INTERVIEW – John Piper on New Word Alive

Yesterday was Friday and therefore it was the day that we usually turn to Piper. I have not forgotten that tradition, nor, incidentally, have I forgotten Lloyd-Jones Monday—it’s just that there has been a lot of other material to get out there, and I haven’t wanted to do more than a post a day at the moment.

I actually have another project which I’m currently working on, and which I plan on telling you about in a few weeks or so. Believe it or not, thanks to spending some time planning and writing ahead, and also to the efforts of my transcriptionist and editor, Annette, this past few weeks have actually been quite light blogging work for me. Please pray for me that God would grant me unusual grace, inspiration, and self-discipline at this time.

Anyway, today I thought we would share the transcript of the first video segment from my New Word Alive interview with John Piper. The video can be seen at Piper on New Word Alive and Spring Harvest.

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Adrian
Hi! My name is Adrian Warnock and I’m here with John Piper. We’re here at New Word Alive. I can’t say the name of the town [Pwllheli], but it’s in North Wales in the UK, about six hours away from London. John has very kindly agreed to be interviewed here. But he’s also specifically asked that we would pray together before we start. So, John, let’s just share a word of prayer, shall we?

John
John PiperFather, we lean on you for words that would come to our mind that might be helpful or useful to other folks. So, for the sake of your name and for the good of others, we ask that you would cause us not to go down any rabbit trails that would be unhelpful, to waste our time, or spin our wheels. And we ask that you would guard us from error or pride or anything that would be dishonoring to Jesus or harmful to the Church. And so draw us into a conversation that will be edifying, I pray, and an honor to the Lord Jesus. We ask this is his name. Amen.

Adrian
Amen. Well, thanks for joining us, John.

John
My pleasure.

Adrian
Really, the whole purpose of these interviews is to try and get a bit of a glimpse of the man behind the preacher, as it were. So just to start with, I’d love to know how you came to the decision to be here. There seems to be a lot of you Americans coming over here—you’re here, Don Carson is here in the UK today at this conference as well, and later in the year Mark Driscoll’s going to be at a conference in Brighton [as well as some meetings in London]. Why do you guys keep coming?

John
There’s a narrow and a broader answer to that. Let’s go from the broader to the narrow. The broader answer would be—when I was here doing my sabbatical at Tyndale House in Cambridge, I got to know the folks who did the book, Pierced for Our Transgressions.

Adrian
Oh, yes!

John
They asked me to do the forward for it. And that got us into a conversation about the larger evangelical situation in Britain, and for whatever reason, I found myself very very akin to their cause in upholding the penal substitution of Christ—his work on the cross in our place as precious beyond words. I don’t know why, but they thought that my support would be helpful. Why that is—I’m just an ordinary American pastor and nobody over here knows me, I thought—so what’s the deal with doing the forward for this book or whatever? And I discovered that evidently my voice has (and this is ironic to say it here) I thought it had, up to this point, a kind of unifying effect because I’m contaminated with charismatic influence . . .

Adrian
(Laughing) I like that . . . !!

John
. . . and I’m reformed to the core—like I say I’m a seven-point Calvinist—that sort of thing. And so that’s an unusual combination. So I’ve been to the Leister Conference with the Banner of Truth books, I’ve been to the Brighton Conference with what, Newfrontiers?

Adrian
Yes, that’s right.

John
And I’ve been to FIEC, and I’ve been here now, and that seems to be broad. So evidently my role is to function as a kind of voice that can attract a broad array of evangelicals. [Ed: Piper has also spoken for the Proclamation Trust and other UCCF events.]

So that’s the bigger reason. I like serving that purpose, so if I can serve that purpose, I’ll come over. I didn’t know that, but I’m told that, and I’m pleased to help draw exegetically serious, Bible, gospel people, whether charismatic or not, together. I think that’s a wonderful calling. So that’s one.

The narrow one is that this event was born out of a tension at Spring Harvest over the whole issue of the nature of the atonement, and I think the place that this conference, New Word Alive, came down on—what Christ achieved for us and how he achieved it in bearing God’s wrath, absorbing it fully, removing it, propitiating it. That historic, traditional vision of what Christ did is exactly right and precious. So, when I was asked, “Would you come help us get this started?”—that question wouldn’t have made any sense to me without the broader piece, but given what I was being told about my voice, I thought, “Well, okay. If you think I can help, I’ll be happy to help, because I believe in the cause.” So those two things coming together—the broader function of my voice kind of spanning certain tensions in Britain, and this issue in particular—made this a very attractive event to me.

Adrian
Okay. Well, it’s been great to have you. What’s your impression of the event as a speaker, and also as a participant?

John
Well, I’ve only spoken once, and then I’ve attended one thing ahead of time, too. The responsiveness of the folks has been positive. Now I have to measure my words because British folks (laughter) are less responsive than what I’m used to!!
Adrian
Are you talking about the stiff upper lip here?

John
Adrian and John PiperI don’t know what I’m . . . I don’t know what it is, but I mean, I’m looking around in here during that kind of worship and I’m expecting a great deal more engagement than I’m getting, so I just kind of adjust my expectations to the kind of human being I’m dealing with (Adrian laughing), and if I’m at a more, you know, lively place, I’ll expect that. Here I’m pleased to settle in with my expectations kind of in the middle, and it’s been good!

Adrian
I think it’s partly a cultural thing.

John
Oh, it’s absolutely cultural, there’s no doubt that it’s cultural. That’s what it is!

Adrian
Yeah, because I guess some people are more or less expressive in worship based on who they are.

John
Exactly. It’s partly genetic, partly cultural, partly religious and convictional.

Adrian
Yeah, yeah.

John
So those three factors together make you who you are. We’ll all that way.

Continued in part 2 . . .

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving alongside Tope Koleoso. His book, Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything was published by Crossway, January 2010. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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