Purpose Driven Life

(This article was originally printed in August, 2004)

The book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, has found great success within various church affiliations, denominations, and organizations. The foundation of Purpose-Driven Philosophies, recognizable as “General Systems Theory”, has been rapidly disseminated in Christian Seminaries during the past decade. It is a surrogate theological paradigm replacing the old traditional doctrines about the nature of man and God with a new evolutionary world view in which man is transforming himself, his community, and society. “General Systems Theory” comes from esoteric philosophies prevalent in 1800’s Germany known as Theosophy (Luciferosnism), with “General Systems Theory” as the foundation. This new way of doing Church easily corresponds with the notion that the Bride of Christ must perfect herself on Earth structurally, as well as spiritually, before Jesus can return. “Kingdom Theology”, a parallel doctrine, teaches that the historical church was grossly inefficient. In other words the model of the New Testament Church begun by the Apostles in the book of Acts, of preaching a powerful sermon on Jesus Christ and Him crucified, is not for this New Millennium Church, or so they say.


This Church with such high tech tools as the computer, database tracking systems, state of the art video and sound equipment can now expedite the building of the kingdom of God. The message of the Purpose Driven is so uniform and prefabricated — a local pastor can pull off canned sermons from the Purpose Driven website. The message is now packaged and marketed to the local pastor so he no longer has to waste his time praying and seeking God for his message. He can buy it. Individual thinkers and students of the Word of God won’t fit in this paradigm shift of accountability, assessments, win-win situations, facilitators, consensus, confessions of sins, leaders, leader of leaders, service, felt needs, servant-hood, Government of 12, and I could go on. You have to abandon the Bible way and move on. This new Church emerges under different names, Purpose Driven, Willow Creek, Seeker Sensitive, and Government of 12. As a result of these philosophies, whole denominations are being restructured to fit these models. This pattern is known as the “post modern” church.


One of the many troubling issues of this book (“The Purpose Driven Life”) that must be addressed is the author’s use of quotations from non-Christian individuals. In order to support his doctrines he will attempt to validate his statements with well-known people who come from the fields of science, business, philosophy, religion, and politics. These individuals range from atheists and new-agers to socialists and humanists. It is important to recognize that the majority of people reading “The Purpose Driven Life” will not be familiar with all the names and history behind the people he quotes, although these individuals are well known within their circles of influence.
The author of Purpose Driven cannot be examined apart from his mentor, business guru Peter Drucker. Drucker is a social philosopher as well as a management authority. His beliefs are:

    1. The social universe has no natural laws as do physical science. It is subject to continuous change.
    2. He does not believe that there are moral absolutes.
    3. He believes that Total Quality Management style or organizational managements-techniques will solve the World’s problems (apart from God).
    4. He claims to be Episcopalian, but his teaching and views are clearly more consistent with atheistic humanism.
    5. Total Quality Management techniques are built upon the Hegelical dialectic, invented by George Hegel.
    6. Hegel was a transformational Marxist psychologist.
    7. Bob Buford is the founder of The Leadership Network, which is not centered in theology, but is focused on structure, organization and the transitional from an institutionally based church to a missions based church. Heavily influenced by Drucker, Buford is also the founder of the Peter Drucker foundation. The Leadership Network’s mission statement says, “The mission of the Leadership Network is to accelerate the emergence of the 21st century church. We believe the emerging paradigm of the 21st century church calls for the development of new tools and resources as well as equipping of a new type of 21st century leader, both clergy and laity. We value innovation that leads to results and working with Kingdom perspective church leaders. We value seeing fruit on other people’s trees. And finally, we value getting it ‘right’ for those we serve as well as our team.” The emphasis of the Leaders Network is humanistic structure, organization, team concepts, and processes. Because they are all about money the push of the Leadership Network is studying what works in the church and how it can be replicated. Its mission is to accelerate the emergence of the 21st century New Paradigm Church.
    8. Buford’s book entitled “Halftime”, in chapter 5, tells how he, his wife, and an atheist (Mike Kamic) spent a weekend at a beach house and how this atheist helped him to reorder his priorities so that he might spend the rest of his life serving the Lord. In the 2nd Chapter of this book, Buford admits to never having had a Christian conversion experience because: I was given the gift of faith at such an early age that I don’t remember ever living without it.
    9. Let’s move on to the use of quotations from non-Christian individuals in his book, “The Purpose Driven Life”.


The most preposterous individual quoted comes from Chapter 5: “Seeing Life From God’s View.” A quote from Anais Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Nin was an unregenerate sexual deviate who was well known for her steamy love affairs and extravagant sexual exploits. She authored more than a dozen books of fiction and erotica. She was a lover of both men and women and had an incestuous affair with her father upon a reunion with him when she was 30 years old. Although Nin’s work was originally rejected in the United States, it would later become the seedbed for the growth of sensual and erotic fiction for women. Concerning this, the Bible says, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators” (I Cor. 5:9).
From sex to the new age, the author (Rick Warren) uses Dr. Bernie Siegel’s question asked of cancer patients as a means of attempting to predict which of his patients would go into remission. In the Chapter, “What Drives Your Life”, Siegel is quoted, “Do you want to live to be one hundred?” and the author says, “Those with a deep sense of purpose answered yes and were the ones most likely to survive. Hope comes from having purpose.” The Bible says, but coming from a different direction, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13).
Siegel is a well known new-ager who extols the dynamics of the group process in curing disease or in healing a life. To change the way an individual thinks, the dialectical process is most effective in a small group where peer pressure and a facilitator are utilized to bring everyone in the group, with opposing opinions, to a new consensus. In addition, Siegel believes and recommends the group setting for the love and discipline needed to boost one’s self-esteem. The intent in Siegel’s writings is to bring the individual with problems back to living their life and being a contribution to the world.
Regarding these things, the Bible says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
I muse in wonder as to why the author would use quotations from non-Christians, let alone individuals who embrace communist and socialist principles. In Chapter 3 of “The Purpose Driven Life,” George Bernard Shaw is quoted: “This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” Shaw was a student of Karl Marx and was greatly influenced by his and other socialist writings. He became an active member of the Socialist Democratic Federation and became friends with others in the movement, including Annie Besant co-founder of the Fabian Society. By 1886, after participating in street lectures on socialism in London that resulted in the Bloody Sunday Riot, he concentrated most of his efforts on the work he did with the Fabian Society. The Fabian Society rejected revolutionary socialism yet worked towards creating a society in accordance with the highest moral possibilities. The group was named after the Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus, who advocated the weakening of opposition by harassing operations rather than becoming involved in pitched battles. Shaw would write many pamphlets on a variety of social issues, The Fabian Manifesto, The True Radical Programme, Fabianism, The Empire, Intelligent Women’s Guide to Socialism, etc.
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:10).


The author will continually bring emphasis to purpose in his book, without the finished Work of the Cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It was Shaw’s intent to improve society, however, without including the Lord Jesus Christ. Shaw was a secular socialist. Warren continues by quoting another socialist who is disguised as a Christian. In Chapter 10 he quotes E. Stanley Jones, “If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” What Jesus was Jones speaking of? In 1959 according to the Methodist publication World Outlook, Jones was named “Missionary Extraordinaire.” It was Jones, through his missionary work, who would lift up Jesus Christ as the universal Son of Man and invited people to receive Him within their own framework. This new approach to missions was to become known as “Indigenization.” Interestingly though, Jones denied the virgin birth of Christ, the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, the Triune Godhead, and other doctrines. In his socialist garb he would say, “When the western world was floundering in an unjust and competitive order . . . God reached out and put his just hand on the Russian communists to produce a just order and to show a recumbent church what it has missed in its own gospel . . . We have yet to see the folly of trying to change the individual and leaving him in an unchanged, selfish, corporate life. Life on a collective scale must be born again. Cannot be done? Absurd. The Russians have done it. Russia has a secular new birth.”
It should be important for every reader of “The Purpose Driven Life” to analyze all of the individuals quoted in this book. Their backgrounds and influence on history can be quiet alarming. He quotes them as much out of context as he does the Word of God. The author uses these popular individuals from his study in liberal seminaries. There are a few instances where Warren quotes from individuals of obvious good backgrounds such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther; however, the majority of his quotation montage comes from people who would not be viewed as Biblically sound. I’ll give some other instances of this:


In Chapter 1, Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most popular atheists and anti-Christian writers and lecturer is quoted. In Chapter 2 the author quotes Albert Einstein. While we all applaud the successful scientific contribution Einstein has made, we cannot accept his humanistic philosophy. In his essay, “The World As I See It”, his emphasis is that we all exist for other people and our dependence is upon each other. He says his religious views found him satisfied in what knowledge he had obtained with life’s eternity and marvelous structure of existence, as well as his “humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the reason that manifests itself in nature.”
Others quoted are: Thomas Carlyle, the well-known writer and supporter of the French Revolution; Floyd McClung of Youth with a Mission Organization, who believes unquestionable submission is essential; C. S. Lewis, the popular 20th century Christian philosopher rejects the substitutionary aspect of Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross for mankind and the Virgin Birth; Albert Schweitzer, though involved in many good works was a staunch follower of the philosopher Emanuel Kant.
The author’s use of Henri Nouwen’s statement, “In order to be of service to others we have to die to them; that is, we have to give up measuring our meaning and value with the yardstick of others . . . thus become free and passionate,” is not without surprise. Nouwen was a Jesuit priest and a former psychology professor at Notre Dame University. His work was derived from his experience with depression he suffered throughout his life and he developed a course in Pastoral care that reflected his knowledge of Psychology. Furthermore he became a Fellow at the Ecumenical Institute at Collegeville, Minnesota. In the book, “Purpose Driven Church,” Donald McGavran and his student Win Arn are quoted. Lyle Schaller is another church growth proponent with books stressing church “health” and organization and is, as well, quoted. Cell church proponent Ralph Neighbor is quoted in “Purpose Driven Church” and understandably so, since the cell group is where transformation occurs. Man does have a purpose:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).

Drawing from unconverted, unregenerate men should give us at least a clue as to the falseness of the book, “The Purpose Driven Life.” It is not of God. It is, in truth, the product of “an Angel of Light.” Preachers who follow its direction must be labeled, as Paul said, “Satan’s ministers” (II Cor. 11:13-15).

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