Purpose-driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
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Average customer rating:
3.5 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 0310210747
Manufacturer : Zondervan Publishing House|
Release data : 02 May, 2003
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The only reason I have given this book 1 star is that Amazon won't let me give it 0 stars...
This is not a book to read if you suffer from low self-esteem or self-worth. I kept a journal while reading this book which I looked back on recently, and in it I had written 'this would make even Mother Theresa feel inadequate'. Like many others, I read it at the recommendation of friends and church leaders I have a great deal of respect for...but I got rid of my copy as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
User friendly and potentially good tool for discipleship
This book is a very interesting idea. Designed to be read over the course of one month, it is well structured, with only a few short pages of reading per day, containing inspiring quotes and scripture. The chapters are all sub-divided into three key themes, meaning each day, the same theme is expanded upon quite nicely, and again, the emphasis is on small, easily digestible lessons, making the book extremely user friendly. This is especially helpful to those who are not frequent readers.
The book does have one or two weaknesses. Firstly, whilst the author encourages you to make notes in the margin, these margins could have been bigger to make this easier. Secondly, not every Christian will necessarily agree with the points he makes, as some of these points have some considerable latitude for disagreement. All in all, the book is a potentially useful tool for discipleship. The book also lends itself well to group study, which not every Christian book does. I read the book everyday during lent and found it to be very useful.
A Question Of Free Will
"The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren is a guide to one's spiritual journey. The book is setup as a series of 40 lessons, one to be followed each day, and the idea is for the reader to discover God's purpose for his/her life. For me, this was a difficult book to rate, and I will explain how I arrived at the dreaded one-star rating which I have given it in more detail. It is important to look at this book from a few different perspectives for a perspective reader to understand if this is a good book for them.
The first perspective is that of a non-Christian, and for these people this book has almost nothing to offer. The book is written for Christians, and in order to find good ideas for someone who isn't a Christian, you will really have to work at stripping away a lot of the material. This book offers no introduction to Christianity, nor is any effort made to make the material accessible to non-Christians.
The second perspective is that of Christians who are well versed in the Bible and read it often. In discussing this book with people who fall into this category, they felt that it really didn't offer anything new. The vast majority of the quotes are taken from the Bible, and there is really very little else that this book offers.
The last perspective is that of Christians who do not spend much time reading the Bible. These people may get some use out of this book. It organizes the lessons in a nice format, and it is certainly a quicker read than the Bible. This book might well energize people in this group to study and learn about their faith.
In looking at the problems with this book, I will go from least important to most important. The first issue turned out to be really no issue at all, but I mention it in so that others who read the book will not worry. In his introduction section, Rick Warren promotes a couple of his products which are associated with the book. When I read this section I was worried that he would spend a large amount of the book shilling for himself, but that turned out to not be the case. Other than a mention of a previous book he wrote, he never mentions any other products.
The next issue is much more significant. It involves the subject of free will. In his 2nd lesson, he quotes the Bible: "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book". He returns to this subject in the 30th lesson where he says that God "planned every day of your life to support his shaping process." He then quotes the Bible again "Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. He even implies in his dedication that God decided that the reader would read this book. Of course, such detailed scheduling of one's life means that we have no free will, and thus are not able to apply any of these lessons unless God has scripted it in his book.
While the previous issue caused me to choose the one-star rating as opposed to the two-star rating, the final issue is the reason why I could not go above two-stars for this book. It is simply too impersonal; the author relates Biblical story after Biblical story, and almost never gives any examples to help the reader connect with his lessons. As I mentioned before, almost every quote and story come directly from the Bible, and there is very little offered outside of that. The one big exception is when he relates the story of his father on his death bed. It is a very moving story and it really helps the reader to connect with what he is writing as well as gives the reader a feeling for the strength of his faith. Unfortunately he waits until the 36th lesson before he gives us something beyond what we could have learned from the Bible. Had he done this in every lesson, he would have had something to offer all the Christian readers, and even something for the non-Christian ones.