Monday, October 19, 2009

Michael Horton on the Purpose Driven paradigm (part 1)

Prof. Michael Horton has came out with a new book, The Gospel-Driven Life, which is supposed to be the sequel to his previous book Christless Christianity, another excellent book. In this very new book of his, Horton attempts to show us the solution to the problems infecting the American Church, and many churches around the world.

Due to my schedule, I do not currently have the time and focus to write a review at one go. However, I would post certain excellent excerpts of the book here which addresses certain topics pertinent to the Church.

The topic for this post, as it can be seen from the title, is the Purpose Driven (PD) life paradigm. Right from the onset, the title looks eerily familiar. In the book itself, chapter 6 is entitled The Promise-Driven Life, and it is in there where the PD life paradigm is either overtly attacked or undermined.

In mentioning, and lightly undermining the PD life paradigm, Horton states:

As evidenced by Rick Warren's phenomenal bestseller, The Purpose -Driven Life, the passion for meaning and purpose has not been extinguished by the daily grind or by the unrelenting buzz of our consumer culture. While affirming the importance of having clear goals and worthy focus in life, I am urging us to put purpose in their place, as servants of promise. No longer under the law's condemnation, the justified are free now to respond to God's commands out of thanksgiving for the God whose character it displays and out of love for our neighbors. The gospel saves us, giving us a reason to walk through the wilderness to the promised land, and the law guides us, giving us directions for that journey. Christians are driven by God's promises, and directed by God's purposes. (p. 133)

It can be seen that we are NOT to driven by God's purposes. If purpose is analogous to Law, while promise is analogous to Gospel, then by implication, a life driven by purpose is driven by Law, in other words, Legalism.

Horton further remarks on this contrast between law/purpose and gospel/promise:

The law cannot create faith because it tells us what is to be done. It can only announce to those who transgress it what they have not done; consequently, it brings despair in its wake. The promise, by contrast, tells us what has been done by someone else. That is why it brings life. (p. 139)

And finally, attacking the PD life paradigm:

When we really understand justification, we really understand how God works with us in every aspect of our lives before him. Christ lived the purpose-driven life so that we would inherit his righteousness through faith and be promise-driven people in a purpose-driven world. (p. 141)

The purpose-driven life is a life of works-righteousness. Only Christ can live the purpose-driven life, fulfilling all righteousness for His people. The world tries to be purpose-driven, and in so doing heaps up wrath upon itself since all men's righteousness are as filthy rags before God. The PD paradigm therefore is of the world and operates on the same principle of works that is antithetical to grace and true biblical faith.

In the next installment, we would look at the second part of the PD paradigm: the PD Church.


Beng said...

Wayyy back in 1991, John MacArthur already pre-empted Warren with this series: "The Bible-Driven Church"!

Here's the blurb:

Many churches have convinced themselves that programs, style, and catchy campaigns are more compelling or powerful than ministry centered on traditional teaching and preaching.

But a church is not a corporation in need of a fresh message, a new promotional strategy, or different direction. The Bible is far from silent on the course churches should follow, and the disaster of veering off that course.

The Bible-Driven Church will help you determine if your church is following the right course, and will show you how to experience your own Bible-driven life of blessing, stability, and power.

Anonymous said...

Would love to read the book, so, uh, how long is the queue to borrow your copy? ;)

Beng said...

Um, not a book, but a series of sermons. Listening to it right now.

Apparently he re-titled the series in response to PD after all. The original title he had given this series was "Growing a healthy flock".

Oh well.

PuritanReformed said...


interesting. Especially the renaming part.


wouldn't getting a copy for yourself be better? After all, it is really good you may want to have a copy for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Book purchases are out for me for the time being, unfortunately. Maybe till, God willing, the New Year is upon us.