The most recent earthquake in California was overlooked by seismic observers, but on the spiritual Richter scale, it registered—or at least should have registered—something like a 9.7. Pastor of one of America’s largest evangelical churches and purpose-driven spiritual master to millions Rick Warren welcomed Sen. Barak Pro-gay, Pro-abortion Obama to speak from the pulpit at Southern California’s Saddleback Community Church. And all too few evangelical leaders reacted with any sort of “after shock.”
But the time for outspoken alarm is here. Desperately needed are pro-family leaders who have the courage to speak out against Rick Warren and his ilk even if it means upsetting some of their own donors and friends. If they don’t, evangelicalism as we know it—to put it simply and bluntly—is down the tubes.
I have spoken out for months against the increasing coziness between supposed evangelicals and right-posturing liberals. While the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, some have e-mailed to say they would never attend another Worldview Weekend. That means some of my customers so object to my stand that I will be losing their business.
Well, I have two choices. I can chose not to speak out (the path of least resistance) so I don’t lose any paying customers, or I can have the courage of my convictions, take a stand, and endure the fallout. While it would be too glib to say simply “the choice is easy,” the choice is nevertheless very clear. As for me and my convictions, they are not for sale.
If I end up never selling another ticket to a Worldview Weekend or I don’t sell another book, then so be it. I refuse to sit by and watch individuals pose as evangelicals and deceive Christians that are immature in the faith, lacking in discernment, or simply ignorant.
Christian leaders must be willing to show the way even when it is uncomfortable. Let’s face it: Opposing Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Barry Lynn and the ACLU, or Planned Parenthood is not all that hard. In fact, doing so has become the evangelical standard. The real test of a leader’s courage and convictions comes when he or she will stand up and confront the Christian community’s own million-selling authors when that is needed. My lament here is that so far most authors, talk-show hosts, and commentators who enjoy the title of “pro-family leader” have been silent while Rick Warren, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Greg Boyd, and other similarly popular spiritual icons redefine the term “evangelical.”
Consider, however, the contamination we should be confronting “within the camp.” Author and Pastor Greg Boyd, who often refers to himself as an evangelical, posted on his church website this quirky position on abortion:
[quote] On June 11th I was interviewed on KKMS and the host, Todd Friel, asked me about some of my personal political views….I was asked if I thought abortion should be legal….I told him I thought it would be best if second and third trimester abortions were outlawed while the decision during the first trimester was left up to the mother. [end quote]
You may recall, too, that Pastor Boyd is the one who hoped to set our national historical record straight with his book The Myth of a Christian Nation.
But Warren and Boyd are certainly not the only evangelical rascals among us. Take stock of some positions taken by the long-popular Tony Campolo (who endorsed Boyd’s history book) and Brian McLaren, named by Time magazine (2/7/05) as one of America’s 25 most influential evangelical leaders.
Pastor Campolo has variously proclaimed that:
• Jesus does not live only in Christians;
• Christians should be involved in mysticism;
• Christians can learn valuable lessons from the New Age Movement and Buddhists.
Campolo and his wife, Peggy, also have made statements that tacitly endorse homosexual and lesbian lifestyles.
Brian McLaren has announced that:
• Jesus Christ is not the only way to God;
• Evangelicals should be silent on the issue of homosexuality for five years while we figure out what our position should be;
• The cross and hell are “false advertising” for God.
And both Campolo and Rick Warren signed onto a global warming initiative that was funded by pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage foundations.
The hard-core left is working overtime to make up for its 2004 “God gap,” and Warren, Campolo, McLaren, and others seem more than happy to further their liberal agenda and social gospel at the expense of biblically-based evangelicalism. Why? Because they know they can misled many Christians who have been brought up to trust and follow those who wear the title of “evangelical.”
So besides welcoming an abortion-loving politician to his pulpit, where does Rick Warren stand in all this evangelical gerrymandering? “The Purpose-Drive Pastor,” an article by Paul Nussbaum in the January 8, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer, offers a telling picture of Rick Warren’s brand of Christianity:
"Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be “one of the big enemies of the 21st century.”
Nussbaum quotes Warren as saying:
"Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism—they're all motivated by fear. Fear of each other."
When I asked what Warren meant by Christian fundamentalism being an enemy in the 21st Century, his staff responded with a letter that described the “threat” from conservative Christians who seek to promote righteousness through legislation and reject easy believism.
So what do you call a pastor and his followers who call on government to cough up billions of dollars for national and international health care? (His close friends call him Rick.) What is someone called who applauds when a pro-abortion, same-sex marriage loving U.S. Senator speaks from his church platform and calls for condom distribution? (Same answer.)
If you think I overstate the heinous position of Barak Obama on abortion, bear in mind that when he was a candidate for Senate in 2004, his wife, Michelle, sent out a fund-raising letter that attacked right-wing politicians for passing a law opposing partial birth abortion. Mrs. Obama boldly referred to partial birth abortion as a “legitimate medical procedure” and asked supporters for $150 to attend the fund-raising luncheon for her husband—the candidate who would fight against the “cynical ploy” to ban partial birth abortion.
Recalling the significance of conservative Christian voters makes clear that evangelicalism is not the only thing at stake. A lack of leadership now by true evangelicals could pave the way for President Obama to be leading our country in 2009. Kevin McCullough, writing for townhall.com in an article titled, “Why it will be ‘President Obama’ in 2009,” explained this very real and present danger:
[quote] The most reliable base of voters for the Republican Party since the days of President Reagan have been the social conservatives. Church-going born-again Christians who believe in God, the importance of His word, and the significance of living out their faith in an open and compassionate way every single day have been the backbone of the GOP. This past Friday Rick Warren, through the implied endorsement of allowing Obama to speak at one of the largest evangelical churches in America gave Obama the opportunity to split evangelicals who will be misled by Obama’s words instead of opening their eyes to his actions. In my gentle admonition to Rick Warren over the past couple of weeks I reiterated time and again that it was this opportunity being extended to Obama that would be manipulated by both the press, and Obama himself to pose as a “person of faith.” Warren's stubborn action of insisting upon having Obama speak at Saddleback Church in southern California has had that exact effect. [quote]
I and two other groups sent Jim Brown to Rick’s conference, and he reported back to us that when Obama stated that “just promoting abstinence” was not enough, that condoms needed to be handed out in the Third World, Rick and Kay Warren nodded and joined in the applause.
So I say again, the time has come. We must stand firm on the definition of what it means to be an evangelical—not a Republican but an evangelical. That means we have to be willing to defend the major tenants of evangelical Christianity. If pro-family leaders are not willing to stand up now for what it really means to be an evangelical then they will have no business complaining when their listeners, donors, and followers have been so dumbed down and so compromised that the church in America is as dead and cold as the church of Europe.
It is because of our Biblical doctrine that we as evangelicals oppose the ungodliness of the United Nations, same-sex marriage, abortion, socialism, national healthcare, euthanasia, government sponsored condom distribution in schools, and the it-takes-a-village-to-raise-a-child watering down of the family’s role in society. It is from our doctrine that we see the Biblical purpose behind limited civil government (God warned Israel against having a king!), a strong military, capital punishment, parental authority, the free enterprise system, and a host of other issues.
However, the most important reason we claim the title evangelical is because we are not ashamed of the Gospel. We promote the Good News at every opportunity for we know that it is only through Biblical repentance, the miracle of the cross, the atoning blood of Christ, the triumphant resurrection, and the daily discipline of dying to self that lives are truly changed. The social gospel as promoted by Warren, Campolo, McLaren, and others is really the un-gospel, and that is no hallmark of an evangelical.
So, pro-family and true evangelical leaders, I plead with you to respond to the seismic shift taking place in evangelicalism today. If you will not jump into the debate for the sake of the Gospel and to defend sound Biblical doctrine, then at the very least speak up so we can sidestep the coming tyranny of the secular and religious left who seek to close their God gap and ride into power under the guise of being evangelicals.