Looking Behind The â€œPurpose Drivenâ€ Sheepâ€™s Clothing
By: Christopher G. Adamo
The facade is beginning to peel back from the so-called ministry of Southern California Pastor Rick Warren, author of â€œThe Purpose Driven Churchâ€ and â€œThe Purpose Driven Life.â€ Unfortunately, many among his ample flock have far too much invested in him, both emotionally and otherwise, to admit their mistakes and cut their losses.
Moreover, he certainly faces no possibility of in-depth scrutiny from the â€œmainstream media,â€ as his brand of â€œChristianityâ€ poses little or no threat to their liberal social agenda. Yet to the degree that anyone at all questions Warren as anything less than authentic, his response is thoroughly telling as to his true character, as well as the nature of his â€œministry.â€
Joseph Farah, editor in chief of the premiere Internet news site, â€œWorld Net Daily,â€ opened a can of worms by calling Warren to account over his fawning praise of the terrorist stronghold of Syria. While there, Warren lauded the brutish dictatorship as â€œpeaceful,â€ claiming that the Islamist government does not officially sanction â€œextremism of any kind.â€
When confronted by Farah, an American of middle-eastern decent who knows too well the history of horror and tragedy faced by persecuted Christians in that region of the world, Warren immediately denied ever making such statements.
Subsequently, Farah offered as evidence a â€œYouTubeâ€ video from Saddleback Church, where Warren is pastor, inarguably proving Farahâ€™s statement. So Warrenâ€™s Church simply pulled the video from circulation and continued the denial, being unaware that a copy of the video file had been downloaded and is still in circulation. Warrenâ€™s follow up to this inconvenient circumstance is perhaps most telling of all.
In a concurrent set of moves, Warren sent a seemingly conciliatory e-mail to Farah, while distributing another to his â€œflock,â€ in which he characterized Farahâ€™s pursuit of the incident as nothing less than â€œdoing Satanâ€™s job for him.â€ Throughout this sorry episode, Farahâ€™s only error has been to suggest that Warrenâ€™s disturbing behavior represents some new departure from consistency.
In fact, Warren is actually being entirely consistent. Whether his audience might be Farah himself, Syrian Despot Bashar Assad, or the Saddleback congregation, Warren tells each exactly what he believes they want to hear. This pattern is the essence of what Warren is, and what has made him so â€œsuccessfulâ€ from a worldly perspective.
For those among his congregation who sincerely want to know the truth, the evidence is ample. Unfortunately, it always has been available, and any present â€œconfusionâ€ merely results from past decisions to ignore that evidence.
For example, his letter to the congregation decrying the â€œattackâ€ and making his defense by invoking Scripture is barely four paragraphs long. Yet in those four paragraphs, he employs three different â€œtranslationsâ€ of the Bible. Why, it must be asked, does he not trust any single translation to convey Godâ€™s message to humanity?
Could it be that he has his own message and agenda to advance, and that he has found it very convenient to utilize different wordings of different passages, not because they better convey Godâ€™s purpose, but rather his own? It would be better to ask, could his motivation possibly be anything else?
As Farah has refused to let this indefensible situation simply drop, Warren has responded by taking it to another realm, making personal attacks against Farah in an interview with the magazine, â€œChristianity Today.â€ But once again, by so doing Warren succeeds in revealing much more about himself than about his adversary.
Warren, who has not to date been known as any sort of standard bearer for Christian principle in the political arena, decries Farah (whose societal and moral views fall unambiguously on the right) and his ideological allies as part of a wrongful â€œpoliticalâ€ encroachment on the faith.
In contrast, Warrenâ€™s forays into the political realm prove, not surprisingly, to be decidedly leftist. At a recent conference on the African AIDS epidemic, Warren invited the very liberal Senator Barak Obama (D.-IL) as a keynote speaker. He justified the inclusion of Obama, who avidly supports abortion and same-sex â€œmarriage,â€ on the grounds that Obama offered a worldly solution to ostensibly curb the spread of the disease through condom usage.
The morally ambiguous message conveyed by the advocacy of condoms, along with their inherent unreliability, make them nothing less than iconic to the abortion industry, which fully understands how much new business they generate. In the face of such pragmatism, one has to wonder what will be next. Perhaps Warrenâ€™s Church will sponsor a â€œdesignated drivers ministryâ€ at every bar in its locale.
Appalling though Obamaâ€™s inclusion in the conference may be, it is nonetheless entirely consistent with Warrenâ€™s behavior from the beginning. Leading a megachurch in the culturally disintegrating landscape of Southern California, Warren certainly knows that his prospects of maximizing the â€œflockâ€ will be greatly enhanced as long as he shows proper deference to the real religion of the area, â€œpolitical correctness.â€
In this, his Christian populism movement has proven to be far more palatable to the God-hating secularists of the surrounding communities than such stodgy, old-fashioned, and â€œintolerantâ€ notions as â€œThou Shalt Not.â€ And the Warren influence has been predictable wherever it can be found.
If other Churches that abide in the Warren philosophy, such as Chicagoâ€™s gargantuan â€œWillow Creek,â€ were to truly uphold Christian values among their enormous congregations, they would certainly be a constant â€œthorn in the sideâ€ of their surrounding populace, acculturated into the modernism as those communities certainly are. Yet an amazing degree of compatibility and congeniality exists between the Warren Church model and the social structures of Chicago and Southern California.
The tradeoff between true Christian principle and acceptability to the locals is apparently worth the spiritual sacrifice it entails, with expanding parking lots, increasingly lavish facilities, and of course, fuller collection plates bearing witness. Meanwhile, such Churches offer ever less of a worthwhile and much needed alternative to the ailing world around them.
Ultimately, Warren gives conformist Christians, wearied from their ongoing battle with a world that is increasingly hostile to true Christian faith, an apparent â€œoutâ€ by offering a version that the modern world can find more acceptable while remaining in its present spiritual darkness.
Many among Warrenâ€™s vast following have made the mistake, in light of his â€œpurpose drivenâ€ ministering, of presuming, at the heart of the movement, a Christ-driven purpose. Yet as Warrenâ€™s real character continues to be revealed, it is becoming apparent that members of that following are presuming too much.
Christopher G. Adamo is a freelance writer and staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He lives in southeastern Wyoming with his wife and sons. He has been active in local and state politics for many years.
Christopher G. Adamo has been active in Wyoming politics for many years and is a managing partner in Best American Buy (www.bestamericanbuy.com), an e-commerce business that markets American made products including the incomparable Abigail Adams Bedspread Set from Bates Mills. Contact information for Chris Adamo, and his archives, can be found at www.chrisadamo.com