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.

Now God has never shouted out to me. I’ve never heard God speak audibly. He doesn’t have too. I mean if God can send a phone thru a-a cell phone, and I can’t see it, if he can send a picture through the air and it come out on the TV, he can certainly send a thought directly to my mind without having to say it aloud or write it in the sky. And we believe that when God speaks to us that’s called inspiration. When Satan speaks to us that’s called temptation. And when I’m talking to myself and I think it’s God, that’s delusion.

You know Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, after his business hit the skids, wrote a very interesting piece where he said “Where I made the mistake was I thought I was talking to God and it was actually my own ego, or I confused the two.” Not that he wasn’t also talking to God but that “I confused the two.” How do you know?

I think that’s why we have the Bible. I do accept the Bible as a standard of authority and I judge my experience by it not vice versa. So if the Bible says something and I’ve had an experience that counters that, I doubt the experience because we know experience can lie. You can have a virtual experience. I could create, I could stimulate certain things in your mind and you’d think you were an elephant. And so, experiences could be a bad burrito you ate the night before or things like that. Feelings often lie.


But going back to this thing about heaven and getting into a perfect place. Let’s say we got a scale of 1 to 100. Let’s put Hitler at zero and Mother Teresa at 100 OK. And Steve you’re at 85 and Larry’s at 65 and I’m at 45. The truth is, some people are better than others, there’s no doubt about it. Some people are more moral than others, they’re nicer, they’re less selfish, less self-centered, things like that. But the truth is, nobody makes [it] to perfection… And so somebody’s got to make up that difference. And that’s the gift I believe Jesus came to – to make up the difference between my zero and my 100 or my 45 and 100 -- somebody’s got to make up that difference.

And you write in the Purpose of Christmas, that God came to earth at Christmas to remind you that he is always with you. And you have spent time, so much time, with the absolute most destitute and struggling people in the world. When you’re with, say, a child who has lost both parents and has AIDS and has a very, very hard life and you’re looking at that person, holding that person, are you sure that they’re feeling the presence of God’s love?

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Steven Waldman
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