A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

purpose-driven jealousy: commitment to a free press and the Rick Warren controversy

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 26, 2006

Criticisms of Rick Warren’s visit to Syria earlier this month appear to be dying down in the American Christian press, though i imagine that references to his visit will continue to pop up intermittently in conservative mainstream media news accounts (as an example of why the US should not engage Syria) for some time.

Meanwhile, I found this editorial quality letter to the editor Friday, and was impressed not only with the writer’s clarity and conviction, but also by its publisher: World Net Daily.

World Net Daily describes itself as follows:
“WorldNetDaily.com is an independent newssite created to capitalize on new media technology, to reinvigorate and revitalize the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty, an exponent of truth and justice, an uncompromising disseminator of news.

“WorldNetDaily.com performs this function by remaining faithful to the central role of a free press in a free society: as a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power – the mission envisioned by our founders and protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution.” (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/resources/about_WND.asp)

These are admirable goals. While some of the articles WND publishes make me question whether this “uncompromising disseminator of news” might not have a slant of its own (the Middle East, Arab, and Arab-American themed pieces tend to present Muslims as teachers of jihad, would-be suicide bombers, etc., as a sampling of current headlines suggest: ‘Gutless’ publisher nixes book: might offend Muslims; ‘Hi, my name is Ahmed and I want to be a suicide bomber’; Muslim barber who taught kids jihad flees US; Islamists ‘revere’ Jesus, but still maim and rape), the sincerity of WND’s commitment to uncensored press freedom is proven by its publication of this letter.

Here is the letter:

Is Farah jealous of Rick Warren?

Joseph Farah:

I am a big fan of yours, but I have to respond to your unrelenting and unfair criticism of Rick Warren. I have seen Warren criticized by lots of people for ridiculous reasons having absolutely no basis in fact. You have a few facts on your side, but your criticism is just as unfair. Why do you hate Warren? What spawns your personal animosity toward him? Could it be jealousy of his success as an author? It certainly looks that way to readers of your column. Whatever the reason, you need to examine your own heart to determine what drives you.

You write as if you think Warren had no business traveling to Syria or meeting with the president. You say he put himself in the position of being a “useful idiot.” You are just flat wrong. Warren did not go as a diplomat or politician; he went as a pastor. Rick is trying to build bridges to a culture that desperately needs Christ. As a pastor, it is his calling to reach out to people with the love and gospel of Christ. Christ does not want any “Berlin Walls” keeping people from the gospel, and He does not want you trying to keep the gospel from people in the Middle East.

Honestly, I do not expect Warren will see much success in Syria, but then again I have seen Warren’s faith accomplish a lot more than I thought possible. I know better than to try to tell Warren he will fail. And so what if he does fail? At least he will have been true to his calling. When doing the Lord’s work, nothing done is ever truly in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

You write that Warren betrayed the persecuted believers and Jews living in Syria. That is an indefensible statement. Based on what I know, the term “persecuted” seems a tad shrill. You report that Voice of the Martyrs says Christians in Syria are afraid to evangelize. Obviously, that is not a good situation, but I am not sure I would call it “persecution.” By the way, did VOM say why Syrian Christians are afraid to evangelize? Are they afraid of their government or Muslim extremists? Your reporting does not make this clear. It is my understanding Muslim extremists are the threat, but you seem to be shifting the blame on to the government.

I am not saying Warren did not make any mistakes. Warren has admitted that he wished he had been better prepared for the trip and that he had watched his words more closely. But your criticism of him goes far beyond the limits of fairness.

Attacking Warren for his association to Ted Haggard was clearly off base. You are using a classic “guilt by association” style of argument that is transparently invalid. You could use Haggard to criticize almost every evangelical leader in America. Why single out Warren like this? You are just piling on.

You call on Warren to condemn Syria for its role in the assassination of Pierre Gemayel. I doubt if you will get your wish. Warren sees the Church as the Body of Christ in the world. Jesus said He did not come to judge the world but to save the world (John 12:47). It is certainly the role of politicians to condemn governments involved in murder, but Warren is not a politician. Would you demand that Billy Graham condemn Syria? Or Greg Laurie? Or Charles Stanley? Come on Mr. Farah, at least try to be fair!

Rick Warren is a servant of God. Your criticism of Warren reminds me of Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

Ron Cram

(http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53088)

Joseph Farah is WND’s founder, editor, and CEO. I disagree with the positions he takes in many of his columns, but I admire the commitment to freedom and good journalism evident in his decision to publish a well-written (rather than obviously crack-pot-ish), critical (rather than laudatory) letter as WND’s letter of the week.

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