8 Sep 2009

John MacArthur's view...

...of The Purpose Driven Life...

...courtesy of Mrs Adept.

Any of you read one of the more than 30 million copies of this book in print?

What do you think?

Read Tim Challies opinion from a Reformed perspective here.


  1. Hi Jeanne, I haven't read it but mainly because I had read similar critical reviews on a forum I frequent.

  2. I've read it. As a matter of fact our "OLD" church gave away a copy to every member. You'll note we no longer attend that church & mostly because of the Purpose-Driven Movement.

    It's fluff. Think Theological Twaddle. I'm not sure I'd take it as far as apostasy (pretty close though) but if this was a person's ONLY exposure to the gospel, then they would be extremely anemic. I think Rick Warren's "version of the gospel" has become even more liberal since that book was written.

    What is even sadder to me is that we have "Christians" out there who read The Shack, The Purpose-Driven Life, & Your Best Life Now and let those books define their religion rather than the actual WORD OF GOD.

  3. I am one of the few who have not read it. I think that I agreee with John MacArthur.

  4. I looked at this last time we were in Koorong & reached the opinion it was twaddle. I didn't get far enough to realise it was heretical as well but this watered down gospel is something that has been upsetting me about the Western church for some years. I once looked for the very first thing Jesus says in the gospels. Do you know what it is?

    Repent; for the kingdom of God is at hand!

    We like McArthur. His Grace to You programe we can sometimes pick up & listen to & I am using his study guide as we study Revelation in our home church. Even when I disagree he is so beautifully logical you can at least grasp his nettles & deal with them.

  5. I'm just catching up on your recent posts Jeanne! Warning: the following comment may offend some! :) Well, we did the 40 days of purpose at our church a couple of years ago and I liked the book though didn't agree (like Macarthur) with some of it. My friend and I were running a mum's group at the time (as a means of outreach) and we got to do the study with some of them that were not christians. (We didn't use the dvd as it had too much christianese) so we adapted the notes a bit and used that instead. I found it to be quite helpful in getting them to understand more about God - and it lead to some great discussions I must say! I am one of those christians that doesn't get hung up on doctrines and such (unless it's out and out heresy) as I am more interested in touching people's hearts and lives and seeing as many come to know Him.
    There, I've said it and hope we can still be friends:)

  6. Hi Joyfulmum,

    There are obviously many many Christians who feel as you do. I am certainly not offended, nor would any of the other commenters be, I am sure. I for one was hoping that some of the comments would be positive. Thanks for being brave enough to leave your opinion!

    Dh and I have already had some excellent discussions as a result of reading this book, and I am sure that we will get value from it. I also have significant reservations so far, a number of which concur with those of Tim Challies, whose review I have linked, but I have also enjoyed talking with my husband about issues that otherwise would probably never have occured to us.

    I would not recommend the book to a non-Christian, nor to a new Christian, but in the right hands I think it has its place.

    Does that leave me sitting on the fence??

  7. We read this five or six years ago in a group study of believers from all different backgrounds. Though it was much lighter fare than what I am used to, I remember that our coming together always resulted in rich discussion and an enjoyment of the Lord. I haven't read anything else by Rick Warren.

    During the presidential inauguration I was able to find a site broadcasting without any newscaster commentary. We bowed our heads and prayed along together with Rick Warren during the invocation. Yes, I was happy that he invoked the name Jesus but even if he hadn't, what could I say? If he truly is living a life of worship then he would be asking in Jesus' name without voicing it.

    As I look over at our bookshelves I see a number of books by people that receive much criticism (I mean whole websites devoted to denouncing these people): Watchman Nee, Derek Prince, Kent Hovind, Titus Chu, Michael & Debbie Pearl...these sit along with Andrew Murray and Hudson Taylor.

    I am always reminded that I have the choice to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which ushers in death, or the tree of life. I cannot defend nor attack the book or the man, only hope and pray.

    I humbly submit my comment and a challenge -- thus far there are seven of us commenting (including our hostess) -- if Rick Warren has been deceived then it is our duty to pray for him in love as a member of the body of Christ.

  8. Most earnest christians have a range of books on the bookshelf and not all exactly lining up with what we may believe ourselves. But I agree with Jeanne here that that is okay for those who have some decernment in biblical matters. If a book or teaching is iffy, then it is not going to be profitable for a non believer or a newish christian.
    We all want to see "hearts touched" but it is pointless unless they are touched by the grace of God. Doctrine IS important and to trivialize false teaching is a slippery slope.
    Apologies Jeanne. Not wanting to turn our views on this book into a debate. Let's just say, that the more conservative have not found the book to be very beneficial.

  9. Oh no, Ruby,

    I am loving this 'debate' if that is what it is!! (Are you still joyful, Joyfulmum?) I am hoping my readers are all the kind to control their emotions and keep their comments 'nice'. So far I haven't needed to censor anyone!!

    The book is lightweight fluff. True. I do not, however, consider it dangerous. Perhaps you need to get hold of a copy and read along with me!! I'd like that.

    Richele is right about praying for the author. He holds a position of considerable power and influence throughout the Christian world. In Jeremiah 23: 1-2 we read: "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says to the shepherds who tend my people: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the LORD. Similarly, the better know verse in James 3:1 reads: Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

    I'll take your challenge, Richele, to pray for him in love, that he might use his considerable influence to build up the Body of Christ and not to tear it down.

    I did not know that he prayed the invocation during the Presidential inauguration. Actually, I know nothing about him at all, except what I'm learning here!!

    Keep the 'nice' comments coming girls!!

  10. Yes I'm still joyful:) Thanks for asking!
    I made a boo boo with my previous comment, I meant to say I agree with some of Tim Challies's views on the book (I didn't actually watch the youtube of John Macarthur until just now! duh!)
    I don't know who John Macarthur is neither Tim for that matter but I still stick by my previous comments, that we should be about reaching the lost and if God uses this book to do so then I'm all for it! My pastor got saved in Rick Warren's church and he is a great man of God (though our church is not of Rick Warren's denomination). I'm sure he became a christian with some of Rick's teachings and I believe he belongs to the family of God (not wanting to be contentious or anything!):)
    I also wanted to add that I do agree doctrinally with what John Macarthur says but when I became a christian I am sure that I didn't hear all of what he said to get me saved though I've learned those things in time. We all become christians in different ways and I don't believe one needs to hear all that he said in order to get saved. If you've heard of Ian Mccormick and his testimony, all he did was say the "our father" (as that was the only prayer he knew and the only way he knew on how to communicate with God) as he lay dying and that was enough for him to go to heaven (he subsequently came back and preaches around the world now) which is why I know this:) (unless he's lying which I don't think)
    sorry if I've become more contentious now, I am not usually contentious and I am conservative though I don't like labelling myself or anyone else but I do steer clear of debates usually partly because of my personality and partly because I'd rather spend my energy on other things!
    About the book, yes, I agree Jeanne that in the right hands it's fine and I also don't think it's dangerous.
    Besides there are a lot of people becoming christians through it (unless one doesn't believe they belong to the family of God):)
    hope that comment was "nice"

  11. It's a few years since I've read this book but I liked it - I found it encouraging in my daily walk. Yes, I did ignore those passages where biblically I thought the author off-track but except for the bible every book is written by a fallible person and there is always something that I'm going to disagree with whether I can pinpoint the doctrinal error or just feel uneasy about it. For instance, where in the bible can you find a person asking Jesus into their heart as a way of achieving salvation? Yet it's a doctrine that is very commonly accepted.

    For truth about everything - stick with the bible.

    As an aside - this was a book my (now) son-in-law read that was at the beginning stages of his search for God. It lead him to search for truth deeper and ask lots of questions. Today he is a faithful young man who we're really blessed to have added to our family. It could have been something else that began his questions - but God can use anything.

    My husband on the otherhand who read the purpose driven life for churches book rather than this one thought it very much about numbers than about truly redeeming lost people.

    Just my 2 cents worth!

  12. Taking up both challenges. 1. To pray for Rick Warren and other prominent people who have the influence to affect many and 2. Am able to borrow this book from a friend Jeanne, so will attempt to read and make informed comment. Or not :-(

    Must aplogize again for the terse sounding comment I made earlier which really had little to do with this book itself but more with my views on presenting the gospel. Sorry girls if I came across harsh.

  13. Thanks Ruby for the apology:)
    It was very gracious of you.
    I just also wanted to clarify that the reason I got into this discussion was 1. to defend someone I believe was being unjustly criticised 2. I am passionate about promoting unity among christians and often get ruffled when I see someone being criticised because they don't always believe or follow Christ in a similar manner to us. We are all different like colours of a stained glass window. We all represent a certain aspect of God and have some truth that perhaps the other Christian doesn't and vice versa and we should be open to learning from others (which is what Jeanne is doing which is great)
    3.I like Sylvia think this book is a great starting point for non-christians (not the only starting point mind you).
    This book along with the accompanying study material was not designed to be a theological exposition on salvation. It was designed to be used in small groups for outreach purposes.
    Thanks Jeanne for giving me the freedom to express my thoughts:)


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...