Monday, December 10, 2007

Krista Tippett speaks with Rick and Kay Warren

This week's Speaking of Faith spotlights the recent work of Rick Warren and his wife Kay. With a river of fame and money they practice what they call "reverse tithing," giving away ninety percent and keeping ten percent for themselves. The Purpose Driven Life has sold and continues to sell tens of millions of copies in scores of languages. But the statistics, impressive as they are, are nothing compared to the vision and new direction they have taken to lead Christians in a global mission to address poverty, illness and illiteracy.

They claim no political or social agenda other than putting faith to work in meaningful, practical ways, but this couple has become what in the Sixties we called radicalized or politicized. As soon as I heard the promo I knew this was an important program. There is no way that I can capture in a blog post the scale and excitement of Rick Warren's latest vision and mission. He notes that Christians worldwide, including all who identify themselves as "Christian" are a very large population.

There are two-point-three billion people who are church members. That means the Church is bigger than China. It's bigger than India. It's bigger than China and India put together.

Warren regards every breathing, confessing Christian as a potential source of input for a global mission the likes of which has never before been seen. He cites Psalm 72 as an illustration of how powerful leaders should direct their power. Solomon prayed to become the most powerful man of his time. But he wanted to use that power to care for those who had none of their own...

The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. (4) He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him. (12) For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.

But Solomon didn't have the Internet and today's powers of telecommunication. Rick Warren does, and he doesn't hesitate to use it for God's purposes.

Listening to this couple is a great way to get your batteries charged. Be advised, this is not your Daddy's Old time Religion. This is a message to Christians everywhere that the challenge of our lifetime is a lot bigger than giving Christmas food packages to a few local families. It is my hope that this hour of radio can somehow be repackaged and spread to the same millions that have already ingested the Purpose Driven Life.

Krista Tippett talks about the "post-religious-right" era. I'm not sure what that means, but if the story of the Warrens is any indication, it strikes me as one of the most important and powerful releases of religious energy of our time. This program is tagged Part II, and I have not yet heard Part I. Should we use the word revival? I don't know. But if it's not revival, it's the next best thing. Next on my to-do list is to hear Part I.

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