A member of Saddleback started a Bible study, called The King’s Way, with some of our Muslim friends. During the study they started writing down things that they noticed Muslims, Jews, and Christians might have in common: They noticed that all three claim to believe the Great Commandment (“Love God with all you heart and love your Neighbor as yourself”), all three accept the Old Testament as Scripture (and Muslims claim to accept the New Testament also) and all three are monotheistic (one God, not many).
They presented these thoughts at the Bible study’s Christmas dinner in December. That’s it! End of story! It went no further. No document was signed. No agreement was made. No covenant was approved. It was just two men sharing their observations at the Bible study dinner regarding what Muslims, Jews, and Christians have in common.
That’s a huge difference from the way it was reported. It was not a new partnership. It was not a theological covenant. It was not a new religion called “Chrislam.” The fact is, the Bible study discussion paper was never even seen by anyone on Saddleback’s Leadership Team (40 pastors,) Saddleback’s Pastor’s Management Team (14 pastors), Saddleback’s Trustees (6 business leaders), or Saddleback’s Elders (7 pastors).
Predictably, to defend himself after my interview corrected his errors, the Orange County Register reporter released a segment of the so-called “document” to the I-hate-Saddleback bloggers – giving them a supposed smoking gun. Unfortunately, he forgot to ask if any Saddleback pastors had actually signed or even seen this paper. We had not! But now we’ve heard that there will be a second article in the Register giving a platform and legitimacy to attackers who didn’t know the facts either. So don’t be surprised if it’s wrong again.
Let me be clear: This entire misunderstanding is neither the fault of Saddleback members nor our Muslim friends who accepted the invitation to study the Bible together. It’s the result of poor reporting and the willingness of irresponsible bloggers who hate us to automatically believe anything negative about our church. They shoot first, publish a report, then ask for clarification after they’ve done the damage, and finally, they never retract anything when proven wrong. When a national news agency contacted us this week, their conclusion was “There’s no real story here.” Duh!
This incident also highlights the gullibility of people who believe everything negative on the Internet without fact-checking and the willingness of Christians to pass on bad reports about others that they can’t confirm. When people WANT to believe the worst about you, they always pass on negative reports without validating them first. It’s a motivation issue.
“Only a fool believes everything he’s told! A prudent man understands the need for proof.” (Proverbs 14:15)
That’s the rest of the story. We will continue to ignore the irresponsible bloggers who just want to fight, but we will keep you informed when blatant lies are told about our church family. I love you all!