Bob DeWaay has published an excellent examination of The Purpose Driven Life in his Critical Issues Commentary. The article examines The Purpose Driven Life and often compares it to John MacArthur’s “Hard to Believe – The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus.” Here are a few excerpts:
A few months ago a friend phoned to ask if I had ever heard of Rick Warren. “Yes” I replied. “Why are you asking”? He said, “I just got kicked out of a Bible Study for bringing my Bible to it.” That is how the idea for this article came to me. The Bible study my friend attended was really a Purpose Driven Life study group. The Purpose Driven Life book they were studying referenced Bible passages that sounded off base. He was told that if he was going to attend the study, he would have to leave his Bible at home, because the issues he brought up were disruptive to the group. He chose to quit instead.
Warren would have us believe that something is furry, meow’s, has four legs, and likes to chase mice, but is not a cat. He tells us that his book is not about “you” and then spends over three hundred pages making it about you, over and over. This doesn’t just look like self-help, read like self-help, sound like self-help and feel like self-help, it is self-help and it is about you. That doesn’t help me. I need the gospel to solve my sin problem. I don’t need Warren aphorisms—and certainly not thousands of them.
Warren’s terminology to describe God provides a picture of God as a kindly grandfather who gushes with warm, fuzzy feelings. For example, he has a chapter that tells us what makes God smile. He uses Noah as an example. He writes, “But there was one man who made God smile. The Bible says, ‘Noah was a pleasure to the Lord’” (Warren: 69). This is a citation of Genesis 6:8 from the Living Bible. Again the paraphrase turns a verse that is God-centered into one that is man-centered. The NASB says, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” The Bible tells what Noah received from God. The poor translation Warren uses makes Noah the agent and God the recipient. The NKJV is more pointed: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8; NKJV). In the Biblical account God gives grace to Noah, in Warren’s account Noah gives pleasure to God. Here is how Warren interprets Genesis 6:8: “God said, ‘This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile. I’ll start over with his family’” (Warren 69). He twists Genesis 6:8 to promote his man-centered theology and obscure the fact that it was God’s grace that made Noah who he was.
You can read the entire article here.