While Americans watched with disbelief as our president apologized for our “arrogance” to the radical Islamists in Turkey, Socialists in France, etc. – the most visible pastor in America decided to add his apology to the headlines.
As Pastor Rick Warren’s mea culpa on California Proposition 8 ignited fires of frustration among pro-marriage leaders nationwide, something was obviously, as the saying goes, “rotten in Denmark.” My first response after both hearing about and then watching the interview was, “Why?” What did Warren have to gain, and what was the reason for his Clintonian “I really didn’t endorse” assertion?
I don’t know why he would declare on national television that he “never once gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going” when he clearly did. It is unexplainable why he would directly link Proposition 8 and therefore all efforts to protect the definition of marriage with “anti-gay” activism twice in the interview.
The statement released by Saddleback Church in an attempt to “clarify” his statements does little to give biblical clarity, something a pastor should be able to do easily. He “apologized for his comments in an earlier Beliefnet interview expressing his concern about expanding or redefining the definition of marriage beyond a husband-wife relationship, during which he unintentionally and regrettably gave the impression that consensual adult same-sex relationships were equivalent to incest or pedophilia.” God declares them each sin and therefore equivalent.
Proposition 8 aside, the underlying issue as I see it was described by British theologian Harry Blamires in “The Christian Mind,” written in 1963:
It is only within an essentially secular field of discourse that individual Christians can find themselves illogically called upon to defend their attachment to particular doctrines as though they had personally devised or chosen these doctrines on the basis of private predilection. It is only within a liberal secularist society, dominated by the it’s-all-a-matter-of-opinion code, that a street-corner orator or a knocker on your door can assume it appropriate to pin upon you, as an individual Christian, the demand to defend this or that doctrine as though it were your personal possession.
To give Pastor Warren credit where it is due, he did state later in the King interview in response to a call from the father of a “gay soldier” that marriage was created and defined by God and good for society. The great evangelical disaster in this situation is Warren’s greater concern to mend fences with his “gay friends” than to stand with his Christian peers of both pulpit and pew.
Blamires writes that the consequences of this approach are that “… we have accepted secularism’s challenge to fight on secularist ground, with secularists weapons and secularist umpire, before a secularist audience and according to the secularist book of rules.”
Whether it is Warren groveling before the militant sexual diversity power structure, Osteen floundering in whether eternal salvation through Jesus Christ is the only way or Wallis, Campolo and the other mouthpieces of the religious left serving as spiritual advisers to a Marxist president – the American pulpit is indeed at a critical crossroads. Newsweek’s Easter-week (the timing was certainly not coincidental) article, “The Rise and Fall of Christian America” declared, “This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory.” It’s hard to refute that.
We have absolute confidence that the great and mighty God who set the galaxies in motion with His word, suspends the very laws of nature he ordained in order to show His power and lowered Himself in the perfect act of love to take the punishment for our sin and evil upon Himself is not in any danger of extinction or demotion. He has not lost His power and is certainly not dead.
This is also not the first crisis of theology, identity and purpose within Christianity as we well know with just a cursory study of church history. The great creeds and confessions were developed to respond to myriad heresies and errors such as the Arian heresy that led to the first Council of Nicaea in 325 – and the Nicaean Creed. Any Christian who has not read and even memorized that creed should do so immediately and then work your way forward to and through the Westminster Catechisms. Why?
The fundamental reason the Newsweek article is tragically correct is that we simply have not been following the same Christianity that transformed nations for over 1,800 years. In responding to an e-mail from a reader a couple of weeks ago (even before this issue arose), I explained that Rick Warren is not the problem; he is the symptom.
Biblical Christianity is not a significant force in the culture because pastors like Warren have been trained in churches, schools and seminaries for decades that have given them a fragmented worldview in whether or not we even have a responsibility to serve as a redemptive agent to our surrounding culture. While politically active Christians were organizing and engaged in recent years, there was an understanding and assumption that most churches understood their role at changing hearts and minds as an irreplaceable first step to godly government.
We were wrong.
The private vs. public faith and morality promoted by secular humanists like Col. Robert Ingersoll a century ago wove its way into schools and seminaries as part of the agenda formalized in Humanist Manifestos I and II. The result has been the brainwashing of subsequent generations of pastors that as long as we “did church” and stayed out of “public education,” “dirty politics,” “sinful entertainment” and “secular media,” we would be doing the Lord’s work.
Thank God previous centuries of our ancestors in the faith did not follow this unscriptural and destructive heresy. The wake-up call given to us by the current death notices of evangelical conservatism and American Christian influence must be heeded, however.
Pastors must fearlessly teach and demand accountability to “all doctrine” referenced in 2 Timothy 3:16 out of simple obedience to and love of God. Parents must turn our homes into the schools and seminaries that they once were in discipling our children rather than turning God’s precious gifts over to the decadent government school system. We must reassume responsibility to promote God’s precepts in every societal institution including government.
We must regain our Christian mind, take up the baton of truth and lay down our lives, or those following behind us will have every reason to curse this generation for losing the ground God entrusted to us.