With Mark Driscoll Gone, We’ve Only Got John Piper To Show Us the Insanity of Hypercalvinism

John Piper

John Piper

John Piper has done a 180 on cancer. That’s according to T.C. Moore at Theological Graffiti, who has smartly tracked Piper’s flip. Here’s the deal:

On the eve of his own surgery for prostate cancer in 2006, Piper called cancer a “gift from God.” He scolded fellow cancer-sufferers not to “waste their cancer” by ignoring God’s design of it. In other words, if you’ve got cancer, God wants you to have cancer.

But recently, Piper joined the evangelical chorus in criticizing Brittany Maynard for ending her own life before cancer killed her. In that post, Piper wrote that cancer “opposes the ultimate goodness that God designed for this creation. It is an enemy.”

So, which is it? Is cancer a gift from God that is part of God’s design, or is it an enemy that is not part of God’s design? It seems that Piper doesn’t know. That’s because his theological position is completely untenable.

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A Tale of Three Seminaries

Twin Cities seminaries

The Twin Cities boasts three Protestant seminaries (forgive me if I don’t consider John Piper’s unaccredited school a seminary in full standing). They are Luther Seminary, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and Bethel Seminary. And I think that the rising and falling fortunes of these three can tell us something interesting about the landscape of the church in America today. [Disclosure: I teach at United, I am part of a Templeton grant at Luther, and I once made out with a girl in the trees behind Bethel. I have friends who teach at all three.]

Luther Seminary was initially founded in 1917 as the merger of three Norwegian Lutheran seminaries. Another merger with Augsburg Seminary (also Norwegian) happened in 1963, and yet another merger in 1976 with Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary (English) led to Luther Northwestern Seminary. In 1994, they simplified the name to Luther Seminary. Luther is the largest of the eight seminaries of the ELCA denomination — with incoming classes of well over 100 — but it has recently fallen on hard times. Due to falling enrollment and financial mismanagement, the president and CFO were let go and many faculty and staff were laid off.

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities was also formed by a merger. In 1957, the United Church of Christ denomination was formed out of the merger of a couple denoms, and in 1962, UTS was founded as the merger of Yankton School of Theology (German Congregational) and Mission House (German Reformed). In the 1970s and 80s, UTS was at the forefront of liberalism, particularly feminist theology, and was among the first seminaries to enroll openly gay students. But their star faded, and in the last few years, incoming classes were in the low 30s. Today it serves primarily UCC, UMC, and UUA students.

Bethel Seminary was initially founded in Chicago in 1871. In 1914, it was acquired by the Baptist General Conference denomination and moved to Minnesota. Always evangelical in its outlook, Bethel made news in the 1990s when professors John Piper and Greg Boyd squared off, resulting in Boyd’s resignation and Piper’s withdrawal from Bethel and the BGC. In its heyday, Bethel was welcoming over 200 new students every year, but recently they’ve laid off all of their church historians as well as several other faculty members.

Here’s the interesting part:

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1,600 Pages of Awesome

My morning reading.

Yesterday, I received in the mail the magisterial doorstop of a book: NT Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God. I’ve only read the first section, but I already love it. Many fans consider this book Wright’s magnum opus, but it’s actually part of a many-book series that he says he hopes to continue. Nevertheless, this is the book that Wright will be remembered for.

In the preface, he says that he’s really been working on this book his entire life, since his parents gave him a Bible at age five and he read the book of Philemon first. He admits that he didn’t work on this book from ages 5 to 15, but he says he’s been working on it ever since.

Even so, one of his first admissions is that he doesn’t cover everything, he doesn’t interact with every other point of view:

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The Best Bible Software

So, here’s the story. I can’t really even remember how it began, but I posted somewhere that I was looking for an online, interlinear version of the Septuagint for a word I was researching for my next book. Pretty obscure, I know. Well, I heard from the people at Logos that they, indeed, had such a thing.

I’d had Logos back in the day. It was an early version, back when I was on a church staff and had a budget for such things. It came on CD-ROMs, and they’d mail updates every once in a while. But I hadn’t used Logos in many years.

The folks at Logos offered to give me the latest version if I’d review it. I told them that my review would be honest, and they were cool with that (I’m not being compensated for this review, and the embedded links are not part of a commissioned sale). So off I went. And here’s what I think:

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