If you weren’t aware of the Saddleback Civil Forum that happened on Saturday night, you missed out.  Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, wrote one of the greatest-selling books of all time, trying to take on all the world’s problems through his PEACE plan, and all around great guy, he decided to bring the two presidential candidates together for the first time since their unofficial official nomination.

Warren hosted it at his church, and he flipped a coin to see who would go first.  Obama got first dibs, and McCain was supposedly unable to hear Obama’s comments.  Warren interviewed Obama for an hour and then asked the exact same questions to McCain right after that.

First of all, even news commentators that are not pro-church or pro-Warren said that it was the most ingenious debate they had ever seen.  It was a controlled environment.  There wasn’t an opportunity to argue.  They were asked the same questions, and then you got to see their differing responses to those questions without any rebuttal or inclination of what the other candidate said.

Secondly, Warren asked some tough questions!  Sitting in his church with all major news stations rolling their cameras, Warren asked questions like these:

  • What is the greatest moral failure in your life?
  • Describe your relationship with Jesus and what that means to you daily?
  • When does an unborn baby receive rights?
  • Does evil exist in the world?
  • Define a rich person (how much exactly)?
  • What do you think about faith-based organizations?

Amanda and I just kept jumping off the couch at how wonderful and revealing the questions he asked.  Warren was brillant.

While there are many reasons I loved this forum, I think my final main reason was that Rick Warren has developed such credibility in this country, that he was able to pull something off like that.  Unfortunately, Christians are Warren’s greatest critics.  He is constantly blasted by his Christian brothers, and I am sure the blog world is going crazy concerning this latest endeavor.

Personally, I thank God for a man who decided to plant his church in the least church populated county in the United Stated when he started.  I am thankful that amidst his great profit on his book, he repaid his church for his 25 years plus salary, started tithing 90% instead of 10%, and doesn’t take a salary anymore.  I am also grateful that he has decided to do something about the orphan crisis in our world, the AIDS epidemic, the malnourished, the oppressed, and so much more.

Basically, he has decided to make his life count.  And the next president was asked some tough questions by him on Saturday night.  And by using his influence, he gained a worldwide audience to give the message that the church is involved in the affairs of the world, and that people who love Jesus are not illiterate.

Thank you, Mr. Warren.  Keep on keeping on.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.