Over the past few weeks, I've written about a particular aspect of Rick Warren that has so far seen very little formal media attention--his extensive connections to groups and persons connected to the "New Apostolic Reformation" aka "Joel's Army", a particularly virulent "Christian Nationalist" movement (which had its initial origins in neopentecostal dominionist churches but has since spread via "cuckoo" cell-churches to even some mainstream denominations).
In particular, Rick Warren is not only well documented to be a dominionist with links to Joel's Army promoters in the Assemblies of God, but has been mentored from his beginnings in the ministry by no less than C. Peter Wagner--"Mr. Joel's Army" himself.
Recent research by members of the New Apostolic Reformation Research Team have found, however, possibly one of the most disturbing examples of this yet--where Rick Warren literally promotes the Hitlerjugend and the Cultural Reformation as explicit models for steeplejacking entire nations.
Personal Note: I also strongly encourage people to visit fellow NARRT member Troutfishing's diary giving more details.
NARRT PRODUCED VIDEOS INCLUDING THE WARREN QUOTES IN QUESTION:
Rick Warren's "Private Face"
In my writings on dominionism since 2005, one thing I have tried to emphasize is that dominionists--and especially those particular dominionist movements ultimately derived from neopente dominionist groups such as "Joel's Army"--very much have a "public face" and a "private face", similar to many other coercive religious groups.
As it turns out, Rick Warren--who literally was taught almost everything he knows re ministry by one of the very founding fathers of the Joel's Army movement, a "founding father" who was particularly influential in the spread of NAR theology outside of neopente dominionist circles--is no different.
Bruce Wilson, a member of NARRT and one of the few persons doing full-time research on Joel's Army-linked groups, has recently uncovered audio from Saddleback Church that show Warren's "private face" in a particularly disturbing light.
The particular audiotape--which is actually available for sale at Saddleback's "resource site"--is actually merely part 4 of a six-parter series and was delivered at the 25th anniversary of Saddleback's founding--and the fourth "capital fundraising" effort.
Most large, "nondenominational" churches do tend to have fundraising, and one does expect to hear the calls for "name it and claim it" "love offerings" and such.
What one does not expect is a literal call to revolution that is explicitly described as breeding in stealth:
[ ~minute 33:00 ]
"God is going to use you to change the world.
"We have a kingdom that nothing can destroy... it's indestructible, it's unshakable, going to last forever, it's going to cover the planet.
So the kingdom is multinational, it's powerful, it's eternal and, number four (this is the best news), it's inevitable because God is in control of history. History is his story.
And the Bible says this in Matthew 24 : 'The Good news about God's kingdom will be preached into all the world, in every nation, and then the end's going to come. '
And you can go argue about prophecy all you want but Jesus Christ is not going to conclude history until everybody he's wanted to hear the world has had a chance to hear the word. But one day God's going to bring everything to a culmination.
For the past 18 months we have been on a stealth, secret mission - project - around the world. We've been sending members out, actually over 4500 members somewhere overseas, over the period of time, the last few years, going out to do what we're gonna call the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
You've been hearing little snippets about it, today we're going to unveil it publicly. But the first thing before I even talk about it in a minute is you need to understand that at the heart of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan is this theme - The Kingdom of God.
Saddleback and our Purpose Driven Network has now trained over 400,000 pastors in over 162 countries."
. . .
[ Minute ~43:00 ]
"What is the vision for the next 25 years ? I'll tell you what it is.
It is the global expansion of the kingdom of God.
It is the total mobilization of his church.
And the third part is the goal of a radical devotion of every believer.
Now, I choose that word 'radical' intentionally, because only radicals change the world.
Everything great done in this world is done by passionate people.
Moderate people get moderately nothing done. And moderation will never slay the global giants. . ."
. . .
[ minute 51:50 ]
"Jesus said, 'I want you to do this publicly.' So what I want you to do is take the card, and in just a minute, and if you say 'Rick, I am willing to serve God's purposes in my generation.'
I want you to open up to the sign that says 'Whatever it takes.'
Whatever it takes.
And I want you to just say, 'This is my commitment, before God and in front of everybody else. I'm in.' "
And I would invite you to just stand quietly and hold up 'Whatever it takes'. . .
I'm looking at a stadium full of people who are saying 'whatever it takes'.
Whatever it takes, God. Time, talent, energy, money, effort, vision... God, whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes, that's what I'm going to do.
And I believe that today we are making history. We're making history that's going to start a movement that will bring a new Reformation in the church of God and a new spiritual awakening in our world. And, our world needs it.
And today, as you say 'whatever it takes,' you're saying publicly, "I'm in, God. I'm in...
...I'm in.' "
One especially does not expect to hear literal comparisons of religious movements--and exhortations to engage in "Christian nationalism"--comparing these movements to Hitler Youth, the Bolsheviks, or the Cultural Revolution in China:
[ minute 48:45 ]
"In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.
And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, "Hitler, we are yours."
And they nearly took the world.
Lenin once said, "give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I'll change the world." And, he nearly did.
A few years ago, they took the sayings of Chairman Mao, in China, put them in a little red book, and a group of young people committed them to memory and put it in their minds and they took that nation, the largest nation in the world by storm because they committed to memory the sayings of the Chairman Mao.
When I hear those kinds of stories, I think 'what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say 'Jesus, we are yours' ?
What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ? "
Now, let's see--he's just directly compared his "P.E.A.C.E. Plan"--which borrows extensively from the "Seven Mountains" strategy as promoted by many Joel's Army leaders including C. Peter Wagner (and it can be legitimately argued that the "P.E.A.C.E. Plan" is essentially a "kindler, gentler" version of "Seven Mountains") to what have legitimately been described as three of the most destructive--and arguably some of the most evil, if one believes in such a thing--movements in the 20th Century; certainly the Nazi Party and Communist movements (as promoted by the USSR and China) have been some of the most dictatorial movements in recent history. (North Korea's government and its regime--widely regarded as the most repressive country in the world--heavily borrowed from Maoism as well as Stalin's personality cult. We won't even get into such fun things that have been the direct result such as the Cold War, World War II, and--ironically--the worldwide spread of neopentecostal dominionism including Joel's Army groups as "anti-communist" orgs.)
Hitlerjugend--better known in English as Hitler Youth was a group that was essentially an arm of a government known best for snuffing out over 13 million lives--nearly half of them of Jewish descent, and wiping out fully two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population (and nearly totally depopulating several countries of persons of Jewish descent).
Membership was mandatory for youth living in Nazi-controlled areas (as pointed out by quite a number of sources when it was pointed out the present Pope was a former Hitlerjugend member--and so was practically every male in a generation in Germany) and was explicitly instituted as a "parallel economy" alternative to legitimate Scouting movements worldwide with a heavy emphasis on paramilitary training. (Ironically, Leninist and Maoist groups would also institute their own "parallel Scouting" groups--the Young Pioneers; the only other groups that promote similar "alternatives to Scouting" (in countries where Scouting groups are not exclusive) tend to be, interestingly enough, Joel's Army-connected groups promoting groups like the Royal Rangers, Missionettes, and "Heritage Girls".) In fact, during the period Warren explicitly mentioned, the Jugenddienstpflicht (Youth Service act) had just been passed--the second law requiring all males of age to become members of Hitlerjugend even if their parents disapproved. (Yes, you are reading this right; kids in Nazi Germany were essentially drafted and required to serve mandatory periods in the Nazi Party's "alternative" to the Boy Scouts.)
The Leninist--and later Stalinist--regimes may well have topped even the Nazi totals, according to some (according to some statistics, the Holodomor--a little-publicised genocide of the people of Ukraine in the early 30s--may have felled over ten million alone and most records estimate 8 million people at least died in Ukraine alone from starvation and plague).
And the zeal the USSR held in its purges served as a model both for the initial Maoist regime in China and, infamously, later the Cultural Revolution--in which people were sent to collective farms for the mere crime of being "intellectual". (This caused an entire "lost generation" of Chinese who had no access to proper education, brought China to an economic standstill, resulted in untold devastation to the cultural property of China and especially to its minority populations (the present situation in Tibet is essentially a continuation of this), millions of displaced persons, no less than 500,000 dead (with some sources stating this number is actually closer to 3 million dead)--and a rising death toll from countries going for "Maoism-plus". (Pol Pot's regime, based largely on Mao's model but going even more fundamentalist with it, resulted in no less than 3 million dead; the Kim pseudo-imperial dynasty in North Korea has resulted in estimates of at least 2 million dead from their attempt. Albania also had a horrid human toll during its period of "Euro-Maoism".)
Just so we know whom Warren is using for models, that is. :P
Mind, this is quite horrifying enough--promoters of genocide being held up as examples for a "revolution".
It doesn't stop there, though. In this same speech, Warren praised the first two "Purpose Driven" certified nations--Rwanda and Uganda--both of whom are run by presidential figures with close links to Warren and other dominionist figures.
These, too, may not exactly be the best parties to use as examples--unless you're talking forming an army of God Warriors With Guns:
In 1998 under Kagame's leadership Rwanda, along with the now officially "Purpose Driven" nation of Uganda, invaded the Democratic Republic of The Congo, touching off a conflict that has claimed more civilian lives than any since World War Two. On December 12, 2008, the United Nations accused Rwanda of aiding Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda, accused of massacres and human rights violations and whose recent offensive has created several hundred thousand Congolese refugees.
In fact, one of Warren's darlings--Martin Ssempa, who advises the First Lady of Uganda on HIV/AIDS issues--has literally called for progroms against the country's LGBT population and is almost singlehandedly responsible for reversing what had been one of the true bright spots in the African HIV epidemic:
Warren’s man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempe enjoys close ties to his country’s First Lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa’s stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.
Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who authored the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We’re Losing The Fight Against AIDS In Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria. "Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women," Epstein said. "He seemed very personally terrified by their presence."
When Warren unveiled his global AIDS initiative at a 2005 conference at his Saddleback Church, he cast Ssempa as his indispensable sidekick, assigning him to lead a breakout session on abstinence-only education as well as a seminar on AIDS prevention. Later, Ssempa delivered a keynote address, a speech so stirring it "had the audience on the edge of its seats," according to Warren’s public relations agency. A year later, Ssempa returned to Saddleback Church to lead another seminar on AIDS.
In the 90s and early 2000s, Uganda was becoming one of the true success stories in countering the spread of HIV through a very successful campaign to educate people on safer sex (including the use of barrier methods). Emphasis on had; thanks to Ssempa's influence, this has (sadly) almost been totally reversed:
On New Year’s Eve, 1999, Janet Museveni, who had become born-again, convened a massive stadium revival in Kampala to dedicate her country to the "lordship" of Jesus Christ. As midnight approached, the First Lady summoned a local pastor to the stage to anoint the nation. "We renounce idolatry, witchcraft, and Satanism in our land!" he proclaimed.
Two years later, Janet Museveni flew to Washington at the height of a heated congressional debate over PEPFAR. She carried in her hand a prepared message to distribute to Republicans. Abstinence was the golden bullet in her country’s fight against AIDS, she assured conservative lawmakers, denying the empirically proven success of her husband’s condom distribution program. Like magic, the Republican-dominated Congress authorized over $200 million for Uganda, but only for the exclusive promotion of abstinence education. Ssempa soon became the "special representative of the First Lady’s Task Force on AIDS in Uganda," receiving $40,000 from the PEPFAR pot.
Emboldened by U.S. support, Ssempa took his anti-condom crusade to Makerere University in Kampala, where senior residents of a men’s dormitory promoted safe sex by greeting incoming freshmen with a giant effigy wearing a condom. According to Helen Epstein, one day after she visited the school, Ssempa stormed on to campus, tore the condom from the effigy, grabbed a box of free condoms, and set them ablaze. "I burn these condoms in the name of Jesus!" Ssempa shouted as he prayed over the burning box.
. . .
AIDS activists arrived at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006 with disturbing news from Uganda. Due at least in part to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men, and 8.8 percent among women—a rise of nearly two points in the case of women. "The ‘C’ part [of ABC] is now mainly silent," said Ugandan AIDS activist Beatrice Ware. As a result, she said, "the success story is unraveling."
Needless to say, the "private face" is turning out to be just as ugly as suspected.
Not the first time, either
As astonishing as this is, the 25th Anniversary speech was not the first time he has used this most disturbing comparison.
The first was in a particular guide we have focused on before--the book "Purpose Driven Church", which contains extensive quotations by and cross-promotion of multiple NAR leaders including C. Peter Wagner.
Comparisons of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan to Hitlerjugend and the Cultural Revolution (with the latter two being held up as positive models of zeal--disturbing indeed as both are textbook examples of personality cults that have directly led to genocide) appeared in the book in 2005, right on page 357 in a section termed "Developing Mature Members".
After a very brief (less than one paragraph) section detailing two promoters of peace (Ghandi and the Buddha), an Italian who got lost and confused Hispaniola for Indonesia and touched off the genocide of First Nations people in the Americas starting with the Taino Nation (Christopher Columbus), Martin Luther and Karl Marx, he gives an early version of the speech he gave at Saddleback almost ten years later:
"In 1943, 100,000 young people in brown shirts filled the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany, the largest stadium in the world at the time. They formed with their bodies a sign for a fanatical man standing behind the podium. The message read, "Hitler, we are yours." Their commitment allowed them to conquer Europe. Years later, a group of young Chinese students committed to memorizing and and living the philosophy of a little red book, The Sayings Of Chairman Mao. The result was the Cultural Revolution that to this day keeps over one billion people in the world's largest country under the slavery of communism. That is the power of conviction!
(Ironically, after this he notes that groups with high "conviction" tend to devolve into personality cults--he blames this, in essence, on these groups "not having enough Jesus" and not on the inherently coercive tactics that tend to develop in what are termed "high-demand groups" by researchers.)
What is particularly interesting is that there isn't even the brief apologia that "Nazis were bad"--this is the quote in its raw form, and in a particularly pernicious form (it being aimed at church leaders). In essence, he is stating that groups need to essentially form a personality cult--and if they have "enough Jesus" that they won't go overtly cultic. (It's now being recognised this is not in fact the case by exit counselors. One of the textbook examples of "Bible-based cults" is Maranatha, an early NAR group; Youth With A Mission and Campus Crusade for Christ (both of which have early NAR links) are now widely regarded as "Bible-based cults", and there is an increasing awareness among exit counselors of New Apostolic Reformation groups in general being inherently coercive and abusive.)
Unfortunately, the Google online link does not contain p. 358--which contains the portion in particular where Warren literally advocates creating a "Christian personality cult"--but fortunately for us, other churches heavily relying on Warren's materials have covered this for us. Grace Bible Ministries, a church that promotes Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" series, has the relevant sections in a document from Warren entitled "Help People Develop Spiritual Growth Habits"> (essentially a re-write of the chapter in question from "Purpose Driven Church"):
Conviction also has an attractive quality to it. This explains the popularity of many cults. Their beliefs are erroneous and often are illogical but they believe them with such intense conviction. In contrast churches without clear, strong convictions will never attract the level of commitment that Christ deserves. We must teach and preach with conviction.
In 1943, one hundred thousand young people in brown shirts filled the Munich stadium in Germany, the largest in the world at that time. They formed with their bodies a sign for a fanatical man standing behind the podium. The message said "Hitler, we are yours."
Their commitment allowed them to conquered Europe. Years later, a group of young Chinese students committed to memorizing and living the philosophy of a little red book, The Sayings of Chairman Mao. The result was the Cultural Revolution that keeps one billion people in the world’s largest country under the slavery of communism. That is the power of conviction!
We must burn in the conviction that the Kingdom of God is the greatest cause in the world. Vance Havner used to say "Jesus demands greater allegiance than any dictator that every lived. The difference is that Jesus has a right to it!"
Yes, you're reading this right from the horse's mouth--Warren is promoting, quite literally, forming a Bible-based cult and claiming it's okay because "there's Jesus".
In this same section, he openly promotes the abusive "cell church" model:
Use Small Groups To Impart Conviction
At Saddleback, we impart biblical convictions in every program, class, seminar, and message. Here’s the catch: Conviction is caught as much as it is taught. It spreads best through relationships. Conviction is contagious. People acquire convictions by being around other people with conviction. This is a major reason we emphasize small. Close association with people of conviction will often have a greater influence than listening to a message delivered with conviction.
Saddleback’s small groups are modeled after the home groups in Acts 2:42-47. They incorporate the eight functions described in that passage: Bible study, fellowship, communion, prayer, support, eating together, singing, and outreach. This describes a perfect context for developing conviction.
In addition, he explicitly admits to deceptive recruitment--using euphemisms to hide the fact people are going to be indoctrinated.
Warren again used the same example--this time using more explicit NAR buzzwords--at the Urbana '06 conference, a major conference of neopentecostal dominionists--and in this version, he actually targeted nearly all of mainstream Christianity in the process:
In 1940, in the largest stadium in the world at that time, bigger than this [Edward Jones Dome, America’s Center, St. Louis, Missouri] well over 100 thousand young adults, your age, packed into a stadium this size. They were all wearing brown shirts; they formed with their bodies a sign that said, "Hitler, we are yours." They nearly took the world.
A few years ago in China, a group of young adults your age, twenty-somethings, took a little book called The Sayings of Chairman Mao, and committed it to memory and said, "We’re going to live by this." They took that country in the Cultural Revolution. The largest nation in the world was a Communist nation because a group of young adults said, "Mao, we are yours."
What would happen if just those of us here tonight would say to the world, "Jesus, we are yours?" We are yours – that would be a new spirit of St. Louis. The first spirit of St. Louis – Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis and it was a trans-continental flight. This new spirit of St. Louis will be a global reformation.
. . .
I believe in that, but I believe that if a reformation is to take place, I won’t see the end of it, because reformations take 50 years. I may have 20 more years in my life, and I intend to give my blood, sweat and tears for that. But you, ladies and gentlemen, are the reformation generation. You are it. You must be those who bring in the reformation in world mission.
(Of particular note here--"Reformation" is a common codephrase in NAR circles for promotion of NAR theology--some groups, Warren's among them, promote their theology as a "Third Reformation" and the establishment of a third branch of Christianity aside from Catholic and Protestant strains. I discussed this in detail in my previous post.)
Another discussion of the Saddleback 25th Anniversary also notes that Warren explicitly targeted government and other institutions for what amounts to a NAR dictatorship:
RW again refers to the P.E.A.C.E plan
"We have begun a national model of Government, Business, and church partnership to do the Purpose Driven Program. Let me introduce to you the president of Rwanda, where civil war killed 1 million people in 100 days.
President of Rwanda steps up and speaks, announcing the partnership. RW returns and talks of the vision of the P.E.A.C.E. plan. "Built using average people, cooperating with Business, and government, also forging business relationships in US, ( and Rwanda).
A wee bit less innocent than merely "But what if we could use fanaticism for good?", unfortunately.