17/02/2006

The Purpose-Driven Life

Rick Warren seems to be considered one of the foremost American Christian leaders these days. His church has grown enormously due to taking on the principles in this book, and it's now being marketed around the world, both to individuals and to congregations. The concept is fairly simple: God has five main purposes for our lives, and we ought to find out what they are so we can live as better Christians.

It's supposed to be read one chapter at a day, for forty days. That immediately put me off! So I actually read between one and three chapters a day, during the last three weeks.

I don’t like the hype surrounding this book, or the self-promotion within it, or the rather rigid way we’re supposed to read it. I don’t like the huge variation in Bible translations used, and that some of the quotations from Scripture are WAY out of context. Nor do I like the structured nature of the book, the way churches are supposed to drop everything else to study it, or the insistence that God only has five purposes for people (what about stewardship of resources, for instance?)

On the other hand… the author does make some good points, even if they’re fairly basic. About worship being an attitude of life rather than just singing on Sundays. About the need for direction. About finding our ministries within the church based on our personalities. About the importance of mission.

If I could take the good points and cut out the padding and irrelevancies, it would probably be about a third the length. Then I would recommend it to anyone who’s newish as a Christian, or who’s been going to church for years but feels a lack of purpose. These folk might benefit from the entire book too - but could find it overwhelmingly prescriptive.

However, I don’t see it as much use for non-believers, nor for those who are already deeply committed as Christians.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Purpose-Driven for $$$

Christianity for fun-and-profit

Name-it and claim-it

One serious problem with the, God wants you rich, theology is the fact that the NT does not seem to characterize any of the main people as such.

Jesus was apparently homeless and eating the food of poverty, at least for a while. The parable of the Rich Fool, in James where he says for the rich to weep and howl, the God and mammon demand and others.

Another serious problem is the "personality cult" that church leaders are promoting. Just like this book, Warren is a multi-millionare, developing his own following and like the Scripture says, do not say you are of Paul, or Peter...

In Christ..for the long haul
(circa 1981)

Michael said...

Sue,

Yes, my sentiments exactly on this book! It has some good things, but is waaaay to much like a formula--5 purposes, 40 days, this-is-the-way-it-is. Our small group went thru the videos and I almost found it condescending the way Rick talked to people. Like it was geared toward baby christians or people who aren't very smart.

I am really frustrated with the way books/material like this use--or misuse--the Bible. Out of context scriptures are rampant AND, yes picking the English translation that best fits your "purpose" is NOT honoring the scriptures. Warren also uses OT texts (like on tithing) to make a law about giving.

I wouldn't go so far as what anonymous said, but definately a book to take with a grain of salt and pick out the good from the hype and misuse of scripture.