New accusations that mega-church pastor Rick Warren is promoting a new world religion that will usher in the Antichrist are raging again, despite Warren’s adamant and frustrated denials.
Fanning the flames on the Internet this time are none other than The New American magazine, the official publication of the right-of-center John Birch Society and conservative columnist Joseph Farah. Renewed interest in “Chrislam” and Warren was apparently sparked by an article in a local newspaper, the Orange County Register.
Warren, pastor at southern California’s Saddleback Community Church in the Los Angeles suburb of Lake Forest, is accused of trying to merge Christianity and Islam. When asked, Warren shakes his head in amazement – saying it’s “the lie that won’t die,” but which keeps resurfacing.
So, what’s causing all the chatter?
“The Rev. Rick Warren,” writes the Register’s Jim Hinch, “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."
Did Warren actually say that? Hinch continues: “The effort, informally dubbed King’s Way, caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims. Warren has broken Ramadan fasts at a Mission Viejo mosque, met Muslim leaders abroad and addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C.”
Hinch then notes that Saddleback worshippers have invited Muslims to a Christmas dinner and even played interfaith soccer at a picnic in Irvine “attended by more than 300 people.” The game was not Christians vs Muslims, but “pitted pastors and imams against teens from both faiths,” reports Hinch. “The teens won.”
So, what’s wrong with a dinner and soccer game? And did Warren actually say that Muslims and Christians worship the same deity?
“I’ve had a number of issues with Rick Warren over the years,” writes syndicated conservative columnist Farah, a former executive news editor at the right-of-center Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Sacramento Union newspapers. “But, with his latest effort to find common theological ground with Muslims and suggesting Christians and Muslims worship the same God, the man dubbed ‘America’s Pastor’ by the secular media is getting very close to heresy – if not crossing the line.
“Here is the key to illustrating his error: Do Muslims even claim to
worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as Christians and Jews do?” asks Farah. “No, they do not. They believe God did not create a covenant with Isaac and Jacob, but rather with Abraham’s firstborn son Ishmael. They believe the Jewish and Christian Bibles are misrepresentations of truth. They believe the Quran accurately and faithfully represents the true personality and will of God.
“This is not a minor theological difference. It is as basic and fundamental as it gets.”
“Into this breech, Warren seeks common theological ground,” objects Farah. “It would be easier to find common theological ground between Christians and atheists than Christians and Muslims. In a very real sense, as Joel Richardson has propounded in his brilliant work, The Islamic Antichrist, Islam represents the polar opposite of Christianity.
“Worse yet, in seeking this universalist creed, Warren is agreeing not to evangelize Muslims in favor of the following: making friends; building peace; working on shared social service projects.
“Those are all high ideals,” writes Farah, “but the ultimate expression of love, according to the God of the Bible, is to introduce non-believers to Him and the pathway to salvation through repentance. Though Warren steadfastly denies it, what his Saddleback Church is doing is very close to efforts to blend Christianity and Islam into a universalist creed called ‘Chrislam.’”
Farah admits that Warren adamantly denies such a charge: “In response to that accusation, Warren wrote: ‘My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.’”
Actually, Warren has gone much further than that short statement in denying any intention of merging Christianity with Islam. He has calling such accusations ‘nonsense,’” writes Jennifer Leclaire for CharismaNews. She reports that recently he “directly responded to one of his Twitter followers. The question was: ‘Old guy on TV claims u support chrislam. True?’
“That ‘old guy,’” explains Leclaire, “was likely Jack Van Impe, the popular end-times television host” who pulled his show off of the Trinity Broadcasting Network after naming several well-known ministers who are alleged to be backing Chrislam.
Jack Van Impe
Warren has responded on several occasions, pointing to Proverbs 14:15, which states “Only a fool believes all that he hears,” then writing on his website for pastors:
“The so-called ‘Chrislam’ rumor is 100 percent false. If the guy who started this libelous myth, or anyone else who passed it on, had obeyed our Lord’s command (Matt. 18:18-20) to come directly to me, and then asked what I actually believed – they would have been embarrassed to learn that I believe the exact opposite. As a fourth generation Christian pastor, my life and ministry is built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority."
But did Warren say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God? In response to the new rash of rumors, Brandon Cox, pastor at a
"Pastor Rick Warren has often said that 'you never win your enemies to Christ, only your friends.' And he’s gone far past the limits most believers are willing to broach in order to form friendships and love a world in need of Jesus. Because of this, he’s often the target of unfair criticism and unfounded rumors. If you’ve longed for Pastor Rick to clear the air with boldness and clarity, keep reading. It’s the transcript of an interview between Rick, the Christian Post, and myself. Read on…
"QUESTION: Do people of other religions worship the same God as Christians?
"WARREN: Of course not. Christians have a view of God that is unique. We believe Jesus is God! We believe God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not 3 separate gods but one God. No other faith believes Jesus is God. My God is Jesus. The belief in God as a Trinity is the foundational difference between Christians and everyone else. There are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christians… whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Evangelical…and they all have the doctrine of the Trinity in common.
"QUESTION: A recent newspaper article claimed you believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God, that you are 'in partnership' with a mosque, and that you both agreed to 'not evangelize each other.' You immediately posted a brief refutation online. Can you expand on that?
"WARREN: Sure. All three of those statements are flat out wrong. Those statements were made by a reporter, not by me. I did not say them … I do not believe them… I completely disagree with them … and no one even talked to me about that article! So let me address each one individually:
"First, as I’ve already said, Christians have a fundamentally different view of God than Muslims. We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don’t. Our God is Jesus, not Allah. Colossians 2:9 'For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.'
"Second, while we urge our members to build friendships with everyone in our community, including Muslims and other faiths, ('Love your neighbor as yourself'), our church has never had any partnership with a mosque. Friendship and partnership are two very different levels of commitment. Some of our members have hosted a Bible study with Muslim friends, which I applaud, but I’ve never been to it, and a Bible study certainly isn’t any kind of partnership or merger! It’s just crazy that a simple Bible Study where people explore Scripture with non-Christians would be reported as a partnership and others would interpret that as a plan for a new compromised religion. Just crazy!
"Third, as both an Evangelical and as an evangelist, anyone who knows me and my 40 year track record of ministry knows that I would never agree to 'not evangelizing' anyone! I am commanded by my Savior to share the Good News with all people everywhere, all the time, in every way possible! Anyone who’s heard me teach knows that my heart beats for bringing others to Jesus."
The interview goes on to quote Warren to talk about his years-long efforts to build bridges between the Christian and Muslim communities.
"QUESTION: 'Building a bridge' sounds like compromise to many people.
WARREN: Building a bridge has nothing to do with compromising your beliefs. It’s all about your behavior and your attitude toward them. It’s about genuinely loving people. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Before people ask, 'Is Jesus credible?' they want to know if you are credible. Before people trust Jesus they must trust you. You cannot win your enemies to Christ, only your friends. It’s part of what Paul calls 'the ministry of reconciliation.' It is Christ-like to treat people with dignity and listen to them with respect."
In an earlier statement on pastors.com, Warren stated: “As an evangelist, I spend much of my time speaking to non-Christian groups. You cannot win your enemies to Christ; only your friends, so we must build bridges of friendship and love to those who believe differently so Jesus can walk across that bridge into their hearts. Besides, it is not a sin, but rather COMMANDED by Jesus that we love our enemies. In the past 10
years, Saddleback Church has baptized over 22,000 new adult believers—simply because we express love to those who don’t know Christ yet.
“It is nonsense to believe that you must compromise your beliefs, or water down your convictions in order to love someone, or even just treat them with dignity.
“Jesus was called ‘the friend of sinners’ by the legalistic Pharisees because he hung out with (and clearly loved) unbelievers,” concluded Warren. “I HOPE YOU will 1) Always believe that EVERYONE needs Jesus as their Lord & Savior. 2) Have the courage to associate with nonbelievers in order to love them and bring them to the Savior. 3) Consider being called ‘a friend of sinners’ a Christ-like compliment. 4) Refuse to pass on rumors until you’ve checked for the truth with the person accused.”
Nevertheless, Farah has big problems with Warren, such "the confusing message when he told 8,000 Muslims in 2009: ‘I don’t know if you have noticed this, but God likes variety.’
“Yes,” declares Farah, “God likes variety in the animal kingdom, in nature and even in the personalities of men and women. But he doesn’t like variance from His teachings – not at all. In fact, He has no tolerance for deviation at all. That’s the central message of the Bible Rick Warren claims to believe is his inerrant authority. That’s why Christians believe he sent His only begotten Son into the world to pay for those offenses. If God liked different views of the Creator of the Universe, such a sacrifice would have been unnecessary.”
Also skeptical of Warren’s outreaches to Muslims is John F. McManus at the John Birch Society’s magazine The New American, which sees something far more sinister behind Chrislam – a one-world religion and one-world government.
“It seems like yesterday,” writes McManus, “but it was during the 2008 presidential race that John McCain and Barack Obama debated their respective worthiness to be the next U.S. President in a televised debate at a famous church in Southern California. The host was Pastor Rick Warren and the venue was his Saddleback Community Church in Orange County.
Warren at the McCain-Obama debate
“Many have wondered how Rick Warren was picked to host this important event. They weren’t aware that Pastor Warren is a member
of the establishment’s Council on Foreign Relations, the same organization in which can be found John McCain and numerous Barack Obama appointees and advisors.”
The Birch Society has historically placed enormous significance on “guilt by association.”
“Nor,” continues McManus, “were many Americans apprised of the decades-old goal of the CFR to have the U.S. succumb to a world government long promoted by this correctly named ‘Seat of the Establishment.’”
The Council on Foreign Relations denies having as goals a one-world religion or a one-world government.
“Had the CFR connection been understood,” accuses McManus, “many would know in a moment why Warren and his church had been selected. They would also know how Warren’s photo and a flattering cover story about him soon ended up in the CFR-friendly Time magazine.”
The Birch Society also has a history of placing enormous weight on a variety of conspiracy theories, particularly the United Nations and the CFR plotting to merge the United States into a one-world entity that would likely be socialist and undemocratic.
The ‘Purpose Driven Pastor,’ as he describes himself,” writes McManus, has recently been linked to Chrislam, which “calls upon adherents to participate in joint services that use both the Christian Bible and the Muslim’s Koran. In the recent past, Warren addressed a convention of the Islamic Society of North America where he stated in part: ‘… we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.’ Critics claim that such a prayer denigrates Christ and elevates the core belief of Islam. In other words, Islam wins and Christianity loses. Promoters of Chrislam insist that they are following the Christian message of ‘Love thy neighbor,’ something they claim can’t be done if one doesn’t know anything about his neighbor or his beliefs.
“Warren had also been tapped to deliver a prayer at the 2009 inauguration of President Obama. In his remarks, he referred to Christ as ‘Isa,’ a Muslim name for Jesus,” notes McManus, not mentioning that Warren also used the English, Hebrew and Spanish names for Jesus. “Few caught the significance of the use of that unusual name. Muslims surely did. Yet, Warren adamantly denies being a promoter of Chrislam.”
What are the odds of Chrislam successfully merging Islam and
Islam’s two largest entities, the Sunnis and Shi’ites, can’t even agree with each other on much – but do hold that Jesus was a prophet who had good things to say, but did not die on the cross and did not resurrect. The more fundamentalist Wahabis are wary of any theology other than their own – and are not about to embrace Christianity.
Nevertheless, with Warren’s people shaking their heads in dismay, the controversy rages on.
Jan Markell, writing for Right Side News, tells of her skepticism regarding Warren, saying she “shuddered” when she heard some of the accusations. “When he spoke to the Islamic Society of North America and withheld the Gospel, I reacted again. ISNA is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The moderate Christian website Crosswalk recently noted in its “Religion Today Summaries”:
“The Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, one of America’s most influential pastors, has received criticism for a new effort to build bridges between Christians and Muslims. According to the Orange County Register, Warren has been outreaching for years to Muslims, including breaking Ramadan fasts at mosques and addressing thousands of Muslims at a national convention in D.C., and has now embarked on an endeavor called “King’s Way” that aims to bring Christians and Muslims together.
“The ChristianNewswire reports that Warren’s church and Muslim leaders have co-authored a document outlining points of “agreement” between Christians and Muslims, affirming they believe in “one God” and share the “love of God” and “love of neighbor.”
“They have also agreed to not evangelize each other. Warren has denied that he is promoting “Chrislam” — a merging of Islam and Christianity — but Steve McConkey, president of the ministry 4 WINDS USA, argues: “Rick Warren and others who follow him are being led in the wrong direction. Instead of fulfilling the Great Commission of winning and building men and women in the faith, they are building a Tower of Babel that leads to nowhere … something
like the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ … Warren has confused the Great Commission with the ‘Great Lie,’ that we can reach man with a little truth but more love. However, 1 Corinthians 13:6 says ‘Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.’ As we love others, we need to present the truth clearly despite the resulting persecution.”
What is “King’s Way”?
In the Register, Hinch writes about December’s inter-faith event: “At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King’s Way as ‘a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.’
“The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. 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.
“‘We agreed we wouldn’t try to evangelize each other,’ said Turk. ‘We’d witness to each other but it would be out of ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ not focused on conversion.’
“Saddleback representatives declined to make Warren available for comment. Tom Holladay, associate senior pastor at Saddleback, said the outreach to Muslims is part of Saddleback’s PEACE Plan, a wide-ranging effort to solve major world problems by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.
“‘This is us serving our own community with Muslims here in Orange County,’ said Holladay. ‘We realize we don’t agree about everything and we’re very open about that … You just recognize the differences and recognize the points where you can work together.’”
Is Warren secretly promoting Chrislam?
“Warren has faced criticism from some evangelicals for his outreach to Muslims,” notes Hinch. “Late last year, he issued a statement flatly denying rumors that he promulgates what critics term ‘Chrislam.’
Warren and Obama
“The ‘rumor is 100 percent false,’ Warren wrote at Pastors.com, a website he founded that provides practical advice to church leaders. ‘My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.’
“Gwynne Guibord,” wrote Hinch, “an ordained Episcopal priest and co-founder of a Los Angeles outreach group that fosters relationships between churches and mosques nationwide, said Saddleback’s effort is unprecedented.
“Guibord said that when she and Jihad Turk co-founded the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group in 2006, they sent invitations to mosques, the Catholic archdiocese and a variety of mainline Protestant denominations throughout Southern California, but not to evangelical churches.”
It seemed pointless, she told the Register. “‘I think that many evangelicals feel a mandate to convert people to Christianity,’ Guibord said. Because the Consultative Group was founded to respond to increasing antagonism between the two faiths, ‘we would not have made headway’ if one side was trying to convert the other, she said. Now, she said, it might be possible to include evangelicals in her group’s work.
“Turk said the relationship between Saddleback and Muslims, though still in its infancy, has already produced results. ‘People (at the December dinner) were talking about the bonds they’ve formed and they were crying,’ he said. Both sides realized they shared misconceptions about each other’s faith.
“‘We did a quiz at the Christmas dinner,’ Turk said, ‘asking basic questions about Islam or Christianity with the scriptures, the Koran or the Bible. And both sides were missing it…. It’s an education for everyone.’
“Barakat said he continues to know Warren as a man who literally loves his neighbor,” writes Hinch. “Barakat said his children could always count on Warren to buy the candy or magazine subscriptions they sold door-to-door for school fundraisers. The Warrens have hosted Barakat’s family at a Christmas dinner, he said. ‘He calls me his Muslim brother. It all started with a friendship.’”
And the controversy rages on.