I'm not really a conspiracy buff, I just talk like one when it comes to organized religion: I don't trust it. Religious leaders are too much like politicians. Do you trust them? Hence, it may sound a bit arrogant, but a religious leader has to EARN my trust. Titles and (mostly honorary) doctorates mean very little to me. The title of "Reverend" could have come from a box of Crackerjack for all I know. Even the title "New York Times Bestselling Author" means little to me, and I was in the book publishing business for 25 years.
(Left: St. Vitus Cathedral - Built for Awe and Inspiration)
The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, has been one of the bestselling books of all time - the sale of 20 million books confirms it. The book has been translated into dozens of different languages. Warren's "method" has been taught in thousands of churches across the country. So why don't I trust this guy?
I can honestly say I don't know. There are some things I can cite, like his biblical literacy, but that's not enough to label him a Christofascist. It may be his passion for evangelizing "the whole world":
"Jesus said, 'This Gospel shall be preached into all the world to every nation and then the end shall come.' He's not coming back until that happens...The question is will we get to be the ones who get to be in on it or not. Will we be the generation who says, "Let's make this happen!'"Warren's PEACE Plan - to put together a network of "10 million" churches to end poverty and disease (primarily AIDS) is bold and passionate. Notice I didn't write "compassionate." I succumb to people passionate about causes or careers as easily as the next person. Warren's passion, however, goes beyond religious belief: it hints at a lust for power. I'd research his PEACE Plan a lot more and see how he envisions himself within it. Warren's theology also rests on Original Sin and man's responsibility for all the evils in the world, including natural disasters:
"The Bible teaches that since sin entered the world, way back with the first human beings, we have lived in an imperfect, broken planet, and that causes hurricanes and tornadoes."I'm not big on Original Sin. Just because good 'ole Saint Augustine had a massive amount of guilt doesn't mean people are born sinful. Original Sin brings humanity down a notch and practically equates man with sin: born guilty until proven innocent. I don't buy that either.
(Right: Saddleback Church on the inside.Unfortunately.Do you feel inspired yet?)
Warren is also a master of "The Seeker-Sensitive Movement" - paying attention to most of the "unchurched" souls and giving them a non-traditional, laid-back form of religious expression. Hawaiian shirts and sandals are O.K., and desire of material things is O.K. too - the movement encourages the marketing of churches to attract people. Some churches give away U2 tickets and church-logo frisbees while others have free ice cream trucks and martial arts classes (Christian warriors ala Rod Parsley).
So, is The Movement really bait and switch? Is Warren merely trying to attract new souls in order to build a theocratic empire? Having Barack Obama and John McCain come together for an informal debate may look like bipartisanship (and Warren himself refuses to endorse a candidate), but is it a move toward much greater things? No matter which way you look at it, "evangelizing the entire world" will have serious casualties. People of other we-are-the-only-way religions will fight - to the death.
Just a thought.
Spirituality... with a latte! Or...
...wait til they get the skateboard park finished!