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Rick Warren® on Larry King, Part 2

We have been reviewing Rick Warren’s recent appearance on Larry King. In Part 1, we discussed Warren’s duet with Wynonna Judd, the cause of AIDS, and his rather novel definition of fear. In this installment, we will learn why we should be optimistic (hint: it starts with a P®), what is wrong with homosexuality, and why we should believe in God.

KING: The late Edward Bennett Williams, a brilliant attorney, one of the smartest men I ever knew, a devout Catholic, used to talk a lot. We'd spend a lot of time together. And I said to him once, "Ed, you're a pessimist." He said, "Of course I'm a pessimist. I'm bright." Isn't it logical?


KING: With all the things you just mentioned why be an optimist?

WARREN: Well, if I didn't have faith in God I would be a pessimist.

KING: Why do you have faith in God?

WARREN: Well, I have faith in God for -- because I see two tracks in life. I used to think life was like hills and valleys that you have a high point and you have a low point, a high point and a low point. I really don't believe that anymore.

What I found is it's like two rails on a train track that there are always good things in your life going on and there are always bad things in your life going on at the exact same time and no matter how bad things are there's something I could thank God for. And, no matter how good things are there's something I need to work on. And so, you don't focus on either track. You focus on the goal.

Here was a great opportunity to introduce the Gospel, or at least to say something Biblical. Instead, we get Warren’s philosophy of life, which happens to include God; or is it really God? Is there a difference between this god and the god the world recognizes? Don’t answer based on what you think Warren believes, answer based on what he says in this interview; because that is all the typical Larry King viewer has to go on.

KING: I'm going to hopscotch a lot of issues with Rick Warren. Back to AIDS and the gay community, you know there are some gay activists who are wary of this sudden evangelical interest in AIDS is the desire to change their sexual preference.


KING: Is it?

WARREN: You know, I actually invited one of the...

KING: It seems hard to do.

WARREN: ...one of the co-founders of Act Up, actually invited him and paid his way to come to the conference. And, I said, "I want you to just check this out." He's not a Christian. I said, "Just come and check us out because I think we deserve the skepticism" and I think he heard me say it's not a sin to be sick.

Now people ask me all the time what do you think about homosexuality, OK? Well, I don't approach it -- I approach it like this. When you look at a female body and you look at a male body it seems that naturally certain parts go together.

KING: It seems that way, therefore how do you explain why someone is homosexual?

WARREN: I don't explain it. I don't explain it.

KING: Well, then that doesn't suffice.

KING: Do you know why women, why you like women, just because the body is shaped differently?

WARREN: Oh, no, I'm sure I know why I like women.

KING: You do?

WARREN: I think -- I think I was wired by God to like women. I think they...

KING: So, what did he do to the gay person, God?

WARREN: I don't know that God did that. I really don't.

KING: You mean he did it to you but he didn't do it to them?

WARREN: You know, Larry, we all have instincts and we all have urges and we all have desires. That doesn't necessarily mean that I fulfill all of them. In other words, as a heterosexual man I might desire to have sex with 100 women. That doesn't mean I do it because that wouldn't be the right thing.

KING: All right, but if you desire another man and you're a man and you're an adult, who are you harming if the two of you agree and it's your life?


KING: It's not Rick Warren's life or Larry King's life. It's their life.

WARREN: Well, again, I would just say I think to me the issue is, is it natural? Is it the natural thing? I mean here's an interesting thing I have to ask. How can you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution and homosexuality at the same time? Now think about this.

If Darwin was right, which is survival of the fittest then homosexuality would be a recessive gene because it doesn't reproduce and you would think that over thousands of years that homosexuality would work itself out of the gene pool.

KING: So, we take the reverse. The creator then approves of it.

WARREN: Well, I believe...

KING: Darwin's wrong. The creator is right. Gays are right.

WARREN: Yes well, of course, I believe that God created one man for one woman for life. A lot of the problems -- as a pastor I've notice that when God gives certain rules they're really for our benefit. They're not because God's capricious or just "I think that I'm going to make your life miserable."

I think they're always for our benefit and when I do certain things God's way I have fewer broken hearts. I have less STDs. I have -- and I'm not just talking about sex. I'm talking about if I followed God's will about the right things about eating, I wouldn't be fat and overweight. I wouldn't, you know, and I -- people say well there are lots of sins. Of course there are. And to me the greatest sin is pride. The Bible tells us that pride is what Satan got kicked out of heaven and so we're all in the same boat.

KING: All right. You used the word natural.


KING: Define it. For example, is it natural to like bananas? I like them. You may not.


KING: Peanut butter, I love peanut butter. I know, I had a daughter, my daughter Chaia never liked peanut butter. Is that natural?

WARREN: No, I think the difference is do you like food or not, not what flavor of food because you can't live without food. Now you can live without sex. It's possible. Lots of people do. So, I wouldn't even put it in the same category. A lot of people live without sex. It's not an essential for life.

Notice how Warren dodges the question about changing the sexual preference of homosexuals. I know how I would have answered that, in a flash. I would have said, “Yes, Larry, when a person is born again by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, he is no longer a slave to sin. The Bible says, ‘If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away, and all things have become new.’ So yes, we believe that God delivers people from the sin of homosexuality.” But I never get invited on Larry King.

We do get the impression that Warren does not approve of homosexuality. Why not? This is what he says:
  • He can’t explain it.
  • it doesn’t seem natural.
  • It’s not God’s way.
  • You’ll have fewer problems if you don’t do it.

He mentions God’s will, but only as that which is best for us. No reference is made to God’s law. Warren’s best argument against homosexuality is an appeal to Darwin. How can Darwinism be true if homosexuality is natural? Alright then, does Warren believe in evolution? I don’t think so, but this puts him in a difficult situation. Do I choose evolution, or homosexuality? Does Scripture have anything to say about it? Yes, it does, but don’t hold your breath until Warren quotes it.

KING: As a bright man there have to be times you doubt. You have to. The world would make you doubt.

WARREN: Oh, sure.

KING: But you don't know. You don't know, know.

WARREN: Right. I think, you know, of course I've been a follower of Jesus Christ for many, many years and I still read the Bible and all the things and go what in the world did God mean by that? Why did he do that?

And, there are some things I doubt. I don't know why God did it, kind of like I finally figured out if I could figure out God, he wouldn't be much of a God. It's kind of like an ant trying to figure out the Internet. I don't think I've got the brain capacity to know why everything happens, in fact...

KING: Then why believe it all?

WARREN: Well, there are a number of reasons for belief. First, there is purpose in life. The alternative to belief is despair really. If there is no God, OK, if there is no God, you know, I'm betting my life that there's a God but a lot of people are betting their life there isn't, if there is no God...

KING: We're all going to find out, no? If there is no God you're never going to find out.

WARREN: I'm not going to find out that's right.

KING: You're going to die and not know.

WARREN: My question is if you're going to bet your life that there isn't a God that's a pretty big bet.

Warren’s first reason for believing in God is that to do otherwise would lead him to despair. I guess that could be true. Unfortunately, a perceived need for something doesn’t prove its existence. A perceived need is also not necessarily an actual need. Many people do not believe in God and do not despair as a result.

His second reason is that it is the safest bet. Remember, when you consider that reasoning, that this man is supposed to be a theologian. That is very weak logic, to say the least, and very unbecoming a man who should be able to do much better. Warren continues:

WARREN: My question is if you're going to bet your life that there isn't a God that's a pretty big bet. I'm betting that there is a God because of several things. First, I looked around in the world and I see order in that Einstein once said the more we understand the universe the more it looks like one great thought.

And, even this whole idea of intelligent design, which aren't necessarily particularly people who happen to be Christians or people of faith, they're just saying the more we understand the universe, for instance the earth tilts on its axis at just the right amount so that if it tilted too much this way we'd freeze. If it tilted too much this way, we'd burn up.

If I'm walking down the street and I see a rock out of place I might say that's an accident. But, if I'm walking through a mountain and all of a sudden I see a Rolex, I'm not going to say that's an accident. I'm going to say that's evidence of some kind of design.

KING: Then, of course, Rick, who designed the designer?

WARREN: Well, again, I think God is not limited by space.

KING: There's no beginning.

WARREN: No, God -- well, time is relative and even -- even Einstein pointed this out. The reason we think of time is we're on a planet that circles around a sun and gives us 24 hour days.

What if you weren't rotating? OK, our whole concept of time is based on we're in a three-dimensional world. So, God is beyond those dimensions and so that's why it's easy for God to see the past, the present and the future all at once.

Well, that is a start; and it would be a good start, if it went anywhere from there. However, unless you are an atheist, you really haven’t been challenged.

Tune in next time when Rick Warren will explain to us what a fundamentalist is.

2005-12-27 at 12:31 PM MT | |

Blogger mjbeasley sayth,

First of all, it is very helpful to be exposed to such interviews. You can learn a great deal about a person in moments like these. When the camera is rolling and millions are watching - this is when the rubber meets the road. I have no interest in adjudicating Mr. Warren's spiritual state - I do not know him, but after being exposed to this portion of the interview I must say that I am extremely disappointed. There are simply too many things to point out concerning this dialogue - it is frankly difficult to read, however I believe that a simple contrast between the Apostle Paul and Mr. Warren will suffice to address a large part of the problem. When Paul evangelized the lost, he "reasoned with them from the Scriptures..." (Acts 17:2). Here is a sure foundation for outreach - reasoning, not from human wisdom or logic, but from the Scriptures themselves. Paul's priority was the same priority upheld by the Reformers who stood by the principle of Sola Scriptura. With each and every answer, Mr. Warren prefaced his answers with what he believed and reasoned, rather than what God has declared in His word. With a man-centered approach like this, we are left with a pastor whose proposition of faith is reduced to an act of gambling:

WARREN: "If there is no God, OK, if there is no God, you know, I'm betting my life that there's a God..."

Whenever such critiques show up in a blog post, I always wish to offer a warning against presumption and pride - for myself and for anyone else reading, hence I would have to say here that moments such as these should warn us against the danger of reaching into our own sense of wisdom and logic rather than in the treasury of God's Word - we are all prone to such errors. But in addition to this, I would offer the following as learning opportunities. Mr. Warren's missed opportunities to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ on national TV should offer an antithetical lesson on evangelism. Here were some precious opportunities for the Gospel - plain and simple:

KING: Why do you have faith in God? (Because He has revealed Himself in His Word - and in His Son Jesus Christ [John 1:1-3, 14, 18], and having discovered these truths I came to faith that God is, that God has provided a Redeemer and that through faith in Him (Christ) my sins are forgiven and I now have true life in Him).

KING: ...how do you explain why someone is homosexual? (All men are sinful/fallen - Romans 3 - an opportunity to explain Human sin & depravity; but homosexuality is a manifestation of extensive corruption among men as revealed in Romans 1)

KING: Do you know why...you like women? (An opportunity to explain the institution of marriage [Gen. 2] which is a physical manifestation of Christ's relationship to His people - the church [Eph. 5]...Gospel).

KING: ...why believe it all? (Because God is calling all men everywhere to repent and believe in His son Jesus Christ - Acts 17:30-31).

I offer these as possible texts which would have transcended the value of any man's human reasoning and speculation - whether mine, or anybody else. We ought to learn from these unfortunate moments - Let your light shine before men.

Sorry for the long post - but your post on Mr. Warren is extremely valuable. Many have become his followers in our land, and this is the direction that he is taking them - thanks for taking the time to present this interview.

12/30/2005 9:34 PM  
Blogger ThirstyDavid sayth,

Thanks, Mike. I'm going to add your comments to my long list of "Things I Wish I Had Said."

12/30/2005 10:32 PM