It happens to all of us. Somewhere along the line we meet people who claim to be Christians, and we accept that claim at face value. It usually happens to young Christians who have not studied the Bible enough to know what real Christians believe.
It happens to most of us. I remember, when I was but a young Christian with not much knowledge of others who claimed to be Christians, that I, together with my youth group here in South Africa, ran into the ZCCs (Zion Christian Church). To us it was very simple. "Look, it is a Christian church!" However,... these people have merged Christianity with their ancestor worship, and ended up with something that is not Christianity at all! How can you worship the ancestors and Christ together? That is an abomination. It is like worshipping the devil and Jesus while claiming that you are a Christian!
Now this is what I do not understand in Rick Warren's case. He wants mainline churches to reconcile with evangelical churches to stop their decline in membership.
According to Warren:
“100 years ago the phrase ‘social gospel’ first came out. Some people took that to mean only if we reform the social government and society and not personal faith in Christ Jesus – that is, if we make the world a better place – we don’t need personal redemption.”
Warren feels that the mainline churches went one way and evangelical churches went another. He continued:
“Who’s right? The fact is both are right. Somehow we got divided like Jesus didn’t care about society or members of society didn’t need Jesus. I think we need both.”
Warren's idea here is ignoratio elenchi. As "Seven of Nine" from Star Trek: Voyager would have said, "Irrelevant!" Warren's conclusion here is simply irrelevant. It may be right, but it is irrelevant. Sure, we need "personal redemption" and we need to be involved in society. However, Warren misses the point.
While speaking with the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Samuel T. Lloyd III, Warren said, “The reconciliation is that in a pluralistic world…we (Christians) need to be on the same team because we share the same savior.” This is where many in evangelicalism differ with Warren. It is this very belief of Warren's that make his statement above ignoratio elenchi.
The fact is that among the mainline churches there is gross apostasy. They either deny all or some of the fundamentals of Christianity. From denying the virgin birth, to denying the death of Christ, to denying the resurrection of Christ, to denying that the Bible is the inerrant inspired Word of God, these people have walked away from what the Bible clearly teaches on almost every facet the Bible touches on, whether doctrinal or moral!
The fact is, contrary to what Mr. Warren has said, we do not "share the same savior." The fact is that these people cannot call themselves Christians when they deny the very faith they claim to hold onto.
Which brings me back to Rick Warren. Is this man so Biblically inept, that he will welcome anyone into the Christian fold? Who's next? The Mormons? The Jehovah's Witnesses? It seems to me that Warren wants to become all things to all people. Yet, contrary to the apostle Paul, it certainly is not to win some. He went to Iran... to pat Ahmedinejad on the back. He went to Jewish synagogues... to help them grow their membership. Now he goes to mainline churches... to reconcile with them. Based on what? That we have the same "savior." Think again!
How is that so many hold Warren in such high esteem (for some just below God Himself), yet he does not know why evangelicals parted ways with the mainline churches almost 100 years ago? Liberalism flooded what is now called the mainline churches. It came to be accepted in these churches to deny the fundamental doctrines of the faith and to basically become "social clubs" with the name of Christ somewhere close.
Evangelicalism did not part with mainline churches over something like community involvement. It was a doctrinal parting. The evangelical church continued with following the fundamentals of the faith and caring for the poor, etc. Several surveys over the years have concluded that evangelicals give and care more than mainline churches or the world do. Yet, people continue to hold onto the modern media caricature of evangelicals as uncaring. That is simply false!
Ingrid Schlueter wrote:
"Rick Warren’s presence in the pulpit of National Cathedral on January 27, and his call for 'reconciliation' with such churches should disgust every Christian who believes in the authority of Holy Scripture and who understands the critical importance of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. National Cathedral is a New Age pantheon to the gods of the world religions. That's why the church can feature goddess theology proponents teaching women how to dance in 'sacred circles', welcome the worship of Tibetan monks, teach Buddhist meditation techniques and introduce attendees to the Jewish Kabbalah. Where is Rick Warren's concern about the people who are on their way to hell in these churches that blaspheme the Lord Jesus Christ with goddess worship, homosexuality, a rejection of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement, a denial of the authority of Scripture, and the promotion of the doctrines of anti-Christ?"
The point is that Rick Warren does not seem to exercise any discernment. How can this man want to merge truth and heresy? Truth and apostasy?
To read more on the essentials or fundamentals of the faith, read "What is the Gospel? What is the foundation to the Gospel?"
Some posts on the importance of truth and doctrine:
Without truth - empty, heartless gestures to God
The Relevancy of Doctrine
The Gospel: Diluted and non-Saving
Is the preacher a "reliable carrier" of God's truth?