG fans). On this blog I don’t write very often about faith unless it intersects with politics or the war. Unfortunately, Warren’s words and actions keep bringing him back into the arena of things I write about. So I write about him.
If Rev. Warren or his supporters prefer him not to be criticized by bloggers who tend to write about politics, perhaps he should live up to what he says and actually stay out of politics.
By inviting politicians to speak at his church, and by visiting heads of state in Syria and North Korea if he goes there next year, Warren inserts himself into politics. And I write about it.

You know what Bryan write about him anyway. I air the Black communities dirty laundry in front of any race if it becomes a topic of discussion. I am consistently chastised for doing so, but I have never, EVER been told I was wrong. People know the truth they simply want you to look past it for “civilities” sake. If Rick Warren followers have a problem with their dirty laundry they should Kepp their sheets cleaner.

Theworldisnotenough on December 19, 2006 at 9:55 AM

Second the New Testament makes it clear that, on earth, Rick is to follow the dictates of the government in power.
Could you please provide these verses?

JaHerer22 on December 19, 2006 at 9:54 AM

15Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Matthew 22:15-22

Theworldisnotenough on December 19, 2006 at 10:04 AM

When church and politics get mixed together, it gets REAL ugly. As conservative as I am, I know I have new people visiting who aren’t. We can’t have a “only enter if you are pro-life” sign out front. I used to be pretty upfront with politics in the church, but political problems are less important than spiritual ones!

danarchy on December 19, 2006 at 10:09 AM

Second the New Testament makes it clear that, on earth, Rick is to follow the dictates of the government in power.
Could you please provide these verses?

JaHerer22 on December 19, 2006 at 9:54 AM

(Rom 13:1-7 ESV)

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

This passage shows both our individual duty to be subject to government AND the government’s duty to avenge wrongdoers. Bear in mind this was written by the Apostle Paul who was ultimately executed by the government of his day – Rome – for teaching The Gospel. In other words when our government fails in it’s duty to do justice, we aren’t absolved of our responsibility to be subject to it.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 10:50 AM

Second the New Testament makes it clear that, on earth, Rick is to follow the dictates of the government in power.
Could you please provide these verses?

JaHerer22 on December 19, 2006 at 9:54 AM

Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Rom 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
Rom 13:4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Rom 13:5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
Rom 13:6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
Rom 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

The interesting thing about this passage is it describes both our responsibility for being subject to government AND the government’s duty to do justice by being the “avenger”. Alot of people get these individual and civil responsibilities confused.
Also bear in mind this scripture was written by the Apostle Paul who was later executed by the government of his day (Rome) for preaching the Gospel. In other words, the government’s failure to do justice doesn’t absolve us of our duty to obey it.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 10:59 AM

Sorry about the duplicate. Didn’t look like the first post went through.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 11:01 AM

(Rom 13:1-7 ESV) “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 10:50 AM

Exactly.

And if I may add. It is an element of our American culture that when we swear an oath of allegiance, we swear to respect and follow the lawful instructions of our governing authorities. Even in the military one is only required to follow Lawful orders.

This reflects a classic problem in governmental politics.

What Rick Warren and others like him illustrate is the idea that that they can function above the law, simply because of their positions as public figures and leaders of large groups of people. And if they believe/teach that governing authorities are all instituted by God, then in placing themselves above these instutitions they effectively place themselves above God.

If one does not believe in God, or does not profess a specific faith, then why should they care about this?

But, if you do profess and teach Biblical theology, this kind of thing definitely sends the wrong message.

However, in both cases, religious or not, professional ethics dictates that individuals should not place themselves ahead of, or appart from, the lawful governing authorities.

Lawrence on December 19, 2006 at 11:09 AM

This is really making me nausious. Apparently Mr Warren has lost his tracks. What happened to ministering and avoiding the lime light?

One Angry Christian on December 19, 2006 at 11:11 AM

Thank you:
Lawrence on December 19, 2006 at 11:09 AM
The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 10:59 AM
Theworldisnotenough on December 19, 2006 at 10:04 AM

I find it difficult to pull out my bible and retort to someone like JaHerer22, when he could easily find these himself. This is Christianity 101.
Along with that is the verses supporting that Warren has to be held to a very exact standard, not just a standard for us believers. When you take on leadership you are judged more harshly. Please JaHerer22, look it up. Go to a concordance and look it up, there are several (hint: one would be James).

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 12:09 PM

Readers might ask, “so what does a christian do when they are instructed by their government to do wrong?”

The book of Acts provides us with a model for the appropriate response. Peter and the apostles got in trouble for preaching about Christ around Jerusalem so the Jewish religio-political leaders snagged ‘em . . .

“Act 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,
Act 5:28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
Act 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

In other words, Peter wasn’t going to stop doing what God had directly commanded him to do simply because a lower authority forbade it.

So this is our rule: We must disobey a lesser authority only when it directly commands us to disobey the higher authority. If we are treated harshly as a result, we entrust ourselves to God and “turn the other cheek”.

By the way, the cheek-turning attaches to individuals NOT governments. Governments are “avengers” remember? (see above) So when wrong doers strike us (i.e. 9-11) we rightfully expect our government to execute justice. All those “christians” out there who are telling GWB to turn our collective cheek in the war on terror are either sincere but misguided believers or they’re non-believers who are wrenching scripture completely around backwards.

What does this have to do with Warren? He needs to quit trying to back-channel peace to tyrants on our behalf, and let our government forcefully work for justice.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 12:11 PM

I find it difficult to pull out my bible and retort to someone like JaHerer22,

I didn’t mean my post as a retort, I thought JaHerer22 was asking a sincere question – unless I missed something. Just tryin’ to be helpful.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 12:14 PM

The thing that ticked me off the most about Obama being at Warren’s “conference” was when Obama said (referring to abortion) “We don’t have to agree on all the issues.”

Well, I would like to ask Obama how he would feel about a politican who agree with him on most issues but feels that slavery should once again be legal. I mean we can’t agree on everything, right? I think Obama would say that that is such a heinous point of view that he could not allow himself to be associated with someone who believes that no matter what they believe on other issues.

Well, THAT is the way we who are pro-life feel. I don’t care how great a person anyone thinks Obama is, if he believes it should continue to be legal to destroy unborn children, then he is not following Christian tenets. Take or leave it, that is the truth. Be pro-choice if you wish, but don’t pretend that God would EVER want his greatest gift to us destroyed in the womb.

I believe that one day generations will look back at us and our abortion laws with the same horror that we look back at slavery today.

Rightwingsparkle on December 19, 2006 at 12:17 PM

I’m sorry but when was it that it was made a rule that you had to call someone an asshole or a Neville Chamberlain to criticise and register the fact you deplored someone’s actions. I didn’t get that memo. I am not defending him as much as considering his choice of words. Yes, he was naive to be used like that. I hope he is more circumspect in the future. I said we shall see what if anything he has learned.

As for comparing him to missionaries and others who risk their lives to spread the Gospel, Warren is not a missionary and and as far as I can tell doesn’t pretend to be one. He sees his job as different from a missionary. There are many ways to minister the Gospel. Graham, btw, met with leaders and not just the ordinary people, however that was in a different time when the media was less pervasive and there was no internet. The Gospel is for everyone, all classes of people and that includes the leaders of a nation.

I think alot of the criticism of Warren and other Christian leaders like Falwell and Dobson stems from the idea that they are not supposed to stand up at all. Christians are supposed to be seen and not heard, like good little children. Their place is in church, smiling alot and talking about God. Christians are to only trot out into the public sphere when they are needed to bless the mess of paganism and then return to the role of a mistress.

Theseus on December 19, 2006 at 12:42 PM

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 12:14 PM

You are right, retort was or the word “like” was a little inflammatory. How about this:

One can easily look up these supporting verses in any concordance. That would give you a better perspective and meaning to what I am saying. If you have trouble please post again and I will provide the supporting verses.

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 12:42 PM

Theseus on December 19, 2006 at 12:42 PM

I agree with much that you say, and disagree with others. Ministers are by definition missionary’s, if they are only “preaching to the choir” than they are not much use. What use is it if a minister “plays it safe” Christ asks the leaders to step out, take risks, that is the strength of faith. When Graham went to Russia, yes he met with the leaders, but he met with the masses, and was broadcast on TV, which was the primary objective. He did not have his PR man pave the way. And quite the contrary to what you say, I think ministers should speak out on the gospel and step out with strength. Their calling is to minister, not politic. If they politic, then open season on their political stands. If Warren wants to politically align himself with Obama; with an abortionist supporter, or with a party who thinks the destruction of Israel is not of concern. Then Warren has to put up with the judgement.

“Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3:11

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 12:58 PM

I’m sorry but when was it that it was made a rule that you had to call someone an asshole or a Neville Chamberlain to criticise and register the fact you deplored someone’s actions.

Theseus on December 19, 2006 at 12:42 PM

As far as I know there’s no actual rule that you have to do that, but personally I like to go the extra mile. Although in this case my use of “@sshole” was mostly a play on “back channel”, for those readers who possess a sense of humor. But if the shoe fits…

ReubenJCogburn on December 19, 2006 at 1:00 PM

The Ritz:

Sorry. Should have provided a link this morning. Here is the one I relied on.

Warren could have easily avoided this whole mess by inviting some of the few pro-life dems out there, but he wanted the publicity from the “rising star” of US politics. Afterall, I don’t think Obama is a expert on AIDS (nor is Brownback). Both are Presidential hopefuls, though.

cmay on December 19, 2006 at 1:13 PM

Rick Warren never had any intention of preaching the Gospel in North Korea. He didn’t want to lose his life. Nope, he’s not acting in the interests of the Gospel, and he’s definitely not acting in the interests of his country. He’s only acting in the interests of himself. If Rick ever picks up a Bible, I hope he reads the part in Matthew 7 about false teachers.

PRCalDude on December 19, 2006 at 1:29 PM

E.J. DIONNE, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think what you’re seeing with Rick Warren is almost a new version, a 2006 version, of Billy Graham.

Oh Rick! You’re my hero!!!

*GAG!*

infidel4life on December 19, 2006 at 1:30 PM

cmay,

Thanks for the link. Very interesting and disconcerting. If the “unity of the Body” is sacrificed so quickly to protect an agenda outside the church I’m even more convinced that Pastor Warren has a screwed-up conception of his “purpose”.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 3:01 PM

Rick Warren is a leftist. He talks like a leftist (Peace, Peace!). He walks like a leftist (coddling and schmoozing dictators). Nothing good will come of him or his work.

I only hope he doesn’t destroy the faith of those he’s in the process of betraying.

spmat on December 19, 2006 at 3:10 PM

I find it difficult to pull out my bible and retort to someone like JaHerer22, when he could easily find these himself. This is Christianity 101.
Along with that is the verses supporting that Warren has to be held to a very exact standard, not just a standard for us believers. When you take on leadership you are judged more harshly. Please JaHerer22, look it up. Go to a concordance and look it up, there are several (hint: one would be James).

It was an honest question, I wasn’t looking to be retorted. I got plenty of answers, so thank you. And sorry, I don’t bring my Bible to work so I couldn’t really look it up.

JaHerer22 on December 19, 2006 at 3:37 PM

You don’t compromise your belief system as a pastor and back people who don’t espouse the value system that you want exposed to your church. If I were in his church, I’d be leaving right about now.

Highrise on December 19, 2006 at 3:48 PM

JaHerer22 on December 19, 2006 at 3:37 PM

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 12:42 PM

My apology to you

right2bright on December 19, 2006 at 3:48 PM

JaHerer,

Check out http://www.biblegateway.com. Be sure to set your version preferences to ‘ESV’.

PRCalDude on December 19, 2006 at 4:12 PM

He’s a back channel for something, alright.

Dave R. on December 19, 2006 at 5:16 PM

Welcome back, Bryan. Interesting food for thought!

He has willingly been mainstreamed by virulently anti-Christian forces and needs our prayers and vigilance.

Valiant on December 19, 2006 at 9:44 AM

-I totally agree Valiant. I was convicted a few weeks ago when I heard an interview with Warren on Christian radio (I think on Family Life Today or Dobson or something, don’t totally remember) and he was talking about the backlash he got over the Obama incident, and explaining why he had done it. He mentioned that the feedback he’d gotten from a lot of Christians was exactly the same as what he’d been getting from atheists and leftists, just without the profanity. That’s not saying much for his Christian brothers and sisters who, as he said, are very good at shooting each other in friendly fire. I don’t agree with everything he teaches or does (though I do applaud his AIDS conference which is NOT a liberal thing as some have implied) but I think we should be praying for him and how to communicate our concerns to/about him before firing off angry letters and blog comments. For better or for worse, he IS a very influential American Christian, and our prayers are one of the most effective things we can do for him.

tikvah on December 19, 2006 at 5:36 PM

but I think we should be praying for him and how to communicate our concerns to/about him before firing off angry letters and blog comments. For better or for worse, he IS a very influential American Christian, and our prayers are one of the most effective things we can do for him.
tikvah on December 19, 2006 at 5:36 PM

I believe there is a clear scriptural directive not to take personal disputes public when they involve only believers. Church leadership is admonished to wisely mediate such conflicts so that they can be resolved within the church, thereby demonstrating the wonderful effect of Christ’s peace in lives of believers. (I Cor. 6:1-7) We also have the privacy principle described in Matt. 18 to guide us through confrontation over sin.

Unfortunately when Pastor Warren takes a very public action or position that seriously misrepresents the Christ he claims to speak for we’ve already moved way past ICor. and Matthew! If other believers don’t step up publicly to challenge open error, we are letting our Savior down in order to “keep the peace”.

I absolutely agree that whatever we say publicly should be prayerfully thought out. Scripture exhorts us to rebuke an elder “gently”. Some of the comments above aren’t gentle rebukes, however they don’t appear to be coming from individuals who claim to be believers either.

If we sit wringing our hands trying to figure out how to resolve this on the qt while Warren is making repeated problematic statements in the open, we are in effect sitting by while the cause of Christ is being injured.

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 6:20 PM

By the way, my personal thanks to HotAir for providing a forum for us to speak out when we need to. And my thanks to Bryan for starting this conversation (again!)

The Ritz on December 19, 2006 at 6:23 PM