I hate bringing Rick Warren up just because I’ve gotten so beat up over the issue in the past. To tell you the truth, it brings back bad memories of me trying to be a peacemaker and getting walloped for it. All I was trying to say was that we need to stick to criticizing with grace and not with venom.
But I digress. Now Rick Warren is doing something that completely dumbfounded me. He is going to be preaching in North Korea. Yeah, that’s right, the place that decided it would be a little funny to shoot off their own fireworks for the the fourth of the July.
Rick Warren’s popular “The Purpose-Driven Life” â€“ the Christian bestseller credited by many last year with playing a role in convincing an Atlanta courthouse-shooting suspect to surrender after his murderous rampage and to release his hostage â€“ may be put to an even tougher test next year when the Southern California preacher holds the first evangelical stadium crusade in 60 years in North Korea.
Warren, who is on a 40-day, 13-nation tour, will visit Kaesong on July 17 to plan for the March 2007 crusade after being invited by a group of North Korean businessmen who visited him at his Saddleback Church’s Lake Forest office last month.
“I will be the first preacher in 60 years to speak publicly in North Korea,” Warren told the Orange County Register. “I’m honored.”
He said the North Korean government would allow him to preach in a stadium seating 15,000 but a larger venue would be provided if he could fill the seats.
There are a few issues I have here. First of all, some people will remember Billy Graham’s visit to communist Russia in the eighties and returning to say that there wasn’t as much persecution as he thought. And all of the KGB giggled. Well, they did in their head at least. The fact of the matter was, Billy didn’t see what was really happening. He saw what the communists wanted him to see. And you can be certain that is what Rick Warren is going to see and he will probably return saying “what’s wrong with North Korea? What persecution?”
What is he going to preach? He can’t preach repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone – he’d be kicked out. In fact, I wonder why his message is so appealing. The gospel, really, isn’t something that the communists would be wanting their itching ears to hear. Will his message be that you can have a better life even in communism? Is he going to preach that Jesus will fix their persecution? Their pain? He has a wonderful plan for their life?
But I’m done being cynical. Now I need to say some other things.
First of all, this is amazing that anyone related to the Christian faith will have an opportunity like this. It’s amazing that an American is actually going into this country. I personally would not go just to show them that we don’t stand for smarty pants communists. But putting that aside, this is an amazing opportunity for Warren, and it could possibly save some of our lives. But I doubt the communists are worried about a revival.
“This is a Satanic regime,” Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, told Chad Groening of American Family Radio, “and to go in there and believe that you could actually preach freely is an illusion. It won’t do anything to help the church. It will only put the true church at risk, and it will be used as a propaganda piece by the Kim Jong Il regime.”
Secondly, I have yet to hear Warren preach on the gospel. I believe he is saved, but he just hasn’t learned that the gospel is the center and the focus. It’s not about a wonderful plan for your life (at least not his definition). The gospel must be our purpose – it must be what drives us to do and be what we are. If it is not, then I would question my faith.
Before I end, though, I need to rebuke a fellow believer by suggesting that Rick Warren in the anti-Christ. I’m sorry, Mrs. Schleuter, but that’s not right.
I mean this sincerely and from the heart. Rick Warren’s presence in North Korea, just as its insane dictator Kim Jong II is promising to launch more long range missile tests, is no accident. Rick Warren can then become an international “Man of Peace” and will be in even greater demand among heads of state to bring peace and stability to a violent world. Just like a messiah (false) would.
And I mean my comments sincerely and from my heart. I pray that you will not look for only the bad, but expose the good sometimes.