My church is getting ready to start Rick Warren's study on the The Purpose Driven Life. It is a 40-day event with many other churches across the nation. Do you have any information on this book that might prove helpful? I will be one of many that will be leading the study.


It is a "take-off" and sequel to his book, "The Purpose Driven Church," which is not the right direction for any church--a very unbiblical approach.

When one looks at the book, The Purpose Driven Life, one has to be concerned when any book makes a claim, which it does, "This book will change your life!"--there is only one book that will change your life and that's the Bible.

Also, while the book is not heretical in content, it does play fast and loose with the scriptures, using 15 different Bible translations to ensure that his points are supported.  Rick Warren has stated that you can best understand scripture by reading as many different translations as possible--this approach uses many different "opinions" to define the meaning of God's Word rather than a thorough exegetical study of the verse(s).  In addition, the book presents an abbreviated and inaccurate definition of the gospel--there is no requirement for "repentance" in his gospel.  But I will say this about the book--it has a great marketing plan.

Here are some cautions about The Purpose Driven Life, that you will have to deal with. I wouldn't think God would bless this 40-day event, and I wouldn't want to be a teacher leading the studies.  Below you will find a number of reviews of the book:

Observations about The Purpose Driven Life by Tim Todd:

The Purpose Driven Life is very prevalent in my area. I know of four churches in my area which have started to go through this book. Some in Sunday School, some in bible studies. One of the churches is a new church which is basing what it does on Rick Warren's purpose driven philosophy.

Here are some observations on "The Purpose Driven Life."

I. "The Purpose Driven Life" maintains and promotes a poor theology stemming from an inadequate bibliology. Verses are used out of context from numerous paraphrases and placed in the author's own context. References and the version to the passage of the Bible being quoted are not in the immediate text but are included as endnotes at the back of the book. This is unfortunate as many people who read books do not read the endnotes.

Warren includes an appendix for why he uses so many versions, and why sometimes he will quote only part of a verse. The reasons he gives are:

1) To avoid missing nuances and shades of meaning.
2) To, "see God's truth in new, fresh ways." Italics not added.

It is interesting that his second reason contradicts the first. If you look at objective truth in new, fresh ways, you are almost surely introducing additional nuances, and shades of meaning.

Seeing God's truth in new, fresh ways is reminiscent of the author's misuse of Prov. 18:15 in his book "The Purpose Driven Church" (Page 68.) He quotes Proverbs 18:15 from the Living Bible, "The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them." He uses this to justify a pragmatic approach of learning.

We are not to look for new ideas. We are to look for the objective truth of Scripture and to apply that to the situation we are placed in.

Proverbs 18:15 "The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge."

The Bible contains objective truth which is inspired by God, sufficient, and authoritative. While the application varies, the meaning remains the same.

The author's misuse and careless handling of the Bible gives evidence regarding the author's view of the inspiration, sufficiency, and authority of the Bible in a practical sense.

II. This book misrepresents and distorts the gospel. It overlooks the fact that an unbeliever does have an identity, as well as a purpose in his life outside of a relationship with Christ. That in fact man's purpose, nature, and identity is hostile to God, fallen, and totally depraved apart from salvation. The book glosses over, minimizes, or ignores realities such as: the seriousness of sin before a holy God, the need for salvation, that God is righteous, just, holy, etc.

The heading of Chapter 7 has the following verse:

Proverbs 16:4 (NLT)
"The Lord has made everything for his own purposes."

However, this is not the complete verse! Here is the complete verse in the (NLT) and then the (NASB).

Proverbs 16:4 (NLT)
"The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for punishment."

Proverbs 16:4 (NASB)
"The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil."

The heading of chapter 2 quotes Isaiah 44:2a as follows:

Isaiah 44:2a (CEV)
"I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born."

By using Isaiah 44:2a the author acknowledges that he is only quoting half the verse.

By using Proverbs 16:4 instead of Prov. 16:4a, the reader is deceived into thinking that the whole verse has been quoted.

Not only that, but the second half of the verse is in opposition to a major component of the author's thesis!

III. As a side note, Isaiah 44:2a is used in the context of the title of Chapter 2. It is immediately below, "You are Not an Accident."

Here is the verse in context:

Isaiah 44:1-2 (NASB)

1) "But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, And Israel, whom I have chosen:
2) Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, 'Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.

This is surely seeing Isaiah 44:2 in a "new, fresh" way. The reader is lead to believe the verse refers to them, however the verse in its entirety and in context applies to Israel.

The author does this again with Jeremiah 29:11. Where he writes, "If you have felt hopeless hold on! Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose. God says, "I know what I am planning for you.... 'I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.'"

Here is the verse in context:

Jeremiah 29:8-14 (NASB)

8 "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream.
9 'For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,' declares the LORD.
10 "For thus says the LORD, 'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.
11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
12 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
14 'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'

IV. The audience of the book includes both believers and unbelievers. However, this book does not maintain a distinction between the two. Promises which apply only to believers are stated as if they apply to both. Unbelievers can become deceived and believe they are saved, when they have not heard the gospel which does save.

V. The book makes an experientially based, pragmatic appeal to the reader. This is given as the basis for the book's authority. The following are some quotes from the beginning of the book:

"This is more than a book; it is a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answer to life's most important question: What on earth am I here for? By the end of this journey you will know God's purpose for your life and will understand the big picture -- how all the pieces of your life fit together. Having this perspective will reduce your stress, simplify your decisions, increase your satisfaction, and, most important, prepare you for eternity." Page 9.

"The next 40 days will transform your life." Page 10.

"I know all the great things that are going to happen to you. They happened to me, and I have never been the same since I discovered the purpose of my life." Page 12.

Notice the emphatic nature of these claims. Also, the fact that they are not true. By the end of the journey the reader might not know their purpose, they might not have been transformed, great things might not have happened.

Notice the pragmatic nature and basis that it worked for me, so I know it will work for you.

Contrast this with John Piper writing about his book, "Desiring God." He writes, "This book will be predominantly a meditation on Scripture. It will be expository rather than speculative. If I cannot show that Christian Hedonism comes from the Bible, I do not expect anyone to be interested, let alone persuaded. There are a thousand man-made philosophies of life. If this is another, let it pass. There is only on rock: the Word of God. Only one thing ultimately matters: glorifying God the way he has appointed. That is why I am a Christian Hedonist. That is why I wrote this book."

VI. The Purpose Driven Life misrepresents scripture from the outset. The basis of 40 days is faulty. Warren states that whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes, he took 40 days. He then gives the following examples:

Noahís life transformed by 40 days of rain.

Moses transformed by 40 days on Mt. Sinai.

Spies transformed by 40 days in the Promised Land.

David transformed by Goliathís 40-day challenge.

Elijah transformed when God gave him 40 days from a single meal.

Entire city of Nineveh transformed when God gave the people 40 days to change.

Jesus empowered by 40 days in the wilderness.

Disciples transformed by 40 days with Jesus after His resurrection.

It is plainly seen that this is simply not true.

The flood was judgment on the world, not preparing Noah for Godís Purposes.

Moses was given the law on Mt. Sinai, it was not about life change for Moses.

2 of the spies were faithful and not changed, 10 were faithless.

David heard about the challenge after the 40 days had already happened.

The Bible does not maintain that whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes, he took 40 days. Again this is an example of scripture being misused to back up the authorís thoughts and to try to persuade the reader of the importance of the book.

This book is laced with inaccuracies, with misrepresentations of Scripture, this is the tip of the iceberg!

Hopefully this was helpful.

Tim Todd

The author Warren takes you through a day by day daily devotional realization that there is a God who has a purpose and plan for your life. It has some scripture albeit all new paraphrase type non-translations with questions to consider and points to ponder. It builds up to day 7 (where I got to before I could read it no further) when you are ready to "invite Jesus into your heart". Here is the magic prayer that he includes to "receive salvation" I think it says it all: "Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you." To that he adds: "If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!" This is not the watered down gospel, it is a false gospel, which is no gospel at all! I am very glad that the staff at Grace is available to review such chaff so that I can spend my precious time reading more profitable stuff.

If you do not think this "Purpose Driven Life" thing is big, think again. I pastor a small rural church in the Sierra Foothills population 400 and our local three page paper is running ads for this event at a local church here in town. It is everywhere!

I never wanted to read this book as I was familiar with the background and writings of the writer but I did it as a favor for a friend so I could show him the error (which didn't take long to find I might add).

Avoid this one is my advice. A 40 days spiritual journey is what the author promises, 40 days of wandering is what you'll find. 40, wandering, ring a bell? This book is just more of the same "Seeker stuff" from one of it's guru's Rick Warren. I love James MacDonald's response to the seeker movement "The seeker movement, subtitled: How to Fill Your Church with Tares".

Hope this helps...

In Christ

Mark Retzlaff

The following comments are from those who have read the book. These comments, with the names of the reviewers, are available online at under "Customer's Reviews" of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren:

"If Scripture is your authority, this is not the book for you. Most Scripture quotations are taken out of context or are misquoted. The Theology in this book violates basic Hermenuetical principles, and is overall poor. My question to the author is: Are you viewing Scripture through the eyes of your experience, or viewing your experience through the eyes of Scripture? The author has made the Bible say what he wants it to say. But, DO NOT take my word for it. Just look up all the Scripture References."

"I was really excited as I skimmed this book. It seemed to have some good principles. Then as I read more closely, I found it does not follow the Lord's Word. If you feel that the King James Translation of the Bible is the closest we have to the original word of the Lord translated to English, then this book is not for you. As I read and compared the King James text to the translations used by Mr. Warren, I saw how much he has distorted the Lord's Word."

"I'm writing as a fellow Christian, so I hope my criticisms of this book will be taken as exhortations to read something better. If you are a person seeking God, or a long time believer, I don't recommend that you read this book. I have three reasons for this:

1) Pastor Warren appeals to giving you a better life, potentially at the expense of helping you to have true faith in God. The book uses marketing, and appeals to "what the Christian life will get you" as opposed to leading you to faith in Christ alone. This is dangerous because the Christian life doesn't always promise satisfaction or some of the other things that people are touting in their reviews. (The Christian life does not need to look or feel like what Warren is espousing to be genuine, real or of value). A good Christian life is not necessarily one where you feel like you've helped yourself.. . .although that is sometimes a benefit of loving God. This kind of writing might feel good to some, but I think it will completely turn others off, or worse yet, make them think they have faith when all they have is a desire to have this kind of life.

2) Pastor Warren is a poor scholar. He does a lot of what Bible students call "proof-texting"; that is, he often takes scripture out of context to prove his points or sound more persuasive. I don't disagree with many of his points, but this is bad scholarship and could cause the uneducated reader to take Warren's words as God's (after all, there are an abundance of quotations from Scripture).

3) Psychologically you should be well adjusted before reading a book like this. This book is not for people struggling with their own identities. DON'T FIND IT IN THIS BOOK. . .FIND IT IN CHRIST. Reading this book is not the be-all-end-all to make your life better, or to make you more "spiritual" or "worthy" of God's love."

"If you want to fill your head with meaningless "Christianese," then this is the book for you! If you want 'feel good' religion without true depth, then this is the book for you! If you want simplistic and misleading teaching, then this is the book for you! The Purpose-Driven Life: Book to avoid if you want to know your true purpose and not Rick Warren's idea of your purpose!"

"I find that there are many contradictions within the book itself and to the Bible. I don't believe in using one Bible because you like it's translation for one issue and another because it fits your belief in another area. Only literal translations are God's word and it is never a contradiction to itself like man inspired books are. I don't dispute that Warren has been effective in growing his church, but this book has not helped me in my walk. The contradictory messages leave people confused.....Relationships, fellowship, and worship are all areas that are contradictory in this book as well and use loose interpretations of their true meanings.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are newly walking with the Lord or are young Christians. Those who are established Christians, and know to read anything man inspired with a grain of salt will have many problems with this book and it's contradictions."

"Our pastor asked us to replace our normal devotional with a 40 day study through "The Purpose Driven (R) Life".  I'm not sure why we feel it's an okay thing to replace God's Word with a man's book, but I'm reading it any way. It's okay - kind of "basic". Oriented to a very new Christian or someone of high school age.

In the spirit of the Bereans, there some things I question. For example, on page 242, Mr. Warren says that "many studies have revealed that the average person possesses 500 to 700 different skills and abilities" - but does not reference even one study. How do we know this is true? He goes go on to say "your brain can store 100 trillion facts". I'd like to know who counted this up? It seems to me that this would very greatly. Someone with a disability such as Alzheimer's might not be able to store up even one fact.

There are other things I question. For example, page 203, he says that "temptation starts when Satan suggests (with a thought)...". So Satan can put thoughts in our head? Where's that in the Bible? Perhaps it's true, but I can't think of any passage that says that. James 1:14 says that temptations comes from our own evil desires.

One thing about studying the Bible, is their is never any question where the Biblical reference is - it's right there in front of you. But when we study a man's book instead of the Bible, then everything is open to question.

I think it's interesting that part of your book's title is a registered trademark. I see there are many other Purpose Driven (R) products out there for us to buy. I must say it leaves me with a very uneasy feeling. The apostle Paul warns us about "Super Apostles" who would peddle the word of God for profit (2 Cor 2:17, & chapters 10-13). I'm not saying that's what this is about, but I'm wary...

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.

" it is with my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it". (see Isaiah 55)"

The back cover of this book states that is a "groundbreaking manifesto on the meaning of life." The introduction states that "this is more than a book; it is a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answer to life's most important question ...." This book did not live up to such promise.

A major problem with this book is in prooftexting, selecting verses to support a given proposition. The author goes beyond prooftexting, however, by relying upon excerpts from unusual paraphrases to make his points. The back of the book contains an extensive list of scripture references, but once you start looking them up in any reliable translation will be sorely disappointed.

Another major problem is a "soft", almost "gospel-lite" emphasis. Infrequent mention is made of the holiness of God, sin, our human flesh nature, the cross, absolute truth, commands of God, His sovereignty, and other concepts which are emphasized in the Bible but which might interfere with a good self image. There is an emphasis on family, on relationships, and even a section on how to be a global Christian. This is a warm, fuzzy, feel-good message, emphasizing what God can do for you.

An entire chapter tells you why you should attend a church without once mentioning Hebrews 10:25. Another chapter discusses unity in the church as a primary goal,but there is no mention of standing for doctrinal purity or truth.

There are parts of the book which appear to contradict each other (e.g., pp. 161, 146). In other places, doctrines which vanished from the paraphrased scripture support pop up later in the book where they are given lesser emphasis (e.g., "its all for God's glory" gets short shrift on p. 310).

The book is visually appealing, and endorsed by the right parachurch leaders, but exemplifies what is wrong with contemporary evangelicalism. The book could be used as an example of how not to use the the scriptures to support a presupposition. I could not recommend this book to any serious student of the Word.

"...if you want cheap warm fuzzies. This book offers nothing in the way of new thinking and uses paraphrased and out-of-context scriptures to make blanket statements that might even be considered heretical to some. Don't waste your time."

"At first I thought that this book would be great for new believers but then I realized that some of its teachings are incomplete at best, and wrong at worst. A new Christian who reads this will indeed benefit in the short term but will need to 'unlearn' some principles in this book in order to learn what is needed to enter into the deepest parts of a relationship with God.

Chapter 5 is a case in point. Warren asks 'What is your life metaphor?' and suggests that you replace whatever metaphor you have with one of three 'Biblical' metaphors; 'life is a test', 'life is a trust', or 'life is a temporary assignment'. The problem is that we were created with each of these items in mind, but NONE of these is what life is primarily about. To reduce life to merely one of these items is simply shallow and simplistic and missing much of what God has for us. Even to appropriate all three is still limiting if one does not go further.

I am a big fan of systematic theology and Chapters 5 and 6 just plain do not jibe with what I have read. Wayne Grudem, Daniel Fuller, and Jonathan Edwards all agree that our primary purpose is to be a repository for God's grace. You see, He has so much grace that He decided to create us to share with. Absolutely everything else comes second to this; testing, trusting, assignments, ministries, etc.

Want a life which fulfills your purpose for being on earth? Worship and love God, deeply, truly, emphatically, and accept His mighty grace. Pursue God with passion and vigor, not letting go until you have that 'peace which surpasses understanding'. You won't necessarily get that from this book."

I have been waiting for years for this book to be written. I knew that Warren, or someone else, would write a book with this title and with this focus. Not only had I been waiting for years, I had hoped it would be a great book. However, it is not all that I had hoped it would be....but it is not all good. In fact, one item may be tragic. In the reading for the seventh day, Warren shares what is required to become a Christian - at least he tries to do so. He quotes one Scripture and directs the reader in a simple prayer. Then he proclaims that the reader is now a Christian. The sadness I felt came from the fact that Warren excludes the necessity of repentance from the salvation experience. This message, although probably unintentionally, does not match the clear teaching of Scripture. In this instance, the reader may be misled at a most crucial juncture in life. If you were thinking of giving this book to a non-Christian friend, please do not choose this book. I sincerely hope that Warren will revise this section in subsequent editions of this book."

"I understand that Rick Warren would like to make money from this book. Hey, how else is he going to pay the bills and upkeep. The first chapter and final section in Purpose Driven Life covers all the Purpose Driven Life branded items you can buy along with this book. Purpose Driven calendar with inspirational quotes. Purpose Driven date book. Purpose Driven mouse pad, coffee mug...etc...etc. I found commercial aspect of these sections to border on the tacky. It wasn't enough to detract from the book and the message presented, but it sort of put me off initially. Perhaps a single page in the end of the book with a web address to a site that sells these items would be more appropriate.

Also, the author claims that God has changed many peoples life in the course of 40 days. He gives a number of biblical examples from Noah, to Daniel, to Jesus Christ. Yes, God does work miracles in our lives over time, but to make a claim that God is going to change your life in 40 days is a bit preposterous. God works on his time, not ours. How do you know that someone may read this book in 1 day and not be changed by its word in a week? How about a year? A few years?"

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