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The Purpose Driven Life

Part VIII... Conclusion

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?

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.

    You Are Here 001orange 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."




What You Will Find in PDL
Rick Warren has written a book that, on the one hand, does make a few sound points but, on the other, has much going against it. The reader will be introduced to a wide variety of, potentially, very destructive people, ideas, and practices. As he wends his way through the book, the reader will ....

1) Hear a Gospel Message That is Insufficient to Save: Warren holds up monks and nuns as positive examples, which leads me to assume that he considers them true believers. This throws Warren's understanding of the Gospel message into question. Does he believe that we are saved by faith alone, or by faith plus certain works and sacraments, as many Catholics do? This is a serious issue, when it involves a man who has so much influence on thousands of pastors and churches around the country, and beyond. This situation is rendered even worse by the fact that The Purpose Driven Life presents a shallow, incomplete, version of God's plan of salvation.

2) Read Paraphrases That Alter The Meaning of The Text To Suit The Agenda: He is a party to the deliberate and blatant twisting of Biblical text by quoting passage after passage from Bible paraphrases which, in many cases, do not stay true to the thought and intent of the original God-inspired author, but actually alters the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek text. This he has done in order to support the topic he is writing about,

3) Meet A Wide Variety Of Questionable Authors: The pages of The Purpose Driven Life are liberally sprinkled with quotes from a wide variety of questionable authors, all of whom Warren refers to in order to support the particular subject he happens to be writing about. What is extremely reprehensible is that several of those quoted were not only spiritually lost but, at least one led a decadent lifestyle, another was a staunch supported of hallucinogens, and at least two were active opponents of Biblical orthodoxy.

4) Be Introduced to Contemplative Prayer and Catholic Mystics: The Purpose Driven Live introduces readers to the very dangerous practices of contemplative prayer through people like Richard Foster, his "friend" Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Pathways, Henri Nouwen, and various Catholic mystics like Brother Lawrence and Madame Guyon. Much of this occurred through a complete misunderstanding of Paul's instruction to pray without ceasing. Christians who have already come into contact with Contemplative prayer and the Catholic mystics will assume that, because "America's Pastor" refer to both in a positive manner, contemplative prayer is in accordance with sound Biblical practices, and the Catholic mystics were good examples to be emulated. Nothing could be further from the truth.

5) Meet At Least One Well known New Age Leader: Included in the list of highly questionable people Warren refers to, is Bernie Siegel, whose practice of medicine was completely changed by guided visualization, and contact with a spirit guide. Siegel is now a leading New Age author and spokesperson.

6) Be Introduced To The Pseudo-Scientific Four-Temperaments Theory, which was based on the zodiac, and originated in ancient myths and occult practices...

7) Be introduced to pop-psychology. For example Warren says "Most conflict is rooted in unmet needs" (Pg. 154)

What is Glaringly Absent From PDL

Any Instruction on What The Scriptures Teach About Discernment or How to Handle False Teachings
Warren tells his reader that "unity" in the church is all important, so much so that he says if we destroy unity, we rip the heart out of Christ's body [Pg. 160]. He goes on to say that Jesus prayed for our unity in His final hours [John 17:20-23] [Pg. 161]. However, he forgets that the unity Jesus prays His followers would have, is based on the unity that exists between the Father and the Son. There can be no unity between a faithful believer and a person who does not believe, follow, practice, and/or teach the truth.

In fact, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the ability to judge, or determine, between two (or more) things as to which is right and which is wrong. Therefore Biblical "discernment of spirits" involves being able to distinguish between people or practices that serve the cause of Christ, and those that serve other spirits.

Conveniently ignored are the many, many verses that instruct believers how to how to treat anyone who does not teach and practice the truth, they include walking away, and not even allowing the person in their house. The Scriptures do not endorse blindly following any one who stands behind a pulpit, pastors a church, or writes a book, but advises that everything has to be checked by the word of God. Yet, Warren apparently places unity above doctrine. The covenant that believers are required to sign before becoming members of Saddleback, ensures no one will openly challenge what the pastors may say or teach, or take any serious errors before the congregation.

In other words, Warren does not teach the believer how to avoid being suckered into the many false, and extremely dangerous doctrines, making the rounds of the churches. But, on second thought, I guess he could not afford to do that since, The Purpose Driven Life would be among the first to go.

Any Mention of Biblical Repentance

Although Rick Warren states that The Purpose Driven Life is a 40-day spiritual journey that will transform your life, enabling you to find the Divine purpose God has for your life, and take up the challenge to become a more mature, Christ-like Christian, he says little or nothing about repentance which, I believe is only mentioned twice in PDL.

    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]

While the second quote above is a fair description of some of the things that we need to change our attitude towards, it does not get to the core of Biblical repentance, which is specifically turning away from sin. No one can be converted without repenting of sin, yet Rick Warren tells his reader that they are converted .... welcomed into the family of God without it. In his version of the Gospel message, Warren says "all you need to do is received and believe" [Pg. 58], which is not true. 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 this crucial topic only comes up, very briefly, much later in the book

Any Mention of Holiness

What I find particularly disturbing is that although Warren tells his reader that he, or she, has been created for God's purposes and God's family, he never once tells them that God expects them to be holy. In fact, there is no mention of "holiness" in a book that purports to take the reader on a 40-day spiritual journey that will prepare them for eternity [Pg. 9].

This, in spite of the fact that no one is going to see eternity without holiness, a topic that is stressed from one end of the Bible to the other, beginning with the very pithy statement made by the author of Hebrews... one which is stunning in it's directness...

"Without Holiness, No Man Shall See God!" (Hebrews 12:14)

    What is Holiness?
    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. In fact, your effectiveness as a Christian hangs on your concept of what separation means. Perfection: Israel was also instructed to be "perfect" which means complete or without blemish. When Abraham was instructed to "be perfect" and Noah was described as such, the Scriptures are speaking of moral uprightness, which the Scriptures equate with completeness. As God instructed Abraham to walk before Him and be perfect, in Matthew 5:48, Jesus also instructed His listeners to "be perfect". Striving for perfection means starting out with a perfect heart, then striving to overcome sin.

    The Myth of Faith Alone: Perhaps one of the all time greatest delusions in the Christian world, is the innumerable number of people who are under the impression that, in order to be forgiven their sins, and thus inherit eternal life, all they have to do is believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross. If one were to ask the vast majority of Christians what one has to do to be saved, you would get a number of answers like "accept Jesus as your personal savior", "ask Jesus into your heart" etc. However, while the terminology may vary, the answers would almost all boil down to all you have to do is believe... all you have to do is have faith. In other words, at the very moment the sinner puts his, or her, faith in Jesus Christ and accepts Him as his/her savior, that person has entered into a covenant relationship with God, has received God's forgiveness of sins, and the gift of eternal life. What one never, or very rarely, hears is that anything other than faith is required to be saved. In fact the suggestion that anything other than faith is required for salvation, is not only militantly opposed by most of Christendom, but denounced as an unbiblical, works based, false teaching. But is this true? While it is certainly a fact that the Bible teaches that faith is an essential ingredient, without which it is impossible to please God, it never ever teaches that faith is the only requirement for salvation. In fact the Scriptures point to a number of things by which a person is saved.

There really isn't much to say in this conclusion, except whatever good The Purpose Driven Life may do, is vastly overshadowed by the points brought up above. I will repeat something I said earlier in this article.

Rick Warren's continuous use of faulty translations and paraphrases means one of two things. 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 of the inspired author. In neither case is he fit to be a teacher in the church.

Sadly, like so many other leaders in the church, Rick Warren has been placed on such a pedestal that he, and many others, are followed blindly, regardless of how much damage they do to the Gospel message and the people that are the church.

    The problem of esteeming leaders too highly starts very subtly and innocently. It begins with a deep respect and appreciation, often because this individual has led them to Christ, or that he (or she) has significantly contributed to their spiritual growth. This one person is given excessive credit for the work of God and elevated to a position of authority above what should be given to men. Allegiance to this leader becomes a status symbol in which followers take great pride. Out of this misguided allegiance, they feel obligated to ignore or even oppose other Christian leaders. [70]

One has to wonder how many thousands of readers have either been introduced to the treacherous world of Contemplative Prayer, or have continued in their practice of it, assuming that Rick Warren's stamp of approval means that it is okay to use CP as a way to supposedly get "closer" to God. How many Christians has he thus led astray?

There are some who have pointed out the deceptive, and often dangerous, parts of Warren's theology. This they have done, not by simply stating their own opinions, but by carefully comparing what Warren teaches with what the Bible says. Yet so many thousands have simply chosen to ignore the warnings.

When I think of Rick Warren and so many like him, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ come to mind

    but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! [Matthew 18:6-7 NASB]

In closing, Rick Warren says

    "I am excited because I know all the great things that are going to happen to you. They happened to me, and I have never been the same since I discovered the purpose of my life." [Pg. 12].

The problem is that the purpose of Rick Warren's life seems to be very suspect.

Footnote: Paying the Price
So the debate goes on: Is the purpose-driven method simplifying Christianity in exchange for church growth? The founder of the movement says the conflicts and divisions are inevitable costs.

    "You know, I wouldn't intentionally want to cause pain to any person or to anyone," Warren said. "Am I willing to put up with pain so the people [that] Jesus Christ died for can come to know him? Absolutely."

Warren said that if some churches may suffer as a result of applying some of those principles, then "that's the price."

    "Every church has to make the decision. … Is it going to live for itself, or is it going to live for the world that Jesus died for?"

When asked if he thinks that some of these splits are actually because Christians themselves are indulgent and refusing to change, Warren said, "Oh, without a doubt."

And when asked if he blames them, he replied, "I do blame them." [http://www.religionnewsblog.com/17672/rick-warren-and-purpose-driven-strife. Emphasis Added]


End Notes
[70] A Different Look at Leadership (1 Cor. 3:5-17) Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh. http://bible.org/seriespage/different-look-leadership-1-cor-35-17

Index To The Purpose Driven Life