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The Purpose Driven Life

Part II... The Purpose-Driven Life's Target Audience and Its Use of
Questionable Bible Versions

Carol Brooks

Also See Seeker Friendly, Church Growth Failures in The Bible


PART I... Introduction to Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life, which is alive, well, and being reinvented for a whole new generation. So what is the Purpose Driven Life about, and why 40 days?

    You Are Here 001orange PART II... Who is The Purpose-Driven Life's target audience? A shallow incomplete gospel that cannot save. Theology that falls somewhere between determinism and free will. A plethora of questionable Bible versions that actually alter the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek text.

PART III... Some of the problems in Chapters 1-10

PART IV... Some of the problems in Chapters 11-20.

Part V... Chapter 21 (unity at all cost) and Saddleback’s Member Covenant

Part VI... Some of the problems in Chapters 25-40

Part VII... Quoting Some Highly Questionable Authors, The Catholic Mystics, Contemplative Prayer, and The Four Temperaments. Oh yes! And lets not forget the introduction to a well known New Age leader.

Part VIII .... Summary and Conclusion. What you will find in PDL is a wide variety of, potentially, very destructive people, ideas, and practices, and the deliberate and blatant twisting of Biblical text taken to a whole new level. On the other hand, any mention of repentance, discernment, and holiness are glaringly absent from a book that claims to be the "Windows system of the 21st-century church."


Who Is The Purpose-Driven Life's Target Audience?

The Unsaved Are Presented with A Shallow Incomplete Gospel That Cannot Save

The New Believer may learn a few things but, the substance and tone of PDL is so very elementary, that one cannot conclude it is meant for The Mature Believer

Contradictory Theology... Determinism Or Free Will?

A Plethora of Questionable Bible Versions that alter the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek text


The Purpose-Driven Life's Target Audience

When it comes to Christianity, there are only two categories of people... believers and the unsaved, or non believers. However, believers can be sub-divided into mature and novice believers. Therefore, when The Purpose-Driven Life opens with the words

    "This is more than a book; it is a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answers to life's most important question: What on earth am I here for? By the end of this journey you will know God's purpose for your life and will understand the big picture — how all the pieces of your life fit together" (Pg.9). ”

One has to wonder which group of people Rick Warren is addressing.

The Unsaved?

There is no question that Rick Warren makes some points that should cause the unbeliever (and possibly some lukewarm Christians) to sit up and think. For example as he so rightly says... "the only time most people think about eternity is at funerals, and then it's often shallow, sentimental thinking based on ignorance". You may feel it's morbid to think about death, but actually it's "unhealthy to live in denial of death and not consider what is inevitable" [Pg. 39]

One can only wish that more people would actually consider that, regardless of the legion of "experts" that offer "life review, autobiography workshops, humanities discussion groups, relaxation exercises, counseling (both peer and professional), antidepressants, holistic health regimens, special diets", all of us have to face up the fact that our bodies, devoid of life will, one day, be worm food.  [Also See The Answer to Death... The Message of The Bible]

However, if The Purpose Driven Life is, in any measure, aimed at the unsaved, then it is a drastic failure because it has, on numerous occasions, put the cart before the horse. Long before there is even a hint of the message of salvation, the reader is told things like

    We know that right now God is preparing an eternal home for us.  In heaven we will be reunited with loved ones who are believers, released from all pain and suffering, rewarded for all faithfulness on earth, and reassigned to do work that we will enjoy doing." [Pg. 39]

     "Every time you pass a test, God notices and makes plans to reward you in eternity. [Pg. 44]

    "the good news is that God wants you to pass the tests of life, so he never allows the tests you face to be greater than the grace he gives you to handle them." [Pg. 45]

None of which can be applied to the unbeliever. God is not preparing an eternal home for unbelievers, not will He reward them in eternity for any tests they happen to pass. It is not until page 58 that the reader is presented with ....

A Shallow Incomplete Gospel That Cannot Save
Although the book says (in chapter 4)...

    This life is not all there is. Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production. You will spend far more time on the other side of death - in eternity - than you will here ... Earth is the staging area, a preschool, the tryout for your life and eternity.... This life is preparation for the next .... [Pgs 36 - 37]

It gives the non believer little or no information as to how he, or she, can be included in the coming kingdom, addressing the subject with a few, paltry words...

     If you learn to love and trust God's Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him.  On the other hand, if you reject his love, forgiveness, and salvation, you will spend eternity apart from God forever. [Pg. 37]

The closest Rick Warren comes to the Gospel message isn't until chapter 7, when he outlines a two-step process to what he describes as the "only way to live"

    "Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe. The Bible promises, "to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." Will you accept God's offer? "

    First, believe. Believe God loves you and made you for his purposes. "Believe you're not an accident. Believe you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died and across for you.  Believe that no matter what you've done, God wants to forgive you

    Second, receive. Receive Jesus' into your life as Lord and Savior. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose. The Bible says, "That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!" [John 3:36 a. The Message] Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: "Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you." Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! [Pg. 58 All Emphasis Added]

That's it!

According to Rick Warren's theology, that prayer is sufficient to make you a member of "the family of God". As said by John MacArthur, "Just say these little words, pray this little prayer, and poof! you're in the club." [10]. In answer to the question of what could be wrong with that short prayer, Berit Kjos writes...

    ".. the promises and assumptions that accompany the prayer could also produce serious problems in the church. For many will pray the prayer with little or no awareness of the holy nature of God, of the unholy power of sin, or of the deep chasm between the two. In our times of easy believism and Biblical illiteracy, anyone can personalize and claim God's promises without any prompting by the Spirit, genuine conversion (spiritual rebirth) or lasting inner change. Where people learn to tolerate evil and flow with the crowd, true repentance is rare and faith often becomes presumption. Still unregenerate, many happily accept the group's consensus: You prayed the prayer, therefore you must be a Christian... Biblically illiterate friends and neighbors who join the group would pray this prayer without any real knowledge of the cross, of the Savior, or of God's view of sin. In fact, the meaning of salvation isn't included in the first lesson. And if it had been there, the context of the lesson would suggest that we are merely saved from a purposeless life -- not from bondage to sin. [11]

As said in a 2005 article by Paul Alexander

    The Gospel presentation on Pgs. 58-59 serves as the fulcrum of the book, where Warren ends his primer on the question of life's purpose in chapter seven and begins expounding the five biblical purposes of the Purpose Driven Life in the chapters that remain. What we want to see at this pivot, then, is a clear articulation of both the Gospel and the saving response to it (repentance and belief) so that the unbeliever does not continue reading under the moralistic assumption that being a good boy by carrying out these five purposes is what will save him from the power and penalty of his sin. [12]

While sin and forgiveness are mentioned, there is no clear explanation of who Jesus is, or what sin is. Nor is anything said about why sin makes a relationship with a Holy God impossible. There is no mention of God's wrath against sin, and the fact that death is the result of unconfessed, unforgiven, sin.

Lets look at this from the point of view of the unbeliever who knows next to nothing about Christianity, but bought the book while he was meandering down the aisle at Walmart. Since sin has not been defined, one can hardly blame this reader for being completely confused about what God wants to forgive him for. All he knows is that he is nice guy who tries to live as decent a life possible, and has absolutely no clue that a holy God has said that the penalty for any, and all, sin is death. Since the book doesn't make the connection between his sin and Christ's death on the cross. In other words, that God releases us from the demands of eternal justice on the basis that someone else paid our fine, he can hardly be blamed for wondering why Jesus died on the cross for him.

Besides which, the statement "all you need to do is received and believe" is simply untrue. No one can be converted without Biblical repentance, which is specifically turning away from sin. Repentance is part and parcel of conversion, therefore you cannot preach the Gospel without calling unbelievers to repentance. In fact, since there is no gospel without repentance from sin, we are doing nothing but deceiving people that they can join the family of God without it. Yet Rick Warren tells his reader that they are converted .... welcomed into the family of God without any mention of Biblical repentance. Instead, this crucial topic comes up only twice (much later in the book), once when Warren mentions repentance as one of the "different sacrifices of worship" that God is pleased with.

    In the Old Testament, God took pleasure in the many sacrifices of worship because they foretold of Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross. Now God is pleased with different sacrifices of worship: thanksgiving, praise, humility, repentance, offerings of money, prayer, serving others, and sharing with those in need. Real worship costs. [Pg. 105]

    The New Testament calls this mental shift repentance, which in Greek literally means “to change your mind.” You repent whenever you change the way you think by adopting how God thinks— about yourself, sin, God, other people, life, your future, and everything else. You take on Christ's outlook and perspective. [Pg. 182]

Bereft of any mention of sin, repentance, and holiness, Rick Warren's prayer cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered the Gospel message. And yet, The Purpose Driven Life is being touted by innumerable churches as a "life changer". How many have stopped to think that this trivialized version of the Gospel will actually do a tremendous disservice to a non-believer who reads the book, and believes that this nine word prayer will change their eternal future? See Sin Repentance and Salvation on THIS page

The Warning in John 3:36
Even John 3:36, that Warren quotes as part of his lead up to his version of the salvation message (Pg. 58), has been stripped of it's overtone of warning. Here is The Message's paraphrase of the verse, and the NASB's word for word rendering [Emphasis Added]

    That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn't see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that." [John 3:36a. The Message]

    "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath [orge] of God abides on him." [John 3:36 NASB]

The Greek word orge, translated wrath, is used quite often in the New Testament.

    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath [orge] to come? [Matthew 3:7 NASB]

    For the wrath [orge] of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, [Romans 1:18 NASB]

    Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath [orge] of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [Ephesians 5:6 NASB]

    and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath [orge] to come. [1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB]

    From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath [orge] of God, the Almighty. [Revelation 19:15 NASB]


The Wrath of God:
The Bible labors the point in both Old and New Testament that God is good to those who trust Him and is terrible to those who do not. Both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God's wrath. Today's powerless, sickly sweet, sentimental Easy Christianity has chosen to babble on and on about the goodness and love of God, but totally ignore (to our peril) His wrath and judgment.

If pressed, possibly the majority of people in the western world would place themselves in the 'not perfect' category, but a far cry from 'sinners', or really bad people, usually defined as the serial killers, rapists, and child molesters of the world. An almost universal 'Santa Claus' mentality holds to the idea of rewards for those who's good deeds outweigh the bad, and punishment for those for whom the opposite is true. The subjects of sin and salvation are the warp and weft of very the fabric the Bible is woven out of yet, even when many Christians think of sin, they simply think of a violation of the Ten Commandments. The problem is that none of these views come anywhere near agreeing with the Biblical definition of sin, judgment, or even heaven and hell. This is simply because few know, or understand how the Bible defines sin.

 is presented as an absolute requirement for forgiveness in the Old Testament, as well as the New. Scripture presents Repentance and Faith as NOT the same thing, but literally as two sides of the same coin. You can't believe without truly repenting, and you cannot experience "godly sorrow" without believing.

In the 21st century, the word "Holy" often coveys some very negative connotations. It is often used to describe someone who is self-righteous, smug, sanctimonious, goody-goody, priggish etc. Even to most Christians, the word "holy" implies moral goodness. However, this is only part of the meaning. Separation: While holiness certainly implies goodness, the core meaning of holiness, it is not "good" but rather "set apart" and therefore, good. Holiness, or separation from the world and it's standards is NOT a virtue, it is the commandment of God, repeated from one end of the Bible to the other. Anyone who professes Christianity without holiness is as phony as the proverbial three dollar bill.

Worse, even this partial Gospel message has been terribly compromised. In chapter 3... What Drives Your Life?, Rick Warren talks about several forces that tend to control people's lives and actions, such as guilt, resentment and anger, fear, materialism, and the need for approval, which he then compares with the benefits of living a purpose driven life. He says

    "God won't ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him?” (Pg. 34).

If this were true, then the Mormons who believe that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, and that we are all destined to become gods some day, the Jehovah's witnesses who do not believe in the Divinity of Christ, the Catholics who, among many other things, believe in a faith plus works based salvation, and the innumerable evangelicals that teach and practice very literal doctrines of demons, are all to be counted as those that God will welcome into His kingdom.


The Deity of Christ
The Modern Church's Literal Doctrines and Practices of Demons


    With the Gospel left vague and no repentance required, the rest of the book is built on the precarious assumption of the reader's conversion. "You are a child of God, and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created" Pg. 63. [12]

The New Believer
The tone of the book usually seems to be directed at the novice to the faith who is still taking baby steps. However, this is certainly not a book I would recommend to the new believer who, on the one hand, may learn a few things but, on the other, may very well be led astray by Rick Warren's use of inaccurate and unreliable paraphrases of the Bible, his innumerable distortions of the Scriptures, his false teachings, his many positive references to Catholic mystics, monks and nuns and a couple of rather unsavoury characters and, in spite of loud protestations to the contrary, his embracing of modern pop psychology.

The Mature Believer

The problem is that Rick Warren seems to think that all Christians should undertake the 40-day spiritual journey. However, the substance and tone of PDL is so very elementary, even childish in places, that one cannot conclude it is meant for the mature believer. Yet thousands of churches, and innumerable individuals, many of whom should surely be counted as mature believers took, and continue to take, Warren's 40-day spiritual journey.

The fact that most of the chapters in the book did not seem to bore most Christians to tears makes me wonder how much of the church has not progressed beyond a sippy cup. However, what is hardest of all to understand is how this 40 day "spiritual journey" has been undertaken by so many, who have seen little or nothing wrong with it. Truly, discernment has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Determinism Or Free Will?
One of the most contradictory aspects of The Purpose Driven Life is the fact that the first few pages of the book has some very Calvinistic theology underlying many of it's statements. For example, in chapter 2 ...You Are Not An Accident, Rick Warren says [All Bold Added. Italics in Original]

    Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth, In fact, he expected it. Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God.

    God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature. He custom made your body just the way he wanted it... The Bible says "You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body: You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something" (Psalm 139:15, The Message).

    Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book! (Psalm 139:16, LB. The Living Bible)

    God also planned where you'd be born and where you'd live for his purpose.

    Nothing in your life is arbitrary. It's all for a purpose.

    Most amazing, God decided how you would be born. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you. It doesn't matter whether your parents were good, bad, or indifferent. God knew that those two individuals possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom 'you' he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you.

    God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.

(Most of statements above are terribly flawed. See Chapter 2 for details)

Subsequent chapters see a very marked change in theology.  For example, in chapter 4, Made To Last Forever, Warren clearly bases salvation on the choices we make in this life:

    "While life on earth offers many choices, eternity offers only two: heaven or hell.  Your relationship to God on earth will determine your relationship to him in eternity. If you learn to love and trust God's son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him. On the other hand, if you reject his love, forgiveness, and salvation, you will spend eternity apart from God forever.” [Pg. 37]

Yet, didn't Rick Warren just get through saying that nothing in our lives is arbitrary, and God planned where we'd be born and where we'd live for his purpose. .

In Day 5...  Seeing Life from God's View, Rick Warren says "How you define life determines your destiny" [Pg. 41]. On Pg 43, he talks about all the tests God gives us, and comes to the conclusion that all of them have "eternal implications"

 The question is.. Are things planned down to the smallest detail, or do our decisions and handling of God's tests have "eternal implications"?

A Plethora of Questionable Bible Versions
The only person that I have heard of who has actually counted the number of Biblical quotations used in The Purpose-Driven Life is Al Dager, founder and president of Media Spotlight. In his article The Purpose-Driven Program... A Growing Phenomenon In The Churches, he says

    The Purpose-Driven Life contains over 760 quotations from fifteen Bible versions (not the "nearly a thousand quotations" Warren claims). The vast majority, some 570 quotes, are from five versions: The New Living Testament (NLT); The New International Version (NIV); The Message (Msg); Today's English Version (TEV, originally The Good News Bible); and The Living Bible (LB).

    The next three most quoted, a total of 151, are The New Century Version (NCV), The Contemporary English Version (CEV), and God's Word Translation (GWT). The balance consisted of a smattering of seven other versions: The King James Version (KJV); Philips (Ph); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV); The Amplified Bible (Amp); The Jerusalem Bible (JB); and The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB). The last two are modern Roman Catholic versions. [13]

The obvious question that springs to mind is why so many versions.

According to Rick Warren we should read from many translations and paraphrases of Scripture in order to avoid the apathy that could arise from being so familiar with the passage or verse that we no longer pay close enough attention to its meaning. In his words, he has "deliberately used paraphrases" in order to help the reader see God's truth in "new, fresh ways".

    This book contains nearly a thousand quotations from Scripture. I have intentionally varied the Bible translations used for two important reasons. First, no matter how wonderful a translation is, it has limitations. The Bible was originally written using 11,280 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, but the typical English translation uses only around 6,000 words. Obviously, nuances and shades of meaning can be missed, so it is always helpful to compare translations.

    Second, and even more important, is the fact that we often miss the full impact of familiar Bible verses, not because of poor translating, but simply because they have become so familiar! We think we know what a verse says because we have read it or heard it so many times. Then when we find it quoted in a book, we skim over it and miss the full meaning. Therefore I have deliberately used paraphrases in order to help you see God's truth in new, fresh ways. (Appendix 3. Why Use So Many Translations? Pg. 325. (Emphasis in original)

There is little question that a comparison of different versions can be quite useful, especially when a person is doing a Hebrew, or Greek, word study. However, it does not follow that all translations are equally accurate. This is especially true when it comes to some very popular versions that are paraphrases of the Bible, not word-for-word translations. In other words, these versions are little more than Bible commentaries, or what the author thinks the paragraph in question says.

For example, Bible Gateway says this about the New Living Translation (NLT), one of the most used version in PDL [Emphasis Added]

    The challenge for the translators was to create a text that would make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. [14]

Rick Warren seems to believe that any modern translation or paraphrase is preferable to the King James Bible. He suggests Christians...

    Read Scripture from a newer translation. With all the wonderful translations and paraphrases available today, there is no legitimate reason for complicating the Good News with four-hundred-year-old English. Using the King James Version creates an unnecessary cultural barrier. Remember, when King James authorized the new translation it was because he wanted a contemporary version. I once saw an advertisement that claimed if King James were alive today, he'd be reading the New International Version! That's probably
    true. Clarity is more important than poetry. [Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, Pg. 297]

I am not a particular fan of the King James version, which is not without substantial problems, most noticeable when the meaning of words, or expressions, have changed over the years. I believe that the Bible should be read in modern English (especially considering the abysmal level of literacy, in so many western countries that claim high literacy rates. In this case, literacy defined as the ability to not only read for knowledge, but to think critically about the written word).

Rick Warren has completely missed a hugely important point, which is that God's truths are as ancient as the hills, and do not change. Therefore, no matter how modern the language, the translation or paraphrase cannot alter the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek text, but has to stay true to the thought and intent of the God-inspired author. This makes it critical that every single passage is translated as exactly as possible from the original Hebrew and Greek text. Which is why a word-for-word translation, is infinitely preferable to a paraphrase.

Unfortunately most of Rick Warren's "new fresh ways" of looking at Biblical passages, actually means reading versions that alter the original meaning of the passage. A prime example is...

The Message:
Warren seems to be particularly fond of The Message, which was created by Eugene H. Peterson, and published in segments from 1993 to 2002. It is described as a "contemporary rendering of the Bible from the original languages, crafted to present its tone, rhythm, events, and ideas in everyday language". In Eugene Peterson's words

    "Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way." [15]

However, while that may sound very good, what resulted was nothing more than Eugene Peterson's thoughts and views. For example, note the difference between The Message's version of John 3:16-18, and the NASB rendering of the same verses. All emphasis and numbering has been added only to point out the differences between the versions.

     This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son (1) merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.  (2) He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. [John 3:16-18 MSG]

    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world (1) to judge the world, but that (2) the world might be saved (sozo) through Him. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [John 3:16-18 NASB]

The Message says "God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was", which is a far cry from what a more literal translation, which says God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Jesus' mission was not to judge, but to save. Judgment, which will be far worse than an accusing finger, will come later

    "If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. [John 12:47-48 NASB. Emphasis Added]

Additionally, using the word "help" instead of "save" puts a very different spin on what John said. The Greek word translated save in the NASB is sozo... to save, deliver or protect. It is used in many verses that tell us Jesus came into the world to save people from the wrath of God (because of their sins). See Matthew 1:21, Romans 5:9, and 1 Timothy 1:15 . The essence of the word can be understood by it's use in the following examples

    And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, "Save (sozo) us, Lord; we are perishing!" [Matthew 8:25 NASB]"

    Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved (sozo) ; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. [Matthew 24:22 NASB]

    Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved (sozo) was gradually abandoned. [Acts 27:20 NASB]

Warren is not quoting the Bible when he quotes The Message and several other equally faulty paraphrases, but is treating as Scriptural truth what another human being thinks the Bible says. By doing this he is treading very dangerous ground.

A Novel Approach
It has to be noted that most cults claim to believe the Bible, but twist the Scriptures in the effort to make them appear to say what they want them to say. And, if that is not enough, they write their own translation to support their preconceived ideas. Case in point ... The Jehovah's Witnesses and their New World Bible.

Additionally, most of the false teachings in the church are based on the leaders pulling various passages out of context, then putting their own spin on them. Less often, they will spiritualize the passage, by which I mean they ignore the plain meaning of the text, and look for a hidden or inner, spiritual meaning behind the words. This is especially common when it comes to Jesus' teachings. 

However, Rick Warren has given a whole new meaning to the word deception. While not everything he says is wrong, the irony is that even when he says something that is Biblically correct, rather than use the right passage of Scripture to make his point, he has deliberately used the translation or paraphrase that best suits the particular thought he is writing about, regardless of whether that version of the passage is true to the original meaning, or has completely distorted it.

In other words, to suit his purposes, Rick Warren is a party to the deliberate and blatant twisting of Biblical text.

Warren's method has the advantage of giving the appearance that he is actually using the Bible as the authority for whatever point he is trying to make, especially since the average reader is none the wiser. He reads the book, and confronted with a plethora of quotes from the "Bible", believes that he is reading Scriptural truth. It is unlikely he will continuously flip to the back of the book to look up the Bible references, and even if he does, will not bother to compare the paraphrase with a word for word translation, nor check the context. Little does he realize that, over and over again, Rick Warren has manipulated the text it to suit his own ends. This brings to mind Peter's words when he said the "untaught and unstable distort" the Scriptures "to their own destruction".

    as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. [2 Peter 3:16 NASB]

Rick Warren's casual attitude towards the Scriptures shown by his willingness to accept misrepresentations of God's word, is a shocking commentary on a Southern Baptist preacher who has such far reaching influence. It is a grave concern that Warren adopts the same attitude toward the Scriptures, because every cult and heretic has, to one degree or another, attempted to make the Scriptures support their line of reasoning, instead of letting God's word dictate what they believe.

It is even more concerning that even when Warren's careless and wanton mishandling of Scripture is pointed out, so many thousands of Christians seem not to care

Rick Warren has given his explanation of why he used so many versions of the Bible, But the question is why he uses so many faulty translations and paraphrases. There can only be two answers, neither one very palatable. Either he

    1) doesn't know what the Bible really says...


    2) does not care what accurate word-for-word translations of the Bible say, but uses a translation or paraphrase that best suits the thought he is trying to  get across, regardless of whether or not it is faithful to the original writings...

The first option shows rank ignorance, the second plays fast and loose with the authority of the Scriptures, and shows a blatant disregard for the message the inspired author intended to convey.

In neither case is he fit to be a teacher in the church.

But this is not the only problem..

Partial Quotes

At the end of appendix 3, Rick Warren  says he hasn't "always quoted the entire verse, but rather focused on the phrase that was appropriate". He further says that his "model for this is Jesus and how He and the Apostles quoted the Old Testament.

However, when Jesus and the Apostles used a phrase from the Old Testament, one can be sure that it was not taken out of context. On the other hand, when one reads the context of the verses that Rick Warren quotes, it is very clear that the portion he quotes does not mean what he says it does.

Besides which, anytime an author quotes only part of a verse, it is essential that he indicates that he has done so. This is traditionally done by using the letter "a" to show that only the first part of the verse has been used, and the letter "b" to show that only the second part of the verse has been used. Although it is entirely possible that a Christian writer, may simply forget to add an "a" or "b", Rick Warren omits this on a consistent basis.  I do not know whether this is negligent, or an attempt to deceive the reader into thinking that the entire verse has been quoted.

The "a" and "b" system gives the reader the option to read the verse in it's entirety, and one can but hope people do. However, to get the full import of what the original author was trying to convey it is necessary to read the verse in it's context, which may mean reading several verses, the entire chapter, or even more than one chapter. [See Context is CRUCIAL

CONTINUE ON TO PART III... Some of the problems in Chapters 1-10


End Notes

[10] John MacArthur. Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus  Thomas Nelson (November 13, 2003). Dropped by the wayside is the Bible's teaching on sin, repentance, the Cross, and the wrath of God. Completely ignored is the fact that Jesus said [Emphasis Added

[11] Berit Kjos, Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 1. http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/2003/1-purpose.htm

[12] Paul Alexander. The Purpose Driven Life. http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/the-purpose-driven-life.php

[13] Al Dager. The Purpose-Driven Program... A Growing Phenomenon In The Churches http://www.erwm.com/PDProgram1.htm

[14] http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-Living-Translation-NLT-Bible/

[15] http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Message-MSG-Bible/

Index To The Purpose Driven Life