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Rick Warren building bridges with Muslims

Feb 29, 2012

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/muslims-341669-warren-saddleback.html

This is an interesting development in the Saddleback Church. Some Christians are obviously upset. From reading the article, it appears that most of the accusations against Rick Warren are blown out of proportion. Evangelicals have developed a far cozier relationship with Judaism than Warren has done with Islam. Even to the point of thinking of Jews as "almost Christian." In some cases it is being taught that Jews are saved apart from Christ by following the law (actually, their traditions).

So when Christian leaders criticize Rick Warren, I wonder if maybe some are being duplicitous by applying a double standard.

If the article is quoting Rick accurately, I would tend to support his attempt to show some love and friendliness to Muslims, rather than hostility.

"Allah" is the accepted Arabic word for God, and its Hebrew equivalent is Eloah. It can be found in Strong's Concordance as #433. There is only one God, and each religion attempts to know Him by their own accepted prophets. Men's views differ, of course, and we all believe that our views are correct. In my view, Islam is one of the manifestations of Hagar, as distinct from Sarah. Islam is characterized by the Old Covenant, which is a religion based on salvation by one's works of the law. Judaism is the same though using a different (though often similar) set of laws.

We all have differences, but how we handle those differences is the real issue here. Should we set up a Crusade or a Jihad against one another? Or should we manifest love? Should we love only Christians? Jews? Pagans? Or has Jesus instructed us to love and respect all men? You cannot evangelize enemies. You have to treat them as friends and see them through God's eyes. Evangelism by military might has never been the right way, whether it was done by Crusaders, Conquistadores, or Jihadists.

Other criticisms of Pastor Warren include that when he prays in the presence of Muslims, he prays in the name of Isa--supposedly the name of a Muslim prophet. In Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim Prophet, and His Arabic name is Isa. If this is wrong, should we then criticize those who use Jesus' Hebrew name Yeshua? Isa is just a form of Jesus (Greek: Iesus).

Warren attends/celebrates some of the Muslim feasts as a guest of his Muslim friends. More power to you, brother Rick. Christians are well known to celebrate pagan feasts without violating their conscience, so I think they are in no position to criticize.

Some criticize him for "abandoning traditional and historical evangelization of Muslims." I don't think so. There is a time and place to do evangelization. The best evangelization is not with a tract of the Four Spiritual Laws, but by showing the love of Christ in one's life. I think we should all get together and have a great big competition to see who can love each other the most.

Warren is criticized for associating with the Islamic Society of North America, which, they say, a federal judge ruled as being a terrorist organization. Guilt by association. That's what they said about Jesus when He associated with publicans and sinners. Warren's critics apparently do not think that certain ones are worthy to be loved or evangelized. Kill them all in the name of Jesus, perhaps?

He is criticized for pastoring Rupert Murdock, whose networks distribute pornography. I don't like Murdock's business credentials either, but I hope that Warren is able to have some positive influence in Murdock's life. Is this so different from other evangelicals counseling American presidents, who have done far worse things than Murdock has ever done?

Matthew 9:10-12 says,

(10) And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. (11) And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" (12) But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. (13) But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I think we could be seeing the modern evangelical version of Phariseeism at work here. Let us not be part of it.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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