I have been away. I stayed in a lovely hotel i have stayed in several times and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It is billed as five star but despite its excellence i would call it a four star luxury. Still it is only the second hotel room i have considered copying the design for the bedrooms in my new home. And that is saying a lot considering that i perhaps average about 100 hotel nights a year. The room has a bookshelf where they leave books for guests to read. This time interestingly they had The Purpose Driven Life, a first as christian books go. In Europe this is saying a lot.
I know Rick Warren has his critics, who does not; and no doubt some of the contention is justified; but can we stop for a moment and simply celebrate the fact that a book that unabashedly says man cannot find his purpose outside of God, not the Great Spirit, not Self; a book that empasises the importance of church, the christian kind, not just any community, has reached such a wide group of people and can find its way onto the bookshelf of my decidedly high brow five star hotel in a European city where church in any language is a foreign concept and with no obvious sympathy for the christian faith.
The self appointed guardians of the temple and defenders of the faith will no doubt disagree but that is their prerogative. One person decried Warren’s forty days of purpose as preventing people from reading the Bible for themselves, and so concluded that Warren was against bible reading. This is spurious logic to say the least. No one would conclude that Spurgeon was against Bible reading because he produced devotionals. The Bible, thankfully, today is available for all men to read and only the lazy will claim using a devotional, and that is what it is, prevents them from so doing. These are the same ones who never read it to begin with. Personally, i do not do devotionals, i need to pore over the text for myself and be free to meander and wander around without restriction.
I love books and one thing that has always bothered me as i look in the religion section of secular bookshops, is the paucity of the offering for true seekers after Christ. In America christian living titles abound, not so on our continent. You are more likely to find books critical of christianity in the religion section. I have prayed for years that pro christian books particularly of the evangelical kind will find their way to these shelves, so that enquirers who have no access to a christian book store can pick up something that will lead them to Jesus. It is beginning to happen.
In light of the aforesaid, i rejoice. Perhaps Rick Warren is perfecting his theology, perhaps he disagrees with his critics. I do not know. Yet permit me to celebrate. In the spiritual desert of Europe, i celebrate this cup of water offered to weary travellers seeking their way to God, in the comfort of their room and with the utmost discretion.