A false prophet field day

RELATED STORY: Click to read about Rick Warren and the birth of Chrislam…

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” 2 Peter 2:1,2

When an Orange County Register article about Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church’s mission to heal differences between evangelical Christians and Muslims was published, many of America’s Christians saw it as more evidence of Warren’s blurry vision of “Chrislam,” a blending of Christianity and Islam, despite his repeated denials.

The Feb. 23 article identified Saddleback documents that spell out the similarities between Christianity and Islam, saying that one document co-authored by Jihad Turk of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group in Los Angeles and Abraham Meulenberg, pastor of Interfaith Outreach at Saddleback, claims the two religions “worship the same God.”

While many supporters of Warren insist that claims in the article are false, both the Register reporter and an editor at the Register told WND that Saddleback Church leadership confirmed that the article was “factually accurate.”

“Folks at Saddleback initially made but then withdrew a request for a clarification to the story’s first paragraph,” Jim Hinch told WND in an email. “Instead of the words ‘Muslims and Christians worship the same God’ they wanted the story to read ‘Muslims and Christians believe that God is one.’ The rest of the story, they said, is factually accurate.”

Calls and emails to Rick Warren were not returned.

Despite his staff’s acknowledgement to the Register that the article is factually accurate, Warren denied claims in the article by pointing the finger at the reporter for “getting it wrong.”

“This is an example of why I always doubt what I read in newspapers and blogs about ministries,” Warren said in a statement sent to church members. “Secular reporters trying to cover churches and theological issues often get it wrong,” he said.

“But then Christian bloggers, instead of contacting the ministry, blindly believe, quote and repost the errors made by secular reporters. Then those errors become permanent, searchable, and global on the Internet,” he continued.

“I couldn’t count the number of times a secular reporter has gotten a story about Saddleback wrong but then it is perpetuated by Christians who never fact-check. And the three factors I mentioned about the Internet make it impossible to correct all the misperceptions, and outright lies that get repeated over and over.”

Hinch, who has worked as a senior editor at Guideposts as well as a religion reporter at the Register, tells WND that numerous pastors at Saddleback were contacted about his article, and each one of them told him Warren would not be made available for comment for this particular story.

One pastor even emailed Hinch to say, “leadership decided they don’t want the work of King’s Way to be published.” “King’s Way” is a document that was a central focus of the Register story. The document was unveiled at Saddleback Church in December to an interfaith audience of more than 300 Muslims and Christians, and reportedly was co-authored by Meulenberg and Turk.

At the dinner, the five-page document was introduced through a slide presentation and outlined similarities between the two religions. Under the heading “A Path to End the 1,400 Years of Misunderstanding Between Muslims and Christians,” the presentation included Bible verses and Quran verses side by side, identifying how the God for both religions are one in the same.

One example included a reference to “Who we believe in” followed by, “God is the Creator – Genesis 1:1, Al Shura 42:11″

Those two passages:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

“The originator of the heavens and the earth…” – Al Shura 42:11

Another example identified “God is One,” followed by “Mark 12:29, Muhammed 47:19″

Those are:

“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear O’ Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” – Mark 12:29

“So know that there is no Diety except Allah” – Muhammed 47:19

Hinch tells WND that he obtained a copy of the “King’s Way” document from a confidential source on the condition that it not be published in its entirety. He said, “The document, which was given to me by a source for this story on condition it not be published in its entirety, outlines several areas of theological agreement between Christians and Muslims and commits members of both faiths to three goals: becoming friends; making peace; and sharing ‘the blessings of God’ with others.”

“The Register story based the phrases ‘same God’ and ‘one God’ on the phrasing in this document, which states that Christians and Muslims believe in one God,” he said. WND’s repeated requests to Saddleback for a copy of the document went unanswered. After the Register article was published, Warren issued a statement via a Christian Post reporter in an interview format.

Warren said, “A few days ago, an article appeared in the Orange County Register that included some outrageous statements about Saddleback that were incorrect. “Of course, the media rarely gets everything right, and there’s no way we could respond to every false statement made about us. But I felt this article created so many misperceptions that I agreed to do an interview in response…”

The interviewer also asked Warren if people of other religions worship the same God as Christians, to which Warren replies, “Of course not. Christians have a God that is unique.” Steve McConkey, of bigworldwatch.com, a news gathering site, says of Warren’s response to the article, “A person should not say one thing one time and another thing later and then blame the reporter.

“The problem that we have is that he has a case of doublespeak. Warren denies the Orange County Register article’s contents, but the document he signed ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ says differently,” says McConkey.

McConkey is referring to a much publicized 2007 document, which according to the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, was signed by Warren, among many others considered to be Christian leaders, that within the first few lines says:

“…many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors. Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”

The lengthy document then outlines how both Muslims and Christians serve “one God,” and makes an argument that the two are one in the same, much like the “King’s Way” document unveiled in December at Saddleback Church.

It is that perspective that other Christians have called “Chrislam.” Saddleback and Warren declined numerous WND attempts to speak about the issue. But in the Christian Post, he responded.

There he’s asked, “Are you promoting Chrislam?” “Of course not. It’s the lie that won’t die,” he said.

Yet his staff has acknowledged the Register article is correct, he had a role in the “King’s Way” document, he signed “Common Word,” and he even traveled to Syria earlier.

The Register story mentions that both Turk and Dr. Gwynn Guibord serve an organization called Christian-Muslim Consultative Group.

WND reached Dr. Guibord regarding her interview with Jim Hinch. In his interview she states that her group has avoided inviting evangelical churches to join their endeavor to “foster relationships between churches and mosques” but is now changing that opinion because “Saddleback’s effort is unprecedented.” source – WND

RELATED STORY: Click to read about Rick Warren and the birth of Chrislam…