Rick Warren Exploits Son’s Death to Attack Critics
I had promised myself not to write anything critical of Rick Warren in the wake of his son’s tragic and untimely death. My heart goes out to him and his family during this incredibly sad time.
So, what could possibly prompt me to write anything about him in less than a week after his horrific personal tragedy? It was his weekly email newsletter that he sends out to Pastors.com members. In it was featured an article by Beth Moore titled “Beth Moore: Sadness and Madness”.
In her article, Moore actually uses the tragedy of Warren’s son’s death to attack Warren’s theological critics. While I thought it would be appropriate to wait at least a couple of weeks before writing anything about Warren, Moore decided to use his son’s death to silence his critics in less than a week after his death. And Rick Warren himself*, thought it was appropriate to include it in this week’s newsletter.
In her article Moore tells how she learned of Matthew Warren’s death and how she, like all of us, was stricken with sadness at the news. She goes on to relate that as the afternoon wore on, the sadder she got, the madder she got. She got mad at the “astonishing satanic force that stoops viciously and swoops in unscrupulously to attack children and to prey on their weaknesses as they grow up.”
But then she takes a bizarre turn, using the tragedy of Matthew Warren’s death to call on Christians to stop attacking Rick Warren. And by “attack”, one can only assume she means those of us who criticize Warren’s theology and teachings. Suddenly, she goes from talking about sadness and madness over Matthew’s death to talking about people she calls “bullies in the body of Christ”.
“And then, in that mixture of emotions Saturday afternoon, I got madder and madder at the bullies in the Body of Christ. I thought how much it turns out that the Warrens have been through personally and, if they are like most leaders, all the while putting out fires and putting up with a bunch of trash-talk from people who would call the same Jesus Lord.” (emphasis mine)It is true that many secular people “talk trash” about Rick Warren. Some of the tweets I saw over the weekend were disgusting. They were saying vile and repulsive things about him and his family in the wake of his son’s death. His harshest Christian critics wouldn’t even have such thoughts. Much less express them.
But that’s not who Moore is talking about here. She’s not talking about unbelievers. She’s talking about believers. There are many believers across the world who have serious disagreements with Warren’s positions on a wide variety of theological issues. But let’s recognize that she is talking about the most prominent Christian critics. There would be no need for her to waste her time on people no one has ever heard of.
Since the prominent ones are known, I can say that they have always in my experience, been kind and never attacked Warren personally. I’ve even seen many of them post their sincere condolences to the Warren family in the last few days. No matter what our theological differences, we all grieve when something this tragic happens to anyone. None of them have used the death of Matthew Warren to launch any kind of attacks on Rick Warren. None of Warren’s prominent Christian critics have stooped that low. But Beth Moore has, and now the Warren organization has – because they published and promoted her article - just four days after Matthew’s death.
I’ve never once seen any of these prominent Christian brothers and sisters “trash talk” Warren. They take principled, and defensible Biblical stands against his positions – which is not the same as personally attacking, name calling or insulting. It’s not an insult or an attack to disagree with someone. But these are the people Beth Moore is calling “bullies in the Body of Christ”, for simply stating publicly where and why they disagree with Warren. In fact, calling these people bullies is a worse slur and a more virulent personal attack, than Warren’s Christian critics ever use against him.
Maybe Beth Moore should take Rick Warren’s own advice when he recently said, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Moore though goes on to insult and slander these Christian brothers and sisters who disagree with Warren on various issues with the following quotes:
“Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ. We are called to carry one another’s burdens, not pile relentlessly on top of them.”It sounds like Beth Moore is guilty of making her own caricatures and depersonalizing Warren’s critics as she mocks and slanders them – at will.
“I’m sick of the bullying. The mud-slinging and the meanness. I’m sick of careless, idle words thrown out there in the public square and professing believers in Christ standing on the necks of their own brothers and sisters to sound smart and superior. As if it’s not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we’ve got to have our own hater-Christians. It’s insane.”
“When we turn people into caricatures, everything’s game. The moment we depersonalize them, our consciences harden and we can mock and slander at will and have a blast doing it. Snide blogs and tweets and Facebook posts about various leaders can also be effective ways to jump in their spotlight. Bullies aren’t just mean. They’re self-serving. They’re platform-hunting. They have to borrow one to perform.”
“The Warrens will come forth like gold. The enemy will not win.”
Let’s break those quotes down and look at what all she has called Warren’s critics. She has called them:
- Mud slingers
- Self seeking
- Self serving
Even more stunning is that this all came from a woman who is writing an article calling on people to stop the name calling and stop the hate.
You have to wonder why the death of Matthew Warren suddenly filled Beth Moore with such rage against Warren’s critics. It seems sadness at Matthew’s death might rather have filled her thoughts.
Personally, I was repulsed by this article. I couldn’t believe that she and the Warren organization would ever, much less so quickly (in less than a week), exploit Warren’s son’s death as an excuse to call for a pity party. And as an excuse to engage in hateful and slanderous rhetoric against people of faith who have legitimate theological disagreements with Warren.
It really shows how threatened Warren and his church and supporters must feel that there are Christians in the world who dare to criticize his theological teachings. To exploit the death of his own son, just four days after his death, and to use it to make an emotional appeal to silence his critics is a desperate and despicable act.
*If you were thinking Rick Warren may not have known about this as he is grieving, it turns out not only did he know about it, but he wholeheartedly approved of it. He tweeted this nine hours ago where he praised Moore for it: