September 17th, 2013
09:59 PM ET

Rick Warren on guns, God and son's tragic death

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

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Lake Forest, California (CNN) — In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.

"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.

"But that - that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."

Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, founded Saddleback Church in Southern California in 1980, growing it from a small congregation to a multisite megachurch with some 20,000 weekly worshippers.

Warren is also author of the spiritual self-help guide “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, with more 36 million copies sold.

But even as the Warrens grew in prominence - attending conferences with presidents and prime ministers - their son Matthew struggled with borderline personality disorder and deep depression, they said during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

The Warrens said they are opening up about their son’s tragic death because they hope to end the stigma of mental illness and save another family from the pain they suffer.

They have slowly returned to the spotlight since grieving in private for five months.

MORE ON CNN: The five things you need to know about Rick Warren

The gun

Matthew Warren visited his parents on the night of April 5, just like so many nights before.

“I had made him dinner,” Kay Warren told CNN. “He laid his head down on the kitchen table and he just said ‘I'm so tired.’ He just said ‘I'm so tired.’”

After a hug from his dad, Matthew left his parents' house and went back to his own. He and his mom began texting, and the conversation veered toward suicide, Kay Warren said.

“I knew it was very desperate. And I also knew he – I knew he had a gun.”

Earlier, Matthew had told his parents he had illegally obtained a gun online - but if they called the police about the gun he would kill himself instantly.

Matthew Warren had tried to legally purchase a gun many times, his family said. Each time he was rebuffed because he had been forcibly admitted to a mental institution, a red flag on a California background check.

“We're grateful that the laws kept Matthew from getting the gun for as long as it did,” Rick Warren said.

When Matthew hit a roadblock buying a gun, he turned to other options.

"He was so desperate to end the pain,” Kay Warren said.

Ten days earlier, Matthew had tried to end his life by overdosing on pills, the Warrens said, one of several suicide attempts in his young life.

Matthew had begged his mother to help him die, Kay Warren said.

“I will do anything to help you live,” she recalls telling him, “but I will not help you take your life.”

The texting between Matthew and Kay Warren went on for hours on the night of April 5.

Then it stopped.

The Warrens headed to Matthew’s house. He did not come to the door. The lights were on, and they decided to leave, worried if they called the police Matthew would make good on his fatal promise.

The next morning they went back to his house. The lights were still on.

This time they called the police.

Rick and Kay Warren stood outside their son’s home sobbing in each others’ arms.

They knew.

A nod from a police officer who inspected Matthew's house confirmed the worst.

“I just hit the ground," Kay Warren said.

God's plan

Matthew had access to mental health care and all the love in the world but not even that could spare him, Rick Warren said.

“If love could have kept my child alive, he'd be alive today, because he was incredibly loved,” the pastor said.

The evangelical Christian said he doesn’t blame God for his son’s death.

“I never questioned my faith in God; I questioned God’s plan,” Rick Warren said. “God isn’t the blame for my son’s death. My son took his life. It was his choice.”

Kay Warren said the family’s faith and community support got them through the past five months. Condolence cards poured in from around the world; 30,000 by Saddleback Church’s count.

In their grief, Rick and Kay Warren said they turned to a familiar source, the Bible.

For Kay Warren, a verse from the New Testament brings comfort, she said. “It says our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory.”

She recites the verse when visiting her son’s grave.

"Matthew's body was broken. That gun broke his body and he was buried in brokenness. But he's going to be raised in glory.”

GALLERY: Rick Warren over the years


The Warrens said they struggle with anger that their son died using an illegally obtained firearm.

Before his death, Matthew told his parents he bought the gun online, but wouldn’t tell them from whom.

Investigators said the serial number was filed off when they recovered it from the scene. So far police have not been able to determine who sold Matthew Warren the gun.

“One of the hard things was forgiving the person who sold him the gun,” Rick Warren said. “Because I didn't want to forgive him.”

But the Warrens said their Christian faith, rooted in the belief that their own sins had been forgiven by Jesus, enabled them to forgive the person who sold the gun to their son.

“I don't want to be tied to that person emotionally for the rest of my life,” Kay Warren said.

Slightly more than half of Americans - 53% - think churches should do more to prevent suicide in America, according to a new poll by LifeWay Research, a Christian company based in Nashville.

Nearly half of evangelicals (48%) say people with serious mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be cured by Bible study and prayer alone. Sixty percent of Americans overall disagree.

The Warrens said Matthew had access to good health care, but the system sometimes puts obstacles between families and their mentally ill loved ones.

Kay Warren pointed to difficulty families have in getting mentally ill family members help because of laws on patient privacy.

“The right to privacy and that right to autonomy, it's a dance,” she said.
 “I don't have good answers. It's a dance. So we've got to do a better job with that.”

Because the Warrens are conservative Christians who oppose same-sex marriage, rumors circulated about Matthew's sexuality in the days after his death.

The Warrens dismissed those rumors in the CNN interview.

“Well, first, Matthew wasn't gay, " Rick Warren said, "but if he was, we would have loved him unconditionally anyway. It wouldn't have made one difference at all.”

The Warrens said they have tried to stay away from online criticism and the rumors surrounding Matthew’s death so they can focus on his legacy: raising awareness about mental illness.


Asked why they had not prioritized mental illness earlier, the Warrens said that they did not want to thrust their troubled son into the limelight.

“It was his story to tell,” Rick Warren said.

Now telling Matthew’s story falls to his parents.

They want the world to remember a young man who was “funny, quirky, ridiculously silly.”

On his headstone the family put “compassionate warrior.”

They have established the Matthew Warren Fund to honor his memory. Rick Warren said they will wait a year and then hope to use the funds to help those struggling with mental illness and their families.

The Warrens want to spread the word that even though their story had a tragic ending, “There’s hope,” Kay Warren said. “It’s so important that people know, no matter how desperate their despair, there is hope, and not to give up.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Death • Faith • Guns • Leaders • Violence

soundoff (1,411 Responses)
  1. CommonSensed

    Please go away and leave the spotlight you so dearly love.

    Your god is disappointed in you.

    September 18, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  2. EdL

    Warren says he does not blame God for his son's death. I should hope not, but why should it even be a thought? Warren now questions God's plan? I should imagine Warren's God would not welcome Warren questioning His plan. So far as the one who sold the gun to their son, how would that person suspect it might be used for suicide? Guess you got to blame someone. But to forgive that person? Why forgive? That person was not responsible for their son's death, that person merely sold a gun. The serial number being filed off might be a consideration for the police with regard to the seller. With regard to Warren, he is a good motivational speaker, handy with words, but I just can't believe he has cried every day from April to September.

    September 18, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • CommonSensed

      He wants your money. Pity him and send some.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  3. Honey Badger Don't Care

    The simple fact of the matter is that Rick Warren drove his son to this partially due to his religious views. He couldnt handle his son being gay and this created the mental instability that drove him to suicide.

    Rick Warren should be in jail right now.

    September 18, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      I haven't been able to verify that the son was gay, anywhere. I have seen a lot of speculation, and agree that if he was, Rick Warren would certainly put undo pressure on the son.

      Do you have any verification or is this just speculation?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin


      September 18, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Mary

      ...he said based on ABSOLUTELY ZERO factual information. How do you know Matthew- were you friends? Interesting how you can state with such authority things about someone you don't even know.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • doobzz

        And yet in a discussion just below this one, you tell me what I am thinking, and you don't know me.


        September 18, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Postulates like this, i.e. without supporting empirical evidence, are immediately voided.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Says the young earth creationist.....

        September 18, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Roger that

      I agree with Richard and Mary. The rumor started back in April, and there has been no evidence to support it.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  4. CP in FL

    I challenge all you bible thumpers out there to prove the existence of your god. This must be a scientific proof. Do not quote from your book of fairy tales or tell me of miracles you witnessed. I am talking about actual proof. Why don't we see miracles if they indeed exist? Why doesn't prayer work if a god is listening? There is no god and there is no evidence of any god. The burden of proof is on the believers. The default position is that god does not exist.

    September 18, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You dont want proof, you want reliable evidence. Proof of a concept is a very hard thing to come by.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Taylor made

      The definite of faith is belief in the absence of proof. You'll say that's a cop-out and you have that right. I have no fault with you not believing. Why do you have a problem with those who do? I'm not talking about those who wield religion as a weapon and use it as a basis for judgement and distain (and have no doubt that is in ALL religions). I'm against those types of people also. Broadbased accusations towards a group of people for what one faction (your "bible-thumpers) is no better than judgement towards a race or class of people because a few of them represent a negative image. That being said, I do believe and I believe for reasons of my own. I do not need to prove or justify why. I just ask that you respect my beliefs and I will respect yours. Peace.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • Nate

        Nice post

        September 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Ted

        Taylor made, please note:

        1. Beliefs are not people. They are ideas, often bad ones, and as such, they do not require or deserve respect. Try to understand the distinction.

        2. We oppose and criticize your crazy beliefs rather than ignoring them because, for example, they impact how you vote, plus the rules and norms that the rest of us have to live by.

        Got that yet, stupid?

        September 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  5. CP in FL

    Being a pastor has got to be the easiest job there is. Rick stands up there and makes stuff up about god with absolutely no proof of his existence. Then Rick passes around the collection plate and waits for the money to roll in from his congregation and his book deals all while planning his next vacation. The simple minded are easily fooled. If people were not brainwashed from an early age into believing this nonsense then no one would believe it.

    September 18, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • JD

      I'm an Agnostic at best....But at my absolute worst I would not mock a man and woman who just lost a child to suicide...You Atheists can be such a hateful lot.......

      September 18, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Not hateful, just realistic. Rick Warren caused the death of his son and the wife did nothing to stop it. They should both be in jail.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Hell and destruction are never full

          Realistically hateful?? That'll work for the mentally ill.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  6. Red

    You've got a mega church that brings you the mega bucks.

    You preach about how God brings happiness, health, wealth, and prosperity.

    You use your own life to illustrate this.

    Then your son shoots himself.

    How do you preserve the illusion and keep that money rolling in?

    Just claim it was "God's will".

    September 18, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Lester Singleton

      Tell me again how this relates to money, other than the fact that money is obviously all you can focus on when it comes to religion.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Taylor made

      Where does he say 'it's God's Will"? He says that Matthew chose this and that he does not blame God (as many people would), but he doesn't say it was God's will. I think he questioned what he believes God's plan is for himself in dealing with this tragedy. Regardless, unless you've dealt with someone who has mental illness, you cannot in good concience judge these people. It is an extraordinarily situation to deal with and conventional methods of interaction do not apply. I do not know the Warrens, but my sympathy and compassion goes to them. Whether you believe in a higher being or not, surely you must understand grief and loss in some capacity? Being kind costs you nothing. Being mean hurts everyone.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • Lester Singleton

        You are correct. Just like everyone who loses someone, christian or not, he questions the purpose for his sons death. For some reason, people hold Christians up like they are suppose to have all the answers when I think in reality it is Christians who are the ones admitting that they don't have all the answers.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          No they aren't. Christians think they have the answers with their man-made god. They don't have the answers on what god wnats or why god does things...good reason for that is because their god was created and defined by men. Men created god(s) in his own image, and the world has never been peaceful since.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Lester Singleton

          It sounds to me like you sound like you have all the answers. I guess that means you are a Christian......or am I missing something?

          September 18, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • Fallacy Spotting 101

          Post by 'Lester Singleton' contains an instance of the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent


          September 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Nate

      I've never heard of Rick Warren preaching the Prosperity Gospel, or trying to portray his life as nothing but flowers and sunshine. Maybe I missed something. Do you have some examples?

      September 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  7. freefromtheism

    Can someone choose to do something that goes against the "plan"?
    Just wondering...

    September 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • CP in FL

      I am sure if you donate enough money to the church a custom plan can be set up for you.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Lester Singleton

      Depends on if you believe in predestination or not. If so, then no.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • ProdicalSon

      "The plan" includes choice. God didn't include robots.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • ProdicalSon

        Sorry, God didn't create robots.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          You are so right. Also leprechauns did not create robots. Unicorns did not create robots. Santa's elves don't actual create any robots. They have both that and non-existence in common with your God.

          September 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Humans on the other hand, have created robots. They also created God.

          September 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  8. BRW

    I feel desperately sorry for any family who loses a child in this manner – but I found myself shaking my head reading this account of Matthew's suicide. They knew he'd acquired a gun, but because he threatened to kill himself if they told the police, they chose to do nothing about it? And his mother texted him "for hours" that night – with the subject of suicide being mentioned in those texts – before they decided to go to his home? Then they left when he wouldn't answer the door, and didn't call the police until they returned the next morning? Yeah, sometimes despite your best efforts someone you love will do something terrible – but if push came to shove I'd rather my child kill himself with me outside trying to bang down the door than have him die alone while I sat at home wringing my hands. I am a Christian and have nothing against the Warrens for their beliefs. But honestly – I just do not understand their passive handling of such an urgent situation. I do not know how you could sit there and text your child for hours, and later just walk away from your child's home, knowing he is suicidal.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Lester Singleton

      It makes perfect sense. If they called the cops, he was dead no matter what. So the mom chose to try to talk him through it herself and hope for the best rather than guarantee death. Maybe she will find comfort in the conversations and knowing she did all she could do before he met his ultimate demise, something she wouldn't have if she had called the cops.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • doobzz

        I agree with you on this one. My best friend's only child started showing symptoms of mental illness as a teenager, she's in her 30's now. She's been suicidal for most of that time.

        Every time the phone or doorbell rings, for the last fifteen years, my friend has had to prepare herself that it will be someone telling her that her child has committed suicide.

        People in this situation do what they think will save the child, but sometimes nothing works. Second guessing them is futile. No one knows what happened inside this troubled man's mind during his last hours.

        My personal feelings about the Warren's exploitation of gullible people is a separate issue.

        September 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • Dippy

          Warrens', not Warren's.

          September 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • .


          September 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • doobzz

          Actually, dippy, it should have been The Warren's. You know, like The Donald's.

          September 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Ann

      Sadly, they had probably been through scenarios like this many times before. It's easy to say now that they should have intervened more, but how many times do you break down the door?

      September 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Susanna Thompson

    The poor kid took his own life because he was gay, and he was raised by an insane, arrogant, smug, conceited jerk who was bigoted against gay kids. Hey, Rick Warren, you delusional fool, you say "It wouldn't have made one difference at all" if he was gay, yet you would have in fact viciously tried to prevent him from getting married if he found some guy he loved and wanted to spend his life with. Rick, can you even hear yourself, the nonsense that comes out of both sides of your mouth? YOU killed your son, with your arrogant, arrogant, smug, self-righteous mindset and stubborn belief in things and deities that just plain DON'T EXIST!!!

    September 18, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • You're Almost There

      You realize your complaints are based on assertion, right? Which by definition, makes your complaints completely irrational.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:54 am |
      • freefromtheism

        Perhaps it is just me, but what you wrote makes no sense.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Live4Him

          @freefromtheism : Perhaps it is just me, but what you wrote makes no sense.

          Makes sense to me. "You're Almost There" is claiming that "Susanna Thompson" stated her case without facts (i.e. asserted). Complaining about something without any facts is irrational.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          But believing in religion without any facts is rational?

          September 18, 2013 at 11:24 am |
        • FreeFromTheism

          Still doesn't make any sense.

          What he meant, perhaps, was a "mere assertion", that means what I think you think he thought he meant.
          But that is still wrong, because then, what he would have meant, was that the original poster was attacking a straw man (that is, the original poster made a statement/argument that he was going to invalidate, instead of arguing against the actual subject matter).
          AHHHHH this is so confusing!

          September 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • You're Almost There


          Yes it is also irrational, but seeing as you did not defend anything, you must also be submitting to the idea that complaining about these ideas without hard facts is also irrational. Therefore everyone is irrational here, and you are no better than the people you complain about.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Did you read what you wrote? You draw a conclusion that is a non sequitur.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Mary

      No matter what you believe or don't, to so viciously attack a family in this position requires you to be completely hateful. You expose your true colors with these posts.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:37 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Thank you for your 'opinion'... not that anybody obviously cares what it is... but thanks anyway...

        September 18, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • doobzz

        @ Mary

        What's truly vicious is the pure hatred and satisfaction I see in the eyes of Christians who scream at me that I'm going to hell because I don't believe in your god. Many times, they'll also say that they'll be dancing with joy while they watch me scream and burn forever.

        September 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Mary

          The fact that anyone would do that to you is equally hateful, I agree. The people who say that are not acting in a way that is either Biblical or Christ-like, which is what Christian means.

          However- belief systems aside, answering hate with hate only perpetuates the problem. To show hate and ridicule when people have lost a child, that is heartless. To say,"Well, people have been heartless to me," does not excuse the choice to pass hate on. That's a rational argument, not one of belief.

          September 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • Nate

          I've very sorry about that. There are many supposed Christians that spew hate and bigotry at those that Jesus would be hanging out with if He were here today. Just know that they are behaving like the very people that killed Jesus.

          September 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • doobzz

          "To show hate and ridicule when people have lost a child, that is heartless. To say,"Well, people have been heartless to me," does not excuse the choice to pass hate on"

          Could you point to the place in my post where I said anything remotely like that?

          September 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ Nate,

          I doubt very much that Jesus would hang out with me if he was here today. He'd likely call me a dog and walk away.

          The experience I described is actually quite common for non believers and non Christians. I hear the sweetest looking little blue hairs or nicely dressed young mommies pushing strollers, utter some very hateful things, not just to me, but to people who are of other belief systems, in front of their children, at the grocery store, the book store, their kid's schools, the bank, and the mall. They do it with smug arrogance and joyful satisfaction. Their loathing radiates from them like a sick miasma.

          Whether you want to admit it or not, they are Christians and are acting in complete accordance with your book. They just don't go all the way and commit physical murder of infidels, yet.

          September 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Nate

          I don't doubt you at all about the way many Christians behave, and I think it's disgusting. I've seen it myself. There's a process called sanctification where a Christian becomes more like Jesus. It is possible that those people are Christians, but have chose to remain hateful and bitter. Or it's possible that they think they are Christians, but have never really accepted Christ as their savior, but that's not for me to judge.

          Jesus would not call you a dog. The Bible says he hung out with sinners and was killed by those that were self righteous, aka the Pharisees. God loves you and sent His son to die so that you can be saved.

          September 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ Nate

          Sanctification, shmanctification.

          I was a fundie for years. I've been there and done that. Jesus would most assuredly call me a dog and ignore me, because I now rely on things for which there is evidence, and not of the "things not seen" variety.

          The hate and cruelty that I've seen Christians show against non believers or other faiths is also pretty close to the hatred they show a church member who dares to drink a beer on a hot day or dance a cha cha with his wife.

          I've met your Jesus, and he's an asshole, just like dear old dad.

          September 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Rickwar

          You may think you have met Jesus, because you have met some who claim they are His followers (and unfortunately, maybe some were). But that's not necessarily true. I'll say it like Boromir. One does not simply 'meet Jesus' and walk WITH Him and then walk away from Him.

          If anyone comes to the Living God they come to Him on His terms. You obviously did not come to God on his terms. I wonder what sin in your life which you refused to let go which has cause you to rebel against God so violently? You didn't like His terms and that's your choice–Jesus never said everyone would. But you should know the difference between "done there, done that" christian thing by assenting to some doctrines, and choosing to submit your life to Him.

          After (and only after) one submits their life to Christ do they really have a relationship with Him and experience the authentic christian life. God will not suffer dablers. He is either God or He is not. He does not need to prove himself to you.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:01 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Rickwar, it could be that your God, imaginary, is unable to prove itself to anyone. And the arrogance in what you've said is yours, not God's.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:07 am |
        • Rickwar

          Oh, and for the record, not drinking and not dancing have never been a part of God's terms. You seem like an intelligent, logical and rational fellow and I bet you're probably thorough in your investigations of "what is seen". Not every person who claims they speak for God does. Just as I shouldn't accept the claims of university students in Utah saying they have cold fusion in jar.

          Do your own research and you will find that those who said those things were not right to forbid such things. Luke 7:32-34 & Zeph 3:17 (KJV cites "dance"). There's plenty of disagreement within the scientific community on many things. I'm sure you're aware of this, but have you written off science becuase some people have it wrong?

          Why tolerance with scientific disagreement but not religious disagreement? I'm guessing it is something very personal that struck a chord (and a bad chord) which you haven't been able to get over. That's understandable. But don't burn your Bible just because someone gives you thier flawed view. If YOU study the bible in the same way as those things "which are seen" and sincerely submit to them, I'm sure you'll have a completely different experience than the first time around.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:32 am |
        • Rickwar

          @ Tom, Tom, the Other One
          Very aptly said. I admit, I cannot prove to you it is otherwise. In this situation of a forum I also cannot prove to anyone that I have children and that I love them. Someone could choose to believe me based on what I say. They could surmise, from the way that I talk, that it must be the case–but I could not prove it. And some would call those who believe me idiots because I haven't handed over my paperwork. But it does not change the fact of what is.

          I apologize if my comments came across as arrogant. I only speak of what I know–I do not mean to be arrogant. If you are referring to my comment about sin then I can especially agree that it sounded offensive. However, I do not think it arrogant to speak what the bible teaches. (After all, you would already expect me to believe and cite its teaching. That's no surprise.)

          My comment was to point out that no one comes to God because His plan makes rational sense, and in fact, there must be something more which doobzz wasn't willing to let go of and trust in God's ways. Seriously, an omnipotent being becoming a baby and living a man's life in a pure fashion just so He could die and legitimately take on the penalty of other peoples' sins because He wants to redeem what He created? Just because He loves them and wants to reveal Himself as a loving God? I mean does that sound believeable? Hardly.

          People don't come to Jesus Christ because it makes sense. They come to Him because the are fully aware of the futility of living in this world where evil and wrongdoing seem to rule the day. Moreover, they not only see the wrong of this world but they see the wrong in themselves, that things are not the way they are supposed to be. And they want more–something better. And they crave that rightness so much that what seems foolish actually becomes tenable. "If only this crazy truth were true, it could set me free from this life of sadness and I could live in joy–even if I still have all my flaws and live in a world which hurts." It is this faith in what sounds so crazy where God is able to demonstrate those who really sought after Him for the right reasons.

          Am I aware of how foolish the plan is? Probably more than you, ironically. But am I also aware that because of my trust in God, has garnered me understanding and peace which only come AFTER I completely trust in what He has protected for thousands of years in His written word? I am fully aware of such things. And just because you mock me because I say I have such understanding doesn't make it any less true.

          I have said a prayer for you just now–for your long life, for your mind and heart to prosper all in hopes that you would eventually find happiness on this short time on earth–even if you don't come to trust in The One True God. Even if you don't ever come to the same beliefs as mine I still can hope for your happiness (even though I know there is a happiness beyond this world).

          And you can't prove to me that God doesn't hear it. 🙂

          September 19, 2013 at 4:11 am |
  10. Red

    You pray.

    "God" ignores your prayer.

    Your son kills himself.

    What did you learn?

    It was "God's will".


    No matter what happens, the objective is to preserve the fantasy of an invisible sky daddy.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Vik100

      You don't understand Christianity. I don't understand atheism.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Red

        Actually, I was a "born again" Evangelical Christian for many years.

        So I do understand them.

        They are delusional.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Live4Him

          @Red : I was a "born again" Evangelical Christian for many years. ... They are delusional.

          So, if you were delusional before (by your own admission), how do you know that you're not delusional now?

          September 18, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Lester Singleton

          Explain to me how it is that you can be "born again" when it is obvious that you never believed in the first place.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • doobzz

          @ Lester

          Could you provide your qualifications for saying that someone never believed? Wouldn't that be your deity's job?

          You can google "no true Scotsman" to see why your argument doesn't stand up to logic.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Lester Singleton

          Because truth is truth. Why would you call it being "born again" if the whole crux of that definition revolves around believing in a God that you don't think exists? Did he just not have enough information to determine that God didn't exist when he became "born again". By the very definition of being "born again", if he wants to claim that status, means that he is actually still a Christian whether he wants to accept that status or not.

          September 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • doobzz

          @ Lester

          You didn't answer my question. What are your qualifications to determine whether Red was a believer or not?

          "Truth is truth." Laughable. Who determines what is true? You and your dusty, unreliable, easily debunked book? That's fine for you, if you're so inclined. It doesn't apply to anyone else.

          September 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • LinCA


        You said, "You don't understand Christianity."
        While, of course, I can't speak for Red, understanding christianity is easier than you might think. You may not like it that atheists tend to understand christianity, or any religion, for the delusion that it is, but that probably means that atheists have a better understanding of it than those that profess to adhere to it.

        You said, "I don't understand atheism."
        That is wholly unsurprising. If you understood atheism, you'd be an atheist. To understand atheism, you have to be able to accept the possibility that gods are no different from the Tooth Fairy or the Easter bunny, and just imaginary. Once you do that there really is no reason to cling to a belief in them.

        September 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Bry

      Shame on you! Show some respect for those who are morning.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • CP in FL

        What does the fact that it is morning have to do with anything?

        September 18, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        And for those who are afternoon and evening.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • Doris


          September 18, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • doobzz

        Thank you! I can't morning properly without my espresso, and it's plain disrespectful to blah, blah, blah about vengeful overlords while I'm trying to morning.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • doobzz

      Since he's with their god now, you'd think they'd be happier. After all, Christians have the comfort of knowing their loved ones are in heaven. I don't know why they aren't throwing a big party instead.

      September 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • Nate

        If my friend moved to Hawaii, I'd be happy for him, but I'll also miss spending time with him. But I don't think you really cared to get an answer on that one, did you?:p

        September 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • doobzz

          False equivalency, Nate.

          Getting called home to god is an excuse Christians use when their god fails to answer their prayers. It helps them to feel better, imagining that their loved one is now having a great time having a singalong with Jesus and that they'll be together again someday. Nothing more.

          September 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • Nate

          If you and I were good friends and you died, I would be sad. Even if I knew you were in heaven, I'd still be sad that you were no longer part of my life.

          September 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
        • doobzz

          Still an excuse, Nate. Just an excuse, no matter how sad you say you'd be.

          September 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  11. Paul

    The easiest thing to do is to discount God. The hardest to do is continue to accept Him in moments of tragedy. Why a person accepts God is a personal matter that rude commentary from a peanut gallery will do little to alter. Its makes the weak mind happy to be sarcastic.

    God does not protect you FROM the storm He protects you IN it.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Susanna Thompson

      Sorry, Paul, you're delusional. Just because a delusional belief system is shared by a lot of other lost, desperate people who need to cling to a ridiculous set of fairy tales doesn't make it any less delusional. You're wasting your life believing in an invisible, imaginary, and non-existent deity. Wake up!! This isn't the year 1344 and there's no excuse for the ignorance and gullibility of people like you anymore.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Red

      Yes, it is hard to hold on to a delusion despite reality's persistent knocking on the door.

      That's why some of us actually do eventually grow up and stop believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and even "God".

      September 18, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • freefromtheism

      It's easy to "discount God" because "God" doesn't exist.
      It's hard to continue accepting your God because it's nearly impossible for one to wrap their head around the myriad of paradoxes that comprise the idea of your deity.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • Lester Singleton

        You sound so sure of yourself when you say God doesn't exist. Almost as sure as people sounded when they said the earth was flat, or scientists when they said Phlogiston existed, or when ancient Greeks believed in Emission Theory, or doctors belief in blood letting to cure disease, or scientists belief in a geocentric universe. Science has been wrong on so many different occasions that they actually have a term for it called superseded scientific theory. So fine, you don't believe in a "God". That is a personal decision that I wont argue with. However, the fact that you have everything figured out through science probably just got superseded while I was writing this response.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Bry

      So Red and Susanna, what is it like to live a life with no hope? Rewarding?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • freefromtheism

        So, what you're saying is that one should believe in your deity because it provides hope, even if the object of the belief is false?

        September 18, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • Nedley

        Stupid baseless assertion. Well done.
        Just ask Mathew Warren, idiot.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • CP in FL

        Bry, what is it like to believe in a fictional character that you must try and figure out how to please? You should seek help for your delusions.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • Doris

        Come down to reality first, Bry. Then ask the same questions.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • snowboarder

        @bry, i love the "if you are not a christian you have no hope" fallacy. who puts these ridiculous notions in your head?

        September 18, 2013 at 11:26 am |
      • doobzz

        My cat gives me more joy daily than belief in a deity, especially your deity, ever did.

        September 18, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Nate

        Bry, from one Christian to another, you are off base. How did you think people would react to a comment like that? Or did you think at all?

        September 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      So your god brings the storm then protects you in it? Why bring the storm in the first place? Oh – right, your god is narcissistic and needs you to believe in him.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  12. Test


    September 18, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Doc Vestibule


      September 18, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • doobzz


      September 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  13. InsanityPrevails

    For the record, why on Earth would you take the actions exhibited by Evangelical preachers and apply them as stereotypes to all Christians? It's simply an incorrect action. Not all of us believe the same thing. I mean, there's the Evangelicals who believe in divine preordination, and that it's God's will for certain people to die (by the way, the article says explicitly that the man believes it was wholly "[his] son's choice," not God's), and then there's all the rest of us who believe in free will.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • You're Almost There

      Because they are irrational, to put it simply.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • InsanityPrevails

        Again with the generalizations, hm?

        September 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Red

      Most Evangelicals use both "God's plan" and "free will" to rationalize the inaction of their absentee sky daddy.

      It's perfect because it keeps them from ever facing the reality that the whole thing is just a fairytale.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:02 am |
      • InsanityPrevails

        Divine preordination: "Daddy did it."
        Free will: We as humans are responsible for our own actions, with OR without the existence of a god.
        Sorry, is there some third option I forgot about? By all means, enlighten me.

        September 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Doris

      "Not all of us believe the same thing."

      And with the evidence for what is supposed to support the beliefs being so shoddy, that's what makes the whole thing wobbly. Who were the 500? Names? What did they write?

      "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."

      –Thomas Jefferson

      September 18, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  14. asdrel

    I hope that the police can find and prosecute the person who sold the illegally obtained gun. I wonder how many other weapons he/she has sold illegally, and how many crimes they contributed to.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Archer

      (Ecclesiastes 9:11) I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:45 am |
      • doobzz

        Well, that's helpful. 🙄

        September 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm not sure of the laws involved, but direct person-to-person sales often don't require any background checks. I wonder if the sale was actually illegal.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • RC

        Serial number was filed off. Automatically makes it illegal.

        September 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Thanks to the NRA paranoia – there is likely no paper trail for this weapon.

      September 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • InsanityPrevails

      Me too. I'm glad someone sees the real problem here, instead of all the religious/atheistic distraction.

      September 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  15. mk

    “I never questioned my faith in God; I questioned God’s plan,” Rick Warren said. “God isn’t the blame for my son’s death. My son took his life. It was his choice.”

    So it was God's plan but his son was the one who did it? And whenever something good happens, people claim that it is God's doing. How do we know when we're supposed to mastermind the plan or let God do it? When are we puppets and when do we get to do it ourselves?? It makes no logical sense...

    September 18, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Lester Singleton

      The difference is between those who believe in predestination and those who dont. Predestination means that your basically on a train track of a life that has been planned out for you and whatever you do was already planned out by God. Therefore, you have no ability to deviate from that route. This begs the question "why do believers in predestination look both ways before crossing the street"? The other scenario that I think Rick Warren believes in is that God knows and has a plan for everyone's life, to grow and prosper them but allows people to make their own decisions which allow them to deviate from that track. You are not forced to stay on a predestined track but it was already known that you would deviate from it, it just wasn't in the plan. That is where a person's self interest comes into play and why Rick Warren can say that this wasn't part of God's plan but it was also only Matthew fault and not Gods.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • mk

        "You are not forced to stay on a predestined track but it was already known that you would deviate from it, it just wasn't in the plan."

        Truly, this is even more illogical.

        September 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  16. dilio

    I want to challenge Atheists and non believers of a Higher power with some questions. How did the earth and the universe came to be? Since we came from copulation between a man and a woman, who were the first man and woman? How did the first man and woman came to be? How did the animals of the earth came to be? Where did it all started? How is that our bodies naturally function the way they do? How is it that animals acquire these natural instincts? How is that the animal bodies function the way they do in the fight against diseases and other reaction to events that serve to disrupt normal body function? How is that the earth and the environment have its natural way of cleansing itself? How is it that it is important for the plants to use up carbon dioxide and release oxygen so that we, the animals and the fish of the sea can utilize that oxygen as well as to protect us from UV rays in the preservation of the ozone layer?

    There are much more questions to put to you but if you can answer the questions that were posed to you with absolute certainty and validity then I will support your belief that no God exists. No scientists, no matter how brilliant they are, are yet to answer these with absolute certainty and validity. NONE. The bible as I know is the most valid piece of information that answers these question with the highest level of confidence. Outside of that, I challenge you to try to give a plausible answer to the questions I posed to you. Just try. Even if you don't believe in the bible, you have to be believe in a higher power to rationalize all of this.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • asdrel

      The Big Bang Theory and Evolution are at least as valid as a text written thousands of years ago. I am not an athiest, but I do believe that the Big Bang and evolution could easily be the Creator's method of creation. I can't absolutely prove that by scientific experimentation, but neither can the events related in Genesis.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The theist believes that the universe is adapted to life.
      The atheist believes that life is adapted to the universe.

      "Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise."
      – Douglas Adams

      September 18, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • bczu

        Love that quote

        September 18, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        I'm glad I'm not the only one who quotes Douglas Adams... he was a brilliant man...

        September 18, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened." – Douglas Adams

        September 18, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -Douglas Adams

        September 18, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • JWT

      No there is no reason I need to believe in any of the gods or any higher power.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Marie365

      One question to you: how did God come to be? You say he created all of these things, but where did he come from? That is the problem with these types of religious ideologies, they ignore the ultimate question. As for me, I follow no religion, but am spritual. I don't care where or how whatever came to be...I only know that here and now I am. That is good enough for me.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Bill Smith

      dilio, just because we don't have all the answers to your questions within the scientific community does not mean that there is an omnipotent being out there somewhere. In fact, that's probably the least likely scenario, given some of the outlandish beliefs in many religions. We received answers to many unknowns within the 20th century, now that science has been able to answer many questions for us (i.e. space-related).

      Can you provide proof, to use the Christian belief, that there is a giant kingdom in the sky somewhere?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Madtown

      How did the earth and the universe came to be?
      We don't know for certain. This is actually a question that the theist and atheist have a common answer to, if they're being honest. No one knows.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • bczu

      How did the earth and the universe came to be?

      A few theories exist. Science is getting closer....

      Since we came from copulation between a man and a woman, who were the first man and woman?

      Scientific Adam and Eve. Scientists have already traced our DNA back to them.

      How did the first man and woman came to be?

      They evolved over time

      How did the animals of the earth came to be?


      Over billions of years species have come and gone. What is left are the creatures that have learned to adapt and co exist together.

      I admit I am not smart enough to explain most of this in detail. But you could look most of it up. Now I ask you, where are your answers to these questions? God just snapped his fingers?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • doobzz

      "There are much more questions to put to you but if you can answer the questions that were posed to you with absolute certainty and validity then I will support your belief that no God exists."

      I've never said that no god exists, so I don't have to prove anything. You are saying that a god exists, that you know what it is like and what it wants, and that I somehow need to be "saved" from it. The burden of proof is on you, not me. When you have something that is validated by evidence and not just a few lines in your horrid book of violence and bigotry, I'll take a look at it and decide for myself if it stacks up to the scientific evidence.

      The answers to many of your questions can be found in decent science texts. Our body of knowledge in some areas is far from complete, but scientists are comfortable saying "I don't know" and carrying on with their work. Religious people don't like not having all answers to all questions at their fingertips, so they respond with "mud and fairy spit" to explain how humans came to be.

      September 18, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  17. Andrew

    Warren is as brainwashed as those whom follow in the words he has written and spoken. The bible is only a book written by man, flawed insecure individuals lacking the knowledge to see beyond their own selfish plans. To control the masses with such false absolutes is criminal to the minds of all those who walk the earth. If such an icon as GOD exists, his concern for your individual lives is a delusion only the lost and confused would believe. Open your eyes to reality, people suffer, live through the loss of family, friends, and children.. without the divine approval of a figure in the heavens. It's is man alone who has used instruments of destruction to reck the world ..not the plan of a GOD. No race nor culture is favored or disliked by the GOD which your faith honors. Man is to blame for there is no GOD's will nor is there free will. All our actions or no action affects the harmonous connection between us in everyone and everything.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • You're Almost There

      So you are more of a determinist rather than a compatibalist? Dawkins is like that, and most philosophers see him and his ideas as third rate. They also argue that anybody who broadcasts their biases in such a strict manner such as yourself should not be taken seriously because it inhibits their own ability to question and grow intellectually.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • You're Almost There

        Sorry, compatibilist* for all the spell-check nazis out there.

        September 18, 2013 at 10:46 am |
      • freefromtheism

        Here's your argument:
        Dawkins is a determinist
        Most philosophers think that Dawkins and his ideas are third rate (perhaps you include determinism in this)
        If you believe determinism is true, you are like Dawkins
        Therefore, your ideas are third rate.
        Notice any problems with that argument?

        September 18, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • You're Almost There

          Not quite. Compatibilism is more of a soft determinism because it also says there is a level of free will that we all posses. This person is clearly a hard determinist because they argue there is zero free will. Most modern day academics are compatibilists.

          Nice try.

          September 18, 2013 at 11:20 am |
  18. Barb

    It never takes long for the atheists to jump in with their disrespectful comments and insults. We get it..you don't believe in God, but have some respect for the people who do.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      If a man said to you that he knows aliens are following him, he can't prove it, but he just knows, then he bases much of his life on this belief, do you respect him?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Rickwar

        I bet you think you can do a pretty good job of proving all the things you believe. Can you prove them yourself? Or do you take scientists' and sociologists' word for most things? I bet the latter. Do you believe in fairness? Do you belive that doing good is better than doing wrong (for the most part)? Why do you have that belief?

        I suppose your answer might be because society and culture has trained you to have such values and that there really is no "pre-programming" of basic knowledge in each person's conscience. Can you prove to me that is where it came from? Hmmmm? And should I loose all respect for you because you can't?

        September 19, 2013 at 2:28 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "but have some respect for the people who do." Why?

      September 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • doobzz

      Sure, as long as you keep your god belief out of public schools, off my body, out of the justice system, the government and our laws.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:27 am |
  19. Jeb

    He prayed that his son would be healed.

    His son shot himself.

    What did he learn?

    It was "God's plan".

    Clearly his son is not the only one in the family with a severe mental illness.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • An Interent Atheist

      He also had faith in science (mental health, medication) and that failed, too.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • rocketscientist


      That's an incredibly mean-spirited and cold thing to say about Rev. Warren. The guy lost his son. Do you have any idea how devastating that is to a family? I do, my aunt killed herself. I get it, you hate religion and the religious, especially leaders like Rev. Warren. But why not show what a bigger man you believe you are by shelving that for this thread. Why not be compassionate instead? I just don't get people like you. What do you gain from being cruel, bigoted, and mean-spirited to people who've done nothing to you?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  20. matt james

    There's nothing that Rick Warren is going to say that will be able to keep the online hyenas at bay. Sad.

    September 18, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • An Interent Atheist

      They sure do love reading and talking about him.

      September 18, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Nedley

      They now have 4 stories on this guy; he hasn't said anything new in any of the stories.
      He lost a son through suicide. His story isn't any different than any other or the thousands of parents who have lost their children through suicide. The ONLY reason that he is on here is to shill whatever garbage is trying to sell to the public, which, btw, I don't believe is God.
      If it makes you feel better to call people "hyenas", go for it. Anything to bolster your fragile self-esteem, right?

      September 18, 2013 at 11:04 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.