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 two weeks, in this segment of our program, we have been reviewing Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. And, I said last week that the book sold upwards of 15,000,000 copies, but I recently learned that the “upwards” has reached the 20,000,000 mark. Thirty thousand churches, so far, have participated in 40 Days of Purpose; many churches are gearing up for, in 2005, 40 Days of Community. Close to a half-million pastors and church leaders have attended Purpose Driven seminars and programs. And, Dave, based on our mail, there are a number of people who are upset that we have been biblically critiquing The Purpose Driven Life, claiming that we’re going against something that God has ordained to bring both the lost into the church and revival among complacent believers. That certainly raises the question that we’re concerned about—that we’re going to cover today, “The Presentation of the Gospel” in the book. Is it a seeker-friendly gospel? Meaning an attempt to make the gospel attractive to the world, thereby altering it? Or, does the book present the gospel of Christ that the Apostle Paul declared and preached and by which he said we are saved? What do you think?
Dave: Well, Tom, I guess that’s what we’ll discuss. On the one hand, we are very reluctant to be critical. We’ve been criticized for being critical. We have to be very careful that we are not just disagreeing with someone for disagreement’s sake.
Dave: When you are in a ministry of correction, and this is a hazard…and I see it among various people have taken on such a ministry. That’s not our whole ministry. We want to edify the body of Christ. We want to lead people to Christ. So, we don’t just major on criticizing people.
However, I think that I should be held accountable, you should be held accountable, to go by the Bible. That’s why we call our program Search the Scriptures Daily. As we’ve often said, if the Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures to check Paul, then I think we should be commended for searching the Scriptures to check Rick Warren.
Tom: And others should be commended for checking us out.
Dave: Anyone else, right. Yes, please check us out.
Dave: And we would not consider it an attack. We would consider it a grace from God, if you will correct us from the Word of God and show us where we are leading people astray.
Now, Rick Warren should be held to the same standard, and particularly, in view of the fact that in his book The Purpose Driven Life, at the end of it, he says he quotes the Bible nearly a thousand times.
Now, we’ve mentioned it in the past. It’s not exactly the Bible that he quotes. He’s quoting some…I’m sorry to say…perversions of the Bible, which many Christians don’t seem to recognize, because they don’t know the Bible…and they are very popular. I was just speaking at a church…a very sound church…I thought. I had never been there before, and I was really pleased to see what they were teaching and the attitude of the people seemed to be very biblical. And yet…judging by their bookstore…I was told that many of them…of the people in that congregation…in spite of the good teaching…love The Message. And that is in spite of the fact that the bookstore will not stock it. Now, The Message is by Eugene Peterson.
Dave: It’s not a translation.
Tom: A paraphrase.
Dave: No. He’s not taking this from the Greek and Hebrew, but he is actually…and we’ve mentioned this before, so we won’t go into it in detail…but he dares to push God’s Word aside…put his own words in the place of God’s Word.
Tom: Yeah, this is an individual interpretation.
Dave: Interpretation, yeah, Tom, it actually contradicts…he actually contradicts the Bible…
Dave:…in many places. Now, that is a major source of Rick Warren’s support for the ideas that he presents.
Tom: Yeah, Dave, it’s not only The Message, but there are many other paraphrases, there are many other Bibles that are dynamic equivalents; very few, rarely, does he use literal translations. And that’s a great concern.
Dave: Yeah, particularly in view of the fact that he uses so-called translations or paraphrases that literally contradict the Bible. Change the meaning of it. Just…for example, on page 32, he quotes from a paraphrase, Isaiah:26:3, “You Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.”
Now, one of his major teachings is you’ve got to recognize you have a purpose for living. Tom, there are serious contradictions right at the very beginning. Because he tells you…well, let me quote it: He says (I’m on page 22), “God prescribed every single detail of your body, your race, the color of your skin, your hair, every other feature,” and so forth. And then he quotes, he says, “The Bible says, ‘…You scheduled each day of my life before I began to breath.’” And then he goes on…he says, “God also planned where you’d be born, and where you’d live for his purpose. God left no detail to chance,” and so forth. “All…even your DNA and everything.”
Now, this is fatalism. And furthermore, it contradicts—I’m just being rational…it contradicts the very book that he wrote. Why must we spend 40 days to find the purpose of our life if God already has determined the purpose of my life?
And every day, God has scheduled. Then what do I have to learn? And what role do I have to play in this, if God scheduled everything and it’s going to happen exactly the way He scheduled it to be? Then what is the point of this whole book?
Now, he says…on page 30…he says, “Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life.” Well, yeah, but…but yet, he says, “That purpose has already been planned.” Every day of my life is planned. Why should I even have to know the purpose? Why should I spend 40 days to find out the purpose?
And then−what I was going to say…he quotes Isaiah:26:3. But it’s not a quotation, and let me say it again, “You Lord give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.”
In fact, the word purpose is not in that verse. It has nothing to do with me keeping my purpose firm. But you see, that’s what Rick is writing about and therefore, he goes to a perverted paraphrase that has that word in there that he wants to use. Let me quote what Isaiah:26:3 says, and everybody knows this verse: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.” My mind is intent upon knowing God…loving Him and serving Him. He is the object of my thoughts…my reflection. It has nothing to do with me keeping my purpose firm.
Now, he says that we’ve got to learn our purpose, and we’ve got to establish it, and we’ve got to set out to do it, and so forth.
Dave: Tom, that is not what the Bible teaches.
Tom: Dave, there is a pattern of this throughout the book. It’s not just this example that you gave….
Dave: Oh, there are many of them.
Tom: Or two examples. When Rick comes up with a concept, and the concept involves the Word, whether it be purpose, or whether it be smile…God smiling, or God being your friend, it seems as though he’s trying to find out in some translation somewhere, what verse that he can use with that particular word in it that will support his position and seem to give biblical support.
Tom: Now, the concern that we have here is that when you’re looking at this verse that says “The Bible says,” there’s a footnote indicated…not the translation itself. You have to go to the footnote, then go to the back of the book, look up the footnote, and decide what it is. So, it’s a bit of a problem for anybody wondering, “Well, that doesn’t sound like it’s in the Bible,” or “It does sound…I wonder where that is.” They have to do some basically some legwork to find out.
Now, that happens, again, continually through the book. So, it’s not a matter of just one little offbeat thing here, or there.
Dave: You see, Tom, if I’m teaching from God’s Word, (chuckling)…and I’ve been criticized, for example, they’ll say, “Well, Dave, you don’t know the original Greek and Hebrew.” Well, I compare Scripture with Scripture. I can go to my concordance; I can go on my computer and I do, and I see where was this same word used elsewhere? Because the translators are not 100 percent accurate. There are different meanings to words, okay? So, I should be careful, and I am careful. I want to know: is this the right translation? Is this really what God intended? Is this really what God said?
Rick, on the contrary—and it grieves me to say this, but you explained it very well—he is not primarily interested in accuracy. He doesn’t seem to care exactly what God said. What is the accuracy of this translation? So, that I know that this is what God said. But on the contrary, he must be searching through these many paraphrases and so forth, in order to find one that justifies what he wants to say.
For example, one of his foundational teachings is venues. He says that they use different venues. I think, how many do they have now?
Tom: I think around eight.
Tom: Now, this is not in The Purpose Driven Life.
Tom: This a presentation from his church, Saddleback…
Tom: …Community Church.
Dave: Right, but this is foundation to what he teaches. They have eight different venues. What are they?
Well, they have different styles of music and of worship in various places. And then he says, “Well, this is exactly what the apostles did.” And he takes a quotation from the NIV. Now, you would think that would be a reliable translation. It talks about temple courts. Well, I have searched, and you can verify this, Tom, I hope. I cannot find any translation, anywhere that introduces the word courts in that verse. It isn’t there. Every translation, including his favorite one, The Message, simply says they were in the temple daily.
Now, he’s found a translation that is not a translation, the word courts is not in the Greek. They inserted that in the NIV, unfortunately. But he found one, out of I don’t know how many dozen. All the rest of them disagree with this. And then, he emphasized the s at the end. Not only isn’t courts there, the s isn’t there. The word court isn’t even there. But now, he’s going to build on that. And he says, “You see, there were different courts, and they met—these were different venues.”
Now, the courts. There were four courts. There was the priests’ court. There were the men’s and the women’s and the Gentiles’. These were different places where different kinds of people met. They were not divided up on the basis of styles of music and worship. So, it simply is not honest. I’m sorry. To take that verse that you can only find in one translation, and then make something out of it that justifies the fact that he has these eight venues, so-called, different styles, and in fact, he says, “We’re going to have probably 30 or more. What do you like? What kind of music do you like?” and so forth. And, then, he even goes to Acts 13, where it says, “The whole city came together,” you know, to hear Paul and Barnabas. And he says, “Well, how would they all get together? Why, how are we going to get all these people together, you know, that we want to gather?”
Tom: Right, in Southern Orange County.
Dave: Yeah, “We’re going to use different venues, just like the apostles did.”
No, read it! It’s very clear that the whole city came together in one place. Paul was the only man preaching. He wasn’t running around preaching in different locations. He was preaching to them all in one location.
Furthermore, what was the basis of it? They came together because of what Paul was teaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t come together because of the style of music. There wasn’t even any music at all. So, Tom, it really concerns me that he would try to make the Bible say what he wants to say in order to put his own ideas across.
Tom: Dave, we’re not trying to hold Rick Warren’s feet to the coals here. We’re trying to hold him…as a preacher of the gospel—the guy’s got a Baptist background, you know, fundamental, evangelical, or you know, that’s what you would assume. All we’re trying to do is hold him to the Word of God. Handle it correctly; teach it accurately, because he is the…right now…he’s the most influential evangelical, probably in the world today.
Dave: Yes, I would say so.
Tom: Well, Dave….
Dave: That gives him a big responsibility.
Tom: Absolutely! And it’s also our concern for pastors out there, members of churches who are not being discerning. We’re not saying, “Be cynical here, but a healthy skepticism about what they’re hearing. Again, Dave, you mentioned it at front of the program. The Bereans were commended because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what the Apostle Paul was saying…. That’s our encouragement here.
Now, the heart of this is the gospel. You know, at the end of the book, Rick talks about this is part of your shape. We’re not going to get into that this week, but we will in the next few weeks. But the mission for your purpose is to present the gospel.
Tom: So, if that is the main mission of our purpose, does he present the gospel? Is he explaining the gospel so that somebody who could say the prayer…he has a prayer in here that a person can say…is that explaining the gospel? Is that enough to equip somebody for their mission?
Dave: Well, Tom, you have gone through the book several times, studying it very carefully. And….
Tom: Because I’m concerned.
Dave: Right, right. Sure, right.
Tom: Not just to look for hair-splitting kinds of things.
Dave: Well, why are we concerned? Because 20,000,000 copies of the book sold, several hundred thousand churches have gone through this program, and so forth. So, I think that is good reason to examine it rather carefully.
Dave: And, Tom, you have, on two pages, you have laid out every place you could find where the gospel is presented. The gospel is presented in bits and pieces, here and there It’s not all in one place. I don’t think he ever explains, really, who Jesus Christ is, but he says you’re supposed to believe in Jesus.
Tom: Right. Dave, you know, as you said, there are things that relate to the gospel throughout the book. But for somebody to really understand…it’s almost like an altar call. If you look in chapter seven, and you look at what he presents there. I’m really asking you, but also our audience here. This is…you would hear this sometimes in churches with regard to “pray the sinner’s prayer and have somebody come forward,” but I find nowhere in the book and explanation of sin, an explanation of why we need a Savior….
Tom: None of that is there.
Dave: Mmhmm. Well, Tom, that is one concern. Maybe before we even get to that…I went through the book to see what is the foundation for this. Because I noticed that your first reference to the gospel is on page 37.
Dave: And it says, “While life on earth offers many choices, eternity offers only two: heaven or hell. Your relationship to God on earth will determine your relationship to him in eternity. If you learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him.”
Now, again, Tom, we’ve got a problem. See, this is page 37. The person has already been told that every moment of his life is planned. That God created him for a purpose. I think this could kind of go right over someone’s head. “Well, what do you mean, I have a choice to make?” Well, it’s all been worked out ahead of time. I’m exactly what God wanted me to be, even my DNA and everything. And furthermore, as you said, it doesn’t explain very much here at this point. Now….
Tom: Actually, it’s a little misleading, Dave. That first statement—it almost looks like there’s something that I have to work on and develop with regard to “your relationship to God on earth will determine your relationship to Him in eternity.” Is that the gospel?
Dave: Not quite, Tom, it’s very close you see.
Tom: And many evangelicals would read into that….
Dave: Yeah, right.
Tom: …And say, “ Well, yes, of course, our relationship with Jesus. That’s what it’s all about.” But for somebody who doesn’t know the Lord…doesn’t understand the Word of God…it’s a problem.
Dave: Yeah, see, Tom, you can look at it in two ways. A person who knows the gospel would realize by relationship you mean whether you have received Christ as your Savior and Lord; whether you have been born-again and become a child of God. That is the relationship that is established by God, by His grace, because of our faith in Christ as the one who died for our sins. And it was God, who came to this earth as a man, and so forth.
Tom: Paid a penalty.
Tom: The infinite penalty….
Tom: …that we could never pay.
Dave: But you could also look at it…and I think probably most of the people—because many unsaved people are reading this book…I mentioned last week, or the week before—and sitting next to a young lady on the airplane…she loved this book. The man standing in the aisle…he loved the book. She didn’t have a clue about the gospel. She thought it was a success manual. And, so, my relationship to God, you could think that that means…you know, how I’m living…what kind of a person I am…and whether I’m accepting this purpose….
Tom: Following the golden rule.
Dave: …That God has for me, He has this purpose, but before that, Tom—we’ll have to come back and talk about this, I guess. Prior to that time, the reader has been told a number of things that set the stage…that set the framework, that set the framework in which he will understand this gospel…whatever it is, that follows.
Tom: Which is critical to a person’s purpose, according to Rick Warren.
Dave: Well, it begins. You know—my covenant, and you make a covenant. “With God’s help I commit the next 40 days of my life to discovering God’s purpose for my life.” Now, he’s going to tell you that purpose has already been established. You can’t change that purpose. God has decreed it. So, you’re only out to understand what this purpose is. So, I don’t see how you can think well, I have to receive Christ. I have to enter into this relationship.
Dave: This is something God….
Tom: Dave, why sign a covenant?
Dave: …has already planned.
Tom: Why sign a covenant if God has already planned it?
Dave: That’s right, and what part does Rick Warren have in that? It’s quite audacious to promise the next 40 days—this is page 10—will transform your life. Then he quotes the Bible. He says, “The Bible says, ‘Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do.’”
Well, again, so, this is a success-motivation book. [There are] plenty of books that tell you how to change your life by changing your thinking. So how do we distinguish that?
He says, “As I wrote this book, I often prayed you would experience the incredible sense of hope, energy, and joy that comes from discovering what God put you on this planet to do.”
So, it’s not that I have to turn from my sin….
Dave: …to Christ, that I have to repent, that I have to become a child of God. This is not what the gospel is about, but it’s discovering the purpose that God put me on the planet to do. And now He’s already planned that. It’s going to happen no matter what I do. But it would be a lot nicer and I’ll be happier and have more energy about this, if I begin to understand, discover…and so that’s what this book is about. It’s going to help me discover the purpose that God already had for me.
Now, when the gospel, then…to whatever extent it is presented, Tom, if it were even presented powerfully—and it’s presented rather weakly in bits and pieces here and there. I’m an unsaved person let’s say. I’m going to understand what comes later by what he has said before. He has set me up—he’s set the framework within which I will comprehend what he’s talking about.
Dave: And I think it’s a very misleading framework.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, the other thing is—we’re going to come back to this next week. We’re going to pick up right here, but, you know, when Rick says that this book has gone beyond just for the church—that there are corporations that are excited about this and so on—that’s really reinforcing what you just said. There is a mindset about this book that sees it as self-help; that sees it as a how-to book; that sees it as a success in management—whatever it might be. And where are these people getting that, except they’re not understanding what Rick says he’s trying to present? And that is Jesus Christ, the gospel, your mission and your purpose.
Somehow this is going awry. And it’s influencing millions of people.
Dave: And that’s what we want to discuss in these programs.