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Warren Smith’s Deceived On Purpose was a book I purchased from Good Fight Ministries alongside the important rockumentary They Sold Their Souls For Rock And Roll. This book analyzes the new-age implications of the purpose-driven church. Because I spent a little over a decade in a church that was basically in that purpose-driven movement, I wanted to give this book a read. In this review, I note some of the many highlights found in this book.
It is important to know that Warren Smith and his wife came out of the New Age movement in 1984 (p. 7). In his book, Smith “offers a ‘balance’ to the largely predominant one-sided acclaim” that false teacher Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life has mainly received up until and perhaps beyond 2004 (the year Smith’s book was released; p. 9). Smith also makes an important point that because “Rick Warren’s book is in the public domain and has been read by millions of people, I have chosen to respond to his book in the same public arena” (p. 9).
As for structure, this book has fifteen chapters. Smith does not arrange the chapters into particular sections. However, each chapter does have small subsections. The first fourteen chapters are rather informational. The last chapter represents a call to action. Each chapter begins with either a singular Bible quote, a singular source quote, or a combination of quotes normally done in a comparative sense. For example, at the beginning of chapter one (p. 13) we get the following quotes (I put in a table format):
|Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are holding this book.||Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002|
|[T]his book has arrived in your life at the right and perfect time….Everything happens in perfect order, and the arrival of this book in your life is no exception.||Neale Donald Walsch, New Age leader Conversations With God: Book 2, 1997|
Smith’s citing multiple quotes to start his chapters is very effective because it shows Rick Warren’s connections with the New Age in a clear, easily viewable manner. Smith also uses this same “comparative” tactic in six of the fifteen chapters in the book.
As for book content, Smith devotes chapters to the book The Purpose Driven Life, The Message paraphrase, Robert Schuller, the PEACE Plan, God’s dream, and Robert Schuller’s connections to both Rick Warren and Jerry Jampolsky (the latter person being heavily involved in the New Age). Smith does an effective job in interweaving how those are all connected. He cites primary sources as he makes his connections. This is evidenced by his plethora of sources in both the endnotes and bibliography of this book. His index also makes topics very convenient to locate. This book has one of more the loaded endnotes/bibliography sections I have seen in a bit.
In chapter one, Smith outlines how he first came across Rick Warren (pp. 13-22). Smith notes how he found Warren’s name in a book entitled From The Ashes: A Spiritual Response To The Attack On America (p. 14). This book was a collection of articles written by both Christian leaders and New Age leaders (p. 14). The Christian leaders listed were Bruce Wilkinson, Charles Colson, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Jerry Jenkins, TD Jakes and the late Billy Graham (p. 14). New age leaders included the Dalai Llama, Neale Donald Walsh and Starhawk the witch (p. 14). Of these leaders, Smith devotes the most time to Walsch. Smith notes some of Walsch’s alarming antichrist teachings from his Conversations With God book (including the line, “You are already a God. You simply do not know it.”; p. 16). Apparently only one lone pastor in Iowa challenged Walsch; none of the aforementioned Christian leaders did such a thing (p. 17). Smith concludes the chapter with connections between Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life and the New Age (pp. 20-21).
In chapters two through four, Smith analyzes both The Message paraphrase and Warren’s justification for using fifteen different translations in The Purpose Driven Life (pp. 23-40). One highlight (among many) is the analysis of the phrase, “as above, so below.” The Message uses that phrase in such biblical texts as Colossians 1:16 and Matthew 6:9-13 (pp. 29-30). To illustrate the dangers of that phrase, I cite the singular quote Smith cited at the beginning of chapter three:
“As Above, so below; as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one.”Ronald S. Miller and the editors of New Age Journal As Above, So Below, 1992 (p. 29 in Smith’s book; bolded text done by me)
That quote does not square with what the Scriptures say. Isaiah 44:6-8 says the following (NASB):
6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
7 ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it;
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order,
From the time that I established the ancient nation.
And let them declare to them the things that are coming
And the events that are going to take place.
8 ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”
There is only one God. The Scriptures make this clear in other places (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 1:8; Deuteronomy 32:39). The “as above, so below” mess is not of God. Unfortunately, this did not prevent the late Eugene Peterson, the engine behind The Message paraphrase, from using that antichrist doctrine. It also didn’t stop Warren from using that abbreviated phrase on the first page of the first chapter of The Purpose Driven Life (p. 31; I confirmed this myself since I have a copy of The Purpose Driven Life). Smith does an excellent job in detailing further the dangers of the “as above, so below” phrase (pp. 32-35).
The book, already an excellent one given its revealings up to this point, really heats up at chapter five (pp. 41-58). The chapter begins by quoting both Robert Schuller and Rick Warren. Here are the quotes (p. 41):
|Our very survival “as a species depends on hope. And without hope we will lose the faith that we can cope.”||Robert Schuller (quoting author Rene Dubos) |
Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, 1982
|Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope.||Rick Warren|
The Purpose Driven Life, 2002
Smith spends a chunk of this chapter on the New Age Leaders Gerald Jampolsky, Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsch and Bernie Siegel (pp. 43-49). Interestingly enough, Smith notes how Warren cites Siegel in The Purpose Driven Life without giving any explanation of who Siegel is (p. 49). I have stated on multiple occasions in the past that Rick Warren is a liar in addition to being a false teacher. Seeing that Warren did not tell the reader who Siegel is represents his lying via the act of omission. Smith concludes his chapter with a very eye-opening fact about a New Age book he came across as a brand new Christian (p. 56). If you go to the endnotes of this section, you find that the book was The Fourth Dimension: The Key To Putting Your Faith To Work For A Successful Life by Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho (p. 184). Here is the eye-opening fact that jumped out at me (pp. 56-57):
The book was filled with everything I had just left behind in the New Age. Cloaked in Christian language, it encouraged the reader to use guided visualization (now often called “vision casting”) and other metaphysical techniques to gain whatever it was they wanted. Pastors were encouraged to “visualize and dream bigger churches,” or “a new mission field,” or whatever else they thought would improve their church and ministry. The introduction to the book was written by Robert Schuller. In his endorsement of the book, which included these New Age visualization techniques, Schuller had written, “Don’t try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It’s true. It works. I tried it.”
That eye-opening fact jumped out at me because I know for a fact vision-casting is absolutely unbiblical. I had no idea that that practice originated from the New Age. I have seen many seeker-driven churches endorse vision-casting. In fact, a church I used to attend for a while recently endorsed the practice. It was for that reason (among many others) that I currently reject both that church and what I call Big Evangelicalism (Big Eva for short).
It should also be noted that Robert Schuller appeals to his subjective experiences in affirming the unbiblical practice of vision-casting. Moreover, his stating to the reader to “don’t try to understand it” is tantamount to telling someone to just turn off the brain when engaging in the practice. That is far from wise, biblical advice.
In chapter six, Smith discusses the New Age PEACE Plan (pp. 59-71). In chapters seven and eight, Smith explores the concepts of force and God’s being in everything, respectively (pp. 73-86). Smith once again effectively uses multiple quotes to begin those chapters. In chapter seven, the reader is introduced to Maitreya, a false New Age “Christ” and “antichrist prototype who claims to be here on Earth right now” (p. 76). Smith cites some quotes from Maitreya, as follows (p. 76):
Many around Me now have recognized Me, work with Me and channel My force.
I am with you as the embodiment of that Divine Force which you call the Christ Principle.
Many now are awake to these divine aspects, and call for the restructuring of your world.
My Force is behind them.
You will notice the frequent usages of the word “force.” Now see the quotes Smith cited to begin chapter seven (p. 73):
|The Eternal Creative Force of the universe we call God can surge within your being to give you self-belief, self-esteem, self-love, self-confidence! Without it—you’re sunk, with it—you’re invincible!||Yes, people who are spiritually and emotionally connected to the Eternal Creative Force discover their powerful potential as a creative personality and win the big prize in living.||What is the basic, driving force in life?||What is the driving force in your life?|
Discover Your Possibilities, 1978
If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me, 1997
The Purpose-Driven Life, 2002
This is absolutely alarming. Rick Warren’s ties to both Robert Schuller and Maitreya can’t be denied. These three use rather similar verbiage in those quotes. Smith’s work here is brilliant. Chapter eight’s beginning also shows a revealing quote comparison (p. 79):
|The Bible says, “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.”||Yes, God is alive and He is in every single human being!||God is in everyone and everything.|
The Purpose-Driven Life, 2002
Hour of Power, November 9, 2003
Prescriptions For Living, 1999
It should be noted that Warren’s citation from above is the New Century Version (NCV) translation of Ephesians 4:6. That is a really bad translation of that verse. Smith notes how the King James Version of that verse states, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (p. 82). Smith explains this difference a little further (pp. 82-83):
The “you” in the King James Bible makes it very clear that Paul is writing his letter to the believers who are in the Church of Jesus Christ. He is not writing to those who are unbelievers, and who just happen to be reading his letter. He is certainly not saying or suggesting that God is “in” everyone and everything. But the New Age teachers with their New Spirituality are trying to co-opt this scripture to make it apply to the whole human race. And many of today’s newer Bible versions, like some of the ones Robert Schuller and Rick Warren are using, seem to justify this New Age interpretation. By choosing the New Century Version, Rick Warren is actually giving the New Age exactly what it wants — apparent scriptural authority for their key New Age teaching that “we are all One” because God is “in” everyone and everything.
If it is not clear by now that Rick Warren has some strong ties to the New Age, I do not know what could make the connections clearer. Furthermore, Warren’s promotion of God’s being in everything is a clear case of the heresy known as pantheism.
In chapters nine and ten, Smith examines Robert Schuller’s connections to both Jerry Jampolsky and Rick Warren, respectively (pp. 87-112). I appreciated the single quote Smith cited to begin chapter ten (p. 103):
And there’s Rick Warren, a pastor who today is phenomenal. He came to our institute time after time. And in “Christianity Today,” his wife was quoted as saying, “When we came to that institute, we were blown away.”Robert Schuller, Hour of Power, April 4, 2004
Smith also notes the important point that Rick Warren never directly acknowledges Schuller in The Purpose-Driven Life despite the obvious connections (p. 103). Smith does an excellent job throughout the chapter in citing Schuller and Warren sources alongside each other. The connection is real. Moreover, the connection is a dangerous one, for Schuller is essentially a heretic. Smith notes a Schuller quote from a 1997 book titled, If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me; the quote was, “Connect with me and come to love and listen to the God within you” (pp. 109-110). As I mentioned earlier in this book, there is only one God, and Robert Schuller is not it. That God would be the God of the Bible.
In chapter eleven, Smith spends some time debunking Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez (pp. 115-129). Apparently, Wilkinson, like Warren, got his ideas from Schuller without quoting him (p. 116). Smith notes how the aforementioned books by both Warren and Wilkinson do not call for either spiritual discernment or warnings about possible deception (p. 126). Instead, everything “spiritual was being presented in such ‘positive’ Schulleresque terms…” (p. 126). In light of that, Warren and Wilkinson remind me of these false prophets spoken of in Jeremiah 23:1-40 (NASB):
23 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord. 3 “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
6 “In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called,
‘The Lord our righteousness.’
7 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ 8 but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.”
9 As for the prophets:
My heart is broken within me,
All my bones tremble;
I have become like a drunken man,
Even like a man overcome with wine,
Because of the Lord
And because of His holy words.
10 For the land is full of adulterers;
For the land mourns because of the curse.
The pastures of the wilderness have dried up.
Their course also is evil
And their might is not right.
11 “For both prophet and priest are polluted;
Even in My house I have found their wickedness,” declares the Lord.
12 “Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them,
They will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it;
For I will bring calamity upon them,
The year of their punishment,” declares the Lord.
13 “Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing:
They prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray.
14 “Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing:
The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood;
And they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
So that no one has turned back from his wickedness.
All of them have become to Me like Sodom,
And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
15 “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets,
‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood
And make them drink poisonous water,
For from the prophets of Jerusalem
Pollution has gone forth into all the land.’”
16 Thus says the Lord of hosts,
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own imagination,
Not from the mouth of the Lord.
17 “They keep saying to those who despise Me,
‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace”’;
And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’
18 “But who has stood in the council of the Lord,
That he should see and hear His word?
Who has given heed to His word and listened?
19 “Behold, the storm of the Lord has gone forth in wrath,
Even a whirling tempest;
It will swirl down on the head of the wicked.
20 “The anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart;
In the last days you will clearly understand it.
21 “I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.
22 “But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.
23 “Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
24 “Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
25 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ 26 How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, 27 who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? 28 The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? 30 Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal My words from each other. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lorddeclares.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord.
33 “Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you saying, ‘What is the oracle of the Lord?’ then you shall say to them, ‘What oracle?’ The Lord declares, ‘I will abandon you.’ 34 Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, ‘The oracle of the Lord,’ I will bring punishment upon that man and his household.35 Thus will each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 36 For you will no longer remember the oracle of the Lord, because every man’s own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.37 Thus you will say to that prophet, ‘What has the Lord answered you?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ 38 For if you say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’ surely thus says the Lord, ‘Because you said this word, “The oracle of the Lord!” I have also sent to you, saying, “You shall not say, ‘The oracle of the Lord!’”’ 39 Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. 40 I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten.”
At this point, it would be wise to stay away from such false teachers/prophets as Rick Warren, Bruce Wilkinson and the late Robert Schuller.
In chapter twelve, Smith discusses Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E Plan (pp. 131-142). I had mentioned earlier that chapter six discussed the New Age Peace Plan. New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch developed that particular Peace Plan. Warren’s Peace Plan, according to a Rick Warren email dated 12/27/2003, claimed to be “GOD’S DREAM FOR YOU—AND THE WORLD” (p. 131). However, Smith notes how Warren’s P.E.A.C.E plan is eerily similar to that of Walsch’s Peace Plan (p. 137). Moreover, Warren uses Schuller terms to describe his P.E.A.C.E plan (p. 138). By attaching God’s name to his own P.E.A.C.E plan, Warren has essentially blasphemed God. Nowhere in Scripture is there a P.E.A.C.E plan. Furthermore, God would not have His name attached to any “peace plan” lacking saving faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
In chapter thirteen, Smith notes how Warren both discourages his readers from studying prophecy and fails to warn about spiritual deception (pp. 143-149). In chapter fourteen, Smith discusses the aforementioned Maitreya a bit at length (pp. 151-166). One interesting thing about Maitreya was his being “purpose driven” (p. 151). Page 154 shows some frequent quotes of Maitreya’s clear affiliation with the word “purpose.” The chapter also explores the terms “fresh” and “Master Jesus” (pp. 157-166). Smith concludes his book with an admonition to contend for the faith (pp. 167-180). One highlight in that chapter (among many) was another noticeable lack of warning about spiritual deception from Warren, Schuller and Wilkinson (pp. 177-178). Smith notes the zero warnings given from those three individuals in the 4-hour DVD special from Wilkinson titled Dream Giver. Once again, those three individuals are an accurate picture of the false prophets spoken of in Jeremiah 23.
When I purchased this book from Good Fight Ministries alongside the important rockumentary They Sold Their Souls For Rock And Roll, I did not expect Smith’s book to be as eye-opening as I found it to be. Smith has done a very important work here. The connections Rick Warren has with the New Age are a lot deeper and more dangerous than I thought. Moreover, they are undeniable. This book is an absolute gem. If you have ever come across Rick Warren, Robert Schuller or the seeker-driven movement, you should really get this book. It is a very important work that really digs deep on the foundation of Rick Warren and his many false teachings.
NOTE: I emailed my review to the author via his email address online of firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org”