Acton Institute Powerblog

Warren on the Faith-Based Initiative

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In a wide-ranging interview with Christianity Today, Rick Warren discussed his view of the new vision for the faith-based initiative. Here’s that Q&A:

Have you paid attention to the new faith-based initiatives released by President Obama and Joshua DuBois focusing on the four issues of responsible fatherhood, reducing unintended pregnancies, increasing interfaith dialogue, and reducing poverty?

Those are great goals. My fear is that if all of a sudden you have to compromise your convictions to be part of the faith base, that will kill it. People will simply ignore it. Saddleback has never accepted government money for any peace Plan project because we don’t want the strings attached to it. While the faith-based initiatives have great promise, if it becomes an issue where you can’t just hire Christians in a Christian school, that will effectively kill them.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Ken

    Next week I’ll be at the NCEA [National Catholic Education Assoc] convention in Anaheim, California — think Disneyland — where on at least one occasion someone will speak to the subject of “getting your fair share of the stimulus bill” insofar as federal eduction spending is concerned. The Faith-based initiative stuff is ‘fruit” from the same tree.

    Rick Warren is a very prolific guy whose books have sold “big time” but I have been pretty consistent in my avoidance of mega preachers be they Warren or Robert Schuler and his Crystal Cathedral. Years ago our children’s church choir joined with other regional choirs for a combined appearance at the Crystal Cathedral service. Hymns are displayed on huge tron screens [so is the sermon’s text]. Afterward our “liturgically accustomed” young people asked, “where was the church part.”

    I think the quoted phrase in Jordon’s introduction above means that Warren feels the initiatives will fall by the wayside if Christians can’t “hire Christians in a Christian school.” Warren is delusional — hasn’t followed lawsuits against the Boy Scouts — as to Obama’s agenda here. And the gate keepers will not allow the program to end just because some “Christians” choose to avoid it. The gate keepers will pick the “Christians” who are willing to abide by the Obama read on faith and works.

    The truth of what I write is my opening paragraph. A Catholic School Convention helping to facilitate access to federal funds that will effectively alter the way the schools do business. The serpent is in the tent!

    In the full Q&A Pastor Warren says some interesting things. Asked about his invitation to the inauguration Warren tells us of the heat he has taken for his stand on marriage and the reaction from homosexual groups to his participation at the event in January. He even scandalously uses a metaphor.

    “I made a commitment to say nothing to the press about it until after the inauguration. For nearly 40 days or 50 days — I called it 40 days of persecution (laughs) — I took all kinds of flak and never responded back.
    The only response that I made was, I wrote an e-mail to all of the gay leaders that I know. I have many friends who are gay leaders whom we’ve worked with on AIDS campaign on health, poverty, and disease. The guys that I knew, I apologized to them.”

    In this age of apologies this one is not surprising. But why does Warren feel he need apologize? The word means “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense.” That seems to make a wobbly charade of Warren’s previously stated adherence to Biblical marriage. He apologized for having a belief. What kind of a leader is this?

    Later on he gives hint to his need to pick up Archbishop Chaput’s little blue book Render Unto Caesar and inwardly digest its message of responsibility of Christians in the public square with this statement: “I’m not a policymaker, I’m not a pundit. In fact, I don’t have any interest in it. It’s not on my agenda…. I don’t have to agree with you and you don’t have to agree with me on everything, but I’m not insisting that you compromise your beliefs.”

    He doesn’t have to. He’s already compromised his.