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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rick Warren, The Inauguration and the frightening responsibility of being God’s servant

Posted by Gary on December 30, 2008

Pastor Rick Warren has been asked to offer the invocation at the upcoming Inauguration of Barack Obama and my mind has been processing ever since. Perhaps at the outset I should make mention of the fact that this issue has led to a gut check on my part. I am skeptical and very concerned about Warren’s presence and how he will handle this opportunity to represent the living God. At the same time I must ask myself if I only want to share my concerns and assume the worst or if I am going to pray for Rick Warren. By God’s grace I will.

Here are some of the things that have been on my mind:

I do not believe that Christians and ministers in particular are to add anything more to the offense that is already built into the gospel. Some pastors are offensive in a way that Christ never was and convince themselves it is faithful zeal. At the same time faithfulness does mean holding forth all the offense of the gospel and embracing whatever it will mean for ourselves personally and for our ministries and churches for those of us who are pastors

Warren seems willing to offend to a certain level but then almost always ends up recovering his image as a nice man who wants to dialogue with everyone.I am all for being nice and for talking with whoever is interested in finding the truth but these good things can often be unfaithfulness and underneath, a man’s intention to avert the ultimate cost of belonging to Christ. I will not pass the ultimate judgment on Warren but my knowledge of myself and my own heart gives me cause to have real concerns about Warren.

What is the ultimate test of a pastor’s faithfulness when it comes to his teaching and speaking on behalf of God? One must only be counted faithful to the degree that his preaching and teaching resembles the preaching and teaching of the prophets, apostles and the Lord Jesus. Here is where I have real concerns about Warren and at another level Joel Osteen, I do not hear them saying the same things, the same way the prophets, apostles and Jesus did. There has never been a nicer man, more willing to speak with unbelievers and true seekers than Jesus. There has also never been anyone more ferocious, convicting and unbending in their preaching than Jesus either.

If you get nothing else out of what will be written on this topic I will rejoice if this lodges in your mind… The test of any man who claims to represent the living God is the degree to which his preaching and teaching reflects the teaching of the prophets, apostles and the Lord Jesus. The size of a pastor’s church, budget and book sales mean nothing of themselves, they may even be the markers of something wrong. Listen carefully to a man when he is preaching and teaching, can you hear the echo of Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and the Lord Jesus in his words?

Along with comfort is their piercing? Do you feel you are being taken hold of? Not in a way that is warm and fuzzy but in a way that leaves you in awe of the greatness and holiness of God? When he has finished are you more convinced of what sin has done to you? Are you more convinced of your need to repent? Does Christ’s death and resurrection on your behalf mean more to you then before he preached to you?

I think I’ll be content to establish this much for now. I will post some thoughts on the Inauguration next.

Comments

2 Responses to “Rick Warren, The Inauguration and the frightening responsibility of being God’s servant”
  1. Larry Stevens says:

    Gary, I share your concern and pray for God to speak through Rick Warren to an audience of hundreds of millions.

    I know Rick Warren pretty well. I attended Saddleback Church for several years, and in fact God used a Saddleback Men’s Retreat in November of 1999 to call me to Him, and from that day my life has never been better. I live to serve the Master.

    You will never find a more compassionate, friendly, nice guy that Rick Warren. One on one he is the same as when he preaches. With that said, he teaches what I call the “soft gospel” Rick does not teach the Bible. He does not talk about sin or repentance but rather emphasizes a “new life through Christ by believing in him. Rick is not an evangelist

    I found personally I could not continue to attend Saddleback, as I personally take the great commission very seriously.

    I know Rick loves the Lord. I pray that God puts the words in Rick’s mouth at the inauguration and Rick will portray our County as God’s country, ask God to bless and lead our President in His way, and thank Jesus for dying for our sins.

    May God bless you, your family, and your ministry in 2009 and forever.

    Larry Stevens

  2. Gary says:

    Dear Larry,

    Thanks for stopping by. Your term “soft gospel” is a very good description. Yet again I keep thinking that it doesn’t sound like the prophets, apostles and Jesus. What is happening here is very subtle. We want to believe the best about others but at the same time what do we say about the harm being done?

    Jesus was friendly but never to the point of compromise. Jesus was never “soft” in the way we see it in Warren, Osteen and others.

    I personally do not believe that Rick can call on God to bless our nation or new president without calling us and him to repentance and not in some vague way, but mentioning our sins in particular.

    Compare what is being done today with Daniel before king Nebuchadnezzar or Jeremiah being God’s spokesman to the king of Judah.

    How easy it is for me to say these things. What would I do? I would be a coward and unfaithful unless God gave me the grace to represent Him faithfully. We need to pray this way for Rick Warren.

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