“I am going there to preach the Gospel.” This is the reason that frequently is offered when a well-known Christian leader ventures into a forum where some think he ought not go. Oftentimes the Gospel is preached, and Christians rejoice that the lost were able to hear the good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Other times, however, the Gospel is diluted, or not presented at all, in spite of ample opportunities to share it. These instances are unfortunate and grievous.
Prior to appearing on Oprah’s Lifeclass last Friday, 5 October, pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church would tweet,
Paul went to the marketplace. I’ve accepted an invitation to answer questions on Oprah’s Life Class. It will air in Jan 2013. Source
The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel wherever he went, so it seems safe to assume that Warren here was implying that he would boldly preach the Gospel and speak the truth about Jesus Christ during his appearance on Lifeclass. Those who watched the live stream of the three-hour taping know, however, that Warren missed multiple opportunities to share the life-saving Good News of Christ. Marcia Montenegro of Christian Answers for the New Age recalls one particularly heartbreaking moment:
What was really hard to watch is when a woman in Norway Skyped to say she realized she needed God but wanted to know who God is and she asked, “What should I do?” It was clear that she was ripe to hear the gospel and needed Jesus! It was a great opportunity to share the gospel with her, and at the same time, for Oprah to hear it. Instead of giving the gospel, Rick Warren seemed uncomfortable and finally just said something like, ‘Go to God and find your purpose.” It was a terrible moment! The woman looked surprised and sad, like she was expecting something else. I prayed for her later and am hoping that the many Christians who witnessed this will pray for her. Source
It cannot be known why Rick Warren failed to share the true Gospel with this woman. Whatever the reason, amid many mentions of a “god” throughout the duration of the show, she likely may have been left with more confusion than she clearly already had been experiencing.
Oprah Winfrey refers to a “god” quite often, yet her past declarations make it clear that she is not a Christian, and thus is not referring to the God of the Bible. Rather than make this distinction, however, Rick Warren affirmed Oprah’s elusive, New Age “god,” as well as whatever false gods were upheld by members of the audience and those watching online. Through his silence, in never defining God and Jesus as found in holy Scripture, and in failing to emphasize the exclusivity of salvation in Christ alone (John 14:6), Rick Warren ultimately affirmed the lost in their sin.
An ideal illustration of the shortcomings of Warren’s “gospel” surfaced yesterday in an article in the Huffington Post. Wardah Khalid is a Muslim woman who attended Oprah’s Lifeclass taping, and did so with anticipation.
I have always been a big fan of Oprah Winfrey. Growing up, I remember faithfully watching her show every day after school (after my cartoons ended, of course) and admiring the compassion and courage that she shared with her viewers. So when the opportunity came to attend a taping of her “Lifeclass” show in Houston, I snagged it. The icing on the cake? Pastor Rick Warren was her guest.
Yes, I realize that Pastor Rick is Christian, and well, I am not, but I was familiar enough with his work to know that much of the spiritual advice he gave his Christian followers resonated with Muslims as well.
“Much of the spiritual advice [Warren] gave his Christian followers resonated with Muslims as well.” Perhaps this may be true if one is preaching the Law void of the Gospel, for most of the world’s religions would affirm similar morals and values as are demonstrated and commanded in God’s Law. A Christian pastor, however, should not preach the Law without also preaching the Gospel, and if the Gospel is preached, it will not resonate with a Muslim or any other unbeliever who is not being drawn by the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Gospel will sound offensive, perhaps even repulsive, to those who are dead in their sins.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Cor. 1:18; 22–24
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 2 Cor. 2:15-16
Yet, the advice shared by pastor Warren that day did not convict this Muslim woman of her sin, or expose to her the deceptions of the false religion to which she is enslaved. Instead, she found herself encouraged by his teaching, especially since she realized that much of what he was saying was supported by her own religious book, the Quran:
The point, Pastor Warren said, was to understand that everyone is given specific cards for a reason. We shouldn’t wish to have the cards of someone else who we think is living a “better” life than us. God gave us this particular hand to shape us into the best person that we could be.
I found this interesting because God discusses a similar concept in the Holy Quran.
“It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world: and We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others. But the Mercy of thy Lord is better than the (wealth) which they amass” (Surah 43, Verse 32).
The taping lasted nearly three hours, and at the end of the show, Khalid arrived at the following conclusion:
“You can waste your life. You can spend your life. Or you can invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. Invest it in serving others. And that’s what it means to live a purpose-driven life.” — Pastor Rick Warren
This last quote really struck home with me. Islam is all about living a purpose-driven life. Our purpose on this earth is to worship God and live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. And that includes using our talent and wealth to make a positive impact on the less fortunate. Source
While Wardah Khalid is only one of thousands who were in attendance that day, either in person or watching online, her experience perfectly demonstrates why it is that so many lament and decry the weak, man-centered, man-pleasing “gospel” of Rick Warren. This Christian pastor was given an international platform wherein he could share with the lost the hope of eternal life as found in Jesus Christ alone. Instead, he succeeded in merely affirming a nebulous “god” that is palatable to all people and all religions. This obscure, non-existent deity cannot save souls, but rather will aid in their condemnation. In venturing into the marketplace, Rick Warren swindled many, depriving them of the only Truth that can save, namely Jesus Christ.