As for content much of what Ortberg offers is helpful, practical and biblical. The book, however, is heavily laced with the teachings, and teachers, of mysticism and Roman Catholic traditions and rituals. The authors he draws from and quotes are a virtual Who’s Who of mystics both past and present:
Richard Foster (pp. 9, 81, 100, 112, 113, 143)In addition, there are assorted liberals and Roman Catholic leaders that he quotes positively including:
Dallas Willard (pp. 10, 27, 35, 43, 52, 66, 92, 106)
St. John of the Cross (pp. 36, 157)
Thomas Kelly (pp. 76, 140, 150)
Thomas Merton (pp. 85, 95, 96)
Henri Nouwen (PP. 86, 99, 158, 161, 180)
Julian of Norwich (p. 91)
George Fox (p. 142)
Ignatius of Loyola (p. 142)
The Desert Fathers (pp. 171, 180)
Francois Fenelon (p. 173)
Madame Guyon (p. 186)
James Dunn (p. 31)And as expected, since this book is about “spiritual disciplines for ordinary people,” there is much borrowed from Roman Catholic tradition, especially from the mystical wing (pp. 44, 54, 98, 102, 131, 201).
G. K. Chesterton (p. 61)
Mother Teresa (pp. 66-68)
Carl Jung (p. 77)
Tony Campolo (p. 104)
Pope John XXIII (pp. 124, 207)
Soren Kierkegaard (pp. 11, 175, 218)
Ortberg is interested in Christians being transformed into Christlikeness—this is highly commendable. But he sees the means of this transformation as the mystical practices that finds their roots not in Scripture but in the rituals and techniques developed mostly in early Roman Catholicism. In addition, being open to and obeying supposed extrabiblical instructions from God are absolutely essential for spiritual transformation (p. 143). According to the author it is essential that the believer learn to discern the extrabiblical voice of God (pp. 140-154).
What good can be gleaned from The Life You’ve Always Wanted is poisoned by the false teachings and emphases which are predominant throughout. Ortberg is taking his readers not back to Scripture but to Roman Catholic mysticism. Yet, Joseph Stowell, former president of Moody Bible Institute and now president of Cornerstone University, can endorse the book on the back cover with these words, “John, in his winsome ‘let’s sit down and talk about this’ style, has crafted a powerful convicting book on the process of spiritual transformation.” I find this endorsement an amazing indictment on the condition of evangelicalism today.
John Ortberg Quotes Thomas Merton
John Ortberg: "You Don't Become Holier...You Become 'You-ier'!"
Monvee—The New Evangelicalism about Me: A Review of John Ortberg's The Me I Want to Be