NewsReal Sunday: Show Me the Verses– Rick Warren Naïve, Not “Leftwing”


Is this guy a “Leftwing Evangelical” too?

In his column about Evangelicals urging talks with North Korea, “forensic Protestant” Ben-Peter Terpstra zeroed in on some of the correct reasons to argue with Mega-Pastor/Author Rick Warren.  However, he accused Warren of “twisting scripture,” but then proceeded to counter Warren with the vaguest of Biblical paraphrases—but no actual scripture.

Show me the verses!

On the other hand, Rick Warren is the perfect example of why I worry about Evangelical pastors getting actual political authority.  They are successful in their ministry BECAUSE they believe they can convert anyone through the strength of their argument and the help of the Holy Spirit.  Warren’s comment on North Korea that offended Ben-Peter (and me, for that matter) shows this tendency:

“I am not a politician. I am a pastor,” said Warren after North Korea’s missile tests in July 2006. “But I do know that in any conflict – whether in a marriage, in business or between nations – as long as the parties keep talking, there is hope. My plea to everyone involved in this diplomatic process is to please, keep talking.”

A similar tendency no doubt propelled Mike Huckabee’s pardon of about 1,100 convicted felons during his relatively short tenure as Governor of Arkansas speaks to a Baptist preacher’s conviction that everyone can be redeemed, and that every conflict can be resolved—and that he is supposed to be the vehicle.  Huckabee substituted his inclination to mercy for the judgment of 1,100 juries and prosecutors because… why?

I’m not the world’s biggest Rick Warren fan.  I admire certain aspects of his ministry and approach, but also worry at times that salesmanship is more important than Truth.  While the Apostle Paul vowed to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some of them.,” that Pastor Warren occasionally takes that a bit far.

I’m also a guy who gets irritated when someone takes scripture out of context—even in what could be construed as a “harmless” way.  When the book that made Warren an international sensation, The Purpose-Driven Life, was being raved about by friends and (some) family, I couldn’t get out of the first chapter because of some very stretched use of out of context phrases from a few verses.  It wasn’t even that I thought Warren was making an un-Biblical point with the quotes, just that it was so unnecessary and sloppy.

However, if someone wanted to respond, “Rick Warren has brought more people to Jesus already than you ever will if you spend every waking minute working toward that goal for the rest of your life,” I would concede the point.

Also, the letter that was the jumping off point for Ben-Peter’s column has a LOT worse violators of scripture than Rick Warren—and some actual “leftwing evangelicals.”

It also includes Franklin Graham, whose disinviting to the Pentagon Prayer service this week because he once referred to Islam as “evil,” went relatively unnoticed in the furor over the censoring of the South Park Mohammed episode. Does his inclusion in this letter make him a Leftwing Evangelical?