I’ve had a number of issues with Rick Warren over the years.
But, with his latest effort to find common theological ground with Muslims and suggesting Christians and Muslims worship the same God, the man dubbed “America’s Pastor” by the secular media is getting very close to heresy – if not crossing the line.
Here is the key to illustrating his error: Do Muslims even claim to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as Christians and Jews do? No, they do not. They believe God did not create a covenant with Isaac and Jacob, but rather with Abraham’s firstborn son Ishmael. They believe the Jewish and Christian Bibles are misrepresentations of truth. They believe the Quran accurately and faithfully represents the true personality and will of God.
This is not a minor theological difference. It is as basic and fundamental as it gets.
And the differences grow from there.
If you compare the personality of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the Christian and Hebrew God – with Allah, Islam’s god, the contrast could not be more stark. The Hebrew-Christian God is characterized by love. The Islamic god is characterized by war and vengeance. The Hebrew-Christian God provides a clear path to redemption and personal salvation in a fallen world – through repentance. The Islamic god provides only one certain path to personal salvation – martyrdom. The Hebrew-Christian God elevates the status of women. The Islamic god does the opposite. The Hebrew-Christian God encourages followers to be a light to the whole world. The Islamic god encourages jihad on the non-Islamic world and, ultimately and unambiguously, calls for the death of unconverted Christians and Jews.
Into this breech, Warren seeks common theological ground. It would be easier to find common theological ground between Christians and atheists than Christians and Muslims. In a very real sense, as Joel Richardson has propounded in his brilliant work, “The Islamic Antichrist,” Islam represents the polar opposite of Christianity.
Worse yet, in seeking this universalist creed, Warren is agreeing not to evangelize Muslims in favor of the following:
- making friends;
- building peace;
- working on shared social service projects.
Those are all high ideals, but the ultimate expression of love, according to the God of the Bible, is to introduce non-believers to Him and the pathway to salvation through repentance.
Though Warren steadfastly denies it, what his Saddleback Church is doing is very close to efforts to blend Christianity and Islam into a universalist creed called “Chrislam.”
In response to that accusation, Warren wrote: “My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.”
But if that is the case, wouldn’t it be true that Christians withholding those truths from Muslims represents the ultimate form of hatred for them? Christians do non-believers no favors when they withhold the gospel. It’s not true love to show friendship in superficial, worldly ways while depriving them of salvation and eternal life.
Warren added to the confusing message when he told 8,000 Muslims in 2009: “I don’t know if you have noticed this, but God likes variety.”
Yes, God likes variety in the animal kingdom, in nature and even in the personalities of men and women. But he doesn’t like variance from His teachings – not at all. In fact, He has no tolerance for deviation at all. That’s the central message of the Bible Rick Warren claims to believe is his inerrant authority. That’s why Christians believe he sent His only begotten Son into the world to pay for those offenses.
If God liked different views of the Creator of the Universe, such a sacrifice would have been unnecessary.