Rick Warren as “The New James Dobson”: Pros and Cons

I wasn’t able to attend the Saddleback Faith Forum on Saturday night, but I’ve read oodles of articles and commentaries from both right and left dissecting what it meant for the McCain and Obama camps. The consensus seems to be that McCain came out a little better off than Obama, which is predictable if only because McCain is a republican and Obama is not. It was ostensibly a republican event; Warren is a republican… it’s not surprising that McCain came out smelling like roses.

The real winner, however, is probably Rick Warren himself. For years he has been seen as the “rising star” of evangelicalism in America, and this event–which may turn out to be a pretty huge deal when all is said and done–could well solidify Warren’s status as the new voice of evangelical Christians. Indeed, as the “new Dobson.”

From my point of view, this development is mostly a good thing, and the following are some pros and cons of Warren assuming the reigns of the evangelical political monstrosity:

PRO: Pretty much anyone would be better than Dobson.
CON: There are many evangelicals who would be better than Warren.

PRO: Warren is a “brand name”– he’s legitimate in the eyes of millions of people who loved The Purpose-Driven Life.
CON: The Purpose-Driven Life was not a good book.

PRO: Warren is surprisingly focused on justice issues, poverty, and outside-America problems… things Dobson does not have the time of day for.
CON: Warren’s PEACE plan was too ambitious and by some reports has done more harm than good in Africa.

PRO: Warren is much more media-friendly and savvy. He doesn’t boycott things like Spongebob Squarepants.
CON: Warren is a little boring. It takes him actually getting Obama and McCain to come to his church and share the stage in order to grab headlines. Dobson can do it by taking a sneeze. But maybe this is a PRO.

PRO: Warren is a tad bit more ambiguous about his party affiliation than James “I could never vote for a Democrat” Dobson is…
CON: Warren is still a long way from Billy “Bipartisan” Graham.

12 responses to “Rick Warren as “The New James Dobson”: Pros and Cons

  1. Wasn’t Billy Graham caught saying severely racist & anti-liberal, rah-rah Republican things on the Nixon Tapes?

  2. Yeah Tim that’s true, but I was just pointing out that Graham was good personal friends with both Republican and Democrat alike… Nixon, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Bush, Clinton, etc… Can you imagine any other Christian leader being so bipartisan?

  3. Nice commentary. I’ve always felt pretty meh about the Purpose Driven stuff, but I’ve been impressed with Warren’s move towards justice recently.

  4. As a Christian on the outskirts of evangelicalism I’ve never felt compelled by any of the three to follow their political (or spiritual) lead.
    I’m also inclined to wonder if hosting a political forum in the church is overstepping the bounds of the role of the church in society. That critique quite possibly overflows onto all three individuals.
    (It’s moments like these that my Lutheranism blares like the rock show.)

  5. As far as Warren goes, I used to be really opposed to the whole “purpose-driven” (TM) idea, but he kind of one me over with his seemingly sincere commitment to issues that don’t just affect the denizens of suburban California. If anything, I think this meeting might have suggested that the Religious Right is finally dead.

    However, like others, I’m a little concerned with how much Warren seems to be courting the idea of political game-changer. Collin Hansen has a good blog entry about this, specifically about the dangers of a “new Graham.” Definitely worth a read, and he says it more concisely than I would.

  6. Why so down on Dobson?

  7. Pingback: Hold it right there Rick Warren « ADKF

  8. I agree with Peach. I’m not big fan of Dobson either, but would love to know your thoughts on why anyone would be better than he.

  9. Dobson’s ridiculous and petty, for one thing. The Focus on the Family Action wing recently put out a spot asking Christians to pray for rain to fall on Obama’s speech in Denver.

  10. The title in itself is COMPLETELY inaccurate.
    Warren never could be and never will be the “new James Dobson”. Dobson is an upstanding man of impeccable character and uncomprimising moral faith. Dobson would never even stand in the same room as Obama. (Google ‘Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America”
    Most don’t even know what “Christian” means anymore. Dobson does. Read the entire Bible for crying out loud. His stance is perfectly in line with God’s desires for an individual’s life and this country as a whole. If you don’t believe it, then don’t, but stop calling Dobson a hyprocrite. It just makes you liberals look like a fool – even that much more!

  11. What really matters

    Why should we spend our time fighting over who is “perfect” no man on earth is going to be perfect. The fact is i know many people who this book has helped, and gave them hope in their negative life. I know, cause I go to a rehabilitation center for mental health.

    Whats more important. Its simple.

    The fact that his church has had enough faith to feed 42,000 people.

    Or The fact that rick warren is a bad man, and we are better than him.

    All men are created equal! Pride is your enemy. Pride tells you to disagree with me because you want to be right.

    “For the greatest commandment is to love” God, not man, said that.

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