Tom: Thanks Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
For the last few weeks, in this segment of our program we’ve been discussing Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life and as many of you know it’s been on the New York Times bestseller’s list for nearly 100 weeks, and at 20-some million copies, Dave, and counting, it has sold more than any non-fiction book in American history.
So, that’s a grand opportunity to influence millions of people and Dave and I have been going through The Purpose Driven Life just to evaluate its content in order to find out what it is saying to the masses, and particularly, comparing what it says to what the Bible teaches.
Dave, last week in our live broadcast, we covered some of the main concerns about the book and we began with the claim that nearly 1,000 scriptures were used to support the concepts presented in the book.
Dave: That’s the claim Rick Warren made.
Tom: Right. However, the so-called scriptures were taken mainly from paraphrases of the Bible, which at best, were subjective interpretations, that is, what an individual believed God said, and at worst, terrible distortions of the Word of God. And furthermore, often the verses selected had nothing to do with the context, but we surmise that Rick selected them because the term that was used in a particular paraphrase, version, supported what Rick Warren was teaching.
Now, Dave, let’s look at some of the other critical issues regarding the book that pastors, who have bought into the program, either missed, or simply dismissed, because they didn’t think they were important.
Dave: Tom, can I interrupt?
Dave: …Let’s just go back. You were being very kind when you said, you know, the paraphrase or whatever it was, really had nothing to do with the context. It’s worse than that.
Dave: I’ll just give another example. We gave some on our live broadcast recently.
I’m looking in chapter 11, and, Tom, you’re the man who’s guiding this show, so, but let me just interject briefly. This chapter’s titled: “Becoming Best Friends with God.” And he’s quoting the New Living Translation from Romans:5:11. “Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God--all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ had done for us in making us friends of God.”
That’s kind of vague. What did Jesus do in making us friends of God? Well, first of all, the word “friends” is not even in this scripture.
Tom: Right. You’re talking about a literal translation, as opposed to paraphrase.
Dave: Yeah. But how could you interject a word that isn’t even there in the Bible? Furthermore, let me read Romans:5:11, “Not only so, but we also joy in God for our Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s not talking about, you know, we’re happy that we became his friends. We are rejoicing in God—who He is.
And then it says, “In our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, we have now received the atonement.” Now, the atonement is a whole subject in itself all through the Bible. This is reconciliation to God, through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was a Day of Atonement in the Old Testament that we read of in Leviticus—a very important time in the history of Israel.
Once a year the high priest went in, and so forth. The Book of Hebrews talks about it. But there’s nothing in this New Living Translation. Atonement is left out completely. It’s a very important, vital doctrine in Scripture. Instead of that, he’s put “friends” in there. And “had done in making us friends….” Well what did He do in making us friends?
All I’m saying, Tom, is, it not only violates the context. It doesn’t even come close to what the Bible says. Now, why don’t we—we’re supposed to teach from the Bible, but Rick has a chapter now, you know, about becoming best friends with God.
So, now, he’s going to find a supposed translation or a paraphrase that will support him in this, but it doesn’t come from the Bible. It perverts the Scripture. And, Tom, maybe I emphasized that too much on our live program, [but] I don’t think I could emphasize it enough, because the Word of God is truth. Jesus is the Word. And they’re changing the Word of God, and I think that that is serious.
Tom: Dave, we would challenge our listeners, who have, maybe in a 40-day program, gone through The Purpose Driven Life—look at all the verses, as we said, Rick says that he’s used more than…close to a thousand…scriptures in the verse. Check any one out, and they will find more often—I won’t even say more often than not—almost in every case….
Tom: …we have either a version that distorts the Word of God, or it’s used out of context.
Dave: Or it completely changes it!
Tom: Right. Now, our concern is—and this is a concern, Dave, we’ve had—we see the church, the body of Christ in effect, being weaned off the Word of God. The Scriptures say, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Dave: Now we’re being robbed of the Word.
Tom: Yeah. So, consequently we’re going to have a generation…and we have a generation that’s biblically illiterate. On our live program…who was the man who called in from Virginia? He said, People are becoming…” what?...“preacher taught instead of Word taught, or Scripture taught?”
Dave: Excellent point that he made.
Dave: And, Tom, people say, “Well, now, wait a minute. Look at how many copies have sold. Who are you guys to question this?” And, “Doesn’t it do a lot of good for people?” Well, maybe it does do a lot of good, I’m not sure. But, it certainly isn’t good that it’s based upon the Word of God. People may feel better, they may feel more successful, they may feel better about themselves, they may think they’ve found their purpose in life, but they have been taken away from God’s Word….
Dave: Which is our very life—we’re to live by this.
Tom: Yeah. So, that’s a foundational problem that we have discovered in reviewing the book. But, Dave, my concern is for pastors. Three hundred twenty thousand pastors and church leaders have been involved in the program that Rick Warren has developed…The Purpose Driven Life Program. Now, these pastors…I would challenge them. They’re the shepherds. They’re supposed to be responsible for their sheep.
Dave: Right, right.
Tom: Yet, I would, beg, almost, that they go back through The Purpose Driven Life. Read it carefully. Look at some of these issues that we’re addressing here. And it isn’t just the paraphrase versions that Rick uses. There are other issues that concern us deeply, because churches are launching into this, turning their whole church around to conform to the program.
For example, many churches—Dave, we’ve been getting emails, letters from all around the country in which people are saying, “Look, we used to have a Bible study in our church or [in] our Sunday school program. We thought, you know, they were doing a fine job. Now this has come in, and every program within the church now has to conform to The Purpose Driven Life, either 40 Days of Purpose, 40 Days of Community…we now are re-directing, re-orienting ourselves to this program.” And my challenge is to pastors. I don’t think the pastors are careful or thoughtful in allowing this to go on. Or at least, I don’t believe that’s the case.
Dave: Tom, you pointed something else out in our live program. And that was that this book contradicts itself. It sets you at ease… For example, I just pointed out how it distorts the Word of God, even changes the Word of God. He goes to false translations, paraphrases, and so forth, that even turn the Word of God on its head, all right?
Dave: But, then, here on page 90, it sounds very good. He says, “A second way to establish a friendship with God is by thinking about his Word throughout your day. This is called meditation, and the Bible repeatedly urges us to meditate on who God is, what he has done, and what he has said. It is impossible to be God’s friend apart from hearing what he says. You can’t love God unless you know him, and you can’t know him without knowing his Word.”
I would say, “Amen 100 times to that.” But then, he distorts the Word. He gives us so-called translations, or paraphrases, that even say the opposite of what God’s Word says. He is not giving us God’s Word; he’s not fulfilling what he says.
Dave: So, he’s contradicting himself.
Tom: Dave, can I….
Dave: And, Tom, it’s worse than that, because he is causing people to think that he’s giving them God’s Word….
Dave: When he isn’t giving them God’s Word.
Tom: Yeah, Dave, that’s why we are asking people to be thoughtful when they go through this. Now, let me add to that. He’s talking about the Word. On the other hand, he promotes the contemplative approach to Christianity…in other words, contemplative. What do I mean by that? What does he mean by that? He gives examples of those who are into meditation. What kind of meditation? Not the meditation that he says is biblical, but mystical meditation. The idea that you get into looking into yourself, or that you clear your mind, and allow thoughts to come to you. Dave, this is Catholic mysticism. Of all the people that he quotes in the book—and he quotes a number of people—only one or two would you say, “Oh well there’s a Bible-believing Christian who believes the biblical way of salvation.” But all others are either New Agers, atheists, and for the most part are Catholic mystics. Now, here’s the contradiction that you’re talking about, Dave. He says one thing, but leads people to another way. Now which is it, Rick? Is it biblical meditation, or is it the meditation of St. John of the Cross, or Henry Nouwen, you know, a Catholic mystic, Catholic priest, and so on?
Tom: Brother Lawrence, for example. I mean, he has it over and over again. That’s a problem.
Dave: Well, it’s a very serious problem, Tom.
Tom: Dave, other areas that we’re concerned about. I mentioned this a little bit on our live program, but we have to get into it. At the beginning of the book—folks, you can go to it on page 20—Rick takes some issues that he thinks…well, I really should quote that. This is what he says on page 20 of The Purpose Drive Life, he says, “To discover your purpose in life you must turn to God’s Word….”
Now, we’ve just been addressing that. He doesn’t take us to God’s Word.
“…Not the world’s wisdom.”
Throughout the book, you find concepts and ideas, not only by the people he quotes, but all kinds of other ideas that are taken from the world. I mean this is—it’s pretty obvious if you’re just being thoughtful, you can see it.
“You must build your life on eternal truths, not pop psychology….”
So, you would get the idea right away—and it might disarm some readers—no he’s not into pop psychology. Dave, it’s all about pop psychology. He talks about on page 94…he uses concepts: “It is likely that you need to confess some hidden anger and resentment at God for certain areas of your life where you have felt cheated or disappointed.”
He validates psychology’s “we’re all victims.” He talks about people often blame God for hurts caused by others. Throughout the book he uses “hurts.”
Now, you know sometimes we have to explain some things to people, because words are being used, and people don’t know where they come from, or really what the main purpose of using them is. “Hurts”…the whole idea is that I’m a victim; that I’ve gone through these hurts. We’re not talking about sins and the concept is not used in Christian psychology regarding sins, it’s regarding to people doing certain things or saying certain things, that now I’m a victim. I have to go through life—there are all of these kinds of traumas that have affected my life and I need to dialogue about them, or get into a group discussion about the hurts and my feelings about God.
In here, he talks about David “ventilating vertically.” In other words, arguing with God. But this idea of ventilation—Dave, this is a Freudian idea, a concept that…Rick has picked these things up. He uses them in his church with regard to his program called “Celebrate Recovery.” It’s all a part of the 12-steps recovery movement. He says he has it down to eight steps, and it’s a modification on those things. But my point here, Dave, is on the one hand, he says he’s not into pop psychology, but it is just rampant throughout the book.
We discussed some of these things before. He promotes Henry Cloud, a Christian psychologist. He promotes his ideas—a concept of boundaries. He says, “We all have defined roles. The word ‘boundaries’ refers to the fact that God assigns each of us a field or sphere of service.” Your “shape”—we’re going to talk about that next week, Dave—his whole concept of the “shape” which is foundational to the book.
He says, “When we try to over extend our ministry reach beyond what God has shaped us for, we experience stress.”
This is psychological problem solving, Dave. No matter how you cut it.
Dave: Well, he does make a good point, that sometimes people can be resentful against God. They can have doubts, and so forth. But, he doesn’t really give you the solution to that. He claims that David, Abraham, Job, and others kind of ventilated their anger and their complaints. But, what is the solution to this? “I recognize that this is wrong. I recognize that God is perfect; that God makes no mistakes. I submit to His will.”
Job finally came to the point where he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” But I don’t find that—at least it’s not articulated very well.
Tom: Well, Dave, I think it’s worse than that. For example, explain to me what “ventilation” means and where it comes from.
Dave: Well, “ventilation,” I mean, I’m going to get a pillow and they’re going to give me a little club or something, and I’m going to pound on it and say, “Mommy, I hate you. Daddy, I hate you.” I’m ventilating my anger, and, Tom, we could point them to a few books by secular psychologists who would say the worst thing you can do….
Dave: …is to ventilate your anger; to express it, and that only makes it worse. What we need is self-control.
Tom: Dave, he introduces William Backus in here, the Christian psychologist who promotes “self-talk,” you know, arguing with God. Again, these are all Freudian ideas. And, my simple point is, that on the one hand Rick says at the beginning of the book, “We’re not into pop psychology.” But his church is into pop psychology through Celebrate Recovery, through this book, he introduces these ideas over and over again.
Dave: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm.
Tom: Samson was co-dependent; David had an affair and all kinds of family problems—dysfunctional kinds of stuff. Jacob was insecure. You know, we went through the four temperaments, looking at things in the Bible, now bringing to that picture, psychological…
Tom: …Freudian, all kinds of ideas. That’s a problem.
Dave: Well he’s interpreting the Bible with the ideas of man and ideas, which have been proven not to be valid, not to be helpful. Psychology…I could quote you from many psychologists. For example, let’s just take Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist. He said, “You want to know what we have done? We psychiatrists and psychologists, we have turned the salvation of sinful souls into the cure of sick minds. You ought to take this back into the church. We have nothing to offer.”
But, now, Rick is reaching out into the world and taking ideas from these godless psychologists to interpret the Bible and it’s destructive.
Tom: And, Dave, on page 273 he writes, talking about Paul’s thorn…it was actually an “emotional weakness.” He says, “It maybe an emotional limitation, such as a trauma scar, a hurtful memory, a personality quirk, or a hereditary disposition.”
On 274, he says, “Instead of living in denial or making excuses, take time to identify your personal weaknesses. You might make a list of them.”
Dave: Now, I can tell you for sure that Paul did not have a scar of some emotional problem in the past where people had misused or abused him. Paul tells us very clearly, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away…all things have become new.” Paul says….
Dave: …in Philippians 3, “Forgetting those things that are behind, reaching forth unto that which is before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God…” and so forth. So, he is doing Paul a disservice. He’s doing the Word of God a disservice, unfortunately. Now, we have to decide. Am I going to go by the Bible, or am I going to go by what men say?
“Well, of course, the Bible has to be adjusted…we’re going to have to understand the Bible in the context of what modern psychology has developed and has understood.” No, we don’t. We understand the Bible as God has given it to us, and the Bible is being changed, and as we pointed out, we’re being taken away from the Bible.
But, Tom, you want to move on now.
Tom: Dave, we have said, and we’ve been challenged on this—that you used the term that the book is somewhat and maybe more than that, humanistic. In Rick’s use of The Message, for example. If you look at verse after verse, there is a humanistic aspect to it—about our significance, about our self-worth, and so on. Now, he says that the book is not about you. Yet, we find scripture after scripture, concept after concept, it comes back to me—to my significance, to my worth and so on. Now, does the Bible talk about building our self-esteem or self-worth?
For example, on 275 he says, “Gideon’s weakness was low self-esteem and deep insecurities…. Other people are going to find healing in your wounds, your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
Dave: Well, Tom, that’s simply a lie. It’s not true. And the Bible does not teach that we need to build up our self-esteem. For example, Philippians:2:3 says, “…In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Romans 12 warns us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Nowhere does the Bible warn us about thinking too little of ourselves. We don’t have that problem. Paul said, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
So, we’re turning the Bible on its head. We are being robbed, and we’re robbing the readers of what the Bible really says, and we are turning them to the wisdom of man, which is “foolishness with God…” 1 Corinthians 1. And we’re turning them, as you point out, to pop psychology…although he denies that’s what he’s doing. And people are not getting what they need to learn from the Word of God, and from the experiences—difficult experiences that God would give them. I mean, we could quote any number of secular psychologists, for example, who would tell you, you take some drug or you run to a psychologist with every hurt you have, you are being robbed of the character building—the experiences that you need to have to go through some difficulties and some trials.
Tom: Dave, again, examples. We’re not nitpicking here. Verse after verse, concept after concept, we find this throughout the book.
Let me read this. This is in chapter eight on page 63. He says, “The moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth.” He goes on to say on page 63, “When you fully understand this truth, you will never again have a problem with feeling insignificant. If you are that important to God, and he considers you valuable enough to keep with him for eternity, what greater significance could you have?”
Dave: Well, it goes on Tom, it says, “You are a child of God….” Now, wait a minute. He hasn’t even given them the gospel yet. Later, in the book he says, “If you haven’t met Jesus…” words to that effect.
Now, how can he be saying to non-Christian readers…and assuring them—and he does this throughout these early pages—how important they are, and that they’re children of God? “Your home is in heaven. Eternity—that’s where you belong.” Well, then, what does it mean when he—he’s already assured them that they belong to God. He’s already assured them that every day of their life has been planned by God. Nothing will happen, any day in their life, that isn’t God’s will, God’s purpose for them. He’s already assured them that every atom in their body, every gene, everything about them, is exactly what God has planned. So, then, when he finally gets around to giving rather a weak gospel—he does come close to the gospel in places, and if you haven’t had this experience, then pray…you know…to Jesus to receive Jesus.
Dave: What does it really mean at that point? They’re not sinners; they’re not separated from God by sin. Christ didn’t have to come to redeem us by His blood, but it’s just a matter of recognizing that I’m really God’s friend, and this is what He’s planned for me.
Tom: So, Dave, there are things that are easy to accept, but how scriptural they are…how they relate to God’s truth…again, we would encourage those who have been through the program to go back and take another look.