The universe of Rick Warren is a bizarre place. What he says continually morphs into the demographic of his audience. When is Rick going to learn that he can't be everybody's friend forever and he cannot continually avoid coming clean with what he really believes. I am reminded of an email conversation that transpired between myself (CB) and a Danish apologist (DA) a few years ago. The conversation went something like this:
DA: I am really upset that you are calling Rick Warren a heretic!!!!
CB: I didn't call Rick Warren a heretic.
DA: Good, I'm really pleased to hear that.
CB: Rick Warren is worse than a heretic!
DA: AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!! What could be worse than a heretic????
CB: A chameleon - that's what!
And many were shocked in the last week to see that this chameleon has not yet exhausted all possible colors! I'll leave it to my good friend Tony Miano (aka Lawman) to take it from here because I cannot cover this breaking story any better.
Chameleon: Any of various tropical Old World lizards of the family Chamaeleonidae, characterized by their ability to change color; A changeable or inconstant person.
A friend of mine used to raise chameleons. They are fascinating and fragile creatures. They are slow-moving, with a lightening-fast tongue. The tongue of this little creature is a deadly weapon, which hits its prey with pin-point accuracy with a grip that most of its victims cannot escape.
It was always fascinating to watch my friend's chameleons change colors based on their mood or changes in their environment or a perceived danger.
Today, I read an Orange County Register article titled Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims.
The article, which can be read in its entirety at the above link, begins this way:
The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America's most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and 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.
The effort, informally dubbed King's Way, caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims. Warren has broken Ramadan fasts at a Mission Viejo mosque, met Muslim leaders abroad and addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C.
Saddleback worshippers have invited Muslims to Christmas dinner and played interfaith soccer at a picnic in Irvine attended by more than 300 people. (The game pitted pastors and imams against teens from both faiths. The teens won.)
The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback's congregation.
At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King's Way as "a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians."
The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in "one God" and share two central commandments: "love of God" and "love of neighbor." The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.
"We agreed we wouldn't try to evangelize each other," said Turk. "We'd witness to each other but it would be out of 'Love Thy Neighbor,' not focused on conversion."
Saddleback representatives declined to make Warren available for comment. Tom Holladay, associate senior pastor at Saddleback, said the outreach to Muslims is part of Saddleback's PEACE Plan, a wide-ranging effort to solve major world problems by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.
"This is us serving our own community with Muslims here in Orange County," said Holladay. "We realize we don't agree about everything and we're very open about that . . . You just recognize the differences and recognize the points where you can work together."
About fourteen hours prior to the writing of this blog post, Rick Warren posted the following comment to the online version of the O.C. Register article:
I deeply love my Muslim neighbors but this article contains multiple errors - factually and theologically that neither our dear friends in the Muslim Community nor the Christians at Saddleback Church would agree with.
And about an hour before the writing of this blog post, Jim Hinch, the author of the O.C. Register article, posted the following response to Rick Warren's comment:
Hi, I'm the reporter who wrote this story. I'm sorry Rev. Warren feels the story contains errors but the story was based on interviews and documents and it was thoroughly fact-checked. I discussed all of its major points with Tom Holladay, an associate senior pastor at Saddleback. I checked with other sources quoted in the story this morning and they said they did not see any errors. While reporting this story I asked to speak to Rev. Warren directly but was told he was too busy for an interview. If any facts need to be corrected I hope representatives from Saddleback will get in touch with me. I'm glad to see so many people reading and responding to the story. Thanks for your comments!
I've watched interviews of and read works and comments by Rick Warren for two decades. And what I've discovered over that course of time is that Rick Warren is a chameleon. And I believe he is one of the most dangerous men in Christendom, today.
Plastic pastors transparent enough to see through, like Joel Osteen, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Modalistic moguls of the painfully-obvious-money-hungry prosperity movement, like T.D. Jakes, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Self-serving sorcerers of the false signs and wonders movement, like Todd Bentley, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. No. None of the before-mentioned personalities or groups are all that dangerous because what you see is what you get. They all lack the ability to change their appearance to accommodate a change in environment. They lack the chameleon-like ability, the self-serving ability, to say what needs to be said in order to keep people in every camp liking them.
Rick Warren is a chameleon. Over the years he has shown, time and time again, his uncanny ability to say what will please his audience at the moment--secular news anchors and pundits, the masses at the request of a president who knows neither the Christ nor His Word, the leaders of false religions around the world, and sadly, even well-respected leaders of the real Christian community.
Undoubtedly, I will receive criticism for writing this blog post. There will be those who will call me judgmental. To them I say, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24).
There will be those who will say that I am being unfair to Warren because he is on a mission of peace. To them I say, "They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14 and Jeremiah 8:11).
There will be those who will say that I shouldn't write this way about such a respected leader in the Christian world. To them I say, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11). And, if they do not find this compelling enough to question Warren, then to them I say, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5).
There will be those who will say that I am not being loving toward Rick Warren. To them I say, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). I love Jesus more.
The dictionary has this to say regarding the history of the word "chameleon."
The words referring to the animal chameleon and the plant chamomile are related etymologically by a reference to the place one would expect to find them, that is, on the ground. The first part of both words goes back to the Greek form khamai, meaning "on the ground." What is found on the ground in each case is quite different, of course. The khamailen is a "lion [len] on the ground."
In Rick Warren the Church has a lion on the ground.
I believe Rick Warren is an enemy of Christ and His Gospel. Anyone who is an enemy of Christ and His Gospel is my enemy. The Word of God commands me to love my enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). And that's what I will do.
The most loving thing I can do for Rick Warren is to pray for him and call him to repentance.
I call Rick Warren to repent of all-too-often being an appeaser to the world, instead of being a true ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
I call Rick Warren to repent of his expert ambiguity when speaking the truth in love is the only speech that will please God (Ephesians 4:14-16).
I call Rick Warren to repent of his unbiblical ecumenism and pluralism. I call Rick Warren to repent of courting the false religion and the false god of Islam, for to enter into any spiritual enterprise with those who are outside of Christ is an abomination to God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Rick Warren, it is time for you to stop being a lion on the ground.
You are in my prayers.
Well said Tony Miano! Thank you for serving the body of Christ with such clarity and faithfulness to Scripture.
Go On To Part 2