The Reason Driven Life.
Rick Warren wrote The Purpose-Driven Life, which one pundit claims is, after the Bible, the best-selling nonfiction book ever written. Robert Price, the author of The Reason Driven Life, considers Warren's book "merely recycled standard, one might even say stale, fundamentalist teaching" (p. 21). He thinks Warren is "a dogmatic preacher or writer who offers a magic alternative" to an individual taking control of his own life (p. 24) and offers "miserable human speculation" (p. 29).
Price has several problems with Warren's approach which assumes that one size fits all, in terms of a single, uniform purpose for life, and that the Bible is inspired ("An inspired and infallible passage whose meaning you cannot be sure of is not much more useful than an uninspired, fallible passage," p. 28; "... fundamentalists cannot seem to maintain their faith without a thousand self-deceptions ... endless implausible excuses and dodges," p. 32). Price aims to respond to the points made in the forty chapters of Warren's book which he describes as the "fundamentalism-driven life."
Price's evangelical/fundamentalist background enables him to write as an outsider who was once an insider. He received Christ in 1965, had a daily devotional time, became a soul winner, attended church weekly, enthusiastically studied the Bible, received Campus Crusade for Christ training, became chapter president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He eventually abandoned evangelical Christianity, explored liberal Protestant theology, and during his pastorate of a liberal Baptist church, rejected theism altogether.
Price prefers not to describe himself as an atheist, because it describes what he does not believe rather than what he does. He considers himself a humanist, a would-be philosopher, and a church attendee "for the rich pageantry and the moral challenge" (p. 18). Price thinks Christianity prolongs moral, intellectual, and personal immaturity. Freud was right, claims Price, when he said maturity only comes to those who realize there is no Creator, no divine lawgiver, no author of destiny and meaning, and no giver of eternal life (p. 17). To Price, the morally neutral universe is not rooting for events to come out a certain way.
Evangelicals may find points with which they agree. For example, Price believes that the much proclaimed statement "Christ changed my life" is sometimes more a statement of faith than an accurate description of experience. Price is not antagonistic to Christians, but states he likes them. Price seeks to be logical rather than combative and argumentative. He states, "I'm not trying to get you to agree with me. That wouldn't be rational. I merely aim to provide food for thought that you might not otherwise have considered" (p. 21).
For those who want to explore alternative views to Price's, A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics by James Sire offers brief guidance and directs the reader to many other apologetic and theodicy resources. For an intriguing book by an evangelical on the will of God, read Garry Friesen's classic Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View.
Price is professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and the Jesus Seminar. His books include Beyond Born Again, The DaVinci Fraud, and The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.
Reviewed by Richard Ruble, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR 72761.
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|Publication:||Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2007|
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