Does The Gospel Matter once You become “Big?”
I have not blogged for quite a while for many reasons, mostly because when I sat down to do so all I would do is glower a lot and then, in the words of the great detective Nero Wolfe, say, “Pfui” and be done with it. But three things lately have drawn my mind to dwell on them enough that I have decided to toss out a few posts just for my own sanity.
Rick Warren is not a man I respect nor is he a man I want to emulate in my pastoral ministry. His many bestselling books are all I need to know that he is a man to avoid. I nearly pulled my hair out when John Piper invited him to speak as at his “Think” conference in October, 2010. I, out of respect for John decided to listen to Rick’s message and walked away with a profound sadness for a man who could say so little. Later John gushed over the message speaking of its depth and I wondered if I heard the same one he did. Tim Challies did a devastatingly accurate portrayal of the problems with having Warren speak.
Then Warren comes out with a movement to try to find common ground between Islam and Christianity. This sort of silliness only occurs in America, trying that in Iraq or Syria right now would be quite deadly. A lot has already been available online so I won’t waste the reader’s time dissecting it all. But here is a quote that gives a sense of how dangerous Rick’s thinking is on this subject. It is a quote of a message he gave to a roomful of Muslims:
You know that obviously as an evangelical pastor, my deepest faith is in Jesus Christ. But you also need to know that I am committed not just what I call the “Good News,” but I am committed to the common good. And as the Scripture says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I am commanded to love and I am commanded to respect everybody. Everybody. Now I was asked to speak to you about how Muslims and Christians can work closer together for the greater good, in our world. And I will tell you that I am not interested in interfaith dialogue, I am interested in interfaith projects. There is a big difference. Talk is very cheap. And you can talk and talk and talk and not get anything done. Love is something you do. It is something that we do together. Love is a verb. Now as the two largest faiths on this planet, Muslims and Christians, we must lead in this. We must lead. With over one billion Muslims, and over 2 billion Christians, together, as half the world, we have to do something, about modeling what it means to live in peace, to live in harmony. (source)
As a pastor I find myself becoming angry for there is nothing in that paragraph that I do not stumble over. The words of the first line become completely empty with the words that followed. And yet he is still held up by many to be a man to hear and respect.
But finally I came across a book in which he wrote the introdution. It is a book extolling the love and mercy of Mother Theresa. A woman who has reached almost mythic proportions in the minds of many, most of whom have never actually researched her. A woman who was Pelagian in her theology and who offered not one poor soul in India any real relief from their core problem, sin and separation from their Creator. She was in many ways like Dr. Kevorkian, simply helping a person go more comfortably into death and into the eternal wrath of God without any hope. Here is his words:
A handwritten note from Mother Teresa hangs on my office wall. It says, ‘Be holy because the God who created you is holy and he loves you.’ Mother Teresa didn’t just believe those words; she incarnated them . . .
By the time she wrote the note I’ve framed on my wall, leaders from around the world would listen to Mother Teresa. Why? I call it the Mother Teresa principle: The more you care about the powerless, the more power you have. The more you serve those with no influence, the more influence God gives you. The more you humble yourself, the more you’re honored by others. This is the great lesson I hope you’ll learn from this book.
Jesus said it this way, in Mark 8:35 : “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”
Don’t just read this book. Let it change the direction of your life. Let it cause you to investigate the One who so transformed Mother Teresa that she was able to walk away from everything we spend our lives trying to attain. Discover her motivation, her method, but most of all, her Master.
On this 100th anniversary of her birth, I leave you with my favorite Mother Teresa quote: ‘God doesn’t ask us to do great things. He asks us to do small things with great love.’ Find a place to do that today.
So here again we have a “great” Christian leader who can’t even figure out if Mother Theresa understood the gospel. So where are the articles decrying this sort of horror? Where are The Gospel Coalition’s writers? Why are the big names staying silent. Does the gospel mean anything once you get big enough? Do we just all smile and say nothing because of his influence? How does the Southern Baptist Convention in California stay in communion with him? I just don’t know. But as a pastor whose influence is limited it drives me batty.
If you want to read a bit more about Mother Theresa Tim Challies did a great post on her as well.