In an article for the Orange County Register published Feb. 23, 2012 Jim Hinch writes, "The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America's most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God." [emphasis mine]
Wow. It just kind of takes your breath away, doesn't it?
Where to start? It appears as if Rick Warren has decided that finding "a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians" is the responsibility of The Church - the body of believers of which Christ is the head - and his church in particular.
He has put his pastor of interfaith outreach (whatever that means), Abraham Meulenberg, in charge of a ministry called, King's Way, which operates under the umbrella of his Peace Plan. Abraham, working in conjunction with Imam Jihad Turk (I'm not making this up) co-authored a document outlining common ground shared between Islam and Christianity. According to the article, "The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in "one God" and share two central commandments: "love of God" and "love of neighbor." The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims." [again, emphasis mine]
In a fever of agreement they also decided that they,"wouldn't try to evangelize each other." According to Turk, they would, "witness to each other but it would be out of 'Love Thy Neighbor,' not focused on conversion." [emphasis all mine]
I'm sorry, what exactly is your witness focused on then? How good you can make the world? How great you are to your families? What nice people you are? The way in which God prospers you? What exactly is a witness that is focused on something other than bringing God to a sinner and how does that go? "Hey, brother Ibram, check out my new car, hot wife and talented kids Praise God. And, I’m really nice too."
God Himself brought Himself to us in the form of His Son. It was long, and hard and costly for Him but His love for us is greater than any obstacle in His way. It is His will for us that we be reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus. What then should His followers bring, other than the good news of God's redemptive plan, to those outside of God's redemption?
But, I digress.
Let's begin with the totally bogus affirmations and then conclude with the tragically asinine goals.
The document is slightly more nuanced, claiming that both faiths believe in "one God" than the writer of the article's summation of the ministry in which he writes that the theological principles acknowledge the we believe in the same God.
These two assertions have important, if subtle, distinctions. And while both are flat wrong, they are wrong for different reasons. So I will address them each accordingly.
Christians do not worship one God. We worship The God. He is Yewah. That is His name. We translate this LORD in our bibles. It is the name He has given Himself to distinguish Himself from amongst every false god, including Allah.
Pagans worship one god. Even if they worship thousands of gods they almost always worship one god over all the rest. Luciferians worship one god. He is the god of light and knowledge. Free Masons worship one god. He is the sun god sometimes called Nimrod, sometimes called Osiris, sometimes Apollos. Allah is one god. He is, in fact, the moon god, as this excellent article thoroughly demonstrates by the overwhelming evidence in the archeological record.
Not so with Christians. We worship I AM, Yaweh, the Only Wise God. And our God is peerless. He will not sit in the company of other Gods. In Isaiah 42:8 God says bout Himself "I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor [share] my praise [with] engraved images [idols, gods]." And again, in Exodus 20:5, God says about idols and false gods, "Never worship them or serve them, because I, the LORD your God, am a God who does not tolerate rivals."
God is unequivocal and explicit about his uniqueness and place in the universe and there are many more such verses in the Bible besides these. But, that fact that God says it once, should be enough for any Christian including Rick Warren. After all, to love God is to obey him. And I've just doubled that threshold by providing two verses as proof. Therefore creating a ministry in which Yaweh and Allah are co-equals can only be done in direct defiance of God's decrees.
Let me be clear; Creating peace when at all possible between yourself and another person, whether that person is your selfish, annoying little sister or your Muslim neighbor or your best friend, is the will of God in Christ Jesus. But creating peace between opposing religions, authorities, and philosophies is expressly not the will of God in Christ Jesus. It was about opposing religions and ideologies that Christ said to his disciples in Mathew 10:34, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."
To reiterate, Christ always advocated interpersonal peace between man and his neighbor and man and God. Peace is made possible only through His sacrifice. That is the Good News. But, Christ never advocated peace between God and all the many and varied gods who oppose Him. That is because Christ did only and perfectly the will of His Father in Heaven. And our Heavenly Father is a jealous God who will not share us with another.
Furthermore, neither do we worship the same god, not in name or in nature.
Our god is the Blessed, Triune, Father God who exists in eternity in relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Allah is the lone God who exists in relationship only to himself.
Our god is blessed, eternally joyful, worshipful and creative. As God commanded man to worship the LORD, your God, He also worships Himself as there is none higher, nothing superior or better in all the universe for Him to set His affection upon. To do otherwise would be idolatry.
In worshiping Himself to the utmost, and with unbounded joy, focusing upon every aspect of His being, every thought of His mind, and every of His actions perfectly and limitlessly, He begets the Son who is the exact image or representation of Himself, or God of God. The Son is the result of a happy, worshipful God reflecting upon Himself in perfection to the utterest reaches of eternity. And the perfect, undiminished, and limitless worship that arises between Father God and God the Son, as the son magnifies His Father and the Father exalts the Son, produces God the Holy Spirit.
The Father begets the Son, the Holy Spirit is the testimony between them. Three Gods, undiminished in representation, in One God, The Father.
A blessed, worshipful God must exist in a Trinity. Period.
When God declared that it was not good that man should be alone it is because He in not alone.
Allah - just ask his followers - is one god. That is why they believe that they are not pagan, although they are, but Christians are pagan, although we aren't. Because our God is three and theirs is one.
Far from this making their god superior to ours, his oneness belies his true being.
In order for Allah to exist in eternity by himself, he cannot be blessed but cursing, he cannot be worshipful but blaspheming, and he cannot be creative but destroying.
A god that exists alone, in the absence of community within himself, is a demon pure and simple.
If he does not worship himself it is because he can’t because there exists One greater than he to focus upon, dividing his attention. Therefore, his energy is spent in opposing and trying to destroy Him.
And that pretty much sums up the purpose and thrust of his religion and his followers. By their god we know them.
That brings us to the three goals of King’s Way. Although the goals are distinct - friendship, peace, and social service - they arise out of the same error, so I will deal with them as one.
I have long sensed that Rick Warren's now famous thesis, "It's not about you." as stated in the opening sentence of his blockbuster book, The Purpose Drive Life, while certainly true, missed the greater truth.
Not only is it not about you, it is not about this life, either.
Everything, everything, everything in this life is loss. From the first breath we take to the day we die and everything in between, it is all loss. There is nothing that is gain, not the most precious gift or the expensive item, or the most impressive legacy. It is all loss.
When Jesus died to give us life and life more abundantly. He died to give us the Father and the abundance that is only found in Him. He did not die to give us a better form of death. He did not die to improve upon this present loss.
The only thing we have that is gain, is Christ and those relationships we build in Christ Jesus. These, we will take with us to Heaven. Absolutely nothing else will remain, not friendships apart from Christ, not bonds of peace and certainly not social services. Those are death and loss.
It is unfathomable to me that Rick Warren would value his friendship above the Gospel of Christ. What sinners need is a savior, not really cool Christians to hang out with.
If you prefer to offer sinners something other than the undiluted Gospel that leads to conversion, you may consider yourself nice but you may no longer consider yourself loving.
Let's be clear about the future these Muslims face apart from Christ and the imminent danger they are constantly in. Hell is WTF?!? scary and horrible beyond comprehension. The wages of sin is death and it is absolute in every generation and always only a heartbeat away for any of us. Apart from Christ we are dead already.
But, those in Christ Jesus do not die but go from life to life. Death, where is your sting?
If I'm given two minutes with a Muslim, I'm sharing Christ. Not taking every opportunity to bring a damned soul out of the constant danger of eternal fire into the security of eternal life is not loving.
Furthermore, this is God's purpose in Christ Jesus: To seek and save sinners, to sanctify his children, and to glorify them. Friendship, peace and especially social services are nowhere found to be His stated purpose even if they are sometimes found in the Bible as examples of a working faith.
If we are to be driven towards any purpose, it should be God's. Any purpose apart from God's is folly.