“Chrislam,” Rick Warren, and the Internet Lie That Never Dies

Christians are called to be people of the truth (John 17:17). Sadly, some Christians have a persistent habit of misrepresenting the truth, by the way they (mis)use the Internet.

Take the example of pastor Rick Warren and the supposed “Chrislam” controversy. Rick Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. For years, Rick Warren has taken an interest in building relationships with Muslims, so that they might hear the Gospel of Jesus. As Rick Warren says, “You cannot win your enemies to Christ. You can only win your friends.” Yet as a pastor of one of America’s largest churches, such a high profile personality comes under a lot of scrutiny.

Sadly, another Christian leader, a tele-evangelist (I will not name the man), became suspicious of Rick Warren and popularized the terminology of “Chrislam,” accusing Rick Warren of trying to combine Christianity and Islam together into a single new religion, and denying the faith. Rick Warren, in 2011, publicly denounced the accusations as false.

Now, just to be clear, I have no dog in this race. I have never met Rick Warren. I have never been to his church. I have never heard him preach, but others tell me that he is a great evangelist. I read a short pamphlet/book he wrote a few years ago, and I thought it was somewhere between pretty good and OK. Not the best thing I have ever read. But not bad either. I am sure God has and will continue to use his writings to change the lives of many people. It just was not necessarily the type of reading I personally go for.

In 2012, an article in a local, secular newspaper, the Orange County Register, printed a story that sought to confirm the reports of Warren’s “Chrislam” views and activities.  Unfortunately, the newspaper article contained many errors, according to Saddleback Church. Shortly after the article was published, Rick Warren made statements intended to correct the misinformation. Sadly, some Christians, including the above mentioned tele-evangelist, spread the Orange County Register story, like wildfire on TV and the Internet, without ever bothering to ask Rick Warren directly, if the story was accurate or not.

Fast forward to 2018, and if you do a Google search, for something like “Rick Warren chrislam,” you will get an amazing 200,000+ hits, most of them repeating the same type of accusations made six years earlier in 2012, that Rick Warren addressed within days of the Orange County Register article.

Six years. Over 200,000 hits.

Never mind the fact that Saddleback Church has baptized over 45,000 people, over the years, a number of whom come from a Muslim background. That is right: people from a Muslim background, risking ostracism and family rejection, to publicly identify with King Jesus.

It is like the Internet lie that never dies.

If you have been tempted to pass on such old rumors like this to your friends, there is this pesky little command, in the Ten Commandments, that you might want to be aware of:  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

The video below should pretty much dispel such rumors, which is an interview that Rick Warren had with a leading Calvary Chapel pastor, a year or two ago. Much of the lingering controversy involves Rick Warren’s signature in 2007 on a Christian response to the Yale “A Common Word” document, written by Muslim leaders. The Christian response was open to misinterpretation on several points, but it was meant to commend Muslim attempts to call for peace and dialogue, and rejecting violence, and not to be a final statement on doctrine. For more about the related “A Common Word” Yale document, see this earlier Veracity post

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

4 responses to ““Chrislam,” Rick Warren, and the Internet Lie That Never Dies

  • fred nice

    Thanks Clarke. I actually appreciate his teaching and listen to his podcast daily. He is of course not perfect but I feel he is being strongly used by God.

    Like

    • Clarke Morledge

      Thanks, Fred. I read his little book, The Purpose of Christmas, to my mom, while she was dying of cancer a few years. I was already familiar with many of the themes in the book. It was not too heavy, but it clearly communicated the Gospel message. So, it was something that was perfect for my mom to hear, before she died.

      I wrote the blog post because every few months or so, I run into Christians that keep repeating the same story about “Chrislam” and Rick Warren, that has been debunked so, so many times.

      Would Rick Warren have signed the Christian response to the Yale “A Common Word” document today, if he knew there would be controversy? I think he would, if not for the simple reason that it has given him the opportunity to get in front of many Muslims, to talk openly about the Gospel, in ways that most Christians never have been able to do. And God has greatly blessed those opportunities.

      As Matthew 5:11 says:

      “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account”

      It just bothers me greatly when the those who “utter all kinds of evil against you” just happen to be Christians. We in the church can be our own worst enemies at times.

      Like

  • James Sundquist

    Dear Clarke,

    Thank you for your post on Rick Warren and I love the name of your blog which means TRUTH!

    Speaking of a lie that will never die regarding Rick Warren.

    He and his publisher Zondervan claim his Purpose Driven Driven Life book is the
    “bestselling nonfiction hardback book in history”, here is the evidence of whether or not this claim can be verified:

    https://amos37.com/james-sundquist-open-letter-on-zondervan-rick-warren/

    And here is the bestselling books in history ranking chart (note Rick Warren is nowhere near #1):

    https://amos37.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/BestSellingRankingListinHistory.pdf

    This marketing fraud, counterfeit commerce, false advertising is the poster child of fake news.

    And here is God’s word for these false teachers, deceivers, and defrauders of their brethren:

    “You shall not circulate a false report.” Exodus 23:1:

    And do we obey the Apostle Paul’s command in Ephesians to “expose the deeds of darkness”? Or do we conceal the deeds of darkness, so that multitudes more can be both financially and spiritually defrauded and deceived?

    Kindest regards in Christ,

    James Sundquist
    Eaglemasterworksproductions.com

    Like

    • Clarke Morledge

      James, You raise a good point regarding truthfulness in advertising. Please allow me to make a few observations:

      (1) Measuring book sales is a notoriously difficult thing to do. It is not like someone is standing outside of the door of every Barnes and Nobles, clicking their counters when a particular book sale is made. Every publisher has their own method of counting book sales, and Christian publishers are not exempt from this. To your point, Christian book sellers should indeed stop making inflated claims about their books, that can not be substantiated.

      (2) Authors have relatively little control of what goes on the jacket of a book published by a major publisher. Once an author signs a contract with a book publisher, you pretty much relinquish some of your ability to control the book’s content. The only way to rectify this is to self-publish, which is an expensive undertaking.

      (3) This would not be the first time that an unverified claim makes it into a published book jacket. In reading your website, it looks like your primary concern is about the biblical integrity of Rick Warren’s message, and not the ethics of Christian book publishing. Having not actually read _Purpose Driven Life_ myself, I can not really comment much further. What I do know is that many Christians have been blessed by his writings.

      (4) As I hope I made clear in the blog post, my main concern is not in trying to defend Rick Warren. I have no dog in this race, at that level. My main concern is this persistent idea that leading evangelical leaders are promoting so-called “Chrislam,” when they are simply calling for a loving outreach to Muslims, without needlessly demonizing all Muslims as terrorists. Christians and Muslims do share some common beliefs, but they also theologically conflict in some essential areas. Looking for common ground with Muslims is not “Chrislam.” It just part of trying to build on having a fruitful relationship with Muslims, so that they might be won to Jesus.

      So, I appreciate and agree with your desire for integrity on the book sales. You should contact Zondervan, if you have not done so already, and let them know about your concerns.

      As far as going after Rick Warren, I think there are bigger and more important fish to fry…

      Like

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