Are there any problems with the Purpose-Driven Life? Yes. You have to wade through some deep lies in order to get to the truth. People who do not see the errors when reading the book are likely to believe the false doctrines and be wrong in their thinking. Here are some examples of the problems.
First, you are led to believe, from Is 44:2, that you were “created” by God individually, with every personal characteristic of your body and personality designed specifically by God. However, Is. 44:2 is not a reference to God creating individual beings; it is a reference to Jacob and Israel. You find the cross reference to this verse in Rom 9:8-12. God miraculously gave Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, and chose Jacob from Rebekah and Isaac to bring forth the nation of Israel, his firstborn son (Ex. 4:22).
The author, Rick Warren, also cites Ps 139:15-16 as proof that God designed every bit of you, individually. However, those verses are a reference to the creation of man, not the creation of David, for David said, “I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” Adam came from the ground; David was formed in the womb.” There’s a big difference.
The reason the author makes you believe that God individually created you is to make you think you are especially important (Gal. 6:3). However, before you are saved, you are not the great child planned by God. You are a child of the devil (1 Jn 3:10; Jn 8:44), a child of wrath (Eph 2:3), a child of disobedience (Eph 2:2); having no hope (Eph 2:12); under the wrath of God (Jn 3:36); with a deceitful and wicked heart (Jer 17:9). Moses said, “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” (Gen. 8:21). Of course, after you get saved, you are accepted in the beloved, adopted as God’s child, loved and called (Eph 1:6; Rom 8:14-15; 1 Jn 4:19; Rom 8:29-30).
Second, the author deals with the judgment seat of Christ. This is a great doctrine for Christians to study because it reveals our accountability to Jesus and the consequences of both serving him well and serving him badly. Warren leaves off any mention of the gold, silver, precious stones and crowns that are available at this judgment (see our weekly question on the judgment seat of Christ). But since this is not a book about that judgment, that may not be that bad.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of things he does with this judgment that are not good. For one thing, he leaves off the negative aspect of this judgment. A Christian who fails to serve the Lord loses everything he worked for at the judgment seat of Christ. All of his works get burned up (1 Cor 3:11-15). His soul is eternally secure but his inheritance is not. He can lose it. For another thing, and far worse than the first problem, the author centers this discussion on money. He leads you to believe that if you are generous with your money, you will have a better quality spiritual life. That is not true. Many a Christian has given liberally to the Lord and been spiritually bankrupt. Ananias and Sapphira gave bountifully to the church and died for pretending to be more spiritual than they really were (Acts 5:1-10).
Third, the passage on salvation is too weak. We believe that salvation is neither hard nor complicated. Jesus paid the price for our sins so the “work” has been done. However, we have noticed that in an effort to win as many souls as possible, personal workers and preachers have left off dealing with the subjects of sin, hell and repentance. As a result, many folks have “prayed the prayer” who are still lost. Warren’s description of how to be saved could be followed by a religious lost man and he could still be lost. Warren does deal with the subject of repentance later in the book but not in the context of salvation. This is dangerous business. Just look at the following verses: Acts 20:20-21; 26:20; Lk 13:3, 5; Jn 16:8-9; Rev 20:15; Rev 21:8; Heb 2:3; Is 59:2; Rom 3:23; etc.
Fourth, we’ll just deal with one more thing. The author expresses a widely held belief that all music can glorify God as long as the lyrics are Christian. Warren reasons that since God created music, he loves all types of it. This is absolutely false. Music is one of the most influential methods that the devil has used to infiltrate churches with worldliness. When the Lord describes the devil in Eze 28:13, he says, “the workmanship of thy tabrets and of the pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” In Is 14:11-12, the devil’s instruments include viols.
Tabrets and pipes are percussion and wind instruments; viols are stringed instruments. They make up the devils very being. Thus, there are numerous negative references to music in the Bible. That’s why the first humans to get involved with music were in Cain’s line (Gen 4:21; 1 Jn 3:12). There is a line of music that ultimately leads to rebellion against God (Job 21:12-15). When Israel went into apostasy, their music went down with them (Amos 6:5). When Nebuchadnezzar set up an image for the people to worship, he got them to bow when the music started (Dan 3:5). And Nebuchadnezzar is a type of the antichrist, who will cause men to bow to his statue or die (Dan 3:6; Rev 13:15).
Pastors have gravely erred by bringing worldly music into the church just because it has some words about Jesus in it. They are conditioning their people to “feel” something in the “praise and worship” service that is mistaken for the Holy Spirit. Instead of the Holy Spirit, it is a natural spirit, the spirit of man. It responds to feeling not to faith. It is moved by emotions, the same kind of emotions that schools try to instill in their student bodies at pep rallies. Only the mood in church is more passive, more yielding to earthly, sensual, devilish wisdom delivered from the pulpit after the music stops.
These are the things that Warren puts forth in the book that are false. Stick with your King James Bible and don’t let him allure you into some trap of man’s making that will hinder your fellowship with Jesus Christ. If you can pull out the truth without getting ensnared, well. As for us, we are going to stick with our discipleship lessons.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder