A Critique of The Purpose-Driven Life – Conservative Theological Journal 2005

A Critique of The Purpose-Driven Life, Part 1

James Sundquist

Rock Salt Publishing

Editor’s Note:  This is the first installment of a lengthy article on Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. It first appeared in 2004 on the website http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/False-Teachers.html. Each installment is an edited version of a portion of the full article. Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture quotes are from the KJV.


Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Life has a number of logical, biblical, and theological errors in it. In this article, Sundquist carefully and biblically refutes Warren’s assertions point-by-point.


The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren has become a number one best seller in both Christian as well as secular bookstores, and has been distributed to over 180,000 pastors worldwide according Rick Warren’s website. More than sixteen million copies have sold. Rick Warren’s theology and book have infiltrated almost every Christian denomination, including the Assembly of God, Conservative Baptist, Southern Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Episcopal, Nazarene, Methodist, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Presbyterian, Vineyard, Evangelical Free, Calvary’ Chapel, and a host of community and non-denominational churches throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Because of this, I believe it is more imperative than ever to test the spirits of his teachings to see if they be of God.

Let me first say that it is absolutely critical to present the facts of Rick Warren’s teachings by using his exact quotes and comparing them to Scripture, as the Lord considers it an abomination to bear false witness against a brother in Christ.

After reading The Purpose-Driven Life, I could not help but wonder how it ever made it past the editors at Zondervan, his publisher, because there were so many colossal biblical blunders in the book. Then upon

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reviewing which translations he used, I discovered none other than Zondervan itself was the publisher of two of them (The Amplified Bible and The Revised Standard Version).

But no translation could be blamed for Warren’s error regarding the purposes of the 40 Days in each of the Old and New Testament characters he cites. These are purely factual errors, easily detectable! I have endeavored to document what I perceive to be the most glaring errors in his teaching and theology.

For those who might believe that Warren is above or exempt from criticism (“Don’t criticize what God has blessed”), I exhort you to consider the following Scripture:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are ofGod…(l John 4:1)

One of the most precious resources of Christianity is Truth! If we compromise truth, we will have lost the savor in our salt and will eventually and rightfully be trodden under foot.

False Premise of 40 Days of Purpose
Comparing Warren’s 40-Day Examples to Scripture

Rick Warren states:

“Don’t you think it would be a wise use of time to set aside 40 of those days to figure out what God wants you to do with the rest of them”? “Whenever God wanted to prepare for someone for his purposes, he took 40 days.” (9–10)


Who decided, and by what authority, that 40 days are required to determine your purpose in life? Paul received his calling and knew immediately what he was supposed to do the rest of his life. So Warren’s whole premise of purpose is fatally flawed. The events he describes in the Bible transpired in 40 days. But that does not mean transformation took the entire 40 days. I was eager to determine what Warren really meant by the term “transformed.”

He uses Romans 12:2 (NLT) to define this word.

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Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do.

Now let’s see what that verse really says:

And be not conformed to this world:  but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In verse 1 of this chapter, Paul states unequivocally whom he is addressing:  “brethren.” So the transforming can only apply to those who are already saved and at that point had already determined their purpose in life. So the renewing of the mind Paul is talking about is the renewing of the minds of Christians. Warren applies the term “transformed” to both believers and non-believers in the examples he gives. Secondly, he presumes that at the beginning of 40 days, each of his examples was still in a state of being conformed to this world (i.e., not yet transformed).

Here are the examples he cites:

1.   Was Noah still conformed to this world at the beginning the 40 days of rain? No! See Genesis Chapter 7 to determine for yourself!

2.   Was Moses still conformed to this world at the beginning of 40 days at Mount Sinai? No! See Exodus Chapter 24 to determine for yourself!

3.   Was David still conformed to this world at the beginning of Goliath’s 40-day challenge? No! See I Samuel 17 to determine for yourself!

4.   Were Jesus’ disciples still conformed to this world at the beginning of the 40 days commencing with Christ’s Resurrection? No! See Acts 1:3 to determine for yourself!

Finally, if at any time the disciples were transformed it was at Pentecost. Pentecost is 50 days, not 40 days. That is when they received power, not before. But they already had their purpose.

Warren’s example of Nineveh being conformed to this world at the beginning of the 40 days would be true. But there is no evidence it took 40 days for them to be transformed. In fact, the evidence in Jonah points to immediate repentance and the wearing of sackcloth. There is no text to support 40 days of a process of transfomiing, assuming that this term can

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even apply to someone who was not a believer at the beginning or even during the 40 days.

Probably the most glaring error is Warren’s statement:  “Jesus was empowered by 40 days in the wilderness.” Jesus was not empowered for 40 days in the wilderness, he was tempted. He was all-powerful already. If anything, at least in the flesh, he was weakened, then strengthened only at the very end of the 40 days with food brought to him by angels. There is no process of 40 days required to get Jesus “empowered!”

One might ask, but doesn’t God use 40-day periods over and over again in the Bible? Yes, God used 40-day periods throughout the Bible; however, he never gave us liberty to invent what took place in those passages as Warren has done. The 40-day periods are descriptive, not necessarily prescriptive. Even if they were prescriptive then by our invoking them we must follow the biblical pattern and schematic. We should not be following Warren’s ideas, which do not conform to those biblical models, together with his sprinkling in the doctrines or references to false teachers along the way.

One may also ask, but isn’t there a consistent recurring theme to God’s use of 40-day periods in the Bible that we should apply to our lives to determine our purpose in life? Well, since all Scripture is profitable as is recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16, then of course 40-day time frames have significance. However, I reiterate that the significance begins with first telling the truth about what occurred in those 40-day examples, which Warren does NOT do. Secondly, just because a number re-occurs does not mean we are to automatically plug that number into our lives. The Book of Numbers is full of myriads of numbers, but to go beyond what is written to suggest that this is God’s blueprint with these numbers would constitute numerology.

It took 40 days for the Egyptians to embalm the body of Joseph. So does this mean we should all take 40 days to embalm all Christians when they die? To read these kinds of things into the text is poor hermeneutics at best, and divination at the worst.

One of the biggest problems of all is that none of the examples of 40-days in the Bible is even used to determine your purpose. In fact, in most examples, God’s purpose of the 40-days is judgment. So, all of the 40-day examples are achieving very different purposes, not a homogenized

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schematic that all people follow according to what Warren has dreamed up. 1 am sure God has a reason for the recurrence of 40-days and that it is not a coincidence. But that is known to the Lord. He does not tell us.

God sovereignly worked His purposes in these examples. There is no suggestion therefore that Christians should turn 40 days over to Rick Warren to find “their” purposes. The use of 40 days by Warren is intended to make people think that his material has God’s imprimatur when it does not. He is almost making the 40 days a magic number.

So Rick Warren suggests that his book will transform our life? What if we are already a new person and we already have our purpose and we just need our minds renewed, which what Romans 12:2 is really saying? The reason people aren’t transformed is not because of impatience to read the next chapter, as Warren alleges, but because they didn’t read THE book (the Bible), and because they weren’t convicted. Warren’s quote of Romans 12:2 implies that you will not know what God wants you to do until 40 days. But the fact is that in all of the Old and New Testament passages he cites, these men already knew what God wanted them to do before the 40 days, not during, and not at the end! This is not a matter of opinion. The facts are not in dispute, as the Scriptures will easily verify.

Rick Warren:

“Real spiritual growth is never isolated.” (11)


I thought Rick Warren just got done saying that Jesus was empowered in the wilderness where He was isolated. He was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus Himself commands us to go into our prayer closet when we pray. Do we now have to have company in our closet in order to achieve “real spiritual growth”?

What about Paul? He was isolated for three years and yet he experienced “real spiritual growth.” (Remember, Paul did not need the three years to find out his purpose; that is, to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; he was already given that upon being commissioned to be an Apostle to the Gentiles by Christ Himself.) The Apostle John was exiled to Patmos where he would have been quite isolated. Are you going to say that John did not have real spiritual growth because he was isolated during which time he wrote the Book of Revelation?

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Comparing Rick Warren’s Covenant to Scripture

Rick Warren:

“With God’s help, I commit the next 40 days of my life to discovering God’s purpose for my life.” (13)


Even if Christ had not warned us about taking pledges and oaths, and that indeed even if they were acceptable, why would anyone sign an oath before reading the book, without knowing anything about who Rick Warren is? What are his teachings? What teachers or false teachers does he endorse? Even if it were true that you need 40 days to discover God’s purpose for you life, how do you know that it is Warren’s blueprint of 40 days that will take you there? Maybe it is the wrong blueprint or map. What about the millions of Christians who discovered God’s purpose for their life by simply reading the Bible?

Since Warren is directing this in great part to non-believers, they have no correct concept of even Who God is. God could simply be any higher power, or the God of this world (Satan), or Allah, or “God as we understand him” as in the 12-Step Program. There is nothing in the covenant statement about the credentials of the Partner’s name with whom you are signing a covenant.

He quotes Ecclesiastes 4:9 (TEV), but this passage is about two working together or fighting together. There is nothing in the passage to back up Warren’s statement of how this can help you discover God’s purpose for your life. James 5:12 warns:

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath:  but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Questions on Oaths and Covenants From Pastors
Who Have Introduced the Purpose-Driven Life Campaign

Question or Comment:

We are not going to make anyone in our church sign Rick Warren’s Covenant, but simply invite them to do so.


You may not be guilty of enforcing Warren’s covenant, but I certainly hope you have a problem promoting a teacher who introduces

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these unbiblical and heretical demands. You may think adding these kinds of burdens is perfectly harmless and not heretical, but Jesus Christ called the Pharisees who added unnecessary burdens to the people “twice the sons of Hell.” Paul, likewise, said to the Church in Galatia that those who were trying to put people back under the Law “accursed.”

Question or Comment:

In the Scriptures God himself swears (Gen. 9:9–11, Luke 1:68, 73, Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27–31), not because He sometimes lies, but in order to help men believe (Heb. 6:17), therefore oaths and covenants such as Warren’s are perfectly warranted. Jesus Himself testified under oath (Matt 26:63–64).


These are perhaps some of the most astonishing statements I have read on the subject of oaths! How can you compare what God can do, regarding covenants or oaths, to what man can do? God can swear to whatever He wants to, and He has the power to guarantee its fulfillment. Man cannot promise with any certainty to deliver anything in the future. This is one of the reasons Christ was telling His people not to take oaths. But God does not even need a reason. He simply tells us what to obey.

Question or Comment:

The earliest Christians still took oaths, if we may judge from Paul’s example (Rom. 1:9, 2 Cor. 1:23, 1 Thess. 2:5, 10, Phil. 1:8) for much the same reason.


Not one of these passages has Paul taking an oath, let alone signing one. All of these passages simply refer to witnessing various events, but nothing about an oath. All of them except one have to do with God’s witness, not Paul’s. The one exception is 1 Thessalonians 2:10 and that is about the witness of the Church of Thessalonica.

Even if Paul had taken an oath in Scripture, he was given direct apostolic authority, and he was penning Scripture itself. So such an oath would have been descriptive of Paul, but not prescriptive to us. But not to worry, for not even Paul took such an oath!

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Inaccurate vs. Accurate Translations

Warren states that he is against self-help books (19), yet the 12 Step Program is a self-help book, and his Celebrate Recovery Program is based on this very program of self-help books. It is simply adapted and called 8 Principles of Recovery.

Warren then contrasts true self vs. false self. He quotes Matthew 16:25 (The Message):

Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.

Even if the Bible taught this concept of “true self vs. “false self,” it is still self. Besides this, asceticism (which the Apostle Paul opposed) teaches self-sacrifice. Paul goes on to call even the self-sacrifice of complying with the prohibitions of diet and marriage, doctrines of demons. Islamic Terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center practiced self-sacrifice. Let’s see what the text really says:

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:  and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. [Emphasis mine]

“For my sake” (for Jesus Christ’s sake) is obscured in The Message translation. And even if true, Christ is talking about losing your life (for Him), not simply self-sacrifice.

Warren misquotes Isaiah 26:3 (TEV) by stating that the Lord keeps one in perfect peace whose purpose is firm (32), but that is not what Isaiah said:

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee. [Emphasis mine]

Rick Warren:

“Jesus came to earth so we could fully understand God’s Glory.”


This is simply not true on two fronts. (1) Jesus came to save that which is lost and to give Himself up as the perfect sacrificial Lamb for mankind. (2) We may never “fully” understand God’s glory. Even Paul said that we still see through glass dimly, not fully, until we see Him face to face. Here are other Scriptures that disagree with Warren:

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For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. (Isa. 64:4)

But as it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

Warren quotes Psalm 147:11 from the CEV:  “The Lord is pleased only with those who worship him and trust his love.” (64)

This mangled translation takes away the most important qualifier … the most important phrase:  “for those who fear him.”

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Note that the CEV translation changes the word “mercy” to “love.” Now, of course the Lord is full of both love and mercy. But they are not the same concepts. It is not surprising that Warren leaves out the fear of the Lord, as later on page 77 he states:  “We give ourselves to him. not out of fear or duty, but in love.”

Warren quotes Psalm 14:2 from the Living Bible:  “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who are wise, who want to please God.” (76)

Is that what the text says? Let’s read Psalm 14:2–3 for the complete context:

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God. They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy:  [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.

Warren leaves out the critical qualifier in verse 3 that says none seek after God. So the reader is left with the impression of deciding for himself if he is one of those who wants to please God. Warren doesn’t tell you that the Bible says there are NONE! But this is not altogether surprising because the heart of the Purpose-Driven theology is to stay positive which is exactly the theme of his revered colleague, Dr. Robert Schuller.

Warren quotes Exodus 34:14 from the NLT:  “He is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you.” (86) This is nothing

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remotely reflective of the contents of the correct rendering of this passage:

For thou shalt worship no other god:  for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God.

Warren mixes up passion with jealousy, then completely misses the point of this commandment in Exodus that we are to worship no other gods. It is not just a declarative statement about one of God’s attributes (which he could have at least gotten right), but the verse is a directive to our response and obedience to God.

On pages 85 and following Warren places way too much of an emphasis on God wanting to be our friend. He quotes the following passages from various translations (some of which he doesn’t even identify): Romans 5:11; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:18a, 13:14; and 1 John 1:3. The New Testament primarily uses three Greek words for “friend” —philos, etairos, and even anthropos (cf. Luke 5:20 in the NASB). None of those three words is found in the verses cited by Warren.

Rick Warren:

“Jesus is still the friend of sinners.” (93)

But read Matthew 11:19 to see if that is what Jesus said. What he said was “They say that I am a friend of sinners.” But the text also said they said he was a glutton. Does that mean Jesus was a glutton? Read the text carefully:

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.

Warren should not be so reckless to confuse Who is talking (Jesus) and who He is referring to (the Pharisees).

Rick Warren:

“There is almost nothing God won’t do for the man or woman who is committed to serving the Kingdom of God.” (287)

Warren here quotes Matthew 6:33 from the NLT:

[God] will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

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This is a bad rendering because it screams of Word of Faith Movement and Kingdom Now Theology. This is not surprising because Warren endorse the Alpha Course which is riddled with this teaching. A Christian could be 100% committed to serving the Kingdom of God but receive none of the promises in this life. The last section of Hebrews Chapter 11 is devoted to all of the persecuted and mistreated saints who waited for a better country. A totally committed Christian is still one who the Scripture would describe as:

But as it is written, “‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Warren contradicts himself on pages 313 and 318. On 313 he contends that “goals are temporary,” yet on 318 he quotes 2 Corinthians 10:13 from the Living Bible:  “Our goal is to measure up to God’s plan for us.” Wouldn’t measuring up to God’s plan for us be a permanent pursuit?

False Teachings

For writing a whole book on one’s purpose, Warren sure doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

Warren quotes Proverbs 13:7 from The Message, “People who don’t know their purpose try to do too much. … Knowing your purpose simplifies your life.” Warren states (28) that after killing Abel, Cain wandered without a purpose the rest of his life. This is simply not true, as God marked him for protection. He then built a city. Does that sound like someone without a purpose?

Warren states that Job said he had no purpose and then he writes, “Hope comes from having a purpose.” (30–31) Does this mean Job had no hope?

Does Warren’s assertion describe Paul when he pressed on, was constrained, and ran a good race? Paul had a purpose yet his life became even busier, at least compared to the other apostles. In fact, Paul even describes himself as having done more than all of the other disciples. As to whether Paul’s life was any busier or more simplified than before his conversion, that is pure speculation, as he was zealous in both cases. David’s life was much simpler as a shepherd boy than it was as King of Israel.

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A Christian who knows his or her purpose might have a simpler life or a more complex life. So there is no foundation for Rick Warren’s statement and conclusion, let alone to try to extract this teaching from a faulty Bible translation verse.

Rick Warren:

“How you define life determines your destiny.” (41)


No! How God defines your life determines your destiny!

Rick Warren:

“We are not supposed to be here [on earth]” 50)


If this is true, then why did the Apostle Paul declare:

Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. (Phil. 1:20–26; NASB)

Until the Lord comes and as long as we have breath, we are supposed to be here.

Rick Warren:

“The greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life.” (51)


This is certainly true of many heroes of faith, but it applies equally to those achieved prosperity, success, and power in this life. Warren’s statement would then have to exclude Abraham, Solomon, Esther, Job, and many others who had all three characteristics. Warren himself has been considered a great hero of the faith by some, yet Warren is

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prosperous, well-known, and wields enormous power and influence in this life! So from his own testimony, wouldn’t he then be excluded as a great hero of the faith?

Rick Warren:

“if you fully understand this truth” [that your first purpose is ‘“living for God’s pleasure”], you will never again have a problem of feeling insignificant.” (63)


If this is true, then when did David, who was already a man after God’s own heart, ask the question “who art man that God is mindful of him” (Psalm 8:4)? Why did Jeremiah despise the day he was born if he thought he was so significant? There are many examples throughout the Bible of men and women of faith who already understood their purpose, yet still had times of feeling insignificant, let alone never again feeling insignificant. Besides this, our feelings are mercurial; we can’t always depend on our feelings, but we should always depend on our faith. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that recognizing “living for God’s pleasure” is God’s “first” purpose in your life!

Rick Warren:

“God loves all kinds of music.” (65)


This is a most astonishing statement considering that Rick Warren’s whole thrust in his Purpose-Driven Church book is “out with the old” (music) and in with the new! Furthermore, music is not neutral; it too must be judged by its fruit. I doubt God loves music that honors the devil.

Rick Warren uses the expression “falling in love with Jesus.” (67) This is very troubling term and very misleading to non-believers who will mistake it for romantic eros love. Besides this, the term implies a helpless free fall vs. purposeful obedience, picking up the cross, denying yourself, and resisting temptation. Having an eros love for Jesus is a concept found nowhere in Scripture. Yes, we are to love Jesus with all of our hearts, but we are also to fear God.

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Rick Warren:

“Noah trusted God, even when it didn’t make sense.” (69)


But if you read the account of Noah in Genesis, you will see that the passage does not say building the Ark for the coming global Flood did not make sense; it was simply unseen by Noah. In fact being “unseen” is a major component of faith. Just because something is unseen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make any sense. Read all of Hebrews 11. That chapter describes many examples of faith being exercising for things unseen. Only one of these examples implies that trusting God did not make sense, and that was Sarah being too old to conceive.

Rick Warren:

“There are no unspiritual abilities” (75)


If this statement is true, then you would have to say that all abilities are spiritual, yet there are a host of human abilities that have nothing to do with the spirit. One also has to ask what one could easily and reasonably infer from his statement, and that is, what spiritual abilities are forbidden for Christians? Divination and necromancy are abilities too, but they are an abomination to the Lord.

Rick Warren:

“God does not expect you to be perfect but he does insist on complete honesty.” (92)


Please show me chapter and verse that supports this idea. Saul was honest, too, in bringing a sacrifice to the Lord. But the Lord demanded obedience, not sacrifice. In several examples in the Old Testament, God’s people murmured and complained … but at least they were completely honest. And what did God do? Was he pleased simply because they were honest? Of course not. He opened up the earth and swallowed these “honest” people and killed the rest of them with plagues … 14,700 of them (Numbers 16 and 26, and Deuteronomy 11)! If you think Warren’s theology is correct about God insisting on complete honesty, do a word search with the word “murmur” in the Bible and see

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if it ever made any difference to God, simply because they were completely honest.

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. (1 Cor. 10:10)

Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; … (Phil. 2:14, 15)

Finally, Warren’s above statement that God does not want perfection collides with the Scriptures of what God really expects as the process of sanctification as Christians until we are glorified, and that is:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)

But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:4)

Rick Warren:

“You are as close to God as you choose to be.” (98)


No, we are no closer to God than God chooses that we be. Like Paul, I choose to be in heaven and absent from the body, but that does not mean I get my wish.

Rick Warren states:  “There is nothing—absolutely nothing—more important than developing a friendship with God.” (99) Then he quotes I Timothy 6:21 in the Living Bible to try to back this up:  “Some of these people have missed the most important thing in life—they don’t know God.” [emphasis mine]

Well let us once again see if that is what the text really says:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace [be] with thee. Amen. (1 Tim. 6:20, 21)

It is unthinkable that Rick Warren would once again leave out the critical qualifier and context of this quote, and that is verse 20 … really the rest of the sentence! There is nothing in the text which says “the most important thing,” let alone “the most important thing in life.” Besides,

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Paul is not saying these people in the Church don’t know God, but rather were erring in dabbling in vain babblings and science falsely so called. Warren’s quote is one more example of leaving me in complete disbelief that I had even had the right citation because his statements are so far off track from what the text actually says.

Rick Warren:

“God is pleased when our worship is accurate.” [emphasis mine] (101)


This is one of the most brazen statements in the book, that Warren would champion accuracy, yet use one corrupt, inaccurate, incomplete translation and paraphrase after another from the Bible, and promote and endorse false teachers throughout the book who are anything but accurate in conveying the authority of Scripture.

Warren quotes A. W. Tozer on page 108. Tozer is a highly revered believer. But if anyone has ever read any of his work, you would easily see that Tozer would oppose the Purpose-Driven Theology of Rick Warren. Here are some quotes from Tozer:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

“That religion and amusement are forever opposed to each other by their very essential natures is apparently not known to this new school of religious entertainers.”

“The emotions have had a beautiful time, but the will is left untouched.”

“The best they can do is to appeal to the world’s psychology or repeat brightly that ‘modern times call for modern methods.’” (The Menace of the Religious Movie by A. W. Tozer)

These quotes of Tozer do not resemble the philosophy and theology of Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life. I am confident that Tozer would kindly thank Rick Warren to not quote him and create any false impression that he would have supported his theology.

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Rick Warren:

“Why is baptism important? It symbolizes God’s second purpose for our life:  participating in the fellowship of God’s eternal family” (120)


Where does it say that in the Bible? If anything, it symbolizes the first purpose in your life which is to be born again. So what it really symbolizes is our death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3–5), passing from death unto life (John 5:24), not participating in fellowship.

Rick Warren:

“It is only when we become open about our lives that we experience real fellowship.” (140)


He then quotes 1 John 1:7–8 in the NCV:  “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other.”

But being open with each other about our lives does not define walking in the light. You could be open with each other and walking in total darkness. Warren’s statement does not even agree with the very Scripture he quotes. Furthermore, we don’t automatically walk in the light just because we have fellowship. Warren’s thinking is the critical flaw and fatal attraction to the Church Growth Movement he espouses.

Rick Warren:

“‘Unity is the soul of fellowship … But for unity’s sake we must never let our differences divide us.” (160–161)


This is the great argument for ecumenism in which Warren reveals his true colors. But unity can never be at the expense of truth! The fact is that doctrine does divide and it is intended to:

For there must be also heresies (divisions) among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Cor. 11:19)

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9)

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For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;… (2 Tim. 4:3)

No, unity is not the soul of fellowship; truth is the soul of true fellowship. Light cannot have fellowship (unity) with darkness. What does the cup of Belial and the cup of the Lord have in common? If we don’t let our (vital doctrinal) differences divide us, we are on a sure path to heresy!

Rick Warren:

“Conflict is usually a sign that the focus has shifted to less important things.” (162)


Tell this to Martin Luther who penned the 95 Thesis in which conflict was the focus of the most important things! Warren then calls interpretations “disputable matters.” Interpretation of Scripture is not a less important thing nor is it a disputable matter. Peter says that “no Scripture is open to private interpretation.” So private interpretations should produce conflict and correction! Warren then calls styles and methods disputable matters that we should not engage in, yet disparages a host of other church styles and methods in his Purpose-Driven Church book.

This article will continue in the next issue.[1]


A Critique of the Purpose-Driven Life,
Part II — Personality Profiling

James Sundquist

In the first article the author exposed Rick Warren’s false teaching in general, Warren’s colossal blunders in his 40-Day examples he cites from Scripture, and his false teachings regarding covenants and oaths. In this article he addresses Warren’s “SHAPE” program, and Personality Profiling, where documentation is given of the tragic consequences to those Christians in Purpose-Driven churches throughout the U.S., and Canada who refused to sign Rick Warren’s forced covenants.


The S in SHAPE refers to Spiritual Gifts that can only be possessed by a believer, as even Rick Warren asserts, meaning that only the ‘‘new man” can possess them. However, the Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experience (the H,A,P,E in SHAPE) could apply to believers as well as non-believers. The impression is created that there is an attempt to combine the attributes of the new man (the S in SHAPE) and the old man (the H,A,P,E in SHAPE) in what Rick Warren describes as a “custom combination of capabilities.” When Jesus warned us against putting new wine into old wineskins (the old man). .. the wineskins did not burst right away, but after a season. Much, if not all, of Rick Warren’s SHAPE (HAPE) is the old wineskin. So the only thing that is going to happen is that eventually, Warren’s SHAPE wineskin is going to burst!

By now many of you must be asking, “If some of the teachings behind the other letters in Rick Warren’s SHAPE are faulty, then how can we trust the teaching behind the remaining letter (P”) in his SHAPE acronym?” Well you would be right! You can’t trust it. We will prove why Rick Warren’s teaching on Personality Theory is one of the most serious aberrations from orthodox Christianity. The individual letters of SHAPE as well as any value of combining all of the letters cannot be biblically defended. Even if four out of the five letters in SHAPE could be biblically defended, but one is in error, it corrupts the entire acronym. A little leaven leaveneth the entire lump. A little strychnine in the stew poisons the entire stew, no matter how excellent and fresh the meat, potatoes, and vegetables.

Once again I must point out that the actual personality profile questionnaire (the P in SHAPE) is not in Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life book. Rather he gives a general description of it. In order to obtain the actual personality profile questionnaire that you take and fill out (and determine your score), you must do the same thing you did to obtain the SHAPE questionnaire. The personality questionnaire is a questionnaire

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within a questionnaire, in that it is embedded in the SHAPE questionnaire (the P in SHAPE). This SHAPE Questionnaire and Personality Profile, otherwise known as Discovery 301 Class is obtained directly from Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

Carl Jung: A Little Background

But before I go into detail to describe how Rick Warren’s personality profile is based on Carl Jung’s theories of personality, it would be very instructive to give you the background of how Carl Jung’s psychology of personality found its way into evangelical Christianity. This can best be described in the article on Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI), entitled, “CARL JUNG, NEO-GNOSTICISM, & THE MBTIA,” – a report by Rev. Ed Hird, Past National Chair of ARM Canada (revised March 18/98), which will also clearly reveals where Rick Warren got his ideas for his personality profile embedded in his SHAPE questionnaire. We have received special permission to reprint this excellent article.

As to the validity of the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator, as well as the abridged version known as the Keirsey-Bates Temperament Sorter, for determining your personality temperament, please refer to Dr. David Pittenger’s research article: “Measuring the MBTI. .. And Coming Up Short.” The following quote summarizes Dr. Pittenger’s findings:

As noted above, the Myers-Briggs™ instrument generates sixteen distinct personality profiles based on which side of the four scales one tends toward. Technically, the instrument is not supposed to be used to spew out personality profiles and pigeonhole people, but the temptation to do so seems irresistible. Providing personality tests and profiles has become a kind of entertainment on the Internet. There is also a pernicious side to these profiles: they can lead to discrimination and poor career counseling. Employers may hire, fire, or assign personnel by personality type, despite the fact that the MBTI® is not even reliable at identifying one’s type. Several studies have shown that when retested, even after intervals as short as five weeks, as many as 50 percent will be classified into a different type. There is scant support for the belief that the MBTI® would justify such job discrimination or would be a reliable aid to someone seeking career guidance (Pittenger 1993).

In answer to the question as to whether Rick Warren’s personality

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profile integrates the teachings of Carl Jung (in terms of the MBTI and the Keirsey-Bates), there are at least three places online which feature the actual SHAPE Discovery test (and at least three variations of the test. .. but both variations invoke Jung’s terms: Introvert/Extrovert and Thinker/Feeler). These websites will be listed later in the chapter.

Rick Warren, in talking about the P component in The Purpose Driven Life, uses the same terminology coined by Carl Jung. Rick Warren contrasts Introvert/Extrovert and Thinker/Feeler. .. exactly the terminology and meaning promoted and intended by Carl Jung.  It is well-documented both by Carl Jung himself as well as by reputable scholars that Carl Jung obtained his personality theory by divination, necromancy, Taoism, astrology, paganism and evolution (refer to Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church, Appendix C). My own correspondence with the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, confirms this. There is no question that Jung’s personality theory and books constitute magic arts. Christians have no business drawing from his magic arts to minister or teach Christians to follow. It is so surprising that Rick Warren would utilize Jung’s terms in order for Christians to plug this into their personality evaluation.

Believers should be aware of what the Bible says regarding divination:

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”—Deuteronomy 18:10–12

What follows is an excerpt from a more comprehensive SHAPE profile, otherwise known as Discovery Class 301. It can be found at First United Pentecostal Church’s website that uses it . The following excerpt from the SHAPE (Discovery 301) questionnaire is absolute proof of the Carl Jung rooted personality profile, or the “P” in Rick Warren’s SHAPE program Discovery 301 Class. (This version of the SHAPE questionnaire is approximately 68 pages).

Class 301 – Discovering My Ministry—Page 46 “It’s obvious that God has not used a ‘“cookie cutter” to stamp out people in a process of uniformity. He loves variety—-just look around! There are no “right” or “wrong” temperaments. Rather, we need opposites in personality types to balance the church. Although there are many fine (and detailed!) personality

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assessments available, for the purpose of your ministry profile, we want you to consider just five aspects …” Note in particular that certain




















  mild   extreme

























































































personality traits are scored. These traits were derived from Carl Jung’s practice of divination. The numbers assigned above were not originally used by Carl Jung (though Carl Jung practiced astrology, numerology and Ouija boards). The numbers were later introduced by Myers-Briggs, who codified these traits. Again we see numbers assigned to the Discovery 301 Class questionnaire, as seen above. Numerology is practicing or ascribing numerical values to hidden knowledge (including personality), not limited to predicting the future. Using this chart as though these numbers have some spiritual significance for a Christian is why this is numerology (a form of divination) which the Bible forbids.

Every SHAPE questionnaire adaptation online we have discovered (for which the churches credit Rick Warren’s SHAPE program) uses the personality profiling derived from Carl Jung.

Another example is the First United Methodist Church in Mineola, Texas, which uses and adapts Rick Warren’s SHAPE and specifically his personality profile.

They state:

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“List your Kiersey-Bates personality type from the test:

_______(E or I) _______(S or N)

_______(T or F) ______ (J or P)”

In this Jung-based personality profile, E stands for Extrovert, 1 stands for Introvert, S stands for Self-Expressive, N stands for Intuitive, T stands for Thinker, F stands for Feeler, J stands for Judging, and P stands for Perceiver.

If you visit the above site, you will see Warren’s SHAPE questionnaire, but you will also note references to the Keirsey-Bates Temperament Sorter.

A visit to Keirsey’s own website should remove any doubts that the Keirsey-Bates Temperament sorter is completely Carl Jung-based to the core, which they state by their own affirmation.  ( I have also confirmed this via e-mail with Keirsey’s son whose father developed the profile). Similarly the Myers-Briggs website will authenticate the Carl Jung connection.7

Now let’s continue our examination of what Rick Warren discusses in The Purpose Driven Life regarding discovering your Personality (the P in your SHAPE).

As fruit falls close to the tree, we can observe Rick Warren’s teachings on personality being manifested throughout the world. Under the “P” in many different SHAPE sites conceived by Rick Warren, and adapted by a host of churches such as Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas, where Purpose Driven Life series were conducted  and First Church in New Brunswick, Canada10 , SHAPE states: “Where does my personality best suit me to serve?” Then they quote 1 Corinthians 2:11 (LB), which says: “No one can really know what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like, except that person himself.” Note, even in the erroneous Living Bible paraphrase, “what he is really like” would actually be what comes out of his heart. Often a person’s personality is observed by others. And even if the Living Translation were correct, there is nothing in it that would automatically tip us off how it would be used to show us how we are to best serve in the church.

Now let’s look at this verse in the King James Version:

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man

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which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:11 (KJV)

Psychologists think man is body, soul, and personality. The above scripture is describing “spirit.” It is important to note that we all have unique personalities as different as a fingerprint, or as star differs from star in glory. But “spirit” and “personality” have completely different meanings: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” —1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV)

Statements on Rick Warren’s Website

On Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church website also note, under the personality profile you fill out, that you must list “traits” and “types.” These are definitely psychology theory terms and this is determined by taking the Jung-based personality profile questionnaire.

Personality (“P” in S.H.A.P.E.)

Rick Warren: “For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and the other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways.”

So where is one biblical precedent that a single spiritual gift was expressed in a different way because one Christian was supposedly introverted while another was extroverted? Rick Warren continues:

Woodworkers know that it’s easier to work with the grain rather than against it. In the same way, when you are forced to minister in a manner that is “out of character” for your temperament, it creates tension and discomfort, requires extra effort and energy, and produces less than the best results. This is why mimicking someone else’s ministry never works. You don’t have their personality. Besides, God made you to be you! You can learn from the examples of others, but you must filter what you learn through your own shape.

Like stained glass, our different personalities reflect God’s light in many colors and patterns. This blesses the family of God with depth and variety. It also blesses us personally. It feels good to do what God made you to do. When you minister in a manner consistent with the personality God gave you, you experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfiilness.”

The example of a woodworker is a natural ability, not a supernatural gift, so Warren’s example cannot even be applied. Rick Warren:

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It’s obvious that God has not used a cookie cutter to stamp out people in a process of uniformity. He loves variety; just look around. And there is not a “right” or “wrong” temperament. We need opposites to balance the church. The personality traits listed below are grouped in four couplets each with two opposing tendencies.

What Does the Bible Have to Say About “Balance”?

Balancing or reconciling opposites is another concept of personality theory drawn directly from Carl Jung’s invoking Taoism’s yin and yang (female, male). Jung’s terms for yin and yang were “animus” and “anima,” which Jung described as “psychological bisexuality.” In other words, he believed that all human beings are bisexual. Jung compounded his perversion by promoting evolution in this very personality theory by believing that these male/female archetypes were derived from when humans were animals. But there is no reconciliation or balancing of male/female opposites because God created man and then woman as separate entities (“male and female he created them”) and even condemned any attempt by man to blur this line or create an appearance of blurring or crossing the line such as androgyny. The apostle Paul records:

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” —Romans 1:26–27.

The boundaries between male and female, in fact, are so clearly drawn by God that God even condemned the fallen angels who left their former or natural estate to have sexual relations with women producing the giant Nephilim offspring.  The apostle Peter records:

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the

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world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.”—2 Peter 2:4–6

The Book of Jude records what happened to these angels as well as how God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for committing androgynous acts:

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” —Jude 1:6–7

So it could not be any clearer what God says about such personality theories and Jung’s perverted ideas of anima and animus. I am not suggesting that Rick Warren is promoting literal androgyny. But by invoking Jung’s concepts of psychological and personality profiling, he is certainly endorsing and implementing his spiritual androgyny. So it is a wonder that Mr. Warren himself did not likewise condemn Jung’s false teaching, instead of promoting his wolfs personality theory in the sheep’s clothing guise of Christianity.

When Evil Is Good?

Jung thought the process he called individuation would result in the reconciliation of good and evil. And the idea and method of the yin-yang is nothing more than a Chinese form of divination taken directly from the I-Ching. But the Bible teaches that good will never be reconciled with evil. Here is how Isaiah the prophet describes this: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”—Isaiah 5:20

This is exactly what Carl Jung has done by attempting to merge good with evil. But you might say: “But doesn’t the Bible talk about a need for balance?” Yes! But the word is used only eight times in the Bible and its primary and recurring theme and application refers to not cheating in scales, fair wages, and to administering justice. It has everything to do with right vs. wrong, not “there is no right or wrong answer!” And it certainly has nothing to do with personality typing. Here is the proof: “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.”—Proverbs 11:1

Rick Warren: “Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities.”

Show me one scripture to back up this statement. Since you allegedly have the same personality before and after you are born again,

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how does your personality affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts that you can’t even possess until you become a Christian or new creation? The personality of the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit. The Lord gives spiritual gifts as He deems appropriate. The idea that the personality from the old man or nature could have influence over the spirit is frightening. In fact, completely different personalities could and did use various spiritual gifts in an identical way without the personality having any impact whatsoever on the operation of the gifts.

Rick Warren: “When you minister in a manner consistent with the personality God gave you, you experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness.”

So personality is the template and requirement for achieving fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness? Well if this is true, you can do this without even being born again. .. just follow your natural bent or personality! No, our fruitfulness is based on how much we are plugged into the Vine (Jesus) and the Vine Dresser (Jesus). Fruitfulness is fruit of the Spirit, not the personality.

Many Christians and apostles had completely different personalities yet often had the exact same ministry, e.g., whenever they were sent out or went out two by two. But you could not get personalities which were more contrasting that Paul, Peter, and John. You could make an argument that Paul’s ministry was different in that it was to the Gentiles, but what does that have to do with personality? You could argue that other apostles carried out their ministry to different geographic areas, but what does that have to do with personality?

There are at least two different temperament categories circulating among churches which use Rick Warrens’ SHAPE program. Some have five temperament categories and some have four. On Warren’s SHAPE questionnaire on his own Saddleback Church site he left out Jung’s Thinker/Feeler even though he mentions it in his Purpose Driven Life book when he discusses SHAPE. The profile shown previously in the chapter which assigns numerical values to the temperaments does list Thinker/Feeler. So are there four couplets or five couplets? This is very confusing and unstandardized. And what is the biblical basis for either four or five, let alone requiring them to be balanced? And what does “balanced” mean? Balanced in the individual or balanced in the church or both? Why not ten couplets or forty or ten thousand? Are there only four temperaments because paganism teaches that there are only four? Because Carl Jung teaches that there are four?

On the personality questionnaire on Rick Warren’s site he also forces a choice of one or the other, e.g., you must choose Extrovert or Introvert. And just like Jung’s personality theory, everyone is either an Extrovert or Introvert. So a person taking the profile is forced into a choice of only two options. What if he doesn’t see himself as either, even assuming

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these terms are valid? The terms themselves set up straw man arguments in which we are led to assume or believe that the premise for Warren’s opposites and the ones he drew from Jung are even correct. What if a person taking this test feels he needs seventy times seven couplets to choose from and can’t be straitjacketed into Rick Warren’s four choices of personality couplets? The Discovery 301 curriculum shown above states that God is not a cookie cutter, yet this is precisely what Warren does in his four personality couplet choices. The only difference is that instead of one cookie cutter mold, he offers us four or five mold choices. But even if a person believed in Jung and Warren’s idea of reconciliation of opposites, he might reject totally the four or five personality choices Warren proposes and subjectively select his own criteria or couplets. The fact is there are no absolute truths (or right or wrong) in this framework, but the Bible requires adherence to absolute truth.

From Rick Warren’s Discovery 301 Class (otherwise known as SHAPE) questionnaire, we read: PLUGGING IN MY PERSONALITY Please remember to record your responses on your S.H.A.P.E. profile.

Be   Extroverted

[prefer   interacting with many people and gain energy from being part of a variety f   activities.


Be   Introverted

or   I prefer interacting with only a few people and gain energy from quiet   reflective time. I am a good listener.


Be   Self-expressive

am   more open and verbal about my thoughts and opinions. I enjoy sharing these   with other people.


Be   Self-controlled

or   I tend to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself.


Prefer   Routine

I   am more comfortable being involved in activities where I clearly know what is   expected of me. I like closure and completion before starting something new.


Prefer   Variety

or   1 am more fulfilled by tasks that change and maybe even have some surprises.   Finishing one task before starting another is not crucial.


Be   Cooperative

As   I work with others, I easily see their point of view. I like being part of a   team effort.


Be   Competitive

or   I like a sense of challenge. It increases my effort and helps me overcome the   obstacles.


Instructions: Circle one or the other “I tend to …” —Source:

Are These Opposites?

The most obvious and baffling question that strikes me and stands out upon reading this chart is the fact that I was expecting to see genuine “opposites” or antonyms in the titles or headings of all four of Warren’s personality couplets. Assuming they are legitimate terms to begin with, introverts and

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extroverts are opposites. Routine vs. variety could be opposites, though that is arguable. But I don’t think it is abundantly obvious that self-expressive is the opposite of self-control or that cooperative is the antonym of competitive. It is easy to see that black is the opposite of white, that sweet is the opposite of sour, that thick is the opposite of thin, that high is the opposite of low, that shiny is the opposite of dull. Two couplets in the chart could qualify as opposites. But to say that self-expressive is the opposite of self-control, or that cooperative is the opposite of competitive is like saying a basketball is the opposite of a potato, unless there is some kind of esoteric abstract way of interpreting these as symbols or archetypes, in which case who then determines their true meaning or application? If anything, these two allegedly opposite characteristics show things in common. For example, a person on a basketball team who is very spirited or has esprit de corps is one who has both traits of being cooperative and competitive. (What the potato and a basketball have in common is that they are both round to a certain degree). A good preacher might have both self-control and be self-expressive. Opposites indeed may attract, but they may be just as likely to repel or neutralize.

Introverted vs. Extroverted

There could not be a more glaring link between Jung and Warren than this Introvert/Extrovert personality typing comparison. This should drive a stake right into the heart of Rick Warren’s SHAPE profile! Virtually any first-year psychology major in college, let alone a person with a Masters in psychology or counseling should immediately recognize Warren’s Introvert/Extrovert terms as Carl Jung terminology for personality profiling. A discerning Christian should reject this personality theory drawn from Jung’s practice of divination from these two terms in Jung’s intended meaning and application!

Regarding Warren’s definition of introvert, does he mean by “quiet reflective time” one who practices Richard Foster’s definition of meditation? And even if Warren means a biblical sense of meditation, this would once again qualify as a good trait. But why wouldn’t or couldn’t extroverts (according to Warren’s definition) also practice a quiet reflective time before the Lord? Warren forces us to choose “one or the other.”

Self-Expressive vs. Self-Controlled

There are other problems with being confined to the choices Warren gives you in his personality profile. Christians would understand the term “self-control” as a fruit of the Spirit. Unlike Warren’s contention that there is no right or wrong to temperament traits, self-control is very much a RIGHT trait. Its opposite is not self-expressive but one without self-control, or one who is licentious or lawless. And why does one have to choose between self-expressive and self-controlled under Warren’s schematic. Why can’t a person be both? Warren defines them as opposites. .. but this is very

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confusing because his titles don’t even match some of his definitions. Christians could and should keep opinions to themselves with things which pertain to gossiping, but they should be very verbal with their thoughts about false teaching such as the foundation and theory of this very occult/pagan-based personality theory and very much carry out Matthew 18 to expose it or any other false teaching. In this case both opposites should apply and both traits would be a “right” trait, not “there is no right or wrong temperament trait” to your personality, as Rick Warren would have us believe.

Competitive vs. Cooperative

Now it is quite remarkable that Rick Warren would say in his personality profile that there are no right or wrong answers regarding the opposite personality traits he postulates that a person must possess (so that whether you are competitive or cooperative, either answer would be acceptable), yet he contradicts himself when he states on page 158 in his Purpose Driven Life (on which I commented earlier). Rick Warren quotes Matthew 5:9 (MSG): “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you are and your place in God’s family.” Wait a minute, I thought competing was just as viable an option for your personality trait as cooperating? So if we follow Rick Warren’s direction we should never choose “competitive” on his profile if we truly want to be blessed. Regarding Competitive vs. Cooperative, all Christians should be like Paul to compete for the prize of the high calling of God, but there is no need to be competing with each other, at least spiritually since all Christians get the same prize of salvation.

One may ask the question: “Christians are not supposed to compete against each other are they? Isn’t that self-seeking?” Some kinds of competition within the body of Christ are actually healthy. For example, canvassing or having a search committee to find a teaching elder or pastor is competitive in order to discover who is approved to function as an elder. A church choir may require auditions which are competitive. Every time you apply for a job you are competing, and if you apply for a job in a ministry you are competing with other Christians. So does this mean your are not blessed because you are competitive vs. being cooperative, according to his quotes of Matthew 5:9 (MSG)? These personality couplets by Rick Warren are supposed to be opposites. So wouldn’t the opposite of cooperative be uncooperative or rebellious? And wouldn’t uncompetitive be the opposite of competitive? The problem is that the same person in the choir would have been both a competitive and cooperative person … he or she had to compete to get in the choir, but would have to be cooperative to be in this group. But if we adhere to Rick Warren’s schematic, he would have us not only believe that cooperative is the polar opposite of competitive, but that we must choose between the two. But we could be both cooperative and competitive simultaneously. So they aren’t necessarily opposites, if at all.

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And what biblical precedent would even require this dialectic?

Routine vs. Variety

Regarding preferring Routine vs. Variety, I might prefer routine with respect to liturgy, but want variety in what I cook and when I am on vacation. I might want to complete some kinds of tasks in life before starting something new such as college or military service, but I am constantly beginning new writing projects before I finish others and have several going on at the same time which are at various stages for a host of different reasons. A person might prefer having a variety of types of jobs such as postal worker and softball coach, but want a routine for some of the individual missions in life such as the route he takes to deliver the mail. So it is nearly impossible to make an absolute choice or choices that Warren has postulated. I could not in good conscience even take such a personality profile because of all of its internal problems as well as the poor if not impossible fit to my unique personality. This personality schematic should be rejected by its poor logic and confusion alone, let alone its occult foundation, rendering it unbiblical.

Another huge problem with his list of opposite personality traits, even assuming they could rightfully be ascribed to any or all people, is how do we know that the choices we are forced to make in this test apply for all time to a given person? (See the above-referenced article on the problems accurate measurements in the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator. For example, 50 percent of those taking the test had a different personality result only weeks later.) I could be cooperative this week but competitive next week. I could be cooperative at a picnic, family gathering, or church activity or ministry, but be competitive at church softball games or Bible quizzes. Or I could change again when I got married. .. got a job, had kids. All of one’s traits could be in a constant state of flux throughout your life. And again assuming these criteria can be even applied to a schematic, how is Warren so certain that the same personality traits are automatically applied to a person after they are born again as they were before they were born again? Jung devised his terms like Introvert/Extrovert and Thinker/Feeler for what he deemed a “normal” individual. So what is an abnormal person? What personality profile would Rick Warren advise that we give an abnormal person? And how and where did he acquire the criteria or empirical data?

Now let us assume for the moment that all of Warren’s definitions of his personality traits are legitimate and that there really are only four or five couplets to choose from and that his couplets truly represent polar opposites. Let us also assume that we know how we are balanced and that we even know what normal means. There still remains at least one more major hurdle to even begin to qualify his personality theory to perform any real road test. That is, how does Warren determine that his couplet choices are equally weighted? After all, to balance a scale, don’t you need to have equal weight on both sides? And if the weights aren’t equivalent, you must add or subtract weight from one side so that the scales balance. For example,

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the value of a professional sports figure is determined by supply and demand and how much he is worth to a given team or the sport in general if he or she is not in a team sport. Judging in ice skating, for example, uses weighted scores. So to use this analogy, how do we know that Introvert weighted value is worth 50 percent and Extrovert weighted value is worth 50 percent? Why wouldn’t Introvert personality type weigh in at 75 percent and Extrovert 25 percent? Then let us assume that Warren has it right with each of his four or five menu-driven couplets and that each of the couplets is properly weighted. How do you then weigh each couplet choice against the weighted value of another couplet? For example, how would you know that choosing Introvert over Extrovert would weigh in equally to the next couplet of Self-Expressive vs. Self-Controlled? Do all four or five couplets weigh equally? The fact is, Warren doesn’t know, he doesn’t supply any empirical data to back up his claims, and he gives misapplied scriptures to support his personality schematic. The bottom line is that his personality schematic is absurd and preposterous at best and occultic at worst.

Forced Choices and Church Discipline

Now if an attendee of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church does not complete this profile they can’t become a member of his church. That is still another most troubling attribute of his SHAPE questionnaire. Should the attendee take the profile, then they meet with an adviser, mentor, or church leader in charge of this program at the church for an interview to evaluate their profile to “plug” them into the “right” ministry. How is this adviser going to evaluate, let alone enforce these impossible choices in the personality profile to complete the SHAPE test for a person’s service and purpose determination for God?

Finally, even if these traits were all verifiable and, in fact, do exist in bipolar pairs, so what? What could they possibly tell us about the leading of the Holy Spirit, or how to obey Christ’s commands? If somehow we even needed this secret information about our personality, wouldn’t God supply all our needs because we first sought the Kingdom of God? And how does this information contribute to our sanctification?

In a dialog I had with Erik Rees, who is one of the pastors administrating SHAPE at Rick Warren’s own church, Erik Rees flatly denies any connection of Rick Warren’s SHAPE to Carl Jung, in spite of the terms taken right from Rick Warren’s book  that Carl Jung either coined or developed into his personality theory: Introvert, Extrovert, Feelers, Thinkers.

It is nothing short of astonishing that Saddleback would deny any connection to Carl Jung in their SHAPE personality profile. Many of the authors that Rick Warren recommends and/or quotes such as Richard Foster and Gary Thomas consistently are quoting and endorsing Carl Jung.

CTJ 9:28 (December 2005) p. 402

Other Pagan Influences to Warren’s Personality Theory

Rick Warren goes on to suggest that “Peter was a sanguine,” “Paul was a choleric,” and “Jeremiah was a melancholy.” This is based on the Greek pagan ideas of four humors, the fourth being “phlegmatic.” Rick Warren offers no scripture to prove this, and even if he did, it would have to presume that the Greek pagan philosophy and mythology on which it is based (which Paul opposed) were true. Rick Warren goes on to say that “There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ temperament for ministry”. .. the exact terminology used in all of the psychological personality profile tests. But the word “phlegmatic” means sluggish, lazy, slothful, or sluggard. Definition of phlegmatic in Webster Dictionary: “Not easily excited to action or passion; cold; dull; sluggish; heavy; as, a phlegmatic person.”

If being a sluggard is neither right nor wrong, then why are there six proverbs which describe it as a wicked trait vs. a righteous trait? If it is neither a positive or negative quality, then why is the word “slothful” used fifteen times throughout the Old and New Testaments?


The SHAPE program is only one of many covenants or questionnaires required by Rick Warren to be a member of his church and a host of churches and denominations who follow his blueprint. I invite you to consider and be apprised of the following which reflect some of the consequences as well as updates on the fruit of Rick Warren’s teachings and how he has trained pastors and churches to deal with what he calls “resisters” and “pillars” who oppose his teachings or refuse to sign his covenants.[2]


[1] . Vol. 9: Conservative Theological Journal Volume 9. 2005 (27) (191–209). Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary.

[2] . Vol. 9: Conservative Theological Journal Volume 9. 2005 (28) (387–402). Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary.

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