Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pure and Undefiled

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The Future of Evangelicals: A Conversation with Pastor Rick Warren (my review)

PEW Intro: The evangelical Christian movement historically has been defined by its members' distinctive doctrinal standards and practices.
Yet in recent years many Americans have come to understand evangelicals more by their political, rather than religious, identity. The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life invited Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., to discuss how this political association has affected the evangelical movement, what evangelicals' most important concerns are today, and how the movement is evolving.

BW note: The above introduction clearly identifies the mentality of the biased liberal media, as well as the failings of our church mission when it states: “in recent years many Americans have come to understand evangelicals more by their political, rather than religious, identity.” As you read the full discussion, it is important to note that many of the journalists are not evangelical believers, but at the same time, might call themselves Christians. I have linked the entire discussion here, but I wanted to speak to a few points:

WARREN: A key issue - and I won't talk a lot about this - is what we call our Civil Society Initiative. I believe that civilization is losing its civility. I don't know if you've noticed it or not but the world is getting ruder. We're getting more crass. You may not demonize a person just because they're different, and differences do not demonize. Somehow we've got to follow that great theologian, Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" You don't have to agree with someone [not] to be disagreeable. You can walk hand in hand without seeing eye to eye. And the fact is, America is a democracy. In a democracy nobody wins all the time. I don't. You don't. Nobody does. That's called a democracy. It doesn't mean we pack up and leave the country because we don't win. We are Americans, and we must -
I believe in the "good news." I'm a Christian, I'm an evangelical, and I'm a pastor. I believe in Jesus Christ. But I also believe in the common good and that there are some issues that have to be dealt with everybody on the common good. I don't win all the time and neither do you, and so we have to learn to be civil. That's why I spend most of my time not speaking to Christian groups. In the last year I've spoken to atheist groups, secularist groups. I've spoken to the two largest Muslim conventions. I was the keynote speaker at the Reform convention of Judaism. I spend most of my time actually speaking to people who disagree with me, but I'm trying to build bridges because we're on this planet together promoting civility and the common good.

BW note: "But" … is where the pastor drifts off track. I don’t want to be critical but … I believe in Jesus Christ, BUT … raises a big red flag for me. I say: but … nothing.
When Christianity attempts to be politically correct or inclusive, it becomes lukewarm and we all know what Jesus says to do with lukewarm. There is a big difference between witnessing the good news of Christ to atheists, secularists, journalists and Muslims; and making politically correct talk at their conventions. Speaking at their conventions gives them a measure of credibility, which is counterproductive to the cause of Christ. I doubt that Pastor Warren was able to explain the good news of Christ at a Muslim convention. Jesus Christ is all that matters. Islam is not about civility and the common good. Islam is about forcing an evil doctrine on the free world. We cannot un-demonize Islam. It is worse than Nazism. We are called to be loving to all and live peacefully together ... but we should never in any way give credibility or validation to an evil religion. We must identify Islam for what it is: The enemy of Judaism and Christianity.

Warren: The P.E.A.C.E. Plan began in 2003. It's a global humanitarian effort to take on the five biggest problems on the planet: poverty, disease, illiteracy, corruption and conflict. P.E.A.C.E. stands for Promote reconciliation, Equip ethical leaders, "A" is assist the poor, "C" is care for the sick and "E" is educate the next generation. We believe that these problems are so big government can't do it alone; business can't do it alone; churches can't do it alone. Some problems are so big you have to team tackle them.

BW note: The PEACE Plan is great, but the problem here is that the number one biggest problem on the planet is not included: Where is the reconciliation between God and the lost world? And the conversion to Christianity of the unbelieving world? How can Pastor Warren leave this truth out of the plan? We are called as Ambassadors of Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. Our ministry is about reconciling the lost to Christ … not bringing the world’s false religions, atheists, and secularists together with Christians to present a convoluted message to these poor lost souls. That is like giving the sick … medicine mixed with cyanide.

Warren: Orphan care is a key issue. As I said, there are 146 million orphans in the world.
Whoever gets to those people first is going to get their hearts and minds - either madrassas or radicals or fundamentalists or whatever. And whoever loves them - that's anarchy waiting to happen, 146 million orphans growing up without moms and dads. We have to do that. I have been trying to convince both the Bush administration and the Obama administration - it's the only thing I actually have ever talked to - I don't talk policy ever with politicians - never. Never. And let me just say it again: never. But I do care about orphans. And the one issue that I have talked to them about is: it's just good foreign policy to help the sick and help orphans.

BW note: Pastor Warren is on point here. I wholeheartedly agree!

Warren: If you ever see me with a politician, it's - I have no political aspirations and I have no aspirations to even influence public policy. That's not my role as a pastor. My role as a pastor is I counsel leaders about stress, about family, about integrity, about generosity. It's all personal. I never, never, never counsel government leaders about policy.

BW note: As an ambassador for Christ, our mission is to represent Christ and to be used by Christ to reconcile the world to God. If that is not influencing public policy, I don't know what it is. What about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without Christ, there is no lasting solution to the issues of stress, family, integrity, or generosity. Are you beginning to see the problem here? Barack Obama's religious and philosophical training includes heavy doses of Islam, Mengaji, Unitarian Universalist, Communism, Socialism, Radical professors, Liberation theology, Marxism, Maoism and Saul Alinsky. Nowhere do I find any training in Biblical Christianity. I cannot imagine Pastor Warren meeting with Obama, and not witnessing the good news of Christ to him. If not politics or Jesus Christ, what else would there be to talk about? On the core issue of ministering to orphans, Jesus Christ must be the foundation for the work to have eternal meaning. Pastor Warren had the opportunity to witness to these journalists as well, but he missed it.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. BW note: Pastor Warren is right on in reaching out to widows and orphans. The challenge is to not become polluted by the world in the process. We must all be praying for Rick Warren that he will keep his mind focused on Christ and His purpose in all of this. Christianity is: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. That does not include the blending of Christianity in with false religions and secular atheistic beliefs. TO BE CONTINUED.

God bless you my friends, Bob
Pray to receive
Christ as Savior


  1. Interesting. We really do need to know what we believe and why based on the Word. This is a good reminder to stay on our toes.
    Thanks and blessings,

  2. God is love. He loves his enemies. You do not love your enemies with words and a book. You love them by caring for their every need much like the story of the good Samaritan. I think Jesus would be thrilled with the PEACE plan. It is based upon his words, that he taught. "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me." We are a constitutional republic, btw, not a democracy.

  3. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

    The Good Samaritan is a great example of God’s love. God is love and Jesus taught us to love our enemies. I absolutely agree with ministering to the whole world.
    I also agree ... America is a Republic, not a democracy ... too bad our politicians often forget this key point.

    God does not tell us to love false religions. Here is what God says about religions that do not confess that Jesus Christ is God: 1 John 4: 1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus; is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

    As I said, the peace plan is great … but why leave out our primary purpose as Christians? The great commission is a cornerstone of Saddleback Church and should surely play a major role in this plan. Read Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren.

    Please note that it is fine for us to disagree with a pastor or each other. But we will always test our beliefs on this blog by the teachings of God’s word. In fact the Bible calls us to do that. If I am ever off biblically, don’t hesitate to point out the truth of God’s Word. Any error will be corrected immediately. We only seek God’s truth here.

    Thanks for the comments friends, Bob

  4. Hi Bob,

    I agree that we cannot blend genuine biblical faith with secular ideology but America is a secular society; not Christian-based. The challenge faced by Christians in America is public policy and biblical practice.

    For example, the issue of abortion would often find one's biblical beliefs muted by the secular views of society and political representatives. How does a Christian navigate the waters of political expediency/secularism and gain an audience which may produce spiritual changes?

    One can say, "I will adhere to my primary purpose as a Christian" and never have an opportunity to participate in open dialog.

    I don't have a problem with Pastor Warren saying, "I have no political aspirations and I have no aspirations to even influence public policy." He adheres to the view of his purpose in society; that is his right.

    We are Christians living in a secular society. That in itself identifies a conflict of interest. You can proclaim the gospel but it doesn't require anyone to listen. However, having an open dialog with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists presents an opportunity for Pastor Warren. That opportunity may have begun with volatile, perilous discussions but ultimately may gain a convert through patience and diligence.

    I've said a lot on this but you've provided an opportunity for frank discussion.

    Blessings and grace always,


  5. MJT … Thanks for the insights. I come up with these questions as a result: Is America a secular or Christian based society? Does freedom of religion mean all religions are equal and valid? Does freedom of religion mean America must abandon it’s Christian heritage? Does separation of church and state mean we can no longer teach basic moral values in our public schools? Should atheistic values be free to control our schools? Should we allow an atheistic minority view with a one person majority on the court to continue with a million babies aborted in America each year? Should we allow politicians who lie to get elected, to continue to misrepresent us? Is it open dialogue if atheists set the agenda of the discussion? Should we compromise the message Christ has given us? The confusion with Pastor Warren is that he is promoted by these journalists as evangelical Christianity’s representative. I believe that in this role, he should promote Biblical Christianity, not secular ideas. Why is he not challenging them with the above questions? I could go on and on. But, rather than give my own answers, I will leave that open for others and post the direction that I am convinced the Apostle Paul would likely offer:

    Acts 17: 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23“For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

    Blessings to all and all comments are welcome
    God Bless you my friends, Bob

  6. Hi Bob,

    I tend to disagree with MTJ's views that "America is a secular society; not Christian-based." I believe those are two completely different statements. First, is America a secular society? Depending on the source of your information, such as relying on TV primetime, Hollywood, the music industry, the newspaper industry, and of course our favorite news networks such as ABC, NBC, and CBS you would tend to believe that this is very much a secular society.

    But what is secular? Secular is "1) not concerned with religion: not controlled by a religious body or concerned with religious or spiritual matters, 2) not religious: not religious or spiritual in nature, 3) not monastic: not belonging to a monastic order, 4) occurring once in century: occurring only once in the course of an age or century, and 5) occurring over long period: taking place over an extremely or indefinitely long period of time."

    However, according to http://religions.pewforum.org/reports/, there seems to be a large majority of people who claim to be Christians (78.4%). Obviously there are nominal Christians, and those who Christians by name only. But calling America a secular society is only because that is the projection of a small minority of atheists. And unfortunately, they have the platform in which to promote their agendas. Holding the cards to major communication outlets, they have done an amazing job in reprogramming the ideology of many Americans. Again, look at pewforum.org and you see over a dozen religions represented. That, by definition, discredits the idea of a secular society.

    So, why so many who claim Christianity? Could it be because this nation was built upon the principles of the Bible? I'm not here to promote my blog, but I speak to some length on this aspect at http://deanlspencer.blogspot.com/2010/06/taking-back-america.html. My point is is that based even on these statistics at pewforum.org, you can clearly see that a majority of people still hold to Christian conservative values. Thus I would argue that not only is America not secular, but is indeed Christian-based.

    Bob, I truly appreciate you taking an in-depth look at Rick Warren's interview and putting some Biblical perspective to the conversation. You truly have a gift in bringing God's Word into the conversation and making it relevant (as if God's Word needs man to do this) to the topic at hand. I agree with your assessment that Rick Warren ought to be "promoting Biblical Christianity, not secular ideas." As far as Rick Warren's hesitancy in being involved in public policy, maybe he ought to consider these passages:

    Ephesians 2:3
    3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

    Hebrews 4:11-13
    11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
    12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

    Social issues are indeed critical, and I appreciate organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council that advocate on the behalf of issues that are relevant to society and to Christian values. We may have to tolerate sin from the sinner but we do not have to condone it.

  7. Dean:

    Thanks for the insights ... I wholeheartedly agree. Part 2 of this post is upcoming. I really appreciate all of the comments. We need to pray for Rick Warren, that the Lord will guide him and protect him

    Grace and Peace to all, Bob

  8. Bob/Dean,

    First, I'm not defending what Rick Warren says, I simply affirmed his right to say it. Personally, I don't know enough about Rick Warren to engage in a discussion on his religious or political beliefs. Perhaps he sees it as dangerous ground rather than an opportunity; I personally don't know.

    Secondly, as far as America being secular or Christian-based, you can cite statistics and surveys but none of those stopped the passage of laws supporting abortion and Gay Rights.

    Now as a Christian, I am opposed to anything that violates the sanctity of life and I'm opposed to the promotion of behavior which diminishes healthy marriage relationships between men and women but laws have been passed in US states that allow gay marriages and abortion.

    The decision-making by the executives of Goldman Sachs, sub-prime lending, the executives of BP ignoring over 100 safety violations, Barnard Madoff's ponzi scheme are just a few of the decisions made by men and women every day that shape the society you and I live in. I don't believe these decisions are shaped by genuine biblical truths and Christian practice.

    The decision makers in our society are driven by power and greed not submission to God.

    You both have cited biblical passages and the quote in Acts 17 is an excellent example of utilizing an opportunity to share the gospel with those who otherwise may not discover the truth.

    I think it's interesting that much like today, Paul lived in a time when society was in many ways directly opposed to a Christian life. Certainly, the Roman government pushed a secular agenda; it was a society of haves and havenots. Christians were not a popular group and yet, the Church did not spearhead an effort to outlaw slavery. On the contrary, Paul wrote, "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed." (Titus 3:1).

    Even good men fall prey to doing what is expedient, profitable and wrong. If one wants to believe that America is Christian-based, that's fine by me. We live in a society where even today, many churches remain segrated; not by intent but simply because it's more comfortable. Are there Whites in this country who are uncomfortable outside of their race? How is this addressed in Christian churches and political action groups?

    I go back to the original question I posed: "How does a Christian navigate the waters of political expediency/secularism and gain an audience which may produce spiritual changes?"

    Hopefully, Christian political action will spawn changes that benefit not just Chrisitan citizens but all Americans. But political action does not guarantee the passage of favorable laws or the changing of hearts. As eloquent and gifted as Paul was, Agrippa retained his core beliefs.


  9. Well said MTJ
    These are challenging times. This discussion is much deeper than my first post. Hopefully I can maintain the ability to disagree without sounding critical. I have read the 33 page article several times and I am convinced that my initial post is out of the context in some ways. I have made 8 pages of notes and am working on #2 more carefully. I would strongly suggest all read the article. I also repeat we need to pray for Pastor Warren ... He has huge challenges and opportunities in front of him
    God Bless, Bob

  10. Hi Bob,

    You write what's in your heart brother (as does each Christian blogger). I think it's OK that we get to share differing perspectives; I am edified by the clarity and insight you provide. Without this post, I would not have gained an insight into Rick Warren.

    I'm appreciative that you allow me to share in this forum with you.

    Blessings to you brother.


  11. MTJ -

    I completely agree with your comments that our leaders are passing laws that are very secular in nature. I just believe that America is at a crossroads. There were times when Christian values meant a great deal more. Just like in 1 Kings when Elijah though that he was the only one left, God reassured him that He had reserved for Himself faithful followers that did not bow down to Baal. In the same way, I believe that there are still many Christians that disagree and are fighting against the secular leadership we have in place. There are still those who find Christian values are extremely important.

    Maybe you're right. The only hope that we have is when Jesus returns. But I find myself still wanting to fight for Christian values, even though it seems like Christians are losing ground. You make a very good point by asking "How does a Christian navigate the waters of political expediency/secularism and gain an audience which may produce spiritual changes?"

    More importantly, I think the emphasis ought to be on how do we reach a world that is ever-increasing and seemingly an impossible task to reach with the Gospel? We obey God by living as witnesses and giving of ourselves to His purposes and plans.

    Part of that can apply to our culture AND our political and economic system. We are witnesses to the world when we show that as Christians we're holding on and fighting for values that are Biblical. Is it a hopeless cause? Maybe, but it's still a witness. People are still going to wonder what it's all about and maybe even inquire into it further. And yes, I agree just as you point out, we need to navigate the political waters with the attitude of respect for authorities and being subject to the laws (within the boundaries of Biblical principles.)

    Nonetheless, I appreciate the dialogue. It has helped me to think more about the subject. I know that I don't have the answers. And you seem right on on many points. Thanks for sharing.


  12. I think Christian are becoming more involved in politics than in sharing Christ. God is still in control and he see's all that is going on and I feel it is all a part of his plan for the last days.It seems to me that to many christians are showing anger and have little respect for the office of the presidency. The Bible does not tell us to act this way.

  13. Good points Dee ...

    I originally was committed to no politics here. But decided that there are too many topics such as Abortion and values that overlap to not bring politics into the discussion.

    we should always show respect for the office of the president. That goes two ways ... the president should also honor the office and our country, by saluting the flag, and standing up for our country and our founding principles abroad.

    There is a BIG difference between respect for the office and respect for the man in office. Respect is something that is earned ... not automatically deserved because someone wins an election. In our current president's case, His stand on abortion, and his deliberate lies to all of us have caused him to lose my respect. For sure ... if Mr. Obama had been truthful about his plans, and his lack of concern for all Americans ... he NEVER would have been elected.

    Additionally, most politicians are bought and paid for, and therefore deserve very little respect.