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The Purpose Driven Life – Book Review

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ, …he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. -Ephesians 1:11-

I received this book as a gift – otherwise I probably wouldn’t have read it. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, and when I do it is not usually self-help or inspirational nonfiction. The Purpose Driven Life is meant to be read slowly over 40 days – one chapter a day. My husband and I read it together and discussed it; and in this regard it was a good experience.

As a Christian, I believe that Christ is our savior and died for our sins. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe there are ways to live our lives which make us better people and give our lives purpose. In many ways, this is what Rick Warren writes about – the problem with the book is twofold:

1. Warren repeats everything again and again and again. At some points, I wanted to scream “Okay, I get it!” Some of the information is so basic I felt Warren was talking down to the reader.
2. Warren presents an exceptionally narrow way of viewing the world which I felt was not inclusive enough. He made me feel that if I didn’t subscribe to his interpretation of God’s word, than I was not the ‘right kind of Christian.’ I’ve always hated that view – it makes me uncomfortable and it doesn’t feel correct to me. I didn’t appreciate the subtle judgment against other faiths which was woven into the text

On the up side, Warren presents information clearly, concisely and gives the reader a series of questions and meditations to strengthen his points. The book is well organized.

I’m afraid I can’t recommend this book to a lot of people – even some Christians (like myself) may feel the book talks down to them and doesn’t resonate fully with their beliefs. If you are a person who loves inspirational and religious philosophy, you may want to give it a try.

7 Comments

  1. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 17, 2007    

    Looks like this is another area where we have some common views! I, too, have real problem with books like this that prescribe to have the one true answer. I am more in favor of inclusivity also …
    Thanks for the review, I had kind of wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I can skip reading it 🙂

  2. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 17, 2007    

    I’ve stopped being surprised by how much we share in terms of beliefs, books, etc… 🙂 Glad the review was helpful to you!

  3. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 18, 2007    

    I also did not enjoy this book as much as others–more because i felt I was being talked down to. But i think it is more a book for people who aren’t sure what to think on some basic issues rather than those who do know what they think already.
    But I very much admire Rick Warren as a person. He’s really quite amazing and has given away over 90% of any profit he has made on the Purpose Driven books and other products.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 19, 2007    

    And yet, there are thousands of people who claim this book changed their lives. I’m a little worried that there are that many people in the world who would embrace such a small world-view.

  5. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 19, 2007    

    Dana – I didn’t know that about Rick Warren. I respect people who “give back” and that is good to know about him.
    Kookie – *nods* Yet people get different things out of books, and perhaps those people really needed to have an understanding of a greater good or purpose and this book opened them up to that. It is a narrow book in many ways, and my hope would be that people could take the good from the text, but continue to be open minded towards others who may have different beliefs and views.

  6. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 23, 2007    

    If my memory doesn’t fail me (read it in 2004), I found this to be a wonderful book. I do not recall being annoyed with the flaws you stated and I read it twice (once was with a study group). I do love non-fiction and love the organization of this book which added to my liking it. 🙂
    In most of these kinds of books, the repetition or the explanation of simple concepts are usually meant for seekers or unbelievers or those that need constant reminders. 🙂 I had that in the back of my mind throughout the book, so it didn’t feel demeaning or condescending.
    Sorry you didn’t like it more.

  7. Anonymous Anonymous
    June 23, 2007    

    You’re not alone in your love of this book, Joy – it just didn’t put me over the top. Your observation that perhaps it is more for seekers or unbelievers is valid…I am pretty grounded in my beliefs, so maybe that’s why I found it less than satisfying.

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