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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Purpose Driven Meth?

For all you PDL fans, I'll be nice. I won't tell you what I think but I will encourage you to check out this article. Don't be lazy either, make sure you check out the link within the article.

Obviously, I'm not saying that Rick Warren encouraged her to give the guy meth. But I am saying that all those people who used this hostage story to support that "Purpose Driven Life" has life transforming messages to it, may not want to use this situation to support their argument anymore.

If you are offended by my opinion, or can pick up that I'm not as thrilled about the book as Christian pop culture is...please talk to me. I'd love to share why.

I don't think it's the devil. I just think there are a lot of better things we could direct people toward reading.


  • At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Who was it that wrote something about "drinking the Purpose-Driven kool-aide?

  • At 5:31 PM, Anonymous ~d said…

    Ok, I'll take the bait....why do you not like the book very much? And what other books would you direct me to read instead? If you suggest The Handbook of Christian Apologetics, I'm tuning you out.

  • At 9:59 PM, Blogger David said…

    I dislike this book for the same reason I dislike "Prayer of Jabez" and every other trendy Christian market book like it - they promote a feel-good, cotton candy Christianity that says God's ultimate plan is to dump earthly happiness on all believers if only we will claim it. Show me this in Scripture.

    I tried to like this book. I really did. But after 9 of the 40 days I was so irritated I couldn't even finish it. It is now on the shelf at my favorite used book store. you can't beat 2 for 1 trade-ins.

    The problem is the mentality of these books steers us away from an eternal focus and, even more fundamentally, away from a God focus. No matter the Godly language wrapped around it, the attitude of these books is primarily "me". They promote living for God, but always with the unspoken (or spoken) motivation that, if we do, God is going to reward us here, now. This may, for a time, promote Christ-like living, but our lifestyle is pointless if not inwardly motivated exclusively by love for the Savior and a desire for glory to be brought to God.

    Take this example - let's say a girl goes on a date with a guy and he treats her like an absolute princess all evening. He pays for her meal, he opens doors and pulls her chair out for her at the table, he asks her questions about herself, etc. But inwardly he's doing it all because he hopes that if he plays his cards right, she's going to put out physically by the end of the night. Now let's say she goes on a date with another guy who does all of the exact same things, but does them because he actually cares about her and is interested in getting to know her. On the outside the actions of these two guys are exactly the same, but inside one is a jerk and one is good for her. Too often I see a Christianity that looks good outwardly but inwardly is just playing it's cards right so God will put out with comfort and happiness.

    Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, and our hearts can only be changed by an attitude of total surrender to God effected by His Word and the Holy Spirit. When we believe the well-meaning messages of some of these books and the bubblegum cheerleader anthems on Christian radio and think that God's ultimate goal is to make our lives here easy, we miss the point.

    I don't think these authors are bad people, and I know a lot of people who I respect who liked these books, but I am not among them.

  • At 6:47 AM, Anonymous brian said…

    Thanks for the link--it's an interesting read. I think it speaks more to the corruption of the media than the corruption of Rick Warren--or PDL. What other stories are we fed by the media that are warm and fuzzy, but not actually "all true"?

    On a different note: There's another interesting article about Rick Warren in Publisher's weekly (someone blogs about it here:http://www.challies.com/archives/001166.php) Hope you're doing well, man...We should grab lunch soon.

  • At 1:39 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    hey, today you all get a response...

    yes steve, you'd said it before. "purpose driven kool-aid." i guess my question is why do so many people expect us to just accept a book because the author makes christian claims. like it's unchristian-like for me to say a brother wrote a poor book. well, i'm not taking a sip. thanks for resisting too.

    ~d. retrospects says it was naive and foolish of me to think i could just say i didn't like the book and leave it there. i "outed" myself, and will give me reasons below. as for other books...."one thing you can't do in heaven" by mark cahill. "long journey home" by os guiness. "hard to believe" by john mcarthur (haven't started it yet, but everything i've heard in reviews tells me i'm going to love it!)

    david. you've hit ONE of the problems i have with PDL, Jabez (and anything by wilkinson lately) or Joel Osteen...too much emphasis on the here and now.

    in one of eldridges books (forget if it's waking the dead or wild at heart) he says that the salvation message works to motivate us for a while...but eventually that wears off. huh? that's totally ridiculous. if the eternal gift of reconcilliation with God can't continue to ignite my heart, i've got more problems than needing to find purpose.

    how do guys do this? easy. check out the way warren uses the Word of God. he uses a boatload of translations (whichever one meets his fancy for the moment to make his particular point) and even at times gives his own "loose paraphrase" of what the passage COULD mean. the handling of the Word is so loose, context is abandoned and conflicting Scriptures to his point are totally ignored.

    brian. interesting article. consistant with warren however. he formed his church by doing a study of the 50 (i think it was 50) most successful (of course, this meant largest) churches in America. he then looked at what they were doing and attempted to form the uber-church out of this model (that's really the point of purpose driven church...PDL predecessor). the man is a marketting genius...just not a real disciplined theologian.

  • At 9:16 PM, Anonymous ~d said…

    Wow, David, did we read the same first nine days? I guess I just didn't see the "me" focus you were seeing there. In fact, what I heard in the words there was that our entire existence is all about God. I also didn't see that he insinuated God would make our lives easy if we only followed a well-executed plan. I'm not a huge promoter of the book, but as one who read it from cover to cover, I can say I read a lot of good stuff there. Sure there was some fluff, but it's not hard to sort through. It doesn't matter to me one way or another whether someone else likes it or not, but to not have read much of it and yet lump it in with other "trendy" books and attack its message seems a bit harsh.

    And so i sit here, debating, do i go ahead and post this or delete?

    Here goes...

  • At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    have to agree with ~d on this one!

  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger David said…

    Let me clarify a few things from my previous comment.

    I do not think it was the intention of Warren or Wilkinson (or any other similar authors) to promote a selfish faith. The nine days of PDL I read did not say this. In fact, they said a great deal about living for God. They said it with some of the most disorganized writing I've ever read, but that's beside the point. The main problem I have is this - This book and (from what I understand from other people) others like it promote a faith that, while focused on God, primarily seeks the results of having a great earthly experience with Him and feeling good about Him. There seemed to be very little deeper truth beyond God really liking us and how we should really like God. Now, there's nothing false about that. God does really like us. We should really like God. But this kind of shallow, emotion and experience oriented approach lends very easily to the abuse I talked about in my first comment. At best, this book dumbs down the Christian life.

    Let me be honest. All of my more serious complaints aside, the main thing that made me put PDL down in complete irritation was the horrendous writing. The writing in this book displays the patience and poise of a 10 year old with ADHD. I felt like Warren was trying to inject sugar into my veins with every new paragraph. And every new paragraph certainly was new - so new it didn't even have to logically follow the one before it.

    I hope this didn't make you mad, ~d. Just my own opinion.

  • At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please never underestimate that power of the statement, "God likes you." This is real news for a culture of people who are growing up in completely broken families. Kids, that are now young adults, who have been tossed back and forth between parents and other family members who don't give a rip, find great comfort in the fact that God would actually want to hang around with them. Nobody else ever has. Our problem (us church people) is that we are so immersed in being doctrinally correct and theologically astute that we don't recognize that people don't get us. They don't understand our Bible Study Culture. I don't think I like the term dumbed down Christianity. I think some of us need to be dumbed down. Jesus' love is a pretty simple thing...something children understand.

    We alienate people and give them barries to jump over when we try to explain, for example, why you should be an Calvinist and not an Arminian. (or vice versa) Blah, blah, blah. People really are looking for some kind of meaning for their life RiGHT NOW. Because NOW is when it hurts....I'll let the Holy Spirit teach them perspective and suffering for a time, and heavenly reward and all that really great stuff in His good time. Right now, I'll tell them God likes them and wants to hang out with them.

    For the record, I disliked PDL, mostly because the longer I read, the more it addressed itself to the church culture. We have plenty of literature already!

    Thanks for your great thought, and for letting me throw my two cents in. Just surfing by.

  • At 12:37 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i don't think anyone is underestimating that power of hearing God likes you.

    but apart from the payment of our sins by Jesus Christ, by faith alone...God doesn't like us.

    God did not send Jesus to die because, doggone it, he really likes those fallen people down there and wants to be with them forever. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for my sins so that God could redeem that which turned its back on Him...thus receiving for Himself the maximum glory possible.

    the gospel isn't about God liking you. the gospel is about the glory of God's justice, wrath, grace and love all being combined in one act that should make us stand in awe of Him.

    i also have some concerns with the conversation about dumbing down the gospel message. i think the christian community TOTALLY does that right now...

    but i'll save that for an article some time.

    stop by again mr. anonymous.

  • At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    but God DID like (love) us before Jesus died for us.... John 3:16 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him Should not perish but have eternal life. Romans 5:8But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." 1john 3:16 By this we know love, that He laid down His lfe for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethern." I know that we are reconciled to God by Jesus' death, but didn't God love me before I accepted what Jesus did for me on the cross? I'm here to learn. lg

  • At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's "ms.anonymous" to you, buster.

    I don't disagree with the Truth you articulated. I'm just hoping that's not how you start a conversation with someone in the grocery store. "Redeem, wrath, grace, glory." That's the way you express yourself in your ABF/Sunday School. Which is good. Jesus spoke religion to the religious and about dirt and seeds to the farmers,(which by the way was not a CLEAR way of presenting the gospel - "if you have ears to hear then....." His closest friends had to ask Him what the heck He was talking about). There is wisdom in being winsome.

    PDL, I see, could be used for a great conversation starter (at least the first half of the book - people who've never been to church will, most likely, not understand the second half). That's really it.

    Our "differences" (if you can even call them that) may be in who our personal target audience is. We all have our job to do and hopefully we're multitasking.

  • At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous2 said…

    ok, we've got more than one anonymous. And I'm feeling territorial about my written thoughts, here - So I'm anonymous 2 and I published comments 3:01 AM and 4:47 PM. Sorry about not using a name but you guys are crazy for putting your names and pictures on the internet...but then you're guys.

  • At 3:56 PM, Anonymous ~d said…

    goodness, anonymous and i must have been writing a response at the same time...

  • At 4:00 PM, Anonymous ~d said…

    except i see that mine didn't post....argh!

  • At 4:17 PM, Anonymous ~d said…

    so anyway, danny, i wrote basically the same thing about Jn. 3:16...that God already loved us before he saved us. I know He died to pay the penalty for my sin and to restore to me the kind of relationship he orginally had with Adam before his fall. If God did this only for his glory, wouldn't that be rather selfish? Not that He doesn't receive glory for His work on the cross, but was that His primary motivation? I really think it was for love.

    david - you didn't make me mad. i know you to be a deep thinker and a man who articulates and expresses himself well. so it surprised me that your post seemed rather one-sided. i don't think warren is a good writer either, but i have also talked with enough people to know that perhaps he writes as deeply as they are able to go, you know what i mean? so the book speaks to them in very positive ways. i guess i'd also liken it to a typical sunday sermon...some days the sermon speaks powerfully to the person in front of me while i struggle to stay awake because it sounds like just so much mumbo jumbo. (of course i'm not talking about your sermons, danny.) but depending one where one is in his relationship with God or on his journey in life, even a blandly spoken message can have quite an impact. the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart and bam!

    so we are two opinionated people sharing opinions. while i'd rather opine in person, blogging it here is still fun. and i still like and respect you :)

  • At 7:11 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    as for Jesus being vague...

    He was so intentionally. as we've talked about, it was appointed that Jesus would be killed. He states that part of His mission was to be rejected.

    Warren is not the Messiah. The Messiah has come and it is our responsibility to CLEARLY as possible teach about that. Our role is obviously totally different that of Christ's.

  • At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    more scripture for God loving us before He saved us: Isaiah 63:7-9,Isaiah 54:8,10, 1john 4:19,Gal 2:20,Eph.5:2,john17:23,eph 2:4-5. Just the tip of the ice berg, i'm sure. The essence of God is love! I think He DID say, I love those fallen people and I want them to be with me. Yes, our salvation DOES bring Him glory. but i see scripture telling us that it was because of God's love for man that He sent Jesus for us. I AM in awe of Him, that He would love me, a great sinner, and that He would even THINK about sending His Son to die for me!!! I don't see any scriptue telling me that God "doesn't like " me. All I see is His love for me. Now that is not to say that God doesn't get angry and shows His wrath. God has said again and again He HATES sin, but His love for the sinner is still always there. His love is steadfast. That's what the bible says.lg

  • At 10:21 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    it seems like you've gotten rather emotional about this post. i'm thankful for that...for i know you emotions are from a passion for the lost and gratitude to God for your own salvation.

    but i think maybe that emotion read into things i haven't said. (or maybe i've just stated them really poorly). i never once said that God doesn't love the sinner. Praise God He does or i'd be destined to hell!

    maybe my considering audience post will clear things up a little.

  • At 9:19 AM, Blogger jason said…

    hey guys,

    This is an interesting conversation we have here.

    On the one hand we have the love camp that says that God relates to us completely in love before we come to relationship with Him. Thus, we have need to share that love with those who don't know Christ.

    On the other hand, we have the sovereignty camp that says give them truth and the truth will set them free.

    I don't know where I fall into this whole conversation (or even if this conversation ended a while ago and no one will ever read this anyway) but I will post a few thoughts from what I've read

    1. ~D, I have to disagree with your statement that God does everything out of love and not for his own glory. We have plenty of statments in scripture of God saying that He is a jealous God and that He will not give His glory to another. In this instance, I could try and list all of these references, or I could just send you to http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/gods_passion/god_us_himself.html and let someone else who can explain it better do all the work. Really, the article is great and takes a look at scriptures throughout the history of redemption to prove that God is the most God-centered being of all.

    2. I think some of the bitterness against PDL isn't because of what it says, but more so becuase its become such a primary part of our Christian subculture. I got the overwhelming feeling that most of the dialogue against PDL was done because of cheesy Christian t-shirts and test-a-mints than it was against Rick Warren.

    3. While our culture needs to hear about God's love, they also need to hear about there inability to produce righteouness... in short, their inability to be loveable. It doesn't matter how much God loves us, if we can't produce righteousness, we will spend eternity away from Him. Therefore, while I am all about showing and sharing God's love, I have to also be about showing people their failure to be righteous.
    My mom used to love to watch the tv show Highway to Heaven. I don't know why (I think she kind of had a thing for Michael Landon)but she did. That show was all about an angel who wanted to help people straighten out their life. I watch the show Joan of Arcadia and I see the same thing. God is love therefore he straightens out everyones life. Thats what God does because He is love. Its funny to me that no one ever makes a tv show about the Christian who has problems that aren't fixed.
    I guess what I'm saying is that our culture is pretty familiar with God's love. They won't believe in a God who is not, therefore God's love can only be a starting point. They have to hear about their own incapability to please God (in a righteousness producing kind of sense) before they can adequately respond to the gospel.

    Sorry this post was so long.

  • At 3:59 PM, Anonymous ~d said…

    well, jason, i don't know if you'll come back to read this post either, but i must respond. first, i didn't say that "God does everything out of love and not for his own glory." I don't believe that myself.

    I said, "If God did this only for his glory, wouldn't that be rather selfish? Not that He doesn't receive glory for His work on the cross, but was that His primary motivation? I really think it was for love." Key word being "only". I was responding to Danny's comment - "God did not send Jesus to die because, doggone it, he really likes those fallen people down there and wants to be with them forever. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for my sins so that God could redeem that which turned its back on Him...thus receiving for Himself the maximum glory possible," because he omitted the verses that unequivocally express the truth that God loved us so much he died for us.

    just wanted to clear that up.

    and, you know, i truly believe that you, danny, david, and I ~ and a host of others ~ all believe the same things, but we aren't expressing ourselves so well in cyberspace. a roundtable discussion would have been better, easier and perhaps more enjoyable. but, hey...i jumped right into the middle of it. and now i'm jumping out.

  • At 9:25 AM, Blogger jason said…

    And what I'm saying is that God sacrificed Jesus Christ on the Christ for a host of purposes. The foremost of all of these purposes, though, was to glorifiy Himself. Yes, Christ died because of His love for us, but it is not selfish of Him to seek His glory over and above every other purpose. Thats what the purpose of that entire article is, to prove that God is most interested in glorifying Himself.
    While this may originally appear to be entirely selfish, let me reassure you that its not. Suppose you were the best Spanish teacher in the state of Ohio. There was simply no contest, ~D is the best in the state, no contest. I don't think it would be wrong for you at that point to say "I'm the best Spanish teacher in the state of Ohio". Its not arrogant or self seeking, its just the truth.
    In the same way (somewhat) It is not arrogant or self seeking for God to seek His glory in all things because, without saying this too childishly, He's the best at everything.
    If we look at the former example again, and someone were to ask "who is the best Spanish teacher in the state of Ohio?" I couldn't truthfully say it was Senior Pasterini (who happened to have the misfortune of being my Spanish teacher in High School). Wouldn't that be lying? If I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, as well as I know that 2 and 2 is 4, that ~D was the best Spanish teacher in Ohio, how could I begin to state otherwise. Likewise, if someone were to ask ~D herself, who the best Spanish teacher in the state of Ohio was, she would have to respond in the same way. Would it not be untruthful for her to say she wasn't?
    Therefore, if God is most loving, most kind, most just, etc... is it wrong for Him to seek recognition of that? I would say no. In fact, I would say that it is incredibly loving for Him to do so because in the midst of this understanding we find our place, to glorify God as well, which is the most satisfying act we can participate in.
    Have you ever noticed that certain parts of creation are always shown to reveal certain aspects of God's glory? Everytime we see Seraphim and Cherubim there stuck repeating the same lines over and over again "holy, holy, holy". They testify to God's holiness. On the same level, Psalm 19 says that nature reveals God's wisdom. Nature is also said to reveal God's power and majesty.
    So what does man point to concerning God's glory? Think about it, there is no other created thing that reveals God's forgiveness or His mercy. We are the only being that has been forgiven. God revealed something about Himself in us, that He didn't reveal anywhere else in all creation. God glorified Himself in us. And I have to think that He did that solely because He is a God of grace and had to reveal that aspect of His character, we just happened to be the lucky beneficiaries. Yes God loves us, yes, He cares for us, but over and above His relation to us is His concern for His glory.
    This is not a new doctrine. It found its beginning about 200 years ago with Jonathan Edward's The End for Which God Created the World. I'll just save you a whole lot of boring reading and tell you that the answer is that God created the world for His glory.

    I hope I explained what I'm thinking with some amount of clarity. I apologize that this has nothing to do with pdl. Its just something that revolutionized the way I thought about Christianity and my approach to it. If I didn't make any sense or my arguments were weak, please check out
    He explains it alot better than I can.

  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    just to clarify, and i know you meant this j.

    this is not a new doctrine. it's more than two hundred years old. it's found throughout the pages of Scripture.

    edwards did a wonderful job of articulating it 200 years ago, because the church had lost perspective on this issue.

    Piper (and i will agree with Jason, he does a much better job of talking about this than either of us) gives this illustration:

    God's glory is a house. Within that house are rooms called love, mercy, forgiveness, power, wisdom, wrath, justice, anger and so on.

    Too many people walk in the house and stand only in the room of love. It's beautiful, it's wonderful, it's warm.

    But they don't really understand God's glory because there are rooms yet to be explored. They are standing in just one room when there is a whole mansion waiting for their investigation. They miss out on understading God's glory becaue they just want to reside in His love.

    Now here's the funny thing. Start to walk around the house and you'll discover other things. You begin to understand how pure God really is, and how grotesque your sin is. You'll start to understand that His justice REQUIRES something be done about our sin. As you wonder through the giant house, you see a door that looks familiar. You walk through it and realize it's the "love room" again. However, this time it is even more spectacular than ever before. You are more amazed by it because you now know more about the entire glory of God.

    see, i would say that when we put our focus too much on love we diminish not only the glory of God but we diminish how great His love is. we must bring all the factors (a life long process) to people's attention so that God's glory is revealed. in doing that, they'll see love in a greater way than ever before.

  • At 11:00 AM, Blogger jason said…

    That post didn't have the right URL, so here it goes again


  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger jason said…

    It still didn't copy correctly, sorry. Just click here and it will take you there... I hope.


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