THE BOOK INTENDED TO CHANGE YOUR THINKING
Rick Warrens Book: The Purpose Driven Life
THE BOOK SOME WANT TO INDOCTRINATE YOU ON
DATE OF PUBLICATION: FEBRUARY 2004 - WM 1197
Rick Warren is senior pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Located in a wealthy suburb of Greater Los Angeles, it has an enormous membership.In the past seven years alone, his congregation has taken in 9,100 new members (page 167 of his book).
Warren is remarkably gifted in the use of words and phrases; and his latest book, The Purpose Driven Life, has sold over 6 million copies. The leaders of our denomination have decided that this is the book which all our members should study; and that they should read it with extreme care.
The current objective is to get each local church to carefully go through it in study groups, very slowly over a period of 40 days during Lent, culminating in a grand Easter celebration. We keep getting closer to the world, its forms, ceremonies, celebrations, and teachings.
("Lent is the period of six and one half weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. During Lent, for 40 days, excluding Sundays, fasting is recommended for all Catholics . . Lent readies the faithful for celebrating the paschal mystery after a period of closer attention to the word of God, and more ardent prayer."Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 346.)
As announced on the dust jacket and introduction to the book, this in-depth 40-day study of the book is Warrens plan for everyone. He hopes that this will help bring all the churches more fully together. Apparently, our leaders consider this a great idea.
Although clothed in most beautiful language, this is a typical Baptist devotional / doctrinal book. Our people should be studying the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, not a Baptist book!
Southern Adventist University, on its radio station, has been urging everyone in Greater Chattanooga to take part with the students and faculty of SAU in this 40-day lenten study of Warrens book. The study began on January 10 in 72 locations on the campus and nearby Collegedale.
A friend living in Washington State phoned to tell me that the pastor and conference president wanted their congregation to go on the 40-day lent study program. But they refused so resolutely, that it was dropped.
So I purchased a copy of The Purpose Driven Life and read nearly all of it. You will want to know what I found. It may help you refuse insistent urging for your congregation to read the book. Italics are his:
Why are you here on earth? What is Gods plan for your life? According to Warrens book, it does not include obedience to the Ten Commandments.
By using a 40-day study plan, Warren wants to fully indoctrinate you into his brand of Protestant theology. For some reason, there are those among our leaders who very much want us to undergo this re-education program.
Each chapter concludes with thought questions for personal use and group discussion; plus, at the back of the book, additional "discussion questions" are keyed to each chapter.
George Bernard Shaw, one of the most famous atheists of the 20th century, is quoted by Warren as providing us a worthy example of how to live:
According to Warren, you are supposed to be a "mighty one, a force in nature." I can assure you, that is not Gods plan for your life.
In chapter 13, entitled "Worship That Pleases God," Warren explains his view of worship:
Jesus did not tell the woman that the time, place, and style of worship was irrelevant. Keep in mind that Warren is writing for Baptists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Catholics, and anyone else who will buy his book. That is why 6 million copies have already been sold. There are few things that Christendom argues over more than the manner and location of worship. About all they can agree on is the time: Sunday morning. But, since the day does not matter either, our people are welcome to get involved and absorb his views. After slowly going through this book, some of our members may conclude, "When the great day of judgment convenes, will it really matter what day we were keeping?"
Our people are being taught that sincerity and wholeheartedness in worship is all that counts.
Warren slips in a little more theology on the next page. There are two of you living together: a body and a spirit. He introduces the point with these words:
Do you believe that the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with your spiritual worship of God?
He then immediately says this:
This is a foundational error in the monstrous edifice of natural immortality. According to this error, as soon as you die your spirit flies to heaven, hellfire, or (if you are Catholic) to purgatory.
Is this what our people should be studying for 40 days? Is there no Word of God in Israel, that we should go to one of the books of Ekron? (Read these powerful statements about natural immortality: Great Controversy, 545:1-2, 549:2, 588:1).
A few pages later, Warren returns to this subject:
Warren urges the reader to consider methods of worship which are new and previously untried:
He not only says that we should we try aping all kinds of worship patterns used by other churches, but he considers it a good objective if some of us end up worshiping God in ways mutually objectionable to one another. As Warren sees it, variety is the spice of worship.
Warren then lists "being outdoors," "singing," "dancing, creating art" as some of the different methods of worship (page 103). He does not mention some of the controversial ones, such as speaking in tongues; but you can know that they would all be included in his arena of worship patterns.
But Warren is careful to include pleasing the senses, rituals, liturgies, symbols, celebration, and asceticism as among the best forms of worship.
So, according to Warren, gorging on potluck together is part of worship for some people while Gothic cathedrals and Catholic processions are needed by others. As Warren explains it, individualism is needed in order to have a satisfying worship; express yourself by satisfying your whims.
So you needn't try to adapt yourself to imposed standards of clothing, cosmetics, and diet if they don't seem to fit your personality. Just be yourself.
In chapter 21, "Protecting Your Church," Warren is careful not to warn us against false doctrines. Apparently, all the churches have the right ones. All that matters is protecting the unity of your church, regardless of which one you belong to.
In fact, guarding your church and its beliefs is so important, that it is more important than whether or not it will lead you to the right place:
The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that we can unify only on the basis of truth (I do not recall the specific reference; if someone sends it to me, I will print it in Checkpoints). See Christ Calls for Unity, p. 175 of Selected Messages, volume 1. But Warren says that unity in the church is more important than all else.
Leaders in every denomination love it when their members place unity as foremost; for, when unity is more important than Scriptural truth, it invariably results in unquestioning submission to church policies and high-level committee decisions.
It is Satan's studied objective to control the minds of Gods people, as they yield servile obedience to others who consider submission to duly constituted human authority as of greater importance than obedience to Gods Inspired Writings.
The sincere child of God recognizes that humans are always fallible and that Gods Word is the only safe guide.
But, Warren explains that we should not concern ourselves with such matters, since perfection is impossible in this life.
We can agree with part of that; yet the Protestant slant on character "perfection" is different than that which Gods Word presents to us. Genuine perfection is founded on obedience to Gods moral law. Only historic Advent believers recognize the importance of this. The Protestant world happily believes they will remain in their sins till Christ returns. We were commissioned, in Revelation 14:6-12, to teach them that this belief is error. Instead we are now being urged to read books that teach something quite different.
In chapter 22, "Created to Become Like Christ," the thousands of 40-day study groups are going to be taught that their souls are immortal.
Why do our church leaders want us to learn that? It is Satins original lie (Genesis 3:4-5).
In chapter 27, "Defeating Temptation," we are given a mixed bag of ideas. Some good; some not so good.
You and I know that the above statement includes a hideous error. Both resistance and refocus are needed. We are to directly resist temptation as we cry to Jesus for help.
There is a half truth here. We should not dwell on the temptation; yet, when it comes, we should resolutely resist it as we turn to Christ for enabling strength. In this way, each of us can come off "more than conqueror." The grace of Christ is powerful enough. "We can do all things through Him who strengthens us." Christianity works. Through trust in His empowering merits, we can obey the law of God!
In chapter 35, "Gods Power in Your Weakness," the reader is told that he need not concern himself about his weaknesses and imperfections. It is true that we can learn to live with many of our weaknesses and drawbacks; but we do not have to stay with them all. There are flaws and mannerisms we should rise above and overcome.
Warren erroneously applies Romans 7 to the converted man:
In chapter 36, "Made for a Mission," Warren carefully instructs the reader that he should totally ignore all preparation for Christ's Second Coming (and, of course, the final judgment):
Warren has never read Matthew 24:1-3 and the 94 Bible verses which follow the asking of that question (chapters 24 and 25) and go into elaborate detail on future events, His Second Advent, and how we need to prepare for both.
Do you believe that our kind Father only wants certain persons to hear the truths about salvation?
In chapter 37, "Sharing Your Life Message," Warren explains that Christians are only to share their personal experience in finding Christ; they are not to present doctrinal studies to anyone. They are not even to urge a decision to accept Christ as their Saviour.
That concludes this brief overview of Rick Warrens book, The Purpose Driven Life.
The situation steadily becomes more difficult for the faithful, as they attempt to retain the solidity of their faith and do the work that needs to be done at this time. Surely, it is a time for earnest prayer. vf