Saddleback pastor and evangelical icon Rick Warren has risked the wrath of conservatives by attempting to build bridges with the Roman Catholic Church.
Warren, whose Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church books have sold millions of copies around the world, recorded a video interview for the Catholic News Service in which he said: "We have far more in common than what divides us."
He continued: "When you talk about Pentecostals, charismatics, evangelicals, fundamentalists, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians ... Well they would all say we believe in the trinity, we believe in the Bible, we believe in the resurrection, we believe salvation is through Jesus Christ. These are the big issues.
"Sometimes Protestants think that Catholics worship Mary like she's another god. But that's not exactly Catholic doctrine."
He also referred to the Roman Catholic practice of prayer to the saints, which Protestants reject, saying: "When you understand what they mean by what they're saying, there's a whole lot more commonality.
"Now there's still real differences, no doubt about that. But the most important thing is if you love Jesus, we're on the same team."
He said that Church unity would realistically be "not a structural unity but a unity of mission. And so, when it comes to the family we are co-workers in the field on this for the protection of what we call the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex, and the sanctity of marriage. So there's a great commonality and there's no division on any of those three."
Warren recently took part in a Vatican conference on the Complementarity of Man and Woman alongside conservative stalwart Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. His remarks are in tune with the tone of Pope Francis, who has spoken warmly of evangelicals and brought a different emphasis to inter-Church engagement.
His comments on the video were condemned by Matt Slick, President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Slick said that Warren had "lent his credibility as a Protestant pastor in support of the Roman Catholic Church. This should never be done by any Protestant pastor who takes the Bible seriously. I must conclude that Mr Warren does not take the word of God seriously and/or he does not understand the damnable teachings of Roman Catholicism regarding salvation. Rick Warren needs to repent."