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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Need a Subscription to WORLD magazine…

Well, I got my new issue of TIME magazine today, and guess whose mug is plastered across the front of it? None other than Rick Warren. Apparently, "America's most powerful religious leader," as TIME titles him, is doing some incredibly charitable acts in nearly every corner of the globe. It seems that he has a good start, as well; but he has also encountered some roadblocks. TIME has the complete story (what they've covered of it, anyhow) here:,8599,1830147,00.html.

As I skeptically began reading this article, I expected to find more ecumenically condemning snippets than I did, but I must say that I have finished more disappointed than anything. The disappointment, maybe to your surprise, is not what you may have guessed. The article relates Warren's plans of setting up (Purpose Driven) churches in every country in order to meet the needs of the…needy. I heard previously that Warren was teaming with many different non-Christian religious leaders in order to accomplish this aspiration of his, but I didn't hear much about that in this article. Rather, Warren seems to be gaining popularity with political leaders.

Athough Warren is rubbing elbows with the likes of Barack Obama and the president of some African country, he maintains his allegiance to his pastoral role. On the other hand, Warren has invited America's two presidential candidates to discuss the issues at hand on August 16th in his church. I really don't see anything wrong with this; as a matter of fact, this is normal historically. The topics are what concerns me: according to TIME, Warren plans to shy away from "'sin issues'—like abortion and gay marriage" in order to focus on "questions that he feels are 'uniting,' such as 'poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights…'"

To sum up, the reason why I have come away from this article in disappointment is not because Warren is accomplishing these kind acts for mankind all over the world. I do, however, believe that he is being rather political in his approach in order to be successful, and he probably is enlisting the aid of non-Christians to accomplish his goal. I just don't condone this unification with unbelievers from someone who calls himself a preacher of the Gospel. But the disappointment I feel is that someone like Warren has initiated this movement to reach the world in order to meet their physical needs when someone who would be more likely to have a focus on meeting their spiritual needs is not.

All in all, I think it's nice that someone is taking the initiative to gets these things done, and I pray that—no matter how flawed Warren's methods—God will use those associated with this movement to reach those others for whom Christ died. Brings to mind the thought of God raising up rocks to bring Him glory...


SBC said...

Rocks......HA! Excellent.

Anyways, the local church is not the place for political discussion of this nature.
Esp. when avoiding "sin issues."

And having a pro-choice candidate speak in your church is UNTHINKABLE to me, anyways.

And meeting physical needs magnifies Christ...we should do more of it...but does Warren forget that warm bodies and full bellies can go to hell?

Michael.Gabriel said...

Well, SBC, I halfway agree with you. I don't see anything wrong with inviting the political candidates into the church in order for voters to have those candidates answer tough questions concerning issues that they are concerned about. This is something that was typical in early America, and I really don't see any Scriptural grounds for condemning it.

On the other hand, the so-called "tough" questions concerning "sin issues" should be the focus when inviting the candidates into your church. And both candidates must be allowed to say their piece according to some law. Northland even invited the liberal candidate to speak at the school during one of the last elections, but the guy never showed.

Warren certainly does seem to think that the main concern is the physical issues, and I wouldn't mind hearing some more about this. It is still certain that God can use a flawed message to save souls, but the question is, "Does Warren preach the Gospel?"

SBC said...

Deism was typical in early America, too. Do you see anything wrong with that?

What is the local church? What did God intend it to be? What are its purposes? What is its "job description"?

If my family had a weekly "family night," that would not be the time to have my buddies over to play cards.
Nothing wrong with having my buddies over to play cards...but if "family night" has been consecrated as a certain time, with a certain mission and certain purposes...then I'd have to redefine "family night" in order to include my buddies playing cards.

See, if "family night" becomes "buddy night," then I might as well start calling it buddy night and stop calling it family night. I can do that...and maybe there's nothing wrong with that...but let's at least be honest with our terms...

Pink doesn't mean green. Stripes doesn't mean polkadots. Truck doesn't mean motorcycle. Family night doesn't mean buddy night.

Church doesn't mean political speech. We can have "political speech," but let's not call it church...let's be honest with our terms--words have objective meaning.

Are we going to let God, who instituted the church, define what church is...or are we going to define it?

P.S. Northland isn't a local church, and therefore has the right to define itself anyway that it sees fit.

Michael.Gabriel said...

Well, sbc, based on your argument you have no basis for an objection. If the meeting was to be held during the time that is normally reserved for the preaching of the word then you would have a point, but it was meant to be held on a Saturday.

Since I realize that this is not your main concern, I will answer you according to what I think you meant. If you don't think that anyone should be inviting politicians into a church then I still think that your off-base based on your emphasis on correct terminology. If you are arguing for the proper definition of the local church and its functions then you are not totally consistent either. You seem to be using "church" to refer to the time in which believers (which is what the church really is, as you would agree) gather together to hear the preaching of the word. No one (to my knowledge) was expecting this gathering to be a worship service or a replacement of one.

As far as God defining terms, I don't recall the NT referring to the gathering of the church as "church." If you think that every time a local body of believers gathers that it presumes a worship service then you can't hang out with any other Christians you know anymore. I hope you don't think this because I hope to have you over to hang out again sometime.

Oh, and I was merely using Northland as an example because I was made aware of the fact that both parties must be invited if you invite one when I was at the Northland meeting.

Basically, though, I think you were being a bit extreme when you posted, but I hope that you have come to your senses by now. We all have our days. I know you don't agree with inviting a non-Christian into the church building (which is simply a locale where the actual church meets--what's a building?), but I think that there's no Scriptural basis for disallowing this.

SBC said...

I'm open (NOT convinced that it's best)...but open to having politicians speak in a church building (it is, after all, just a building) so long as it is NOT during "church" per se.

If we are just talking about using the facilities at another time...ok, that's fine I guess.

And no, not every gathering of believers constitutes "church." A church is a group of believers, who have covenanted themselves together as such, who fit the NT description of a church, including the ordinances.

Michael.Gabriel said...

Concerning part one: Fair enough.

So, you don't take Jesus's comment about Him being in the midst of two or three gathered in His name to apply to a group of believers gathered together for a Bible study in someone's basement? I realize that Jesus's context had to do with church discipline, but you wouldn't say that that applies in other instances? Do they have to have an official declaration from the state that they are a non-profit organization? I don't think that you would assert this as a qualification for an administration of the sacraments *snicker*, but do they have to be baptizing someone or partaking of the Lord's supper to be considered a gathering of the church?

SBC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SBC said...

This is another discussion altogether.

No, not every gathering of believers constitutes "church."

It IS very interesting that Jesus, in Matt. 18, laid down guidelines for church discipline BEFORE instituting the local church.
IMO, He was looking forward to the soon-to-be local church, AND also making it obvious that "church discipline" applies to extra-local-church contexts.

For a discussion on what constitutes a local church (as distinct from non-local-church gatherings)...start one!

Dramatized Exegesis