Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life

Rick Warren is the author of The Purpose Driven Life, The Purpose Driven Church and leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, which is a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. More than 400,000 ministers and priests have been trained worldwide, and almost 157,000 church leaders subscribe to his weekly newsletter Ministry Toolbox. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, has sold 25 million copies. Rick Warren is very influential among Evangelical people, and as pastor of the Saddleback Church, the author of best sellers he is very influential in church circles. So you may want to check these sites out: The Purpose Driven Life site, Rick Warren’s Bio, The Saddleback Church site, and this is an index of sites Rick is involved in.

So if his people find this Blog as a result of a web search, let me offer a sincere welcome to our humble Blog.

He's a pastor just like many of us have been. Maybe he would like to tell us he never has any doubts? The ministry creates doubts, since pastors in churches see about everything there is to see coming from church people. And many many times it's absolutely ugly. Sometimes pastors will even despise some people in his church, even as he must preach on something about love or forgiveness directly in front of the very people whom he despises. The ministry is a dangerous "calling," since ministers see the true nature of Christianity as it's lived by his(or her)parishoners. It's ugly. And yet a pastor's job is to be a cheerleader for the Christian faith and the church, when he knows it's not working much at all in the people he pastors.

I have been in the ministry, and I can tell you story after story of people in the church--I mean among the leaders too--who operated on the pleasure principle, even though they were well-respected at church. [As the biggest example of this, the BTK killer was a respected member of a Christian church before he was caught]. I know the parable of the tares and the wheat, but the closer I got to people in the church, I hardly ever saw wheat. I would usually respond to this situation by saying that Christianity doesn't necessarily make us better than non-Christians, it only makes us better than we would have been if we weren't Christians. But why doesn't Christianity make us better people than non-Christians--I mean noticeably different? Why?

From my experience whenever someone in the church did something good, it could be accounted for by some ulterior motives, or it was done out of guilt, or fear of hell.

Christianity is the one religion where it's claimed that God the Holy Spirit indwells within the Christian alone. No one else can claim that, according to Christians. God somehow takes up residence in a Christian's life. So why isn't there a difference between the behavior of Christians and that of non-Christians? At least this is what I saw as a pastor, and that's a unique perspective that no one but a pastor will ever know in quite the same way.

I myself wasn't ever able to live the life I knew I should out of gratitude for what I believed was God's saving act in Jesus. If someone responds by saying "John, you just never gave yourself completely over to God," I'd respond by saying that I did so with everything within me. And if that isn't good enough, then I cannot do it. And I'd turn around and ask the very same question of that person, "Have YOU given yourself completely over to God?"

I just found that the Christian life was impossible to live. The tension between the already and the not yet, the guilt for not doing enough, and the fallen examples of church leaders I had before me was too much. Jesus purportedly said his burden is easy...his yoke is light. But it was the heaviest burden I have ever experienced.

No wonder Christian people buy up Warren's books. They feel an intense need to get it together as a Christian. He offers them hope. But after reading his books they'll go looking for another fix, because the Christian life cannot be successfully lived, even knowing that his or her sins are completely forgiven.

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