So, Pastor Rick Warren asked people to pray for guidance within the Catholic church when they were choosing their next pope. The Protestant critics were greatly offended. How dare he……PRAYS?? Their offense is based on folks’ perception of the Catholic church not truly understanding salvation and thus needing to accept the gospel. (i.e. get “saved” up in here!)
Apparently, according to the critics, Warren’s prayer exposed a “oneness” between Protestants and Catholics that isn’t warranted due to Catholics’ heretical teachings and their current/eminent need for salvation.
They say that Pastor Warren’s prayer also negatively effects people’s eternal destination. Their rationale is that Warren’s eluding to the oneness of Catholic and Protestant beliefs results in squashed motivation amongst Protestants to evangelize Catholics; a hope in Jesus that the “Catholics desperately need.”
After hearing about all this controversy, I didn’t know what I thought of the issue, but as I took some time to reflect, I landed pretty much with Pastor Rick Warren. Here are some questions I asked myself in order to arrive at my conclusion.
1. Is praying ever a bad thing? Let’s remember, people are upset that Rick Warren PRAYED for a group of people to make a good decision. How can that be bad?
2. Aren’t we called to pray for ALL leaders, meaning those in and even outside the church (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We are also told that God is the one who places folks in their leadership position (Romans 13:1).
3. Have you ever met a Catholic that understood the gospel and had received Christ, being made born again? I have.
4. Don’t you think God is a little more in charge of evangelism and salvation than some of these folks make him out to be? The spirit convicts the hearts of man (John 16:8). For those Catholics that are resisting the true gospel, (along with many people that claim to be Protestants, I might add) they will “make or break” depending on how they respond to the Holy Spirit.
My personal opinion of the Catholic church is that they do indeed believe in Jesus being who He says He is. How many know that’s a better foundation than the vast majority of the world? With that said, I do think many Catholics are just going through the motions and are lost. I also know this to be the case within Protestant circles, including the nondenominational church that I Pastor.
I also believe there are Catholics who are born-again. But there are probably some that are “in between” that have accepted the gospel, but currently have very limited understanding just how free they are in God’s grace. Otherwise, who’s going to pray that rosary so many times?
What if in Rick Warren’s mind, he was praying for the Catholic church to acquire a leader that truly understood the gospel and would change the direction of the Catholic church for generations to come? In the meantime, I think that it’s great he took the time to pray. I wonder how many of the critics did the same. I didn’t, God bless my little heart.
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