John Piper: “I Asked to Write This Foreword” to Designed for Joy

designedforjoyI remember the first time I sought a foreword from John Piper. Doug Sweeney of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and I were writing a five-book series on Jonathan Edwards for Moody Press (The Essential Edwards Collection). Piper was the figure we had at the top of the list, for he had done so much to promote the study of Edwards and his soaring theological scheme with divine glory at the burning heart. In God’s kindness, Piper was able to contribute a foreword, and that was a great blessing to the project.

Fast-forward five years. Jonathan Parnell and I were editing Designed for Joy, the new book from Crossway that articulates a joyful, gospel-powered vision of manhood and womanhood. We were really excited to see the rising generation of complementarians step up to the plate and knock out one terrific chapter after another. I don’t even think I hoped for a Piper foreword at this point, though Designed for Joy (and the eBook that preceded it) itself came out of the complementarian resurgence that Piper, Wayne Grudem, and a host of others launched in the late-1980s.

Frankly, just to publish this book, to have so many highly-gifted young writers involved, and to see Desiring God, Crossway, and the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood partner together was a thrill for me. I love all three of these organizations, each of which has made a heroic contribution to kingdom work in the last few decades.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I heard that not only had Piper read Designed for Joy–but asked to write the foreword! This was remarkable. I’ll let him tell the story:

I asked to write this foreword. I had hoped to endorse this book and help spread the word through Twitter. But then I took a PDF on the plane to Brazil and could not put it down. So I told Marshall Segal, one of the authors, who told the editors, “If you’ll take me, I’d like to write the foreword.” The reason for my eagerness is partly nostalgia, partly thankfulness, partly amazement, partly admiration, and partly hope. The editors and most of the authors of this book were not yet teenagers when Wayne Grudem and I were editing “the big blue book” called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood from 1988 to 1991. So to see this project emerge twenty-five years later with a shared and refined vision is like seeing our baby graduate from college.

Here is what he felt in reading the manuscript:

Rising in me, as I read, was a high sense of thankfulness to God for the insight, wisdom, giftedness, biblical faithfulness, and courage of these younger authors. The vision of manhood and womanhood they are trumpeting is biblical, beautiful, and sadly obnoxious to many in society. … So I am thankful for the valor of these men and women, who are willing to swim against unbiblical currents. My amazement is that decades into this struggle, there is such a widespread and robust embrace of the beautiful biblical vision of complementary manhood and womanhood. 

I can’t say how thankful I am for these gracious and deeply-encouraging words. In human terms, one reason why there is such a sprawling, lively, and utterly unabashed movement of young complementarians bursting with biblical zeal is because of Piper’s Bible teaching. Designed for Joy is both a recommitment to that teaching and an extension of it in our day. The authors see the spirit of the age, yes. As Tim Keller once said of his sons, young complementarians can spot a counterfeit. Much more than this, though, we’re blown away by the majesty of God and the chance to image his glory as men and women.

That’s what you’ll find in this book, alongside a great deal of practical, sensible, biblically-grounded counsel. I can’t tell you how often I’m asked for a short, accessible resource by which to introduce college students, high-schoolers, and twentysomethings to the practicalities of biblical gender roles. Well, friends: here it is! Anyone who loves the biblical vision of manhood and womanhood, and who can’t wait for the next generation to savor the good life that this vision produces, will find a kindred spirit in Designed for Joy.

I do not expect to have John Piper ask to write a foreword to a book I’m working on. I do expect that the next generation will stay faithful to Scripture, and will carry on the torch even as previous generations did. They were faithful, they were fueled by Christic joy, and they have made a mark on us. We honor them, even as we respond to the call to do something radical: to simply live as God-gripped men and women in our time. This isn’t anything fancy; it doesn’t require unusual gifting; it depends on loving God and loving his Word, and being part of the community of God, the church, that is itself a foretaste of heavenly communion.

What a privilege; what a high calling; what a fuel for joy.

"Well said! This had to be said."

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