On March 1st, I posted a piece entitled "Rick Warren's bridge to Mecca" tenatively concluding that if Jim Hinch, journalist with the Orange County Register, characterized Warren correctly, "perhaps it's time to officially end any left-over love affairs with Saddleback"1 >>>
A day later, Ed Stetzer, VP at Lifeway Resources, wrote a stinging rebuke of those he called "watchbloggers"2 for presumably jumping the gun on an apparent hit-piece on Rick Warren composed by secular journalist (i.e., Jim Hinch). Lifeway's VP wrote:
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. Some of the usual bloggers have done their usual job... . I am sure those who quoted the OC Register will also quote this to clear up any confusion.
Dr. Stetzer failed to fully appreciate, however, that Jim Hinch is hardly a "watchblogger" but a seasoned, reputable journalist at a fairly conservative and credible --albeit secular--news outlet. The so-called "watchbloggers" were quoting legitimate, standard sources. They were neither perpetuating gossip nor displaying heresy head-hunting tactics when they quoted The Orange County Register.
In my follow-up piece on March 2nd, I quoted Stetzer's post defending Warren in his own words and wrote that, in light of Warren's unequivocal clarification on his position concerning Christianity and Islam, "We are glad Warren cleared the thick fog hanging heavy on us all yesterday." So, hopefully, my posting Warren's denial meets Stetzer's hope that "those who quoted the OC Register will also quote this to clear up any confusion."
Beyond this, we now have more light thrown on this issue posted by Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries. Unfortunately, the light Silva bears also brings fresh new fog descending on what either Rick Warren believes about Christianity's relationship with Islam, or what Saddleback staffers embrace about the two faiths without Warren's knowledge and/or approval. According to Silva, we need to look closely at what the King’s Way document says about God, while remembering the document was coauthored by Abraham Meulenberg, who serves as Saddleback's pastor overseeing interfaith outreach and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles:
I. WHO: we believe in
ONE GOD:1. God is one (Mark 12:29; Muhammed 47:19)2. God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1; Al Shura 42:11)3. God is different from the world (1 Timothy 6:16; An An’am 6:103)4. God is Gooda. God loves (1 John 4:16; Al Buruj 85:14)b. God is just (1 John 1:19, Romans 3:26; Hud 11:45)c. God’s love encompasses God’s judgment (1 Peter 4:8; Al A’raf 7:156; Al Ghafir 40:7) (//link)
Surely, critics are right to point out the questionable implications the King's Way document coauthored by Saddleback and a Muslim representative pose toward Christian theism. It may be good to have formal dialogs with Muslims on what we may agree upon and what we definitely disagree upon so that better, more accurate communication may take place between us. Granted. Granted also we should do so in ways which are less contentious.
Nonetheless, is it not going entirely too far by presenting the Qur'an parallel with and on the same ground as biblical revelation? And, doing so, in effect, to apparently display how both Islam and Christianity believe in "ONE GOD"? How could this not imply precisely what Hinch suggested was taking place between Saddleback and local 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"?
Up until now, I have had no real contention concerning Rick Warren, Saddleback, the whole purpose-driven phenomenon, or even Warren's own political aspirations during the last presidential campaign. The truth is, however, this looks really bad on Warren. In addition, Jim Hinch does not appear to be the hack Stetzer and others implied him to be. If the questionable statements Hinch wrote are "flat out wrong" as Warren explicitly affirms, then he needs to explain the King's Way document on which Hinch (and now Silva) relied, a document his own staff pastor coauthored with a Muslim representative.
With that, I am...
1the same day, New Mexico pastor, Howell Scott, wrote a similar but more extended piece, now available with an update
2"watchbloggers" is apparently Stetzer's own "bogeyman" to blame for things with which he disagrees
3Chris Rosebrough rightly corrected Stetzer's false impression toward his so-called "watchbloggers"
4I did post a piece in 2009 displaying Warren's apparent flip-flop on California's Proposition 8. Outside of that, however, I have not really dealt with Rick Warren or Saddleback on this site