Program Description: In this special edition "blast from the past" program, Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon engage in an eye-opening discussion on Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life. Includes a Q&A session with questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call.
Gary: Welcome to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for joining us. In today’s program, we are bringing you a Dave and Tom Classic from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives. First broadcast in 2006, this is a live call-in program on the topic of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. We hope you enjoy this part one of a two-part series.
Gary [from original program]: Welcome to a special live edition of Search the Scriptures Daily, a radio ministry of The Berean Call, with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us as we come to you live from our studios in Bend, Oregon. Through the facilities of KRTM Radio, CSN International, and the Good News Network, you’ll be able to call in tonight and participate in our discussion. Just call 866-564-6173. That’s 866-JOHN173. During tonight’s broadcast we are making a terrific special package available to you. We’ll tell you more about that later on. Just jot down our toll free number 800-937-6638.
Now we continue our series of programs examining the current phenomenon of The Purpose Driven Life. Along with Dave Hunt, here’s T.A. McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary! And welcome to our live broadcast of 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.
Our primary topic for this evening is a discussion of the best-selling nonfiction book, that is, in the history of American publishing, and that is The Purpose Driven Life. To date, there are more than 20 million copies in print, and, Dave, I understand that it’s selling at the rate of about a million a month.
Well, as many of you know, Dave and I have been discussing the book on our regular broadcast for the last few weeks, and we thought we’d enlarge our discussion group by going live. And, Dave, as you’re aware, at the end of the book there’s a recommendation that those who have read The Purpose Driven Life (I’m quoting now) “…form a Purpose Driven Life reading group to review these chapters on a weekly basis. And if you’ve got the book, that’s on page 307.
So although we are reviewing the chapters of The Purpose Driven Life according to the book’s instructions, nevertheless, based on emails we’ve received, there are a number of people who are upset with our evaluation so far. So, Dave, before we get started, let me present some of the major concerns so that our listeners will understand that we’re not just nitpicking, or badmouthing the book just because it’s popular. There are some critical issues involved, and moreover the Bible instructs us to pass everything that we are presented in the world, and particularly in Christianity, through the light and scrutiny of the Scriptures.
So here are a few issues that we’re concerned about. First of all, the thesis of the book, if you’re not familiar with it, is that “the most important thing in life is to discover God’s purpose for us.” Well, is that what the Bible teaches?
Another – a goal of the book for the reader is to discover his or her purpose in life in just 40 days.
And although the book encourages the reader to turn to the Bible (and I’ll quote here), it says, “The best way to explain God’s purpose for your life is to allow the Scripture to speak for itself.” Yet it presents mostly paraphrase versions, which are subjective interpretations by individuals, that are far removed from God’s Word.
Now, Dave, you want to start off with that issue. Before I read some more, why don’t you go ahead with that?”
Dave: Well, Tom, one of the books that he quotes… “books,” I call it – it’s not the Bible…The Message by Eugene Peterson. He claims that it’s a translation of the Bible. Rick quotes that more than he quotes any other version or paraphrase. And why do we talk about this? Because this is God’s Word - our only guide is God’s Word. We are to live by God’s Word. We’re to feed upon God’s Word. We are born again by the Word of God, Peter tells us, okay?
So if you change the Word of God, you have changed everything. And the problem is that why does Rick quote these things? Because he has some ideas that do not come from the Bible but come from whatever he wants to do – his training or his background or his reading of management techniques and so forth – and then he must try to find some version that will back it up.
I won’t go into detail about this, but let me just give you an example: The Lord’s prayer (so-called “Lord’s prayer” – now this is really “the disciples’ prayer.” The Lord never prayed this prayer: “forgive us our sins,” and so forth, but it was the disciples’ prayer). And what does it say? It says, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Everybody knows that. But The Message says, “Reveal who you are.” Reveal who you are. Big difference! Asking God to reveal Himself to you, and hallowing His name -bowing in reverence before Him -this is the way the prayer starts out: acknowledging who God is and reverencing Him.
Then it says (everybody knows the so-called Lord’s prayer) – what comes next? “Thy kingdom come….” The Message says, “Set the world right.” Now, wait a minute! “Set the world right”? This world is never going to be set right. God has a kingdom, an eternal kingdom, and Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And now, Jesus said, “Pray Thy kingdom come.” And The Message says, “Set the world right.” It reminds you of what The Message says in John:3:17. John:3:17 [actually] says: “That the world through him might be saved.” The Message says, “He came to help us make the world right.” A big difference between…sounds like social and political action to straighten out this world and having man turn to Christ to be redeemed out of this world and have a home in heaven.
It goes on, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” the prayer says. But The Messages says, “Do what’s best.” What do you mean “what’s best”? It’s “Thy will be done.” God’s will be done - not do “what is best.” Of course, God’s will is always best, but, Tom, that’s just a sample, and the tragedy is, I mean, you’d have yourself a question: 1) Why does Rick quote this so often? It’s not a paraphrase – it’s worse! I hope people understand: this is not a translation issue. When you translate, you translate from the Greek or the Hebrew, and you try to give the closest equivalent in English, or whatever language you are translating it into.
But this man, Eugene Peterson, has shoved God’s Word aside. He has put God’s Word away. And he has put his own ideas in and pretends that it is the Word of God.
Then, Rick Warren – this seems to be the favorite one that he quotes in order to support some of the ideas that he wants to present.
Tom: Yeah, and, Dave, you know, he says he quotes over a thousand scripture verses…
Dave: “Nearly a thousand…”
Tom: …”nearly a thousand,” and when you begin to look at not just The Message, but The Living Bible – all these translations that he uses – our concern is that if somebody is using Bibles such as those, they are incredibly subjective; they are not literal translations. They’re very subjective interpretations, as you said, by individuals. So if somebody has this book and believes it’s the Bible, it’s not the Bible! It’s one individual’s – whether it be Kenneth Taylor in The Living Bible or Eugene Peterson in The Message – it’s their interpretation, Dave!
Tom: You can’t be a Berean!
Dave: Right. They’re not even subjective! They have changed the meaning completely, and that is … I will just say it’s wicked to change God’s Word! You dare not touch God’s Word. This is what God has said. And now, they’re putting their own words – and not even following the idea in some cases but literally changing the idea, and it’s a tragedy. I mean, I think it’s a reflection of …why would Rick quote these types of translations – they’re not translations – or paraphrases?
Tom: Right. And, as you said, Dave, this is just one aspect. It’s foundational to our great concerns about the book.
But there are other issues. For example, the first line of…in chapter 1 states, “It is not about you.” In other words, he seems to be recognizing that “self” is a problem and this book is going to be “other-directed.” Now, that would be great, if he was consistent that way. But you find page after page, and, you know, we’re willing to go in…for as much time as we have as we get callers, we’re willing to give you examples of what we’re talking about. But I just want to give our listening audience an idea of what our concerns are.
So on page 20, we find that he says, “To discover your purpose in life, you must turn to God’s Word…” Terrific, right? “…not the world’s wisdom.” We would go for that.
Dave: But he doesn’t turn to it…
Tom: Well… and he goes on to say, “You must build your life on eternal truths, not pop psychology, success-motivation, or inspirational stories.”
Now, Dave, I’ve been through the book three times, as you know, mainly because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t misreading Rick, and obviously, he recommends going through the book a number of times, and I took him up on it. But my point is that what he says, here – I’m sorry! - he contradicts throughout…chapter after chapter throughout the book. We’ll get to some examples of that…
Dave: Well, Tom, let me interrupt.
Dave: “It’s not about you.” But chapter 2 is all about you! And not only all about you but it’s not true about you! For example, he says, “Long before you were conceived [by your parents], you were conceived in the mind of God. God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature; He custom-made your body just the way He wanted it.”
Now, you say that to someone who was born with defects, mental or physical defects. And this is the way God planned that person? No! These defects are the results of the genes of the human race [that] have been all fouled up because of sin, because of disease. This is not the way God planned it.
But further on, “He determined…” Listen to this: “He determined the natural talents you would possess, the uniqueness of your personality.” Now, Tom, I would disagree with that. A person’s personality comes from what they want to be, the kind of a person that they are. You mean if I’m mean and nasty, and that’s my personality, this is just the way God wanted me to be? It simply isn’t true.
Then it gets worse! “He planned the days of your life in advance. He scheduled each day…” Now this is a paraphrase from Psalm:139:16. It doesn’t say this at all. But here’s what the paraphrase says: “You saw me before I was born, and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book.”
Now, this is supposed to be a book about finding your purpose in life, but here it says, “God has already scheduled every day of your life.” So if I have a wreck, or if I make a horrible blunder, or if I’m quarrelsome with my wife – whatever it is – that’s exactly the way God scheduled it! Everything is going to turn out exactly the way God planned it for me? Tom, that is not biblical, it is not rational, it is fatalistic. It’s very discouraging.
Tom: Yeah, and, Dave, as Rick lays these things out, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but you see, time after time, he either reinforces this or, in some cases, he contradicts himself, which leaves you very confused. Let me just go over some of these other things.
The book is loaded with wisdom from the world, even though that’s not what Rick wants, but he peppers it throughout especially with quotes from those who reject biblical salvation. We can go over a number of the quotes that he has in the book, and these people, they don’t understand the biblical gospel, but he nevertheless uses them to reinforce a concept that he might have.
Success motivation - he said it’s not a book about success motivation, but that’s the methodology that we see here. Encouragements accordingly weave their way in and out of the book.
Inspirational stories, we’re told later in the book, are more effective than preaching. So, you know, he’s against inspirational stories, but later that’s what he recommends. Now, just a few other items, and then we’re going to take a break. Dave, so we’re going to address – here are the issues, folks, and if you’d like to call, we’ve got – I’ve got a stack of email questions here, but we want to go to our lines as well.
But here are some of the issues:
We have a distortion of the Scriptures throughout.
We have teachings by Rick that are not biblical.
We have paraphrases used, as you’ve mentioned, Dave.
We have humanism. That’s my main concern – not my main concern, but a real concern about Eugene Peterson’s The Message.
Folks, we may look at a few of his verses that he gives, but if you look at the Bible – no, I hate to call it “the Bible,” –but if you look at The Message itself, it is humanistic from the first page throughout. It’s unbelievable.
We find a determination of fate that he introduces there.
We have doctrinal abuse.
We have a low view of prophecy.
There’s no verse in here – nothing he teaches - with regard to discernment.
And, Dave, finally we have covenants. He talks about making covenants and so on. What about that issue?
And we have S.H.A.P.E. – which is his methodology of how to find your purpose, what you need to go through, how you have to put it together, and so on.
Dave, these are the issues. If some folks out there have some ideas about it or would like to discuss it, we would be happy to talk to you.
Dave, before we go to some of these questions that were sent to us through the Internet, do you have another comment that you want to make?
Dave: I have many comments, but I’ll confine myself to one more. We’re talking about the importance of knowing what God’s Word says and not perverting God’s Word. This is God speaking! Okay? We don’t change that. Now, we call this program Search the Scriptures Daily. Where does that come from? Well, it tells us in Acts:17:11 that the Bereans received the Word of God with all readiness of mind, and they searched the Scriptures daily to see whether what Paul said was true.
But if you don’t have the Scriptures any more, how can you search the Scriptures? I am very concerned about this because of the proliferation of all of these false translations and paraphrases. Very soon we won’t even have the Bible any more. Where are you going to go to find the Bible? And Rick is promoting that sort of thing.
Now, connected with that, Jesus Christ is called the Word of God. He is the Word of God. He comes to judge the world; it’s written on His thigh, and so forth, when He comes in judgment against the Antichrist.
Rick is not fair with Jesus. He humanizes Him. He lowers Him to the level of human beings. Let me give you a quote: page 37, he says, “Living the rest of your life for the glory of God will require a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships, and everything else. It will sometimes mean choosing a difficult path instead of an easy one. Even Jesus struggled with this.” Jesus did not struggle with this!
Now, he goes on, and he says, “Jesus stood at a fork in the road. Would He fulfill His purpose and bring glory to God? Or would He shrink back and live a comfortable, self-centered life?”
I want to say to the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ, He never considered living a comfortable, self-centered life! That was not an option for Him! And this is very demeaning to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, who is God manifest in the flesh.
He goes on, and he says…well, He’s sweating drops of blood in the Garden. It says, “In Jesus’ case, He agonized so much over God’s plan that He sweat drops of blood.”
Jesus was not agonizing over whether He would go through with this, whether He would go to the cross or not. Jesus was asking the Father, “If it’s possible for man to be saved any other way, don’t make me go through with this!”
It’s a very important passage of Scripture that tells us that there is no other way of salvation. The Father said, “No, you have to do this. You have to pay the penalty for man’s sins.” But to make it seem that Jesus was shrinking back from doing God’s will, or that He even had the thought that He would not pay the penalty for our sins, that never entered into His mind!
He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work. I came to do God’s will.” So we have a very serious – well, perversion of Jesus Christ himself.
Tom: And, Dave, as we’ve seen, not only with The Passion of the Christ, but Christians had read that verse and thought, “Oh, well Jesus lived in fear of the physical suffering that He was going to go through.” Not true at all! I mean, we’ve discussed that on programs before.
Let me go to one question at the top of the list here. There are a few like this.
Dave, this person writes: “Why are we always trying to scrutinize so many ministries today? If, as Scripture says, if they believe Jesus is God and came in the flesh, then they belong to Him. No group has it all 100 percent perfect. So are we to shoot down so many or should we just be preaching truth and not trying to detail or figure [out] everything in the Bible?”
Dave: Well, the epistles, almost without exception, were all written to correct error that was already in the church. Acts 20, Paul tells the Ephesian elders, “After my departing, grievous wolves will enter in, not sparing the flock. Of your own selves will men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.”
There’re some very perverse things being taught in the church today by those who claim to believe in God. You want to talk to Mormons? They claim to believe in God. They claim to believe that Jesus died for their sins and so forth. And Paul was so concerned about error being introduced into the church, he tells them - he says, “You know that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one of you night and day with tears.” Now Paul wept and warned with tears, night and day, for three years. Now, I would say that that’s very serious, and we ought to be concerned about it today.
Tom: Dave, I think we’re seeing more of this. I’ll just go to another question just to show – I’m sorry - the mentality that’s out there of those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians. This person writes: “Please relate to us the specific date that God spoke to you telling you to question every process, program, policy, and procedure offered by Christianity. Tell us where you were and what was happening at the time. Will you do that, please?”
Tom: Well, you know, the last time was when I just read that verse that Paul, crying out to the Ephesian elders, the scripture that you just read! This is what we’re to do. You know, I remember, Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, when His disciples asked Him what would be the sign of His coming and so on, and His first words were, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Doesn’t this characterize the day that we’re in, Dave?
Dave: I would say so. Tom, first of all, the person is painting a caricature…
Tom: Of course.
Dave: …as though we sit here, and we’re just looking for some problem…
Tom: Right. But I’m worried about that person, Dave!
Dave: Right. …we’re looking for some problem; we’re trying to nitpick; we’re trying to find something that we can criticize in every possible ministry out there. That is not true! On the other hand, we tell our listeners, I tell the people that I speak to as I travel around the world, in my books, “Do not follow me! Check me out! Check everything out I say.” I don’t care whether it’s the pope in Rome or Billy Graham or whoever it may be…
Tom: A person’s pastor.
Dave: Exactly! You check everyone out from the Bible because the Bible is God’s Word, okay? And a person who claims to be teaching from God’s Word and is not – he’s not true to the Word of God – Paul talks about those who pervert the Word of God, who pervert the gospel; he warns that there will be those who will preach a false gospel. We ought to be concerned about that. So, I’m concerned that there are people who think we shouldn’t be concerned at all.
Tom: Dave, we’ve got a caller. Actually, the phones are all lit up. Gary, who’s our first caller?
Gary: They are. They’re stacked up tonight, Tom. Our first caller is Steven, who’s been on the line for some time calling in this evening from Mountain Home, Idaho. Steven, you’re on the air with Dave and Tom.
Steven: Hi, neighbors! How are you guys going?
Tom: Good, Steven, thanks for your call.
Steven: You’re not far from Mountain Home, really. I have a question about something I was just made aware of yesterday. There was a man named Grant Palmer down in Sandy, Utah, that was being tried for heresy. And, they’ve had some articles in the Ogden Examiner and the Salt Lake Tribune, and some other papers. I haven’t been able to look at them. I was wondering if you guys were aware of Grant Palmer.
Dave: I’ve never heard of him until now.
Tom: Now this man – is tried by who? By the Mormon Church? I missed the first part of that, Steven.
Dave: To whom is he heretical?
Steven: He apparently wrote a book, or he’s been talking about Joseph Smith writing the Book of Mormon…
Dave: Oh, oh yes! Now I recall. Sure. And he is pointing out the errors in the writings of Joseph Smith.
Steven: I don’t know much about it…I haven’t really gotten the benefit of hearing much about it. I was hoping that maybe you guys have heard more.
Dave: Yeah, well, I’ve written about that myself. There are so many errors in Joseph Smith. The man is saying that this was not inspired of God but that Joseph Smith wrote it himself, and he relied very heavily upon the King James Bible, which in fact he did. You have many quotations – entire passages – from the King James Bible in the Book of Mormon, including the “thee”s and “thou”s. And it sounds like – it is, in fact, the King James, and it claims to be the conversations of people about 600 years BC. So the man is simply pointing out what is true - the Book of Mormon is a fraud.
Furthermore, we offer a video – it’s called DNA vs. The Book of Mormon. Now, the Book of Mormon claims that the Native American Indians, North, Central, South America, are Jews. That these hemispheres were not populated at all, and a group of Jews about 600 BC or thereabouts came over from Israel, and they multiplied, and so forth, split into two groups, had many wars, and they became the American Indians.
Now, the book, DNA vs. The Book of Mormon – it simply has geneticists, DNA experts, scientists – and they just tell you over and over, “We have examined the DNA of thousands of Native American Indians, living and dead, North, Central, and South America – there is not a drop of Jewish blood in any of them.” They all came across the Bering Straits from Siberia.
Now, you want to call that number that we’ve been giving you, 800-937-6638, you could order that video from us, I think at a very reasonable price.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, just one item along that line. You have been accused of offending the Mormon people by what you’ve written, and Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Theological Seminary, apologized to the Mormons on your behalf, on Walter Martin’s behalf, and others, that we have abused and misread Mormon theology and the Mormons themselves.
Dave: Right, Richard Mouw wants the evangelicals to join with the Mormons in a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. That’s incredible.
Gary: Be sure and join us next time for Part 2 of this classic presentation. You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon.
We offer many resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our web site at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week.
Until then, we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.