To the delight of some and the consternation of others, bestselling author and pastor of the Saddleback community megachurch, Rick Warren is endorsing closer union between Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Just last month Warren was invited to speak at a Vatican conference on the complementarity of men and women, where Warren notoriously referred to Pope Francis as the “Holy Father.”
Now, in a two-minute video released by Catholic News Service, Warren has said flatly: “We have far more in common than what divides us. When you talk about Pentecostals, charismatics, evangelicals, fundamentalists, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, on and on and on and on.”
“Well they would all say we believe in the trinity, we believe in the Bible, we believe in the resurrection, we believe salvation is through Jesus Christ. These are the big issues,” he said.
Not all see it this way, of course. Perhaps out of sincere devotion, or perhaps in an effort to capitalize on Pastor Warren’s celebrity, some have seen in Warren’s recent remarks an ominous rapprochement with the Whore of Babylon.
Commenting on Pastor Warren’s statement that “the most important thing is if you love Jesus, we’re on the same team,” Matt Slick, President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, said that “his statement is, of course, problematic.” Slick proceeds to contest every one of Warren’s assertions, line by line, ending with the ringing verdict: “Rick Warren needs to repent.”
In his video, Pastor Warren defends Catholics’ veneration of Mary and says that although there may be doctrinal differences, Catholics and Protestants share a “unity of mission.” More specifically, Warren said that “when it comes to the family we are co-workers in the field on this for the protection of what we call the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex, and the sanctity of marriage.”
At the important marriage conference last month, Warren said that the church must not be “captivated by culture, manipulated by critics, motivated by applause, frustrated by problems, debilitated by distractions, or intimidated by evil.”
“We must keep running the race with our eyes on the goal, not on those shouting from the sideline,” he said. “We must be Spirit-led, purpose-driven and mission-focused so that we cannot be bought, will not be compromised, and shall not quit until we finish the race.”
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.