"The Purpose Driven Life" A Modern Day "Golden Calf"
By Joseph Chambers  |  Paw Creek Ministries


Major Problems With Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life books:
  1. Declares that there are many different pathways to a relationship with God.
  2. States that circumstances help you become like Jesus more than the Word of God.
  3. Uses totally false paraphrases of the Word of God.
  4. Teaches contemplative religion, not experiential new birth salvation.
  5. Totally compromises with godless music.
  6. Reduces the church to a sociological club seeking status with the world.
  7. It is "Robert Schullerism" at its worst.
  8. The best description of this book is "Religious Humanism."
  9. It is totally ecumenical in nature and has a powerful "Evangelical and Roman Catholic Together" basis.

Nothing is more powerful to destroy than beautiful truths packaged in religious garb. It's the modern day "golden calf" lining the shelves of our "Christian" bookstores. The greatest battle raging in the present day church is "Robert Schullerism." We could call it "Norman Vincent Pealism" or "religious humanism." All of these names describe the positive thinking, Seeker/Sinner-friendly fads that are close to totally dominating the American church and spreading worldwide. Mix this religious fad with loud and soulish contemporary music, from rock to rap, and that is the musical style of these sinner-friendly churches; and it is appealing to the multitudes. The religious emotion of the unregenerate soul is almost exactly the same as a genuine spiritual emotion. The inner witness of the spiritual is certainly a world above these surface emotions.

Then remember that the majority of the church world where this sinner-friendly fad with its loud and crazy music has been welcome was previously dead churches, where even amens were practically banned. This crowd was ready for anything better than the emptiness to which they were accustomed. It's quite strange to see churches that have rejected worship in "Spirit" and in "Truth" so quickly fall for something as shallow as these new trends.

Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life books are nothing but Robert Schuller with a new face or Norman Vincent Peale with a good dose of emotions. It is clearly an effort to teach people how to be religious but utterly void of the great truth of a radical "New Birth" experience. Can you imagine telling Apostle Paul or Apostle Peter, "Tone it down boys," so you can make these sinners comfortable? Rick Warren or Bill Hybel would have said, "Come on, guys, don't you know that you are going to offend these religious Jews and pagan Gentiles, then you will never be able to reach them?"

Satan is putting on the greatest show of religion ever seen since the dominant days of the Roman Catholic Church. That's the perfect picture of Rick Warren's new church model. It's the same religion with its show of piety and excitement that Israel induced Aaron and the religious leaders to produce for them while Moses was meeting with God on Mount Sinai. To read in Exodus of the genuine revelations of God that Israel had already experienced when they worshipped the golden calf is quite overwhelming. The revelations of God included the Passover Lamb, the death of the firstborn in every Egyptian family, the great miracle of the Red Sea passing, and the destruction of the greatest army on earth. Manna and quail from Heaven were followed by water out of a barren rock that satisfied a multitude. Moses had stood on top of a hill with the rod of God in his hand, while Israel, which was totally untrained in warfare and recently delivered from 400 years of slavery, utterly defeated Amalek and his trained army. God was revealed to Israel at this event as Jehovah-Nissi or "The Lord our Banner."

How could such revelations of God be dismissed for a religious show as evidenced in the golden calf? The Bible tells us that everything that happened to Israel was an example to us. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (I Corinthians 10:11).

Israel was corrupted by a "seeker/sinner-friendly" effort on Joshua's part. Look at the story. "And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men." (Exodus 32:15-28).

The church world is bowing before a modern day "golden calf" because the way of God is too straight for them. Holiness has been declared legalism and out of touch with contemporary minds. It will end in the same judgment as this religion of the golden calf.

The Author of Confusion: Many Translations
Every great effort of Lucifer, the devil, has always questioned, "Thus saith the Lord." The author of confusion is departure from infallible truth. It's okay to have a little mixture of truth; in fact, that's always the best error. If a person is as eloquent as Rick Warren, they can weave a beautiful web full of incredible traps that obscure the most wonderful truths of Holy Scripture. Rick Warren brags about using fifteen different translations and paraphrases. One of the worst possible ways he does this is by actually calling the "Paraphrases" that he is using the "Word of God," when the truth is, they are only the paraphrasers' opinions. He never admits that these paraphrased renderings of Bible verses are totally someone's opinion. To call someone's paraphrased rendering "God's Word" without explanation cannot be considered anything but false. At best, a paraphrase has to be labeled as a commentary. We will deal with a number of faulty translations and paraphrases in this article.

Rick Warren has little respect for the King James Version of Holy Scripture. In his early book, entitled The Purpose Driven Church, he states the following.

"Read Scripture from a newer translation. With all the wonderful translations and paraphrases available today, there is no legitimate reason for complicating the Good News with four hundred-year-old English. Using the King James Version creates an unnecessary cultural barrier. Remember, when King James authorized the new translation it was because he wanted a contemporary version. I once saw an advertisement that claimed if King James were alive today, he'd be reading the New International Version! That's probably true. Charity is more important than poetry." (The Purpose Driven Church, by Rick Warren, p. 297.)

The only person with whom the King James Bible would create a cultural barrier would be some wild-eyed liberal, homosexual, or radical feminist. Are we supposed to tiptoe around this group or confront them to hopefully bring conviction to their souls so they can be converted to Christ? This is the point at which they have so departed from truth that their whole idea can be called a "golden calf."

Reading a number of translations and paraphrases provides a "Who's Who" list of modern theological liberalism and Roman Catholic mysticism. Let's look at a few passages to see how misrepresentative of truth they are.

Here is a passage from Psalm 139:16 that Rick Warren quotes from the Living Bible, which is known to be a "lying paraphrase." His quote says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book!" (Psalm 139:16, The Living Bible. As printed in The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 23.) Read the Hebrew Masoretic Text. David said, "My embryo saw Your eyes (Your eyes saw) and on Your book all of them were written; the days they were formed and not one among them." (Nothing was missing.) (Psalm 139:16, Interlinear Bible.) Now, look at the King James Version, "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." (Psalm 139:16, King James Version.)

Charles Spurgeon commented on this verse, "This verse is an exceedingly difficult one to translate, but we do not think that any of the proposed amendments are better than the rendering afforded us by the Authorized Version." (The Treasury of David, Vol. 3, p.263.) Of course, he lived before the Living Bible was published, but apparently the rewriters were already at work. Mr. Warren certainly shows us that rewriting the Word of God is okay with him.

Another passage that shows how loose the author is with the Holy Bible is found in chapter eleven. He is dealing with an ambiguous title, "Becoming Best Friends With God." This chapter is filled with his mindset of mysticism. He quotes part of Ephesians 4:6 from the New Century Version, "He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything." (Ephesians 4:6, New Century Version. As printed in The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 88.) This quote fully supports "pantheism" or the New Age idea that God is within or is the substance of His creation. You could fully expect this quote in a New Age book, which was written by any one of their authors. The true rendering of this verse is, "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:6, King James Version.) The Interlinear Bible renders it as saying, "One God and Father of all, the (One) above all, and through all, and in all you." (Ephesians 4:6, Interlinear Bible.) This chapter also deals with a Catholic concept, "Practicing the Presence of God." We will deal with that under a different heading.

While this book is loaded with blasphemous corruptions of Scripture, I will deal with only one more. His very first quote in the text of this book gives us a clear indication of where he was headed. It would be hard to start a book on "Godly Living" with a more corrupted text. In this case, let me give you truth first. By the Holy Ghost, the Apostle Paul said, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6, King James Version.) What a statement by the Spirit to every one of us! But, Rick's God is different and less restrictive. The seeker is in charge of his life, so, the paraphrased edition, called "The Message," is quoted. "Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life." (Romans 8:6, The Message. As printed in The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 18.)

There is absolutely no kinship between this text out of The Message paraphrase and the infallible Word of God. The original word-for-word translation in the Interlinear Bible is, "For the mind of the flesh (is) death; but the mind of the Sprit (is) life and peace." (Romans 8:6, Interlinear Bible.) The Bible calls this error by its proper name. Apostle Paul wrote to Corinth and declared, "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." (II Corinthians 4:2.) This book, The Purpose Driven Life, is a gross mishandling of the Word of God and the end results will prove that fact beyond doubt. The church world will be more religious, but measurably less spiritual.

Learn Your Purpose, But Do Your Own Thing
The theme of this book is to discover the purpose of God, but the author quickly denounces the Lordship of Jesus Christ over your total lifestyle. It's absolutely normal for a "Seeker/Sinner-friendly" theology to break down at this point. No wonder the multitudes love it. Religion without Lordship surrender is the scourge of this generation. The whole book is a paradox, pitting truth against error with error winning. Listen to his words in the first chapter. "You may choose your career, your spouse, your hobbies, and many other parts of your life, but you don't get to choose your purpose." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 21.) This is not even close to a born again experience. He is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.

This theme is repeated in the last chapter, as well as the first chapter. He clearly makes this idea a central point of his book. Notice how he emphasizes man's many options from which to choose. "You may wonder, 'What about God's will for my job or marriage or where I'm supposed to live or go to school?' Honestly, these are secondary issues in your life, and there may be multiple possibilities that would all be in God's will for you. What matters most is that you fulfill God's eternal purposes regardless of where you live or work or whom you marry. Those decisions should support your purposes. The Bible says, 'Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.' (Proverbs 19:21, New International Version.) Focus on God's purposes for your life, not your plans, since that's what will last forever." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 317.)

How do you decide God's purpose in such confusion? Please notice a proper rendering of the verse he quoted, "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." (Proverbs 19:21, King James Version.) There is no similarity in these two verses. His quote from the New International Version appears to support his remarks, but the Holy Spirit in the proper rendering shows the folly of following one's own plans and will.

When you are born again, the Holy Spirit takes over the reins of your total life. The Father has planned your companion, your career, your interest, and, yes, your total lifestyle. His plans for you are bigger, better, and more wonderful than your wildest dreams. For me to say less is to deceive you. The Spirit said, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8:13-17.)

The Children of Israel worshipped their own gold and silver that Aaron had taken from them to mold the golden calf. Rick Warren's book teaches that our generation can serve God in the same manner. He is basically saying, that as long as you worship Him, your life is your own for the choosing. There is no way to separate the purpose of your life and His will from the plans of your life. They are one and the same.

Mystical Meditation: Practicing the Presence of God
Probably the most destructive idea constantly suggested in this book is the mystical form of devotion, worship, and prayer. Rather than an experience with God in the human spirit, Warren is teaching soulical religion. He actually warns against an experience and promotes reality only in the cognitive sense. Read this statement found in chapter eleven. "If you are seeking an experience of His presence through all of this, you have missed the point. We don't praise God to feel good, but to do good. Your goal is not a feeling, but a continual awareness of the reality that God is always present. That is the lifestyle of worship." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, pp. 89-90.)
He goes straight from this statement to a heading entitled, "Through Continual Meditation." Please read this carefully. This book by Rick Warren is a picture of Contemplative Religion, not "Experimental Christianity." There is a world of difference.

The Roman Catholic Church theology is built up on contemplative religion. The movers and shakers of the Catholic Church have always followed this erroneous style of devotion. This is the primary divide between salvation by the transforming blood of Jesus Christ and this form of mental devotion that leaves the worshipper free to chart the rest of their own life. This is why pedophilia and many other vices are common fare in the Catholic ranks and in any religion that forsakes a "transformed life."

He promotes and quotes an ancient classic from a Catholic author, entitled Practicing the Presence of God. Here are his words;

"The classic book on learning how to develop a constant conversation with God is Practicing the Presence of God. It was written in the seventeenth century by Brother Lawrence, a humble cook in a French monastery. Brother Lawrence was able to turn even the most commonplace and menial tasks, like preparing meals and washing dishes, into acts of praise and communion with God. The key to friendship with God, he said, is not changing what you do, but changing your attitude toward what you do. What you normally do for yourself you begin doing for God, whether it is eating, bathing, working, relaxing, or taking out the trash. Today we often feel we must "get away" from our daily routine in order to worship God, but that is only because we haven't learned to practice his presence all the time. Brother Lawrence found it easy to worship God through the common tasks of life; he didn't have to go away for special spiritual retreats." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, pp. 88.)

This idea sounds wonderful until you learn that the person that has experienced the presence of God does not need to practice His presence. When you have to practice His presence, you are opening the door of your life to all kinds of ideas and spirits. Many people who try this idea will be totally unconverted and will be guided by their own Adamic nature.

The eleventh chapter should be in a Catholic book, not an evangelical one. He further states, "Meditation is often misunderstood as some difficult, mysterious ritual practiced by isolated monks and mystics. But meditation is simply focused thinking - a skill anyone can learn and use anywhere." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 90.) This entire chapter is ecumenical and just another step by the "Catholic" and "Protestant" crowd to unite us together. He states, "Benedictine monks use the hourly chimes of a clock to remind them to pause and pray." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 89.) Personally, I'm angered by this kind of subtle effort to destroy fundamental Christianity and to lead the evangelical church back to Rome.
Universalism: Headed Into The Abyss
Rick Warren is clearly toying with universalism and many paths to God. This is the darkest part of his descent in liberalism. He glowingly quotes a New Age book by Gary Thomas, entitled Sacred Pathways. The subtitle is "Discover Your Soul's Path to God." There can be no acceptable excuse for the presence of this religious garbage.

Look at this full two-paragraph quote from The Purpose Driven Life.

"In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary identifies nine of the ways people draw near to God: Naturalists are most inspired to love God out-of-doors, in natural settings. Sensates love God with their senses and appreciate beautiful worship services that involve their sight, taste, smell, and touch, not just their ears. Traditionalists draw closer to God through rituals, liturgies, symbols, and unchanging structures. Ascetics prefer to love God in solitude and simplicity. Activists love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place. Caregivers love God by loving others and meeting their needs. Enthusiasts love God through celebrations. Contemplatives love through adoration. Intellectuals love God by studying with their minds. (Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas, pp. 22-29.)

"There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to worship and friendship with God. One thing is certain: You don't bring glory to God by trying to be someone he never intended you to be. God wants you to be yourself. 'That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for; those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.' (John 4:23, The Message.)" (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 103.)

Please note that second paragraph where Rick himself dares to suggest, "There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to worship and friendship with God." That's raw heresy. He further states, "God wants you to be yourself." Do you remember when Tammy Faye Bakker said, "I've got to be me!"? She is, but look at what the "me" is. This certainly fits the New Age psychological person and sells big time with the unregenerate masses. It will not end you anywhere but eternal hell. If the church world buys this, it are on its way to destruction in a hurry.

Gary Thomas freely establishes where the inspiration for his book was derived. It came from a "spirit guide" named Philemon that gave it to Carl Jung, a noted humanistic psychologist. Here is the quote from Gary's book,

"Carl Jung developed four profiles to describe human nature. (These profiles have been formulated by Isabel Briggs Myers in the popular Myers Briggs test.) First, we approach reality either as an extrovert, who is most at home in the social world, or as an introvert, who prefers to dwell in the inner world. Second, we register input as either a sensing person, using the five senses, or an intuitive person, using the imagination. Third, we organize and arrange date either as a thinking person, who uses logic and the intellect, or as a feeling person who arranges data according to how it affects people and relates to human values. Finally, we arrange our outer reality as either a judging person, who is orderly, controlling and managing, or a perceptive person, who is spontaneous and flexible. Combinations of these four profiles can create sixteen different personality types, and the Myers Briggs test is designed to separate these types." (Transcend, by Martin Kelsey, p. 122. As printed in Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas, p. 21.)

The cover of Gary's book is a perfect picture (the title, subtitle, and artwork) of a New Age Publication. This kind of dark theological jargon is having an incredible impact upon once-great spiritual leaders and churches. The only way to God in salvation, worship, relationship or friendship is the Blood of Jesus Christ. No person can bring their sinful, unrepentant and self-guided self into the family of the born again. Speaking of the many personalities in the human family certainly help us understand one another, but to suggest our characteristics are our pathway to God is dark and dangerous. The body of Jesus Christ is one body, baptized unto that body by the transforming power of His Holy Spirit. The soul is the seat of the Adamic nature and that nature is hopelessly lost and totally incapable of redeeming itself. It must be renounced, forsaken, and blood washed or it is lost. The only religion it can produce is the equivalent of the golden calf that corrupted Israel and brought the quick judgment of God.

Trashy Music in the Temple
According to Warren, his church is known as "the flock that likes to rock." He says in his book, "There is no such thing as 'Christian' music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 66.) He further states, "God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all - fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don't like it all, but God does! If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship. Christians often disagree over the style of music used in worship, passionately defending their preferred style as the most biblical or God-honoring. But there is no biblical style!" (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 67.)

How can anyone claim that God invented all kinds of music? How do you prove that "God loves all kinds of music?" Do we have a Scripture verse showing God sitting on His throne while someone does a hard rock or a rap act with his or her music? Is Rick Warren so popular that he can make these kinds of claims without an ounce of proof to back it up? Something is profoundly wrong when we view much of today's music and then say, "God invented it, God loves it." We find incredible documentation of the multiple lives destroyed by today's music world. Something is horribly wrong with Rick Warren's methods for deciding truth.

His commitment to his form of music was not determined by Biblical standards and he proudly admits that he told an audience in one of his seminars how they came to their choice. Warren made it clear that loud, raucous music with a driving beat is the kind of music to which Saddleback residents listened, inside and outside of the church. He said,

"Now, at Saddleback Church, we are unapologetically contemporary... I passed out a three-by-five card to everybody in the church, and I said, 'You write down the call letters of the radio station you listen to.' I wasn't even asking unbelievers. I was asking the people in the church, 'What kind of music do you listen to?' When I got it back, I didn't have one person who said, 'I listen to organ music.' Not one. I didn't have a single person who said, 'I listen to huge choirs on the radio.' Not one. In fact, it was 96-97% adult contemporary, middle-of-the-road pop. It wasn't heavy metal rock, but it was something with a beat like you hear most commercials have today on television. So, we made a strategic decision that we are unapologetically a contemporary music church. And right after we made that decision and stopped trying to please everybody, Saddleback exploded with growth. Now, I'll be honest with you, we are loud. We are really, really loud on a weekend service.... I say, 'We're not gonna turn it down.' Now, the reason why is baby boomers want to feel the music, not just hear it. Now, I can give you two dozen really good churches within driving distance that are my friends, we're in small groups together, that don't have it as loud as us. Go there. Why should every church have the same music? ... People can find that God loves variety!" (Rick Warren, Speaking at a Purpose Driven Church Growth Strategy Seminar, January 1998.)

Clearly the world made his choice for him. Give people the same music the world gives them and promise them Heaven as an extra and they'll love it and make you their hero.

He does not stop there. He then attacks anyone that disagrees with him. Warren equated insisting upon the use of traditional music in the church to the sin of idolatry. He said, "You see folks, to insist that all good music came from Europe 200 years ago is thinly veiled racism, if you want to be truthful about it. It's cultural elitism saying that all the good music was written 200 years ago in Europe.... Now for 2,000 years, the Holy Spirit has used all kinds of music. And to insist that one particular style of music is more sacred than the other, there's a word for that. It's called idolatry. Idolatry." (Rick Warren, Speaking at a Purpose Driven Church Growth Strategy Seminar, January 1998.)

That's pretty strong when those that loved the great hymns of the church are called "idolaters." It appears that he is calling the great tunes, like "At the Cross" and "How Great Thou Art," the "golden oldies" or the "blasts from the past." That is his description of the great songs of the church.
This book is loaded with trouble for the church. When someone says that there are a lot of wonderful ideas and thoughts in his books, my answer is simple: poison usually comes mixed with a good taste.

Concerning being "Transformed by Trouble," he states these words in chapter twenty-five, "In fact, He depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than He depends on our reading the Bible." (The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, p. 193.) Those kinds of powerful "untruths" are laced throughout this book. He denigrates great biblical truths on the anvil of his "Seeker/Sinner-friendly" style of church. A modern day golden calf is the best biblical description I can imagine for this work of Rick Warren.

Apostle Paul described books like this with a stunning condemnation. He said, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who "hold" the truth in unrighteousness." (Romans 1:18, King James Version.)

Notice the word, "hold." It means "restrain" or "hold back" or "rob the people of truth." Rick Warren is robbing his readers of the "pure" Word of God. Beware!

"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2nd Thessalonians 1:8

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