Revolution #51, June 18, 2006


The Purpose Driven Life—Toward Christian Fascist Theocracy

Sunsara Taylor’s articles on Ron Luce and the Battle Cry youth group he leads inspired me to finish reading the 20-plus-million-seller book The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. (See “Battle Cry for Theocracy,” in Revolution #47 and “Ron Luce’s Holy War,” in Revolution #48)

Rick Warren was named as one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Evangelists” in 2005. His “purpose” book is used in many of the Bible study groups that are organized in churches, businesses, the military, the Promise Keepers, etc. He has appeared at various events with Ron Luce (with Warren being the main attraction).

Following the Bible literally with total submission is the basic theme of The Purpose Driven Life. Warren says, “God’s Word is the spiritual nourishment you MUST have to fulfill your purpose… I must accept its authority… Resolve that when God says to do something, you will trust God’s Word and do it whether or not it makes sense to you or you feel like doing it.” You must surrender your whole life to God, and then “God often calls surrendered people to do battle on his behalf. Surrendering is not for cowards or doormats.” These themes are the same as Luce’s, although Battle Cry has clearly taken the military “metaphor” to another level among the youth it is attempting to influence.

A particular emphasis in Purpose is how Warren moves from the ideological to the organizational arena. First of all he attempts to establish “The church is God’s instrument on earth.” Then he says that the leaders of the church are put there by God: “God gives shepherd leaders the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock.” Next he says that you’ve got to be in a cell (his term): “Every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church.” He peppers his writing with Biblical quotes, which he has translated in a user-friendly way, and in a way that obviously supports his own views. (This is unavoidable, even for the literalists; because the Bible was written by people and is interpreted by people.) But the intended result is for the reader to believe that God, not Rick Warren, is telling them to join one of these cells in a church and do whatever the leader of that group tells them to do.

Then Warren gets more specific on the marching orders. “You are commanded to serve God…for Christians, service is not optional.” In case you don’t get what that means, he spells it out some more: “To all excuses God will respond ‘Sorry wrong answer. I created, saved, and called you and commanded you to live a life of service. WHAT PART did you not understand?’ The Bible warns unbelievers ‘He will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves,’ but for Christians it will mean a loss of eternal rewards.” As he does throughout the book, Warren provides a Biblical reference for the various paraphrases he uses. And, in the typical two-faced style of these Christian fascists, whose clear goal is the implementation of a theocracy based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, with all its horrors, he always leaves out the most horrible parts of the actual quotations from the Bible. In the above case, instead of “loss of eternal rewards,” the King James Bible says “tribulation and anguish,” which means that you go to hell and suffer unimaginably for eternity.

Of course the greatest mission is to convert all the unbelievers on earth. “If you are part of God’s family, your mission is mandatory. To ignore it would be disobedience. You may have been unaware that God holds you responsible for the unbelievers who live around you.” He quotes Jesus on the Great Commission*: “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples,” adding ominously “These words of Jesus are not the Great Suggestion.” This global mission is also what Luce signs up his legions to do.

There is much to be learned, and exposed, in The Purpose Driven Life, beyond what I am saying here. But I couldn’t help pointing to some of the parallel purposes between Warren and Luce.

* This refers to a supposed mandate by Jesus to Christianize the world; see Matthew 28:16-20.

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