Rick Warrens Purpose Driven Life Under Review.

Gary Gilley

The Purpose-Driven Life

About that time I picked up Rick Warren’s runaway bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life. Warren’s book promises to be “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?” More than that, “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” (p.9). With this kind of promo and with Warren’s notoriety, we would expect his book to sell well, and it has. Not only is it the number one best selling Christian book at the time of this writing but thousands of churches are gearing up to take his 40-day spiritual journey.

First, we should say a word or two about Warren himself and his book in general. His first book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has greatly influenced churches throughout the world, due certainly to the fact that the church he pastors, Saddleback Church in southern California, is one of the largest churches in America, and a trendsetter among new paradigm churches. Saddleback reports that over 300,000 pastors from over 100 countries have been trained at their leadership conferences. Warren obviously has astounding influence over churches throughout the world.

There are a number of similarities between The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. Both, for instance, offer some good sound advice, helpful biblical insight and practical suggestions—and both are riddled with errors throughout. The highly discerning reader can perhaps sift through the wheat and tares and make a good loaf of bread, but most readers, I fear, will swallow the poison along with the substance. This leads me to ask, “Who is Warren’s audience?" I was thoroughly bewildered as to whom the author was trying to connect. If it is a book for the unsaved then he fails, for the gospel is never at anytime clearly presented. The closest he came was when he wrote, "Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ" (p. 58). In Warren's gospel no mention is made of sin, repentance or even the Cross. Real life (i.e., a life with purpose) seems to be the reward, and lack of real life (purpose) the problem. The thesis of The Purpose-Driven Life is stated, I believe, on page twenty-five, "We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives." Warren’s message is this: find God and you will find yourself (purpose). We will agree that meaning and purpose will be a reality to the Christian, but they are not the objects of the gospel itself.

The gospel is that we as rebellious sinners have offended a holy God, are dead in our sins, enslaved to sin and the devil and under the wrath of God. But God, rich in mercy, sent His Son to die as our substitute to redeem us from our lost condition and give us eternal life. We receive this gift by faith as we turn to Christ, and from sin (Ephesians 2:1-10). That our life takes on new purpose at that point is absolutely true. However, we do not come to Christ because we sense a lack of purpose, but because God has opened our eyes to our need for forgiveness of sin and a relationship with Him. This is one of the fatal flaws in the market-driven church's message in which the unbeliever is called to follow Christ in order to receive any number of benefits—fulfillment, self-esteem, improved marriage, a thrilling lifestyle, or purpose, rather than freedom from sin and the gift of eternal salvation

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May 5, 2012