Warren, the founder of Saddleback Church and the best-selling author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” talks candidly with me about the country’s reignited culture wars on issues such as contraception and gay marriage, his view of the proper role of religion in public life, and how the poor economy has affected his congregation.
“I have a congregation that’s very large. It talks to me all the time. Most people would not think they’re better off economically than they were four years ago,” Pastor Warren said. “I hold everybody responsible for that. I hold the people who got themselves into debt. I hold the government that got themselves into debt. I hold multiple administrations. It’s not the fault of any one person.”
With Republican Mitt Romney moving closer to becoming the first Mormon presidential nominee, I asked Warren whether he believes Mormons are Christians — a contested issue among evangelicals.
“The key sticking point for evangelicals and actually for many is the issue of the Trinity… that’s the historic doctrine of the church that God is three-in-one,” Warren said. “Not three Gods; one God in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mormonism denies that.”
I also asked Warren whether he believes faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to reach heaven.
“I do believe that. And I believe that because Jesus said it,” Warren said. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’ He didn’t say ‘I’m one of the ways.’ He said, ‘I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life.’ I’m betting my life that Jesus wasn’t a liar.”
Given Warren’s interfaith work and friendships, I asked why a benevolent God would exclude non-Christians from heaven.
“I don’t think any of us deserve to go to heaven. I think the only way any of us get into heaven is God’s grace,” Warren responded. “I’m not getting to heaven on my integrity. I’m not getting to heaven on my goodness. I’m getting to heaven on what I believe Jesus said is grace, and the fact is it’s available to everybody.”
See a preview of my interview with Warren below, and watch the full conversation Sunday morning on “This Week.”