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The Purpose of Christmas

Howard Books/Simon & Schuster
RRP: $38.78 (Hardcover version)

Anyone familiar with Rick Warren’s previous books such as A Purpose-Driven Life and 40 Days of Purpose would discover few surprises in this engaging and beautifully presented read. In one sense, it’s a coffee table light-read; in another – it’s an attempt by Warren to outline the basics of the Christian faith, against the backdrop of Christmas.

The book’s preface explains how the book is “dedicated to those who will accept, unwrap and enjoy God’s Christmas gift to us”. Warren, unsurprisingly is true to his evangelical faith repeatedly stating and restating that “Christmas would have no meaning if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross and then proved he is God by rising again three days later …”

In typical Warren fashion, The Purpose of Christmas follows a repeated “three” formula throughout: three main sections: “A Time for Celebration”, “A Time for Salvation” and “A Time for Reconciliation”.

Each section begins with a summary of responses from – you’ve guessed it – three questions Warren posed to a sample of Christmas shopping mall customers – What are you celebrating this Christmas? What do you need to be saved from? Where would you like to see peace this Christmas?

The Purpose of Christmas is in many ways an expanded evangelical tract – recommended as a gift for someone seeking out the Christ behind Christmas. Warren is true to the conversational, down-to-earth style so prevalent in his other writing. I was pleased with Warren’s scope throughout the book, for he clearly goes to the heart of the Christ-event; making strong links between Christmas and Easter, as well as exhorting followers of the Prince of Peace to be peacemakers themselves.

Perhaps the book would have been more accurately entitled: The Purpose of Jesus, but Warren must be given full credit for the honest and engaging way in which he uses the ‘shopfront’ of Christmas to share the truth behind Christ’s coming.

Reviewed by David MacGregor