Monday, December 8, 2014

Could Catholics & Protestants Unite? Was Pastor Rick Warren Accurate?

            On 2nd December 2014 “The Christian News Network” reported Pastor Rick Warren’s1 apparent apostasy through their article, “Rick Warren’s Call for Christians to Unite With Catholics, ‘Holy Father’ Raising Concerns”2

            These were Pastor Rick Warren’s words contending for unity between Protestants and Catholics, “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. Sometimes Protestants think that Catholics worship Mary like she’s another god. But that’s not exactly catholic doctrine. There’s the understanding, and, and people say well 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. 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." 3

            Pastor Rick Warren proposed not a structural unity, but a unity of mission. Yes, there are glaring disagreements between Protestants and Catholics.4 Should these theological disagreements prevent unity?

We Live In Unity

            Leave aside Catholics for a moment. Can we live independent of our non-Christian brothers and sisters in this world? Unity, I believe, is the creational intent of God (Cf. Psalm 133:1; Matthew 22: 39 etc.)

            God knew that people would either accept or reject HIM, and HIS omniscience entailed HIS command to love our neighbors. Thus God mandates unity.

            Consider our workplace. Don’t we live in unity with our non-Christian brothers and sisters at our work place? Isn’t there a unity of purpose within our workplace among people belonging to multi-faceted religious worldviews?

            Whether we like it or not, we ought to live in unity at our workplace, else we wouldn’t survive in the job. So let’s assume that the possibility of being jobless motivates us to live in unity. But don’t you agree that the possibility of something bad happening to us is not the real reason to live in unity?

            How do we get motivated to love our non-Christian brothers and sisters for the right reasons? We are motivated to love everyone because God loves everyone – those who accept HIM and those who reject HIM. God loves even those who hate HIM.

            When God loves everyone and when people subscribing to varied religious thoughts can unite to work for a living, what prevents Protestants and Catholics to work together? What prevents Christians to work alongside Hindus or Muslims or those from other religious persuasions on common missions?

Theological / Doctrinal Unity Between Catholics & Protestants Is Impossible

            But let’s get this straight.

            Salvation is a fundamental teaching of any religion. Unfortunately this is where Protestants and Catholics hold opposing views.

            Protestants rely solely upon Christ for salvation. We believe salvation cannot be earned, but it is a gift of God through God’s grace and man’s belief in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

            On the contrary, Catholics combine belief in Christ, doing good works, and in certain instances they teach that belief in Christ is not even necessary for salvation.

            With such a sharp non-reconcilable disagreement in existence, a theological or a doctrinal unity between Protestants and Catholics is impossible. There are many such disagreements between Protestants and Catholics, so to expect a theological unity is to expect purple geese to lay golden eggs.

            Furthermore, no sane protestant would consider the Pope as his spiritual leader. On the other hand, a protestant who knows his Bible will only believe in the triune God and in the incarnate Lord Jesus Christ and follow HIM all through his life.

A Missional Unity Is Realistic

            Pastor Rick Warren denies the possibility of a structural unity but advocates missional unity, "The unity that I think we would see realistically is not a structural unity but a unity of mission. 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.”5

            Why shouldn’t the Catholics and Protestants unite to fight against homosexuality, abortion and other rampant evils? Protestants should unite not only with Catholics but also with other religions to fight against evils that destroy the world - poverty, pornography, human trafficking etc.

            Such a unity is necessary because of the magnitude of the problem at hand. Poverty is so rampant that it’s virtually impossible for one religious group to facilitate its eradication. Similarly the evil of pornography is so enormous that it’s impossible for one religious group to eradicate this evil.

            So let’s unite with those who share the passion to save this world from rampant evils, and let’s to the best of our abilities, transcend religious barriers to save our fellow brothers and sisters from pain and suffering.

            I am not advocating that Christ is unnecessary for our salvation. Christ is necessary for salvation. Without Christ, none can be saved. Only belief and obedience to the Lord will save us and grant us a life eternal with our Lord.

            However, it is our love for the Lord Jesus Christ that motivates us to live in unity with everyone irrespective of our religious differences. We should also unite with everyone who is willing to be a means to eradicate evil that destroys human life. Every individual Christian and the Church of Jesus Christ should know and play their role to live in unity and to eradicate evil. Amen.


1 Pastor Rick Warren authored the much acclaimed ‘Purpose Driven Life’ and a host of other bestselling books. He is the founder pastor of the Saddleback megachurch.



4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

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