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.
Now if you’re a first-time listener, we’re currently going through Rick Warren’s record-breaking, best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life. It’s been on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly 100 weeks and at more that 20 million copies in print, it is the best selling non-fiction book in American history.
The book is foundational to a church-growth program developed by Rick Warren and Saddleback Church, where he is the pastor, and more than 30,000 churches have participated in the book-based programs called 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community. So, Dave, I can’t think of anything in my quarter-of-a-century-plus years as a Christian that’s had as quick and far-reaching an influence. Can you think of anything?
Dave: No, I can’t. This is really a phenomenon, unprecedented, amazing!
Tom: Yeah. Therefore, we’ve been spending…you know, here on this program, and many of the things that we’ve written; we’ve been spending some time considering the book in the light of Scripture, as the Scriptures themselves instruct us to. Isaiah:8:20 says, “To the law and the testimony, if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” And, of course, a theme verse for our ministry, The Berean Call, Acts:17:11, “These were more noble than those from Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Dave: So, Tom, whatever he presents, which is from the Word of God, we receive it, with a ready mind, happy for it. But, as we’ve pointed out numerous times, when he presents what he says is the Word of God, in fact, very often, it is not the Word of God. It is a paraphrase that perverts the Word of God and that’s a basic problem that we encounter. I mean, every time I look up—I have to look up—the quotations that he supposedly gives us from the Scriptures to support what he’s saying, because when I look them up, so often—not always, but so often—more than not, it’s not the Bible at all, but it’s someone’s idea of what they think the Bible should have said and then they put it into their own words.
Tom: Right. You know, and part of the problem for the casual reader…or somebody who just goes through it without really checking things out, it’s a difficult thing to do. The verse is given—you never know from just reading on that page what verse it is. There’s a footnote. Then you have to go to the back of the book, figure out what the footnote refers to, and then, what version he’s actually quoting. And, then, as you said, Dave, most of the versions are paraphrases—dynamic equivalents. So, you have to go to a literal translation to see, in effect, what the Word of God indeed says, and how the two compare.
Dave: Right, right.
Tom: So, it’s not easy. The other thing about this, Dave, is again, the book is highly influential. We’re talking about 30,000, as I mentioned…30,000 churches going through 40 Days of Purpose and so on, but we have close to 300,000 pastors and church leaders who have been through Rick’s seminars, church growth seminars, related to this. So….
Dave: And, Tom, in addition, how many pastors preach his sermons every Sunday?
Tom: Right. Well, again, that’s part of the influence that Saddleback has and this whole church growth development has had throughout the church. So, that’s why we’re taking the time to go through it, trying to be careful, trying to be fair, Dave. And, again, not nit-picking. We talked about this on our live program and on our other programs. The issues are critical. For example, as you’ve been mentioning, the predominate use of paraphrased Bible versions is presented as Scripture throughout the book.
Tom: You would think pastors would recognize that. The continual misrepresentation of Scriptures by contextual, and really, exegetical abuse. In other words, Rick cites a verse that you have to look up, and when you find the verse, you find his use of it takes it out of context, even among the paraphrases. That’s not what even the paraphrases are saying. So that’s a problem.
The introduction of humanistic—that is self-oriented or self-esteem-building ideas throughout, primarily through the use of The Message as a paraphrase version. And then, he also introduces numerous psychotherapeutic concepts in it. So, these are just some of the things that we’ve been addressing, and we don’t think they’re minor issues at all.
Tom: Dave, the issue we’re going to talk about today—which is a central theme of the book….
Tom: …he calls it an acrostic, or an acronym, and it’s SHAPE, S-H-A-P-E. And each letter stands for something that, as he would say, shapes us for ministry.
The first thing would be the “Spiritual gifts.” The second thing would be our “Heart” in what we do. The third thing would be our “Abilities,” “A” for abilities. “P” would be “Personality”—how that affects our ministry—our work in ministry. And, lastly, “E,” for “Experiences,” how the experience that we have throughout life helps us with regard to ministry. This is a methodology, Dave, as you know. And most of it is problematic—not biblical at all. But go ahead.
Dave: Well, of course, he would try to tell us that our personality is exactly what God wanted it to be. And we dealt with that. I don’t think a person who is angry, or selfish, or stingy, or mean—that’s the way they have shaped themselves. That is not the way God shaped them. But let’s just look the way the chapter opens. He says, on page 235, “God carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you. David praised God for this incredible personal attention to detail.” And then he quotes from the New Living Translation, Psalm:139:13-14—it’s a rather free translation. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous.”
Well, let’s see what the Bible actually says, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou has covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
Now, actually, what the Bible is saying is God is the Creator. He created Adam and Eve. But God did not create every person who was descended from Adam and Eve. We are not God’s special creation. Now, “he creates us in Christ Jesus unto good works.” That’s a spiritual matter. But He didn’t create me physically. He created Adam and Eve perfect. They sinned. That brought a whole history of evil, sin, disease, [and] corruption in the human race. So, the psalmist is not saying, “The genes of my body, every detail about me, are exactly what you wanted it to be.”
Now, we take what God has given us. I mean, we recognize that God allowed us to be what we are, but this is not what He made us—guided everything about us—physically, I’m referring to.
And, then, it goes on, it gets a little bit worse. Psalm:139:16, he says, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed,” Psalm:139:16. Well, he has tried to tell us that our life is all planned ahead of time. What it really is saying—let me read the Scripture here, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
It’s not talking about the days of my life. It’s not saying every detail of my life has been planned and it’s all written out in advance. This is fatalism. This is predestination to the max. It’s simply saying that the way my body is put together has been formed by the DNA, by something that God created. But “every day of my life”? it doesn’t say “every day of my life.” It says, “My members—the members of my body.”
So, even this Living Translation—the New Living Translation is wrong. It’s taken liberties with the Bible.
Dave: And then Rick is using that to support his ideas.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Going through SHAPE—I’d like to see it in this program, we’ve got about 15 minutes left in this segment. But S-H-A-P-E—SHAPE again, the spiritual gifts—this is what Rick says on page 237: “Believers are commanded….” I’m quoting, “…commanded to discover and develop their spiritual gifts. Have you taken the time to discover and develop your spiritual gifts?” I don’t find that in the Scripture, Dave.
Dave: Well, Tom, it’s a common idea. It was taught by Campus Crusade, I can remember many years ago, and it’s been taught by many others, that when you get saved, God gives you a spiritual gift. And, now it is up to you to find out what that spiritual gift is.
Tom: He does give us gifts, right?
Dave: Yes, but that is not in the Bible that we each have one spiritual gift, now….
Dave: …let’s find out what it is.
Dave: Because the Scripture clearly says [in] 1 Corinthians 12, the end of it, “Seek earnestly the best gifts.” So, apparently, we can aspire to various gifts from God. It’s not that He has already given us a gift, and now we’ve got to find out what it is. That undermines this entire thesis that…
Dave: …Rick is presenting.
Tom: And, in this—we don’t have a chance to get into all it—but there are processes as you go through. You ask people, you try to discover them. Then you try to develop them, over and over again. This is a major part of developing you SHAPE. Your SHAPE is the things that you need to be effective, or that you already have, to be effective for the edification of the body and so on. So…
Dave: Tom, let me interrupt you again.
Dave: Right on that point—just to show how he finds a paraphrase which seems to support what he’s saying, and then he uses it, but it’s not what the Bible says. For example, he quotes from Today’s English Version. This is 1 Corinthians:2:14: “The Bible says, ‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Now what is it talking about? You go back, in the context, and you find that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, (He’s talking about the teachings)….” “Even the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. We’ve received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God that we might know or understand the things that are freely given to us of God.”
It’s talking about spiritual guidance and teaching and understanding the Word of God. It is not talking about some spiritual gift. But then he quotes from Today’s English Version, “Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit.”
It’s not talking about spiritual gifts in this context.
Dave: So again, we’ve taken an erroneous paraphrase to support what we’re trying to say—that is, Rick has. But, it’s not right; it’s not biblical.
Now let’s go to the Bible and let’s see what it teaches, let’s not impose upon the Bible what we want it to say.
Tom: Now the second part, the “H” in SHAPE is “Heart.” Rick writes—now, I’m quoting on page 238, “God had a purpose in giving you these inborn interests. You see, your heart was the passion that we have for things”— that’s why he throws “heart” in there. “Your emotional heartbeat is the second key to understanding your SHAPE for service,” Dave.
So, my question is: “inborn interests?” It’s a fascinating idea, but how factual can that be? The interests that I’ve developed through my life, were they all inborn—the so-called talents that I have? I mean, my kids have terrific running abilities, you know, all five of them. And I don’t (laughing), okay? But my point is, they developed that.
Dave: But Tom, that’s a physical thing.
Tom: Of course.
Dave: But, you must even develop physical things. But to say that you have inborn interests simply isn’t true. It’s not scientifically true. And it’s not stated in the Bible. Interests are developed. But, now, Tom, we’ve got a really serious problem here. I want my heart to change. I want my heart to be won by the Lord. I want to love Him with all my heart.
“My son, give me thine heart.” When the Bible talks about the heart—willingly from the heart—it’s something that I surrender to God. It has nothing to do with some inborn passion. Suppose I don’t have an inborn passion for God. Suppose I don’t have an inborn passion to please God, or to serve God. So, Tom, I’m sorry, I don’t want to nit-pick or split hairs.
Tom: Dave, this isn’t nit-picking. This is foundational to Rick’s thesis, okay? On page 239 he writes, “The second characteristic of serving God from your heart is effectiveness.” In other words, because you have a heart for something you’re going to do it well. He writes, “Whenever you do what God wired you to love to do, you get good at it. Passion drives perfection.”
Dave: Tom, I’m sorry, I have very serious problems with this. God wired me to love certain things. So if I love sin, God wired me to love sin. If I love other women, I guess God wired me to love other women.
Tom: Well, you know where he’s trying to take it, but it still doesn’t hold up. He’s trying to say, you know, if I have a heart for crafts, or for building things, then God is going to direct me in the area—I mean, later he talks about God will direct me in the area of working in construction or something like that. Or if I like money, okay? And I have this ability to make lots of money—he talks about that in here. There’s no scriptural basis for this, Dave, and that’s a concern that we have.
Dave: Tom, it is actually fatalism. In other words, if I have a passion for something and it really isn’t right, I’m going to blame that on God, number one. Number two—I can’t change it. I’m stuck with this inborn passion, and then—now I have to use that inborn passion—that’s all—I can’t change my personality, I can’t change my interests, I can’t be directed by the Word of God, I can’t be transformed by the Holy Spirit, but I’m stuck with what somehow has been built into me from my birth. It’s not biblical, Tom. And it’s not rational.
Tom: I’m glad you said “not rational.” You see, some people say, “Well, I went through the book, I didn’t see that.”
Folks, what we’re trying to say here, is that anyone who goes through the book carefully, and follows the logic of the book—there’s where you have trouble. Because a thesis or a position that Rick takes early on and tries to support it, he ends up contradicting it, or it doesn’t make sense.
Now, Dave, related to supporting this whole idea? Chapter 31 begins with an implied proof to the validity of the whole SHAPE thesis, or theory, that Rick has. I’m quoting…this is Psalm:139:13 from The Message…Eugene Peterson says, “You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.”
Now, there is a proof text that SHAPE is valid—it’s a way to go about it. But it’s completely erroneous.
Dave: Well, what does Psalm:139:13 actually say? We just read it…Psalm:139:13, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou has covered me in my mother’s womb.” It’s simply saying that God is watching over me.
Tom: Dave, I can’t find any other version that uses “shaped.”
Tom: Right? Eugene Peterson alone. But that now is a proof text to support the idea. Chapter 1—we’ve mentioned this on programs before—sets the premise for the book against self-centeredness by opening with, “It’s not about you.”
But, Dave, when you go to chapter 31, it opens with, “Only you can be you.” Now, how do you reconcile that idea? It continues then with self-esteem building, appeal reinforcing—”A”—now we’re into the letter “A” for your abilities. “If you don’t make your unique contribution to the body of Christ, it won’t be made. You are a bundle of incredible abilities, an amazing creation of God. Part of the church’s responsibility is to identify and release your abilities for serving God.”
So, we need the church to help us figure out our abilities.
Now, let me take it a step further. He says, “All of our abilities come from God. Even abilities used to sin are God-given. They are just being misused or abused. The Bible says, ‘God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well,’ Romans:12:6, New Living Translation.
Now, Dave, he goes on to say, “Since your natural abilities are from God, they are just as important and as spiritual as your spiritual gifts. The only difference is that you were given them at birth.”
Dave: The Bible says, “God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the weak things to confound the mighty.” I don’t find any such emphasis upon my natural abilities in the Bible.
Tom, there’s so much…let me just mention …going back to chapter 30, and on page 239, he says, “We have all heard people say, ‘I took a job I hate in order to make a lot of money, so someday I can quit and do what I love to do.’ That’s a big mistake. Don’t waste your life in a job that doesn’t express your heart.”
Tom, I don’t know what he knows about being out of work, but there are an awful lot of people who don’t have much choice in choosing the job they get. Furthermore, it is often good for us to be in a situation we don’t like in order to learn patience and submission. So, this is sort of an idealistic thing here.
Dave: And it’s something that Rick is trying encourage. “It’s not about you,” but it’s all about you! “And now, look, you’ve got these abilities now, and the church needs them. You are so unique and so essential to God.”
No! I think—I remember the little statement way back, “Little is much when God is in it.” So, it’s not about what abilities that I have, but how is God going to use me? He can use me beyond my abilities. He can use me when I have no abilities—this is what the Bible is about.
Tom: And, Dave, this is where confusion comes in, because in effect, Rick does say that later. So, you don’t know which way to go with this.
Here’s the problem: He says the book is not a self-helps book. It is a self-helps book. And when you put together a self-helps book—whether it’s idealistic, or you lay out principles—it doesn’t cover everything, Dave. That’s why self-help books get people excited, but then when they actually try to apply it…just as the examples you gave, it doesn’t quite fit this situation or that situation and so on.
Now, we’ve only got a couple of minutes left, and we’re not going to finish SHAPE. But next week, we will. We’ll finish the P for Personality, which is psychological to the max. And, then, our Experiences, and we’ll see how this book, The Purpose Driven Life, handles those two things.
Dave: And why are we going through all of this—these 40 Days? In order to arrive at something that Rick says we must arrive at. But, in fact, the Bible doesn’t teach it.
Tom: And, Dave, I appeal to our listeners. What we are trying to do here is encourage them to be discerning, encourage them to check things out by God’s Word. Check us out! Don’t just buy what we’re saying. Be men and women that want truth by going to God’s Word. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Dave: Tom, it is absolutely essential to go by God’s Word.