I came across this article that explains why The Purpose-Driven Life gives bad directions to Catholics. Here is a summary:The book’s author Rick Warren is a Baptist, and on his website, he claims that he is starting a new Reformation, which the writer of this catholic.com article says should put Catholics on guard about the “Purpose-Driven” approached to Christian faith.

Purpose-Driven Scripture: The Purpose-Driven Life begins from the Protestant premise of sola scriptura, which says that we can reliably discern God’s purposes for our lives from the text of written Scripture alone. According to Cardinal John Henry Newman, scripture was never intended to teach doctrine, but only to prove it. Hence, no faithful Catholic can accept the “Purpose-Driven” approach to Scripture.

Purpose-Driven Salvation: Warren assures his readers that it is very easy to enter into eternal life. All one has to do is to sincerely pray, “Jesus, I believe you and I receive you.” But Jesus makes it clear that the way that leads to life is hard, and the gate is narrow, and those who find it are few. (Mt 7:14). They can’t be talking about the same salvation, can they?

Purpose-Driven Liturgy: Warren’s view is that it when it comes to worship, what is important is what the individual believer brings to worship, not the objective reality of worship itself, and that there is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics. He describes his church as “the flock that likes to rock”, where some songs are performed with a nightclub effect. The Church, however, makes a distinction between sacred and profane music.

Purpose-Driven Sacraments: Warren says that baptism only “signifies” and “symbolizes” but does not actually do anything. He says that “Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family; only faith in Christ does that. Baptism shows you are part of God’s family.” Such a statement directly contradicts what the Church teaches, which is what Jesus taught: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Purpose-Driven Ecclesiology: Warren’s understanding of ecclesiology does not go beyond the local congregation. His idea of ‘church’ is the congregation that he can see. But the ‘church’ that Jesus calls us to in his body, the universal Catholic Church.

In conclusion, Warren’s teaching might give useful personal encouragement, but it is dangerous to use his books in any catechetical setting, as they are misleading and can be confusing to poorly catechized Catholics. While it might appear to be ecumenical, it undermines true ecumenism which must be based on truth. What Warren is providing is spiritualized pop-psychology, writes the author of the article. Catholics who follow the Purpose-Driven template are following a road that is more likely to lead away from the Church than to a deeper practice of their faith.

- read the full article here.

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