Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren - Dangerous Homophobe, Dangerous Universalist, or Something Else?

In an odd coincidence, two posts critical of Rick Warren hit my RSS feed recently.

The first, from Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog, is entitled Rick Warren is a major fail and a total affront . It begins as follows:

Throughout the campaign, there were a few times when I was irritated with the Obama campaign, but I have never been so angry with Obama and his staff. By choosing homophobe Rick Warren, who helped pass Prop 8 in California, to do the invocation at the inauguration, Barack Obama just said to LGBT Americans that we're not part of that event. Thanks.

Why? Because of hate. hate FROM Warren, but hate OF Warren.

[S]omeone on the Obama team missed the intense anger that erupted after Prop 8 won and we lost rights (or maybe they didn't care). It's visceral. Believe me. Visceral and real.

Ironically, one of the No on 8 groups is called Californians Against Hate. Are they going to have to go after some of their own supporters?

For those who don't know why the LGBT community is up in arms about Rick Warren, be sure to watch this video, in which Warren argues in favor of Proposition 8, stating that heterosexual marriage has been society's norm for thousands of years. For the record, I previously cited a Baptist-themed counter-argument from Randall Balmer that stated, in part:

Many Americans, myself included, understand the California supreme court's decision (and similar rulings in other jurisdictions) as an expression of that principle, an expansion of civil rights to those who have been denied equality for a very long time. It's not at all at odds with fundamental Baptist principles of liberty and protection from a majoritarian ethic that imposes its standards on the minority.

But it's not only the LGBT community that's angry at Rick Warren. I suspect that some of them may be shocked to learn that there are significant portions of the conservative Christian community that Rick Warren. Why? Because he's not Biblical enough, for starters.

John at True Discernment recently posted Rick Warren to Headline at Muslim Event. Now I realize that to some American voters, an Obama inauguration is a Muslim event. However, John was talking about a different event.

Rick Warren is headlining at the 8th Annual Muslim Public Affairs Counsel convention coming up on December 20th in Long Beach, California....

Rick will not be there to proclaim Christ crucified, the only hope for the world. He will not be there to warn the Muslims that they worship a false god who will lead them to hell.

He will give them instructions on how they can link arms with Christians to make the world a jollier, nicer place.

And there are others that are extremely mad about a Warren-Obama association:

I was very disappointed when Rick Warren gave his pulpit over to Obama a year or so ago, concerning the AIDS epidemic. Obama is an unapologetic supporter of unrestricted abortion, which has been responsible for more deaths than all the years of AIDS. A little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf, and Mr Warren should realize that the leaven of compromise is the beginning of unending compromise.

Among the political blogging community, it turns out that Jamie at Eye of Polyphemus is one of the few that has a clue about the many differing views of Rick Warren. From his post:

I suppose the move is Barack Obama's way of being inclusive towards the religious right voters who held their noses and voted for John McCain. the progressive left is, of course, ticked off....

Aside from thinking The Purpose Driven Life was a bunch of pseudo-Christian cotton candy, I agree with warren on many things. Unlike most evangelists with a national reputation I could, he seems genuine in his beliefs and not out to enrich himself.

I think that I put it best in a post that I wrote before the election:

Enter Rick Warren, who is doing his best to be disliked by everybody. (Perhaps that means he's right.)

Well, I guess moderation is a virtue.

And Rick Warren does have his supporters. Even Rev Ed, who argues that the Purpose Driven Life does not have a "clear Gospel presentation," says that there is merit in Warren's message:

The most important thing about the PDL material is that it actually gets people who have been spiritually stagnant to consider something more than just what's in it for them. The opening chapters of the book emphasize the point "It's not about me," over and over. And frankly, that's what much of the Christian church needs to hear. We can become such whiny, self-indulgent creatures that we are indistinguishable from the outside world. Some wear that fact like a badge of honor instead of the scarlet letter of shame which it should be. Christians are called to be in the world, not of the world. The Purpose Driven Life would be a success in my book even if it only addressed the topic most need to hear yet refuse to listen to -- selfishness.

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