Today when my issue of TIME magazine arrived in the mail, it was a surprise to see Rick Warren’s mug on the front. The cover blurb says: “The Purpose Driven Pastor – Rick Warren – America’s most powerful religious leader takes on the world.” You can read it online here.
The article’s writer, David Van Biema, is gentler than most of Warren’s critics. I guess this might be because most of Warren’s antagonists are either jealous Christian leaders or venomously anti-Christian angry people, and Van Biema appears to be neither. But even so I found myself highly irritated by the end of the article. I know I should be more patient and gracious, but I can’t stand watching people who are working hard to make the world a better place get attacked by people who find it easier to shoot down someone else’s dream rather than chase after their own. Van Biema writes of Warren:
“Is he oversubscribed? I ask him how many countries there are in the world. Of course, he knows: ‘There’s 195 countries.’ I think, 195 countries, and so far, even one seems to be a challenge [referring to Rwanda].”
He goes on to conclude by comparing Warren’s upcoming appearance with Barack Obama and John McCain as his “coronation,” then compares him to King David and suggests that the real trouble begins after the coronation. Maybe Van Biema was just trying to come up with some angle for his story, as his writing really isn’t convincing. Still, it’s a weak and cynical angle.
Actually, I couldn’t help laughing at the startlingly premature judgment of Warren’s PEACE plan. So there are 195 countries, and after only a couple years he hasn’t already fulfilled the plan on a global perspective? My, my–it’s obviously doomed to failure. I’m glad that Warren and other people who have changed the world for good refuse to listen to the naysayers who find destruction easier than construction.
Having said all that, there were some entertaining parts of the article, brought on by a secular writer’s unintentionally humorous depictions of Christian concepts. They’re easy to spot by the quotes, as in a shift away from “sin issues,” or his father was a “church planter.” After putting “church planter” in quotes, Van Biema defines the term as a “serial church founder.” My friend Daryl, who’s a church planter, called while I was reading the article. I couldn’t resist informing him that he’s a serial church founder. He said it made him sound like a criminal.
Even though the article could have been better, it’s still an informative read. I would only say to Rick Warren: Press on, brother, and pay no attention to the little minds who would have you abandon your noble intentions to trade them in for pessimistic self-absorption.