Sunday, November 25, 2012
Book Review: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
It's hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Rick Warren's classic, The Purpose Driven Life was released nationwide and caught the attention of churchgoers as well people outside the church. This book has been called, "The Nation's bestselling non-fiction hardback in history" (Publisher's Weekly). Many churches have done studies on this book for the last decade. Some have even done the 40 days of purpose where they read a chapter of the book everyday until they have finished the book. Pastors have even built sermons around the theme of the week that is addressed in the book.
I know I have read this book, only because everyone else seems to be talking about it. I lent it out to several people and now I am not even sure where it is. So when the opportunity was given to me to review this book in its 10th anniversary edition, I had to take it because I know what I believed 10 years ago is a lot different than the theology I have now.
When coming across a book like this, one has to wonder if this is another "Christian" self-help book. Warren wrote in the beginning of the book, that this is not a self-help book. In fact, he writes, "It's not about you...You were born by his purpose and for his purpose" (pg. 21). Okay, we know this book is not a self-centered book, which can gives us some comfort.
What makes this book different than its previous editions is instead of 40 days, it has been expanded to 42 where there are 6 six weeks of "study" to go over. The first week deals with the purpose that we are here for. Talking about it all starting with God and that we were made for an assignment here on earth which sounds like Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God.
The remaining six weeks consist of the five-fold purpose of what God created us for:
You were planned for God's pleasure (Worship)
You were formed for God's family (Fellowship)
You were created to become like Christ (Discipleship)
You were shaped for serving God (Service)
You were made for a mission (Evangelism)
To some of you this may sound familiar because he also addressed these same purposes, in a different way, in his other classic, The Purpose Driven Church, which can out years before Purpose Driven Life.
I know Rick Warren is not the most glorious expositor preacher in the church nor one for making deep theological comments, but there were a lot of things in the book that I agreed with and a lot of things I did not. He knows the gospel and loves Jesus and wants to see people live for their lives to honor God. That is, and should be, the heart of any pastor regardless of what school of theology we are under.
My big concern for the book is the treatment of Scripture. Warren uses the Bible through the book which is a good thing. However, Warren hardly gives the Scripture reference in the book, you have to look in the back for the reference, which is why it can be labeled a study book. That is a minor issue. The major issue is the variety of translations. Yes, we need to use different translations at times, but the way Warren uses it seem to fit what he says. It seems he is one of those guys who let has a thought about God and then uses it to reinforce it without careful hermeneutics. I think what Warren does is a very sloppy approach to the Bible and a pastor should be the last person on earth to treat the word with such contempt.
I am not saying The Purpose Driven Life is a bad book nor a great book. It is one of those book all church leaders need to read because your people will be reading it or already have.
Thanks Booksneeze for letting me review this book.
John Piper talks with Rick Warren