Rick Warren, Pope Francis, and the reeducation of Evangelicals
Rick Warren is the evangelical celebrity pastor-leader of the Saddleback mega-church in California. His Purpose-Driven series of books and seminars have done much to continue the ongoing merging of corporate business values and methods with the American protestant church.
On February 23, 2012, Jim Hinch of the Orange County (California) Register published Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims. Rumors of Rick Warren’s overtures to Muslims dated back at least to 2009. But the King’s Way document brought everything to an pseudo-official level.
Table of Contents
Rick Warren and Pope Francis
The Kings Way document
“The Rev. Rick Warren…has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims…culminated in December (2011) at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback’s congregation.
“At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor…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…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.
“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.
– Islamic Center of Southern California Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims
The resulting hubbub
The story of Warren’s and Saddleback’s King’s Way document coauthored with Muslims was widely reported here and there and everywhere. As might be expected, the evangelicals who were awake and paying attention were disturbed. What happened next followed the pattern of 21st century ideological reeducation precisely. Rick Warren’s response…
Rick Warren: “It’s all a lie”
On March 10, 2012, Rick Warren published the following on the Saddleback church website:
Let me be clear: This entire misunderstanding is neither the fault of Saddleback members nor our Muslim friends who accepted the invitation to study the Bible together. It’s the result of poor reporting and the willingness of irresponsible bloggers who hate us to automatically believe anything negative about our church. They shoot first, publish a report, then ask for clarification after they’ve done the damage, and finally, they never retract anything when proven wrong. When a national news agency contacted us this week, their conclusion was “There’s no real story here.” Duh!
Mark Driscoll, friend of Rick Warren
Does this sound familiar to you? It should. It’s the same (a) denial and (b) redirection by attack language evangelical celebrity pastor Mark Driscoll used when confronted by reporter Janet Mefferd.
If you believe the words of men like Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll, the problem is not the sin, the apostasy, the plagiarism. It’s the bloggers who report it. It’s the journalist. It’s the freedom of information.
Only some pastors are allowed to interpret the Bible
Other Christians are to be quiet and obey these celebrity leaders. Anyone who uses the Bible to confront their misuse of authority over the church is a trouble-maker who should be silenced in any way possible.
In the Driscoll case the situation ultimately went badly for Driscoll. Rick Warren on the other hand is doing just fine.
The effort to weaken Christian opposition to Islam through something called Chrislam is presented as a conspiracy theory invented by extremist Bible Christians who hate Muslims and are jealous of Rick Warren. It’s astounding that people still fall for the distraction of this old chestnut of a slur conspiracy theorist. The facts stand or fall on their own.
The King’s Way document is for real. It’s no fake news.
Why should you care?
This case is being developed in so much detail to help you be able to recognize other efforts to remove your will to resist what you know to be wrong.
This is important to you right now because the same technique is used over and over again. And it will continue to be used as long as it continues to work.
How modern ideological reeducation is conducted
Ideological reeducation is usually associated with Communist regimes like that of China under Mao Tze Tung. It refers to a series of methods used to break down resistance and then change the thinking of dissenting groups of people. The forms used in the twentieth century were brutal, often requiring imprisonment. More effective means are now able to be conducted on larger groups through the use of technology and media.
Celebrity statements and actions along with Facebook promotion of evolving peer norms and attitudes define what is acceptable for broad swaths of the population. This seems to be especially true for those who spend extended periods of time plugged in to social media.
Step 1: Shock the monkey
In 2012 the idea of a type of harmonizing between Christianity and Islam was floated in the evangelical world. One of the biggest celebrity pastors was used as the instrument. His message:
Islam and Christianity worship the same God.
Christians will not evangelize Muslims.
God loves diversity.
This was the first time many American evangelical Christians had ever heard these ideas from one of their own. They were shocked and disturbed.
Steam was released from the cooker. And then everything was allowed to cool down.
Step 2: Retraining begins
Three years have passed. Now the subject of Chrislam is raised again. This time it’s by the biggest celebrity pastor of all - the Roman Catholic Pontiff. Like most celebrities in 21st century America, he’s worshipped as royalty by Christians and non-Christians alike. This Pope Francis is particularly popular. He’s hip. He’s nice. He even tweets.
Here’s what he says about Chrislam:
Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters, and we must act as such. source.
The evangelical reaction is much weaker than it had been three years earlier. The Pope’s statement is a ho hum moment for most Christians. The ideological reeducation is working according to plan.
The small group who continue to dissent strongly are in that smaller group of evangelical Christians who still perceive a significant distinction between Biblical Christianity and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Step 3: Acceptance
If the standard reeducation plan is followed, in a little while, after another cooling-down period, you can expect another celebrity pastor to step forward with Chrislam 3.0. It could well be a woman pastor. She’ll say things like:
Islam and Christianity are both Abrahamic religions.
There’s no need to evangelize Muslims. They are believers who will be saved by following their own parallel path.
Tolerance is Christian love in action.
The reaction will be tacit approval or even applause. What’s the big deal? the ideologically reeducated Christians will wonder. Don’t you know Allah and Jehovah are the same God? And if you don’t believe it, you’re a threat to “freedom” and perhaps one day an enemy of the order.
In the initial online hubbub about the Saddleback announcement, people forgot that the social media noise was itself the point. When new cultural shifts are introduced, the intention is not to get people to agree or disagree. Rather it’s to present the new norm and to gauge the level of dissenting resistance.
Social discussion is the first step of ideological reeducation. It’s a time-proven technique used now on the American evangelical community. It works like this:
Finally: acquiescence to the new norm
The testimony of Scripture
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Contrary to what Pope Francis and Rick Warren would have you believe, God’s Word says the following:
- For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: -Exodus 34.14
When Mohammed created Islam, he chose his tribe’s moon god Hubal as Allah. Hubal was one of the 360 gods the Arab tribes worshipped at that time. This is why there is a crescent moon associated with Islamic mosques. Allah is a false god. A false god is also known as an idol. Worship of an idol is called idolatry. Idolatry is an offense against the true God, יְהֹוָה, and a terrible sin.
- Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. -1 Corinthinans 10:14-15
To worship Allah is to give your worship to a devil.
- But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. -1 Corinthians 10:20
There can be no communion between Christianity and Islam. Any Christian pastor or teacher who says otherwise is at best naive and foolish, and at worst an apostate, wolf or deceiver. Be aware.
The goal: Destruction of memory
Since about that time, war had been literally continuous, though strictly speaking it had not always been the same war. For several months during his childhood there had been confused street fighting in London itself, some of which he remembered vividly. But to trace out the history of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom at any given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since no written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible. -George Orwell, 1984