Monday, October 30, 2006

Rick Warren - Is He Scary?

"Do secular liberals who applaud and enable Warren know that he aims to recruit '1 billion Christian foot soldiers' who are willing to do 'whatever it takes' to turn the entire planet into a purpose-driven Kingdom of God? That his Purpose-Driven Ministries, he says, has trained more than 400,000 ministers and priests in 162 countries?
"Typically, demagogues who dream of making the whole world conform to their single, uncompromising vision wear gaudy military uniforms that give them an immediately threatening veneer. Rick Warren, on the other hand, favors Hawaiian shirts decorated with large pineapples. Be very afraid. "
[Mary Reinholz, "The Thirteen Scariest People in America, October 30, 2006, Old Trout Magazine][emphasis added]

The quote above comes from the left of the spectrum. Now why would Rick Warren be scary to them? Maybe for the same reasons he is scary to us. Did you know that these things were part of the Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan?

"…armed guards, biometric palm scanners and steel doors that guard the facility…"

The Orange County Register, the newspaper of note in "Saddleback Country," California, has been doing a series of stories this Fall on Rick Warren -- his church, his fame, his programs, etc. Most of these pieces haven't been notable. But yesterday's article was another matter. For the first time we get to peek behind the scenes at the Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. And what we learn is downright scary!

1. There is a strangely SECRETIVE "Internet-based PEACE plan training."

This is for the short-term missionaries who become part of the billion-man army to implement Warren's Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. The article states that:

"The fledgling 'e-missionaries' depend in turn upon a $3 million Internet-based training platform the church is building to educate and track its PEACE plan participants. When finished, the Web site ( will constitute the main – if not only – source of information many PEACE missionaries will have about the troubled places they visit." [emphasis added]

2. This uses a mammoth databanking facility.

This use of Internet technology which is unprecedented in the way in which it will manage, control, direct, monitor and databank the emerging Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan -- its recruits and its activities. The article reports that this databank is an:

"…expression of Warren's lifelong fascination with the evangelistic possibilities of technology and the first test pilots of his belief that the Internet is, like the printing press, an epochal invention that will multiply the message of Christ and transform the future church.

"'Every time God's word is put in a new technology, there's a spiritual awakening,' Warren says. 'We are in a very exciting age where technology is allowing me, and allowing other people, to have far greater impact because it shrinks distance and time, and it multiplies the message.'" [emphasis added]

…"The computers run a portal that allows Saddleback small groups to log on to the Web site, download training modules and upload reports on their own PEACE trips for the following wave of PEACE missionaries to read."…

3. This is a MAXIMUM SECURITY databank!

This next part of the article should be read in its entirety. Here is what Rick Warren is doing with his technology according to the article:

"Today, Saddleback's information technology department has morphed into a multimillion-dollar 'research and development department of Christianity,' says Warren (paraphrasing management guru Peter Drucker).

"Case in point: Saddleback's new PEACE 'platform,' a Web site built upon original software written by the church's 'pastor' of technology, Eric Busby, and about two dozen engineers and experts around the world.

"Busby wants the PEACE platform to be a full-service Web site to which any church group anywhere in the world can connect and be matched not only with a destination in which to do missionary work, but with training appropriate to the mission.

"That means, Busby says, writing scalable software capable of allowing the Web site to expand as thousands – potentially tens of thousands – of churches sign on. Busby says the Saddleback PEACE site is designed to grow to the size of leading Web sites, such as eBay.

"Already, the platform's electronic brain – the 8-foot racks of hundreds of servers needed to store the site's growing database (14,000 articles in English alone) – is housed in a warehouse-sized, MAXIMUM SECURITY "Tier-1" Internet data center in Irvine.

"'Such centers exist in several dozen locations around the world to host the electronic information of the world's largest companies, which explains the ARMED GUARDS, biometric palm scanners and steel doors that guard the facility,' Busby says." [all emphases added]

4. Only the INITIATED may enter into this WEBSITE.

The Orange County Register article includes a link that lets one TOUR Rick Warren's website. By all means, take this tour. Note the opening statement that says: "The PEACE plan home page and login site. Only church groups that have been screened by Saddleback Church and accepted into the PEACE plan program are currently allowed to use the site." The article then explains:

"In at least one respect… Saddleback does control the PEACE platform. Although Saddleback says it will make training materials available to the general public at some point in the future, for now, the site is proprietary, which means that Saddleback DOES NOT PERMIT nonmembers to view the site. (The Register was allowed to see the site only once, and in the company of a church staffer.)

"Church teams who want to use the materials must register (and attend a conference) under the PEACE program umbrella. Saddleback can, consequently, track and lay claim not only to the 142 PEACE teams that have gone on mission so far, but also to the potentially thousands that will do so in the future and that will become, in the process, indirect partners in the PEACE 'movement' – and brand." [all emphases added]

5. All of this is done with strict controls.

The TOUR says that once "a region is selected, missionaries can research a particular country before choosing it as their destination. They must then have their trip approved by both Saddleback and their own church's leadership" [emphasis added]. The article explains:

"A church is like a business with branch offices," Busby says. "If you start saying we got 2.5 million branch offices – nobody has that." [emphasis added]

6. This is a PROPIETARY, logo-branding, public-relations and merchandising campaign.

The article explains how this works in the marketing world, including a reference to Larry Ross, the P.R. (public relations) firm that handles Saddleback, Warren, etc.

"It is another example of both a core concept and key critique: Warren's knack for synergy. Using technology, a broad vision, an expressed desire to evangelize and, perhaps, a keen sense of market share, Saddleback may create a platform for both the kingdom of God and for itself.

"Influence, however, is something Warren says he courts. It is Larry Ross' job to explain why." [emphases added]


After reading this some key questions come to mind. Why is this secret? Several reasons come to mind, and none of them are very fun to think about. Here some possible reasons for the secrecy, and we exaggerate intentionally to make the point that this is strange and scary:

1. Warren is setting up a cult, complete with entry-level rites (must undergo preliminary training, sign covenants, etc.), indoctrination (in-depth training, including post-mission trip training), monitoring (via high-tech internet feedback loops), databanking (personal, psychological and corporate information), love-bombing (awards and accolades for high performing "healthy" examples), etc. Check out the TOUR pages just to verify all of this.

2. Warren's missionaries will be spies, working at a high level of geo-political intelligence gathering which is so sensitive that it requires armed guards, surveillance and steel doors to protect sensitive information. If this is the case, for whom is he working -- multi-national corporations and/or the United Nations?

3. This is the world's largest marketing gimmick, done in the name of Christ. Proprietary information is being carefully guarded, patented, and branded to protect the corporate intellectual capital and image. If so, this is the indicative of building an empire, a sad example of one man's egotism gone globally amok.

4. This is the world's largest multi-level marketing project, and as such needs tight security to ensure that the product is uniform and consistent, that the field representatives are trained in the exact terminologies, sales pitches, product lines, etc. If so, this is not the humble biblical Gospel message, which is transmitted by God's grace, one-on-one, through no power other than that of the Spirit of God.

5. The secrecy is to keep true believers out. True believers wouldn't sign up if they knew what they were in for. They might discover parallels to, or worse, working relationships with other utopian global peace plans, such as the ones touted by New Age Theosophists. They might find out who Rick Warren's hidden partners are. They might discover the money trails and learn who is actually financing this massive project. They might object to the psycho-social indoctrination (brainwashing?) they they must undergo before, during and after the mission trips. They might learn which partners (corporate or state) have access to their private information which is being collected at this secret website. The list of paranoid possibilities here could go on and on….

Is this how the Gospel should be presented? Is this what it means to do "whatever it takes" to bring the Gospel message to the unsaved peoples on this planet? Or, is this one megalomaniac's giant plan to "advance" a "kingdom" of "God" on earth?

The Truth:

Rick Warren could take a lesson from Jesus:

"Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple; whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." (John 18:20)