Rick Warren: Protestants, Catholics Must Unite to Defend Life, Sex, Marriage – ‘We’re on the Same Team’

Michael W. Chapman | February 4, 2015 | 4:03pm EST
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Evangelical pastor Rick Warren, who leads the eighth largest church in America, Saddleback Church, and is the author of the hugely popular book The Purpose Driven Life, said that Protestants and Catholics must form a “unity of missions” to defend the sanctity of life, sex, and the family, stressing that, “If you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.”

“We have far more in common than what divides us,” said Pastor Warren in an interview with Catholic News Service. “When you talk about Pentecostals, charismatics, evangelicals, fundamentalists, Catholics, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, on and on, they would all say we believe in the Trinity.”

“We believe in the Bible,” he continued. “We believe in the resurrection; we believe in salvation through Jesus Christ. These are the big issues.”

Warren, along with leaders of other faiths and denominations, attended a conference at the Vatican in November – the “Complementarity of Man and Woman” -- to discuss and defend the family and marriage as being between one man and one woman, and related topics. He made his comments in the video in December.

At the conference, Warren re-emphasized that “marriage can only be between a man and a woman, explaining that marriage reflects Christ’s love for the church.

Pope Francis and Pastor Rick Warren. (Photo: Courtesy of Rick Warren)

“This is the most profound purpose of marriage, and this is the strongest reason why marriage can only be between a man and a woman," he said.

"There is no other relationship, including the parent-child relationship, that can picture this intimate union,” he said.  “To redefine marriage would destroy the picture that God intends for marriage to portray, and we cannot cave on this issue. It's a picture of Christ and his Church."

In terms of unity among Protestants and Catholics, Warren said, “Now, there’s still real differences, no doubt about that. But the most important thing is, if you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.”

“The unity that, I think, we would see, realistically, is not a structural unity but a unity of missions,” said Warren.  “And so, 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.  So there’s a great commonality and there’s no division on any of those three.”

Pastor Warren, whose best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life sold more than 30 million copies, also said that many Protestants apparently do not fully understand the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Virgin Mary and the Saints.

The Pieta, Mary cradles Christ after He was taken down from the Cross, by Michelangelo, in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome.

“Sometimes Protestants think that Catholics worship Mary like she’s another god, but that’s not exactly Catholic doctrine,” he said.  “There’s the understanding, and people say, ‘What are the saints all about? Why are you praying to the saints?’ And when you understand what they mean by what they’re saying, there’s a whole lot more commonality [that we have with Roman Catholics].”

In conclusion, Pastor Warren emphasized that the “unity of missions” was important because many people, who are trying to do the godly thing, sometimes get burned out because it seems there is little support for their sacrifices and they are constantly attacked for taking a “Biblical stance.”

“Many times people have been beaten down for taking a Biblical stance,” he said,  “and they start to feel, ‘well, maybe I’m out here all by myself.’  No, you’re not.”

“The church is growing in Latin America, the church is growing in Asia, the church is growing in Africa,” said Warren.  “It’s not growing in North America or Europe, but it is growing everywhere else. So, we kind of have this feeling that we’re not as influential. But we’re far more influential than people realize.”

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The Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, is an evangelical mega-church, reportedly the eighth largest such church in the United States.  Richard “Rick” Warren, 61, is the author of several best-selling books, including The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life.

Warren is married to Kay Warren, and they have four adult children and four grandchildren. (One of their sons, Matthew, committed suicide in 2013.) In a Knight Ridder News Service article from Jan. 26, 2006, it states of Rick Warren:  “As the money has rolled in from his book, Warren stopped taking his $110,000 annual salary and repaid the church for his 25 years of salary since its founding. He and his wife became ‘reverse tithers,’ he said, keeping 10 percent of their income and giving away the rest, including $13 million in 2004.”

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