Educating Rick Warren On What Jesus Said (and how He Acted)

I can’t believe I have to do this.  I was reading an interview that Rick Warren (of the Purpose Driven Life) gave and was struck by something he wrote.  So I kept reading the interview and was struck by a few other silly things he said.

Look, I’ve got nothing against Rick Warren personally.  From what I’ve seen he seems like a nice guy who does some good work.  My problem is with the lack of…shall we say…accountability of his theology.  And the lack of reason and logic in his worldview.   In his mind, what you do in life doesn’t matter, as long as you declare your love for God, it’s all good.

This leads to some really, really, nasty things when applied to real life, which is far more complex that it seems Mr. Warren is capable of conceiving.

Read on for that argument…

When someone has this much influence and so little respect for life, it can lead to bad things…to the interview…

Can you give me an example [of how you don’t understand God]?

Well yea, I mean there’s a lot of times of slaughters in the Bible and rules that don’t seem to make sense and things that just don’t seem to me, to be logical. But on the other hand, there’s a sense of humility in me that says, me trying to understand God is like an ant trying to understand the internet. I don’t have the brain capacity. If I could understand why God does what he does, he wouldn’t be God. I’d be God.

—-but he also says—-

I talk to God all the time. I talk to him just like I’m talking to you. In fact I talked to him just before I got in here. I said “ Lord help me to know what to say to Steve” and I’ve been a friend of God’s for now over 40 years and it’s like really talking to anybody. That is an intimacy you don’t develop overnight. It’s nothing special, it’s nothing supernatural, it’s just a simple thing of, I can sense Him in my life and the more you grow spiritually, the more your alert you are to that and I can hear him speak. Now God has never shouted out to me. I’ve never heard God speak audibly.

Does that make any sense, at all?  It’s a complete and total contradiction.  And it was like three questions apart.  This tells me we are dealing with a guy who will say anything, in any given situation, to get what he wants.  He’ll tell you exactly what he thinks you want to hear (“It doesn’t matter what you do, just believe and you’ll be fine.”) every time you ask.

That’s a dangerous man.  Somebody warned us about people like this.  Warned us about the kind of person that would try and take rights away from people with a smile on his face and a laugh in his heart.  The fact that Warren doesn’t know about this warning should be something of a red flag, as he professes to believe completely in the guy that made it.

Well we get very mixed messages on this because we are taught about grace. On the other hand, we are also taught that if you do bad things you are going to hell. Why are we getting these mixed messages?

Well actually I don’t think it’s a bunch of bad things that send us to hell. I think it is rejection of God’s grace. I had a guy one time [say], “Rick, will smoking send me to hell?” I said “no—it will make you smell like you’ve been there. But it’s not gonna send you to hell.”

[I would counter that trying to suck in breathe to burnt and charred lungs and failing, is about as close as you can get to the concept.  And I’m a smoker, but I have no illusions about it.  I know where this path leads, and it’s right to pain and suffering and death, otherwise known as hell.  Lots of other actions lead to pain and suffering.  This is why they are considered “evil”. ]

The fundamental issue is, people often ask me, “What’s the worst sin?” They expect me to say adultery, or taking drugs or something. The Bible clearly states, in the book of Isaiah, it’s pride. It’s pride. It was pride as Isaiah talks about Satan to get kicked out of heaven. And the middle letter of sin is “I” and the middle letter of pride is “I.”

[This is like theology for six-year olds.  Which is probably why it’s popular in Orange County, but I digress…and the kicker…]

Now when you talk about, “well what about all these things we are supposed to do?” Those things are not the root of our salvation, they are the fruit of our salvation. In other words, they’re the results. Jesus said “by your fruit you’ll know them.” But the fruit isn’t the apple tree, it’s the result of the apple tree. It’s the root that gives that apple tree its apple-ness. So, it can be a confusing message. It really can be. Because on one, on the one hand, we’re talking about “it’s all a gift, it’s a free gift.” And on the other hand, then, once you accept it, it should change your behavior.

[Ummm, no.  It’s not confusing.  If you put the quote in context and don’t try to make it your own, and twist it to your own purposes, there is no question about what it means…shall we?]

–Mathew 7:15-23 {KJV, but it’s the same metaphor in every version.  It’s important not to take this stuff out of context as Jesus was a master of the metaphor.}

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The whole point of the passage is talking about false prophets, precisely.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It’s about as unambiguous as this stuff can get.  The fact that he also got the pronouns reversed is also telling.

So what kind of fruit are we talking here?  One of the big ones was that War in Iraq.  As we can see from Malcolm Gladwell’s piece on the guy.

Not long after the Anaheim service [done in Angel’s Stadium], Warren went back to his office on the Saddleback campus. He put his feet up on the coffee table. On the wall in front of him were framed originals of the sermons of the nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon, and on the bookshelf next to him was his collection of hot sauces. “I had dinner with Jack Welch last Sunday night,” he said. “He came to church, and we had dinner.

I’ve been kind of mentoring him on his spiritual journey. And he said to me, ‘Rick, you are the biggest thinker I have ever met in my life. The only other person I know who thinks globally like you is Rupert Murdoch.’ And I said, ‘That’s interesting. I’m Rupert’s pastor! Rupert published my book!’ ” Then he tilted back his head and gave one of those big Rick Warren laughs.

I think I can rest my case now.  I have no problem with Rick Warren the pastor, as long as he’s feeding people, but know that Rick Warren the “thinker” is a joke.  A dangerous joke.

He has done some good work with his great wealth, but I have a feeling there is a bigger problem brewing here than many realize.

O.k., one more as the crazy continues…

Mother Teresa, who is thought of as one of the most pious, deeply Christian people who’s lived, had what she called a “dark night of the soul” too. Have you ever had that?

Oh absolutely. All the time.

What do you mean ‘all the time’?

Well I’ve never doubted God. But I’ve doubted why God does certain things. To me, it takes more faith to be an atheist. Sorry, I don’t have enough faith to believe in atheism….

Umm, dude.  That, again, makes no sense.  Mother Teresa’s problem was that she didn’t believe in god. That was her dark night of the soul. Not that she wasn’t chatting with “him” like an old buddy, as you’ve been doing all the time, just like, all the time, you can’t feel the presence of God.

The contradictions and the “say anything” MO continues throughout the interview.  I hadn’t really looked into Warren before this, being only peripherally aware of him.  Now that I know, I’m a bit more wary.

Especially when he sits idly by while what he considers a Holocaust happens.  Hey, Rick, if you really felt it was a Holocaust, you would instruct your followers to go and do a D-Day on it.  I know you can’t, because then religion-lite starts to look more like the radical approach that can get you killed (you know, like Jesus, or Martin Luther King, Jr), and we can’t have that.  So instead you sit idly by and make money off preaching about the abortion Holocaust, without putting your life on the line to end it.

His rather glaring lack of moral character (and again that “Say Anything” attitude) comes up when talking about torture…or “torture” as he tries to wiggle out with semantics…

Torture. You issued a statement a couple of years ago condemning torture.

I’m totally against torture.

Do you think this was a profound moral failing of the Bush administration?

Well I don’t know exactly how they defined torture….

John McCain thinks they did torture.

Well, and you know what – some of the stuff I saw looking at Guantanamo looks like clearly it was torture. To me, if you torture someone, you put yourself no better than the enemy [1]. We must maintain the moral high ground. You have no right to condemn the immoral actions of others if we’re doing the same thing. And we should expect that others will torture our people if we’re torturing them.

Did you ever talk to President Bush to try to convince him to change his policy?

No. No.

Why not?

Never got the chance. I just didn’t.

[1] I’m assuming he thinks Muslims torture for fun and are “the enemy”.  Because that’s what he said.

And gimme a break.  You’ve got Rupert Murdoch (who owns Fox) and Jack Welch (G.E. i..e. NBC, MSNBC, CNBC) on speed dial and you had NO chance to try and influence that debate?  No chance to declare flatly and loudly, “Torture is Wrong”?

Gimme a break.  That’s total crap.  You just didn’t want to piss off your benefactors by making an unpopular moral stand.

And then you get the real skinny on gay marriage, and why he’s against it.

So why do we hear so much more – especially from religious conservatives – about gay marriage than about divorce?

Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours.  Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? Why do we hear more about anything else than about wasting time or gossip? We want to point that my sins are perfectly acceptable. Your sins are hideous and evil.

Indeed.  You, as a pastor, are supposed to be better than that.  And you aren’t.  Can’t upset the cart, now can we.  Not when it is so laden with bounty.

Speaking of focusing on other’s so-called “sins.”

One controversial moment for you in the last election was your support for proposition 8 in California. … Just to clarify, do you support civil unions or domestic partnerships?

I don’t know if I’d use the term there but I support full equal rights for everybody in America. I don’t believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles so I fully support equal rights.

[Clarification from Pastor Warren 12/15:  I now see you asked about civil UNIONS -and I responded by talking about civil RIGHTS. Sorry. They are two different issues. No American should ever be discriminated against because of their beliefs. Period. But a civil union is not a civil right. Nowhere in the constitution can you find the “right” to claim that any loving relationship identical to marriage. It’s just not there. ]

Uh-huh.  Umm, entering intro legally binding contracts is a civil right.  Denying that right is denying that right, and in no way does it illustrate how you “fully support equal rights.”   His, “oh I misheard,” clarification happened because HE WILL SAY ANYTHING THAT HE THINKS YOU WANT TO HEAR.

Funny how he brings up the Constitution now, but forgot about it during the whole torture thing.  Which of course he is against, but darnit, just can’t find the time to talk about.

His clarification for his gay marriage bashing includes probably the most stupid thing I’ve read today.

God, who always acts out of love and does what is best for us, thought up sex. Sex was God’s idea, not ours. Like fire, and many other things God gave us, sex can be used for good, or abused in ways that harm. The Designer of sex has clearly and repeatedly said that he created sex exclusively for husbands and wives in marriage. Whenever God’s parameters are violated, it causes broken hearts, broken families, emotional hurt and shame, painful memories, and many other destructive consequences. There would be no STDs in our world if we all played by the rules.

This might very well be the dumbest thing I’ve read all week, and I read a lot.

We’d all be millionaires in we all had a million dollars too, but that doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t a realistic scenario.  I mean, really…so people who never get married ALL have to die virgins?   They miss out on one of the greatest and most fundamental experiences of life because they don’t follow Mr. I-can’t-ever-feel-god-but-I-talk-to-him-constantly rules for marriage?

This is why he has such a hard time understanding why suffering exists, because his grasp on reality isn’t all that great.

All right, that went on waaaay longer than expected.  I’ve been in writing mode all week and just dumped another 1,000 words into this post instead of putting it into my greater argument about this whole topic.

Oh, well, maybe someone will realize where this guy is headed and make sure to get off the boat before he wrecks it.

Oh, and Obama picked him to give the invocation at the Presidential Inauguration, which is what brought this whole thing up, so all you Obama-is-the-Antichrist people can feel free to use this post in your aguments.  😉

One thought on “Educating Rick Warren On What Jesus Said (and how He Acted)

  1. For a Child:

    C-301 Hush my dear, be still and slumber: Jolly angels guard your bed Watts
    C-302 The dutifulness of children is the foundation of all virtue Cicero
    C-303 Children bring their own love with them when they come Jean Ingelow
    C-304 What would the world be to us if children were no more? Longfellow
    C-305 Oh, for boyhood’s time of June crowding years into one brief moon Whittier
    C-306 Sleep undisturbed within the peaceful shrine
    Till angels wake thee with a note like thine Samuel Johnson
    C-307 No jewel is as perfect as the innocence of childhood Anon
    C-308 Sleep, my little one, sleep Harrington
    C-309 Children are a heritage of the Lord Psalms 127: 3
    C-310 The child is the father of the man Wordsworth
    C-311 Little Boy Blue has gone away Field
    C-312 God’s garden has need of little flowers
    C-313 Remembering a tiny angel
    C-314 So small, so sweet, so soon
    C-315 Lord, we give you our littlest angel
    C-316 Budded ( or blossomed) on earth to bloom in Heaven
    C-317 For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven
    C-318 His was a man’s courage
    C-319 Our littlest angel who went back to Heaven
    C-320 Called by one who loves him dearly
    C-321 Let thy child rest in hope and rise in glory
    C-322 Awaiting the touch of a little hand, and the smile of a little face E. Field
    C-324 Children are the keys of paradise R. H. Stoddard
    C-325 An angel visited the green earth, and took a flower away (Adapted) Longfellow

    Credit shared. (M.M.Musatov)

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