Purpose-Driven Drivel

Have the bright lights blinded Rick Warren? How disappointing it was to see Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life (which I have not read), pastor of Saddleback Church, and evangelicalism’s latest superstar, on the Today Show yesterday (Oct. 18), reducing his message to that of a satisfied-life theory. Warren said the precepts of his book can be and have been utilized by all—Buddhists, Muslims, NASCAR, NBA, etc.—to give purpose to their lives, and that one need not be a Christian to employ its precepts. He made no reference that I can recall to Jesus Christ.

Warren believes that Christ gives life purpose. I know that from everything I’ve read about him and what I’ve been told by trusted friends. But I didn’t learn it from Warren’s Today Show appearance, and the millions of people who are outside of the Christian faith didn’t hear it on the morning show, either. While I don’t’ believe he should have spoken in “Christianese”– a mistake many Christian leaders make when faced with a media interview — I believe Warren went completely in the other direction, and I was surprised that this solidly Christian book was portrayed as humanistic and ecumenical.

Warren seems to be everywhere with his purpose-driven maxim. The Purpose-Driven Life sold an average of nearly 800,000 copies a month since its release 24 months ago, making it the best-selling hardback nonfiction trade book in history and a mainstay on numerous best-seller lists. It hit the No. 1 spot more than 20 times during an 87-week run on The New York Times’ list and was named Book of the Year in both 2003 and 2004 by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Christianity Today dubbed Warren “America’s most influential pastor” in a cover story last fall. There is no doubt that the God that gives life the purpose Warren refers to is the God of the Bible; on the Today Show yesterday, Warren shied away from admitting that undeniable truth.

“I believe that we are possibly on the verge of a new reformation in Christianity and another Great Awakening in our nation,” Warren said recently. “The signs are everywhere, including the popularity of this book.” Unfortunately, Warren used his time before a national television audience Monday to extol the book, not the One who can provide a great awakening.

–Debbie Payton

About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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