In my opinion, with men like him as leading representatives, the General Vanilla Southern Baptist Convention has bigger problems than chasing Calvinist boogeymen.
Yesterday in Rick Warren On Casting Pearls Before Twitter Swine and Rick Warren Confirms Twitter Swine Email Is From Him I shared an email that had been forwarded to me.
To me it seemed the Lord decided this would be exposed because within this email to his own Saddleback Church staff Warren gives rather specific instructions (orders?) about Twitter.
While Warren is correct, to a point, that who we may follow on Twitter is somewhat a witness—and yes we should be careful—his commands did appear to me to be a bit over the top.
Especially so when, as the only actual example Rick Warren cited, he chose to used the below:
Quite obviously, anyone who follows John knows he doesn’t fit any of the criteria Warren listed. At least this sad situation has afford me the opportunity to come to know John Downey more personally.
As a Southern Baptist pastor, for now, with firsthand experience of how rough it can be along the Internet Front I was concerned about how this may have affected John so I made the effort to contact him.
I have since had the opportunity to speak with John a few times now and I can tell those who don’t already know that he is a dear Southern Baptist brother in Christ who is hardly in the category of swine.
With this in mind then, in his An Open Letter To Rick Warren, today John Downey has offered this reasoned response, which is published here below with his permission:
Dear Pastor Warren,
I think it’s time we talk, man to man as it were. I am guilty, as charged, of being critical of your methods as the pastor of a mega-church, and though it was not your intention that this matter be made public, or that I even be aware of it, it has now become so. I believe though, Pastor Rick, that as a fellow Southern Baptist, I deserve an explanation. As brothers in the same denomination we owe it to the public to turn this unfortunate event into an enlightening one that edifies the church and is glorifying to God. This is the very least we owe each other as brothers who are committed to the Great Commission, and to the Southern Baptist Convention.
In the e-mail you sent to your staff entitled, for obvious reasons, “Please Take This Seriously,” you apparently intend to make a very serious point that who we follow on twitter is a witness to the world. In the e-mail, I am cited as an example of who not to follow because I apparently have “a worthless account,” that others may “think it is an account they should follow too, and then start getting their minds filled with negativity or even vulgar garbage.” What tweet was it that sent you over the edge and made you decide I have an account that others shouldn’t be following? Was it the one where I astutely point out that “only Southern Baptists would have a committee on committees?” Maybe it was the David Platt quote from the SBC pastors’ conference that said, “Our problem is not that we’ve made some bad decisions. Our problem is that we are dead in sin.” I thought it was a great quote and I fully agreed and found it very edifying, though I know that flies in the face of your idea that all behavior is learned. Maybe it was the retweet of the hilarious @FAKEjdgreer account that said, “I’m personally grateful that LifeWay banned The Blind Side. That means more shelf room for Amish love stories.” That guy has a great sense of humor, but I can see where it might offend some people who enjoy being able to buy Amish love stories at LifeWay stores.
You go on in the email to inform your staff that they need to, “Unfollow any anti-Christian, anti-Saddleback, or vulgar/sexual accounts that got automatically added.” This is not a friendly suggestion, this is a directive. It was in big bold letters followed by the statement: “If you don’t know the difference, I can start sending you the names of accounts that your account is following that is a poor witness.” Now I can assure you, Pastor Warren, that as a Southern Baptist, I am not “anti-Christian,” and I never post anything vulgar or sexual in nature. So, according to you, I must fall into the “anti-Saddleback” group. This is a false assumption, though; based on my critiques of your methods. The truth is, Pastor Rick, I love people…all people…even you. In fact, I love them so much that I pray that all people who don’t trust in Christ as their Savior (all 4+ billion) would repent and put their saving faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. I’m sure we can both agree that there are many people, even in your church, that aren’t saved. My prayer is for their salvation, so ultimately I’m not as anti-Saddleback as you claim.
You seem confused as to what my goal is as a Twitter-er (Tweeter? …What’s the right word on this? Can I get a clarification? Since you have to advise your young staffers as to social media’s proper use, maybe you can “help” me.) My goal on Twitter, ultimately, is the edification of the Church, though I do like to have a few laughs along the way. According to Webster, edification means: to edify, lift up, or a moral improvement or guidance. It is something we are exhorted and commanded to do in Scripture. In fact I think the clearest definition of edification is found in Scripture:
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:12-16
I’m sure we can both agree that the Church, Saddleback included, needs moral improvement and guidance. This is what I try to do; I speak the truth in love…till we all come to the unity of the faith, so that the church may grow up in Christ and no longer be deceived by, and drawn into every wind of doctrine. I do this, this is my goal…for my home, my church, the small group I lead, and those who follow me via social media. As a pastor, shouldn’t this be your goal as well? What is it that someone like me would have to say to my 300 Twitter followers that should not to be heard? Shouldn’t Christians, your staff included, be able to discern for themselves who to follow on Twitter? If the people on your staff don’t have the ability to discern Biblical truth, on their own, then I am the least of your worries.
And this is in regards to Mark Driscoll’s comments about the mountain of bodies (of people who don’t agree with him or his methods) behind Mars Hill’s bus. This is spiritual child abuse that no pastor worth his salt should put up with, defend, or brag about. I am merely pointing this out. As Christians we are not called to follow any one pastor’s “vision.” We are called to follow Christ’s mission to be salt and light to a lost and dying world, and proclaim the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name. It is NOT a popular message…however, it is the message we are called to. No one person’s spin on it is superior to Christ’s own words, no matter how big his church is. I tweeted this to warn other Christians that Mark Driscoll seems to lack a pastor’s heart. A warning and an attack are not the same thing.
I look forward to a continued discussion, if for nothing more than to “keep conspiracy theorists from reading all kinds of dark motivations and nuanced nonsense” into this incident. Though I know we don’t see eye to eye on many issues, I want you to know that I’m praying for you, Pastor Rick, and I pray that God would have His way with your ministry.