I was away when Rick Warren’s Saddleback forum aired. Brett McKracken, managing editor of Biola magazine, gives the Pros and Cons of Rick Warren as the new James Dobson. This blog has all the videos of it together and links to the transcripts, near as I can tell. Personally, I continue to be disgusted that Evangelicals feel they have every right to help the nation decide who to vote for. I find it offensive that Rick Warren would use so much money getting his name and church on the major networks—for Jesus. There are no little sit-downs with Presidential Candidates. To call yourself their personal friends right before the candidate’s perspective Party conventions is a power play, plain and simple.
I’d like to address Rick Warren’s use of the word Worldview. At the very beginning of the forum he says that faith and worldview are the same thing. That’s just dead wrong. He then asks the candidates about their faith in terms of worldview. The idea of Worldview is actually a philosophical construct. It is very old and yet Evangelicals have coined the term so closely to faith, that Rick Warren has here actually made the two one. The original word in German is Weltanschauung. Faith is not a perspective. Faith has an object: God. Faith is nothing without its object. This is very important. In a terribly ad hoc, sloppy manner, Rick Warren here turns faith into a way of seeing the world in order to identify with a presidential candidate. That’s just sick. I don’t believe I’m just haggling over words here. Theology and Philosophy, while both relating to cognitive belief, are distinct. In blurring the lines Rick Warren is really out of line.
I first read about the forum in the Dallas Morning News, in an article titled, “McCain, Obama share their views on evil, marriage, abortion at faith forum.” The article describes the differences in candidate response to the question: “At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?” This question is what this whole forum will be remembered by. Here’s the video. The question falls at 3:48. Look at Obama’s total answer. I don’t care for his reply to this direct question, but he does give a thorough apologetic for the Democratic Party position. No surprise. His point that abortions have not decreased under President Bush is an important one, but I think it has been ignored.
For John McCain on the other hand, the crowd gave him a twelve second ovation in reply to the answer: “At the moment of human conception.” Does this question not seem framed to give them what they want to hear? Here’s the video, the same question on abortion starts at 3:15:
His actual reply after the applause was short and (for Republicans) sweet. “I have had a pro-life record for years.” Enough said. But is it really enough? Are pro-life politicians really delivering? Have they overturned Roe v. Wade? Have the made life better for babies, for children or for mothers seeking abortions? The question was about human rights. Obama seemed to say that it was a large question. McCain parsed code words. I don’t think either candidate dealt with the question, because I don’t think the question was as deep as it pretended to be.
The Dallas Morning News typified it all by giving Richard Land the last word on Obama and McCain:
“I’ll take a third-class fireman over a first-class arsonist,” said Mr. Land.
And there you have it folks. Once again Evangelicals are given a pass on having to think. The right candidate again, drumroll please, is Republican. What a surprise. And in the name of bipartisan friendship Rick Warren does with a smile and an awww shucks demeanor what cold old Jim Dobson can’t do anymore—give Evangelicals a reason to vote on solely on abortion.
What would have been the better approach? Let people make up their own mind! Dissolve this stupid thing called “the Evangelical vote” altogether. Stop playing politics along with the world and just be a Christian. Voting for the President is actually the least important thing we can do as political people. Loving God and our neighbors is the most important. At best Saddleback’s forum was a distraction. At worst it was a tool for political power for the Religious Right.
One last funny note though, at one point (McCain video 2, :24 in) Warren says that he invited a couple hundred thousand of his personal friends to send in questions. Maybe THIS understanding of the words “personal friends” is how we should understand it every time he says it! So when he calls Obama and McCain personal friends he means the same thing. EVERYONE is a personal friend. Well, as a “personal friend” to Rick Warren, let me say this:
“Please pick your friends better Rick. Not everyone is really your friend. It doesn’t help us to understand friendship, or people, when everyone is a friend. . . . just as it doesn’t help us understand faith when you blur it with Worldview.”