Rick Warren on Muslims, Evangelism, and Missions


Rick at Radicalis

En Espanol

Editor’s Note: Pastor Rick Warren has often said that “you never win your enemies to Christ, only your friends.” And he’s gone far past the limits most believers are willing to broach in order to form friendships and love a world in need of Jesus. Because of this, he’s often the target of unfair criticism and unfounded rumors. If you’ve longed for Pastor Rick to clear the air with boldness and clarity, keep reading. Along with another article we published about how Rick is a bridge-builder, this article answers the questions you might be asking. It’s the transcript of an interview between Rick, the Christian Post, and myself.  Read on…

QUESTION: Do people of other religions worship the same God as Christians?

WARREN: Of course not. Christians have a view of God that is unique. We believe Jesus is God! We believe God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not 3 separate gods but one God. No other faith believes Jesus is God. My God is Jesus. The belief in God as a Trinity is the foundational difference between Christians and everyone else. There are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christians… whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Evangelical…and they all have the doctrine of the Trinity in common.

QUESTION: A recent newspaper article claimed you believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God, that you are “in partnership” with a mosque, and that you both agreed to “not evangelize each other.” You immediately posted a brief refutation onlineCan you expand on that?

WARREN: Sure. All three of those statements are flat out wrong. Those statements were made by a reporter, not by me. I did not say them …  I do not believe them… I completely disagree with them … and no one even talked to me about that article!   So let me address each one individually:  First, as I’ve already said, Christians have a fundamentally different view of God than Muslims. We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don’t. Our God is Jesus, not Allah. Colossians 2:9 “For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”   Second, while we urge our members to build friendships with everyone in our community, including Muslims and other faiths, (“Love your neighbor as yourself”), our church has never had any partnership with a mosque.  Friendship and partnership are two very different levels of commitment. Some of our members have hosted a Bible study with Muslim friends, which I applaud, but I’ve never been to it, and a Bible study certainly isn’t any kind of partnership or merger! It’s just crazy that a simple Bible Study where people explore Scripture with non-Christians would be reported as a partnership and others would interpret that as a plan for a new compromised religion. Just crazy!  Third, as both an Evangelical and as an evangelist, anyone who knows me and my 40 year track record of ministry knows that I would never agree to “not evangelizing” anyone!  I am commanded by my Savior to share the Good News with all people everywhere, all the time, in every way possible! Anyone who’s heard me teach knows that my heart beats for bringing others to Jesus.

QUESTION: That same article mentioned that you ate an Iftar dinner with Orange County Muslims. What is that all about?

WARREN: It’s called being polite and a good neighbor. For years, we have invited Muslim friends to attend our Easter and Christmas services and they have graciously attended year after year. Some have even celebrated our family’s personal Christmas service in our home. So when they have a potluck when their month of fasting ends, we go to their party. It’s a Jesus thing.  The Pharisees criticized him as “the friend of sinners” because Jesus ate dinner with people they disapproved of. By the way, one of my dear friends is a Jewish Rabbi and my family has celebrated Passover at his home, and he attends our Christmas and Easter services.  I wish more Christians would reach out in love like Jesus.

QUESTION: Why do you think people who call themselves Christians sometimes say the most hateful things about Muslims?

WARREN: Well, some of those folks probably aren’t really Christians. 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” And 1 John 2:9 says “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.”  I am not allowed by Jesus to hate anyone.  Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

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About Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders. He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

  • Neal

    Warren and his friend the hate monger and cribal, Scott Lively, have blood on their hands in Uganda. You can talk about “love” all you want in your fake church, but actions speak louder than words. Warren believes his religious dogma should be imposed on others through criminal law and in that sense has absolutely nothing in common with Jesus Christ and everything in common with the Taliban. He will answer for his crimes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lenda-Beck/1202081118 Lenda Beck

    THis is my concern here>> THE KORAN  is a book filled with hate toward us,,, the infidals… i HAVE read the book and it is hatefilled,, who can dispute that,,, So it Muslims say they follow those teaching I am a tad bit fearful of,, killl the infidals…. as I would be conciderd one,,,,

    • http://www.facebook.com/maijn.ladison Adullah Ibn Roddy

      The Qur’an does contain a lot of “hate-filled” passages per say. However, these particular passages are generally taken out of context by many people that have the goal of promoting their beliefs. The passages about fighting are wartime passages. I have read the Qur’an as well. This is how understanding works. If a person already has some kind of prejudice for a religion before reading about it, the mind will work to confirm that prejudice. For example, let’s say I have prejudice against Judaism per say before I read the Tenach or Torah. Because of my prejudice, I will do anything to confirm my prejudice which includes taking verses out of context.

      • http://----- Antoine Haddad

        It is true that the Koran contains much incitement to war(Jihad). In Islamic history this was used to conquer other countries and build an Islamic empire. As a result of WWI, the empire was dismantled and the Islamic pope ( Khalifat )
        was abolished by the new Turks. Islam lost a reference point in matter of politics as well as religion. This gave rise to numerous religious fundamentalist references to take the interpretation into their own hands inciting Jihad and hatred against infidels . They are backed by lots of money from wealthy fundamentalist Islamic countries.On the other hand , there are those who are giving a new interpretation to Jihad as a struggle for justice , morality, good governance and national and community development . So today there is a fight for the soul of Islam. Let us pray that reformed Islam will prevail.

  • Pat Greene

    What a great article, not only because it really DID clear the air about so many
    misconceptions flying around about Rick Warren but it really gives stuff to chew
    on because very few of us haven’t committed the error/sin of passing on info we
    really haven’t fact-checked. God bless Rick Warren and the whole church community
    there. They are an example of Christ for us all in so many ways. Pat Greene, Valencia, Spain

  • Msmiller

    I have been following this comment thread for 2-3 weeks and am dismayed at some of the negative comments…some of which have been taken down.  It reminds me of the McCarthy era when there was a communist behind every tree.  Well some of the brethren seem to think that there is an “apostate” behind every pulpit except theirs and their own…us four and no more attitude.  Be careful when someone says only I, We, know the TRUTH.  Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, if indeed, Muslims are the enemy then we are to love them even more.  I believe that all people are souls for whom Christ died.  If Paul, as wicked as he was before Christ miraculously saved him, could be appointed by God to be a voice to the Gentiles; then, why could not Pastor Warren be a voice to the Muslims.  I am hearing good things about how the gospel is reaching into the Middle East….Muslims are having dreams and visions leading them to Christ…God can do anything HE wants.  He can use anyone He wants and in any way He wants.  So before you Pharisees spew forth your condemnation of Rick Warren, better and stop and think just who your Jesus is??  I heard a good sermon this morning on “the Self-Made Jesus”.  People develop their doctrine and make Jesus who they want him to be…Democrat, Republican, Baptist or Pentecostal. The TRUTH is that  He is the holy Son of God who wants ALL to come to repentance. Some of you need to stop worrying about apostasy and just start spreading the gospel.  See how many you can win for Jesus…that is what HE wants you to do and he wants you to fill up heaven with “whosoever will”.That is what it means to contend for the faith!!!!  

    • Antoine Haddad

      I agree with you. It seems that most negative comments show an ignorance of Islam. Like Christianity, Islam is not one . There are many sects , many schools and many interpretations. The most fundementalist reactionary school is Wahabbism, the Saudi version of Islam which is very anti-Christian . In fact , most of the attackers of 9/11 were Saudis. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is fully supported by the USA.This version of Islam,  which is on the increase because of oil money, is a 19th century development. Before oil money started pouring, it was hardly known in the Moslem world.There are lots of Moslems who respect Christians and like to work with them for the good of society and humanity . It is not a sin to cooperate with such people and plant a seed . This is an act of love and caring. Only through love and prayer can that seed grow.
      We should encourage moderate islam without compromising the Gospel . For the sake of Christians in the M.E. , of whom i am one, let us temper our voices against Islam and commend Pastor Rick Waren and others, for such initiatives of dialogue and understanding. Only through friendship and love can the Holy Spirit use us in God’s plan of salvation. 
      Antoine Haddad

    • Raybz321

      I was one of the people who was hearing all the things about Pastor Rick, and I believed them until my Pastor picked up the Purpose Driven Church and convinced me to read it before we started our church here in Florida. After I was done reading the book I agreed with my Pastor that the Holy Spirit inspired the writing. I started to investigate further and lo and behold at the back of the book was this site with the answer about crislam that I had been hearing about. I have started to read the book a second time and am starting to preach it to the churches that I counsel. Sorry Pastor Rick and thank you for listening to the Lord. I also am looking at non-believers with a different attitude. God BLess your work!!

  • Zach

    Rick speaks with a forked tongue. He talks a big talk but when it comes down to it, he wimps out and talks about joining with Muslims to end stereotyping and rudeness, like he did at the Islamic Society of North America on July 4th, 2009. He is two-faced, he twists the word of God and will lead many astray with his lies. He has linked up in ministry with New-Agers and Muslims and eastern occultic mystics. He’s also a member of the New World Order organization of the Council on Foreign Relations. His watered down, seeker sensitive gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • OhSoPrescious

    I had been married to a Muslim. While I was unequally yoked and did not know it at the time. I have since sought God out for the saving of the Muslim people.  I was lead back to the OT teaching in the book of Esther, and the mercy and favor that was given to God’s chosen by the Persians. God spoke to me, saying the Muslim believers are just gentiles who had a false teacher. To me that puts an end to how the Good News should be shared with them.  We are to love them as neighbors, and shine Christ’s light into their darkness, being careful not to act with evil deeds like the scribes and Pharisees.


    Thanks so much for this wonderful article, as a christian I must bow my head in shame for not witnessing the way I should yet judging and critising unbeliever in my heart. I have been given another chance to repent through the reading of this magnificent eye opening interview. God have mercy on us all…. AMEN

  • Mjsturman

    Brandon, I read your article, and all the comments concerning it.  Honestly, I am left with more questions than I had previously about Pastor Warren and his purposes.  Comments were made   and links given that contradict what Pastor Rick professes in your article.  You work for and with Saddleback, so this does not exactly make you unbiased.  The saddest part for me is if you read all you can stomach from both “sides” (which I have done in an attempt to find truth), you come away knowing that some of these Christians are lying.  Satan must love this!

  • Marjo

    Is there some way I can link this article to my Facebook page so that people visiting my page can read it?

    • Marjo

      Okay, got it figured out.  I hope lots and lots of people read the article.

  • Rev. John P Lennon II

    Pastor Rick, your friends don’t need any explanations as we have seen your ministry and track record all these years.  Thank you for your faithfulness to God, His Word, and His Work.  Keep on keeping on.  God bless!!
    Rev. John P Lennon II
    ABWE Ecuador

  • Hugh

    Great interview.  This clarifies everything for me.  There will always be those who will never be satisitied.  I do believe we cannot paint everyone with the same brush.  When we didn’t back the Shah, the cream of the crop cam to the U.S. They make great neighbors with whom there is a mutual respect. Rick now has a target on his back.  Try to get the definitive response out to the media sooner, if possible

  • Wlcman

    I think it is wrong for the pastore to sit down with muslims for any reasons since they have a doctrine that they want to destroy Israiel and to kill all Americans. I think we are letting Pastor Warrent off too easy and must explain his association with the muslims more fully for me to buy it. The Reverend should not bread with the devil under any circumstances.

    • Steven Martinez

      If you don’t sit down with Muslims, then how can you share the Gospel with them.  The Gospel is the message of God’s love, not God’s hate and wrath.  You, sir, do not understand the truth of the Gospel, if you think that Muslims are the enemy. 
      Rev. Steve Martinez, Bells, TX

      • Josh

        But when Warren has spoken to Muslims, like he did at INSA, he didn’t actually preach the Gospel but watered it down by unscripturally saying he wanted to partner with Islam to end stereotyping and rudeness. This is not commanded or encouraged anywhere in Scripture. In fact Scripture commands us not to be yoked with unbelievers. Warren preaches an unbiblical message because he encourages religious tolerance and ecumenism, instead of calling Muslims to repent of sin and their false religion and turn to Christ for salvation.

  • Kelvinkclim

    Kelvin Lim
    The fields are full of people waiting to having a relationship with believers are at the marketplace. Jesus goes there very often. We spend too much time in the four walls of an institutional church, listening to messages, seminar, classes etc and yet millions are waiting for believers to foster a relationship with them. Get out there and see miracle of Jesus touching their needs through you!

  • Msmiller

    I have been hoping and praying that Pastor Warren would come back at these people…I wrote a letter to jsm.org for their comments and lies about the book PDL and the Chrislam thing but did not send it.  I seemed that God said WAIT..so one week later this article comes out and also on the Christian post.  So now I have sent the article to them and plan to do the same to other ministries who are hurting the body of Christ with these untruths.  We don’t need this right now….let the body be the body in all of it’s diversity.

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