Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments
Rick Warren drinks the Kool-Aid:
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.
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.”
Not that Warren’s going latitudinarian or anything. No, no, no, no.
Warren has faced criticism from some evangelicals for his outreach to Muslims. Late last year, he issued a statement flatly denying rumors that he promulgates what critics term “Chrislam,” a merging of Islam and Christianity.
The “rumor is 100 percent false,” Warren wrote at Pastors.com, a website he founded that provides practical advice to church leaders. “My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.”
Insert “but” here. All that you really need to know about this initiative is that the Episcopalians are down with it.
Gwynne Guibord, an ordained Episcopal priest and co-founder of a Los Angeles outreach group that fosters relationships between churches and mosques nationwide, said Saddleback’s effort is unprecedented. “I’m not aware of any other evangelical church reaching out to the Muslim community,” she said.
Guibord said that when she and Jihad Turk co-founded the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group in 2006, they sent invitations to mosques, the Catholic archdiocese and a variety of mainline Protestant denominations throughout Southern California, but not to evangelical churches.
“I think that many evangelicals feel a mandate to convert people to Christianity,” Guibord said. Because the Consultative Group was founded to respond to increasing antagonism between the two faiths, “we would not have made headway” if one side was trying to convert the other, she said. Now, she said, it might be possible to include evangelicals in her group’s work.
Somebody help me out here. Rick Warren says he believes in that way-truth-life-no-man-comes-to-the-Father-except-through-me stuff. He also says that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. But the holy book provided by the Muslim god vigorously denies that way-truth-life-no-man-comes-to-the-Father-except-through-me stuff.
I sure hope you can negotiate your way through all that because I can’t.
Here’s the deal. Should Christians treat members of other religions honorably and respectfully? Absolutely. Should Christians endeavor to learn all they can about other religions? Certainly. If I was involved in some political effort, a petition against Barack Obama’s religious tyranny, say, would I refuse the assistance and the signatures of Jews, Muslims, Mormons and others? Absolutely not.
Given all that, am I going to refrain from trying to convert members of other religions to Christianity? No way in hell. And the reason for that, of course, is the Cross.
See, Jesus died for my sins on that thing. Slowly and agonizingly. Then God raised His Son from the dead. All of which suggests, to me anyway, that as far as the Father is concerned, faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is not an option.
But if I declare that I’m not going to try to get other people to believe that, an optional Cross is exactly what I’m communicating. My friend, Jesus died on the Cross for your sins. However, if that particular metaphor doesn’t work for you, try Islam or any other path to God that you find particularly appealing.
If I call myself a Christian but piously declare that I’m not going to try to convert you to Christianity, then I’m either a hypocrite or a liar. And the fact of the matter is that any Muslim who says he doesn’t want to see me converted to Islam doesn’t understand his own religion.
We are commanded by Our Lord to treat all men with honor and respect. And if you want a model for how a Christian should deal with non-Christians and their beliefs, you will not find a better one than the Apostle Paul at the Areopagus.
But don’t tell me that for the sake of “getting along,” I shouldn’t want non-Christians to be Christians and must refrain from trying to convince them to convert. Considering Who died on the Cross and why, I prefer to believe that I don’t have the ability to be that dishonest. Or that cruel.