The problem is not that Rick and Kay Warren invited Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the keynote speaker at their third annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church at Saddleback Church. The problem is that Rick Warren never engaged the Senator on the points where many evangelicals are at odds with her agenda.
Giving Senator Clinton a platform in one of the largest evangelical churches in America exposes her agenda, allowing us to engage her in the arena of ideas on the social issues on which we fundamentally disagree, something conservative evangelicals should welcome.
Senator Clinton was welcomed by the ostensibly evangelical crowd with a standing ovation. She spoke for just under 30 minutes, taking as her text James 2:26, “Faith without works is dead.” Wrenching it from its context, Clinton began:
One of my favorite passages in Scripture is that famous line from James that “faith without works is dead.” But I have concluded that works without faith is just too hard. It cannot be sustained over one’s life or over the generations. And it’s important for us to recognize how, here in what you’re doing, faith and works come together.
There’s just one problem: faith and works don’t “come together.” Our works are never independent of our faith. We don’t add our faith to our works. Our works flow from and validate our faith.
The point of the James passage is not to suggest that we add faith to our works in order to make our work easier and more fulfilling. Rather, our works flow from our faith in Jesus Christ to give evidence of our salvation from sin, and this faith is “not of ourselves” but is itself “the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The point of the James passage is not to say that what we do can somehow be made easier by our belief in what we are doing, but rather to say that we can do nothing ultimately pleasing to God unless it flows from our faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 14:23; Hebrews 11:6). Senator Clinton, it seems, has redefined faith to mean faith in our works rather than faith in Jesus producing our works.
Throughout her speech the Senator similarly mishandled the Word of God, at one point paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 12:12 saying, “Corinthians tells us that the body is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” She then went on to interpret the “the parts of the body” as the combining of government resources (tax revenue) with the resources the church can provide (comfort care). However, the text of Scripture clearly indicates that the body is Christ’s Church and believers are the individual members thereof.
But the most egregious misapplication of Scripture came when the Senator from New York said:
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