The critique is available in its entirety on our website by clicking on this link: Purpose-Driven Critique
Although Rick Warren seems to the reader to be applying the Scriptures, his preference for paraphrase Bible versions throughout the book is definitely counterproductive to understanding the Word of God. In addition, his encouragement to memorize Scripture verses (normally a good thing), when applied to the paraphrase verses he lists, is not a memorization of God’s Word at all, but rather someone’s subjective interpretation of the Scriptures. That’s not good (p. 11).
Furthering the problem of opening the door to the pantheism (“God is in everything”) of Eastern mysticism, RW quotes Ephesians:4:6 from The New Century Version: “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything”(p. 88). The KJV reads: “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all [i.e., believers].”
RW presents prayer mantras verging on “vain repetitions”: “One way is to use ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians [actually Catholic mystics]have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath: ‘You are with me.’ ‘I receive your grace.’ ‘I’m depending on you.’ ‘I want to know you.’ ‘I belong to you.’ ‘Help me trust you.’ Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart” (p. 89).
On page 90, we have another example of doublespeak. After endorsing catholic mysticism and contemplative meditation techniques, rw confuses the reader by giving a definition of biblical meditation (also on page 190), which is the antithesis of contemplative meditation.
On page 101, RW says, “To ‘worship in truth’ means to worship God as he is truly revealed in the Bible.” While we would agree, sadly, TPDL seems to be prohibiting that for its millions of readers.
RW on various translations and paraphrases: “It is so much easier to offer clichés in worship instead of making the effort to honor God with fresh words and ways. This is why I encourage you to read Scripture in different translations and paraphrases. It will expand your expressions of worship” (p. 104). In addition to the problems with paraphrases already noted, the use of such a “Bible” makes it nearly impossible to be a “Berean” (Acts 17: 10-11) or to recognize sound doctrine. Why? Because it is not a literal translation of the meaning of the words from the Hebrew or Greek but rather an interpretation by an individual of what he believes God is saying. Using The Message for example, you cannot read a verse and say, “This is what God’s Word says.” The best you can say is, “This is what Eugene Peterson says that God’s Word says.” In order to be a Berean (who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what the Apostle Paul was teaching them was true), one would have to have a literal translation of the Bible and compare it with what Peterson wrote.
On page 120, RW says, “Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family; only faith in Christ does that….The only biblical condition is that you believe.” Although what he says is biblically true, nevertheless Purpose-Driven Life seminars for the purpose of growing churches are offered to and held at Roman Catholic Churches whose congregations must believe that Baptism is necessary for their salvation or be condemned to hell. How does he reconcile that? How do they?
RW says, “Relationships must have priority in your life above everything else….God says relationships are what life is all about” (p. 124,125). Jesus took another view of “relationships” in Luke:12:51-53. His truth transcends temporal relationships (John:17:17).
RW quotes Mother Teresa favorably on page 125. Why? She also believed that Baptism and good works were necessary for her to be saved.
Page 137: “You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers.” No. The church is the Body of Christ, of which one becomes a member when he or she is born again.
“God blesses churches that are unified. At Saddleback Church, every member signs a covenant that includes a promise to protect the unity of our fellowship”(p. 167). Will God truly bless a church that requires a member to sign a covenant in contradiction to His Word? (Matthew:5:33-34).
(continued next month)