There are names in the protestant world that most people know, such as Billy Graham, Dr D James Kennedy, etc. because of their enormous media impact. Bully for them if they can take the Gospel as they know it and try to make a difference. Of course few have not heard of Rick Warren (who wrote The Purpose Driven Life) which has even been studied by Catholic books clubs to parse the good from the theologically unacceptable. The book has spun off into many other derivatives in order to bring meaning into a cluttered and materialistic world.
Rick Warren is also the pastor of a mega-church in Orange County, CA called Saddleback. Being such a success, it's no surprise that he has the ear of other influential people, but what is beyond troubling is the fact that one of his parishioners is Rupert Murdock.
Mega-pastor Rick Warren is being challenged by other Christian leaders for not disciplining a prominent member of his California Saddleback Church flock for being one of the world's leading pornographers.
That would be Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which, in addition to building a media empire on the chests of topless models and edgy, pushing-the-envelope Fox TV network shows, recently began building a stable of hard-core porn channels for its BSkyB subsidiary.
"Rupert Murdoch is a born-again Christian and Rick Warren claims to be his pastor," says Chris Rosebrough, head of the Christian Accountability Network. "As a Christian, Murdoch is committing an egregious sin by owning, expanding and profiting from pornographic channels, and Rick Warren, his pastor, has a biblical duty to call Murdoch to repentance and/or put him out of the church."
Now Warren has pressed his case that there is common ground, he is carrying on a conversation, and that pastorally he is working with this stray to bring him into fuller communion with Jesus. Of course this is complicated by the fact that Murdock is the publisher of Warren's books. Tricky. Rosebrough notes the difference between "working" and "pastoring," beginning with a comment from Warren:
“I don't have to agree with 100 percent of what another person does in order to work with them on the 20 percent that we do agree on.”
[Rosebrough responds] But, “Working with a person” is a completely different issue than “pastoring a person”. All of us work with people who have different religious beliefs than we do or have different moral values than we have. That is just part of the reality of the ‘working world’. But when it comes to our pastors we expect to share the same values and same morals that they do. In fact, I can’t imagine going to a church where I only shared 20 percent of the same beliefs as my pastor. One could easlily argue that if you disagreed with 80% of your pastor's beliefs you probably don't even share the same religion.
This mirrors the debate in Catholic circles about whether pro-abortion politicians should be able to maintain good status in their Catholic parishes -- something about which prominent cardinals have said they're "keeping lines of communication open" as a pastoral plan. We can attest to the fact that many prominent Catholics seems to have little in common with the Magisterium if their own Church. Sure, Jesus came to call sinners, but He was also quite adament on how people were to be treated, especially concerning the young and vulnerable. He also had strong opinions on sins of the flesh.
What is known is that Murdock's wealth provides enormous leverage, and it was created in large part by his total disregard for ethics -- especially his personal ability to trade on the flesh of women. Now it seems that Warren has backed off his claim that Murdock is a member of his flock, but he's not talking otherwise. What we do know is that yearly the body count rises, pornography proliferates, and families are shredded. Conversions happen, but likewise the darkness intensifies. Scandal is scandal is scandal. We cannot saddle Rick Warren with the proclivities of his publisher and friend, but it would seem that he has chosen to fiddle while lust burns.