I received the following apology from Rick Warren Sunday night:

It is evident from your columns and e-mails to others that I hurt, angered and offended you personally by what I said in a second e-mail to you. I am truly sorry, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.

I am commanded by God to “Show respect for everyone. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God. Show respect for the king.” 1 Peter 2:17 (Peter wrote this when Nero was emperor)

My response was disrespectful. I’m sorry. I want God’s continued blessing on my life more than anything. rick

Here is my response:

Thank you for your concern, but I want you to know that I was not personally hurt or offended by anything you said to me in your e-mails.

I was angered – and continue to be – by your seeming lack of concern for Jews and Christians in totalitarian police states like Syria. What must they feel like when they hear the world-famous Rick Warren telling the world that they do not really suffer, that their rights to religious freedom are protected by the murdering dictator Bashar Assad, that you think his regime is an example for others in the Middle East and around the world. That’s what angered me. And I believe it is the kind of righteous anger I would direct toward any Christian leader who does not speak up, when he has the opportunity, for the voiceless martyrs and persecuted saints in countries like Syria, a nation that is even today directing the killing of foreign Christian leaders, imprisoning ordinary believers and using the well-honed dhimmi system of Islamic rule to keep a heavy boot of repression on the neck of the body of Christ.

Please don’t apologize to me. I am not offended – at least not for my sake. I am offended for the sake of my brothers and sisters in Syria and Lebanon, my ancestral home countries, who do not, as you suggest, live under a system of religious freedom. Instead, they live under fear – the kind of fear that Bashar Assad and his father before him instilled with mass murder, assassination, torture, imprisonment and terrorism.

A few minutes after I dashed off my reply, I got another e-mail forwarded to me from a member of Rick Warren’s church. The juxtaposition of these two e-mails sent on the same day was striking. Here are a few excerpts from Warren’s forwarded e-mail:

“When Kay and I announced the launching of the P.E.A.C.E. plan a few years ago, we both knew we could expect severe opposition coming from different angles. The P.E.A.C.E. plan empowers churches to do the five things Jesus did, and Jesus warned us, “People will do to you exactly what they did to me. They will do it because you belong to me, and they don’t know the one who sent me.” John 15:21 (CEV) Millions of Christians throughout history and around the world right now know that persecution is real.

We are in a spiritual battle for the lives of billions, so we expect opposition. The Bible tells us that “Satan is the accuser of the brethren.” Unfortunately, sometimes Christians do Satan’s job for him. They accuse and criticize other believers. I’m sure that makes Satan smile.

The Bible says it is foolish to spout off about issues before knowing the facts, but the Internet has made it very easy to do. God says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) God also says, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2 (NLT)

Recently, four “bloggers” made accusations about my visit to Syria (between speaking in Germany and Rwanda). They based their accusations on a Syrian state press release! Of course, they had no idea what my motivation was, what I actually did and said, and the confidential results. But they attacked me anyway. Not a single newspaper carried the story, but several websites repeated the gossip without talking to me to get the facts. Most sites were already critical of The Purpose Driven Church.”

Do you see the contradictions? Who is Rick Warren talking about “doing Satan’s job”? I have to believe it’s me. Yet, I got a personal apology from Rick the same day this nasty, brutish, accusatory, divisive, offensive, UNTRUE mass e-mail went out. I’m confused.

Will the real Rick Warren please stand up?

And now that the recording of what you actually said in Syria has been made public, can you please stop blaming distortions by Syria’s state press?

Listen to Rick Warren talk about Syria:

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