Yesterday, I posted a short piece entitled "Rick Warren's bridge to Mecca" wherein I quoted a reputable news outlet in Orange County, California. A piece written by journalist, Jim Hinch, entitled "Rick Warren builds a bridge to Muslims" concluded Rick Warren and Saddleback church were apparently building a bridge far too close to Mecca's theological borders "acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God" >>>
Now we apparently find out that Hinch may have misunderstood Warren and the "Kings Way" theological documents which apparently was the basis for the Muslim-Christian dialog. Warren just released a statement clarifying his position. Ed Stetzer, Vice President of Lifeway Resources, posted the clarifying remarks on his blog. The first question and answer in Warren's statement is sufficent to clearly understand Warren's position:
QUESTION: Do people of other religions worship the same God as Christians?
WARREN: Of course not. Christians have a view of God that is unique. We believe Jesus is God! We believe God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not 3 separate gods but one God. No other faith believes Jesus is God. My God is Jesus. The belief in God as a Trinity is the foundational difference between Christians and everyone else. There are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christians... whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Evangelical... and they all have the doctrine of the Trinity in common. Hindus, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Unitarians, and everyone else do not accept what Jesus taught about the Trinity
In addition, the interviewer asked Warren about the recent newspaper article [presumably Hinch's article] claiming he believed Christians and Muslims worship the same God, that Warren was "in partnership" with a mosque, and that both Warren and Muslims agreed to "not evangelize each other." Warren unequivocally responded: "All three of those statements are flat out wrong. Those statements were made by a reporter, not by me. I did not say them ... I do not believe them... I completely disagree with them ... and no one even talked to me about that article!"
We are glad Warren cleared the thick fog hanging heavy on us all yesterday.1 We must insist, however, Warren has failed more than one time speaking clearly and creating confusion even though he is considered a master-communicator. Recall Warren’s insistence less than a year ago about being influenced by Calvinism through his reading Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin when interviewed by J. Piper. Could one honestly detect, through Warren's books and preaching, an influence of Reformed thinking? An influence from one of the most profound philosophers in the Colonial West--America's philosopher--Edwards is called? Closer to reality, I suspect, is Warren can no more comprehend Freedom of the Will than can I, along with most Calvinists--unless one has a background in philosophy, of course.
In addition, recall Prop 8 (approx. 3 years ago) when Warren seemed to waffle on supporting it, denying he was for it after the media published his views and the homosexual community raised a stink. I posted a video on this site which shows him publicly stating support for Prop 8. Yet he later denied on Larry King Live he ever supported it and even apologized to his gay critics. My point is simple: Rick Warren sometimes appears like he's both for and against. Hence, this needs to be weighed in the scales of getting to the bottom of the journalist's misunderstanding.
As for Dr. Stetzer, his own bombastic, condemnatory rhetoric is entirely needless, not to mention unbecoming as a VP of Lifeway. Opening his post, Stetzer reacts:
Once again, watchbloggers are accusing Rick Warren of heresy. Why? Because, Warren explains, a secular Orange County newspaper got something wrong about a religious issue. The usual bloggers have done their usual job, but this has also been picked up by other news outlets... I am sure those who quoted the OC Register will also quote this to clear up any confusion
Stetzer only recently unloaded on an unnamed group of "watchbloggers" presumably among Southern Baptists. Apparently "watchbloggers" is the new "bogeyman" for Stetzer. Whatever the case, it was a reputable journalist at a credible news outlet which wrote the story about Warren; it was not the evil "watchbloggers." Nor does it matter that the news outlet was "secular." While there exists unreasonable bias in the news, one cannot make a blanket statement about all news being unreasonably biased--and, especially unreasonably biased if it's "secular" news. Rather bias must be demonstrated on a case by case basis.
1. Jim Hinch... is not a theologian and he incorrectly concluded...the theological common ground being built by Saddleback with the Muslim community included a belief that both religions worshiped the same God. Hinch was NOT motivated by a secular agenda to smear Saddleback or Rick Warren. The fault lies in part with Saddleback and the vague language of the Kings Way document.
2. The bloggers who've covered the story were passing along the faulty conclusions of Jim Hinch's article. The OC Register is a reputable news source and it is extremely unfair to throw bloggers under the bus as if they were purposely forwarding on lies about Warren and Saddleback
We hope Dr. Stetzer takes Rosebrough's words to heart. Stiff, knee-jerk reactions based upon an obvious prejudice against "watchbloggers" (whatever "watchbloggers" are in Dr. Stetzer's mind) does not assist in clearing up conflicting stories. Nor does it shed the wisdom needed to work through issues like this, wisdom expected from those who sit in Stetzer's position.
With that, I am...
1my own conclusion after reading Hinch was stated tentatively and was as follows: "If Hinch has characterized Warren correctly, perhaps it's time to officially end any left-over love affairs with Saddleback"