Steven Waldman Interviews Rick Warren

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose of Christmas," spoke with Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman at the offices of our partner, The Wall Street Journal.

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And what is ‘The Gift’?

That’s a good question. You know, I talk about in the book that we often celebrate Christmas year after year after year without receiving God’s gift to us. And if you were to give me a Christmas gift, or any kind of gift, and later, a year later, you go “Hey Rick, how did you like my gift” and I go, “well actually I’m really glad you gave it to me, Steve, but I didn’t have a chance to open it, I was really busy.” Well you’d be offended and I would miss the benefit of the gift. I wouldn’t even know.

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ came to do three things. He came to have my past forgiven, you get a purpose for living and a home in Heaven. It’s almost like 3D: past, present, future. Past forgiven, purpose for living, home in Heaven. And all these things are available as a gift.

That’s the big difference between Christianity and other religions. The difference between Works and Grace or Do and Done. Before I became a believer I lived in Japan, one of the times while I was there and I studied all of the different religions. And they have to do with the idea of truth. The Japanese call it ShinJitSu. You know, Mohammad said I’m a prophet of the truth. The Vedas, the Hindu scripture, says Truth is very elusive, it’s like a butterfly, you have to search for it here or there. Buddha made a very famous statement at the end of his life, “I’m still searching for the truth.”

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And then Jesus comes along, and he says, “I am the truth.” You know, that’s quite a dividing statement. It really forces you to say, “Is he who he says he is or is he a nutcase?” Is he, as the famous CS Lewis thing, liar, lord or lunatic…?

Many people say, “I believe Jesus was a great person.” Well actually, that’s the one thing he couldn’t be. If I were to come to you and say “Steve, I’m a good moral teacher,” you would say “yea, I can buy that, I think Rick is a pretty good moral teacher.” If I said, “I’m a man of God,” you’d say, “well, maybe, ok maybe he’s a man of God.” If I said, “I’m a prophet of God,” you say, “well that might be a stretch, I don’t know if I accept that or not.” But if I came to you and said “ Hey Steve, I’m the Son of God and you don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of getting into Heaven except thru me. I am the way”-- you would feel very differently about me. All of a sudden, that forces some type of decision. Is he who he says he is or is he a nut or conman?

And to me, Jesus Christ came to say, “I have done it all for you.” One of the most famous words of Jesus are, on the cross when he’s dying--he says “it is finished.” He doesn’t say, “I’m finished,” ‘cause I don’t believe he was. I do believe that he resurrected three days later. He said “IT is finished.”

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Steven Waldman
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