Discussion - Monday, May 23, 2005 - Key West, Florida - Some of the nation's leading journalists gathered in Key West, Florida, in May 2005 for the Pew Forum's biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life. Conference speaker Rick Warren, pastor of the largest church in America, addressed misconceptions many Americans have about mega-churches. He also discussed his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, as well as current trends in the evangelical movement, the work his church is doing for AIDS and poverty relief in Africa, and some of his views on hot-button political and cultural issues.
JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: Picking up on this business about the disagreements between the fundamentalists and the Pentecostals, I mean, this struck me as news because when journalists write about it, we go to people like Robertson and Falwell to represent the evangelicals. And that's the way it comes across, so it strikes me that we're ill informed or you're wrong. (Chuckles.) And secondly, that you're not using this God-given influence you spoke of, because your influence is not showing up in the American media in terms of supplanting people who you would tell us are bogus.
MR. WARREN: Well, I tell you, that's the reason I accepted this meeting, because I'm just tired of having other people represent me and represent the hundreds of thousands of churches where the pastors I've trained would nowhere, no way, relate to some of the supposed spokesmen of a previous generation.
Now the word "fundamentalist" actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity, and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones.
MR. WILLIAMS: Bob Jones is not a mega-church?
MR. WARREN: No, no, no, no, no, no no. Bob Jones is not a mega-church. That's right exactly, it's not, and that group is shrinking more and more and more. On the other hand, Pentecostalism and charismatic evangelicalism is growing by leaps and bounds. It's growing huge all over the world. And so that's the movement that's growing.
MR. WILLIAMS: What's the difference between a fundamentalist and a Pentecostal?
MR. WARREN: A fundamentalist would deny the miraculous today. They would for instance, one of the hallmarks of a Pentecostal would be praying for miracles of healing and speaking in an unknown tongue and things like that. Those would be hallmarks of Pentecostalism and fundamentalists would say, "Oh no, all that stuff died at the end of the New Testament." They would not accept the miraculous today.
MR. WILLIAMS: So what's the difference between you and the fundamentalists?
MR. WARREN: Well, I don't agree with that. I believe there are miracles today.
MR. CROMARTIE: Let me give you a quick answer to that. The difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist is an evangelical is someone who really, really, really likes Billy Graham. A fundamentalist is someone who thinks Billy Graham is a liberal.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon