what are your thoughts on John Piper??

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J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
My basic take on Piper is the same as Ruben's.

His book Counted Righteous in Christ is fantastic. It is one of the best explanations of imputation that I've ever read, and it does a very good job in dealing with the New Perspective on Paul. On the core of the gospel Piper stands on the side of God, the angels, and the saints of old.

I have never read his piece "Are there two wills of God?" but from what I understand, it too is a very good piece.

Overall, Desiring God is very good, but I take issue with some of his comments regarding Christians and money. Like David Platt and Francis Chan, Piper in this area falls short. He gives an almost legalistic conditioning with regard to Christians giving every last cent of free money away in ministry-something that is nowhere taught in Scripture. I've referred to it as "evangelical monasticism," and it comes dangerously close to giving the impression that using money for any sort of personal leisure at all is sinful. Certainly Christians should be on guard against materialism and be charitable with their finances (and it's interesting to note that conservative Christians in general ARE more generous than their liberal counterparts), but to place an unscriptural burden such as this on people is at the very least a misguided zeal.

Regarding the charismatic position, Piper seems to be trying to take a moderate middle position. On this I say use caution, because "moderate" positions on things like this don't stay "moderate;" they end up tipping one way or the other. The Nazarene church I formerly attended is a good example of this. While I don't know what Piper's rationale for such a position is, I wonder whether or not people take positions like this simply to make an appeal to the broader body of Christendom, to try to be "all things to all men." To which I say it is better to take the right unpopular position than take a popular waffling position.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
If someone sticks with Calvin and Matthew Henry and John Bunyan lunacy is very unlikely to be the result.
But these men were not without their errors, and unfortunately we Reformed can fall into the trap of believing that the people we champion are above reproach if we are not careful-the very thing we accuse others of (and in some cases rightly so). I love the Puritans, but they were not without error in all of their writings.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I would agree with most of what has been said, namely:

1. Piper is very good when he's good. He has a clear understanding of the glory of God and enjoying Him as our chief end, and he's a pretty good exegete.

2. He is outside of the reformed camp as regards special revelation, etc.

There are a couple of other cautions that should be pointed out. I said he's a pretty good exegete because he gets into weird places sometimes, and I for one don't see how he gets away with it. For instance, his unbiblical view of divorce and remarriage, which I don't know that anyone has taken before him (see Divorce & Remarriage: A Position Paper - Desiring God). Take that together with the attitude of many of the "new Calvinist" laypeople that says essentially, "if John Piper says, it must be true," and he becomes dangerous. Implicit faith in any teacher is dangerous, of course, but since Piper essentially makes himself an authority over against of his own (Reformed Baptist) tradition, he becomes a stumbling block to many young Calvinists. It's true, he can be a gateway to the puritans and reformers, but he can also be a gateway to Rick Warren and Doug Wilson, both of whom he has had as conference speakers.

My advice would be listen to him with discernment, appreciate and embrace the truth he teacher (of which there is a great deal), and reject his errors. Also, recognize there are a lot of more solid Reformed teachers out there from whom you can get pretty much any of the good stuff you also get from Piper.

Side note: I love the man, his passion for God's glory, and his transparency. The last point is a rare thing. He puts his heart on display, and it is a heart that loves our Lord, but that does not detract from his errors.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Jeremy, you're making a qualification to my post that was already contained in it. I mentioned that Calvin made mistakes. I included those three specifically not because they are infallible but because even IF someone embraces their mistakes as well as their good points, those mistakes will most likely not lead to radical error or dangerous practices. It doesn't mean they didn't make any mistakes. I think Calvin's modesty and hermeneutical caution sometimes lead him to see less than a text includes, where someone like Thomas Goodwin saw more fully; but it's rare for people to go off the deep end because of excessive modesty and caution.
 

Supersillymanable

Puritan Board Freshman
A good summary of what to think of Piper sounds like, according to the people commenting:

1. He is very passionate for God, is a good exegetical and expositional preacher as well as being a good gateway to the reformed camp

2. He should be listened to and read, with discernment. Many people have become "Piperites", who accept his word as the word of the bible itself (I doubt he ever intended this, but it has happened). He is not infallible, the same as other preachers. We should test all things and hold to what is good.

3. When recommending him, use caution when thinking of who you're recommending him to. We may want to qualify ourselves when doing so.

Personally: I enjoy his preaching and writings. I have some differences, as others have. But I wont throw the baby out with the bath water. There is much good he has done and is doing.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Jeremy, you're making a qualification to my post that was already contained in it. I mentioned that Calvin made mistakes. I included those three specifically not because they are infallible but because even IF someone embraces their mistakes as well as their good points, those mistakes will most likely not lead to radical error or dangerous practices. It doesn't mean they didn't make any mistakes. I think Calvin's modesty and hermeneutical caution sometimes lead him to see less than a text includes, where someone like Thomas Goodwin saw more fully; but it's rare for people to go off the deep end because of excessive modesty and caution.
Ah, you are correct, sir. My apologies and my bad.
 

gordo

Puritan Board Freshman
Just finishing up his Herbrews series that I got from Audible for 6.95. Its basically 40-50 sermons breaking down the first chapters of Hebrews verse by verse. I am excited to delve back into his Romans series which is also on Audible. 133 hours of preaching on Romans (8 years to complete).
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Hi:

I refuse to comment as it has in the past cost me some points here on the board.

Blessings,

Rob

Apparently you don't - this is, after all, a comment.

When Piper is right, he is very, very good - brilliant, profound, eloquent. But when he is wrong, it seems that he is wrong rather boldly and dramatically. It's all of a piece, I suppose: those elements in his approach that enable to him set out the truth so vividly, also tend to make him fearless and forthright and even persuasive when he is wrong. And that makes it difficult to endorse him without any qualification. Take Calvin, for instance: he is so solid and sober that even when he makes a mistake, it seems unlikely to do serious damage if he persuades someone else of it; but though John of Damascus is also very good, being persuaded of his errors could be disastrous. I would put embracing Piper's errors as less than disastrous, certainly not as severe as the Damascene's, but a far more significant problem than embracing Calvin's.

If one could be sure that people would read him for what he is good at, there would be little hesitation in recommending him. But once you've had some experience of people embracing wrong ideas because of a gifted teacher, it makes you hesitate more in issuing recommendations. (The same thing applies of course to many people - Edwards, Shedd, Bonar; Aquinas, Francis de Sales, Karl Rahner; C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, G.K. Chesterton; early church fathers, medieval theologians, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, hyper-calvinists, antinomians, etc., etc.) While you don't wish to deprive anyone of the blessings or joy of that wider reading, not everyone is equally able to prove all things and hold fast only that which is good; so sometimes it seems more prudent to recommend only those who are unexceptionable. If someone sticks with Calvin and Matthew Henry and John Bunyan lunacy is very unlikely to be the result.

I'm curious why you would include Edwards in with the group to be cautious about? What am I missing?
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm curious why you would include Edwards in with the group to be cautious about? What am I missing?

Hi Sarah,

Here is a great lecture by Dr. Richard Muller that speaks to Edward's departure from traditional Reformed thinking in a couple of ways -- it is worth the listen.

Media Available: Inaugural Lecture by Richard Muller « Jonathan Edwards Center It is entitled: "Jonathan Edwards and the Absence of Free Choice: A Parting of Ways in the Reformed Tradition”
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Sarah, here is a link that presents John Newton's gentle critique of Edwards and the New England theology. It's quite short, but rather good.
https://reformedreader.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/j-newtons-critique-of-j-edwards/

In addition, there is the point about idealism that Dr. Clark raised on another thread.

Then there is what Nick mentioned from Dr. Muller. And it seems to me that Edwards' formulation of anthropology was not only too influential on our view of man, but that we then took that anthropological formulation and attributed it to God himself - so that people can speak of God's freedom being the fact that he always does what he desires most! And that can serve to make people ascribe necessity to God, enter into confusion thinking that God is "bound" to his nature as though it were not true that the divine willing is the divine nature, and even opens the door to the attribution of inefficacious desires to God. Now please understand I am not accusing Edwards of all these things, and I am happy to be shown if there was another figure who marked the transition; but my own reading has led me to think that Edwards was a pivotal point for many, or at least instrumental in keeping that version of anthropology and even divine psychology alive in our own time.

And finally, in some cases I have known where people have taken Edwards as their guide and guru, things have not ended well. Now I realize that with the unlearned and unstable people who are out there one can't always blame a teacher (perhaps especially not one who is dead and can't take action to correct misconceptions) for the excesses of his students or groupies. So that anecdotal evidence doesn't make me condemn Edwards, it just makes me cautious about recommending him indiscriminately. Seeing certain outcomes, I don't have the same confidence that Edwards is a stabilizing influence that I have in the case of John Newton.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I have never read his piece "Are there two wills of God?" but from what I understand, it too is a very good piece.

If you are interested you might want to do a search here and see why his take on God's will is a tad "off".
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but another interesting factor is the connection with Daniel Fuller's covenant theology.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but another interesting factor is the connection with Daniel Fuller's covenant theology.

Would you be willing to summarize what you mean by this, brother? I've never heard of Daniel Fuller's covenant theology, nor do I think I've ever heard Piper's articulation of what he believes about covenant theology.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Daniel Fuller seems to have some strange views on Faith as I recall. I read something about this in Dr. Samuel Waldron's book 'Faith, Obedience, and Justification... Current Evangelical Departures from Sola Fide'. Daniel Fuller was a Mentor to Dr. Piper. It seems he doesn't make the correct distinctions between law and gospel that are necessary for understanding the Gospel. His view of Faith is more of a faith that purely works instead of rests upon an object (Christ). He seems to confuse justifying faith and sanctifying faith. That is how I understand what Dr. Waldron wrote. It seems to be very similar to Dr. Norm Shepherd's problem if I am understanding the situation correctly.

Daniel Fuller also seems to be aberrant concerning the Covenant of Works like many who want to turn the Covenant of Works into a Gracious Covenant. This is a strange teaching that is prevalent amongst many in the Federal Vision.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but another interesting factor is the connection with Daniel Fuller's covenant theology.

Would you be willing to summarize what you mean by this, brother? I've never heard of Daniel Fuller's covenant theology, nor do I think I've ever heard Piper's articulation of what he believes about covenant theology.

Piper says he's close to NCT than CT let me find the article.....
What does John Piper believe about dispensationalism, covenant theology, and new covenant theology? - Desiring God
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, Shepherd identified with Fuller's cov theology. There are strong similarities between their views of redemptive history.
 

PastorTim

Puritan Board Freshman
As with any public teacher we must test their teaching. Even RC Sproul celebrates non biblical holy days. Pipers teachings on God's sovereignty and his beauty and the excellence of Christ are superb. His Edwardsian view of God's glory is second to none.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Even RC Sproul celebrates non biblical holy days.
Last time I read the Scriptures, I'm pretty sure nobody's saved or damned based upon celebrating Christmas or Easter ;)

Back to Piper, part of the problem with the association with Rick Warren comes on Warren's part. Warren is really a mixed bag at times: sometimes the way he speaks comes across as a diehard Calvinist. Other times he sounds like an Arminian. He comes across as a chameleon adapting to his settings, so he could very well have told Piper what he wanted to hear.

Plus, I would add that Piper may be falling into the trap that many of us--ALL of us--fall into at times: namely, that because a ministry is big or "successful" that by default it is a movement of God. I'll bet more of us have been sucked in at this point than we may be willing to admit. How often do we judge evangelistic endeavors, outreach programs, or the vibrancy of a church by how many people it brings in? How many of us have said "Oh, it's not bringing in more people; therefore we must be doing something wrong and need to change things up." We point the fingers at Wesleyans, Arminian Baptists, and others for this mindset, but in frankness I've heard Calvinists starting to fall into this trap as well, placing a premium on "visible results" for personal evangelism and outreach, when in truth nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to be so externally focused.

A lot of people who look at Rick Warren will admit that the man has weak theology, but they say "Well, at least he's getting people in through the door to church!" They see success and champion it, even if comes with bad doctrine, such as mixing law and gospel. They see the numbers of attendees, and in so doing soften their criticism in order to accommodate. While I don't know whether or not this is what Piper himself has done, is it really so hard to believe that such a temptation to see your ministry and your congregation grow and spread like Warren's doesn't exist?
 

SherlockLogic

Puritan Board Freshman
Piper's passion for affirming Christian Hedonism is real and passionate, where a great deal of other men seem like stone-cold exegetes. He has flaws, but I think a simple solution is listening to other Godly men in addition to him. I'm sure many of the new Calvinists ONLY listen to Piper. I don't think bringing up the attitude of "If John Piper says, it must be true," is profitable or legitimate, as that can me said of a large amount of other men. No doubt, the attitude is dangerous, but he's not asking for people to have the attitude toward him. In regards to Warren and Wilson, I agree that I don't know exactly why he has ties with them, but I do believe they are both chameleons and will say what they need to in particular scenarios to fit in. That is a possibility.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Last time I read the Scriptures, I'm pretty sure nobody's saved or damned based upon celebrating Christmas or Easter

This may be true but even violating the principles and law of God do bring problems into life. As a friend of mine use to say, "They that go against the grain of God's Law shouldn't complain when they get splinters." Pastor Cotton's point was that Dr. Piper has been beneficial in proclaiming many good truths even if he doesn't have it all lined up. It wasn't about being damned or saved.

But at the same time teachers do bare the heavy burden of being correct. Even more so than the average layman.

(Jas 3:1) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

(Mat 5:19) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Here is Fuller's lecture at the 1994 Pastor's Conference at Bethlehem Baptist. Dr. Piper introduces Fuller, and describes his relationship with him, as well as the influence that Fuller has had on him.

Sanctification by Faith Alone: Believing in*Jesus 1994 Desiring God Conference for Pastors - Desiring God
 

Francisco Luna

Puritan Board Freshman
I was reading that book of him "Future Garce" and honestly, It was disappointing. Many writers nowadays, "force" the scriptures in order to "make" their point. That was the case with this book, trying to make the point about "future Grace", dismissing the biblical concept of gratitude. Time is the best proof that any book must pass.
 
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