Rick Warren: Christians and Muslims worship the same God

Warren “has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”
Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims

Edit 3/2/12: Warren says this was misreported.

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Brenda T's picture

The King's Way document has not been officially released. The reporter who wrote the story has claimed to have a copy but is not at liberty to publish it. He http://apprising.org/2012/02/27/rick-warren-islam-and-jim-hinch/ wrote :

I do have a copy of the [King's Way ] document but it was given to me by a source who asked that it not be published. The five-page document lays out three areas of agreement, including shared aspects of Christian and Muslim belief and a commitment to work together on community service projects.

The part about shared areas of belief states “we believe in one God” and enumerates several characteristics of God common to both faiths, including that God created the world, is good, etc. The document does not address beliefs about Jesus, which is a major difference between Islam and Christianity.

I talked to sources both at Saddleback and in the Muslim community and all of them described the mutual outreach efforts and the attempt to find points of theological common ground. While reporting the story I asked to speak to Rick Warren but was told he was too busy for an interview.

. . . No one at Saddleback used the words “same God” in an interview.

A Saddleback representative contacted me to ask for a clarification to the story. Rather than “Christians and Muslims worship the same God” they would like the story to read “Christians and Muslims believe God is one.” I’m not sure I see the difference but I think editors are prepared to make the clarification.

As of yet, the Orange County Register has not made any corrections or clarifications.

The King's Way document was presented at the http://blog.icsconline.org/2012/02/in-the-media-rick-warren-builds-bridg... The Islamic Center of Southern California , which by the way posted the Orange County Register article (that says they worship the "same God") on their website without qualification, clarification, or comment. So, it appears they were in agreement with the word "same."

Some of the comments from the article on the newspaper's website are interesting. One person wrote:

Anila Ali · Concordia University Irvine
I was at the event and saw parts of the document that were shared. Muslims believe in the same God as Jesus, we just call him Allah. Why is it so hard for some to digest the fact that it is the same God? Muslims can't be complete in faith unless they believe in Jesus, Moses, and the other great prophets. Pastor Warren's efforts to show similarity in our faiths is what's needed. We keep highlighting the differences and become less tolerant of each other. Where as if we were to focus on commonalities- we 'd all be better human beings.

· Tuesday at 8:58pm

Anila Ali · Concordia University Irvine
I am so honored to have been a part of his Christmas Interfaith dinner and look forward to more Interfaith ventures of Pastor Rick warren.

· February 26 at 3:05pm


This effort toward peace and cooperation between Christians and Muslims appears to have been building for several years. Back in 2007 some Muslims released a document called http://www.acommonword.com/lib/downloads/CW-Total-Final-v-12g-Eng-9-10-0... ]"A Common Word Between You and Us" and a http://www.yale.edu/faith/acw/acw.htm Christian Response was signed by Rick Warren (among many others) which stated

Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.

The signers of that Christian Response (including Warren) publicly asked forgiveness of the "All-Merciful One" which is one of the names Muslims use for Allah.

Brad Kelly's picture

Thank you. Seems odd Warren/Saddleback don't want it published. But then I guess it doesn't.
Also seems odd that nothing is being said about this by the guys at Gospel Coalition, Ref21, etc. Especially considering all the back and forth about the Elephant room. I guess the Trinity is only important when some people deny it, but not others.

Larry's picture

Thus, II John has broader reference than simply within the meetings of the church. I should do nothing that assists the evil deeds of those who teach false doctrine, nor say anything that can be construed as aid or endorsement of anything they do related to their "faith." The teaching of these two letters seems to be that you meet the needs of true brothers who minister to you, but help false teachers not at all.
I don't think it is just the "meetings of the church," but the context of the church that matters. But since "church" (ekklesia) has a meaning, I don't think we should take the liberty of expanding that meaning to other things.

As I have thought about this, I wonder if this might be the case, or something similar to this: You believe that everything relating to God/theology/etc has to do with the church, and therefore everything relating to God/theology/etc has to abide with the "rules" of the church in Scripture, whereas I don't believe that. I believe there are venues for the discussion of God/theology/etc that are not necessarily connected to the church, and therefore do not have to abide by those standards.

Maybe this will help clarify (or maybe not, and I have a follow up question or two if you choose to answer this one): If your local community center is sponsoring a "church night" of some sort and invites a number of different clergy/religious leaders to participate in a round table discussion, would you accept the invitation? ]

Again, thanks for the kind exchange here.

JG's picture

First, to clarify. I understand II John as a letter, not to a church, but to an individual. I do not see "house" as a reference to the church, but to providing hospitality in her own house. It is not that I am expanding "church" beyond what "church" is, but that I believe II John specifically extends beyond church in what it is saying.

In general, I do think parachurch organizations should abide by the guidelines given to the church as far as purity is concerned. Thus, I do believe, in general, that separation applies in parachurch settings, such as schools and mission boards. It is not that they are churches, but that they are intended to aid churches, and so it would be silly to exclude them.

For something like ETS, I don't necessarily think the same separation rules necessarily apply, though I'm not sure why not, either. I certainly think II John is problematic for it when you have those who teach a false Gospel taking part -- but as I said, I think II John is specifically intended to deal with contexts broader than the local church.

I might participate in the roundtable you describe. It would probably depend on how it was being advertised and structured. In general, I'm not overly enthusiastic about that kind of thing. I'm not sure I see it as forbidden in Scripture, but rather as unwise. I think it is roughly equivalent to the atheist debates, which we discussed on your blog. I just don't see it as really the way the Lord intended us to be spreading the Gospel.

If it was being said that the Christian community was taking part, and most weren't Christians, I'd opt out. It would just depend on how it was being done, I think.

I do think much of the difference on this comes down to II John. If it is written to a church, then the term "house" refers to the church, and this has a generally narrower reference. If it is written to an individual, that individual is told to apply separation from false teachers beyond the local church context. If the former, a case could be made that we should extend the principle beyond the local church context, but the case is not overly strong.

Brad Kelly's picture

I still wonder why he doesn't just make publicly available the document in question. Until then he will be viewed by many as saying one thing to Christians and one thing to Muslims.
I'm not sure how reasonable it is to try to paint this as a problem with "watch-bloggers." An unaffiliated journalist and, from what I understand, Muslims who have seen the document both say what the bloggers are. Just produce the document that started the whole brouhaha and be done with it.

Brenda T's picture


While many supporters of Warren insist that claims in the article are false, the Register reporter and an editor at the paper told WND that Saddleback Church leadership confirmed that the article was “factually accurate.”

“Folks at Saddleback initially made but then withdrew a request for a clarification to the story’s first paragraph,” reporter Jim Hinch told WND in an email. . . .

Despite his staff’s acknowledgement to the Register that the article is factually accurate, Warren denied claims in the article by pointing the finger at the reporter for “getting it wrong.”