Thursday, November 16, 2006


My instincts were right! Not that it really matters to you who read this blog, but let me explain. I was going to blog today about Rick Warren and his trip to Syria. Putting aside differences of theology and approach, I was going to blog about cautioning people before they make assumptions based on press releases that come from places like Syria. Yesterday there was a firestorm of information coming from Syria and bloggers about Rick Warren. The Syrian releases described Warren as critical of America and the war. Bloggers and commentators went to Warren like dogs on red meat. My first instinct was why would you believe a Syrian press release, it is obviously propaganda. Warren is what he is and he is not government diplomat, nor is he someone who makes it his business to be a Sean Penn type activist traveling the globe criticizing our President and his policies.

Today Warren has been able to communicate with his congregation where he has said exactly what I thought, he did not criticize anyone in our government. He is on a trip where he is teaching Purpose Driven preaching seminars ( now that is where I could wholeheartedly disagree on theological grounds) to pastors around the world. He visited Syria as a favor to his neighbor who one day in their backyard asked him to sometime visit his homeland. What Warren did do is thank the President of Syria for his allowing freedom of Christianity there. You might be surprised to read this quote taken from Warrens letter to his church

"You may be surprised to know that Christianity is legal in Syria, that the government provides free electricity and water to all churches, allows pastors to buy a car tax-free (a tax break not given to Imams), appoints pastors as Christian judges to handle Christian cases, and allowed Christians to create their own civil law instead of having to follow the laws for Muslims. One city we visited, Malula, is two-thirds Christian. Every Christian I met with expressed gratitude to the government for protecting their right to worship. Honestly, that shocked me."

Franklin Graham when asked by Warren what to say to the President of Syria, advised him to thank him for allowing freedom of religion. So we learn today again that things are not as they are first reported and you must go beyond the headline and primary source the material. I am no Warren fan or apologist but the fury of quick criticism of him was a shame and unfair. It is a warning to all of us who write blogs and articles and speak in the media to be careful to have the facts before we react. It is a warning to all that we are responsible to have the facts before we speak. God tells us in His word that a fool speaks quickly and is quick to give an opinion and even a fool is considered wise if he remains silent. If you looked in my Bible those passages have been highlighted so many times they are rainbow in color. Let us be careful to research and think before we make assessments that make someone like Rick Warren out to be a radical who is out to subvert the policies of America!

blog you later,
pastor tom