In a new video, megachurch leader and author Rick Warren is calling for Christians to unite with Roman Catholics and “Pope Francis,” who Warren recently referred to as the “Holy Father”—a move that is raising concerns among Christians nationwide and is resulting in calls for Warren to repent.
Warren made the comments following his visit to the Vatican last month, where he spoke at an interfaith conference on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman.”
“We have far more in common than what divides us,” he said in the two-minute video released by the Catholic News Service on Wednesday, described as being an outline for “an ecumenical vision for Catholics and Protestants to work together to defend the sanctity of life, sex and marriage.”
“They would all say, ‘We believe in the Trinity; we believe in the Bible; we believe in the resurrection; we believe in salvation through Jesus Christ,” Warren asserted, speaking of the various denominations within Christianity, of which he included Roman Catholicism. “These are the big issues.”
The author of the bestselling book “The Purpose Driven Life” then sought to defend Catholics from those who take issue with the practice of seeking the intercession of Mary and the various deceased persons that have been sainted by the Vatican.
“Sometimes protestants think that Catholics worship Mary like she’s another god, but that’s not exactly Catholic doctrine,” Warren contended. “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].”
“There’s still real differences—no doubt about that,” Warren stated. “But the most important thing is, if you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.”
He closed by speaking of his belief that Christians and Catholics serve as co-laborers for the cause of defending life and family.
“When it comes to the family, we are co-workers in the field in this for the protection of the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex and the sanctity of marriage,” Warren said. “So, there’s a great commonality and there’s no division on any of those three.”
But Warren’s comments have raised concern from Christian leaders nationwide, who are now calling the Saddleback leader to repentance. Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) repudiated each of Warren’s points.
“Sure, there are Catholics who love the real Christ, the one who died on the cross for our sins. That is not the problem,” he said. “The problem is the Roman Catholic Church’s false teachings concerning Mary and salvation.”
“Rick Warren says both the Catholics and the Protestants believe in the Bible. But, there is a significant difference between the Bible of the Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church, which has added seven books,” Slick wrote. “[T]here are numerous problems in the apocryphal books, such as the teaching of salvation by works [and] the offering of money for the sins of the dead.”
“Warren implies that both Protestants and Catholics have the same view of salvation,” he continued. “Though it’s technically correct to say that Catholics believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, they reject justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Instead, it teaches that good works of various kinds are necessary for salvation.”
The Christian apologist then pointed to several Roman Catholic teachings on Mary, mainly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), such as that Mary “by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation” and that “[b]y asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the All-Holy One.”
“Rick Warren has not only failed to recognize the problems in these serious areas, but he has lent his credibility as a Protestant pastor in support of the Roman Catholic Church,” Slick wrote. “This should never be done by any Protestant pastor who takes the Bible seriously. I must conclude that Mr. Warren does not take the word of God seriously and/or he does not understand the damnable teachings of Roman Catholicism regarding salvation.”
“Rick Warren needs to repent,” he said.