A Purpose Driven Refugee

The Purpose Driven Church - Book Review

The Purpose Driven Life - Readers' Reviews

The Purpose Driven Life - Book Review 

The Purpose Driven Life - A seriously flawed view of God

Church Growth Gone Mad

Programs, Get Your Programs: Exposing the Flaws of a Fad-Driven Church

The Purpose Driven Church (a critique)

John MacArthur
on CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown

On Wednesday, March 16, [2005] CNN interviewed John MacArthur about The Purpose-Driven Life for a special broadcast of NewsNight with Aaron Brown (Paula Zahn substituting). John agreed to the interview because we saw it as an opportunity to clarify some important gospel truths that have been obscured in all the publicity surrounding the book's popularity.

John's critical comments about the book were brief but substantive. He highlighted some significant points where the thrust of the book is [at] odds with the message of Scripture. He pointed out, for example, that the true gospel is a call to self-denial, not self-fulfillment. The gospel is a message about redemption, not about life's purpose. The gospel according to Scripture deals with God's law, His grace, human depravity, redemption from sin, justification, sanctification, holiness, the nature of saving faith, and the lordship of Christ. And the true gospel's most essential features are the cross of Christ and the truth of the resurrection. None of those subjects is dealt with adequately or biblically in The Purpose-Driven Life.

In their own post-production editing process, however, CNN removed virtually all the substantive comments from their interview with John MacArthur. A voice-over by the CNN reporter introduced John MacArthur as someone who "preaches the gospel of a stern God," while the subtext identified John as a "skeptic."

CNN also inserted some remarks from secular media experts who seemed to think petty jealousy is the only motive two pastors might possibly have for disagreeing with one another. They made numerical comparisons between Grace Community Church and Saddleback, accompanied by a comment from a local newspaper's religion writer who declared that the difference between Warren and MacArthur was merely a dispute over two different marketing methods.

All of this gave a spin to CNN's interview that utterly misrepresents our concerns about the Purpose-Driven phenomenon. John MacArthur's criticism of this approach is not new, and it is not motivated by anything personal. We have been pleading for a more biblical approach to church leadership and evangelistic ministry for many years. John MacArthur's 1993 book Ashamed of the Gospel sounded this very alarm two years before Rick Warren published his first book describing his philosophy of ministry.

So the concerns we have raised are biblical and substantive, and not merely personal criticisms of Rick Warren. We wish the CNN interview had made those facts clear. We have certainly tried our best to make them clear.

Comments from emails we recently received:

"Appreciate your comments/thoughts on the Purpose Driven fiasco.  Our church (with much hype) participated in two of his bogus programs.  Unfortunately,  I didn't do any research on Warren before hand and went along.  I'll know better next time.  What did these 40 day adventures do for our church?  Nothing.  As a matter of fact, when the promised "revival" didn't occur, the church is basically just going thru the motions with an apathetic staff..  We'll probably end up leaving."

"I 'accidentally' stumbled on your web site while doing a search on Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life”.  What started it was receiving some info from Grace to You about Dr. MacArthur’s latest book [Fool's Gold] dealing with current trends in the church ('seeker sensitive movement', The Purpose Driven Life, etc).   The church we attend went through Warren’s series last year.  My wife and I attended one of the Bible studies that accompanied the series.  While some of the material was good, it left me wanting (kind of like a glass of Coke, where all of the ice has melted – yeah…it’s cold, but weak – very weak).  The book and movement seems (at least to me) to be a quick fix, a panacea to get people more involved in their churches and concerned about the things of God.  It almost smacked of one of the latest 'pop psychology' quick fixes.  Kind of like cotton candy – looks good, tastes good, devoid of anything worthwhile.  It almost reminds me of some of the crazy movements that Christians tend to embrace.  Finding your site was a breath of fresh air.

"I want to thank you for your comments with regard to this book. I began a few weeks ago to teach this book due to so many having the desire to study it. I'm sorry I did. Keeping up with what I feel doesn't jive with Scripture is emotionally exhausting and there are some in the class that had read the book and are strangely attached to it resulting in having to defend it. I've learned my lesson...it is simply teaching the Bible from now on."

"Thank you for your wonderful web site. I was planning to attend a small group Bible study that was going to use Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life" but God led me to look at your web site, which a friend introduced me to about two years ago, and I came across the reviews of this book. I'd like to think that I would be astute enough to find the flaws in this book myself, but I'm very, very happy that I looked at your web site.  I appreciate knowing that I saved myself a lot of precious time which I can better use to study God's word instead. I have not read the book and do not plan to now. Thank you."

"Thank you for your site it was great to get the information on the "Purpose Driven Life/Church." We in New Zealand are drowning in a sea of this user friendly nonsense where the church is turning into an entertainment centre and preaching of The Word is seen as old fashioned and we have been told to forget the past because God is doing a new thing!!!!"

Recently, Rick Warren disclosed on Larry King Live (March 22, 2005) what his ultimate "Purpose" (plan) was for the whole Purpose Driven movement.  He has this all planned out: first the Purpose Driven Church, then the Purpose Driven Life, then the Purpose Driven Communities, and then:

"You know, half the world lives on less than $2 a day and half the world cannot read. And so we came up with the plan called the PEACE plan, p-e-a-c-e. Plant churches, equip the leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

And we're right now doing a test pilot of the PEACE plan in 67 countries. We're about a year and a half into it. It's a two-year test plan. We plan to go public with it -- well, now, it's going public on LARRY KING -- but we plan to go public with it in 2006, which is to mobilize hundreds of thousands of small groups that have done the 40 days of purpose in churches and communities and civic groups and corporations -- churches that have done 40 days of purpose in groups to do these five things around the world. And that's really why I was in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, to test that."--Rick Warren (for entire transcript, go to:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0503/22/lkl.01.html )

Here's a couple of links to websites that expose the Purpose Driven Movement--lots of good articles: