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.
If you’re new to our program, what we are about is encouraging Christians and those who are honestly seeking after truth to go to the Bible, God’s Word, as their only resource for all things that pertain to life and godliness for the content that will enable them to discern what God says about things vs. what people say and to help them recognize religious teachings and doctrines that are contrary to the Scriptures yet have entered into the church and have seriously undermined the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints. In other words, what is the church buying into, and is it biblical? We address teachings and trends that are influencing Christians and exhort them to be like the Bereans of Acts 17: 10-11, who were commended for searching the Scriptures to whether or not what the Apostle Paul was telling them was true to what God’s Word said.
Now, Dave, that biblical precedent seems to indicate that we are to do the same today. Especially in view of the words of Jesus that the days prior to His return would be characterized by…what? Religious deception…
Tom: And the Apostle Paul telling us that a collective falling away from the faith will take place in the last days.
Dave: Mm-hmm. We certainly are supposed to go to the Bible. Unfortunately, it’s being taken away from us with all of these so-called new translations and paraphrases. You don’t know what the Bible is any more. They’ve changed it.
Tom: So for this program and the next few programs, we’re going to review a book that has been read by more Christians than any other book other than the Bible. The Purpose-Driven Life has to date sold over 15 million copies. And throughout the US the book has been purchased in mass quantities by churches and given out or sold to church members. More than 20,000 churches have participated in “Forty Days of Purpose,” a program featuring The Purpose-Driven Life as its text.
So, Dave, those facts alone make it a book that deserves biblical scrutiny, I think, and at least according to the warnings of Scripture. So what I’d like to do is cover—I don’t know how many chapters we can get into, but we’ll hopefully devote four programs to this, so perhaps we can do around 10 chapters a program, and we want to address Rick Warren’s teaching, giving our perspective on how they relate to what the Word of God says.
And, Dave, I think the place to start with this book would be the Dedication and the supportive Scripture verse taken from Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message.
You have it right in front of you. Why don’t you…
Dave: Well, this is The Message, now, Ephesians:1:11: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.”
Now, that is not even close to what the Bible says, and I find that a tragedy with The Message. And in the back of the book, the Appendix number 3, Rick Warren says, “This book contains nearly 1,000 quotations from Scripture. I have intentionally varied the Bible translations…”
This is not a translation. Eugene Peterson, sadly—and, Tom, I do not understand how any human being would dare to do this. He talks about what a privilege it was for him to write a new version of Scripture. Well, it’s a new version, all right, but it’s not of Scripture, because he has taken God’s Word and cast it aside. And I think that’s a place to begin, before we even get into Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, because when you are promoting ideas and you purport to be backing them up, supporting them, founding them upon Scripture, and you can’t go to the Bible itself, but you have to go to paraphrases and perversions that have really twisted the Bible to make it say something else, then that, from the very beginning, Tom, is a problem.
Tom: Yeah, Dave, to explain this to our listeners, simply what we’re saying here is…rather than going to the Scriptures, you’re going to Eugene Peterson’s interpretation. That’s the reference continually throughout his book.
Dave: Now, Tom, this is a very important thing, so let’s try to explain it up front. This is called “dynamic equivalency.” Now every preacher, I don’t care who it is, he opens the Bible, whether it’s Billy Graham or Robert Schuller…whoever it is, or I myself, we open the Bible, we read some verses, then we tell you what we think God is saying, and how to apply it in daily life, okay? That’s what preaching is.
But, you have the Bible. You can go back and check out what I say, or what Billy Graham says. But, if you don’t even have the Bible, if the man has given you a Bible, which from the very beginning is his ideas of what he thinks God said, then you’ve got nowhere to go to check him out, because he has stacked the deck against you. I hope everyone understands that.
Now what does the Bible say here?
Tom: Well, we’re talking about Ephesians:1:11, and we would invite our listeners, pull out your Bibles, hopefully you have a Bible that is a literal translation, and check us out in this.
Dave: Now, when it says, “In whom [that is, in Christ] we have obtained an inheritance….” Now, let’s stop there for a minute, and, Tom, we’re not going to get very far at this rate, but this is very important. It’s foundational. What is this inheritance that we’ve obtained? It’s salvation; it’s deliverance from our sins and from the penalty of our sins, and a home in heaven. This is what Paul is talking about all through here. Verse 5: “He predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ,” and so forth. It’s talking about “We’re blessed,” verse 3, “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Eugene Peterson has it say this: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are, and what we’re living for.” Well, apparently, here on this earth, and “who I am”? Wait a minute. I’m a wretched, unworthy sinner who’s headed for eternal doom, and I need to be saved. And that’s what Ephesians is about. And you would not get that at all.
Now, notice how Rick Warren ties it in. He begins this little portion, kind of an introduction here, he says, “This book is dedicated to you, because before you were born, God planned this moment in your life.”
Well, you see, that’s fatalism, and you will find that as you get into the book…
Tom: We’re going to cover that…
Dave: Right, it’s absolutely fatalism…
Tom: …in a few chapters here.
Dave: That God even planned your genes and everything else about you. So, in other words, whatever happens to me, or to anyone, God has planned it before they were born.
No! I would say that people are rebels. This is what the Bible says. God didn’t plan that they would rebel. He didn’t plan that the murderer would commit murder. Rather, we’re into Calvinism, now, sadly, because the Calvinist says you can’t do anything that God didn’t first of all decree. Otherwise, God wouldn’t be sovereign, which is the wrong view of sovereignty, and, we have dealt with that.
So, what…he’s backing that up now, with a false interpretation, a false version of the Bible which simple says, “Whatever you are, this is what God planned for you to be.”
But, now, this is the great moment in your life. God planned that you would pick up this book. Well, that’s saying a little bit much, I think, for any author to say, “This book that I have written is something that God from eternity past has wanted you to have in your hands, because it’s going to show you what your purpose in life is. And, by purpose in life, again, he’s talking about on this earth. “It’s no accident you’re holding this book. God longs for you to discover the life He created you to live here on earth and forever in eternity.” We’ll give him credit for throwing that in, which Eugene Peterson doesn’t.
Tom: Dave, also, this is the dedication. We haven’t gotten past the dedication here.
Dave: Right, right.
Tom: But there’s also something, and we would encourage our listeners as we go through this, if they have a copy of The Purpose Driven Life they can track with us. If they’re defending it in any way, or think maybe we’re a little bit out of line, well, track with us through this, as we go through chapter after chapter.
Now, he begins by saying, “This book is dedicated to you. Before you were born…this moment in your life,” and so on.
Now, there is a humanistic side to this book that I think comes out page, after page, after page, even though in some cases Rick denies that.
He said, “No, it’s not about you, this is about God.” But honestly, we’ll see. Certainly by using Eugene Peterson’s The Message, which is humanistic from the first page and on through the book, which we’ll demonstrate, as we quote many of his scripture verses.
Dave: Tom, another observation: again, look, we are not trying to be critical. We are concerned about errors that have come into the church in these last days in which we live. Okay?
Now, this is, you said, humanistic. This is very much like positive mental attitude training…success motivational training. Find out who you really are…how you can become successful in what you ought to be…and so forth. But now he’s bringing God in. God has planned this. And this is the purpose that God has…and so forth. But what it really amounts to is a success manual.
Dave: This is how you can find out your key to success. Okay?
Tom: Dave, just let me add this. Later in the book you will find phrases or sentences that Rick writes that reject that. He rejects success motivation. He rejects pop psychology. Yet, throughout the book you find this over and over again and over again. So that’s what’s confusing to a lot of people. And we will demonstrate that as we go through.
And Dave, I agree with you, that we’re not trying to be critical just because this is popular. On the other hand, 15 million sold. There are a lot of lives that are affected by this and all we’re asking people to do is go—you know if they’ve got the book, if they’ve been through it once, start it again and question some things here. Be like the Bereans. See if these things are according to the Scripture or not.
Dave: The Bible is our authority. Now, we’ve got another authority; we’ve got another proof of the validity of something by the success that it produces.
Tom: With a book that’s so popular as this, and with a program such as Forty Days of Purpose, where whole churches have coordinated their Sunday school, their Bible studies, their main services to go through this book. So, I think we’re entitled to challenge some things here, and again, people need to check out what we say either by going through the book or checking out what we’re saying by the Word of God.
Dave, let’s go to page 11, and he makes a statement here, Rick Warren says, “Real spiritual growth is never an isolated, individualistic pursuit. Maturity is produced through relationships and community.”
Is that true?
Dave: I don’t know where he got that. You read the Psalms. For example Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; in His law doth he meditate day and night.”
There’s nothing about groups. There’s nothing about relationships and community. This is about a man who is being led of God.
David, by the way, was a man after God’s own heart. He was very much isolated. His brothers despised him. His father apparently felt pretty much the same about him. They gave him the menial tasks. If you’re going to talk about a group and community, well, he had some sheep. That was where he spent his time meditating on God. He talks about meditating on God in the night watches, lying in his bed and thinking.
Dave: So, he’s got some ideas here Tom, that sound good to people…they’re appealing…there maybe some value, of course. We need to have fellowship with other people, but this is not the way we arrive at spiritual maturity. That’s in a relationship with God and through His Word.
Tom: Dave, right after that sentence, he says, “The best way to explain God’s purpose for your life is to allow the Scripture to speak for itself….”
Tom: But his book is a contradiction of that, isn’t it?
Dave: Well, he says so in this book. “The Bible is quoted extensively using over 1000 different verses from 15 English translations and paraphrases.” But we just pointed out, and we could give you many other examples, from Eugene Peterson’s The Message, which is the main one—I think he quotes that or uses it—
Tom: Right, the greater percentage of the verses.
Tom: But the other ones are either—I think only once or twice does he quote the King James or the New American Standard, which are literal translations. But most of them are dynamic equivalents, as you mentioned earlier, or paraphrases.
Tom: On page 13, right here we have a covenant. Rick says, “Let’s sign a covenant together. Commit yourself to this book. There is something significant about signing your name to a commitment. If you get a partner to read through this with you, have him or her sign it too. Let’s get started together.”
The covenant says, “With God’s help, I commit the next 40 days of my life to discovering God’s purpose for my life.” And you sign your name, your partner’s name and Rick has his name here. I mean, is that right?
Dave: Well, Tom, I think again, it’s rather audacious for a person to write a book and say, “You follow this book for 40 days and at the end of that time you will have discovered God’s purpose for your life.”
Now, God may have many purposes for my life. Life is not simplistic. I think of Proverbs:16:9, where the Scripture says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”
God directs us a step at a time. Life may take many twists and turns that are unimaginable to us. But, God knows ahead of time, of course, but He only leads us a step at a time. And to say, “You’re going to find the purpose of your life—well, you could do that very quickly. The purpose of every human life is to glorify God; to live for Him; to serve Him. But, now, he’s going to lead you more specifically. You’re going to somehow get direction for your entire life through reading this book.
A) It’s not biblical. B) It’s not rational. C) It’s a little bit overstating, I would say….
Dave: …The value of what the author has done. The author himself is saying, “This is what this book will do for you.”
Tom: Going back to the point of a covenant, Dave. Number one, how do you sign a covenant with an author that has his name imprinted in here? It’s a little bit absurd it seems to me.
But, secondly, and I think more importantly, let’s say in all sincerity and honesty I want to make a covenant with Rick and I want to sign my name, yet somehow I break that covenant. Are we to sign covenants as Christians?
Dave: (Chuckling) We have a covenant with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. It’s called the New Covenant and the covenant that God made was our redemption through the blood of Christ. We’ve become children of God through faith in Christ. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is going to lead us and guide us through His Word. Jesus said in the temptation in the wilderness, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Now, I’m sorry, but, Tom, Rick has violated that by this very book. He’s not giving us God’s Word. He’s giving us, as we’ve said, and I don’t want to hammer away on this, but Eugene Peterson’s—and I will not apologize for saying this—is an absolute perversion of what God has said. He changes what God says in many, many places. And, yet, Rick Warren doesn’t seem aware of that. He’s using that perversion to support what he says.
So, we’re not even getting the Bible, but the Bible says, Psalm 1 again, “…In his law doth he meditate day and night…”, Psalm:119:9, “Wherewithall shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Jeremiah:15:16, Jeremiah says, “Thy words were found and I did eat them. They were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
So the Bible itself would direct us to the Bible; to the Word of God. This is to be our meditation. This is to be our life.
But on the contrary, Tom, we have—and I don’t think Rick would deny this…and I’m not trying to criticize the man. I think he loves the Lord, and he really thought when he wrote this that he was doing something that would be helpful. But where does he get his main ideas? It’s from humanistic techniques in the world. Management techniques—how to manage your life, how to be successful, and so forth. And that’s not what the Bible is all about. The Bible is about getting in touch with God; being led of His Holy Spirit through His Word and somehow we’re not getting that.
Tom: Dave, on page 15 we have another quotation from The Message. This is supposed to be Proverbs:11:28. Peterson writes, “A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”
Dave: Well, that’s Proverbs:11:28 so he says.
Tom: It’s supposed to be.
Dave: Let me quote Proverbs:11:28….“He that trusteth in his riches shall fall. But the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”
Now he does have a “flourishing tree” in there, but he’s changed it around considerably, and he’s giving you his idea of what he thinks God really meant.
Tom: Yeah, somehow his poetry transcends God’s literal truth…time and time again.
Dave: Tom, I hope people are not thinking…well, turn this program off--I mean these guys are so critical, they’re so narrow minded and dogmatic…
Tom, the Word of God is my life. “I am born again by the Word of God,” Peter said, “And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
And that’s another great disappointment, because this book is written for non-Christians, as well as for Christians. And I don’t—you’ve done research on this Tom, you could probably name—what do you have an NBA team or an NFL team, you’ve got business…
Tom: Coca-Cola, Walmart, NASCAR, the President’s staff, the Oakland Raider’s football team…
Dave: Yeah, so I mean, these are not Christian organizations, but they love this book. It reminds me, Tom, I’ve said so many times on this program, I won’t say it again, but I can prove that God exists by who he sits me next to on airplanes.
He sits me next to a young woman on a plane…I think she was in her thirties. And how does Rick Warren’s book come up? Well, there was somebody standing there in the aisle, and he’s holding…he’s going to his seat, and he’s got The Purpose Driven Life. She says, “Oh, Purpose Driven Life, that’s a great book, isn’t it?” As far as I could tell from talking with this guy a little bit, he’s not a Christian. She’s not a Christian. She’s a Catholic, but disillusioned. Now, Tom, I can tell you, as the Lord gave me the opportunity and I presented the gospel to her, I could see the lights going on in her eyes. Her heart was opened. I think she really believed. I didn’t try to get her to pray, but she really was believing the gospel! And it was like nothing she’d ever heard! But, here was a woman who had read The Purpose Driven Life…thought it was great…she’s a businesswoman. You can apply these principles…
Dave: …In the business world. They love it, it’s a best seller. But it’s not bringing people to Christ, unfortunately, because it’s not—well, they may say they’ve come to Christ, but Tom, you read this book—I went through it very carefully, I could not find the gospel in here.
Tom: Dave, the closest thing to the gospel is in Chapter 7. Obviously, we’re not going to get to it in this program, but next week we will, and we’re going to over these specific things to demonstrate to people that this book deserves some real scrutiny on their part. If they’ve bought into it, if they’ve been a part of Forty Days of Purpose and so on…we’re just asking them to review what they’ve been through. See if it does square with the Word of God. I don’t believe it does.
Dave: Well, unfortunately, it can’t, because here we have the next chapter, page 17, well actually Chapter 1. It all starts with God and he’s quoting Colossians:1:16, supposedly from The Message again, “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, (and that’s an occultic expression…”above and below,” but anyway, that’s not what the Bible says) visible and invisible,…everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.
Well, that simply isn’t true. Things didn’t get started in Him. He is the Creator—a big difference between saying things got started—I started a corporation, or I started a, you know, this or that. No! God is the Creator and everything is not finding its fulfillment in Him, because it’s in rebellion against God.
Tom, we’re just getting so many false ideas.
Dave: And he calls this the Bible…supporting what he’s saying.
Tom: Yeah. And, again, our cry here…our prayer, really, is to encourage people to be more discerning. So many people bought into this. So many people had this imposed upon them by their pastors in their churches. So many programs in churches use this book now, not only once, Dave, but some churches are doing Forty Days of Purpose again and again. Now, something’s wrong here.