OK, here I am, after reading through the first "week" of mini-chapters. If I had to read these one per day I'd get bored silly and probably put the book on the shelf never to crack it again. So far he is addressing a different audience than me. I already know all these things and I agree with pretty much all of it -- except as noted...
First of all, I agree with many that this is a slick packaging job. I even wonder if it's Warren's own work, or mostly that of a ghost writer, like Jabez turned out to be. It's too too slick. However, you don't get to be #1 NYT Bestseller (probably in some Religion section, so it doesn't mean as much as it used to) by being slick; you get there by having something good to say, which Warren does. Which of course is why I already believe all those things.
One thing bothers me, however, is all this stuff about "purpose" -- it's the title of the book! -- but no Scripture to support it. Nowhere in my Bible do I find anything that says we should (nor even can) know what God's purpose for our lives is.
Warren does not, but I would distinguish my purpose (which is to love and serve God and my neighbor) from God's purpose for me. David was annointed king over all Israel by Samuel, so he ostensibly knew. Paul was told how much he would suffer for the name of Christ. Jesus knew he was the promised Messiah. Mary knew she was to be the Messiah's mom. But there's nothing in Scripture about God's purpose for Tom Pittman or Dennis Elenburg, nor even for Thomas Didymus or James the Less or Bartholomew. Was God's sole purpose for Simon Cyrene to carry the cross? I doubt it. Where does it say Job ever found out (this side of glory) that his purpose was so God could win an off the wall bet against Satan? Job did serve his purpose, and (I assume) God did win the bet, but to tell Job about it ahead of time would have spoiled the bet. And if Job, who was one of the three most righteous people Ezekiel could think of, didn't know, why should I expect to?
P.32. "Without a clear purpose, you will keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, or other externals -- hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, Maybe this time it will be different, but it doesn't solve your real problem -- a lack of focus and purpose."
Umm, I have a clear purpose not all that different from what Warren is preaching, yet I still "keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, or other externals -- hoping each change will settle the confusion," and thinking, "Maybe this time it will be different..." Maybe lack of purpose contributes to those problems, and maybe those problems are part of the fallen world we live in, which having a Godly purpose helps to mitigate the pain of, but does not eliminate the problems themselves. "In the world you will have troubles, but cheer up, I have overcome the world." (Jesus) Yes, I did those things (3 times in the last decade), but not to fill emptiness, but because it seemed the right thing to do. Yes, I thought "maybe..." but not for lack of purpose.
So far, I'm reading a lot of slick packaging, but not much relevant to me. I already know all that and mostly agree with it.
P.34, two important questions that God supposedly will ask on Judgment Day, but no chapter and verse, no footnote. I think they are important questions we need to be prepared to answer on that Day, but they are secondary implications from Scripture (like the doctrine of the Trinity), not a direct teaching (like the fact that there will be a Judgment Day and God will ask hard questions like these). I wish popular writers had the integrity to make that distinction more clear than just the lack of a tiny raised numeral.
P.38. "You place a higher priority on relationships and character instead of fame or ..." So Warren is a Feeler? Character is important and taught in Scripture, but I find no support in Scripture for a higher priority on "relationships". In fact, they are deprecated by Jesus. No, the higher priority is on loving God (not the mushy modern warm fuzzy sense of the word, but a thoughtful self-sacrificing giving for the other person's benefit, the way Job did throughout all his calamities) and serving Him and His commands. Sometimes that translates into "relationships" -- and sometimes it does not.
P.39. "We will enjoy unbroken fellowship with God." Nice, but the verse he quotes does not mention "fellowship". I'm not saying Warren is wrong, other verses (all in John's writings) talk about fellowship with God, but this verse does not. Why are ALL the fellowship/relationship verses in John's gospel and epistle, and NONE of them in any other New Testament book? Are Luke and Paul and Peter and James and all the Old Testament prophets and Moses himself all wrong? I don't think so. I think the modern church (Rick Warren included) have got it cockeyed.
P.42. Oh wow! He actually found a verse to support his claim about KNOWing God's purpose. Too bad it's in such an imprecise translation like TEV, and NOT in any of the others. You see, the Greek verb 'dokimazw' is almost always translated "test" or "prove" or "demonstrate"; there are two other Greek verbs that mean more closely the English idea of "know", neither of them in Rom.12:2. By the way, I generally agree with Warren's policy of using modern translations spelled out in Appendix 2, but this one quote is a little edgy.
P.50. "In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life..." Cool! An insight I had not previously known. I like it. It goes well with...
P.51. "But my child, you're not home yet." I've been humming that old Baptist chorus a lot lately (before reading this), "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through..." So here's a question: If I'm just an alien here, with permanent residency somewhere else, should I vote in the election? I kept my legal residence in Calif when I came here (still have Calif plates on the car, registered voter, etc) realizing that my employment here was likely to end as it in fact did. Don't go riding that "self-fulfilling prophecy" hobby horse on me, I was actually beginning to feel comfortable here (and wondering how to get around the tenure problem) when the boom fell. It's a serious question. They have an August 3 election coming up here, two "sin" measures that should be soundly trounced. But, "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through..."
P.55. "We worship God by enjoying him." That's John Piper, not Scripture. After writing that, I turned the page, and see that Warren actually quotes Piper. Hmmm.
Maybe I will keep reading...
P.63, "Planned for God's Pleasure." Fair enough, right out of Scripture.
P.65. "Every part of a church service is an act of worship." That's the PASTOR Rick Warren speaking. Every pastor says that. It's bunk. He says it to contradict the popular modern notion "worship is just a synonym for music," which is equally unScriptural. However if we get past the lexical problem (English "worship" does not equal Biblical "worship" but is really a synonym for "praise"), then there's a lot of truth in what he says.
P.66. "We don't even have the [musical] instruments they used in Bible times." True, but only in the strictest literal sense. Yes, all those particular instruments are rotted and crumbled into dust in the 2000-4000 years since their original owners stopped using them. But no, we DO have guitars (Hebrew gittith was a stringed instrument in a figure-8 shape) and harps and trumpets and drums and cymbals. Our harps are bigger than theirs and more strings, but basically the same shape. Our trumpets have valves and are made of metal; theirs were rams' horns (hence the name "horn") but worked the same.
P.66. "I didn't get anything out of worship today." Probably because you didn't "worship". Warren is right that true worship is not about what we get, but what God gets.
P.67. "...for Jesus and by carrying on a continual conversation with him." Ummm, excuse me, but nobody can write a computer program while carrying on a continual conversation with anybody. It can't be done. Quality computer programming (the kind a God-fearing competent programmer might want to do for the glory of God) requires total concentration. I suspect there are other intellectual activities with similar cognitive requirements. They tell me even football is a "mind game." I have to understand this "pray without ceasing" command in some other sense, such "never give up on (regular) prayers."
P.72. "God doesn't owe you an explanation or reason for everything he asks you to do." Right on! See my intro paragraph above. God doesn't even owe us an explanation of what his purposes are. Warren is a tad inconsistent here.
P.77. "Surrendering is unthinkable" [his emphasis]. Who was it who deprecated Warren's message by attributing it to secular business guru Peter Drucker? Here is the refutation of that bogus claim. The world is into control and perseverence; Warren is arguing a very anti-world surrender theme. Warren is of course very Biblical here.
P.82. "You are free to choose what you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice." I wish more pastors and all Christians everywhere would proclaim this line loudly from the rooftops. I am "pro-choice" in the sense of allowing women (of all ages, including pre-born) the freedom to choose what happens to their body, but once the post-pubescent women have made that choice in a particular direction, they should learn to live with the consequences of their choice.
P.83. "Put Jesus in the driver's seat of your life and take your hands off the steering wheel." Nice sentiment, and I agree and all, but ummm, Jesus is not under our direction to be told when to start steering. Better: let Jesus tell us when he wants to start steering and when he wants us to do it.
P.86. "Fear of God, not friendship, was more common in the Old Testament." It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that God (both OT and Jesus in the NT) commands us to "fear God" and never tells us to seek to be God's friend, would it?
P.88. "Adam and Eve were in constant communion with God." Not in my Bible, which seems to say it was a regular evening activity, not continuous.
P.95. "We don't normally think of obedience as a characteristic of friendship." Right. That's a piece of cultural baggage we get from the American history, which threw off obedience to any person (specifically King George III), and left us with a vague libertarian democratic majority vote that nobody is comfortable obeying unless it suits their fancy. Most other cultures have kings and princes, so this is not so much of a problem understanding it.
P.97. "I must desire friendship with God more than anything else." Chapter and verse, please. The verses he quotes in this paragraph do not mention friendship. This whole "friendship" trip is getting overbearing. I mean it's a nice metaphor, but Warren is pushing the analogy farther than Scripture gives leave.
P.98. "You are as close to God as you choose to be." Actually, that's only half the equation. Job chose to be close when God was not so inclined. A couple chapters later Warren dwells rather extensively on the Job problem -- exactly this point. He's not entirely consistent here.
P.102. "That's why both spirit and truth are required." Cool! Another neat insight I had not thought of. Then he messes it up somewhat, "God-pleasing worship is deeply emotional and deeply doctrinal." I'm not sure I buy that way of putting it. Fortunately, neither did he! The next paragraph basically contradicts the obvious implications of that line, to deny any equation between spirituality and emotions. He needs to spend more time thinking this through.
P.104. "You would rather receive two specific compliments than twenty vague generalities. So would God." Good stuff. It applies to prayers of request, too. That's why I ask my friends how specific things are going, so I can pray specifically.
P.105. "I'll be with you in spirit." As pastor, Warren knows that means "Nothing. It's worthless!" Where your body is, that's where you are. The people "with him in spirit" on Sunday morning are simply not there. Now, do you think he could apply that same clarity of thinking to this "friendship with God" idea? A friend is somebody you interact with. Jesus interacted with his disciples, body-to-body. Abraham "was a friend of God" but God visited with him in bodliy form, so Abe could argue and interact, again body-to-body. In the case of God and us, they ain't no body to interact with. We can read God's pre-printed messages to us, and we can imagine some feelings to be coming from God, and we can talk to God, but there's no real interaction, is there? Not like the relationships the Bible describes as "friends".
OK, here I am at the end of chapter 14, and my assessment holds: Warren has a lot of good Biblical stuff here -- mostly that I'm already doing and/or believing -- plus some unavoidable hokum, all in a slick package. A couple chapters got rather longer than that first "week", so you can see the effects of forcing it into a 40-day Procrustean bed.
I think I will stop here, and maybe read about "family" next week. Unlike Warren imagines of himself, I cannot do the work God gave me to do while continuously meditating on God. I'm sure glad I didn't agree to do this one chapter per day; that would have been awful.
2004 June 28
Warren's "Purpose #2" I had a lot more trouble with. The idea of "Family of God" is a great idea (it's in the Bible!) and people talk it up, and sing about it in church, but I know only one person who actually lives it. Most serious committed Christian believers give ten times the effort and attention to their nuclear blood family than they give to other church members. The only people who notice this discrepancy are those of us who live alone -- and most of them are busy trying to remedy the deficiency by finding a spouse.
P.125. "God says relationships are what life is all about." It's curious that Warren averages two to four Scripture references per page in his book, but none on this whole paragraph. He cannot, because God doesn't say that, not in the Bibles Rick Warren and I read. There's a lot in the Bible about family relationships as a metaphor for our relationship with God, but Warren means more than that by his use of the word "relationship". His reading public knows the word means more than familial ties, and Warren is trading on that understanding. I have two sisters in California, 2000 miles away. I think of California as "home" and I keep hoping that when God is finished with whatever He wants me to do here, I get to go back there. One sister I speak to on the phone maybe once every couple weeks, the other maybe three times a year. If I had a wife and children -- statistics show that the average live-at-home father spends less than ten minutes each day interacting with his live-at-home children. This is not what Warren is talking about. Warren wants you to think more like the guy, who when asked why he didn't become a believer, responded "I have this relationship." That's what Warren means by "relationship" -- obviously not in the sexual sense, but that kind of close connection. My friend, more than his American colleagues that evening, knew that to become a believer meant giving up sex outside of marriage. Some church leaders know that too, but not most of the people in the pews. "Relationship" in America has become perverted to equate with sex. Warren would not go that far, but he is definitely speaking of more than what we all understand by the "family" metaphor. He goes on to say so...
P.126. "In heaven God ... will review how you treated other people, particularly those in need." Curiously this is not about the warm touchy-feely things people mean by "relationships" but actually doing good things for people, visiting them when they are lonely, providing them food and clothing when they are hungry or cold. You can meet these concrete needs for people without getting all warm and fuzzy. The Bible is about meeting concrete needs, not the warm fuzzies. Warren knows that.
However, at the top of the same page he tells us about all the dying people to whose bedside he has been called (as pastor), who never ask for books and awards, but rather wish to be surrounded by family members. Other pastors say the same. There is a statistical bias in this sample: there are two kinds of people, which MBTI distinguishes as "Feelers" and "Thinkers". Why should we be surprised when dying people calling in their Feeler pastor utter Feeler sentiments, when the Thinkers are not welcome in the church AS THINKERS? Yesterday my mother told me about her sister-in-law, who had written about her recently deceased business partner going to a "designer heaven" loaded down with used books. Warren and the other pastors have not heard that sentiment, because it is systematically excluded from the church. The pastors who do hear it, wouldn't ever tell about it. Pastors are Feelers surrounded by Feelers, and they cannot understand anybody who isn't.
P.127. "The essence of love is ... how much we give of ourselves." Chapter and verse please (none cited). Warren admits that "Men often don't understand this." More accurately, this is a Feeler sentiment that has nothing at all to do with the Biblical mandate to "Love your neighbor as yourself" nor even to "Love the LORD your God with all your heart." Men are statistically Thinkers; Thinkers are into doing, not warm fuzzies. Women and pastors are Feelers. The churches attract Feelers; the Thinkers stay home.
P.128. "You cannot love without giving. God so loved the world that he gave..." The elipsis is in Warren's text. There's a reason for that. It does not say "God gave himself," it says God gave the Son. God is violating his family relationship for his love of the world. Would you do that? God did. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of love God commands of us. Warren cannot say that.
P.130. OK the Bible does say that we need each other...
P.131. "Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole." True, but the finger does not cease to be a finger when the body gives it said meaning. Far too many church bodies have no place for fingers and eyes, only for feet and mouths. I think a body of believers coordinated by Jesus Christ as the Head is a wonderful (and Biblical!) idea, but most churches are not able to cope with the variety of different kinds of people God made. They (and I suspect Warren too, judging from chapter titles later in the book) have a much too narrow notion of what God's purpose is all about. He does admit to different personalities on p.161, but recognizing the differences is easier than understanding all the implications.
P.140. "Being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of ... being hurt again." I like that "again" part. It's honest.
P.141. "The problem is that we are often in so much of a hurry to fix things that we don't have time to sympathize with people." P.155. "Focus on their feelings, not the facts. Begin with sympathy, not solutions." Umm, excuse me, if the house is on fire, focus on the facts and begin with the solution, which is to douse the fire and/or get people out of the house. Feelings can wait, the fire won't. Warren gives good advice for dealing with Feelers, lousy advice for dealing with Thinkers. I would be insulted if well-meaning people wanted to focus on feelings and sympathy when I am in need of fixes and solutions. But Thinkers like me are not welcome in Warren's church -- nor any other church in America.
P.143. "The difference between trust and forgiveness." I don't think Warren knows either. He got it wrong.
P.147. "This creates a sick environment of secrets where gossip thrives." I could have written this chapter.
P.151. "The first Christians met together every day!" Now I ask you, who is willing to submit their own personal agenda to the will of the body? Maybe Warren might (and maybe not: he is, after all, senior pastor), but who is going to come to their fellowship and say, "We get two weeks vacation this year. Where does the body think we should spend it?" No, they anounce, "I'm going to be gone for three weeks on vacation." That's two weeks plus the surrounding and included three weekends. Their vacation is more important to them than church attendance. If we really gave the body priority in our lives, I suspect that the Body would often be inclined to tell their members, "You need a vacation. Go someplace fun." There's a huge distance between that Warrenian ideal and where we are today in America.
P.155. I would be more reluctant than Warren to quote Job's three friends authoritatively, given that God said they were wrong.
P.156. "Confession is a powerful tool for reconciliation." I call this the Prisoner Exchange. During the Cold War, the FBI would occasionally find some particularly egregious case of Soviet espionage, and arrest the perpetrator. The KGB would promptly trump up some bogus charges against an American diplomat in Moscow and arrest him, then the diplomats would negotiate a prisoner exchange, their bad guy for ours. It got their guy out of the country, but it also took down one of ours. The Prisoner Exchange is like that: you equalize everybody's guilt, then everybody "confesses" to their own pecadillos and make nice, and everybody is "reconciled." Many years ago I learned that sucking up the guilt and blame had that effect. If there is any way I can accept the blame for things that went wrong, I do it. Like the Harrison Ford character in the movie "Clear and Present Danger", it takes the wind out of the opposition's sails. However, what if the guilt is NOT equal? Maybe one party didn't do anything wrong at all; to "confess" to a phony fault is a lie, and God hates liars more than He promotes reconciliation. I think Warren understands that.
P.163. "Divorcing your church at the first sign of disappointment or disillusionment is a mark of immaturity." Maybe so, but on the other side is God's command not to denigrate the church leaders. I have a policy not to remain in a church where I cannot unequivocally support the pastoral leadership. Twice in the last decade that required me to leave. In both cases the pastor was simply wrong and off-base, and unwilling to repent. Pastors don't repent unless forced out of their church, it's part of the pastoral personality type. I have no intention of causing that kind of church split, so I left. People assumed it was the kind of disillusionment Warren speaks of, and there's not much I can do about that. When you are serious about your commitment to Jesus Christ, these things happen more often. I think Warren makes that kind of point also, somewhere in this book.
P.164. Warren rightly cites Scripture against criticizing other believers, but I have a question: What is the difference between "confronting sin" honestly (p.147) and "criticizing" (here)? This is an honest question, and I want to know. Confronting sin is judging. Warren doesn't say. He separates the approval from the condemnation by several chapters, as does the Bible.
Purpose #3 was a much easier read for me, because I agree with it wholeheartedly, except for a few minor nits (and some comments)...
P.181. I like Warren's explanation of the difference between working for your salvation, and working it out.
P.186. The "abide" verse Warren cites is one of the few I had previously recognized as promoting the modern idea of "relationship" -- until I read this page, where Warren points out that "abiding" is about being in God's Word. It's not about "relationships" at all! I'm impressed.
P.189. Some people have a tough time memorizing. I'm one of them (I think there's an MBTI correlation supporting the distinction). But I agree with Warren that you remember what's important to you.
P.194. Nothing happens without God's permission. The bad stuff that happens would be much worse if I didn't know that, and that God is working it out for good. So I agree.
P.198. "Notice that God tells us to give thanks 'in all circumstances' not 'for all..." Ummm, yes, that is true in 1Thes.5:18, and people like to make this distinction, but Eph.5:20 says "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything." It's a false distinction, and I'm disappointed in Warren for trying to run it. He should know better.
P.214. "Satan cannot force you to do anything. He can only suggest." I believe this is correct. Although Warren does not make the point here, this is also an interesting way of understanding the difference between John 10:28 (nobody can snatch you out of Jesus' hand) and Heb.6:6 (referring to believers who have fallen away). Satan cannot snatch you, but he can urge you to jump. Whether you do or not is your choice. God, it seems, is also not into forcing people into moral choices. But that is a contentious debate, best left for other occasions.
2004 July 12
I am pretty much in agreement with his Purpose #4 in principle. However...
P.229. "Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling." I would dearly like to believe this, but chapter and verse, please. The citations Warren supplies do not support this claim. I can offer at least one counter-example from the Bible: Peter tried to use his God-given abilities -- more than once -- to help others, and was rebuked for it.
P.232. "...It is repeated five times in the gospels." That's an interesting (if slightly exagerated) claim. Three of those five represent the three synoptic accounts of same event, Peter's Confession and subsequent attempt to (ahem) use his gifts in the service of others. However the other two are two completely different events, Matt's account of the sending of the Twelve, and Luke's account of the eschatological discourse. It's a good insight.
P.237. "The Bible uses the term heart to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests,..." OK, he understands that it's not just (nor even primarily) the seat of human emotion. But...
P.238. "God has given each of us a unique emotional 'heartbeat'..." [emphasis his]. He still wants to wallow in that Feeler quagmire of confusion. sigh
P.245. He even knows about the difference between Thinkers and Feelers. He also knows about projection (I think he even used the term, but I didn't annotate where), while continuing to do so. sigh
P.247. "If you really desire to be used by God, you must understand..." [emphasis his]. No, God can use people who do not understand. All that matters is a willingness to call Him LORD, and not even that is essential; God can use people unwillingly, as frex, "Nebuchadnezzar my servant" [Jer.27:6].
P.250. "Any definitions [of spiritual gifts] are arbitrary..." Too true. We might credibly guess at some of them, but some of the published guesses are less than credible.
P.252. "Only in hindsight do we understand how God intended a problem for good." Well, I would like to aspire to such maturity that I can see it when it's happening, but God makes no promises, not even for hindsight.
P.258. On "servant-leaders" -- I could have written this sentence myself. In fact I did write something very nearly the same:
P.267. "Kingdom Builders ... still try to make as much money as they can." Notice that there is no Scriptural support for these KB folks. They are unBiblical. God's servants do God's work in God's way, and do NOT "try to make as much money as they can" because you can always make more money being unethical than you can ethically, AND God doesn't care about the money we "can" make, because HE owns it all. God gives money to some people and not to others as HE chooses. Some of those recipients use the money God gives them for His Kingdom, and most do not. But trying to make as much as you can is a trap that Jesus and Paul both warned against, and Warren has apparently fallen into it. sigh
P.270. "If anyone had the chance of a lifetime to flaunt his connections and 'name-drop,' it was James, the half-brother of Jesus." Curious that his relatives felt no problem with said name-dropping after he died, and we have the (stone) box they wrote it on, only recently come to light. I wonder if Warren was thinking about that.
P.272. "...uncontrollable circumstances..." I know about those weaknesses!
P.276. "Ministry begins with vulnerability." This has been a popular notion in Christian circles for a long time, but other than examples cited, I know of no Biblical teaching to support it. Examples are not always a good basis for doctrine, except in Jesus Christ. Tell me about His "vulnerabilities". Don't want to use that word on Jesus? I didn't think so. The Bible doesn't either. It just ain't there. It's more like the Prisoner Exchange: If I have weaknesses to match your weaknesses, then maybe you'll come join me in mine. Or else reject the whole sniveling lot of it. Honesty is something else; it's not the same as "vulnerability."
I have a bigger problem with Warren's Purpose #5. It's an important function of the church, but not necessarily of every believer. To wit:
P.283. "This commission was given to every [his emphasis] follower of Jesus, not just to pastors and missionaries alone." There's a slight problem with that: in the verse he cites, it explicitly says he gave it to the Eleven. There were more than 500 believers who saw the resurrected Christ, but only 11 got the Great Commission. Now why would Jesus do a dumb thing like that, if it's supposed to be for all of them? Answer: it's not for all. Evangelism is a ministry given to some [Eph.4:11], just as pastoring and teaching and prophesying are only assigned to some. Oh, and by the way, the Great Commission is not about evangelizing, it's about discipling.
P.289. "God has given you a Life Message." Chapter and verse, please. Not in my Bible. This is a modern invention. Paul talked about his conversion experience exactly twice that we know about, and dozens of times he evangelizes and there is not a word about it. The other Apostles never said a thing about their own conversion experiences. It just ain't there. That may be OK for a Feeler community, but it doesn't do much for Thinkers. The two scriptures he cites (both in 1Pet) are about giving a defense of the gospel, NOT about telling one's "Life Message". It's not the same. Just look at what Peter said (several places in Acts), when he gave us an example of what he had in mind.
P.294. "All the training in the world won't motivate you ... until you internalize the eight convictions covered in the previous chapter." Besides being rather arrogant, I cannot find any list of 8 anythings in the previous chapter. True, training does not motivate, but alliterative lists of 8 or 7 or 5 or whatever won't either. Passion motivates (he gets into that also).
P.298. "There were no ocean-crossing ships..." Ummm, excuse me, but that's historically inaccurate. The ships Paul sailed in were technologically equivalent to the ones Columbus sailed to America. Maybe Warren doesn't want to call the Mediterranean an "ocean" but it's not that much smaller than the Atlantic, which the Vikings crossed in lesser ships a few hundred years later, and the polynesians crossed the vast south Pacific in far smaller boats -- about the time of the disciples. All of which is a historical nit, of course.
P.307. "Five times in Scripture we are told to test and examine..." [Lam.3:40; 1Cor.11:28,31, 13:5x; Gal.6:4] Warren sure likes these numbered lists, doesn't he? Self-examination is a fine idea, and it is taught in Scripture, but not in all the verses he cites.
P.312. "The answers to all three questions are found in God's five purposes for you." I am reminded of the modern proverb, "When you are a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail." A few places like this and the one mentioned above, Warren gets a little carried away with the supposed importance of his own insights. If that's the worst of his faults, then he's not doing too bad.
P.325. "What will be the contribution of my life." Yet another alliterative list, this time of five C's. As pastors are wont to say, "That'll preach." But it happens to be slightly wrong-headed, inviting speculation into things we are given no assurance of knowing. In the 20-20 vision of hindsight we might get to know what our contribution was -- but probably not this side of glory for most of us. It certainly should not be as important a signal in our life direction as Who is the Center? I suppose it is helpful to feel like you have some aim, something to contribute, but nothing in Scripture tells us to make an effort to know it. It's far more important that at each moment you do what God wants you to do that moment.
Well, anyway, there it is. I would recommend the book. It's not the Bible, and it goes against the Bible in a few places, but only a few.
2004 July 19