THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE BY RICK WARREN
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
When one looks at the book, The Purpose Driven Life, one has to be concerned when any book makes a claim, which it does, "This book will change your life!"--there is only one book that will change your life and that's the Bible.
The book plays fast and loose with the scriptures, using 15 different Bible translations to ensure that his points are supported. Rick Warren has stated that you can best understand scripture by reading as many different translations as possible--this approach uses many different "opinions" to define the meaning of God's Word rather than a thorough exegetical study of the verse(s).
The author's misuse and careless handling of the Bible gives evidence regarding the author's view of the inspiration, sufficiency, and authority of the Bible in a practical sense.
This book misrepresents and distorts the gospel. It overlooks the fact that an unbeliever does have an identity, as well as a purpose in his life outside of a relationship with Christ. That in fact man's purpose, nature, and identity is hostile to God, fallen, and totally depraved apart from salvation. The book glosses over, minimizes, or ignores realities such as: the seriousness of sin before a holy God, the need for salvation, that God is righteous, just, holy, etc.
The audience of the book includes both believers and unbelievers. However, this book does not maintain a distinction between the two. Promises which apply only to believers are stated as if they apply to both. Unbelievers can become deceived and believe they are saved, when they have not heard the gospel which does save.
The Purpose Driven Life misrepresents scripture from the outset. The basis of 40 days is faulty. Warren states that whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes, he took 40 days. He then gives the following examples: Noah’s life transformed by 40 days of rain. Moses transformed by 40 days on Mt. Sinai. Spies transformed by 40 days in the Promised Land. David transformed by Goliath’s 40-day challenge. Elijah transformed when God gave him 40 days from a single meal. Entire city of Nineveh transformed when God gave the people 40 days to change. Jesus empowered by 40 days in the wilderness. Disciples transformed by 40 days with Jesus after His resurrection. It is plainly seen that this is simply not true. The flood was judgment on the world, not preparing Noah for God’s Purposes. Moses was given the law on Mt. Sinai, it was not about life change for Moses. 2 of the spies were faithful and not changed, 10 were faithless. David heard about the challenge after the 40 days had already happened. The Bible does not maintain that whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes, he took 40 days. Again this is an example of scripture being misused to back up the author’s thoughts and to try to persuade the reader of the importance of the book. This book is laced with inaccuracies, with misrepresentations of Scripture, this is the tip of the iceberg!
Most Scripture quotations are taken out of context or are misquoted
The book uses marketing, and appeals to "what the Christian life will get you" as opposed to leading you to faith in Christ alone.
A major problem with this book is in prooftexting, selecting verses to support a given proposition. The author goes beyond prooftexting, however, by relying upon excerpts from unusual paraphrases to make his points.
A chapter discusses unity in the church as a primary goal, but there is no mention of standing for doctrinal purity or truth.
Warren says that if Christians fail in their duty to evangelize, "there will be people who are not in heaven who should have been there." To claim that some people will end up in eternal torment because of the failure of other people is shocking! To imply that the Lord will not be able to save some people who "should have been" in heaven is blasphemous. I do not know if Mr. Warren realizes the implications of this statement, but a few moments of serious reflection will convince any thinking Christian that this presents a seriously distorted view of God. This view cannot be squared with Scripture and is as dangerous as it is erroneous.
Rick Warren: "The Good News is that when we trust God's grace to save us through what Jesus did, our sins are forgiven, we get a purpose for living, and we are promised a future home in heaven.""
preaching omits key components. Gone are the hard sayings of Jesus. Gone is the teaching on sin, self-denial, sacrifice, suffering, judgment, hell
eager to present this message without giving any unnecessary offense
, watered-down the message for the sake of cultural relevancy
the evangelistic message of Hybels and Warren seems to more closely coincide with that of New Testament false teachers— tickling the ears of their audiences (2 Tim. 4:3), appealing to those who are "lovers of self (2 Tim. 3:2), denying in practice (through deemphasis) the doctrinal power of the gospel truth that they know (2 Tim. 3:5).
The collections of people who responded to the gospel and banded together in the first century defy much of modern market research and ideas about church growth. Modern thinking holds that groups of people with similar sociological backgrounds (" homogeneous" groups) grow more quickly than ones with different backgrounds (" heterogeneous") because like attracts like. Therefore, churches should target people of the same race, demographic profile, socioeconomic status, and so forth. But the untidy collection of Acts believers seems to contradict that model. Churches sprouted up spontaneously in response to God's grace more than through social marketing.
Scripture never commands Christians to think like the unsaved, but rather commands exactly the opposite. Paul simply says "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart" (Eph. 4:17-18). In other words, Christians are to stop thinking like unbelievers. In Romans 8:6-7, he puts it even more bluntly, "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so." In fact, "the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers" (2 Cor. 4:4). In light of this, believers are to avoid conformity with the world, allowing their minds to be transformed by God's truth (Rom. 12:2), preparing their minds for action (1 Pet. 1:13)— putting off the deeds and thoughts of the flesh (Eph. 4:22-24).
the idea that anyone can lead anyone else to Christ, simply by unlocking the felt needs of the heart, is an arrogant assumption at best. Only God has the ability to even know the heart (Jer. 17:9-10; Rev. 2:23), let alone change it. It is His Spirit who cleanses the heart (Titus 3:5); it is His Word that penetrates through layers of doubt and unbelief (Heb. 4:12); He is the one who calls sinners to Himself (Rom. 8:29-30)— having specifically chosen them before time began (Eph. 1:3-6). And while men are certainly His agents for preaching the gospel (Rom. 10:14-15), God is nonetheless sovereign in the entire process (Rom. 9:18).
In the end, the seeker model is really nothing more than a recipe for compromise. By asking the church to think like the world, seeker churches are filling their membership rosters with worldly Christians. In reaching out to the world you run the risk of becoming like those they are trying to reach.
Gospel preachers are encouraged to tell numerous stories and jokes, keep messages short, avoid deep theological issues, and supplement their sermons with drama and music
This type of effective evangelistic preaching is, according to Hybels and Warren, accomplished in several different ways. First, the evangelist should be a story-teller, using illustrations and anecdotes to communicate spiritual truth without being intimidating. "Jesus captured the interest of large crowds with techniques that you and I can use," they argue. "First, he told stories to make a point. Jesus was a master storyteller. . . . Somehow preachers forget that the Bible is essentially a book of stories."51 Second, evangelists must be able to communicate clearly— using vocabulary that is free of Christian lingo and theological jargon.52 With this in mind, Warren contends that "most people communicate with a vocabulary of less than 2,000 words and rely on only about 900 words in daily use. If you want to communicate with most people you need to keep it simple."53 Third, evangelists must focus on the practical, felt needs of their audience. In fact, "what attracts so many people to seeker services across the country is the seeker service emphasis on how God makes the lives of Christians more fulfilling."54 Armed with these three basics, complemented by a comfortable and affirming environment, seeker-sensitive pastors are confident that if they pitch the gospel right they can consistently "close the sale."55
But what was the purpose of Jesus' stories? Was it primarily to entertain His audience, so as to build a crowd from which He might draw converts? Interestingly, the disciples asked Jesus why He taught using parables in Matthew 13:10. But Jesus' answer is not what the seeker-sensitive model might lead one to expect. Any hint of entertainment is nowhere to be found in His response. Rather, His motive for using stories was so that spiritual truth might be hidden from those to whom God had not chosen to reveal it (see vv. 11-17). In fact, Mark 4:34 notes that Christ had to explain the stories He told to His disciples in private, so that they could fully understand them. Matthew 13:35 adds a second reason Jesus spoke in parables— to fulfill prophecy (see Ps. 78:2). Yet, Scripture never indicates that the purpose behind His stories was founded in entertainment or in an attempt to please the crowd. For that matter, in John 6 when Christ had just attracted a large crowd, He rebuked them because they only followed Him for the novelty of a supernatural free-lunch (vv. 26-27). Moreover, His non-seeker-friendly message (in vv. 53-58) ended up driving the crowd away (v. 66).59 Like Christ, entertainment was also not the primary goal of the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 1:17, he told the church at Corinth: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void" (emphasis added). Second Corinthians 2:1-5 echoes the same: And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (Emphasis added.) While there are many who wanted their ears tickled (2 Tim. 4:3), Paul's concern was not on eloquence but rather faithfulness. This is not to say that good communication skills are not valuable, but rather to say that they are a distant second when compared to the integrity of the message.
the audience, not the message, is sovereign
Both Warren and Hybels are, of course, quick to assure their readers that, despite their focus on felt needs, the message itself remains intact. In practice, however, these claims do not accurately reflect reality. By concentrating on felt needs, the message is necessarily changed— because its focus is changed.
The evidence from God's Word clearly gives a negative answer to these questions. Obviously, the audience is taken into account (consider Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17). Yet, the felt needs of the audience are never given first place. Rather, faithfulness to the message (and to the Giver of that message) is always what is most important. Thus, Paul tells Timothy that while people will one day exchange sound doctrine for entertainment, accumulating "for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires," Timothy is to preach the Word without compromise (2 Tim. 4:2-3). Likewise, Titus is to rebuke the lazy and gluttonous Cretans (who were clearly ruled by their felt needs), reproving them with right doctrine that they might be "sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). More directly, Paul makes it clear that in his evangelistic endeavors, his goal was not to please men but rather to please God (Gal. 1:10). After all, he received his message and his commission from Christ Himself (Gal. 1:12; Titus 1:1). Paul's focus, therefore, was on serving his Lord and bringing Him glory— Christ was his highest priority. When it came to evangelism, Paul (and the other apostles— cf. Peter in Acts 2 and 4) concentrated on meeting the real needs of their audience (namely, the sinner's need for salvation), rather than focusing on their superficial felt needs.
But is the purpose of the church (as it meets in its weekly assembly) to evangelize the lost? Or is it rather, to edify the saints (Heb. 10:25) so that they might be better equipped to witness as they "go" through their life context (Matt. 28:19-20)?
Christians are to meet and engage people where they are (out in the world) and not wait for them to come to a church meeting.
The apostles' teaching was designed to nourish the faith of new believers. Those who "were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching" (" they," 2:42) were also those who had previously received Peter's word unto salvation and were baptized (v. 41). All who believed were baptized and added to the fellowship of believers also welcomed the apostles' teaching. In other words all the believers were continually coming to the apostles to be instructed in God's truth. These first gatherings of the church were designed primarily for edifying believers, not for evangelizing unbelievers. Of course they were reaching out to the unsaved, for "the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (v. 47). But this "evangelism explosion" was the result of their teaching, not the stated purpose of it. They gathered for edification; they scattered for evangelism. The primary focus of their corporate worship gatherings was for building up the believers, not for reaching seekers. When this priority becomes reversed and the church meets primarily to save the lost, the apostles' teaching soon becomes compromised and diluted.
The biblical data, then, emphasizes body life within the church (1 Cor. 12-14), as believers exercise their spiritual gifts in the local church context (Rom. 12:3-8). The evidence does not encourage, or even imply, that weekly church services should be primarily evangelistic. Moreover, the New Testament even mention the importance of music in the church (with possible exception to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Once again, seeker-sensitive leaders like Hybels and Warren are primarily basing their methodology on what attracts unbelievers, not on what is inherently biblical.