Monday, January 23, 2006

Rick Warren Reminds us of the Legacy of the American Church

There is a great interview with Rick Warren (of Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven) in the Washington Post. Check it out here.

"The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ, but for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, it's been known for what it's against," Warren said during a break between services at his Orange County church campus. "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against."

"One of my goals is to take evangelicals back a century, to the 19th century," said Warren, 51, shifting painfully in his chair because of a back sprain suffered during an all-terrain-vehicle romp with his 20-year-old son, Matthew. "That was a time of muscular Christianity that cared about every aspect of life."

Not just personal salvation, but social action. Abolishing slavery. Ending child labor. Winning the right for women to vote.

It's time for modern evangelicals to trade words for deeds and get similarly involved, Warren contends.

The more I hear about this guy the more I like him! For years the only thing I knew about Rick Warren was that he and his Purpose Driven model were about as despised as Bill Hybels and the seeker sensitive approach, so I figured he was probably alright. But in the last couple of years, between his media appearances, his AIDS work, and his visit to Willow, I've grown to really love his optimism, honesty, genorosity, and humor. I hope that one day the things he does will be bigger news than the things Pat Robertson does!


Friar Tuck said...

The neat thing about watching Rick Warren right now is that he is growing. Where I dont necessarily completely agree with his historical analysis...I think he makes a powerful point.

There are a couple of things about Rick Warren that got him in trouble:

he had a big conflict with the IRS that about got clergy tax stuff abolished.

also the church is not as egalitarian as willow supports women in full partnership in ministry. Saddleback is a SBC church also...not nondenominational.

Kim Traynor said...

Well, I don't know the details nor the relevance of the IRS thing...but I will say that if I were the IRS I'd be much more concerned with pastors living in mansions and driving around in Rolls than guys like Rick Warren.

Friar Tuck said...

Rick wrote off over 75,000 of his salary in a year as housing allowance. The IRS did not like that.

Kim Traynor said...

Hey, I'm having problems with my hotmail account, did you get my email?

Kim Traynor said...

Oh yeah, and about the tax thing - it sounded like you were accusing the guy of tax fraud so I looked it up and here's the story:

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church, a large and highly influential Southern Baptist church in Lake Forest, Calif., sued the IRS after an agent assessed his home's value at far less than its worth and thereby reduced the housing allowance, he said. The IRS penalized Warren for the years 1993-95 for the difference between the IRS valuation and the exemption from taxable income he claimed.

In a letter to readers of his Web site,, Warren said his wife, Kay, and he "decided to challenge the vagueness of the revenue ruling that allowed agents to arbitrarily assess the value of a parsonage without any objective standard." He is not opposed to the "fair market rental value" clause IRS uses if the "IRS will define a 'fair' written, objective standard to be used by all IRS agents," said Warren, who wrote the book Purpose Driven Church.

In May 2000, a U.S. Tax Court in California decided in Warren's favor by a 14-3 vote.

From: Senate OKs Bill to Protect Clergy Housing Allowance
by Tom Strode

Friar Tuck said...

The whole case was going to the supreme court.

He wrote off 75,000 of his income in housing value.

Before the Supreme Court could deal with it, and the anticipation was that they would overturn the Tax Court decision, the Congress decided to firm up and better clarify the law.

Personally I think there was fault on both sides of the equation.

Warren was pushing the envelope and the IRS was trying to stick it to pastors by making them be self-employed and yet eliminating the housing writeoff.

Any way you look at it now...the man has paid back all the salary that the church has ever paid him out of his book royalties.