Last Sunday, a historic event took place at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Saddleback is known for its famous pastor, Rick Warren, who delivered the prayer at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. The Church hosted a number of Muslim communities in based in Southern California for its second annual celebration of Jesus (pbuh). This event is significant because Saddleback is a large evangelical church with over 22 thousand members. Although only a select number of individuals were invited to this dinner, it demonstrates the new theological position of Saddleback. At the celebration, a document one year in the making was presented which encourages Christians and Muslims to appreciate the similarities of our faiths.
The document encouraged that our communities work together towards the common good and to combat bigotry in a 1-2-3 plan. The first step in the plan identifies the belief in one God. The second step acknowledges God’s commandment to love God and your neighbor. Finally, step three is for our communities to commit to three things: making friends, building peace, and serving the world at large together.
This relationship with Saddleback Church was initiated over a year ago with a friendship between one of the pastors, Abraham Meulenberg, and the ICSC’s Jihad Turk. Pastor Meulenberg reached out having heard about the Center and our interfaith work. From this friendship developed an institutional link between their respective organizations. (Online Source, emphasis added. To view pictures of this event, visit here.)As stated in yesterday's post, Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims, while Islam may bow to one god, and Christianity serves one God, these two are not the same God. As was also mentioned yesterday on this blog, the idea of "love God, love your neighbor" is not the Gospel, it is the Law. Indeed, as emphasized above, this recent step taken by Saddleback Church does reveal "the new theological position of Saddleback." Yet, can it really be said that this is a new position? After all, did not Rick Warren stand before a room of Muslims in 2009 and declare:
You know that obviously as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ. But you also need to know that I am committed not just what I call the “Good News,” but I am committed to the common good. And as the Scripture says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I am commanded to love and I am commanded to respect everybody. Everybody. Now I was asked to speak to you about how Muslims and Christians can work closer together for the greater good, in our world. And I will tell you that I am not interested in interfaith dialogue, I am interested in interfaith projects. There is a big difference. Talk is very cheap. And you can talk and talk and talk and not get anything done. Love is something you do. It is something that we do together. Love is a verb. Now as the two largest faiths on this planet, Muslims and Christians, we must lead in this. We must lead. With over one billion Muslims, and over 2 billion Christians, together, as half the world, we have to do something, about modeling what it means to live in peace, to live in harmony. (Online Source)Sadly, Rick Warren is not only deceiving millions, but he appears to be deceiving himself as well. For all of the talk of "loving neighbor," if he truly did care for his Muslim neighbors, he would reach out to them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if it meant that his beloved P.E.A.C.E. plan would cease to flourish. If, as a Christian saved by Jesus Christ, Rick Warren truly felt love and compassion for those trapped in the false religion of Islam, then even the mere thought of affirming belief in a shared god would cause him to tremble. Rick Warren's actions display both a misunderstanding and a lack of true Christian love.
Instead, what Rick Warren is propagating is the dangerous practice of ecumenism. Performed in the name of "peace" and "unity," ecumenism is perhaps one of the greatest dangers to the church today. We are not called to join hands with false religions in any spiritual enterprise. Rather, Scripture commands against this, for it is an abomination to the one and only true and living God.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)SEE ALSO:
There's a Lion On the Ground (by Tony Miano)
Does Rick Warren Still Get John Piper's "Stamp of Approval?" (Sola Sisters)