Rick Warren as "The New James Dobson": Pros and Cons

I wasn't able to attend the Saddleback Faith Forum on Saturday night, but I've read oodles of articles and commentaries from both right and left dissecting what it meant for the McCain and Obama camps. The consensus seems to be that McCain came out a little better off than Obama, which is predictable if only because McCain is a republican and Obama is not. It was ostensibly a republican event; Warren is a republican... it's not surprising that McCain came out smelling like roses.

The real winner, however, is probably Rick Warren himself. For years he has been seen as the "rising star" of evangelicalism in America, and this event--which may turn out to be a pretty huge deal when all is said and done--could well solidify Warren's status as the new voice of evangelical Christians. Indeed, as the "new Dobson."

From my point of view, this development is mostly a good thing, and the following are some pros and cons of Warren assuming the reigns of the evangelical political monstrosity:

PRO: Pretty much anyone would be better than Dobson. CON: There are many evangelicals who would be better than Warren.

PRO: Warren is a "brand name"-- he's legitimate in the eyes of millions of people who loved The Purpose-Driven Life. CON: The Purpose-Driven Life was not a good book.

PRO: Warren is surprisingly focused on justice issues, poverty, and outside-America problems... things Dobson does not have the time of day for. CON: Warren's PEACE plan was too ambitious and by some reports has done more harm than good in Africa.

PRO: Warren is much more media-friendly and savvy. He doesn't boycott things like Spongebob Squarepants. CON: Warren is a little boring. It takes him actually getting Obama and McCain to come to his church and share the stage in order to grab headlines. Dobson can do it by taking a sneeze. But maybe this is a PRO.

PRO: Warren is a tad bit more ambiguous about his party affiliation than James "I could never vote for a Democrat" Dobson is... CON: Warren is still a long way from Billy "Bipartisan" Graham.