Book Review--Rick Warren The Purpose Driven Life

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Terrible, dreadful, awful. Stay as far from it as you can. It is yet another example of the froth and the spume that is continually churned out by some evangelical publishing houses. It provides for the reader what pop-psychology books supply--the intellectual and spiritual equivalent of a sugar-rush followed by the inevitable low when one comes to realize that it isn't possible to act upon it in the way the author has indicated.

The chief problem with the book is that Warren gives very little time to the real purpose of a purpose-driven life--the praise, worship, adoration, and profound love of God particularly through His Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grace gets very little play in The Purpose-Driven Life.

In our last discussion of this book, Warren made the point that we are all called to "mission work." My reponse was, "So every member of the body of Christ is a foot?" This is just one example among many of the kind of facile gloss with which Warren approaches the spiritual life. What is most disturbing is that the audience for something like this is committed Christians, people who ought to know better and ought to be able to see through this surface. I don't say that the book will led them astray, but I do say that it strands them on an island of self-motivation largely apart from the bounty of Grace.

One gets the impression from the book that if you took it in your mind to do so you could become an evanglist like Billy Graham. Patent nonsense. Surely, if you are called to that by God and supported continually by Grace, it may happen. But the actuality is that very few of us are called to serve our brothers and sisters in that way.

Do not be taken in by this book. It will lead only to disappointment and disillusionment as the glow from forcing yourself though three hundred pages of execrable prose and even more execrable reasoning in a mere forty days wears off. Do yourself a favor and spend the forty days reading Dickens or Austen. It will do every bit as much for your spiritual life, and leave you with a legacy of great Art as well. (Austen never disappoints, and Dickens only rarely. Speaking of Dickens, another observation regarding the book: If one were to act upon Warren's words literally, we would become a nation of Mrs. Jellybys with children running wild in the streets while we meticulously tended to the mission in Africa.) No, we've been warned many times against this by better works.

Do not be drawn in by the enthusiasm of adherents. Read instead The Imitation of Christ, Introduction to the Devout Life, Practice of the Presence of God, or Story of a Soul. These are works that inspire devotion, love of God, and service with roots solidly in Grace. These are proven works--proven by the sanctity of the people who wrote them and proven by the grace of God which has beeen showered down through the ages on those who read them. Become a person with a real purpose by reading the Bible and learning to love, worship, praise, and adore our loving Father and His whole creation. But for heaven's sake, leave Warren on the remainder tables where he belongs.

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But how do you really feel? *grin*

Thanks for the tip, I'll steer clear and stick to the classics (both religious & art). How odd that a Protestant book be without an emphasis on grace!

You see, Steven, if you were more of a good, old-fashioned Catholic religious bigot, you would have avoided the book to begin with and would have saved yourself a lot of time. I have a good friend who is a well-meaning Evangelical. Whenever he recommends some "great inspirational book" I know to stay away. I learned that the hard way, having slogged through a couple of absolute losers before realizing that the fellow is actually a sort of litmus test.

Some friends of mine are reading this. You can just tell, it's got a title that's crafted to SELL--the innards are an afterthought.

I'll print this review out.

Then I'll run it up a few flagpoles and see who salutes!

DISCLAIMER--I'm not so belligerent when I'm in the company of these well-meaning protestant friends. They have never HEARD of these Catholic classics--and neither had I till 1996!

Please pray that God would give me the right spirit; that I would humble myself and not feel less-tacky-than-thou (because I am rather tacky in many arenas--why should I blow a haughtiness gasket when it comes to spiritual growth books?); and that he might open some innocent and sheltered minds for His glory.

I'm so sick and tired of trends in Christianity. Remember The Jabez Prayer a few years ago? Yikes!

Dear KTC,

I wouldn't bother. If people think they are getting something out of it, what's the harm? I just find it a useless distraction for someone who has the entire riches of the Roman Catholic Church at their disposal. The Paucity of really rich stuff (that isn't centuries old) lends to this sort of phenomenon. But with our tradition of the writings of the saints and the wealth of what is available to us through our studies, no Catholic should need to waste the time with such material. I suppose that sounds snooty. I'm not trying to, but I just think that a lot of Catholics end up going to these trendy things because their trendy and this is my notice that we have a lot better, a lot less trendy things to spend our time with.



Yeah--you're right.

Your review confirms my worst suspicions of this book and the assorted spin-offs and paraphenalia.

I think anyone with a little discretionary money in their pocket should take your advice and buy the spiritual classics you mentioned if they don't already have them. Low on money?....a good holy hour is a golden investment .....

Dear Ms. von Huben,

Excellent points! Thank you.

Also for the impecunious (believe me, I sympathize) many great spiritual classics are available online through Christian Classics Ethereal Libray.

Also, Mr. White, at Random Thoughts often posts addresses for available spiritual e-texts.

But no texts beat time with the Lord. Thanks so much for your advice.



Steven -- Thanks for the list of books.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 24, 2004 8:10 AM.

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