A STORY OF TWO REDEMPTIONS?
By Paul Proctor
October 8, 2005
On the October 5th 2005 edition of Larry King Live, King asked his guest, Pastor Rick Warren: "Why are many of your Christian brethren angry at her now?" referring, of course, to King's other guest, Ashley Smith and the shocking revelations brought out in her new book, "Unlikely Angel;" that she offered methamphetamines to her kidnapper, Brian Nichols.
WARREN: "You know I don't think -- I don't think they are. What I -- I've read a lot of the reports. The people who have belittled this are those who, a) haven't read the book and read the whole story..."
While most might make the mistake of focusing on Ashley and the drug issue, arguing over whether or not it was God, the crystal meth or God using the crystal meth that actually saved Ashley's life that dreadful day; I think it's more important that we consider what her handler, Rick Warren had to say about it all in the interview, especially since he continues to try and use her high profile story to validate his teachings and promote his book, The Purpose Driven Life.
If Rick's "Christian brethren" are indeed angry with Ashley Smith, then I suspect that anger will grow exponentially in the coming days as more and more sordid details are forced out into the open by defense attorneys in the upcoming trials of both her accused kidnapper and the accused killer of her late husband. Those lawyers and their investigators will be digging deep and wide for information with which they can discredit her and those close to her in the interest of their respective clients - information that could further endanger Warren's credibility as he awkwardly and incessantly tries to assert his own spiritual legitimacy through hers.
It is my belief that the anger King alluded to in the interview is also, if not more so, directed toward Warren himself because those "Christian brethren" probably include clergy that are coming to grips with the very real possibility they were, as we say here in Tennessee, "sold a pig in a poke;" pastors and church leaders whose own credibility, leadership, judgment and job security may well come into question by the countless congregations they led down the Purpose Driven path, as the weightiness of more Ashley Smith baggage is found hidden aboard the Good Ship Saddleback, forcing it to take on more and more water from a very turbulent mainstream. I should note here that though they, in all their "righteous indignation," might curse the captain of their sinking vessel; it is their own pride and vanity that keeps them from jumping ship and swimming to shore in repentance.
The following statement expresses what I believe the "brethren" are angry about:
WARREN: "�Larry, this is a story of two redemptions. It's Ashley's redemption and it's Brian's redemption�"
You see, anyone who has researched the details of this saga beyond the hypnotic glow of the TV tube or has read my recent articles on it with a basic biblical understanding of what it is to be Born Again, knows that this statement is absurd; and if it is, then the one who made it is either ignorant, gullible, desperate, deceived or all of the above.
As I brought out in my last installment, "Voices," Ashley's kidnapper, Brian Nichols, not only converted to Islam after the incident while awaiting trial in jail; but also unrepentantly pleaded "not guilty" to the multiple murders numerous witnesses saw him commit. And, before Warren made his dual redemption proclamation there on live television, Ashley had this to say about her own Christian faith:
SMITH: "You know I've been a Christian for -- since probably since I was seven years old and God's been...God's been knocking, you know, for this personal relationship. You can't just be a Christian. You have to have a personal relationship with Jesus also�"
SO, here's the obvious question no one had the guts to ask on the CNN set: Was she redeemed at the age of seven OR during the hostage crisis with the help of Rick Warren's book? Maybe she was lost and saved as a child and then lost and saved again as a drug-addicted adult - first without Warren's book and then with the book.
Are we to believe that this Purpose Driven "miracle" is a new and improved redemption - brought to you by "America's Pastor" and guaranteed to last a lifetime or your methamphetamines back?
Furthermore, from what I can ascertain in her above quote, she also seems to think that one can be a Christian and NOT have a relationship with Jesus Christ! Unfortunately, her chuckling pastor had no response to that; so I'm pretty sure, at the end of the day, very few viewers were edified, convicted or encouraged to repent of anything. Another lost opportunity�
The bottom line is: A lot of things just aren't adding up. Considering that her teacher and guide here is Rick Warren; hearing her make these strange and conflicting statements on Larry King Live didn't come as all that much of a surprise, illustrating perfectly the watered-down philosophy Warren calls "the gospel;" and why an increasing number of "Christian brethren" are growing angry.
Once again, let me reiterate what I have plainly stated in two previous columns on this subject: I pose these important questions about Ashley Smith's "conversion" and that of Brian Nichols, not to criticize or condemn them for their spiritual ignorance and confusion; but rather to point out the rotten fruit this movement is producing and peddling to a lost world via hype, self-gratification and gimmickry; a world that is not only becoming progressively perplexed about what it means to repent and be redeemed; but also ever more hostile toward those who insist on clinging solely to God's Word for the answers.
When we seek quantity rather than quality and foolishly fill our churches with "redemptions" like these while boasting to the world of how marvelously God has blessed our cleverness and imagination by increasing our numbers, we demonstrate just how deceived we are by our own pride and ambition, remaining wretched, blind and naked in our faithless disobedience toward God and His Word.
You see, when asked by a caller near the end of the show, whether this ordeal would launch a public speaking tour for Ashley; and if she would be good at speaking, Pastor Warren said: "Oh, fantastic. And I'll be her agent�You know why? Because she's authentic."
Yeah, and so are you, Rick�
"For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." - 2nd Timothy 3:6-7
Purpose Driven Hostage
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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print.
E-Mail: [email protected]�
SO, here's the obvious question no one had the guts to ask on the CNN set: Was she redeemed at the age of seven OR during the hostage crisis with the help of Rick Warren's book?