An evangelical ministry that has worked for over 20 years to share the Gospel with Roman Catholics is expressing concern over a ecumenical Tweet that author and megachurch pastor Rick Warren posted early this morning.
At 2:57 a.m., Warren sent out the following call to his over 900,000 followers on Twitter: “Join me today in fasting and prayer for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in a new leader.”
Since posting the Tweet, which was re-Tweeted over 170 times as of press time and favorited over 80 times, and is being shared widely in a screen shot photograph on Facebook, his comment has received response from both sides of the issue.
“Thanks for your prayers!” wrote Matt Swain, producer of the Son Rise Morning Show on EWTN and author of The Eucharist and the Rosary and Prayer in the Digital Age. “This ain’t like picking Matthias!”
“Mr. Warren, what would the point be?” asked an African follower on Twitter. “Let’s pray for the heretics [to] tone down on their heresy?”
Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries of Dallas, Texas told Christian News Network that he was particularly disappointed in Warren’s comments.
“I’m very concerned because what this does is it confuses the average evangelical,” he said. “Right now, the Body of Christ doesn’t know whether to evangelize Roman Catholics or to join hands with them to go out and evangelize the world, [and] it’s because of people like Rick Warrren who either don’t know how exclusive the Gospel of grace is, or he’s not aware of the false and fatal Gospel of the Roman Catholic religion.”
Gendron, a former Roman Catholic, stated that Warren’s Tweet is harmful in two ways.
“Rick Warren is doing a disservice to the Roman Catholic Church because he is putting the Gospel off limits to the the Body of Christ for evangelizing Roman Catholics,” he explained. “And so, if they don’t hear the Gospel, they have no hope in ever being saved.”
“Ultimately, it’s a real tragedy,” he said before delving into his second point. “It’s unfortunate because we have a ministry that is dedicated to equipping and encouraging the Body of Christ to reach out to Roman Catholics, and it’s because of people like Rick Warren and other highly visible evangelicals that are signing unity accords with Roman Catholics … that we are getting friendly fire from the evangelical Church.”
Gendron opined that many evangelicals are wrongfully being led to believe that Roman Catholicism is “a valid expression of Christianity.” He advised that it is also unBiblical for Warren to assert that it is “God’s will” that there be a pope in the first place.
“It goes against the Bible. It goes against Scriptural authority,” Gendron outlined. “In Matthew, Jesus said [not to] be like the Gentiles, which have a hierarchical structure to rule over people, and when you look at the Bible, the authority is Christ and His word.”
“Every evangelical church is to submit to the authority of Christ and His word, and the leadership of each church is made up of deacons and elders,” he continued. “In fact, Peter, who Catholics believe to be the first pope, declared himself to be a fellow elder. He never once referred to himself as the head of the church, nor did he ever in Scripture have the authority to rule over anybody. He submitted to the Scriptures.”
Gendron urged Christians to use this time when attention is being turned to the Vatican as an evangelistic opportunity.
“I would encourage [readers] to use this as a platform to engage Catholics with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “There is much confusion among Roman Catholics now. They’ve lost their leader. There are scandals that are spread wide throughout the world — not only the sex scandals, but also the Vatican bank scandal. … Catholics are fed up with what’s going on and they’re looking for other options.”
“I would encourage Christians to [reach out to] Roman Catholics and point them to the true head of the Church — the Lord Jesus Christ,” Gendron concluded. “Catholics must repent of everything they’re doing to save themselves, and put all of their hope and all of their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is sufficient to save sinners completely and forever.”
Nearly twelve hours after releasing his call to prayer and fasting, Warren posted an obscure message on Twitter, declaring, “Not everything that is different is demonic. Learn to appreciate differences. Obviously God loves variety!”
It is unknown as to whether Warren’s Tweet related to his previous post.
Main photo: Facebook