Book Review

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

Warren F. Kenney

In February 2005, while at the Freed-Hardeman University Lectures, I bought a copy of Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life. Instead of reading it right away, I put it on my shelf. Recently I learned that it has become the best-selling nonfiction hardback book in the history of the United States. I have also learned that the book and program is having an impact upon the Lord's church. If you do a little surfing on the net to investigate this, you'll be concerned too! You will find many congregations that have or are using the program. I think it timely, therefore, to write a brief review of it in West Virginia Christian.

While the book contains many wonderful things, I do not understand its appeal to my brethren. Reading it is a real chore to me since it is interspersed with erroneous teaching. It reminds me of the illustration preachers in olden days used concerning the fact that rat poison is 98% corn meal and 2% poison. Ask any rat that has eaten it if that 2% is anything to worry about.

Let me share with you just a few things you need to know about the book. I will do my best not to misrepresent the book in any way. If one must misrepresent another to make his case, he doesn't have much of a case.

The book, The Purpose Driven Life, is a sequel to The Purpose Driven Church. They are written by a Southern Baptist preacher, Rick Warren. Mr. Warren is a convert of W.A. Crisswell, himself a Southern Baptist minister of some repute. Warren graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth. Now, if one expects that Baptist doctrine didn't make its way into the book, his expectation is vain. It is laced with Baptist teaching. I knew it would be before I did any investigation on my own. That is one reason why reading the book is not pleasurable to me.

Information I have suggests that Mr. Warren did mission work in Japan before starting the Saddleback Valley Community Church. It is located on Saddleback Parkway in Lake Forest, CA. It boasts an attendance of 16,000 with a $19 million yearly budget.

The premise of Warren's book, in his own words, is "Whenever God wanted to prepare someone for His purposes, He took 40 days." To substantiate this, he uses eight Bible characters. We will give only three, but that is sufficient to show the fallacy of his reasoning. 1) Noah was transformed by the 40 days of rain. 2) Moses was transformed by 40 days on Sinai. 3) The spies were transformed by 40 days in the promised land.

These men (and the others he mentions) were not transformed into purposeful living by the experiences he gave. Not one of them lacked purpose before the cited 40 days. This means his premise is flawed. If the premise is flawed, the whole scheme is suspect. It looks to me like he started out with his purpose in mind and then skewed Biblical events to fit his purpose.

Let me just briefly mention some other things he will teach you in the book: 1) On page 34, Mr. Warren will teach you that God is unconcerned about doctrine. 2) On page 58, he will teach you that all one has to do to be saved is "receive and believe." 3) On page 294, he will teach you that one is saved by faith only. 4) On page 23 as well as throughout the book he will teach you a rank form of Calvinistic predestination.

I know this review is brief. I hope I have said enough to help you avoid being lead astray by such writing. 90 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25401.


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