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: How do you reconcile tolerance and evangelizing?
Rick Warren: Well evangelizing means I think everybody needs what I’ve got. If you really practice your religion, then you’d believe that too, okay? In other words if your religion isn’t good enough for everybody, why isn’t it, okay?
And as I said, I don’t believe in coercion. I don’t believe in pressure. I certainly don’t believe in making it a theocracy or voting a religion in.
Everywhere you have a religion controlling the government, the religion dies. Look at Europe. All the churches are dead in Europe – most of them – because of the church; the church of Lutheranism in Germany, and Anglicans in England and things like that.
So I see no contradiction; I think I’ve got something everybody needs, and I still treat people with respect if they don’t accept it. As I said earlier, God gives me the freedom to choose what I’m going to believe. So I give everybody else the freedom to choose what they believe.
Recorded on: December 11, 2007