Rick Warren
Pastor, Saddleback Church

Is the American political system broken?

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Rick Warren

Rick Warren is an evangelical leader, best-selling author, and founding and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with his wife, Kay, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today the church has a 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.

He also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. More than 400,000 ministers and priests have been trained worldwide, and almost 157,000 church leaders subscribe to the Ministry ToolBox, his weekly newsletter. His previous book, The Purpose Driven Church is listed in “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.” Forbes magazine called it "the best book on entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in print.”

Warren received his BA from California Baptist College, his MA from the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry from the Fuller Theological Seminary. Warren has recently taken on several issues previously ignore by the evangelical community; he is the most prominent signatory of the "Evangelical Climate Initiative," and is the co-founder and co-director (with his wife) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy.  Warren has spoken at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, and the Council on Foreign Relations.


Question: Is the American political system broken?


Rick Warren: The American political system was built on the Calvinistic idea of the sin nature of every human being. And the founding fathers believed, because they were Protestants, believed that power has to be kept in check; that absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so there was a division of power. It was based on the Calvinistic, Christian view that you give a king total power, it’s going to corrupt him. So we divided it into the judiciary, and the executive branch, and the legislative branch. That check and balance of power is a wonderful thing in that it’s kept us from having dictators. But it’s also enormously slow.

And the problem is the more bills, the more laws, the more you pile on, it’s like having a boat. The more you pile on a boat, the slower the boat goes. And if you attach one lifeboat to it, maybe you can go pretty fast. But if you’ve got a thousand lifeboats pulling along, it really slows down. And America’s economy and America’s government is like an oil tanker. It takes 18 miles to make a u-turn.

If you’re in a rowboat; if you’re in Rwanda, you can turn around pretty quickly. So it’s enormously slow. Government does need to be reinvented in some ways that maintain the historic separation of powers; but streamline it and take some of those rowboats off where we; you can’t keep adding things, and adding things. It’s like in a personal life. If you keep adding things to your schedule, adding things to you schedule and you never take anything off your schedule, you’re going to burn out.

And if you’re burning the candle at both ends, you’re not as bright as you think you are.


Recorded on: December 11, 2007