Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

May 03, 2004

Warren's Contradiction

Well, I know I've said I'm not going to blog incessantly about Purpose-Driven, but I wanted to make just a few more observations about the book. I've just read through the second section, by the way. This is the part about worship, which is the first of God's five purposes for our lives. This section is fine, more or less, although the reader must slog through Warren's incessantly pithy writing style. Still, I have no major complaints. However, there is a passage here which provides a rather interesting and unintended contrast with another passage from the previous section of the book. I'm going to quote the two passages at length. The first, which occurs on page 57, is the same that I mentioned in yesterday's post:
Living the rest of your life for the glory of God will require a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships, and everything else. It will mean choosing a difficult path instead of an easy one. Even Jesus struggled with this. Knowing he was about to be crucified, he cried out, "My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name." Jesus stood at the fork in the road. Would he fulfill his purpose and bring glory to God, or would he shrink back and lead a comfortable, self-centered life?

See yesterday's post for my objections to Warren's misreading of this Scriptural passage (John 12:27-28), which is John's parallel to the Gethsemane prayer in Matthew 26 and Mark 14. But here's a funny thing. Warren, in his chapter on the subject of surrender to God (p. 81), quotes the parallel passage in Mark (14:36) in order to support a quite different interpretation:
The supreme example of self-surrender is Jesus. The night before his crucifixion Jesus surrendered himself to God's plan. He prayed, "Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine."

Jesus didn't pray, "God, if you're able to take away this pain, please do so." He had already affirmed that God can do anything! Instead he prayed, "God, if it is in your best interest to remove this suffering, please do so. But if it fulfills your purpose, that's what I want, too."

Now isn't that funny? Though his Scriptural references are to different Gospels, they refer to the same episode in the life of Jesus, and Warren comes to very different conclusions about what was going on in the heart of Jesus.

Hmmm. . . . Was Jesus struggling with God at Gethsemane, or surrendering to Him? Warren says, depending on his agenda, either/or.


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