More than three and a half years ago Rick Warren, the purpose-driven pastor of Saddleback Church, moderated the “Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion” between then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain in advance of the 2008 presidential election. Warren says the country has suffered since he hosted the forum.
In an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Friday Warren explained that he was frustrated that the event’s format — giving each candidate the same questions — prevented him from pressing Obama and McCain on their answers, but said that he would be open to moderating a similar discussion this election cycle.
“Sure, I’d be glad to do it,” he said when asked if he would do another forum with President Obama and the Republican nominee.
Warren would not discuss Obama’s performance since the debate, but did say that the country has suffered in the past few years.
“There is no doubt about the country. If you ask the Reagan question that he asked when Reagan ran for office: Are you better off than you were four years ago? There is not a person in America who could say, ‘Yes,’” said Warren.
According to the Warren, America is in need of another spiritual awakening — without which the country will see a decline.
“We will either have a break down or another spiritual awakening,” he said. “What we need is a third, or some would count it a fourth great spiritual awakening. America has been down in the dumps before and renewal does not come simply through business — although the government can’t create prosperity only businesses can create prosperity — but renewal starts actually in the heart. No law can change human heart, only grace can do that. If we have some kind of spiritual awakening I have great hope for America. If we don’t I see a sad decline.”
When asked about the metrics for this reinvigoration of faith, Warren explained that it would be manifest in the number of people worshipping and rejecting moral relativism.
“One metric is certainly the number of people who are worshiping. Are more people going to worship at their house of worship at their place of worship? Are they worshiping there? I think generosity is a measure,” he said. “I think community service is a measure. I think unselfishness is a measure. I think return to values that basically say there are some things that are absolutely right and there are something that are absolutely wrong. The idea of, ‘well it may be right for everybody else but not right for me’ and all of that. That kind of haziness — the fact is there is real evil in the world, it is real, it is palpable, and it has to be fought. You cannot compromise with it, you have to deal with it.”