Christianity,  Culture

Maggie Gallagher Critiques Rick Warren

Maggie Gallagher has a sharp critique of Rick Warren’s recent appearance on “Larry King Live.” She writes:

‘Many religious people and groups will bow to, if not exactly endorse, the power of gay activists. Witness Rev. Rick Warren, who on “Larry King Live” this week came very close to recanting his support for Proposition 8. Rick did not quite do so. What he did, instead, is what many good people will do in the face of the massive campaign of intimidation and harassment designed to silence Christians and others of good will who support marriage: He dodged. Rick said, more or less: I am not now and never have been an anti-gay marriage “activist.”

‘Let me be clear. I have enormous respect for Rick Warren. What has happened to Rick, who did nothing more than speak from his pulpit to the members of his own church on Proposition 8, is what lies in store for many good men and women. The deal they will be offered by the government and the culture dominated by same-sex marriage is: Mute your views on marriage so you may continue your other good works. Many good and brave people, to preserve their ability to save lives in Africa or to protect the poor in this country, will take that deal.

‘I’m not here to criticize him or them — merely to point out the underlying power of the movement that can get a Baptist minister to recant about marriage on national television.’


  • Darius T

    To be fair and accurate, “I’m not here to criticize him…”

    That doesn’t really seem like a “scathing critique” of Warren. It’s more a commentary on the pressure which many will succomb to in this debate. Warren should be criticized for that weak performance, but this doesn’t seem to be it.

  • Lynn

    It is my belief that we would agree that Jesus had a methodology for handling grievances with others. It is outlined in Matthew 18. To suggest that Mr. Warren has compromised his beliefs in order to continue his work around the world is a scathing and unjust commentary that is completely unfounded. One sentence is extracted from a lengthy discussion and used to then make assertions about his beliefs and convictions. Then to suggest that one does not desire to “criticize him” with such remarks is offensive to those that understand the definition of the word, especially when he is accused of “recant”ing his former belief. I have no understanding of why we feel it is both necessary and somehow God-honoring to launch such attacks. If this is truly one’s belief then maybe it would be more appropriate and helpful for all to address our comments directly to Mr. Warren himself. At least then he would be able to answer us and dialogue about the contents of his heart.

  • Derek

    I too have had much more respect for Warren in the past. Now he almost starts to sound like Osteen.

    Here’s why I say that- Joel Osteen loves to say that “it isn’t his calling to talk about sin and judgment.” Now, Rick Warren says that his calling is to talk about AIDS in Africa and the spiritual climate in America (as if human sexuality and the definition of family has nothing to do with the spiritual climate in America).

    If you’re a minister of the Gospel, you can’t go around talking only about what you want to talk about. You must teach and proclaim the full council of God’s Word and you cannot simply sit on the sidelines on the hot topics of the day – you have to address them with the right tone and must apply sound Biblical thinking.

    I’m hoping some of Rick Warren’s friends talk to him – I think he has good friends and wise counselors. He needs them now. He needs our prayers too.

  • Matt Svoboda

    Well, I certainly wish Warren would of stood a little stronger. Although I do think some are looking to far into Warrens words..

    But to compare him to a false teacher seems like an unfair accusation.

  • Derek

    Maggie Gallegher didn’t say that he recanted. She said he dodged- the article itself was written to demonstrate how easily we as Christians can be led into “dodgery”, and that we are all easily lured into it. The article was not as much a warning to Pastor Warren as it is to the reader.

    kbh’s youtube link is very difficult for me to watch. It is painful to see Pastor Warren’s comments back to back because they are really tough to reconcile.

  • Lynn

    Well Derek we disagree, because for Maggie to type “merely to point out the underlying power of the movement that can get a Baptist minister to recant about marriage on national television” is a statement that does at the very least suggest that the minister is in the process of recanting. But then our disagreement is the essence of dialoguing WITH a person and not just ABOUT a person. Last night was my first time to view this site and I did so because of my interest in the thinking of students at Southern. I must say that I was disappointed at how quickly we resort to what could be understood by some as gossip about a fellow believer and conversation that tares down and does very little if anything to build up the brother that we are “concerned” about.

  • Lynn

    I’m on another continent so that is why I am posting in the “wee a.m.” But I have had another thought I have pondered my findings from last night on this website. and this thought comes to me– This is really the way that we give into the pridefulness that is much of the foundation for our “right”ness versus God’s righteousness. We poke at each other for “their” inability to “do as we would have done” or “say what we would have said” if we had been in the same situation. Maybe that’s the reason God chose to have Rick there and not us. Maybe he wasn’t so much interested in our self-righteousness as He was in the portrayal of His ambassador to Larry King and his audience at that moment. I must say that if we shoot each other we will have no one to truly communicate the restoration and reconciliation to the people that are in need of a gospel message RIGHT NOW….like the child soldier in Darfur, the children and families in Zimbabwe who have watched their loved ones die of cholera because there was no uncontaminated water available to them, or the AIDS orphans in South Africa, or the starving adults and children in Ethiopia, or the family of our brother that has been taken hostage in the Sudan because of his work with refugees in Darfur, or the unaccompanied children seeking asylum in various countries around the globe because their parents were murdered or “disappeared” during conflicts in their home countries. So here we can sit in front of our computer screens and rail at Rick because he didn’t perform the way we would have if we had been given the opportunity he was given …..and then we are we really arrogant enough to suggest that he and others will do the same just so they could continue their work in Africa and among the poor? Is this really what we are suggesting? Believe it or not the issue of marriage and its definition is not the ONE overarching issue facing the church today but as long as we remain sidelined by this issue, the others that really do affect the lives of the dying will not get the same amount of press or thought that could bring restoration and reconciliation for millions in desperate need of it or their souls will die TODAY

  • Derek

    Well, Lynn, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion – I encourage you to read the article again though, because I humbly submit that you’ve missed the point. The article is a warning to all Christians, not to Rick Warren. We should pray for Rick Warren and recognize our own capability to cave on our convictions, rather than pretend that we’re incapable of the same doublespeak.

  • Lynn

    Thank you Derek for allowing that other opinions exist. I have read the article multiple times and I come away with similar thoughts each time and a sincere sense of sadness. Sadness that it is OK, sanctioned, even encouraged in the community we all describe as conservative Christian to pummel each other under the at least somewhat questionable auspices of encouraging one another. I would prefer that we be able to bring to light our convictions without degrading or minimizing the convictions of a fellow advocate for the gospel. Especially since his integrity is called into question just by the use of the word “doublespeak” without him having any ability to speak personally to the “hit” on his character and commitment to the cause Christ in the matter of the definition of marriage. Why do we have to shoot Rick or anyone else in the back, why can’t we just stand up and say what we believe we could or could not do without taking pot shots at Rick or anyone else. AND why do we condone it when it is done and couch it in terms of the hit being for the “greater good” or some more worthy cause. Why can’t we have an article written about standing true to your convictions….PERIOD…no reference to our thoughts about whether someone else (known or unknown) didn’t? AND if we feel that someone (known or unknown) did why don’t we seek them and talk TO THEM rather than say We will pray for them. Jesus said GO TO THEM, talk to them, THEN ……WHY is it OK to attack him first and then say we’ll pray for him and ourselves to not do the same thing we are accusing him of? THAT is what I am speaking to I guess. That is what saddens me the most. It’s not the what of the content as much as it is the HOW—-motivate us to remain committed to “flee doublespeak” without casting dispersions on another brother that we “think” has erred in “the mind of the writer” by not doing so.

  • Derek

    Lynn, I don’t know whether you saw the video that kbh posted, but it clearly shows Rick Warren saying very different things to different sets of people. This is doublespeak. I’m trying to be very careful in my terminology so as not to exaggerate or mis-characterize.
    Any Christian who makes public statements of this nature that leave everyone confused as to where exactly the speaker’s actual convictions are, owes an explanation or at least needs to own up to the fact that they have said very different things in the past (in this case, very recent past).

    Furthermore, I also need to add that Rick Warren’s words, whether intended or not, have the very real effect of marginalizing other Christians who do speak out on the topic of gay marriage. His words have a tremendous impact on the larger body of Christ.

    Christians who are in public positions will be the first to acknowledge that if you’re going to make statements to a broad audience, especially when a secular audience is engaged, that their comments should and will be carefully scrutinized. This does not in any way justify us to be mean spirited or malicious. However, please note that Jesus rebuked even his own disciples publicly when they made public statements. Paul openly rebuked Peter when he said and did contradictory things to his fellow Gentile and Jewish believers.

  • Lynn

    Exactly, and if I am remembering correctly, in both instances, Paul and Jesus, addressed the ones whose behavior or words were in question DIRECTLY not indirectly by just telling others what they heard or saw or witnessed Peter or the disciples do. That’s productive– that gives ability for dialogue that can bring about insightful new thoughts or behavior on the part of the one in question.

    So what’s our motivation in calling Rick or anyone else into question? With both Jesus and Paul, I believe the purpose was to bring about a different response. One that was beneficial for the gospel and for the one or ones scrutinized. What does calling Rick out do FOR him without addressing him personally, both Paul and Jesus seemed to have the masses and the individuals in mind. It seems that even with Paul’s stinging reprimand Peter was served well. Here we are just talking ABOUT someone that may have no idea that his integrity or commitment has been maligned. That is the travesty in my opinion. There seems from these words that serving others by “encouraging” them not to make the same “mistake” is more beneficial in this instance than anything Rick may or may not believe. I just don’t see anywhere that this is what we have been instructed to do with those we deem as brothers or sisters.

  • Branden Scott

    Hirelings among us.

    Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Tickling the itching ears.

    Serving God and preaching His Word?

    Christians afraid to offend.

  • Derek

    Please help me understand what you’re saying – are you suggesting that public statements made by Christians or Christian leaders should never be critiqued or commented upon unless you speak face to face with the public person? If you get invited on to Larry King and say something that is off base or you directly contradict something you previously said to another group, no one can call you out unless they speak to you face to face?

    Again, we as Christians are accountable for what we say and how we say it. But we are not to be so lacking in discernment that we just brush these things aside and pretend nothing happened.

    Something happened. It happened in front of millions of people. It needs to be addressed and scrutinized, not papered over. The gay community is all over this, ridiculing Christians everywhere because of the way Rick Warren addresses his audiences in such a political manner and dodges tough questions – they know this just doesn’t pass the smell test. We ought not pretend that it does.

  • Lynn

    First–Rick did not change his view on marriage being defined as the union between one woman and one man. He states that very clearly in his responses to Larry King. Given that….nothing else need be said….

    IF one disagrees with HOW he said that, well then we would be obligated by Matthew 18 to talk directly to HIM and not ABOUT him

    The conservative Christian community has a horrible reputation for not only the way we “treat” others that disagree with us, but we also have a very similar reputation for how we “treat” each other….feeding that perception with this kind of un-founded rhetoric about HOW Rick or any other brother steps to the line of “recanting” when that is CLEARLY NOT what he did … deceptive, malicious and unfounded

    In Rick’s own words he stated that he had sent a letter to his congregants about his resolve on marriage and how that resolve had not changed. Why did more need to be said?

    And given that these WERE his words the “waffling” “sidestepping” “recanting” “double-speak” accusations are unfounded.

    THEN when we “critique” others without them knowing we are critiquing them (when it is a brother in Christ) what are we hoping to accomplish? It does let others know how we feel differently, but couldn’t we do that without tainting the reputation, perception of integrity, and commitment of one that has worked very hard to further the gospel we say we are ALL committed to?

    People of the religious establishment (inside and outside of the early church) disagreed with how Paul said things too AND what he did. Remember what he said? The only person’s judgement he cared about was his Father’s, the rest were of no value to him.

    AGAIN and I feel like I am beating this drum until we are all sick of hearing it….BUT if we want to talk about remaining true to our convictions, then let’s do it….but why is it condoned to put forth that message by INSULTING and RIDICULING someone else….(and please don’t say that is not what was done, because to accuse him of even coming close to “recanting” is exactly that. This is not a treatise on semantics nor choice of words)

    Say what we want to say, LEAVE RICK’S NAME OUT OF IT! He clearly stated in the interview that his definition of marriage had not changed. Yet it is inferred that he came dangerously close to “recanting”—which is just not true.

  • Derek

    I agree that you’re beating a drum. But in the process, you’re closing your ears and not acknowledging what is absolutely clear when you look at the video kbh referenced (have you watched it yet?). There is a big discontinuity between the Rick Warren who spoke to his congregation and the one that apologized to his gay friends and Larry King audience.

    I must say one more thing. I have been a big fan of Rick Warren’s. I have defended him when others have attacked him in the past. But he has done tremendous damage to HIMSELF and to his credibility. Whether you are a secular gay friend of Rick’s (which we should have no problem with at all – unless Rick fails to uphold a Biblical standard in the process) or whether you are a conservative Christian, you feel that you have been manipulated.

    I’d really like to know what Rick apologized to his friends in the gay community about. He left an implication that he apologized for supporting Prop 8. If he apologized to them, does he not also owe an apology to his own congregation for telling them to vote for Prop 8?

  • Lynn

    Well let me say I did smile when reading your last comment and know that my friends at church tomorrow will find the statement amusing. Let me just say that I am not a gay friend of Rick Warren. I have never even met him. I am the daughter of a retired SBC minister that served for over 50 years in various Southern states. I attended an SBC university as an undergrad. My graduate work was done at a state school. That being said…..

    In the video interview with Larry King Rick says and I quote:

    “There were some things said that — you know, everybody should have 10 percent grace when they say public statements. And I was asked a question that made it sound like I equated gay marriage with pedophilia or incest, which I absolutely do not believe. And I actually announced that.”

    My guess is and it is only a guess, but I would think if that was actually said about him and he had friends/colleagues/associates that are gay he would have clarified with them that this was not his belief, if in fact it is not. Don’t you think? I know if it were me, I would have.

    He never apologized for his position on Prop 8, he just said that he didn’t attend meetings, rallies, etc during the time leading up to or following the vote. He said that when asked by members of his congregation what he thought, he gave his answer in a letter and from the pulpit. And he said that his position had not changed on the definition of marriage. So….

    Now to move beyond his words, we have to intimate that we know his thinking or understand his heart….clearly that would be unfounded for any man (or woman) to be able to make that claim. So we continue to make inferences and honestly that IS the problem with things like this. This “critique” does nothing any different than those who take the opposite view of Prop 8 and are condemning Rick for really being ALL the things that you say he is NOT anymore….. THAT I would think would give us all pause to stop and renegotiate our tactics.

    “They” say he is still a just as anti-gay as ever and nothing has changed and they ridicule him for that….you guys are saying he’s not anti-gay ENOUGH and ridicule him for that….hmm…??

    AND in the mean time Rick seems to follow Paul’s thoughts about caring only about the judgment of One and goes on with his focus in Ruwanda and continue the work of trying to bring the restoration and reconciliation of the gospel to a people that are dying with AIDS and living with the aftermath of the havoc this disease brings to those that survive. WHILE some “conservatives” among us rail at him for his stand or lack there of on a referendum in CA that passed!

    I find all this curious and very saddening. I can’t believe that our Father/ Brother /Comforter feels any differently. But then I guess we will disagree on that too.

  • Derek

    I have no idea where you get the notion that I think you are gay. I neither said that nor did it even enter my mind.

    Again, if you watch the interviews in context, you can understand why many in the gay community are accusing Pastor Warren of speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Don’t look for hidden messages here- I am saying “you know, they have a good point”.

    And now this accusation that Christian conservatives are upset that Rick Warren “isn’t anti-gay enough” is just plain unfair of you. That is a red herring argument, plain and simple. What is at issue here is not pro-gay or anti-gay – this is about the definition of marriage; it is about speaking in very different ways to different sets of people.

    We should expect that the world would accuse Christians of being anti-gay upon the basis of opposition to same sex marriage, but to hear this from fellow believers? Lynn, that really makes me sad.

  • Lynn

    This really is going on like a treatise isn’t it Brother? I took absolutely no offense at the “you” of your comment and again I inferred a meaning…..hmmmm….there seems to be a pattern of words and inference here. When I read… Whether you are a secular gay friend of Rick’s (which we should have no problem with at all – unless Rick fails to uphold a Biblical standard in the process) or whether you are a conservative Christian, you feel that you have been manipulated…..I read and so did my friend I might add….as you = me. Now based on your explanation and a re-read I see where we may have misunderstood…..SEE THIS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE….you said one thing…I am my friends this afternoon read it and “heard” something very different than what YOU ACTUALLY MEANT!!! Don’t you see the correlation? You didn’t mean to imply anything and I don’t believe that Rick did either. He was just talking and now both sides of this “issue” on defining marriage are giving him the thumbs down!

    I listened to his interview and I read the transcript he did not say that he supports same sex marriage……he did not allude to being in support of same sex marriage….he did not say he condoned same sex marriage…..

    he did say he has gay colleagues and friends…now that he did unequivocally admit….and he did say that he apologized to them for how he was misrepresented in equating something about same sex marriage and pedophilia…..BUT that was it….

    And at the end of the day it seems that you and I are NOT going to agree on this…AND we are not going to agree that I do think that you ARE saying that he was not “anti-gay” enough when it comes to his issue of Prop 8 and how he somehow didn’t do enough or say enough or you want to even say he changed his recanted his beliefs on marriage being one woman and one man —–no where in this interview is that said ….. no where…..

    He chose to talk about his work and on this Easter weeekend I would think that we all would be willing to at least acknowledge EVEN IF WE DISAGREE with the WORDS HE DID OR DID NOT USE ON THIS ONE PROGRAM that the restoration that his sacrifice in the name of Jesus has brought to the hundreds of orphans and families his foundation has impacted speaks to his commitment to the gospel, the cross and His God.

    Again we are going to disagree

  • Derek

    Here’s where your explanation breaks down for me – why would you apologize for someone else taking your words out of context? I’m sorry, but to me it still sounds like Rick Warren apologized for something he did or said that he now considers to be wrong. If his words were distorted or taken out of context in an interview, he should be ASKING for an apology, not OFFERING one. Do you disagree?

    Also: who, may I ask, is suggesting that Rick Warren is FOR gay marriage. To my knowledge, this has not been suggested by anyone (maybe I missed a news blurb about this, I admit the possibility).

    Prop 8 was and is a huge deal in the state of California, as well as the rest of the country. When he said that “he never put out a statement”, was that really the truth or are we going to spend all day splitting hairs about whether a video delivered to his church constitutes a statement or not? These are the kinds of things that do grave harm to a person’s credibility.

    I think 99 out of 100 people who saw this interview read the body language and heard his words and understood what was going on here. Capitulation. I hope the 99 are wrong, including myself. Truly do.

  • Lynn

    Dialogue is a wonderful thing. Thank you for spending your energies with me on this. I am honestly appreciative.

    It is the Truth of tomorrow and the Person that was and is God that calls us, transforms us, and embraces us while we struggle with the “rights and wrongs” of these 24 hour days in this life. I am glad that this is not all we have or all that we will come to know of God and His Truth.

    I wish us all peace and loads of grace as we each pursue our “calling” and celebrate the truth of Easter as only the brothers/sisters of Jesus can really know it.


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