Monday, July 06, 2009

Rick Warren's Departure

Rick Warren, America’s newest neo-Evangelical, spoke this past Saturday at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at the Washington Convention Center. I won’t point out that July 4 is a very strange time for patriotic Americans to be having an annual convention, because doing so would only highlight the probability that the ISNA is not very patriotic.

But I will remind Americans that in December 2003, U.S. Senators Charles Grassley and Max Baucus of the Senate Committee on Finance listed ISNA as one of 25 American Muslim organizations that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence” and that terror expert Steve Emerson has said, “ISNA has has been an umbrella and a promoter of groups that have been involved in terrorism.”

According to the Washington Times, Warren began his speech with the common Arabic greeting "Asalam alakum," (‘peace be upon you’), though as a Christian theologian Warren should know only the wrath of God can abide upon Christ-rejecters. Evidently, Warren is becoming more conversant in the Islamic Arabic language. Readers may remember his reference to ‘Isa’ (Jesus) in his Invocation during President Obama’s Inauguration.

ISNA President Ingrid Mattson, trying to diffuse criticism from her own organization, introduced Warren as a "distinguished guest" –someone she had invited because of his worldwide charitable projects—adding that the Saddleback Community Church pastor gives away 90 percent of his salary: "Here is someone who, in charitable giving, is very stiff competition," she said. Of course, President Mattson didn’t mention the millions of dollars Warren keeps from his “Purpose Driven” empire.

"Talk is cheap ... but love is something we do together," Warren stated. "As the two largest faiths on this planet - more than 1 billion Muslims and 2 billion Christians - as Muslims and Christians, we must believe in this. As more than half the world, we must do something to model what it is to live in peace, to live in harmony."

The book of James is thunderous in its advocacy of works alongside of faith. In James 2:17 the Bible states: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." So it is clear the Bible wants both--faith AND works--to exist in the lives of the people of God. And it is true that most Christians err on the side of no works, just simply verbal professions of love for God and their fellow man.

But Warren is proof-texting and erroring on the other side. He wants actions. Loving, kind and helpful actions. There is nothing wrong with that, per se. But the Christian's (and the Christian pastor's) higher calling is eternal. To be paving a way for a Muslim/Christian partnership is far from the gospel.

Warren's statement, reminiscent of Harry Emerson Fosdick and his social gospel, is a theological impossibility. Warren is attempting to draw a wedge between words and actions. His goal of the betterment of humanity, while worthy, is short-sighted and temporal.

In his brief reference to Jesus, Warren said: "My deepest faith is in Jesus Christ. I am committed not only to the good news but the common good. Scripture says 'love your neighbor as yourself.' I am commanded to respect everybody."

Certainly, Biblical Christianity demands respect for others with whom we disagree. But respect does not mean silence. Warren’s emphasis is on good works. Talk can be cheap, but it can also be revealing. And allegiance to “the common good” (the second greatest commandment) can never be given at the expense of “the good news” (the first greatest commandment). To join Muslims in reducing African poverty and suffering, for instance, means to overlook their rejection of Jesus as God and Savior. And obedient servants of Jesus would not do such a thing.

Warren’s preoccupation with prominence has blinded him to his first call.
Southern Baptists (the denomination Warren belongs to) would do well to publically distance themselves from this Fosdick disciple.

P.S. Here’s a bit more of Warren’s swift decline from doctrinal integrity.

P.S.#2 Is Rick Warren in this commercial?

P.S. #3 Now I'm probably bordering on petty, but I've heard Warren speak at several conferences in my former Southern Baptist days. He never wore a suit then, why now?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In Honor of July 2…Independence Day?

John Adams, in a now very famous (or infamous) letter to his wife Abigail, wrote on July 3 of the previous day’s events in Philadelphia where representatives of the 13 American colonies had, after days of grueling debate, voted to approve their Declaration of Independence.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

So John Adams got it wrong. It least the day, anyway. Americans would remember July 4 -- the day the Declaration was formally signed, instead of July 2 – the day it was officially approved. And he missed the part about devotion to God. Americans no longer seem to need God or even honor Him, let alone acknowledge His help in ages past. But on the issue of “pomp and parade” Adams was dead on.

Incidentally, this wasn’t Adams’ only July 4 mistake. He would die on July 4, 1826. As he was passing away, he bemoaned that his political rival and fellow patriot Thomas Jefferson would outlive him. His last words were whispered “Thomas Jefferson survives.” What Adams didn’t know was that hours earlier, the Virginian Republican had already passed into eternity.

Which leads me to point of this post. July 2 is a good day to remember eternal matters in regards to America. Before our Independence Day gets overshadow by the partying aspect of our national and familial celebrations, let’s thank God for His kindness of the past towards our beloved America and plead for His present mercies towards our nation.

P.S. Here’s what John Adams got so excited about:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:
New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton