With all of the strange twists and turns in the Saddleback saga these past few weeks, you almost need a playbook to keep track of how this curious situation came to be. Thankfully, Marsha West has put together a 30,000-foot overview of why things are as sticky as they are for Pastor Rick Warren and his PR team. If you've just come off the bench and need to catch up, or you're still wondering, "Why are all these Christians picking on one of their own?" then Marsha's new Renew America article should bring you up to speed:
In January 2011 mega church pastor Rick Warren enlisted the help of three doctors to come up with a health plan for Saddleback Church (SBC). The doctors he chose were Daniel Amen, a professing Christian, Mark Hyman, a Jew, and Mehmet Oz, a Muslim (and Oprah's "favorite doctor"). The foursome put their heads together and came up with The Daniel Plan (TDP). In a piece I wrote titled Rick Warren Introduces "The Devil Plan" I demonstrated that doctors Amen, Hyman and Oz are steeped in Eastern mysticism and the occult. So — why did Rick Warren knowingly choose occultists? Why not play it safe and choose doctors who are "in the faith"? It seems "America's Pastor" is always stirring up controversy, even when it's unnecessary.
Honestly, I don't really care why he chose the doctors he did. What gives me pause is that Rick Warren is a heavy hitter in Christendom, so it only makes sense that a shepherd of the flock should have more concern for the spiritual health of the sheep than for their waistlines.
When I wrote on TDP my primary concern was that Christians who trust Rick Warren would purchase the doctors' books, CDs, DVDs and nutritional supplements simply on his recommendation. My concern was well founded as many believers have been, and will continue to be, influenced by a worldview that's incompatible with Christianity.
Ignoring critics, Warren decided to take his weight loss program nationwide. TDP is now available to churches that are looking to offer a weight loss program. As of this writing 15,000 people have signed up.
Pastor Warren's willingness to unite with occultists isn't the only thing that has people on edge. Other criticisms are that he:
...embraces pragmatism — in the Church, the pragmatist will look to the world's marketing methods such as surveying the community when determining how to grow their church rather than looking to biblical examples.
...discounts the value of doctrine because he believes that doctrine can be a hindrance to unity.
...misapplies Scripture and uses it as a tool to cover his own ideas with a pretense of divine authority.
...has redefined Christian ministry in terms of social activism or what is termed social justice. (As an aside one of the leaders of Social Justice Christianity, as it is called, is Marxist sympathizer Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners magazine. "Social justice Christians," says Eric Rush, "are those who profess Christianity, but who adhere to politically entrenched concepts of equality and redistribution of wealth. These ideas are ostensibly rooted in their faith, but in truth, they have been incrementally and insidiously insinuated into many American churches by Marxists, progressive politicians and pastors....")
In his best-selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren says this:
Jesus modeled a purpose-driven life, and he taught others how to live it, too. That was the "work" that brought glory to God. Today God calls each of us to the same work.
Really? Then why did Jesus answer the way He did in John 6:28-29? :
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
In his article, Michael Horton on Rick Warren, Modern Reformation, and Desiring God, Horton observed:
His best-selling book, The Purpose-Driven Life, begins by announcing that it's not about you, but about God, and then the rest of the book is about you.
Later Horton says:
Pastor Warren tailors his appeals to his audience. To Calvinists, he stresses his support for the "solas" of the Reformation. Yet he tells prosperity evangelist David Yonggi Cho, "I've read your books on Vision and Dreams — speak to pastors about how you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit?...What advice would you give to a brand new minister?...Do you think American churches should be more open to the prayer for miracles?" ... In a June 2006 article in JewishJournal.com, editor-in-chief Rob Eshman reported on a speech that Warren gave for Synagogue 3000, after Rabbi Ron Wolfson became involved in the Purpose-Driven pastoral training seminars. "Warren managed to speak for the entire evening without once mentioning Jesus — a testament to his savvy message-tailoring." When USA Today asked him why Mormon and Jewish leaders are involved in his pastoral training programs, Rick Warren reportedly said, "I'm not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won't try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?"... Rick Warren endorses a host of books, from New Age authors to Emergent writers to conservative evangelicals. So why not include Calvinists?
And why not include doctors who dabble in the occult? It seems obvious that part of Rick Warren's agenda is to be all things to all people, not to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1: 3).
The Bridge to Islam
One would think the issues commented on previously would cause SBC's pastor to be more mindful of matters affecting his church. Not so. Once again Rick Warren is caught up in controversy. On February 23 the Orange County Register published an article titled Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims. Jim Hinch reported that in December 2011 Rick Warren began "an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims" by "partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God."
In his column Hinch shared that the effort, labeled the "King's Way" document, "caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims." Hinch claimed that the King's Way document (KWD) was co-authored by Abraham Meulenberg, SBC pastor in charge of interfaith outreach and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs of the Islamic Center of Southern California and unveiled at a December 2011 dinner at SBC attended by 300 Christians and Muslims. Hinch included part of the document in his article.
Warren quickly blasted the veteran reporter, accusing him of putting out an article with "multiple errors" in it. Warren's response to Hinch's report briefly appeared in the comments section:
I deeply love my Muslim neighbors," he wrote, "but this article contains multiple errors — factually and theologically that neither our dear friends in the Muslim Community nor the Christians at Saddleback Church would agree with.
Soon thereafter Hinch replied to Warren's comment:
I 'm sorry Rev. Warren feels the story contains errors but the story was based on interviews and documents and it was thoroughly fact-checked. I discussed all of its major points with Tom Holladay, an associate senior pastor at Saddle back (sic). I checked with other sources quoted in the story this morning and they said they did not see any errors. While reporting this story I asked to speak to Rev. Warren directly but was told he was too busy for an interview. If any facts need to be corrected I hope representatives from Saddle back (sic) will get in touch with me. ...
Warren later removed his comment.
When the blogosphere got wind of the article they were on it like morning dew on a rose petal. Who was telling the truth, bloggers wanted to know — the media or "America's Pastor"? They wondered how a veteran reporter could get his facts so wrong. Being Bereans, as the Bible commands, Christian bloggers started digging for the truth. They discovered what appeared to be a carefully crafted cover-up by SBC. But why would they want to cover their tracks? Here's where it gets interesting:
At first glance, writes Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, this would all seem simple enough; a report of a dinner at Saddleback Church where Turk and Meulenberg present their joint effort involving a document they'd written called the King's Way.
Warren denied the conclusions Jim Hinch drew. To clear up the matter he stated:
Christians have a fundamentally different view of God than Muslims. We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don't. Our God is Jesus, not Allah.
So far so good.
The confusion really began to grow when I brought you a small section from what I was told is the King's Way document in Apprising Ministries Exclusive On Rick Warren, Jim Hinch, And Islam:
I. WHO: we believe in
1. God is one (Mark 12:29; Muhammed 47:19)
2. God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1; Al Shura 42:11)
This is indeed confusing — and there's so much more to add to the confusion! (The points of theological agreement are here)
According to Hinch the KWD "outlines several areas of theological agreement between Christians and Muslims and commits members of both faiths to three goals: becoming friends; making peace; and sharing "the blessings of God with others."
But which God? The God of Christianity or the god of Islam?
Silva goes on to say that journalist Terry Mattingly wrote a piece titledReligion: God, Allah and Rick Warren:
In his piece Mattingly quotes what he says is an email from Rick Warren who absolutely insists that: "Neither I, nor my staff, had ever seen such a document UNTIL the article mentioned it. It wasn't created or even seen by us. ... Saddleback church as a church was not involved."... (emphasis added)
There seems to be a lack of communication between Pastor Warren and his staff and this is confirmed in an article by Jihad Turk. Turk explains that two years ago Abraham Meulenberg approached him and expressed an interest in exploring ways "that we can bring our communities together in friendship." Turk admits he welcomed the initiative. Later in the article he states:
...over the past couple of years, Saddleback Church through King's Way has participated in a number of events with several local Muslim communities. I was invited to give a presentation at Saddleback Church alongside pastor Meulenberg."
From the article it becomes obvious that some of what Turk said contradicts Rick Warren and corroborates what Jim Hinch said.
As stated above, Hinch stated that he and SBC pastor Tom Holladay had fact-checked the major points in his original article. Hinch also revealed that Holladay was among those who attended the dinner when King's Way was presented.
King's Way, Kingdom Circles and Saddleback
While gathering info for her radio show, Stand Up For The Truth, co-host Amy Spreeman came across an intriguing bit of news. She wrote:
Yesterday we broke the news that one of Saddleback Church's senior pastors, Abraham Meulenberg, taught about Kingdom Circles — a controversial interfaith teaching tool — this past summer at a Catholic church near Nice, France.
We wanted to give the benefit of the doubt and asked the question: Was Pastor Meulenberg actually teaching, or were these diagrams left over from a prior lesson, perhaps taught by someone else and left on the white board?
The photos in the gallery below don't show the pastor putting pen to the wall, but there is a clear progression of diagrams in each of these photos as he is speaking to attendees. (See the photos here)
Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio's Fighting for the Faith program picked this up yesterday and incorporated it into a stunning and all-encompassing summary of what has happened with the King's Way, the Kingdom Circles and Saddleback's Muslim outreach in the past few weeks. If you need to catch up, click on his podcast...and strap on your seat belt.
With seat belt tight I listened while Chris gave the details of all that has transpired since Jim Hinch's original article appeared. When you put the puzzle pieces together, as Chris did, it becomes obvious that, for reasons known only to him, Rick Warren thought it best to deny, verbally and in writing, that SBC pastors knew about the KWD.
But they did know. There's photographic evidence of Abraham Meulenberg and Jihad Turk on stage together at the Saddleback Peace Center with the KWD displayed on a large screen behind them.
Clearly, the KWD has much more significance than something that came from an SBC Bible study where Muslims were invited to attend.
There's more. On March 13 we learned that Pastor Warren elicited the help of a paid public relations firm to present his version of the "truth" in an article titled "Setting the Record Straight."
Just so you'll know...
Rick Warren has been pushing interfaith dialogue for years. So it's no surprise that he's attempting to build a bridge between Christians and Muslims. There's nothing wrong with doing that as long as the primary purpose is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15-16 However, Jim Hinch stated that he was told by Pastor Tom Holladay "King's Way was an effort to build bridges of friendship and cooperation, not an attempt to evangelize." (Online source)
Rick Warren once said, "I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody." In his ecumenical outreach, Southern Baptist Pastor Rick Warren has associated with the apostate Roman Catholic Church, the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. These last two organizations have as primary goals setting up a global government and bringing all religions of the world together, respectively. Pastor Warren awarded the former Prime Minister of Britton, who is a recent convert to Catholicism, the annual International Medal of PEACE.
Stay turned for part 2
Recommended Reading: Rick Warren: The art of 'politically-correct' praying Invocation at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama 20th January 2009 — By Cecil Andrews
Evangelicals' Collapsing Cultural Influence — By David French
© Marsha West