I first read large chunks of Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life quite a number of years ago after a friend had publicly recommended it as an important book for all Christians to read. I was frustrated by it, not only because of its theology, but the style was pedestrian and Warren’s use of Scripture wasn’t sound. The first time that I read parts of The Purpose-Driven Church was for a course on pastoral leadership at Toronto Baptist Seminary. No, no, don’t worry! TBS does not advocate the “purpose driven” model for ministry. We had to read it as an example of bad methodology. The critiques offered by my fellow students and the professor were really helpful in thinking through issues of pragmatism in the church.
Recently John Piper, whose ministry philosophy is at polar opposites with Warren’s, has invited the pastor of Saddleback Community Church to speak at the upcoming Desiring God conference. There has been quite a lot of heated debate generated in the blogosphere over this one — no wonder!
The two best places to turn for a good perspective on Warren and the whole Piper invitation is Tim Challies’ recent post and the link that he provides to Michael Horton’s article at Modern Reformation. Tim, as usual, offers balance and helpful criticism. He argues that Piper made a mistake by inviting Warren because of the confusion it will cause. I wholeheartedly agree. Horton’s article is a great piece on Warren’s overall theology and chameleon-like ability to look Calvinistic in one context, and Emerging in another.