Rick Warren and Rome

Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church in California, one of the world’s most influential men, has a growing and non-critical relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.

In his popular book
The Purpose Driven Life, Warren quotes frequently from Catholic authors, including Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence (Carmelite monk), John Main (Benedictine monk who believes that Christ “is not limited to Jesus of Nazareth, but remains among us in the monastic leaders, the sick, the guest, the poor”), Madame Guyon (a Roman Catholic who taught that prayer does not involve thinking), and John of the Cross (who believed the mountains and forests are God).

Mother Teresa and Henri Nouwen, who are quoted at least four times in
The Purpose Driven Life, believed that men can be saved apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ. When Mother Teresa died, her longtime friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, “Do you convert?” She replied, “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him” (“Mother Teresa Touched other Faiths,” Associated Press, Sept. 7, 1997).

Henri Nouwen said, “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Henri Nouwen,
Sabbatical Journey, p. 51).

These are the most dangerous people imaginable, and for a Baptist pastor to quote them non-critically in a book geared for mass distribution is inexcusable.


“I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody” (“Rick Warren Calls SBC Withdrawal from BWA a ‘silly’ mistake,”
The Baptist Standard, Aug. 5, 2005).

“And, you know, growing up as a Protestant boy, I knew nothing about Catholics, but I started watching ETWN, the Catholic channel, and I said, ‘Well, I’m not as far apart from these guys as I thought I was, you know?” (Rick Warren, May 23, 2005, the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life).

“The Church, in all its expressions--Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others--has 2.3 billion followers” (Rick Warren, “The Power of Parishioners,”
Forbes, May 7, 2007).

In 2005, Warren made the following statement to the Anglican Communion Network:

“I don’t agree with everything that Catholics do or Pentecostals do, but what binds us together is so much stronger than what divides us. I really do feel that these people are brothers and sisters in God's family. I am looking to build bridges with the Orthodox Church, looking to build bridges with the Catholic Church, with the Anglican church, and say ‘What can we do together that we have been unable to do by ourselves?’” (“Pastor Urges Anglicans to Unite and Care for Poor,” Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Nov. 12, 2005).

In 2006, Rick Warren presented a Church Health Award to Family of God Church, a Roman Catholic Church in Tacloban, Philippines (“Rick Warren Awards Purpose Driven Roman Catholics,”
Apprising Ministries, April 19, 2010).


In the past, there was a Catholic section to Warren’s Purpose Driven web site. A WayBackMachine capture of the site from 2005 can be found

Two the Catholic churches featured at the Purpose Driven site were Holy Family Parish of Chicago. and Holy Family Catholic Church, Inverness, Illinois. They hosted Purpose Drive events, including “Your S.H.A.P.E. for Ministry.”


Rick Warren endorsed Tom Peterson’s 2013 book
Catholics Come Home, which promotes the program of bringing “lapsed” Catholics back into the arms of Rome. Warren’s endorsement, as follows, reflects a frightful level of spiritual blindness:

“The mission of Tom Peterson and Catholics Come Home to bring souls home to Jesus and the church is critically important during this challenging time in our history. I fully support this new evangelization project.”

In truth, Catholic Evangelization is not about bringing souls to Jesus; it is about bringing them into bondage to a false gospel and a false christ. This is why the term “evangelization” is used rather than “evangelism.” This program sees Catholic baptism as salvation, and it is more about Mary than Jesus.

I was at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization in 1987 with media credentials when the Catholic Evangelization 2000 program was announced. The head of that program, Catholic priest Tom Forrest, headquartered in Rome, was the keynote speaker. He said that he was thankful for purgatory because it is essential for salvation. In his book
Be Holy, which I purchased at the conference, he gave the following clear statement of Rome’s false gospel of sacramentalism: “This river [of the Holy Spirit and salvation] began its flow with our Baptism, and then again with the grace of our Confirmation. This was our first ‘renewal’ in the Holy Spirit, these sacraments of initiation making us new creatures, new sons of God. ... [The charismatic experience] is not a second baptism, some new sacramental grace, but rather the renewing of those sacramental graces of Baptism, Confirmation and priestly Ordination that have already made the Holy Spirit present within us” (Tom Forrest, Be Holy, pp. 32, 59).

Catholics Come Home says that Peter was the first pope and invites lapsed Catholics to return to the arms of mother Rome. On page 17 we read, “Over the years at Catholics Come Home we’ve heard from some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have returned to the Catholic Church, or converted to the faith.”


In 2010, one of the speakers at Saddleback Church’s Apologetics Weekend was Peter Kreeft, a Roman Catholic apologist. Kreeft’s 1996 book,
Ecumenical Jihad: Ecumenism and the Culture War, is absolutely packed with heresy. Kreeft thinks it is “very likely” that there is a “hidden Christ” in pagan religions, so that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., will be saved “through Christ and His grace” even though they do not consciously know or worship Jesus Christ (Ecumenical Jihad, pp. 156, 157). Kreeft urges his readers to dedicate themselves “to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” because Mary “is the one who will win this war” and is the one “who triumphs over Satan” (p. 169). Kreeft worships the wafer of the Catholic Mass “because it is Christ” (p. 162) and because God “hides behind the appearances of a little Wafer of bread” (p. 157). He thinks that God prefers to work through the intermediaries of Mary and the saints and that “He wants us to pray through Mary, and not only directly” (p. 154). Kreeft says, “The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews--and the Muslims--worship” (pp. 30, 160).


In April 2014, Warren gave an exclusive interview with Catholic television channel EWTN in which he gave effusive praise to the Catholic Church and the Popes and called for unity with Rome.

He praised the works of Catholic contemplative “saints” such as St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, calling their books “great classic devotional works,” completely ignoring the fact that they held to a false sacramental gospel and venerated Mary as the Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven. Warren said that Saddleback uses Roman Catholic contemplative prayer methods such as the very dangerous “centering prayer,” and Saddleback’s “spiritual director” was trained by a Roman Catholic named Jean Vanier. (See “Silence vs. The Silence” at

In fact, Warren said that when he was writing
The Purpose Drive Church he would get up in the morning, light candles, and start writing.

He called Pope Francis “our pope” and said, “For authenticity, humility, Pope Francis is the perfect example. He is doing everything right.”

Warren said that Saddleback recently received a delegation from the Vatican consisting of about 30 Catholic bishops to study the church’s “style of evangelization.”

Warren said, “I fully support the Catholic Church’s New Evangelization,” which is a program to regain lapsed Catholics to the false Catholic faith and which is centered around the veneration of Mary.

When asked by EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “What is keeping Christians apart from the unity that John Paul II and all the recent popes have called for?” Warren replied:

“I think we need to go back to the words of St. Augustine. ‘In the essentials we have unity; in the non-essentials we have liberty; in all things we show charity.’ I think this is really true. I think as the world, particularly the western culture, becomes more secular, more anti-Christian ... it is really incumbent on all Christians of every brand and stripe that we join together on the things that we share in common. When I say, ‘Do you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Do you believe that Jesus Christ rose? Do you believe that He died on the cross? Do you believe in hell and heaven? Do you believe the Bible is God’s Word?’ If you answer yes, then we are on the same team. We might not agree on all of the minors, but we are Christians. People don’t realize how big the church really is. It’s the largest organization on planet earth. We don’t have anything to apologize for. There are 600 million Buddhists in the world. There are 800 million Hindus in the world. There are about 1.5 billion Muslims. But there are 2.3 billion Christians who would say, ‘I believe Jesus is who He claimed to be, the Son of God’” (Rick Warren, EWTN, “World Over,” Apr. 10-11, 2014).

This is an amazing statement. Obviously Rick Warren considers the Roman Catholic Church as a legitimate branch of “Christians.” His criteria for unity would include not only Roman Catholics but also Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of Christ, even many theological liberals. He gave no warning about false christs, false gospels, and false spirits. He gave no warning about false Christians such as those described by Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23.


In November 2014, Warren was one of the featured speakers at a Vatican conference on marriage and family life. Other speakers included Pope Francis, Catholic bishops and priests, plus Mormons, Jews, and Muslims. The November 17-19 conference, “An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman,” featured about 30 speakers representing 14 religions. It was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other Catholic entities. Russell Moore, head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who also attended the conference, said, “I am willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled” (“Russell Moore, Rick Warren to join Vatican conference,” ReligionNews.com, Nov. 3, 2014). This is humanistic thinking that flies in the face of the Bible’s commands to mark and avoid those who teach heresy. Examples of these commands are Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 11:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:5; and 2 John 8-11.

Rick Warren is enthusiastically building the end-time, one-world church.

David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org

Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc.’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR.

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