Defining the Future: Response 1

Rick Warren and Jim Wallis are
to the first decade of the twenty-first
century what James Dobson
and John Howard Yoder were to the final
decades of the twentieth.

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Building on the success of his The
Purpose Driven® Church
(1995), Warren’s
The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (2001) became
the self-help book for evangelical
Christians. As the book flap promised,
“Knowing God’s purpose for creating
you will reduce your stress, focus
your energy, simply your decisions, give
meaning to your life, and, most important,
prepare you for eternity.” Readers
could begin to reap these rewards by
simply reading a brief chapter a day for
forty days. Many churches encouraged
their members to make this forty-day
journey together.

The book launched a bumper crop
of purpose-driven media: a Purpose-Driven® Life Journal, a Purpose-Driven®
Life Deluxe Journal
, a Kindle edition
of the book, an audio CD Songs for a
Purpose Driven® Life
, a daily devotional
guide tied to the book’s forty
days of purpose, a six-session
video-based DVD, a “Purpose
Driven® Life by R ick Warren
2010 Christian Wall Calendar,”
an audio CD of the book
for commuters, and a six-session
Purpose-Driven® Life
Curriculum Kit
. Other books
sprouting from Warren’s productivity
include Meditations
on the Purpose Driven® Life
,
Purpose-Driven® Youth Ministry,
and The Purpose Driven®
Life: Selected Thoughts and
Scriptures for the Graduate
.
Those for whom the spirit is
willing but the flesh is weak
can read an abridged miniature
edition of The Purpose
Driven® Life
. As if all
these aids are not enough,
web sites www.purposedriven.com and
www.purposedrivenlife.com provide access
to additional resources. As is obvious
by now, Warren’s brand has its own
registered trademark.

No less purpose-driven than Warren,
Jim Wallis, founding editor-in-chief
of Sojourners magazine, has written
several books that link biblical
faith with social justice and action.

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Most notable among them are God’s Politics:
A New Vision for Faith and Politics
in America
(2005), Living God’s Politics:
A Guide to Putting Your Faith into Action
(2006), The Great Awakening: Reviving
Faith and Politics in a Post-Religious
Right America
(2008), and Rediscovering
Values: On Wall Street, Main Street,
and Your Street
(2010).

Wallis has gone beyond Yoder’s The
Politics of Jesus
to publish books that
appeal not only to those within a Christian
ethos but also to embrace “values
of the prophetic religious tradition.” As
Wallis states in God’s Politics, the “loss
of religion’s prophetic vocation is terribly
dangerous to any society.” And so in
this book and others Wallis calls readers
to care for the poor and marginalized,
promote racial justice, affirm human
rights, and stop warfare. God’s
politics transcends America’s dueling
Republicans and Democrats, the religious
right and the left. Wallis’s latest
book, Rediscovering Values, expands
politics to include economics, for the
two are inextricably blended.

Readers taking to heart the purpose-driven faith of Warren’s books
and the justice-inspired vision of Wallis’s
books can make some necessary
changes in how Americans relate to
each other and to people of other nations.
Perhaps the next decade’s bestselling
religious books will further motivate
our will to transform our reading
into doing.

Judy Tanis Parr lives in Holland, Michigan.