Purpose Drivel Quotes

My daughter came home today telling me that in their Bible class, they’ll be reading and discussing Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. I thought that PDL has just about disappeared from the scene, but I was mistaken. Although evangel­­icals are as faddish as a 30-second sound byte, they also have a way of clinging to their cherished trinkets (can anyone dig up Promise Keepers, WWJD, Prayer of Jabez, and Passion from the Museum of Evangelical Relics?).

pdlcommutersSo I thought that I should reiterate what countless others have pointed out (in addition to Scripture misuse and bad theology): that Warren quotes favorably many famous atheists, agnostics, mystics, New Agers, and anti-Christians in his book to support his ideas. Does this tell us anything about the kind of literature Warren likes reading?

For example, right on Day 1, he quotes Bertrand Russell, an atheist, to prove that life is purpose-less without belief in God! And on Day 31, he quotes Aldous Huxley to bolster his idea that we are to share our bad experiences to help others. Huxley sure did that, as he promoted the use of LSD all the way to his deathbed!

Here are a few others in the PDL:

Name Page PDL Quote Other Quote
Bertrand Russell, atheist 17 “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”
Albert Einstein, scientist 22 “God doesn’t play dice.” “My position concerning God is that of an agnostic… the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a lawgiver, especially a lawgiver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.”
Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philospher, transcendentalist2, fell out of Christianity 27 “The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder – a waif, a nothing, a no man.”
Bernie Siegel,
New Age physician
31 Warren quotes him in connection with people who survive cancer because they have “purpose” in life.
Henry David Thoreau, transcendentalist2 philospher 32 “Thoreau observed that people live lives of ‘quiet desperation.’”
George Bernard Shaw, anti-religious Irish playwright 33 “This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…”
Anais Nin, writer of erotic literature 41 Warren quotes Nin, a non-Christian, to persuade the reader to have a Biblical worldview, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Brother Lawrence and Benedictine monks, contemplative mystics1 88-89 “The classic book on learning how to develop a constant conversation with God is Practicing the Presence of God.“
Gary Thomas, New Age writer, promoter of contemplative1 mantric prayer 102-
He says of worship: “If God intentionally made us all different, why should everyone be expected to love God in the same way?” (i.e., smorgasbord worship)
St. John of the Cross, 16th century counter-Reformation mystic 108 “the dark night of the soul”
Henri Nouwen, Dutch Catholic priest, writer, contemplative1 mystic 108, 269 “I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not.”
Mother Teresa, Catholic nun 125, 231 “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” “Holy living consists in doing God’s work with a smile.” “I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”
Madame Guyon, mystic, taught quietism1, a doctrine condemned as heresy even by Catholics 193 “It is the fire of suffering that brings forth the gold of godliness.” “Here [the contemplative state] everything is God. God is everywhere and in all things” (pantheism and panentheism).
Aldous Huxley, philosophical mysticist, promoter of LSD, which he used in his deathbed. 248 “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” “You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion… Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly.”
William James, mystical philosopher and psychologist 285 “The best use for life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” “I personally gave up the Absolute… I fully believe in taking moral holidays.”

Other good reads on the PDL are Geneva OPC’s “A Review of the Purpose Driven Life,” “The Purpose Drive Life – Guidance or Misguided?” by Dr. Marshall C. St. John, and the funny “Purpose Driven Church Snubs Contemplative Spirituality” by sacredsandwich.com.

1According to Lighthouse Trails Research, contemplative spirituality is “a belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). It is “a form of meditation that endeavors to free the Christian’s mind in order to achieve a mystical experience with God. Common names for this meditation discipline are: Lectio Divina (divine reading), Centering Prayer, Entering the Silence… and Spiritual Formation” (from Sacred Sandwich).

Quietism and “breath prayers” therefore are also forms of contemplative spirituality. Warren says of breath prayers, “[U]se ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath (PDL, 89).

2Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early 19th century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalists were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and urged that each individual find, in Emerson’s words, “an original relation to the universe.” Emerson and Thoreau sought this relation in solitude amidst nature, and in their writing (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).


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9 thoughts on “Purpose Drivel Quotes”

  1. All throughout the history of the Christian Church, those who moved away from Biblical orthodoxy started with putting something beside the Bible.  Anything, whether a book, a person, an ideology, or a system, when elevated to the level of the Word of God as the authority in faith and doctrine is an abomination to God.  The Word of God holds the absolute authority in teaching us all that we need in life and in death.

  2. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
    Good quote from the Scripture. I think it’s not about being influenced or not.  It’s not even about benefiting from a seemingly harmless material. It’s about  being prudent, of being aware of the dangers of its presence, and of keeping God’s warnings through the Bible.
    Besides, it’s not about I did not see, I do not think. Remember that we are imperfect, polluted and corrupt. Our thinking is not as perfect as we believe, nor is our perception of reality perfect. We may not see it’s effect on these people, and probably never, but we never know how it affects all the other minds. We are living in a small world, not the Earth, but small world in terms of our social habitat. We see many, but they are few.
    To confidently say that there is no effect must mean that we have statistics, but we don’t. We have to be careful of our judgment, since even wisest of the wisest earthly kings, Solomon, sinned and fell short of perfect Judgment.
    Joshua 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be  careful to obey everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

  3. My general observation of Filipino adults attending a bible study wherein the PDL was the study guide is that everyone has his own interpretation about the topic and bible passages as references. I did not see Rick Warren’s thought influencing the Filipino adults ; typical Filipino though, everybody has his own opinion about the matter, just like discussing politics.

  4. Aneida Alexander

    Hey Nollie!!  Another great post.  A number of years ago the church where I worshiped decided to use Warren’s sorry excuse for a book as a church-wide study.  As an adult Sunday School teacher I agreed to use the book and associated film series for the forty day project.  What I didn’t say was how I would use it – as a negative example!  Years ago my dad, a Bible scholar who now studies at the feet of the Master, declared any material, ANY, could be used to teach a Bible study, including (for goodness sake!!) Playboy magazine.  In the lessons I would have the class figure out where Warren and Scripture disagreed.  To be fair, I also pointed out some passages where they agreed.  As the late self-styled gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson said, “Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.  That is the law of Nature.” 

  5. Dear Nollie,
    Rick Warren’s  drivel began years ago with his previous book “The Purpose-Driven Church.”  We immediately saw his dangerous message and stood against it in our church and wrote a sermon titled “The Spirit-Powered Church.”  It is our contention that the Christian church should never be “DRIVEN” by anything, much less by any purpose discerned nor devised by man.  Rather, it should be POWERED from within by the Holy Spirit.  The church is God’s body and should never be blemished by actions of men.
         Still, Warren became “uso” because of his next book PDL that became a best seller.  He postulates that the church should overturn its values and accommodate what man is at the moment in order to reach him and be part of the church.  And he intentionally over-simplified SALVATION so people do not have to change themselves because it is the present church that will change to attract them in.  While he says that man is a special creation, he never mentioned that what man has become since his fall from grace is what put distance between him and God.  And yet Warren says that man does not have to change because the church will reach out to him by changing itself to what man has become, simply because this is the purpose of the church, to reach man. Thanks Nollie for the drivel quotes that exposes where Warren is coming from and what his real purpose is.   
         But the books made lots of dollars and the 40-day of Purpose drive also made a lot of dollars.  And Filipinos were gullible enough to believe that what Caucasians have devised is totally applicable to the brown-skinned and pay through to the nose for the opportunity to apply it in churches.
        Again, we should NOT be driven by anything but should be POWERED by the Holy Spirit that is within us since the day that we became a new creation.

  6. Osteen is already the latest craze. Become a Better You is No. 3 on the New York Times best-selling hardcover advice, and the earlier Your Best Life Now is No. 13 on the paperback advice bestseller list.


    Michael Horton has written a review of Becoming a Better You. He says that the book is thoroughly prosperity, self-help gospel (not very far removed from New Age thought). Whose itching ears don’t want to hear that God has “planned seeds of greatness in you. You have everything you need to fulfill your God-given destiny…. It’s all in you. You are full of potential.”?

    Horton says that Osteen often distorts or misquotes the Bible and turns it into a “‘fortune-cookie’ kind of promise.” A PDL clone – full of the same kind of distortions, mostly from a twisted Bible paraphrase called The Message.

    In this book, there’s no mistaking Osteen’s connection with the “little gods” teaching of Benny Hinn and others in the “Hall of Heretic Hucksters”: “You have the DNA of Almighty God.” It’s “what’s in you” that is divine seed, he claims. Another example of Osteen’s distortions is his tall tale about Adam and Eve after the Fall. Horton says,

    For example, we read that when God confronted Adam and Eve after their sin, “He said, ‘Adam, who told you that you were naked?’ In other words, ‘Who told you that something was wrong with you?’ God immediately knew the enemy had been talking to them. God is saying to you today, ‘Who told you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed?'” Where, in the passage he refers to (Genesis 3:11), God asks Adam this question in order to convict him of his sin, Osteen makes it sound as if it was Satan who told Adam that he had failed the test.

  7. Kuya Nollie,

    This is an eye-opener to me. I have read the PDL myself. I know that Reformed Christians are opposed to its theology. But I never knew that the book was this dangerous.
    In my honest opinion, chapter 7 of Warren’s book was the most horrible. He presented there a radically unbiblical view and method of salvation. Though he talked about believing, he did not really emphasize the necessity of repentance. There was a time when I thought that I would be “saved” just by “whispering” the prayer he suggested in that chapter.
    Until about a year ago, the PDL was one of the most best-selling books in the local bookstores. But in my recent visits to the National bookstore, it seemed that Joel Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, will be the center of the next evangelical craze.

    Thanks for the information.

  8. It’s more likely that the Bible study group glossed over these references, or were unaware of them, or just ignored them because PDL was the fashion of the day, not because they discerned them to be false. As well, would you have read and believed the apostle Paul if he kept quoting the Gnostics, Aristotle, Plato, and other Greek philosophers favorably to prove his views? No, he didn’t. In fact, he warns us against being deceived by the world’s vain philosophies (possibly an oblique reference to Gnosticism) in Colossians 2:8:

    “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

  9. Uncle Nollie,

    I’ve read it and saw it used as a bible study guide at GCF; used by the Walkers Group at Brookside. I never recall and heard any of the PDL quotes you mentioned above being discussed during the bible study(really God’s providence). What happened is that the bible verses and topic became the focal point of discussion during the bible study, not Rick Warren’s insight on the subject matter. Come to think of it, all the human philosphy or quotes mentioned in the PDL book were trashed by the bible study groups.

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