Something else bugged me about the Rick Warren video I posted yesterday, and it took me a bit to unpack it all. I’m still not sure I’m done, but here’s my analysis so far. As a refresher, here’s the video:
Let’s start with the card Warren had people hold up, the declaration he demanded. Whatever it takes means that everything is allowed and nothing is off limits as long as you have the right goal. Jesus never said to do whatever it takes to make disciples.
He said that we would get into trouble for following Him, and He said that we would have to make pretty big sacrifices and pretty big decisions, but He never, not ever, said anything that could be reasonably construed as do whatever it takes. In fact, Jesus told one parable where Abraham specifically didn’t do whatever it takes to save a person.
But what bothers me the most is that earlier in the speech (transcript at HuffPo) he says:
So the kingdom is multinational, it’s powerful, it’s eternal and, number four (this is the best news), it’s inevitable because God is in control of history. History is his story.
And the Bible says this in Matthew 24: ‘The Good news about God’s kingdom will be preached into all the world, in every nation, and then the end’s going to come.’
And you can go argue about prophecy all you want but Jesus Christ is not going to conclude history until everybody he’s wanted to hear the world has had a chance to hear the word. But one day God’s going to bring everything to a culmination.
Rick Warren makes it clear in this speech that he is trying to bring about a version of the Rapture. Others have documented Rick Warren’s ties to the New Apostolic Reformation 1 (also called dominionist or Joel’s Army) philosophy, which claims that the Bible gives the church the authority and mandate to literally take over the world both socially and culturally.
About that Bible verse Warren quoted: NAR proponents read this as an immediate sequence of events, like a combination to a safe 2. Their goal is to complete the combination with the singular purpose of bringing about the Rapture. Of course, that’s not the point of Christianity, and it’s extremely offensive to try to force God to do something.
Maybe Rick Warren and those who follow him would be better served by turning back one chapter to Matthew 23. Jesus had a lot to say about religious leaders like Rick Warren.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in peopleâ€™s faces. You wonâ€™t go in yourselves, and you donâ€™t let others enter either.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the lawâ€”justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you wonâ€™t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthyâ€”full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombsâ€”beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead peopleâ€™s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Mr. Obama? Three days left. Time is running out.
1 Please follow that link. It’s a very long read, but it’s essential that people know what’s out there pretending to be mainstream theology when it’s actually pretty crackpot. â‡§
2 In my opinion that is an incorrect reading of the verse, specifically the word then. Strong’s Greek Dictionary translates the Greek word Ï„ÏŒÏ„Îµ as “the when, i.e. at the time that (of the past or future, also in consecution”. Consecution, however, doesn’t infer timeliness.
For example, on Monday I’ll go to work, do some work, then go home. Consecution only indicates a logical succession of events. Obviously I won’t go home first, then do some work, then go to work; the events take place in a logical order. Jesus wasn’t saying that He would return the second the last person on Earth hears the Gospel, just that the Gospel would be heard throughout the world before he comes back. (This is why interpreting the Bible in its original languages is important.) â‡§