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Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

27 June 2005
  Purpose-Driven, Unsolicited, Un-Spam ...
... or, why you should always open your mail.

Most anyone with an internet connection gets unsolicited email—sometimes lots of it. With automatic filters and a jaundiced eye, probably most of what I get barely registers on the radar. However, today I accessed one of my lesser-used accounts and amidst the dross I saw this header: The Purpose-Driven Life: A Lutheran's Perspective.

Not being any great fan of Rick Warren's evangelical fluff, I decided to pop open the post. There within I found a Word file with a layman's critique of PDL. (I guess he didn't know that a Practically Perfect Aardvark prefers WordPerfect.) I went to the URL listed in the post and found that I didn't have to struggle with Word, a WP version is available.

In eighteen pages (depending upon font size and printer specs), plus another four pages of notes, Scott Diekmann offers an overview stemming from the personal experience of wandering forty days in a Purpose-Driven wilderness. Rather than offer generic criticism that Warren "doesn't sound Lutheran" and thus should be avoided, he provides quotes and his own commentary. Diekmann provides ample evidence that Warren "gets" neither Law nor Gospel, although The Purpose-Driven Life is shown to be rampantly legalistic. Furthermore, Diekmann exposes the poor translation chosen to present Warren's choice of Bible texts (The Message from Zondervan).


To give you a taste of the essay, here are the final few observations he makes, quoting Warren and answering from Scripture and sound doctrine:

Pastor Warren says my real problem is “a lack of focus and purpose,” something I should be able to work on and correct. My real problem is that I am a sinner. Fortunately, someone came to solve my problem, and that is where my focus lies:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Pastor Warren says “Hope comes from having a purpose.” My hope comes from my Redeemer and the firm conviction I have that on the last day I will be resurrected to eternal life; I myself will see Jesus with my own eyes:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.... 1 Timothy 1:1

Pastor Warren states “There are many ‘good’ things you can do with your life, but God’s purposes are the five essentials you must do.” The people asked Jesus what they must do:

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

While we do the believing, it is God’s work, through the Holy Spirit and His means of grace to convert us and sanctify us in saving faith through Christ Jesus our Lord. The words of John 6:28-29 are also reflected in those of 1 John 3:23:

And this is his [God’s] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

It is only through saving faith in Jesus that we can accomplish God’s purposes for our lives. Without faith in Jesus, our firm foundation, no work is a good work, no purpose a fruitful one. Jesus truly is the way, the truth, and the life. Our focus must steadfastly remain on Him and the work He did on the cross rather than on ourselves. Then our purposes will flow forth like streams of living water with no forethought on our own part.

In my own “spiritual journey” to try and become more Christ-like and accomplish God’s purposes in my life I find I often fail. At the end of the forty day “road trip,” I am back where I started, at the foot of the cross. The more I notice my failure, the more I am confronted by my sin and the Law. It is then that I turn back to the cross and the Gospel, where my faith is strengthened as I seek forgiveness, hope and renewal. On my journey, I haven’t really noticed that I’ve become more Christ-like, instead I become more and more aware of the fact that I am a sinner, and with ever increasing understanding and joy I appreciate what it was that Christ did for me when He hung from that cross in agony and proclaimed to the world “It is finished.” For Jesus sake! Amen.


To read or download Diekmann's entire essay, choose one of the following links:

HTML
Word (.doc) Format
WordPerfect (.wpd) Format
 
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