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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
What Would Jesus Really Do?
Aired April 6, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: The war in Iraq, poverty, sex, sin, and AIDS, modern dilemmas challenging the faith.
And, since we're in the midst of the holy season, we want to know, do American Christians walk the walk or just talk the talk? We're tackling the burning issues with some of the nation's top ministers, and asking, "What Would Jesus Really Do?"
If Jesus walked the streets of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Houston, what would he really say and, more importantly, do about what he saw? The Bible says faith without works is dead, but conversation without action is just lip service.
The Christian agenda isn't the same as the Republican Party platform, and it doesn't exclude Democrats. God's agenda knows no party.
Now, look, as a Christian author and the husband of an ordained Southern Baptist minister, I have grown tired of the unwillingness to broaden the faith beyond a couple of hot-button issues.
So, we decided to put the tough questions to those who proclaim to speak his truths, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Jerry Falwell, and others. They speak to millions daily through their growing ministries. Tonight, they speak to you.
Joining us now, Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of one of the largest churches in America. He's also a bestselling author. He's got a new book coming out. "TIME" magazine once described him as the next Billy Graham.
Also, joining us from Florida, Paula White, pastor of one of the largest churches in the U.S., Without Walls International Church.
Folks, thanks for joining us.
BISHOP T.D. JAKES, PASTOR, THE POTTER'S HOUSE: It's a pleasure.
MARTIN: Bishop Jakes, I want to start with you.
You make it a point not to be involved a lot in politics. We don't see you hanging out at the White House and always saying, I'm endorsing this person.
Why? Why do you stay away?
JAKES: Well, you know, I like to be involved, but I don't like to be controlled by politics.
When I can float between party lines, I can look after the interests of the people, rather than the political party. And, for me, that's been a wise decision. I recognize that there are other ministers who approach it differently, but each of us have our own callings. And that's been mine.
MARTIN: Now, Pastor White, you have -- same way. I mean, you know, we don't really see you preaching a lot from the pulpit as it relates to politics. Why? Why do you like to stay, in essence, in your pastoral lane?
PASTOR PAULA WHITE, WITHOUT WALLS INTERNATIONAL CHURCH: I believe, just as Bishop just said, that it's my assignment and my calling to speak to the heart of men and women, and to empower them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to pray for them.
MARTIN: We have a lot of folks out there discussing the war in Iraq. How have you related what we are involved in with your members, your congregation?
WHITE: Again, we live next to a military base right here. The church is located by MacDill. And it has been my position to pray for soldiers who go overseas, their families, to minister during those times of being separated.
But it is not my assignment to legislate or dictate or -- but, again, to go back to the person, meeting their needs, what they are facing, in the absence of a father or a mother or some of the life situations that they're dealing with. And, so, staying effective in our lane of assignment and calling is what I believe we all need to do, and do effectively.
MARTIN: Bishop, how have you dealt with that?
JAKES: I want to level in on that just a little bit.
MARTIN: Go right ahead.
JAKES: First of all, I prefer peace to war, any time we can use diplomacy or some way to avoid the loss of lives. It grieves my heart when I see our sons coming home in body bags, our daughters coming home in body bags, and not only theirs, but the Iraqi people and other people, who love their children as well.
I serve a lord who is the prince of peace. And I believe that he is a peacemaker. Unfortunately, we live in a world where, sometimes, war rises up, because people will not talk things out. They will not follow the Scriptures. They will not follow the principles of the Bible.
But, whenever possible, if we would live according to the word of God as it really is written to us, if all of us would do it, there would be no war. MARTIN: Bishop, you just made a point about living according to the principles of the Bible. Let's talk about that when it comes to money.
MARTIN: A lot of people say that far too many pastors are talking about money. It's all about the gospel of prosperity.
How do you confront that, because people have said the same thing? They criticize where you live, the house you live in, the cars you drive, the selling of books, things among those lines. What about that issue of prosperity and that principle?
JAKES: You know, I think the thing that a minister has to do is preach a gospel that is balanced.
In my new book, "Positioning Yourself," I take some strong stands with this comment about the gospel of prosperity. There is no such thing as a gospel of prosperity. The gospel is what we're celebrating this weekend, the death, burial, and the resurrection of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. And it has never changed.
So, a ministry that focuses totally on prosperity or, for that matter, totally on any one aspect of the Scriptures, does it to the demise of the greater truth of a balanced Gospel. There's nothing wrong with a minister prospering, if they do it properly, they do it legally, they do it morally.
As in my case, I own several businesses. I own several companies. I'm an author in my own rights, and can afford to take care of myself and live my lifestyle. I haven't always had that, but I have always preached the Gospel. We shouldn't be preaching for money, but we should not allow money to stop us from preaching.
MARTIN: Now, Pastor White, what about that? Because when Bishop made the point about what has passed, I mean, you have gone through a very tough road, a road to transformation -- Bishop, when he was digging ditches in West Virginia...
MARTIN: ... dealing with welfare, as well. Does it offend you when a lot forget that there was a pre-Paula White pastor of a large church who went through a whole lot?
WHITE: Well, I know, for myself, I never forget.
In fact, I believe true empowerment is reaching your hand out with the principles that have transformed you, and not just telling a person what they can have do. But, as you have learned how to lead a life of empowerment, how to take the word of God, and use it to transform your life, you reach your hand out and give that person the same principles that changed you. And that, for me, has been the transformation. I know what it is to live in that double-wide trailer, to turn the corner, not know what utility is going to be turned off. And it's fundamental that you never forget your history tells a lot about your destiny.
I do believe I can reach people effectively because of the journey that I have taken in life. I understand that pain. But I also understand what it is to be able to take those principles and see them applied and work in your life effectively. And I believe that the truest sense of prosperity, when you ultimately begin to prosper, talking in financial terms, is when you begin to affect another person's destiny.
MARTIN: If Jesus was walking the Earth today, what would be his focus?
JAKES: That's a very difficult question, probably the most difficult question that you asked me today.
He said: The spirit of the lord God is upon me to preach the Gospel.
And I think the priority is to preach the gospel. But then he goes on to talk about to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted. You know, many times, people will label you for a lot of things. And prosperity was really never my deal. My ministry was ministering to hurting people, and particularly...
MARTIN: Especially hurting women.
JAKES: That's right. "Woman, Thou Art Loosed!" really was the catalyst of my national ministry.
And I climbed on the stage not to talk to people about being rich, but about being healed from abuse and from trauma and that sort of thing. Those were some of the things that Jesus did, but to preach good news to the poor, the acceptable year of the lord. I think he would be ashamed of the bickering that goes on amongst religious people today, how we build careers out of tearing one another down.
And I think that he would be ashamed of the way that we live today, with so many things that we have to work with, not using the communication tools more effectively to communicate a good message and a positive message, like we're doing today.
MARTIN: Pastor White?
WHITE: I agree with Bishop's mission statement, was there to preach the Gospel.
And I would also say that he declared that he came to save and to seek that which was lost. And it literally means to rescue that which was out of position. Sometimes, life will mis-position us. We get lost. We are not on the right pathway.
And I believe, whatever that wrong pathway is, that God, through his son, Jesus Christ, would come put us back on it, to experience that wholeness, that freedom, that abundant life, just as I have been so transformed and experienced, in fact, am a product of sitting under that Gospel preached by Bishop Jakes, "Woman, Thou Art Loosed!" that so transformed my life from brokenness, father who committed suicide, sexual and physical abuse, to really being able to stand in front of a mirror and say, I'm OK from the inside out.
God has designed a life for me. And, at my core being, I'm valuable, I'm worthy, and I was not defined by the externals that happened to me, nor the experiences that took place in my life.
Here is the toughest question I'm going to ask both of you tonight.
MARTIN: How did Jesus and the Easter Bunny get hooked up on the same weekend?
MARTIN: Well, I think it speaks to...
JAKES: First of all, you're very funny.
JAKES: You know, I think we do so much damage when we start commercializing these sacred events.
So, I -- you know, the Easter Bunny is a little bit Pagan of a concept, though I -- you know, I don't fight people who want to dye eggs and do their things. Some people do. I don't fight them about that, because, in our country, we have so many diversities of ideologies and concepts, and we respect each other.
As a Christian, for me, this is a sacred opportunity to remember that our lord died for our sins, that he shed his blood, that he rose from the dead on the third day. And it encourages me, as a man of God, to understand that Christianity does not hide its face from pain, but it discusses it openly and unashamedly, and it teaches us to resurrect above our pain, reposition ourselves for the future, and then project our faith into the lives of our children.
MARTIN: Pastor White, what's the deal, bunny and Jesus?
WHITE: Absolutely Jesus. It is the most significant season to us, from Passover to Good Friday, remembering the price that was paid. And that price, which is so significant in my life, had an empty love tank, broken, no hope, really didn't have a future or know what it was, but, on that day when I had a defining moment, to realize that there was a day that he died on an old rugged cross, he was crucified, buried in a borrowed tomb, but he rose again on the third day to give me life, changed forever.
MARTIN: All right. May the church say amen.
Pastor Paula White, Bishop T.D. Jakes, thanks a bunch. I appreciate it.
JAKES: It's been a pleasure.
WHITE: Thank you so much.
MARTIN: Still to come: Jesus politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: I have known many women of faith who didn't have a clue regarding national security, didn't have a clue about how to deal with terrorism, had no idea about how to change the federal courts and to defend the unborn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: The Reverend Jerry Falwell -- in an interview that may surprise you, find out why he's not necessarily ruling out an atheist in the White House.
Plus: "The Purpose Driven Life," Pastor Rick Warren. Hear why he thinks, if Jesus lived today, he would be hanging out with people with AIDS.
"What Would Jesus Really Do?"
MARTIN: He's taken a lot of heat over the years for his conservative views on faith. But the Reverend Jerry Falwell has never been one to back down from a fight, pretty tough cookie. So, where does he stand on what Jesus would do about the war, poverty, global warming?
Well, let's find out.
We welcome the Reverend Jerry Falwell to the show.
Reverend Falwell, how you doing, sir?
FALWELL: Hi, Roland. Fine.
MARTIN: Good to see you.
You have written online that God is pro-war. Would Jesus support the war in Iraq? FALWELL: Well, I don't believe God is pro-war, but I do believe there are just wars.
I think World War II was a just war. If we had not taken Adolf Hitler on head to head, we might all be speaking German now. I believe that what Mr. Bush is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is a just war against terror. God hates war, but there are biblically established just wars.
And, while we -- I have grandchildren old enough almost to go to war. I hope they never have to, but I do support the right of a nation to defend its freedoms and to defend its borders.
MARTIN: Some folks are suggesting that this is a holy war, and that you have Christian and Muslims being pitted against one another. Some have suggested that -- the same thing. You have Muslims who are saying that Allah sanctions violence. You even have some Christians who have sort of said that.
How do we deal with this fractious relationship between folks from various faiths?
FALWELL: Well, this is not a war against Islam.
Unfortunately, the terrorism, primarily beginning 9/11, or going way back before that, 10 years, has come primarily from Islamic terrorists, not from Islam, but from Islamic terrorists. And this is not a war of Christians against Muslims. It is a war of America against terrorism. And it just happens that, at this point in history, those who are bringing grief to us are Islamic terrorists.
But it's important that we understand this is not -- is not a holy war.
MARTIN: Reverend Falwell, I want to bring the topic back to our shores -- lots of conversation over the last several years, even this year, as relates to faith, folks going back and forth in terms of abortion, homosexuality.
You don't see the same type of emphasis on poverty, on homelessness, or dealing with global warming, dealing with health care and education. And, so, it's interesting that you have Christians who are out there fighting for ballot initiatives for abortion and gay marriage, but not those issues.
Why are those not as prominent as those two issues? It sounds to me like there's an imbalance there.
FALWELL: Well, there are many, many people who have a special calling. I believe that Pope John Paul II had a particular calling towards defending the life, the sanctity of unborn children, and establishing the family as one man married to one woman for one lifetime. I believe that many others have that particular specific calling.
There are others of us who take it beyond that. We do believe that we should be feeding the poor. That's not to say the pope doesn't agree with that, but it is to say that we do have a tremendous responsibility. I have been pastor of the same church 51 years. And we have a home for unwed mothers. We have a home for alcoholics and drug addicts. We have a prison ministry. We have a home for the homeless. And on the list goes.
MARTIN: But are we doing...
FALWELL: It's what a church ought to be doing.
MARTIN: Absolutely. But are we going to see that become a national movement, in terms of like we see on the other issues?
FALWELL: Well, the reason is not -- and I doubt it ever will be -- is that it is not controversial and it does not sell newspapers.
FALWELL: What sells newspapers is violence and the head-to-head and bloodshed and that kind of thing. And, very frankly, we're not going to get much help from the media in general on the moral and spiritual issues.
But, as believers, who take the Bible to be the word of God, you can't back down because a Republican or a Democrat opposes it.
MARTIN: Let me deal with presidential politics.
James Dobson, Focus on the Family, made some comments to "U.S. News & World Report" where he was highly critical of former Senator Fred Thompson, saying evangelicals are wary of him, because they don't know whether or not he is really a strong Christian. Yet, he gave great praise to Newt Gingrich, a guy who has been married three times, you know, who admitted to an affair.
It sounded to me a little weird there, that you would criticize a guy, saying, I don't really know where he stands on his faith, but I'm going to praise a guy who has been married three times and cheated on his wife.
FALWELL: Well, I -- I researched that, by the way. I was, when I first saw it in the press, taken aback.
Dr. Dobson is a great man of God, and I thought there had to be two sides to it. That was taken out of context. And he did not question the realness of Fred Thompson's faith. I happen to know Fred Thompson. And I have met him. And I do believe he's a man of faith.
And, as far as Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have been through two divorces, we certainly preach for and reach out for the -- that which is the ideal. But this is not an ideal world, and we're not going to elect a Sunday school teacher to run the presidency.
MARTIN: Well, actually, we did. We did at one time, Jimmy Carter.
FALWELL: Well, yes, and he was the worst we have had in 40 years. But...
FALWELL: Go ahead.
MARTIN: Let me ask you this.
Is there a Christian litmus test for a presidential candidate? Should we be basing our choice on where they stand on faith?
FALWELL: Well, I can -- yes, I think that the ideal is that we would have a man or a woman of faith who also is right on the moral issues.
But I have known many women of faith who didn't have a clue regarding national security, didn't have a clue about how to deal with terrorism, had no idea about how to change the federal courts and to defend the unborn.
And, so, it's like this. I would rather have an atheist who is a neurosurgeon of excellent talents operating on me if I ever need a brain surgery, than to have the best Sunday school teacher in the world who doesn't know a thing about it. I would much rather have the atheist, if that is his specialty.
We have got to elect a president who, whether he or she goes to church, or which church, or whatever, understands the issues. And the top issue today in our culture is survival. Right now, the war against terror and Islamic terrorism, it is the most dangerous time I have known in my 73 years. I have lived through Hitler, Nazism, communism. This is the most dangerous time America has faced.
And the next president has got to have a grip on this gravity of terrorism and the survival of the people, and has got to be willing to take the battle, whether it's to Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever, to defend our children and children's children.
MARTIN: I got to agree. If I'm on the emergency table, you're right. If it's an atheist who is cutting me, that's fine, as long as you're good.
MARTIN: Reverend Jerry Falwell, I certainly appreciate it. Thanks for joining us.
FALWELL: Thank you.
MARTIN: We're really just getting started.
Coming up: Pastor Rick Warren, he says he's a conservative, but definitely not a part of the religious right. Find out why he's rocking the boat. Also: Was Jesus married? And does it really matter? A Cardinal and a rabbi tackle that burning question that keeps being asked.
Stay with us.
MARTIN: Welcome back.
We just heard from the Reverend Jerry Falwell.
My next guest has a very different view of the world. He says people are being turned off by national religious leaders who present a one-sided and shallow view of what it means to be a Christian today.
We welcome the Reverend Frederick Douglas Haynes III, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.
Pastor Haynes, glad you're here.
REVEREND FREDERICK DOUGLAS HAYNES, FRIENDSHIP WEST BAPTIST CHURCH: Glad to be here. Thank you, Roland.
MARTIN: Let me be up front. I attended your church when I was in Dallas. So, I want to go ahead and get that out.
MARTIN: As a pastor, are you turned off by the agenda, the views being presented by national religious leaders to America?
HAYNES: Well, I am bothered.
I think it's quite ironic that, on this weekend, as we celebrate the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, that a fresh Jesus has been crucified on a cross of identity theft, in that Jesus basically is associated solely with same-sex marriage. He's against same-sex marriage. Jesus is pro-life, but his pro-life stance stops when we exit the womb.
And, so, I'm bothered by the fact that we have not really taken Jesus. We have divorced him, as it were, from the reality of the day in which he lived. Jesus basically has been de-radicalized, sanitized, to the point where he is totally divorced from the social, political and economic realities of his day.
How can we do that, when Jesus spent his time as a part of an oppressed people under Roman occupation and oppression? You cannot divorce Jesus from that context.
MARTIN: And, speaking of that, your issue is that, when you look at police brutality, when you look at racism, there seems to be a different perspective from white pastors, black pastors, Southern pastors, Northern pastors. Why are folks not united on those issues, when they say one God, one Jesus? HAYNES: Exactly, when the Jesus that we serve, when we really follow him and follow him through Scripture, he was guilty of busting boundaries that limited people because of the color and -- color of their skin and the culture they found themselves in.
The famous parable we all know is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Don't forget, Samaritans were despised and discriminated against. And, yet, Jesus gave the starring role to someone that was despised and discriminated against.
And, so, what I'm suggesting is, when we look at Jesus in context, we don't con ourselves into limiting Jesus to just certain pet moral issues. The budget of the United States is a moral issue. This war is a moral issue. Racism is a moral issue. The fact that nine million children don't have health care, that's a moral issue also.
MARTIN: We saw churches and Christians respond with Hurricane Katrina. But do they, in your estimation, continue to care about poverty? Is that going to be a part of the agenda?
HAYNES: Great question, because the sad thing is, Katrina pulled the covers off of the continuing issues of race and class in these yet to be United States of America.
In so doing, for about a month, we were energized. Our hearts went out to the fact that the invisible poor had become visible. But the sad reality is that, after so much time has gone by, I heard such words as compassion fatigue even coming from persons who follow our savior, who had enough compassion to die on a cross. He never did grow weary of dying for us, in order to save us.
MARTIN: Are you confident that Christian leaders will unite around a Christian agenda leading into next year's presidential election?
HAYNES: I'm prayerful that we can do that. I believe that, if we understand what Jesus was all about -- what would Jesus do? He would give the most to those who have the least.
What would Jesus do? He would be concerned about the fact that we're in a misbegotten war. No wonder we have no exit strategy. Jesus says, the truth shall set you free. And, so, I believe we can come together as Christians if we put Jesus back in context. Put him back in context. I promise you, we will follow him, and we will follow him together.
MARTIN: Speaking of following him, if Jesus walked in your church and he said, Frederick Haynes, let's walk, let's go do some work, where would you go? What would you focus on with Jesus?
HAYNES: With Jesus, we would go to the heart of the hood right down the street, where there are apartment complexes that are riddled with crime and poverty and crack houses.
That's where Jesus was when he walked this planet, and that's where he continues to be through those who are faithful to him, empowered by the Holy Spirit to make a difference. Jesus would be right there with us, uniting in holy wedlock, salvation, and liberation for community transformation.
MARTIN: What about those who say Jesus would not be involved in politics, agree or disagree?
HAYNES: I disagree totally, because Jesus, of course -- Jesus was very political.
But, again, when you have a neo-docetic view of Jesus that basically divorces him from the political realities of his day, again, you have taken Jesus out of context. When Jesus went into the temple and tore the place up, turning over the tables of the money changer, that was a political act, without question.
He died on a cross. Only Rome could hand down a sentence of execution by crucifixion, because crucifixion was Rome's way of saying, to any would-be revolutionary, this is an example of what will happen to you if you try to play that game with us. And, on Sunday, when Jesus broke out of that tomb in resurrection, power and glory, don't forget, Jesus broke through a tomb that had been sealed by a Roman sealed stone. That's political.
Jesus is political. As a matter of fact, check out his opening statement. Jesus said, "I'm anointed to preach good news to the poor, set the captives free, heal the heart broken."
MARTIN: Well, we will -- we will see what happens. I'm quite sure faith will be a part of the campaign, but the question is, whether people will actually force the politicians to address the issues that you address. I certainly appreciate it. Folks, Pastor Frederick Douglass Haynes III, preacher at West Baptist Church.
When we come back, Rick Warren, he's author of the best- selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life." He's made a lot of money preaching and teaching, so why is he giving most of it away?
(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK WARREN, AUTHOR: I don't think it's a sin to be rich. I think it's a sin to die rich. I think God intends you to use it. Money is to be used and not loved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: Pastor Rick Warren on money, war and politics. We'll ask him, what would Jesus really do?
MARTIN: Welcome back. Tonight we're asking the question, what would Jesus really do?
For Rick Warren, that's a no brainer. Jesus often spoke of the boar and that's also his mission.
Joining us now is Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and author of the best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life."
Now Pastor Warren, you've been quoted as saying I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they are against. You focus on poverty, AIDS, global warming. Why the difference between what you focus on and the religious right?
WARREN: Well, I think it's all important, I just think there's a bigger agenda than just what Evangelicals have been known for in the past, which is primarily morality issues, but I think that there are social morality issues too that are important that Jesus cared for the sick, he assisted the poor, educated the next generation. Those are issues that we care about too and historically Christians cared about education and cared about poverty and cared about justice and I just think we need to get back to the 19th century evangelicalism or first century Christianity.
MARTIN: So are you bothered when people say, Rick Warren, part of the religious right?
WARREN: Well, I don't consider myself a part of the religious right. People ask me, I've said many times I'm not right wing and I'm not left wing, I'm for the whole bird.
I'm an American, and I'm an American and you can't have one wing to fly, a one wing bird is just going to fly around in a circle. I think you need both wings. The fact is nobody is right all the time. I am a conservative without a doubt. I am pro-life without a doubt. I am opposed to gay marriage, but those are not just the only things I care about.
I also care about helping people find jobs. I care about helping people get out of poverty. I care about dealing with diseases like AIDS and malaria and a lot of these other problems that are important too.
MARTIN: Let's talk about AIDS. You invited Senator Barack Obama to your church to discuss that particular issue, also Senator Sam Brownbeck and Brownbeck said Senator Obama, welcome to my house, and Obama said, no this is God's house.
And so you've got a lot of criticism for inviting Obama. How did you deal with that, and how frankly did you put evangelicals in check to say, look, he's a Christian but this is an AIDS issue, this is not abortion, this is not gay marriage.
WARREN: The conference was on AIDS, not on abortion, and so we were looking for people who had spoken out publicly about AIDS and, of course, Barack Obama had taken an AIDS test in Kenya and so I just called him up and I said would you come and be a part of this.
I don't have to agree with everything they believe in order to work with them in a particular area. I don't agree with everything that some of my gay friends agree with and they don't agree with everything I do but we're working together on AIDS.
I don't agree with everything that the women's feminist movement believes but when they want to feed pornography I'm on their side on that issue. And so I don't have to agree with every personal belief of a person in order to find common ground.
MARTIN: Let's speak to the war in Iraq. Reverend Jerry Falwell has said that god is pro-war. What do you make of that kind of stance when Jesus Christ was called the prince of peace but Reverend Falwell would say that God is pro-war?
WARREN: Well, I tell you what, the bible clearly states that there's some things worth dying for. I would die for my freedom. I would die for the freedom of my family. I would die for the freedom of America.
There are some things that are worth more than life, and clearly there are some things worth fighting for. Jesus did say I came to bring peace as a prince of peace but he also said I came to bring a sword and governments are ordained by god to administer justice. There is real evil in the world, and we don't just co-exist with evil. The bible says we are to fight evil.
MARTIN: There are people who are criticizing this war and others are saying that it's a good war, it's right and it's just and they say this is a war against Islam. What about this whole notion of us being in the middle of a holy war, Christians battling Muslims all across the country?
WARREN: Well, that's not quite true. It's not a battle against Islam. It's a battle against a brand of Islam which is actually more political than it is spiritual and many having been to the Middle East myself and having talked with many Muslim leaders they certainly don't validate what many Muslim leaders do not validate what al Qaeda believes, because al Qaeda even denies its own Koran.
And when you get people out there saying we're going to train people to be terrorists who blow themselves up and teaching little boys and little girls to be martyrs, what we need to do is work with moderate Muslims who also believe that that's not martyrdom at all. That's just sheer murder.
We need to redefine the world martyr. Martyr does not mean I blow myself up to kill you. That's not martyrdom. Martyrdom is when I lose my life to defend my faith. In other words, you kill me because I refuse to renounce what I believe.
So little boys and little girls or grown men for that matter who that strap bombs to themselves and blow up others, that's not martyrdom in any sense of the word. And I have not found any religion that says that the bottom line in their faith is go blow yourself up. So that's not even true Islam.
MARTIN: Well you talk about respect and there are some folks who say we should be stewards of what god has given us and a lot of pastors focus on money.
You go to some churches and it's about money, money, money, might as well be the O'Jays singing that song. You've been highly critical of prosperity gospel, you've even called it baloney. Why all of the sudden is the focus so much on money and people are gravitating to bigger houses, more money, cars, material goods. What's up with the prosperity, the gospel prosperity?
WARREN: Well, I think, Roland, that fundamentally all of us are all selfish people. We want what we want, when we want it, and we want it now and we will use anything. Politics can be used for selfish purposes. Education can be used for selfish purposes, certainly business can be used for selfish purposes. And even faith and religion can be used for selfish purposes.
The point that I was simply making is that when Jesus said I've come to give you life in all its abundance, he wasn't talking about material possessions, because the same time Jesus also said a man's life consists not in the abundance of things he possesses.
Your value has absolutely nothing to do with your valuables. Your net worth and your self-worth are not the same thing and Jesus clearly did not teach that God wanted everyone to be a millionaire so I repudiate that belief.
MARTIN: And we hear lots of that naming and claiming all around the place. You have people who even go after various ministries and tracking what they do, but let's just be honest. Is it something really wrong biblically with having a big house, having a nice car or is it a matter of having excess?
WARREN: Well, the answer to that question is I don't think it's a sin to be rich. I think it's a sin to die rich. I think god intends you to use it. Money is to be used and not loved. It is a tool.
MARTIN: So you say a sin to die rich? You say it's a sin to die rich?
WARREN: I think it is. I think it is. I think you should give it away. I think you should use it. The bible tells us over and over and over, don't store up for yourselves. Rich is in heaven. You know my wife and are reverse tethers, we give away 90 percent and we live on 10 percent.
I've been playing this game with god for years, we started tithing 10 percent, and each year we'd raise it over 30 years. Now there's no doubt about it that when you serve god, it brings blessing in your life. Sometimes that is physical blessing. Sometimes it's not.
But you don't judge your closest to God on how much you've got in the bank. We're to love people and we're to use money. Now, what happens is if we start loving money, we end up using people to get it and we get the priorities reversed.
MARTIN: Pastor Warren, I can't find many people who have never been criticized before you certainly have your share or critics. People say that you mix Christianity with pop culture, pop psychology. What about that particular issue? Does it bother you in terms when they criticize your books and they say it's pretty much Christianity light?
WARREN: Well, actually Jesus said beware when all men speak well of you. The only way to not be criticized is do nothing, be nothing, say nothing.
The moment you put your shingle out somebody is going to start throwing rooms at it. The truth is, criticism is good for us. It keeps us in check. It keeps us humble. What I do with critics and there are many is if it's true, I listen and learn from it. If it's untrue, I ignore it and forget it and ultimately I just remember that god is the ultimate judge my life.
MARTIN: Jesus, of course, lives in the spirit but if he was walking this earth today, what would Jesus be focusing on? What would be his agenda?
WARREN: I have no doubt about it that 23 Jesus were here today, he'd be hanging out with people who have HIV/AIDS. There's no doubt in my mind about that because they are the lepers of the 21st century.
They are the people -- people say I don't want to be around it. I don't want to hear about it. I'm afraid I might get it. People are scared to death of it and Jesus hung out with people who had leprosy in those days. He cared for the sick. He assisted the poor. In Luke chapter 4, he gives his agenda and it's basically I'm going to meet the needs of the people around me.
MARTIN: Pastor Warren, last question and it's really been bothering me. When did the Easter bunny and Jesus get hooked up on the same weekend?
WARREN: I don't know. They didn't teach us that in the seminary, Roland. I have no idea. All I know is that every -- every holiday which really started out as a holy day, holiday is a perversion of the word holy day and every holy day is perverted and secularized and people want to figure out how to make a buck off of it.
But the truth is, Easter is the greatest significant event in history, in fact, it split history into A.D. and B.C. Even people who don't believe that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for our sins use Easter as a reference point every single day of their life. When you write a date April 3rd, April 4th, 2007, you're using this -- what's the focal point? It's Easter, because god came to earth and split his try into A.D. and B.C., it's the most significant event.
MARTIN: Pastor Warren, thanks so much, I appreciate it.
WARREN: Thank you, Roland.
MARTIN: He got a kick out of that bunny question. When we come back, was Jesus buried? Does it even matter?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, SHALOM IN THE HOME: I mean, the "Da Vinci Code" says that Jesus married. And the average Christian says that is the great abomination in the history of the world to even suggest it.
Well, I mean, it's not the worst thing in the world to be married.
CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP: No, no, no, I'm afraid -- rabbi is a wonderful man. I have great regard for him but he's wrong on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: The popular obsession that threatens to shake the faith for some, what would Jesus really do? Stay with us.
MARTIN: One of the hot topics this year, was Jesus married? If so would it matter? Would it really rock the faith?
MARTIN: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, host of "Shalom in the Home." Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.
We saw "The Da Vinci Code," the documentary by James Cameron, saying that Jesus was married, saying that he had a child. Cardinal, what do you make of that? I mean does that offend you or do you say, look, as long as they're talking about him, I'm fine with it.
MCCARRICK: Well, it offends you somewhat because for 2,000 years we've had this picture of Jesus. We know who he was, that for 2,000 years people have read about him, have prayed to him, have had an idea of who this extraordinary person is.
And now when people start to develop their own little ideas, their own idiosyncratic views of who he might have been, it distracts from the real picture of Jesus, the man who loved people, the man who died for them, the man who we believe rose again for our salvation.
MARTIN: Rabbi, what about that because some Christians have been really offended by these assertions that Jesus was married and he had kids and they say this is wrong, it should not be on television. What do you make of it?
BOTEACH: Well, I think it's very sad that Christians would be offended by Jesus' humanity. We hear almost nothing about the humanity of Jesus.
I mean, Cardinal McCarrick is saying that people are so inspired by the life he led. But if you go to a Catholic church, you will only see the death that he died, you will see him nailed on a cross. I don't see the humanity of Jesus being emphasized today. And I think it has direct repercussions for his religion is practiced, how religion is preached.
We see that the life of Jesus, the fact that he struggled with issues, the fact that he like us, had to wrestle to do the right thing at times is something that Christians don't want to hear. He was perfect. He never wrestled. He never struggled. Then why would I care about the question what would Jesus do?
MARTIN: Cardinal, what do you make of that? Should Christians be asking the question what would Jesus do?
MCCARRICK: Well, I really think we ought to invite the rabbi to hear the homilies in our Catholic churches. Sure, the picture of the death of Jesus is in our churches because that is the great moment of his sacrifice, that is the way he proves his love in more than men can say, but there's more than that in the life of Jesus.
If you come to our churches and you read the gospel, you hear what Jesus has said when he's not just the man who died on the cross, that is an extraordinarily important moment in his life obviously.
Our death always is. But the life of Jesus is something which we proclaim. We proclaim his goodness. We proclaim his miracles, we proclaim his care for the poor, his care for the hungry.
BOTEACH: Well, that wouldn't explain why Christians are becoming so offended at all these documentaries or films that focus on the fact that Jesus was human.
I mean to say that because -- I mean "The Da Vinci Code' says that Jesus married and the average Christian says that is the greatest abomination in the history of the world to even suggest it. Well, I mean it's not the worst thing in the world to be married. I know it goes against Christian doctrine, I understand that.
But he got married, that the worst thing ever. He had children, that is even worse. I believe that marrying and having kids is actually a beautiful thing. I don't see it's a terrible thing.
MARTIN: Getting married doesn't go against Christian doctrine, it goes against Catholic doctrine in terms of being a priest. So that's the difference there.
Let me quickly answer this question and real quick please. A recent study came out, 19 percent of youths today consider themselves to be agnostic or atheist.
How do you respond to that, cardinal and rabbi? First, Cardinal McCarrick, go right ahead.
MCCARRICK: I think it's not true. I think that 90 percent of our young people are looking for something. They're looking for Jesus. They're looking for god, they're looking for the grace that god gives them.
MARTIN: But is it -- as rabbi said, it's because they're being turned off so therefore?
MCCARRICK: No, no, I'm afraid -- Rabbi is a wonderful man. I have great regard for him, but he's wrong on this. This is not what they're getting in our Catholic church, not what they're getting from the gospel and I think if we think it is then we've missed the boat. We've missed the whole story and I just hope that those who are listening will open the gospels and see what they -- what we say about Jesus and go to their churches and see in 99 percent of the churches the great message of salvation and love and patience and joy that people are getting.
BOTEACH: If you are correct and I believe you say it's sincerely that it's the life of Jesus which is inspiring, then let us see the Catholic Church emphasize his life more.
When I look at my Christian brothers and sisters, I see so much emphasis on the death of Jesus and he suffered for your sins, and look at the blood all around him, and don't you feel guilty that he died for you and yet you're not living a godly life?
I mean, it's not how we die that matters. It's how we live that matters and it's not this great moment of absolution of sin that comes to his sacrifice because he lays his life down. It's the virtue he showed while he lived that inspires us until today to embrace the same virtue.
MCCARRICK: Rabbi, rabbi, that's exactly.
MARTIN: Cardinal McCarrick real quick.
MCCARRICK: I think we ought to have the rabbi come to more of our Catholic churches and preach there because that's the message we're preaching. I don't know where he's getting this other message. This is the life of joy and in Jesus Christ, it's the life of salvation. That's what we're calling people in, not to yell at them.
MARTIN: I tell you what, Cardinal McCarrick, Rabbi Boteach, what I do hope is that people take this conversation that we are putting forth on international television and continue the dialogue because when more Christians and Jews and Muslims have a conversation it might give a better perspective when it comes to faith in this world.
BOTEACH: Well, god bless you, Cardinal McCarrick.
MARTIN: Thanks a lot, gentlemen.
MCCARRICK: God bless you, rabbi. God bless you, Roland.
MARTIN: When we return, it's time to talk about those who pimp God and challenge you to get off the couch. Some straight talk about Jesus. Stay with us.
MARTIN: Folks, I don't have a time to mince words. In 2007, enough with the people who pimp God. That's right. I said it, pimp God. Instead of focusing on the totality of Jesus, we have Christians who want to make the faith all about abortion and homosexuality. And then we have others who seek God as nothing but a spiritual slot machine. They say a prayer and down from heaven comes a big house or a new car.
Faith should be used to break down racial and economic barriers, not solidify them. Don't tell me Jesus would have embraced the sinners and you bar them from the church door. How can people say they love Jesus, but are afraid to speak to their neighbor, eat with a co-worker have their children play with peers across town?
As we heard tonight, the Christian agenda should be broader than two issues. Let's stop with the nonsense that one political party has a hold on Jesus. We are called to speak truth to power no matter who sits in the White House. Christians, let's stop wondering what Jesus would do to make this world better. The question you need to answer is what am I prepared to do? I'm Roland Martin and have a great Easter weekend.
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