5 Dec

Bummer…I thought Rick Warren would have a different take on this. From the Washington Monthly:

WARREN ENDORSES HANNITY’S WARMONGERING…. Pastor Rick Warren has a reputation for being far more stable and grounded than religious right leaders and TV preachers like Pat Robertson, but it’s worth remembering that he’s not exactly a moderate.

Last night, on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted that United States needs to “take out” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, “Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?” Warren responded, “Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped…. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.”

Matt Duss explained why Warren’s comments are problematic on a variety of levels.

Does Warren really consider it part of his ministry to sanctify the inch-deep theologizing-cum-warmongering of thugs like Sean Hannity? If so, who else does Warren think Jesus would bomb?

I contacted Pastor Warren’s office for clarification, specifically to find out where, exactly, the Bible says that “God puts government on earth to punish evildoers” like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They said they’d get back to me. I’ll update if and when they do. I suspect Warren was referring to Romans 13, in which the Apostle Paul admonished Christians to submit to governing authorities (Hear that Hannity? Submit!), and also addressed the power of civil government to punish criminals. This has nothing to do, as far as I know, with invading foreign countries and killing their leaders, which is the context in which Warren is speaking.

In any case, if this were a conversation between an Iranian TV host and an ayatollah in which they discussed scriptural justifications for “taking out” high ranking members of the U.S. government, you’d probably see Sean Hannity running the clip on his show — while slowly shaking his head in pious disapproval — as evidence of what crazy extremists those Iranians are. As it is, they’ll probably be running this on Iranian TV as evidence of what crazy extremists those Americans are.

Later, Warren’s office called Duss back to say the pastor was, in fact, referring to Romans 13. When Duss noted the chapter and verse make no reference to killing foreign leaders, Warren’s representative said she’d have to look into it.

Something to keep in mind the next time Warren presents himself as the leader of a new breed of reasonable evangelical leaders.

My thoughts:

1) Romans 13 talks about being an obedient citizen where you find yourself. Also, this obedience has limits. Note, Paul wrote most of his letters from prison.
2) It makes me laugh when people say that we can join governments in fighting because God uses governments. We say that about our government when people are fighting for us. We would hardly agree with that rational if the country we were fighting used it.
3) Romans 13 has nothing to do with fighting other countries let alone preemptive strikes.
4) Suppose that the passage could be used to endorse 2) and 3), Paul places very specific limits on how far a Christian can be involved. Just a couple sentences earlier (no chapter or verse breaks in the Bible) Paul says to bless our enemies and to not curse them. He says not to overcome evil with evil but to overcome evil with good.

Boggles my mind how many blindspots we have while reading the bible because of the upbringing we have had. And to be honest, I’m not immune to this phenomenon either. Except, hopefully my blindspots don’t kill people.


4 Responses to “Bummer…”

  1. Sarah December 5, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Yucky! There has always been something about Rick Warren that doesn’t seem right to me. Sadly, I do believe he will turn into “that” preacher.

  2. admin December 6, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    It’s really a bummer to hear him say that. In so many ways it seemed like he was getting out of the Evangelical bubble with the work his church is doing in Africa and he himself refuse to get stuck in the Republican/Democrat rut. He’s changed a lot in the past 5 years from what I’ve seen so who knows what another 5 will bring?

  3. Shawn Thornton December 18, 2008 at 12:12 am #

    So rob if a robber came in and raped your wife and killed your kids if you have some would you sit by and watch? or would you try and protect them. what about the rest of your family? I love how it is that all of us are so critical of others what things in your own life are not right. lets put you up and see how yo would fair in the spot light. Coiuld there be ideas and things that other would look down on. you are right about ROMANS 13 but if the government does not follow Gods rule then we are to follow God.

  4. admin December 18, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    No I wouldn’t watch. The robber would have to kill me first.

    I think that there is a vast difference between a person breaking into someone’s residence and raping my wife and kids and us going into another country and striking them before they strike us. I don’t think you can take this type of violent crime that could be committed and use that to justify us killing others in other countries and invoke any sort of God connection as is often done with Romans 13. The gospel is a picture of radical enemy love. And it sounds foolish and I’m sure that there are many objections that we can have to it. And I think that Christians should be the first to cling to that knowing what the enemy love of Jesus has done for us.

    An eye for eye kind of justice is only going to leave the world blind. I think that when we do show this love it catches the world by surprise much like the cross of Jesus. When the Amish community went to the funeral of a gunman who killed several innocent members of their community, they came not as an act of anger but as an act of forgiveness. Then they set up giving for the wife and children of the gunman who killed people in their community because the family of the gunman was now missing a husband and father.

    It’s scandalous grace and it’s captivating. I just can’t find anything in Jesus’ words that would allow us to violently end others lives. Paul urges us to overcome evil with good and to bless our enemies and to leave judgment to God. I think that Christians should be the first people over in those countries not as soldiers but on Christian Peacemaker teams who are willing to lay down their life before they take it.

    Are soldiers brave? Absolutely. But bullets and bombs don’t transform our enemies (some would argue it just creates more), sacrifice does.

    So you are right. I should look at my life and see how I would fair under that spotlight. The measurement of my faith is how I lay down my life for others. And where I don’t do that, others can call me out.

    As far as criticizing Rick Warren goes. This article was written by an author who I suppose doesn’t have a high respect for him. I do, which is what makes his words hard for me. I think in so many ways he is influencing church leaders to think bigger than their buildings and to focus on those most often ignored by the church. That is why it saddens me to hear him say that real evil cannot be negotiated with and must be stopped as a reason to kill.

    I’m not sure at one point the message of Jesus goes from loving your enemies to killing your enemies. Again, the article was probably much harsher on Warren than what my feelings are. I hope that clears things up a bit.

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