John Piper has delivered an amazing lecture on the vital place of justification to the ETS. The manuscript, video, and audio are available online, and this sets his new book, The Future of Justification, into context. The whole talk is fantastic, but these couple of paragraphs stuck out for me, especially considering his audience!
I’m aware that for some in the academic world, perhaps some of you, this very confession calls my fitness into question as a competent exegete. “This fellow has so much personal and pastoral allegiance to what he believes about justification, and feels such a great need for it, and has so much joy in it, that there is no way he can be objective when he comes to the biblical text, or be open to finding that his view is mistaken.” Well, that may be true. But there is another way to look at a person’s passion for particular truths.
A passion for a particular truth may be a blinding passion. That’s true. But it may also be the very means that God uses to make some truths visible and beautiful. I say that because of what Jesus said in John 7:17: “If anyone wills (or desires or wants, thele) to do God’s will, he will know (gnosetai) whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” In other words, Jesus taught that, at least in some matters, right willing precedes right knowing. Jesus is saying, “If you want the will of God, you will have the disposition of heart to recognize it when you see it in his word.” He does not say, “If you don’t want the truth God is revealing—if you have no passion for this truth—and therefore have a measure of objective distance and detachment from the truth, you will be able to assess clearly whether something is of God.” He says the opposite. There are some matters in which prior neutrality does not serve the truth, but serves death.