Rick Warren Retains Unbiblical Position
in New 2012 Edition of The Purpose Driven Life


The reason Christian leaders aren’t taking the New Age more seriously is because figures, like [Rick] Warren, are not ringing out a warning and are themselves being influenced and deceived by the New Age. - Warren B. Smith

Ten years after the first edition of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life was released, Zondervan has now released a new 2012 “Expanded Edition” of the New York Times best seller geared for a “new generation.” As the cover of the new edition reads, over 32 million copies of The Purpose Driven Life have been sold. This special Lighthouse Trails report will examine how the new edition has retained Rick Warren's unbiblical position.


It was Fall of 2002, and the fledgling Lighthouse Trails Publishing was just about to release its first book, A Time of Departing, written by a fairly unknown author, Ray Yungen. At the same time, unbeknownst to us, another book was hitting the bookstores but this one by a fairly well-known author, Rick Warren with his book, The Purpose Driven Life. Some knew Warren from his first book in the 90s called The Purpose Driven Church. But his name was about to become a virtual household name in the Western world with The Purpose Driven Life. As time wore on and the book climbed the charts, many, including Rick Warren himself, said it must be from God or there wouldn’t be this much success. Rick Warren came to believe that the Purpose Driven movement was the most important contribution being made to the 21st century church:

Personal computers have brand names. But inside every pc is an Intel chip and an operating system, Windows,” Warren says. “The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church—Rick Warren, Christianity Today, Oct. 2005

Lighthouse Trails sent a copy of A Time of Departing to Rick Warren in early 2003, hoping to warn this influential pastor of the contemplative prayer and spiritual formation movement. Warren sent a personal note thanking Lighthouse Trails for the book and admitted it was a “hot topic.”

The following year, Lighthouse Trails editors heard about a book that was suggesting The Purpose Driven movement had leanings toward the New Age. LT editors purchased a copy of the book, which had been written by Warren B. Smith. The book, titled Deceived on Purpose: the New Age implications of the Purpose Driven movement, was the first book on the market that challenged Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. Since then, Warren Smith has written a follow-up book titled A “Wonderful” Deception, Ray Yungen has added an entire chapter on Rick Warren in a 2nd edition of A Time of Departing (showing Rick Warren’s propensities toward and promotion of contemplative spirituality), and Lighthouse Trails author Roger Oakland included Rick Warren in his expose book on the emerging church, Faith Undone.

Needless to say, Lighthouse Trails was very interested to know if Rick Warren has corrected the things that Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, and Roger Oakland challenged him on (from a biblical point of view) in their books. This report will examine these very things.


1. In Deceived on Purpose, Warren Smith contended that Rick Warren’s use of Eugene Peterson’s The Message compromised his book significantly.

Anyone reading The Message should be able to quickly see how verses from Scripture often had their otherwise clear meanings obscured or even altered. Important details were sometimes omitted, while misleading words and phrases were often added. (DOP, p. 24)

Since the release of The Purpose Driven Life in 2002, there has been ample documentation proving that The Message paraphrase is not trustworthy, and in fact, is quite misleading. But did this cause Rick Warren to reconsider? No, the new expanded Purpose Driven Life still contains quotes from Eugene Peterson’s The Message (Day 2, Day 8, Day 32).

One of the most disturbing things that Warren Smith unveiled about The Message was the New Age maxim substituted into the Lord’s Prayer, “as above, so below.”

This phrase [as above, so below] comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’….The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man.” (DOP, p. 33)

Even though Peterson’s ”As above, so below” revision was brought to Rick Warren’s attention by at least one person who sent him a copy of Deceived on Purpose, that didn’t stop Rick Warren from including The Message in his new 2012 edition of The Purpose Driven Life.

2. In the 2002 edition of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren quoted a man named Bernie Siegel. Warren Smith addresses this in Deceived on Purpose and later again in his book, A “Wonderful” Deception:

In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren introduces his main themes of “hope” and “purpose.” Inexplicably, Warren chooses to introduce “hope” and “purpose” in his book by citing Dr. Bernie Siegel—a veteran New Age leader who claims to have a spirit-guide named George. Somehow, readers of The Purpose Driven Life are expected to believe that God inspired Warren to introduce the themes of hope and purpose by referencing the “wisdom” of Bernie Siegel, an author and leader in the New Age movement.(AWD, p. 16)

Once again, Rick Warren dismisses legitimate concerns and includes the Bernie Siegel reference in the new 2012 expanded edition of The Purpose Driven Life.

3. In the 2002 edition of PDL, Rick Warren twists Scripture and says, “The Bible says, ‘He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.” Warren Smith responded saying:

Out of the fifteen different Bible versions Rick Warren uses in The Purpose Driven Life, he chooses to cite Ephesians 4:6 from a new translation that erroneously conveys the panentheistic New Age teaching that God is “in” everything. According to New Age leaders, this teaching is foundational to the New Age/New Spirituality. Yet of these fifteen Bible versions Warren uses in his book, he chooses the New Century Version that has potentially misled millions of Purpose Driven readers to believe this key New Age doctrine that God is “in” everything. (AWD, p. 16)

What does Rick Warren do with this misuse of Scripture? You will find the very same misuse in the new 2012 edition of PDL.

4. In the 2002 edition of PDL, Rick Warren distorts the words of Jesus regarding His second coming.

In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren strongly discourages the study of prophecy. He states that “in essence” Jesus told his disciples: “The details of my return are none of your business.” Contrary to what Warren writes, in Jesus’ discussion on the Mount of Olives, He tells His disciples that an understanding of the details of His return is very important. He provides much needed prophetic information so that His followers will not be deceived about the details of His return at the end of time. (AWD, pp. 20-21)

In the 2012 expanded edition of PDL, Rick Warren says the exact same thing again.

5. In the 2002 edition of PDL, echoing Robert Schuller, Rick Warren writes, “It helps to know that Satan is entirely predictable.” In Deceived on Purpose, Warren Smith refutes this highly irresponsible remark by Rick Warren that unfortunately millions of people have now heard:

Because Rick Warren and other church leaders don’t seem to discern the deception, they are unfortunately becoming a part of the deceptive process. Perhaps deceived into thinking that they can’t be deceived, their inability to spiritually discern what is happening is placing the Church in grave danger. (DOP, p. 131)

In the 2012 expanded edition of PDL, Rick Warren repeats: "It helps to know that Satan is entirely predictable,” once again underestimating the wiles of the devil and ignoring the many Scriptures that warn us about spiritual deception.

6. In the 2002 edition of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren quotes occultist and New Ager Aldous Huxley (is it any wonder that former New Age follower Warren Smith wrote two books on the Purpose Driven movement!).

After incorrectly diagnosing the Apostle Paul as suffering from “doubt” and “depression” rather than persecution, Rick Warren emphasized the importance of “shared experiences” by quoting Huxley. . .

Rick Warren’s citing of the metaphysical Huxley in discussing the importance of “shared experiences” seemed as inappropriate as his referencing New Age leader Bernie Siegel in introducing “hope” and “purpose.” Randomly quoting influential New Age figures with no introduction or explanation as to who these people are is not exactly what you expect from a shepherd who is supposed to be protecting his flock. (DOP, pp. 96-97)


1. In the 2002 edition of PDL, Rick Warren references Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God) several times and tells readers to practice ”breath prayers.” Ray Yungen challenges this:

Brother Lawrence is often quoted by contemplative authors for his habit of what he called “practicing the presence of God.” But what was the actual nature of this presence? Was it something that would reflect the true character of God? I find the following account from a devout advocate of Brother Lawrence both questionable and disturbing:

“It is said of Brother Lawrence that when something had taken his mind away from love’s presence he would receive “a reminder from God” that so moved his soul that he “cried out, singing and dancing violently like a mad man.” You will note that the reminders came from God and were not his own doing.” (Gerald May, The Awakened Heart, First HarperCollins Paperback Edition, 1993) p. 87, citing from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, translated)

Brother Lawrence says that secret phrases must be “repeat[ed] often in the day,” and “for the right practice of it, the heart must be empty of all other things.” He speaks of the trouble of wandering thoughts and says that the habit of practicing the presence of God is the “one remedy” and the “best and easiest method” he knows to dissolve distractions. (ATOD, p. 147)

Rick Warren received a copy of A Time of Departing in 2003 and yet, in the 2012 expanded edition of PDL, Warren once again references Brother Lawrence and tells his readers to practice “breath prayers.”

2. In the 2002 edition of PDL, Warren advises readers to use visual reminders throughout the day and gives an example of others who practice breath prayers—Benedictine monks, known for their contemplative spirituality and interspirituality.

Yet, in the 2012 expanded edition of PDL, Rick Warren again tells readers to consider the example that the contemplative Benedictine monks have set before us.

3. Regarding the 2002 edition of PDL, Ray Yungen points out in A Time of Departing: “Warren not only promotes breath prayers on Day 11 in The Purpose Driven Life but also on Day 38, where he tells readers how to become “world-class Christian[s]” through the “practice [of]. . . breath prayers.”

In the 2012 expanded edition of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren repeats this second instruction on using breath prayers.

4. In A Time of Departing, Ray Yungen documents how Rick and Kay Warren find great affinity with Catholic contemplative mystic Henri Nouwen. In both the 2002 and the new 2012 expanded edition of PDL, Warren quotes Henri Nouwen twice. One of the quotes directly follows Warren’s quote of St. John of the Cross where Warren likens the panentheist St. John’s “dark night of the soul” to Henri Nouwen’s “ministry of absence.” If Rick Warren had read A Time of Departing when it was sent to him in 2003, he would have known that Nouwen practiced eastern style meditation; and he would have known that Nouwen had a propensity toward universalism, as demonstrated in Nouwen's words:

Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God. (Sabbatical Journey, p. 51)


1. In Faith Undone, Roger Oakland shows Rick Warren’s distortion of biblical prophecy and the return of Jesus Christ in the 2002 edition of The Purpose Driven Life.

In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren was actually laying ground-work for the emerging church’s new reformation, a reformation that rejects thinking about the return of Christ and works more at convincing the multitudes that Christ is already in them as a global christ-consciousness. As you will see in the following documentation, Warren has a low regard for Bible prophecy. Perhaps this helps explain why so many who once were anticipating the return of the Lord have become occupied with worldly ambitions. Warren writes:

“When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, ‘The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that’”

I find it simply astounding that a statement of this sort would be in a New York Times best-seller in the present-day Christian book market. Jesus was telling the disciples they could not know the day or the hour, but nowhere does Jesus ever indicate that “the details of my return are none of your business.” Rather than quickly changing the subject, we find in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 two of the longest passages in Scripture quoting Jesus’ own words, as He details the signs of His coming. (FA, pp. 154-155)

As this report stated earlier, the new edition of The Purpose Driven Life also takes Jesus’ words out of context regarding Bible prophecy and His return.

2. In the 2002 edition of PDL, Rick Warren takes Christ’s words out of context when he tells readers that those who think about Bible prophecy (i.e., the Lord’s return) are ”not fit for the kingdom of God.” Roger Oakland shows how he did this distortion.

In the 2012 edition of PDL, Warren tells readers again that they are “not fit for the kingdom of God” if they think about Bible prophecy too much.

CONCLUSION: So What IS Different About the new 2012 edition? In a Zondervan promotional video, Rick Warren says that he has learned a lot of things in the past decade about hindrances that keep people from finding their true purpose, and he has put this information in two new chapters: “The Envy Trap” and “the People Pleaser Trap.” He has also added links to both video and audio teachings by himself. While Lighthouse Trails editors have strong concerns about what these teachings will introduce to readers (such as the audio for Day 11, where Rick and Kay Warren talk about how to “connect” with God through “the stillness,” via monks, monasteries, and Henri Nouwen), this report is not on what Rick Warren has added to PDL but rather what he has not removed. Thus, the following can be stated with certainty: the new edition of The Purpose Driven Life is as problematic as the first edition was and could potentially lead a whole “new generation” astray. One only needs to look at the declining condition of America over the past 10 years to see that The Purpose Driven Life (where 60 million people have read it, Warren said recently on a Fox News interview ) has not helped the country or the church get on track. On the Zondervan website, it states: “The Purpose Driven Life is far more than just a book; it is a guide to a spiritual journey that has transformed millions of lives. Once you take this journey, you’ll never be the same again” (emphasis added).

As Lighthouse Trails has stated for over 10 years, the Purpose Driven “spiritual journey” is one that should be avoided. Hopefully, this report has shown some of the reasons. While this Special Report does not address issues such as Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan and the Daniel Plan, please refer to the “Related Articles” section below for further documentation on the Purpose Driven movement.

NOTE: Books by Ray Yungen, Roger Oakland, and Warren B. Smith are available through the Lighthouse Trails store or most major online bookstores. If you have not read all three of these books - A Time of Departing, Faith Undone, and A “Wonderful” Deception (which summarizes Deceived on Purpose in chapter 1), we highly recommend you do. If you cannot afford the books, please write to us at P.O. Box 908, Eureka, MT 59917, and we will send you a free copy of one of them. Or you can visit our research site where we have extensive free information and many excerpts from these books. Also we have a list of free chapter excerpts that you can access.

Related Articles:

Rick Warren Makes Bold Move Unveiling Centering Prayer Devotion

Rick Warren “Annoyed” with Those Who Challenge Him – Serving Two Masters Not Working

The Purpose Driven Inclusive Church by Roger Oakland

The Angel of Light’s “Plan” for World Peace by Tamara Hartzell (from In the Name of Purpose)

Creating a New Society: Change Agents and Influence Peddlers by Carl Teichrib

Rick Warren Plays “Catch Me if You Can” While Promoting Mysticism

Saddleback’s Response to Criticism Over Daniel Plan – An Unscriptural Paradox!

Emanuel Swedenborg’s Occultic Beliefs Influence Rick Warren’s Health Advisor and Now the Christian Church by John Lanagan


Editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research

Note: Please make sure you put editors@lighthousetrails.com in your white or allowed list on your email program to help assure our newsletters do not end up in your spam folder.


Lighthouse Trails Research Project allows you to quickly and easily unsubscribe to our email list if you so wish. In each email you receive, there will be a link to unsubscribe. Also we will never give away or sell your name and information to anyone at any time. Your privacy is of utmost importance to us, and we will protect it.