Saturday, July 28, 2007

Open Letter To Brothers & Sisters At Saddleback Church

Since Rick Warren, world famous author of “Purpose Driven Life” and mega-church pastor of Saddleback Church in California, sparked controversy through an invitation to pro-abortion Senator Barack Obama to speak at Saddleback’s AIDS conference, I have wanted to post my own detailed response on behalf of unborn children in Canada (as well as the US.)

Today I discovered an Open Letter addressed to Rick Warren from Gregg Cunningham, Director, The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform. Gregg says much of what I wanted to express, and more. It’s a lengthy letter but well worth the read.

There are important issues involved here, most notably the responsibility for high profile evangelical leaders, as representatives of Christ, to take an uncompromising stand in defense of unborn children. The evangelical community in the US and in Canada is generally very weak on pro-life activism although there are notable exceptions. What is especially alarming is the trend for evangelicals to highlight other causes such as modern day slavery and AIDS while consigning child-killing to the sidelines as a “political” issue.

If you are unclear about the dynamics of this controversy, it may help you to know that Rick Warren is revered as a national spiritual leader in America with a huge degree of influence in evangelical circles. Pastor Warren, along with a “new breed” of evangelical leaders such as Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, seems to be defining a new paradigm with respect to social justice issues. They are more likely to speak out about more liberal causes like AIDS, Darfur, poverty and global warming than “controversial” social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

Vote Life, Canada! views the urgency of Gregg's letter to Rick Warren in the same light as its own recent Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops Of Canada.



Pastor Rick Warren and the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church ": Saddleback Delivers; Obama Chortles & Jesus Cringes

From: Gregg Cunningham, Director, The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform

(Author's note: A draft of this letter was submitted to Pastor Rick Warren through A. Larry Ross Communications, his public relations firm, with a request for corrections of perceived misstatements of fact. Despite confirmation of receipt of the draft, no reply was forthcoming. Since the intial draft of this letter, Senators Obama and Clinton declared candidacies for the Presidency.) has posted a Billy Graham biography with a focus on the great evangelist's early crusades. The story is oddly relevant to the controversy sparked by Pastor Rick Warren's AIDS conference invitation to pro-abortion Senator Barack Obama.

...[A]t a time when sit-ins and boycotts were stirring racial tensions in the South, Graham invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to discuss the racial situation with him and his colleagues. Then, before a capacity crowd at ... [Madison Square] Garden, he invited the black leader to join him on the platform and to lead the congregation in prayer. In his introduction, he said, 'A great social revolution is going on in the United States today. Dr. King is one of its leaders, and we appreciate his taking time out of his busy schedule to come and share this service with us tonight.'

The words did not explicitly endorse King, and King's prayer called for nothing more revolutionary than a 'brotherhood that transcends color,' but the implication was unmistakable: Graham was letting both whites and blacks know that he was willing to be identified with the revolution and its foremost leader, and King was telling blacks that Graham was their ally ... his voice was important in declaring that a Christian racist was an oxymoron.

Not so long ago, the argument that a racist could never be a true follower of Jesus was controversial. Today we debate whether a genuine salvation experience would invariably preclude the advocacy of abortion rights.

Pastor Warren's embrace of Senator Obama was as calculated as Pastor Graham's inclusion of Dr. King. Both were designed to send a message. Pastor Graham sought a closer association with civil rights activism. Pastor Warren seeks a closer association with AIDS activism. Both decisions were obviously going to be controversial. Among the civil rights activists Pastor Graham could have embraced, Dr. King was the most contentious for reasons which had everything to do with civil rights. Among the AIDS activists Pastor Warren could have invited, Senator Obama was the most divisive for reasons which had nothing to do with AIDS. Dr. King was controversial because he fought a system which was killing black people. Senator Obama is controversial because he champions a system which is killing unborn children. Pastor Graham's gesture insulted racists. Pastor Warren's offended pro-life activists. Pastor Graham wanted to distance himself from racists. Pastor Warren has removed any lingering doubt that he is moving away from pro-life activists.

He claims to be pro-life but he defines the term narrowly. He is a pro-life pacifist (as opposed to "activist " as in AIDS activism) whose opposition to abortion is essentially conceptual. He is detached. He avoids resistance which demands the risk and sacrifice he invests in the fight against AIDS.

He's "against " abortion in the same way the priest and Levite might have opposed mugging in Christ's Parable of the Good Samaritan; a theoretical, disengaged condemnation. It is not the anguished opposition which compels aggressive intervention. Feeling pity for victims is, of course, very different from taking pity on them. At least that's what Pastor Warren says about AIDS.

New York Magazine, May 28, 2007, in a statement not submitted to A. Larry Ross for comment, columnist John Heilemann quotes Pastor Warren on pro-life activism:

Whereas Falwell bemoaned the emerging strain of Evangelical environmentalism as 'Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus,' Warren declares, 'The environment is a moral issue.' And regarding his pro-life stance, Warren says, 'I'm just not rabid about it.'

Merriam Webster Online defines "rabid " as "going to extreme lengths in expressing or pursuing a feeling, interest, or opinion. " When Pastor Warren says he's "just not rabid " about abortion he is in essence saying he is not hot, not cold but kind of lukewarm about abortion. In Revelation 3:13-22, Jesus says, "I know your deeds .... So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. " Is God "lukewarm " over child sacrifice or is He rabid?

In Ezekiel 16:20-21, 35-36, 43, He says, among other things, that His own people "... have enraged me ... " with child sacrifice.

In Psalm 106:37-42, He says, among other things, that because of their child sacrifice "... Jehovah's anger burned against his people and he abhorred them. That is why he let the heathen nations crush them. "

In Jeremiah 7:24-26, 30-31, He says, among other things, "... and they burn to death their little sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods -- a deed so horrible I've never even thought of it .... "

In Jeremiah 19:3-5, 7-9, 11, God says, among other things, that because of child sacrifice, "... will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, so that it can never be mended. "

It is pretty easy to take God's temperature here – and He is not lukewarm. He is hot. White-hot.


Rest of Gregg’s Open Letter can be found here.

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