Author: 'Everything on this Earth has a purpose'
The Rev. Rick Warren
|ON CNN TV|
On a special edition of NewsNight, Paula Zahn looks at the impact of "The Purpose-Driven Life." The show airs 10 p.m. Wednesday on CNN.
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(CNN) -- Ashley Smith said she read to murder suspect Brian Nichols from a book called "The Purpose Driven Life" while held hostage Saturday in her apartment northeast of Atlanta, Georgia.
The book's author, the Rev. Rick Warren, appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" on November 22. Here are excerpts from Warren's appearance:
LARRY KING: What led to writing [the book]?
WARREN: I just think, as I speak with people, there's a fundamental need. It's like -- this is the basic question of life. Why am I here? Why am I here?
Actually it comes out in three questions. Existence -- why am I alive? It comes out in purpose -- what is my purpose? And it comes out in significance -- does my life matter?
I think everybody at some point kind of lays their head down on the pillow and goes, what's this all about?
KING: Did it take off right away?
WARREN: Yes, it did. It actually -- we actually pre-sold half a million copies before it hit the market.
KING: Was it originally considered the Christian book sales?
WARREN: Yes, that's a big surprise. ... You know, I'm a pastor. And so I thought I was writing for church members, Christians, things like that.
This book has enormous crossover, and everybody's reading it.
Lessons but not self-help
KING: Does that mean that a Jew, a Muslim, an agnostic, an atheist could benefit from this book?
WARREN: If that's the question, sure. Anybody can benefit from it. In fact, the other day I heard about a story of a lady who was at a Little League game. She was Jewish and the lady sitting next to her was a Muslim. The Jewish lady was reading "Purpose Driven Life," and the other lady next to her said, "What are you reading?" She said, "I'm reading 'Purpose Driven Life,' " She said, "I'd like to read it, too." She said, "Well, take mine, I'll get another copy." And I thought, "OK, here's a Christian pastor writing a book that a Jewish lady is passing on to a Muslim lady."
KING: It is not, you have said, a how-to book this, right. What is it?
WARREN: Well, it's not self-help. Self-help ...
KING: It's lessons though.
WARREN: It is lessons. It's helpful. The bottom line, if I were to hold up an invention and I were to say, what's the purpose of this? You'd never seen it before. You wouldn't know what its purpose is. The only way you'd know the purpose is to either ask the inventor, who made it, the creator, or you read an owner's manual. And I think the same thing's true with us.
I think everybody wants to know their purpose in life. If you read most self-help books, they fundamentally will say things like, "Make up your purpose. Figure out your purpose. Look for your purpose." And the big one is, "Look within." It's kind of like -- "Trust the force, Luke." You know, "Look within." When I looked within, I didn't like what I saw. You know, I just got confused. The truth is, I didn't create me, so I can't tell me what my purpose is.
KING: How do you know who created you?
WARREN: Well, I believe God created me.
KING: You believe that. How do you know it?
WARREN: Well, you know, I have to say that I first accepted it on faith. And then I went through a doubting period where I really doubted, do I really believe in God? And then now, first my own personal relationship, the experiences I've had, and then seeing it happen in literally tens of thousands of other lives.
KING: Why do you believe that God is a Christian God?
WARREN: Well, the question, the bottom line is this -- every religion is mutually exclusive. The problem today, Larry, is not unbelief. The problem is today everyone wants to believe everything. They want to believe it all. I want to believe in reincarnation and heaven. Those are mutually exclusive things. I want to believe in Elvis, and I want to believe in Jesus -- those are mutually exclusive. And the truth is, it is all matter of faith. At some point you have to step.
KING: There's a leap.
WARREN: There is a leap of faith. And I just wish somebody had told me when I was younger that I could have doubts and still believe. This is a big deal. That I didn't have to have all my doubts resolved to believe.
I have to say there's a story in the Bible where Jesus is walking down the street, and a guy comes up to him, he's got a daughter who's sick. And Jesus goes -- he goes, "I need you to heal my daughter." And Jesus said, "Do you believe I can heal her?" And he goes, "I want to believe. Help me with my doubt." And Jesus goes, "That's good enough," and he heals his girl. So, to even say to God, "OK, God I want to believe." You know what -- I've been a pastor now, Larry, for 25 years. There are still things in the Bible I can't figure out. I look at them and go, "Why in the world did God do that?" You know, it doesn't make sense.
Charges of commercialism
KING: There are some critics of you.
KING: One accused you of commercializing Christianity. A Time magazine article quoted fundamental Bible church pastor Dennis Costello who said, "The purpose-driven ministry is a marketing strategy. We believe the Bible tells us to present the word of God without packaging it for contemporary cultural context." ... How do you respond to that?
WARREN: Well, first place, I don't even know this church. I mean, you know, you can find a critic anywhere. But I liked what The New York Times said about me. It said, you know, marketers create a message in order to market. Warren creates tools in order to create a message, in order to propel a message. And that's it.
If you talked about getting the message out, I'm going to use every way possible. Because I really do believe that we have a positive message. There's a lot of negativity in the world. I mean, we've been through this [presidential] election, the nation's divided. And I just think that the positive message that you're not an accident. I don't believe anybody's an accident. I believe that everything on this Earth has a purpose. Every rock, every tree and every human being. If your heart's beating, you've got a purpose.
Now, there may be accidental parents. OK? But I don't think there are accidental kids. I think that there is a God. And I think that that God even takes into account our mistakes, our errors.
KING: Is he judging you, too?
WARREN: Even our sins. God sets the rules. But God also forgives. And that's what the whole good news is about. The good news is that heaven is a perfect place. And that means only perfect people get to go there. Well, I stopped batting 1.000 a long time ago. Like, year one.
The worst sin
KING: You believe in sin?
WARREN: Of course I do. I do it all the time.
KING: Is a gay person a sinner?
WARREN: I think a gay person is a sinner just like I'm a sinner. I don't think ...
KING: No different from your sin?
WARREN: Oh, I think the worst sin is pride. In fact, the Bible says it. The Bible says that pride is the worst sin. It is, as the Bible says, it's the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven. It's the sin that caused Nebuchadnezzar to lose his kingdom, and King Herod and a bunch of others. Pride goes before destruction.
Because pride is basically saying, "I'm in charge." The middle letter of pride is I, and the middle letter of sin is I ...
One of the things ... is we're in a narcissistic culture, that basically says, "It's all about me. I need to do what I want to do. I want to have what I want to have. I want to be what I want to be." It's a very self-centered culture. And that's why I think one of the things about the book that took off, it's kind of a slap in the face, because the first line of the book says, "It's not about you."
Now, I don't know a self-help book in the world that starts with, "It's not about you." But every other book on self-help will basically say, "It's all about you. It's all about your needs, your dreams, your desires."
KING: Is organized religion part of the problem?
WARREN: Well, it certainly can be. I think anything organized can get -- at our church, we have disorganized religion. I'm not that organized.
But a lot of things again are done in the name of religion ... that are not -- have -- don't have anything to do with Jesus Christ. OK? And don't have anything to do with faith or forgiveness or all these other things in life.
You know, everybody's life is driven by something. That's why I called this book "The Purpose Driven Life." Some people are driven by fear. You know people like this. They are driven by the opinions of others. They live for the expectations of their parent or husband or boyfriend or something like that.
Some people are driven by worry. They're driven by guilt. They're driven by shame. Some people are driven by loneliness. And I don't think God wants any of our lives to be driven by these things. I think the bottom line is that we were put on Earth for a purpose.
Part of that purpose is to know God and then part of that purpose is to help other people.
... God and the needs of people inspired me to write the book. It took me about seven months. And between December of 19 -- excuse me 2001 -- and July of 2002, I spent 12 hours a day in a little room writing. I'd get up at about 4:30 in the morning and work to 5 the next day. And I only spoke twice in my church -- I did Christmas and Easter -- and really focused on the book.