Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life has been both a commercially successful best seller and a widely influential book in the Christian community. As a rejoinder to the fundamentalist assumptions of Warren’s book, Robert Price, a biblical scholar, a member of the Jesus Seminar, and a former liberal Baptist pastor, offers this witty, thoughtful, and detailed critique. Following the concise forty-chapter structure of Warren’s book, Price’s point-counterpoint approach emphasizes the importance of reason in understanding life’s realities as opposed to Warren’s devotional perspective. Price, who was once a born-again Christian in his youth, is in a unique position to offer an appreciation of the wisdom that Warren shares while at the same time challenging many of his main points. In particular, Price takes issue with Warren’s use of numerous scriptural quotations, demonstrating how many of them have little to do with the points Warren is trying to make. An important section of the book shows that the popular evangelical notion of “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” is utterly without any scriptural basis. Besides criticism, Price also provides many persuasive arguments for the use of reason as a tool for developing moral maturity and an intelligent, realistic perspective on life’s highs and lows. Ultimately, the reason-driven life offers a healthier, alternative approach to wisdom and motivation, says Price, than the simplistic answers and feel-good emotionalism at the heart of Warren’s prescription for life.
Robert M. Price is adjunct professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is the editor (with Jeffery Jay Lowder) of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave and the Journal of Higher Criticism. He is also the author of… More about Robert M. Price