Rwanda Followup: Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Mission

I thought those of us who attended last month’s Movie@Milligan House, Hotel Rwanda,would be interested in this article on Rick Warren‘s (he of The Purpose-Driven Life/Church fame) visit to Rwanda, at the request of President Paul Kagame. The writer, Alan Wolfe, raises some concerns about the trip:

Mr. Warren’s message to the Aspen audience was similar to the one he offered Rwandans at Kigali’s Amahoro Stadium in July: Spiritual emptiness allows evil acts to occur. If only evil were so simple.

Well, is evil that simple or isn’t it? I don’t doubt that the situation is indeed complex. However, I am leery of people who try to complicate simple matters, because if a matter is indeed simple, it’s only harmful to obscure the simple facts. So I read on:

Tackling Africa’s problems inevitably means addressing questions of economics and politics. Is there a Christian position on export diversification, energy subsidies, currency convertibility ratios, agricultural overcultivation or civil-service reform? That Rick Warren is serious about overcoming Rwanda’s poverty is unquestioned. That he and his volunteers have any expertise or interest in economics and politics is unlikely.

Now, I don’t know whether Mr Wolfe is a believer, but it seems his comments betray a certain lack of faith in the power of the gospel. It presents a chicken-egg dilemma: Which comes first, economic and political stability that leads to an openness to faith in Jesus, or is it a Christian understanding of man and the world that leads to a new way of approaching social systems? In the United States and some other Western nations, the evidence points toward the latter. Moreoever, we as believers — even those of us who take a wholly practical and pragmatic view of the world’s problems — should, it seems to me, have hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NIV)
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…

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