Last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, Warren was asked how "the church" could help to solve poverty. His response was to rattle off the numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians in the world - in that order - and make a plea that the public and private sectors take seriously "the faith sector as the third leg of the stool of successful development".
This is a big deal, because it signals an important turn in the American Evangelical tradition - from viewing people of other faiths primarily as lost souls requiring conversion to viewing them as partners in the plan to make earth more humane and just. "Progressive Evangelicals" like Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo (read an interview here with Campolo on interfaith cooperation), have long been involved in interfaith efforts, but the mainline of that tradition has always been more wary. That could be changing.
That approach is American pragmatism at its best: a visionary leader engaging all possible partners in his plan to transform earth.
When I asked Warren to name something that he admired about Muslims, he answered without hesitation: "you people are not afraid to talk about God, he said with a smile. It's always, 'God willing', or 'God bless', or 'Thanks be to God.' That's something I admire, because I come from the same place."