Rick Warren - The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For

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I Find My Purpose From Within Not Without

Dec 4, 2005 (Updated Dec 5, 2005)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Beautifully written prose.

Cons:Same ole story, same ole song and dance my friends…

The Bottom Line: The true meaning of life and our individual place in it are not to be found in a book, if indeed it is to be found at all.


Allow me the preface this review with an admission; I am a proud agnostic and I embody all that that label congers in the mind. I have never been a deeply religious person; indeed as a student of history, I believe religion—collectively—has done more harm in the development of humanity then good. That does not mean however that I am not in touch with my spiritual self; spirituality I believe transcends religion. And I do not believe the Holy Bible to be the world of God; the book if taken in it’s entirely reads more like a human derived novel then it does the words and thought of an all-knowing deity whose very nature is Goodness, and should have long ago shed the constraints of human emotion. Throughout the Holy Bible God is given to very human passions and traits; my God would have transcended such.

Book Passage: You are not an accident. Even before the universe was created, God had you in mind, and he planned you for his purposes. The purposes will extend far beyond the few years you will spend on earth. You were made to last forever.

That brings me to the subject of this review, The Purpose-Driven Life. I was not drawn to the book by a void in my life, by a need to find a purpose, rather I read the book in a quest to understand the minds of the deeply devote. According the scripture—and The Purpose-Driven Life and my sister who is deeply devoted to her Christian faith—God has a plan for every (human) life on Earth. None of us is born without purpose; we have only to read to the Holy Bible to discern it. The Holy Bible has all of the answers we seek, and The Purpose-Driven Life is the guide, the key, if you will, for unlocking that purpose.

Book Passage: Life on earth is just a dress rehearsal before the real production.

The Purpose-Driven Life was written by Rick Warren the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He has written other well known and widely read books including the Purpose-Drive Church.

Warren divides The Purpose-Driven Life up into 40 chapters that he explains are to be read over a 40-day period. This is so the reader may digest, reflect, and ponder on what they have just read. Indeed each chapter has bible verses to remember, and a question at the end of the chapter to consider. As Warren puts it God does everything in 40 days, and cites numerous Biblical passages to support his assertion, so it is not unreasonable that God might want you to discover the purpose of your life in 40 days.

The Purpose-Driven Life is further divided into the 5 Purposes for which Christians are created; they are: worship - We were planned for God's pleasure; fellowship - We were formed to be a part of God's family; discipleship - We were created to become like Christ; mission- We were shaped for God's service; and evangelism - We were made to tell others about Christ.

As I stated above, but it bears mentioning again, each of the 40 short chapters is interspersed with references to paraphrased Biblical scripture. In other words, the design for your particular purpose lies not within the pages of this book, but within the Holy Bible; you have but to read it to discern your purpose.

Indeed each of the 5 sections of The Purpose-Driven Life are based on well established biblical principles that should not be new concepts to people who consider themselves practicing Christians. But the book is written in a manner that will lead the reader to think and reflect upon the Holy Bible in the light or Warren’s words, and in so doing gain a new perspective on their life and purpose. Warren is an accomplished writer who does not waste words on embellishment or self-promotion; after all he has found purpose, now in the true evangelical style, he want to help the reader find purpose; The Purpose-Driven Life as Warren sees it, “is a Blueprint for Christian living in the 21st century—a lifestyle based on God’s eternal purposes, not cultural values.”

Book Passage: contrary to what many popular book, movie, and seminars tell you, you won’t discover you life’s meaning by looking within yourself. You’ve probably tried that already. You didn’t create yourself, so there is not way you can tell yourself what you were created for!...only the creators or the owner’s manual could reveal its purpose.

My Thoughts

As written, The Purpose-Driven Life makes the Christian God seem petty and self-centered. Again the Christian God is endowed with decidedly human traits. What need of a God of mortals to do his bidding? Surely a God can do as he please when (s)he pleases. Is vanity a Godly trait as well; to think that we humans were created from his/her pleasure and service! Doesn’t that sound a little like slavery, or that we are mere pets?

We—a Warren writes it—are all created for God’s purpose, but that purpose is up to us through free will to ascertain; in other words, it us to each of use to come to an understanding of our individual purpose through Biblical study. Our life here on earth is but a whisper in the eternity that awaits us after death.

But I do not feel as though I need the Holy Bible, or the Koran, or the Torah, or any other religious artifact to know my purpose in life. Contrary to what Warren espouses, I believe one has to look inward in order to find his or her purpose. Just as I do not look to the law, or the Holy Bible for my moral compass, I do not look outward for spiritual purpose. My purpose is to take care of my family, as it is any man who commits himself to another for life; my purpose it to pursue happiness and to bestow happiness whenever I can before I die; my purpose is to act as a moral being to do onto other as I would have them do onto me. I did not and do not need the Holy Bible to tell me what is right and wrong, for that I rely on my internal moral compass.

Most humans need to believe that there is a higher purpose for their lives then just work and snatches of happiness. We are not ants after all, we are human, we are evolved, we are intelligent being, we are the master of the Earth; God must have had a higher purpose for us. It is unfathomable to them that this all-too-brief period on Earth is all there is, that there is not after-life, no heaven, no hell, no higher purpose other than you live, and then you die. And as America continues to slide into the belly of unchecked consumerism, people feel a void, and that is where book like The Purpose-Driven Life come into play.

In the end I did not find The Purpose-Driven Life all that informative, and it is definitely a book that is not for me. With inward reflection and critical reasoning comes purpose, and that is something every human has to undertake for him or herself. The true meaning of life and our individual place in it are not to be found in a book, if indeed it is to be found at all.


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