I Agree with John Piper

John Piper was recently asked about his cautions for the new Calvinists, and here is his response — and I agree with him. And this isn’t just for Calvinists, though it applies to them, but about all theologies and ideologies that claim to be connected to the God of the Bible.

Would there be any cautions that you would have for the New Reformed/New Calvinist Movement you referenced earlier?

Yes.

I will give you one that is from a prophetic word given to me yesterday-take it or leave it. I’m cautious when people come to me with these kinds of things. But this rung true, and you can see that it is true without making a claim to special divine authority.

My caution concerns making theology God instead of God God. Loving doing theology rather than loving God.

Sam Crabtree said to me once, “The danger of the contemporary worship awakening is that we love loving God more than we love God.” That was very profound. And you might love thinking about God more than you love God. Or arguing for God more than you love God. Or defending God more than you love God. Or writing about God more than you love God. Or preaching more than you love God. Or evangelizing more than you love God….

But that would be a big caution. We should be intellectually and emotionally more engaged with the person of Christ, the person of God-the Trinity-than we are with thinking about him. Thinking about God and engaging with him are inextricably woven together. But the reason you are reading the Bible, and the reason you are framing thoughts about God from the Bible, is to make your way through those thoughts to the real person.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • donsands

    Amen. Pastor John is spot on. Our Savior gave us His Word, and His Word is truth for all who love Christ.

  • Kel

    I believe this point is made quite often throughout C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce.

  • Kenton

    Wow! I agree with JP too. And I don’t think I’ve agreed that strongly with JP since… well since he said he needed to take a sabbatical. ;)

  • http://rising4air.wordpress.com MikeK

    Agreed. Spot on.

  • http://www.danwhitejr.blogspot.com Dan Jr.

    I agree. There is this same tendency amongst those who’ve gobbled up every NT Wright and McKnight book. I love this theology but I meet so many young coffee house theologians who spout Kingdom, Social Justice, Community, Mutuality but have not integrated into a way of life. The love “the new narrative” but I’m not sure its moved beyond that point.

  • EricW
  • John W Frye

    Jack Deere in his book *Surprised by the Power of God* wrote very similar ideas: “Loving the Bible is not the same as Loving God. Reading the Bible is not the same as hearing God.”

  • Jeff Martin

    I agree with Dr. Piper as well, unfortunately he does not follow his own advice

  • http://readingevangelical.blogspot.com Bruce

    Color me suspicious, but this idea of “loving God more than ” sound like an excuse to ignore poor doctrine and theology under the catch-all of “Well, he loves God…”

    If you are following false doctrine (the so-called “prosperity gospel,” for example), the God you love may not be the real God at all.

  • Rick

    Jeff #8-

    According to you?

  • James Rednour

    I agree with Piper as well. Unfortunately, the God that Piper advocates is not a God that I could ever love, only a God I could fear.

  • Seth

    James #11

    Careful. That sounds nobly principled, but if your theology is wrong, then you’ve just claimed you can never love the God of the Bible.

  • Bob S.

    Seth, I agree with you, though I’ve heard Roger Olson say in interviews (when speaking against Calvinism/for Arminianism) that he can’t believe in the God described in Calvinism. He’s not alone. It makes for a very interesting scenario, that’s for sure.

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    Piper is more “on” than “off” and sometimes people forget that. He often does a very good job like he does here! Now if we could just get John Piper and N. T. Wright together for several hours and let them hatch out a few things. At least “hear” where “the other” is coming from with facial expressions and personality and all (not just responding to some inanimate written script).

  • Wyatt

    Piper is mostly right but his ilk needs to drop the anger quotient a wee bit. They are perceived to be angry and frustrated people.

    Evangelicals like to sing and say about God. They like to think about Him and put things into nice neat categories (this includes people too). But I think Piper has some of it backwards. The real person of Christ is already before us. We need to change our thinking because of that not the other way around. I need to learn how to think like God not think my way to Him. Thinking like God thinks requires and results in transformation. Thinking my way to Him means I am pushing the cart uphill and that requires no transformation; just a lot of my own strength to keep the cart from rolling downhill and running me down in the process.

  • Seth

    Bob S. #13
    Yeah, I’ve actually heard a number of Arminians say similar things. As a disclaimer, I’m a Calvinist. But it always struck me as a curious thing for a Christian to say, because it means that to re-evaluate their theology means they have two choices: believe as they have always believed (whether they find it to be true or untrue), or cease to serve, love, and/or believe in their God. Surely they can’t really be considering that as an option.

    Wyatt #15
    The anger is on both sides of the theological expanse. Comments like #3, #8, and #9 come across as unnecessarily antagonistic to someone who agrees with Piper on most (not all) things for Biblical reasons. We all could improve greatly in this regard.

  • http://patricklmitchell.wordpress.com Patrick Mitchell

    Amazing that people decided to jump on Piper instead of responding to the issue at hand. How quick we are to throw stones, even at our own. I do believe the love of theology can become an idol, especially for a system that is so systematic. It’s something I have to be careful of.

  • RJS

    Thanks CGC, … the overall response to this post is depressing.

    A few years ago Scot posted an excerpt from a commencement speech by Obama. I had sent it to him because I thought The President made a good point. The overwhelming response was to pillory Obama and dismiss the fact that he was right on the point at hand (… apparently he was a hypocrite because it came from him).

    Slightly muted, this response has the same trend … distance and dismiss because it comes from Piper.

    We have to get beyond this. Piper is more “on” than “off.”

  • James Rednour

    “Careful. That sounds nobly principled, but if your theology is wrong, then you’ve just claimed you can never love the God of the Bible.”

    If my theology is wrong, do I have a choice to believe anything other than what I believe? And yes, that is an honest question.

    Piper’s God is the author of sin. There’s no logical way to get around it. How can we do anything other than what God wills us to do if he controls every aspect of the world? There is literally no way out for a sinner who is not part of the elect. God created him and God will damn him for being what God created him to be. Where is the God of love because I don’t see it?

  • James Rednour

    “Amazing that people decided to jump on Piper instead of responding to the issue at hand.”

    I’m not jumping on Piper. I just said that the God that Piper preaches doesn’t appear to be a God of love. He’s a God of wrath. I simply can’t reconcile what Piper means by a God of love when he can also say that it is perfectly right for God to slaughter women and children whenever He feels like it. Not that He has the right, but that it IS right. Scot tweeted out the question: “Do you agree with John Piper?” Well, I agree that loving God is key, but I don’t think I mean the same thing that Piper does when I say that.

  • CGC

    Hey folks,
    Rather than saying Piper’s God is messed up (as if none of our theology ever gets messy), why can’t we just see Piper as a brother in Christ? I think Piper says something that everybody agrees with and yet some of our responses have to criticize and cut him down in the process anyway.

    This discussion reminds me how quickly we look for the bad in people and have difficulty complimenting someone, even when they say something good. Or to put it differently, maybe internet conversations allows for certain kinds of responses we would never say to people face to face?

  • Rick

    RJS #18-

    “the overall response to this post is depressing.”

    That sums it up well.

  • Mike H

    I think Piper is “on” here. I commend CGC (14) for the comment. Unfortunately it does seem like there is a tendency to dwell on disagreement, even on the non-essentials. Both John Piper and NT Wright have been crucial in my development as a Christian and I continue to learn, agree, and disagree with their ideas.

    (9) I don’t think Piper is advocating use of poor doctrine or anti-intellectualism. He’s argued against both in what he’s written. To bring the example down to a relational perspective, it’d be like a guy dating a girl, but finding his primary interest and enjoyment in setting up the date (doing something creative, sending flowers early, picking a cool location) but not really showing interest in her once he’s out there. The set up is great, but worthless if the true prize is ignored. I know it’s a fairly trite example, but it’s a focus on ordering priorities, not creating an either/or.

  • EricW

    RJS:

    As one who disagrees with Piper’s Patriarchalism/Complementarianism and probably his Calvinism as well, I liked it so much I posted it on my Facebook page and urged people not to let their opinion of Piper keep them from watching or listening to his short but profound message.

  • MatthewS

    I’m not a big Rob Bell fan but the other day I chimed in to agree with one of the quotes from Bell that Scot had reposted. I felt like it was the respectful way to engage the conversation. There were a lot of pro-Bell comments. It doesn’t take much effort to say nice things about a figure you like but now the shoe is on the other foot.

    I’m not a big John Piper fan, either, sometimes due to both his style and content. However, the quote here was not served up in a way that invited criticism or acceptance of Piper as a whole. In fact, Piper’s quote here, like Willow Creek’s self reflective and self-critical study a couple years ago, is a welcome show of vulnerability.

    Irenic discussion and coffee shop dialog would be better served, I think, if people could graciously agree when possible. It’s really hard to be gracious with someone that grates on us but it makes us better conversationalists. As Hamlet said, the less they deserve it, they brighter we shine for giving it. /end complaint

  • MatthewS

    An older prof, speaking at a seminary, told about a student who found that in the course of their studies, they had replaced their love of God with a love of the Book. This was a gentle reminder to love the Book and take it seriously, but don’t lose love for God himself in the process.

    It accords well with the Jesus Creed to remind ourselves not to replace love of God with love of so many other good things we are involved with. To apply it to myself: I love learning, I love communicating. I find myself sometimes functionally putting those things ahead of actual relationship with the God who first imagined and created it all.

  • Wyatt

    The overall response to the post might be depressing but no one asked why it might be that way. I have some ideas but I am going to keep it to myself.

    #16 Seth,
    We are talking about Piper and the neo-Calvinists not other people. The anger issue is very key to what Piper and others like him communicate. It’s how they tend to communicate, not what. The question posed to Piper was “Would there be any cautions…?” Piper, in my opinion should have started in how they communicate, not what. But with his focus, it’s what, no matter what. His theology in the context he introduces above is also, in my opinion a little backwards and his caution amounts to nothing more than a reitieration of neo-Calvinist thought. He didn’t really answer the question.

  • scotmcknight

    I’ve been tied up reading and didn’t see all this… folks, I love, love, love what Piper said. We don’t need to have a bash Piper but instead this is an opportunity for folks to express appreciation for those with whom we agree and disagree on other matters.

    I’ve read most of Piper’s stuff over the years and the one theme that runs from beginning to end in his writing is his “intoxication with God.” If that’s not enough to build some fellowship on, then we are a sad lot indeed.

    In fact, let’s take the first step here: perhaps if some pro-Wright, New Perspective, more moderate, non-Calvinists and anabaptists where they agree with someone like Piper it might breathe a breath of fresh air and create similar appreciations from the others. Can I get an Amen?

  • CGC

    Amen! Scot . . .

  • Tim

    Amen.

    I confess that I might love theology and a moe wholistic Gospel articulation more than I love God and people

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    Amen!

    : )

    I would fit pretty well with your description and I will stand up for Piper here. His point is a good one. I’ve been working through this very issue in my life realizing that, in many of the ways Piper mentions, God (or, rather, my imaginations and about God) has become an idol.

    Where I to lash out against Piper because I disagree with him about theology (the “science” of God?) I would in that same moment be defending not God, but an idol carved from my own intellect. Who am I that I believe I can see his heart? Language is tricky in that it is always spoke. An heard through interpretive filters. How am I to know that what I hear is the same thing he’s saying?

    Romans 14:4
    Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

    1 Corinthians 2:9-16
    But, as it is written,
    “ What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him”—
    10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
    14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “ For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    My new goal, in Christ, is to seek understanding and companionship, expecting that agreement may well rise from that in time.

    When my ideas and beliefs about Christ become more important than BEING

    though looking through my own lenses, I would word it differently

  • cw

    #11 & 12
    “Unfortunately, the God that Piper advocates is not a God that I could ever love, only a God I could fear.”

    “Careful. That sounds nobly principled, but if your theology is wrong, then you’ve just claimed you can never love the God of the Bible.”

    This isn’t the first I’ve read of this type of reasoning and I’m puzzled. An author explaining why he became Orthodox (instead of Protestant) uses the same argument.: If one thinks of God as one would as a Calvinist or an Armenian then that God would not be the “same God” and the author wanted to worship the God of the Bible.

    God is God. If my understanding of what is true about Him is wrong in some way that doesn’t mean I’m worshiping a “different” God, does it? The God I worship is the one who walked in the cool of the evening in Eden, made a covenant with Abraham, renamed Jacob, appeared to Moses in a bush, sent Gabriel on a couple of earth missions, is Incarnate in Jesus Christ, etc. My theology is very likely quite different than many other readers, but I don’t think we worship different Gods. What am I missing?

  • scotmcknight

    CW,
    I’m with you. This whole thing needs nuance: Yes, there are dimensions of high Calvinism’s God that I cannot tolerate as coherent with the God I know from the Bible, and Yes, that means their God can be framed in categories I would not — but it is the Christian God, the God of the Bible, and the similarities are so immense that the differences, however egregiously emphasized (both directions here, folks, both directions), must be taken as creating a different God.

    Big one in the current theological context, and off topic: Muslim God the same God? Jewish God?

  • EricW

    Big one in the current theological context, and off topic: Muslim God the same God? Jewish God?

    Oy!

  • James Moon

    “For if you love those who love you…”

  • Rob Henderson

    John Piper nails it! This would be advice I would give to any new Wesleyan-Arminians. Worship God as God. Love God rather than love worshipping God.

    And it is a great reminder to me that my goal and role as a pastor to my people is not to be right as a Wesleyan but to be Biblical about what it means to love God, live like Jesus Christ and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Spot on article. thanks

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Scot, thanks for asking about the Muslim and Jewish god’s, that helped me go down a new path and adds good perspective to this conversation.

    First, let me say that I am warmed by Piper’s remarks. It gives me great hope.

    I maintain that the Muslim and Jewish god’s are indeed our own, and mine. I regret that all we get to see is the shadow, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I all I see is a shadow too. I look forward to a pleasant surprise someday.

  • Matt Gray

    From Thomas a Kempis:

    “What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.”

  • Matt Gray

    Oh, and since somebody mentioned Roger Olson before as saying he can’t love the Calvinist God – I’d point out that despite his passionate advocacy for Arminianism, Olson is often remarkably gracious to Calvinists, and irenic. In his book The Mosaic of Christian Belief, he writes:

    “Three main interpretations of divine providence (Calvinist, Arminian, Open Theist) have developed among Christian thinkers, and all three can be justified by appeal to divine revelation, Christian history, Christian experience and reason. In other words, while not all three can be equally true, all three are possibly valid views or models of divine providence and should be allowed to coexist within the community of Christians – even if some specific denominations choose to embrace one of them to the exclusion of others.”

    When our first response to an olive branch (like Scot and Piper give us here) is to slap it out their hand – and justify it by pointing out their apparent “intolerances”, no less – I don’t think we’re being Christlike. Just sayin…

  • donsands

    James,
    John Piper is simply a Calvinist like I am, and like CH Spurgeon, John Newton, Joni Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and millions of others Christians who believe God was, and is sovereign in all things, and yet His love is beyond any love we could ever understand, which we see at the Cross.

  • Kenneth

    News flash: John Piper doesn’t worship a different God…he merely has different ideas about the one true God than you or others do. John Piper is working well within the bounds of biblical orthodoxy…like Wright and McKnight. There is room for error here people! If there wasn’t then we would all be doomed! We can tell when someone or a group of people has gone outside of the broad biblical boundaries of defining God. Besides, when we are talking about “worshiping different Gods or the same God” we might be better off framing the question like this,

    “Does the God of the Bible accept the “worship” of those who see Him radically different than He presents himself in the Bible?”

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    It’s so easy to forget that we are trying to describe with our words a reality that cannot be contained by ANY words. It’s not that Calvinism, Arminianism, and and Open Theism are competing views of which one will be shown to be “correct”, but rather each is true only insofar as each who believes it show the fruit of the Spirit in their life as a result.

    Theology is closer to metaphor, to poetry, than to a scientific endeavor. It’s an attempt to enter into another’s experience of that which is well beyond the ability of language to quantify.

    If asked to describe the color “red” to a person who has only ever seen green and blue wavelengths what would you say? You could start scientifically explaining how special rods and cones receive light with a wavelength between 620-740nm, but will this bring the hearer any closer to knowing what “red” is? I suspect that language simply cannot impart knowledge of this kind and that the closest we could get to helping another to see would perhaps lay within the realm of music or poetry that describes how “red” makes us feel. Of course at this point we leave the realm of science and surety and enter the realm of subjective experience. Truth is there. We must speak of it. But we can’t capture it with words and certainly cannot judge another for what we perceive to be the content of their beliefs.

    1 Corinthians 3:2-4
    I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “ I follow Paul,” and another, “ I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    Big one in the current theological context, and off topic: Muslim God the same God? Jewish God?

    One of those areas where I could certainly not presume certainty, but I feel like we have to admit that the name we give to God is inconsequential. If Christ is the image of the invisible then I think we can say that one who walks in the footsteps of Christ—who somehow knows that they are ultimately loved and need feel no shame and who therefore is freed to deny self and enter into humble, self sacrificial love for enemies and friends alike—worships in Spirit and in Truth no matter what their God’s name is.

    Now, the question for me is, is this possible without an intellectual knowledge of the biblical narrative or not? Not sure I can judge that.

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    One more comment (sorry!). Actually, it’s a question:

    What does it mean to love God? Seriously. What does it look like to love God? Is it action or emotion or both? Is it really about living “God” or can we equate living God with Loving your neigh or as yourself?

    I recently read “Desiring God” with my small group and we really couldn’t work out what it means to deisre/love God. In the book Piper seems to identify loving God with a detachment from the world to pray and read the bible. Is this what loving God looks like? Or is loving God a way to describe fully embracing the world?

    If God is Love, is loving God really the same thing as loving Love and loving to Love others?

    Is loving God keeping His commandments?

    If God is beyond our ability to imagine, how do we not make him into an idol when we must construct him from what we can piece together in our limited mind?

    When I hear people say that we should love God I just honestly can’t wrap my head around what that means.

  • Tony

    “Big one in the current theological context, and off topic: Muslim God the same God? Jewish God?”

    It seems like Jesus has answered this type of question in a different context. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.”

    It’s possible to seek to worship the one true God and to get all sorts of stuff wrong, to the point of rejecting the God you seek to worship. Jesus has a lot to say about the Jews who reject him as Messiah, as well as those who would come along and distort the truth and to create different gospels.

    We don’t have to stay purely in the realm of philosophy when we deal with questions like “what about Jews and Muslims.” The Bible gives us a framework for pointing out the invalidity of their religion while inviting them to know Jesus and worship in both spirit and truth.

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    Tony,

    Thanks for your input. I hope I don’t seem to be disregarding scripture on this. How do you take the next couple verses after what you quoted:

    John 4:23-24
    But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    It seems to me tht Christ is negating the importance of knowledge and breaking down the barriers between Samaritans and Jews strict by broadening “true worship” to include all who worship in “spirit and truth”.

    Are we certain that we follow the spirit of Christ’s words when we proclaim that “true worshippers” is only or those who live within the religion of Christianity? I’m not sure enough to say. I will live and speak the gospel to all, but I’m not sure I can confidently point out the invalidity of all other belief systems because I do not know their spirits.

  • Tony

    Nate,

    The quote was pulled more to show Jesus directly engaging someone questioning Him on a similar topic. He didn’t shy away from telling her, basically, the Samaritans are ignorant in these matters. He could have skipped the quip and the point of his following phrase would not have been lost. 

    Jesus very act of speaking to the woman indicates that he’s breaking down all sorts of barriers. I don’t when he speaks of true worshippers not confined to one location or people group, I take him as anticipating the Church, not a vague group of people who may or may not know him, and might even reject him as King, but do hold to a general monotheism of some kind.  

    The Church may not as theologically narrow as some might imagine, but it’s still made up of those who follow Christ.  I don’t know how to interpret “worshipping in spirit and truth” (rather than at the temple in Jerusalem) apart from The shift away from the temple towards the person of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  The passage including and surrounding John 15:26 frames this conversation for me.  A spirit that has any communion with God is going to be pointed towards Jesus. 

    Peace.

  • Tony

    Also, I would hold to the church’s ability to argue against the validity of a belief system without knowing the precise trajectory of any one of its adherent’s journey towards or away from Jesus.

  • http://www.nateweatherly.com Nate W.

    Tony,

    Yeah, Following Christ is certainly central and I would never tell anyone that following Christ is optional. I think it’s infinitely important to preach Christ and Him crucified.

    I guess I have come to see Christ’s life/death/word as being grace that breaks down all religious walls—so that even our beliefs about God are shown to be secondary to our heart level response to an experience of His Love.

    When I’m honest I have to admit that I don’t really believe everything that I Think I believe, as evidenced by the fact that so much of it remains in my head and not in Truth, which is Love (as God is Love). If what I think I believe is sometimes so loosely related to how I live, perhaps what others think they believe isn’t nearly so important as how they respond to the Love of God whether they recognize it as such or not.

    Yeah, I agree that we can and should interact with spirit led discernment regarding other belief systems, loving the individuals who suffer under the oppression of the beliefs/actions that we see leading away from Christ and yet remaining free to affirm what is True within their belief structures. The problem I see is the we (myself included) are usually quicker to point out error than to embrace and Love the individual who is enslaved by it. If we seek humble understanding we will soon find that we are all searching and longing for the exact same thing. We we believe that about a person of another faith we are freed to accept them as they are and become the aroma of the grace of God, drawing them naturally by Grace.

  • Eddie R.

    I agree with the sentiment in this post, for the most part. Our calling is to be transformed into the likeness of God, not just sit around and “love God.” That love must affect us; it must result in something.

    Whether Piper’s version of Calvinism is “right theology” is highly doubtful, as is that of the New Calvinists. And this is the rub. Piper and the New Calvinists spend a lot of time in peoples’ faces pushing a particular theology.

    At some point, our love of God must not just be “loving God,” but be discerning Him. Calvinism does a poor job of that, substituting legal arguments in the place of the character of God.

    So, it’s a nice sentiment, but one that has consequences.

  • Paul

    Haha. Makes me think of the Moravian who told John Wesley, “Brother John, your mind needs to be untangled from idolatry!” John’s mind was eventually freed, but “Freed” it was. It must come from God. It took Wesley years of seeking and a moment, literally a moment to receive it. And listen I went to Fuller and did all the theology you can imagine. Do.not.wish.to.go.back

  • http://www.ravenfoundation.org/blogs/in-the-beginning Adam Ericksen

    But there is something major missing. It’s nice to say we need to love God, but how do we do that? It seems to me that Jesus says the best way to love God is to love our neighbor, including our enemy. In fact, if we don’t love our neighbor/enemy, we’ve failed to love God. The specifically human aspect is missing from Piper’s statement, at least from the excerpt.

  • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

    Dang! I agree with John Piper on something. I actually just wrote a piece on the distinction between worshiping the Bible and using the Bible in order to reach the Savior you worship: “Sabbath Healing as a Paradigm for Christian Morality” http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/sabbath-healing-as-a-paradigm-for-christian-morality/

    Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 5:39-40: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” When we want ideological security and self-justification, we idolize scripture. Relationship with Christ is more messy, especially because Jesus often violated Torah without adequate scriptural justification for the sake of showing solidarity to the lepers and paralytics who were dishonored by religious authorities in the very gesture of “honoring” God.

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim martin

    This is very, very good!

  • Val

    Jonathan Martin said it first and was linked on Rachel’s blog – and he said it better. What Piper is saying is hardly exclusive to him. I am glad he is saying it. But, frankly, with his views on women, esp. that they should endure abuse to uphold a silly ideal of “husband” as THE authority, make whatever correct utterances he manages seem hollow. Does he know that putting God first means dropping ideals (calvinism, woman’s ridiculously limited roles, etc.)? If not, then I will look to other, wiser speakers for this wisdom. I mean, I don’t look to the mullahs for great wisdom on God, even if they, too, focus on God. Not in a great space with this guy’s name all over the place, frankly. Even when he says something commonly known, even if it is right, why credit him with it?

    Jonathan Martin is a wiser pastor (at least on the internet, don’t know him personally), I’d like his name more know than Piper’s.

  • P.

    I’m very surprised that I’m agreeing with Piper. Yes, many Reformed people have made their theology their God – but other ways of thinking do that to. In fact, we probably all do this because our theology is not really about God; it’s about us, and we all have a need to be right. This is something for all of us to try to overcome.

  • donsands

    “Yes, many Reformed people have made their theology their God – but other ways of thinking do that to.”=P

    Amen.

    There’s a very good book making its way through the Reformed blogs, and it has done some good. he is a fine pastor, who lays it out quite nicely about Pride and us Reformed guys, and gals.

    The Title is telling: ‘Killing Calvinism”: http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Calvinism-Perfectly-Theology-ebook/dp/B0088PBC5G

    (Hope you don’t mind the plug. It really is a good read, and will edify the soul, and encourage the heart; and it’s priced quite reasonable.)

  • Meri

    Val,

    Should we only appreciate wisdom from those with whom we view as “on our side”? Sometimes, I think, the truth is more profound when it comes from the mouth of someone with whom we tend to disagree with in many ways. And, it serves to remind us to humbly love and appreciate all, not just those who are easy for us to love and appreciate.

  • Sarah

    @Bruce #9

    I guess we can try and define the “prosperity Gospel”. I believe that first and foremost God wants us to be obedient. I believe that as we are submitted to God in obedience and living a life of serving others and dying to self, that God can trust us with more “prosperity”. If we are truly being like Christ, then whatever prosperity God gives us will be for us to be a blessing to others and to serve others. That is my take on the “prosperity Gospel”. I see nothing wrong with praying for healing (emotional, physical, mental, spiritual). God is a big God. If he heals, great, if He doesn’t, then He is sovereign. I’m living proof of God’s miraculous physical power in the prayers of others. Psalm 1 shows us that as we are obedient and walk in His ways, everything we do shall prosper… but I also think our will will be conformed to His. Our ways become like His. We will not be prospered for our own gain, but for the gain of His Kingdom and seeing souls won for Jesus Christ. That is true prosperity.

  • http://www.utmgr.org/blog_index.html Joel Shaffer

    A couple years ago, My friend Rudy Carrasco wrote a piece that really hit me hard and convicted me and I believe applies to this situation. Do you remember when Glenn Beck riled up so many Christians (such as myself) who are involved in doing social justice when he told his audience to run away from churches that teach social justice?

    Rudy’s response?
    “Love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself. That’s a take-off from Matthew 22:36-40. If you are a Christian, you are supposed to love people first. Not agree with them first. Or disagree with them first. Or speak truth to their power first. You are supposed to love them first. This is an equal opportunity, ahem, encouragement. On both the center-left and the center-right I hear ugly caricatures of the opposition-du-jour. So a question to the wise: “What does it mean to love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself?”…….By the way, here’s some bonus sermon illustration material. You can substitute all sorts of people, and groups of people, for “Glenn Beck” or “your neighbor.” To wit:
    Love illegal immigrants as you would love yourself.
    Love oil industry executives as you would love yourself.
    Love President Barack Obama as you would love yourself.
    Love President George W. Bush as you would love yourself.”

    http://rudycarrasco.com/2010/03/15/love-glenn-beck-as-you-would-love-yourself/

    I wonder what it means for a few on this blog to “love John Piper as you would love yourself?” After all, we are blogging on a site called the Jesus Creed.


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