Skip to content ↓

Purpose Driven vs Hard To Believe

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.


  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (March 1)

    A La Carte: Rumblings of revival among Gen Z / Addition by subtraction / Seeing red / Burying the talents of the Great Rewarder / Inviting evaluation of your preaching / Book and Kindle deals / and more.

  • New and Notable Books

    New and Notable Christian Books for February 2024

    February is typically a solid month for book releases, and this February was no exception. As the month drew to its close, I sorted through the many (many!) books that came my way this month and arrived at this list of new and notables. In each case, I’ve provided the editorial description to give you…

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (February 29)

    A La Carte: Is it ever right to lie? / When the “perfect” fit isn’t / An open letter to Christians who doubt / When a baby is a disease / The long view of preaching / and more.

  • A Freak of Nature (and Nurture)

    A Freak of Nature (and Nurture)

    We are probably so accustomed to seeing bonsai trees that we don’t think much about them. But have you ever paused to consider how strange and freakish they really are?

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 28)

    A La Carte: Can Christians buy expensive things? / You are probably WEIRDER than you think / Our limits are a gift from God / Big dreams impress. Ordinary faithfulness delivers / The biggest problem in worship education / Children’s books / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 27)

    A La Carte: God doesn’t owe me kindness / Jordan Peterson’s “We Who Wrestle with God” tour / Does your church have an evangelist? / Putting Jesus first in a world of pleasures / Send help. My husband believes in me / and more.