Comments on Commenting on the Purpose Driven Life (PDL)

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Comments on Commenting on the Purpose Driven Life (PDL)

This post is sparked by another post by Phil Johnson at awesome up-and-coming blog, Pyromaniac...this one regarding The Purpose Driven Life. Phil has done an amazing job throughout his ministry with which I am familiar defending the gospel. It is obvious that he loves Christ and that comes out in his passion for doctrinal fidelity. Many readers, however, may fall into a category of loving "theology" without loving the God of which it speaks. And on the other side, many may read who do not even know the God of whom we are writing. In both cases, it is the duty of the Christian to bear testimony in word and in spirit to Christ our Savior.

 This particular entry was entitled, "Marginal Observations about PDL". I agree with the substance of every marginal note that Phil made and referenced in his original post; however, I think that we must be careful about how we present our distrust of the book. The fact is that many people respond to this book, and they have the seeds of the gospel sown (I know the gospel is not even really presented here, but nevertheless, after reading this book people may be interested in "God" or "spirituality") and they may then stumble upon this blog looking for someone to walk with them toward God.  It's our job to then point them to the cross and humbly walk with them (not tell them how to get there but walk with them) to the foot of the cross. I know that all of our concerns swirl around the the very issue of the cross (PDL simply doesn't present a great need for it because sin is minimized, the subject of the message is self and not God, repentance is non-existant, no substantive mention of justification or imputation, etc), but if one who was not "schooled in the ways of reformed blogging" stumbled onto this site after reading the book, I think that they would write us off as separatist lunatics or a jealous fringe and not as something attractive, definately not those who they would look to to offer them further guidance (again, please note, I am not speaking of the original blog post but to the rather harsh tone of the comments following). Then they'll end up going to a seeker-sensitive church that will give them nothing but a good feeling on their way to Hell. So I just want to encourage all of you and encourage myself as well in the midst of our blogging to consider the weaker brother. I cannot presume Phil's intent in writing these warnings; his entry appears to be just marginal notes alerting himself and his readers to read this book with caution, pointing out its glaring deficiencies. However, judging from the commenters that came out the woodwork, those who like the type of critique that Phil offered appear more interested in lambasting the book and the author than helping those who have read it find a more complete presentation of the Gospel.

So for two reasons, I would like to henceforth remind myself of Colossian 4:5-6, "Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious seasoned with salt..."
  1. There are outsiders who read what we blog. Therefore, in the hope that God might "grant them repentance" let's "Correct our opponents with gentleness (2 Tim 2:25)" and "restore [transgressors] in a spirit of gentleness, keep[ing] watch on yourself (Gal 6:1)." Let's make sure that people see Christ in us. Although I will fall short often and hope that the Christian blogging community keeps me accountable to it, I want to look to my own sin before I blog, especially when I blog on that with which I disagree. Christians can be the harshest of all people which is utterly inconsistent with everything we claim to believe. Ultimately (I talk about this in my blog on the Beatitudes) if we are inconsistent with our creed we demonstrate a lack of faith. Let's guard our hearts and the hearts of our readers against this in the manner in which we blog, seeking to encourage before we admonish.
  2. There are those apparently "within the church" who are drawn astray by controversy. This is utterly unchristlike. Unfortunately, like I attempted to bring out in my last post sparked by Phil's site, there are many in the Christian community--particularly the Reformed Christian community--who enjoy doctrine but are oblivious to the effects that it should have on their own life. I have been particularly guilty of that. So as we seek to repent where that is reflective of our lives, let's help others by hosting gracious forums. Gracious doesn't mean that we overlook bad theology, but we can fight against it without personally attacking those who have fallen prey to it (I am speaking particularly to Douglas' comments). Just like nonbelievers need the Gospel, let's make sure that we are preaching it to each other as well, in word and in spirit/attitude. 
I hope this is taken in the meak, self-incriminating sense in which it was intended and in no other way. I too am guilty of this even in my short blogging life.

what ever happen to short-blong entries for those of us who are so influence by this world that we have too short of attention spans to read you big old blogs??? lots of love, john
by: John Deal () - 11 June '05 - 00:40
It just looks long because the column is narrow ;-). I’ll try to make my blog more accessible to you in the future, John, by keeping the entries shorter. Thanks for the admonition. You do know what they say about brevity:
by: Jacob (URL) - 11 June '05 - 01:53
Hi, you miss the seriousness of what I said. Many millions of souls are pouring into the Lake of Fire each day and Christians are standing around patting the false teacher, the wolf in sheep’s clothing, Rick Warren on his back. I mean to say, why does he need to broadcast to the whole world what he is doing? Paying back all his salary to Saddleback? What does that prove? That he is a real spiritual man? Why tell every one he reverse tithes, keeps 10% for himself and gives 90%. What spiritual value does that have letting everyone know he does that?

Where is the fear of God in his ministry? Where is the Holiness of God in Saddleback?

The church in America should be putting on sack cloth and ashes and repenting in the dirt calling out to God for mercy because of the wicked state she is in!!!
by: Douglas () - 11 June '05 - 13:11
Doug, thanks for the comment. I understand the seriousness of shepherds leading sheep astray, and I do believe that there are many pastors / authors out there who are giving their followers a false sense of security. I believe many who have read the Purpose Driven Life are among those “falsely assured.” However, I do not believe that pointing out sins in what appears to be a harsh and judgmental manner is the best solution to helping those followers of Warren and the PDL encounter Christ. It is not the best way to show them the Gospel. Like I said in the post, if this is our tactic, we will be written off as “separatist lunatics or a jealous fringe.”
by: Jacob Hantla (URL) - 12 June '05 - 17:44
My grandma who is not saved has really understood alot of basic truths about God through the book—this has made my unsaved mom want to read it. Unfortunately I have come to expect this from Phil(I love his Spurgeon website btw) and the typical criticism of all things popular by alot of his colleagues. This is one of the main reasons I have stopped identifying myself with his camp( and moved on to another part of the Body(
You are right Jacob-I agree with your concerns-lets be known for loving God and being biblical & fair-minded in our criticism of believers…Lets not be known for being theological sharks.
I honestly think we should be careful with believers who always have criticism for other parts of the Body.Our calls for loving one another start to ring hollow with non believer. With the believer it starts to seem like there is always a theological axe to grind and soon believer’s discount our legitimate concerns— they stop listening.
Rick Warren is not a false teacher in sheeps clothing-he believes and teaches the essentials of the historic christian faith—We may disagree with his methods or his theology but if we were to really examine his minstry rightly rather thans just reading the review in the TMS journal or a blog entry we would see a believer with whom we disagree that we should extend respect to. Some of my best friends who have graduated from the Master’s Seminary have visited his church and seen the leadership and the members loving God and loving others well.
by: ScottyB () (URL) - 16 June '05 - 15:58
Scotty, thanks for ringing in. There are reall people, your grandma being one of them and dozens others that I personally know of whose spiritual appetites were whetted by PDL. However, I do not want, in the least bit, to miss the fact that I do agree with Phil and others in content. The Purpose Driven Life will save few. I’ve read it. The gospel is not clearly presented. However, I can pray that it will get somebody in the doors of our church’s or in dialogue with us where we can share that great news with them! So I agree in content but I disagree in method with many of those in the anti-PDL crowd. Nevertheless, I do want to go on record saying that a whetted spiritual appetite that is not tempered by the gravity of sin and, therefore, the greatness of our Savior and His grace may find themselves temporarily satisfied with much less, and ultimately miss the gospel and miss grace. I believe that PDL is a dangerous book. I believe that overall it may have done more harm than good, but in many many instances God has used it to great good. Praise God!
by: Jacob Hantla (URL) - 16 June '05 - 17:59
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Title: Comments on Commenting on the Purpose Driven Life (PDL)
Date posted: 10 June '05 - 02:04
Category: blogging
Wordcount: 880 words
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