Rick Warren, Again

July 8, 2006 — 5 Comments

I hate bringing Rick Warren up just because I’ve gotten so beat up over the issue in the past. To tell you the truth, it brings back bad memories of me trying to be a peacemaker and getting walloped for it. All I was trying to say was that we need to stick to criticizing with grace and not with venom.

But I digress. Now Rick Warren is doing something that completely dumbfounded me. He is going to be preaching in North Korea. Yeah, that’s right, the place that decided it would be a little funny to shoot off their own fireworks for the the fourth of the July.

Rick Warren’s popular “The Purpose-Driven Life” – the Christian bestseller credited by many last year with playing a role in convincing an Atlanta courthouse-shooting suspect to surrender after his murderous rampage and to release his hostage – may be put to an even tougher test next year when the Southern California preacher holds the first evangelical stadium crusade in 60 years in North Korea.

Warren, who is on a 40-day, 13-nation tour, will visit Kaesong on July 17 to plan for the March 2007 crusade after being invited by a group of North Korean businessmen who visited him at his Saddleback Church’s Lake Forest office last month.

“I will be the first preacher in 60 years to speak publicly in North Korea,” Warren told the Orange County Register. “I’m honored.”

He said the North Korean government would allow him to preach in a stadium seating 15,000 but a larger venue would be provided if he could fill the seats.

There are a few issues I have here. First of all, some people will remember Billy Graham’s visit to communist Russia in the eighties and returning to say that there wasn’t as much persecution as he thought. And all of the KGB giggled. Well, they did in their head at least. The fact of the matter was, Billy didn’t see what was really happening. He saw what the communists wanted him to see. And you can be certain that is what Rick Warren is going to see and he will probably return saying “what’s wrong with North Korea? What persecution?”

What is he going to preach? He can’t preach repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone – he’d be kicked out. In fact, I wonder why his message is so appealing. The gospel, really, isn’t something that the communists would be wanting their itching ears to hear. Will his message be that you can have a better life even in communism? Is he going to preach that Jesus will fix their persecution? Their pain? He has a wonderful plan for their life?

But I’m done being cynical. Now I need to say some other things.

First of all, this is amazing that anyone related to the Christian faith will have an opportunity like this. It’s amazing that an American is actually going into this country. I personally would not go just to show them that we don’t stand for smarty pants communists. But putting that aside, this is an amazing opportunity for Warren, and it could possibly save some of our lives. But I doubt the communists are worried about a revival.

“This is a Satanic regime,” Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, told Chad Groening of American Family Radio, “and to go in there and believe that you could actually preach freely is an illusion. It won’t do anything to help the church. It will only put the true church at risk, and it will be used as a propaganda piece by the Kim Jong Il regime.”

Secondly, I have yet to hear Warren preach on the gospel. I believe he is saved, but he just hasn’t learned that the gospel is the center and the focus. It’s not about a wonderful plan for your life (at least not his definition). The gospel must be our purpose – it must be what drives us to do and be what we are. If it is not, then I would question my faith.

Before I end, though, I need to rebuke a fellow believer by suggesting that Rick Warren in the anti-Christ. I’m sorry, Mrs. Schleuter, but that’s not right.

I mean this sincerely and from the heart. Rick Warren’s presence in North Korea, just as its insane dictator Kim Jong II is promising to launch more long range missile tests, is no accident. Rick Warren can then become an international “Man of Peace” and will be in even greater demand among heads of state to bring peace and stability to a violent world. Just like a messiah (false) would.

And I mean my comments sincerely and from my heart. I pray that you will not look for only the bad, but expose the good sometimes.

Tim Sweetman


Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

5 responses to Rick Warren, Again

  1. Interesting. The visit will certainly have some impact–the question is: what type? The North Korean government certainly must know who he is, or else they would not be inviting/allowing him in. So what could their purpose be? Do they want to inspire the North Koreans to live purpose filled live for their government? Who knows. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m going to stay optamistic about the visit-who knows what could happen?

  2. Wow, such hatred from within our church. I’m glad everyone is a know-it-all. Check out the link below: http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/asiatrip/week2.asp

    About preaching the gospel… be careful, If you happened to actually hear Rick once, you would know that his main message is that this life is just a warm-up act for eternity. In my view, he is one of the most heaven-minded men I have ever heard.

  3. Tim,

    I appreciate your passion. But, I have to disagree with you here. I visited Saddleback in 2000. Rick definitely preaches the Gospel. They have baptised over 20,000 people! He has a real passion for lost people. Also, everytime he is on Larry King, he presents the Gospel. I suggest you go hear him in person. I believe he is a Godly man who has a passion to teach what has worked in his church. It is not for everyone, but we need to watch be so critical of other believers.

  4. Kevin,
    I really was just stating the fact that I have not heard Rick Warren preach the gospel…you know, repent and put your faith in Christ. I agree about the church, but I must say that when I went, I was disappointed that they made light of some heavy subjects (I attended the high school meeting.) Also, when their praise team got up to sing, only my youth group sang along…almost as if it was supposed to be entertainment for them and not worship. Who knows…but you will be happy to read the guest post I have today.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Contemplative Spirituality - July 9, 2006

    Rick Warren – Propaganda Tool?…

    Agape Press reports: An activist dedicated to a free North Korea says she doesn’t think it is a good idea for mega-church pastor Rick Warren to accept an invitation to preach in Pyongyang this summer. Recently Warren drew a collective……

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