Richard Abanes is a man I’m proud to have made the acquaintance with personally. He’s a really nice guy–laid back, but he’s really good at discussions and debates. As I look back on my lunch with him two months ago, I can just picture the scene:
Two round tables stuck together in an open-air, covered food court. All of my friends wanted to hear what kind of tough questions I would ask Richard, so they all gathered around. All week they’d heard me talk about “Rick Warren’s apologist” and at least a hundred times I had to tell them what an apologist was and why in the world Rick Warren needed one. And finally I was there with the man who had gained my respect with his great defense of Warren on Challies.com and with his style of writing that I found intriguing, and easy to follow. The weather was perfect. Live music in the background. Friends all gathered eating.
We opened up the discussion with the Purpose Driven Life (after a few autographs were signed–I think I made Rich a celebrity in one day.) He explained things well. I asked him what his view on sin and hell was, and well as Rick Warren’s view. I asked him about Bible translations. I talked to him about Ray Comfort. About Harry Potter. About Saddleback. About his then upcoming book. About the Gospel.
(You know Rich…where was your wife? I noticed she wasn’t there.)
I left feeling a lot better about the Purpose Driven Life. I left believing it was a great book (yeah…I, know…HERETIC!!!!) with some mistakes. But no mistakes that would bring me to call Rick Warren a “Satanist” and “New Age fanatic” out to take over the world. Nothing could bring me to take low shots at Abanes for defending the book. But I saw that happening on the web. We talked about it, and I expressed my disgust at those who seemed out to get Rick and Richard, going way too far in their disagreement over the Purpose Driven Life.
I’ll be honest. I could have decided to be against Abanes. I went into my discussions with somewhat of a critical attitude towards the PDL. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t “lovey-dovey” about it. I wanted to hold the book under intense light. I wanted to find the truth, and take everything Abanes said and hold it under God’s truth, the Bible.
“But no!!! You got caught HOOK LINE AND SINKER by Abanes and his spiel!!! How could you?!?!?!”
Tim Challies criticisms have, unfortunately, turned into people like Ingrid Schlueter and Deborah Dombrowski. They’ve gone way to far. And all the “Rick Warren is a Satanist” commenters deserve to be banned from the internet. This makes the discussion uncivil. We don’t need that in the body of Christ. They aren’t looking at both sides of the issue, which could be slightly resolved if they were like Tim Challies. He looked at both sides of the argument. He did the right thing.
Rick Warren is a Christian. I believe that. Richard Abanes is one as well. And they’ve made mistakes, just as you have. Don’t make yourself look better than them. When we make ourselves heroes because we’re being “attacked” by the enemy (Abanes) on the Internet, it’s wrong.
I was once called “pundiculous.” I think those who trash Abanes and Warren (going beyond heart-felt criticism) need to be called “Ri(ck)diculous.” I don’t like seeing low shots being taken by people who continue to call Rick Warren a Satanist and New Ager. That’s absurd. It’s like left-wingers who say 9/11 was rigged and Bush was out to kill thousands. These are just some of the statements made by those on a holy war against Rich and Rick. They believe they’re in it for the money or whatever. They’ve got their conspiracy theories and trash lines. It’s like reading Daily Kos gone Christian when I visit the comments sections of Challies and Slice of Laodicea.
Look at some of this stuff:
“This guy is a jerk and a jerk is a jerk under any name,” says gmax1, “A review of the site in question with pictures of himself every where shows a man truly in love with himself. But you have hit a nerve. Abanes shows his true colors and proves by his actions that the spirit that moves him is certainly not the Holy Spirit.”
“Perhaps richard abanes overcompensates for his lack of education by being the bully,” says another,” remember the kids who would do something mean to someone and then state, “It was just a joke!” i hope abanes searches his heart to see if what he did on his blog is really a way to honor God. he covers for himself by telling people to lighten up or by being snide. sometimes sarcasm is a coverup for a person’s own hurt or need to be superior. i think abanes is a good person to ignore.”
And on her radio show, Ingrid did not stop the host from saying that Richard Abanes was plagarizing her site by using the same template. She let the host say that he stole her artwork, etc. Never stopped him.
The theories and attacks are totally absurd. The majority are easily crushed by Rich and his defense. Most don’t want to deal with him because he’s so good.
So I stand behind Abanes in his defense of Rick Warren personally.
Think about it: when we go to get information, we go to the source. The way I see it, Abanes is as close to the source as we can get. That’s why I enjoy reading his books, and his defense. I must say, he does an admiral job amidst the anti-Warren mob that can be found at Challies and Ingrid’s site.
There is no call to attack Rick Warren personally. He’s made mistakes. So have you. But attacking him as a person is wrong.
I disagree with the presentation of the gospel in the PDL. I believe it should have been written to believers only, and not for unbelievers. A big topic, but not enough to make me call someone a Satanist.
I see that Richard has produced a book that holds his views, and is pointing people towards it so that he doesn’t have to debate 5 days a week on Challies’ forums and comments sections. But people are taking cheap shots at him by twisting his words. Of course, they’d claim the same thing in their case, saying that Abanes is twisting their words.
But, again, I stand by Richard and his defense against those only out to attack Rick Warren. I don’t support Rick’s presentation of the gospel, but I don’t believe that he needs to be called a “Satanist” and totally against God’s Word. He’s not perfect, and I don’t think he’s ever said he is. But when you go out of your way to attack someone and construe their words, and exaggerate their actions, it’s wrong. We need to stop tearing the body of Christ apart with this.
There is no need to go on an all-out campaign to attack and tear apart Rick Warren and those who believe the PDL holds many good truths.
“NO THEY DON’T!!! THEY ARE BLATANTLY AGAINST GOD’S WORD!!! YOU’RE FOLLOWING A WOLF IN SHEEPS CLOTHING”
Three words: No I’m not.
First off, I have disagreements in the directed audience of the Purpose Driven Life. I had hoped that it had been targeted to believers…if that had been the case I would be an all-out promoter. But it does not do a good enough job for non-believers. For believers, it’s great (but really California…I think that California stuff is part of the root issue…things are different there…maybe that’s it…maybe it’s because we’re not from California??? Could it be???).
But a lot of those who criticize the Purpose Driven Life are ex-New Agers…many of which are extra sensitive to anything that even remotely resembles New Age. They see something that reminds them of New Age and jump to conclusions. That’s going too far.
The debate over “seeker-friendly” is another matter. Changing the gospel is wrong. If that’s what’s happening, the church is in grave error. But from what I heard from Abanes…I heard the gospel. He knows the gospel. Rick Warren knows and preaches the gospel. The gospel is in the PDL (though too hard to find for non-believers in my opinion).
I think we put ourselves in non-believers shoes and look at the PDL. When we see it through their eyes, we say “Wow…this is seeker-friendly.” That’s why I don’t think the targeted audience should include non-believers. But it is, and that’s where problems arise for most.
But going beyond that is unfair. Hooking Rick Warren up with New Agers? Calling him a Satanist? Wishing Tim Challies was going to hell for letting Abanes have a voice? Come on now, that’s not a Christian attitude.
I believe that if Dombrowski and Ingrid Schlueter were really looking for the truth, they would do as Challies did. Listen.
Ingrid Schlueter would have Abanes on her radio show, or she would have pro-Rick Warren callers. She would present both sides and decide. Dombrowski would do something similar.
The anti-Rick Warren mob of commenters would sit back for just a second. Weigh things out. And respond with Christian love. With Scripture. They’d show that they really are for the truth, and show it in their words and actions.
And all of us must agree with one thing in the book: We all have a purpose (yeah…without one would you want to live?).
Let’s get this “war” turned back into a discussion. Let’s not be Rickdiculous. Let’s be like Christ. Take the ear-plugs off, and let’s discuss this.
“I can recommend this book only to discerning readers. There is certainly some value in the book, but in my opinion the bad outweighs the good. I would certainly not use this as an introduction to Christianity or as a means of reaching unbelievers.”
“Things are not always as they seem. God will bring the hidden things to light.”
— Deborah Dombrowski on my site.
‘”Welcome to the family of God!” Comes all too soon.’
Rick Warren: Good or Bad? by Tim Sweetman (Virtue Magazine)