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Archives for John Piper (page 1 / 1)

John Piper and Rick Warren

There was a kerkuffle in the blogosphere a few weeks ago, over John Piper's decision to invite Rick Warren to speak at the Desiring God National Conference, later this year.

There are quite a few people who think that Pastor Piper made an unwise decision, by associating himself with Pastor Warren. And, I'm sure there are quite a few people who think that there's absolutely no reason not to associate with Rick Warren. So, here are some resources to shed some light on the situation.

I report, you decide. But my own position is close to what Doug Wilson says.

Visiting Sin to the Third and Fourth Generation

John Piper offers some helpful insight on some confusing Bible passages.

Does God visit the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation? Some texts seem to say he does and others seem to say he doesn't. Our job is to figure out the sense in which he does and the sense in which he doesn't.

How do these passages fit together? This matters for the sake of God's character, and the Bible's coherence, and how we counsel those whose parents were wicked or just garden variety sinful.

This entry was tagged. Bible John Piper Sin

Vote As Though You Were Not Voting

Lately I've been thinking about how Christians should respond to political outcomes. I'm a Libertarian. I believe that government governs best which governs least. Liberty loses no matter who wins -- Senator Obama wins or Senator McCain. Both support a stronger, more assertive government that strips away liberty. How should I respond to that loss?

Well, ultimately God still rules over the world. Things are imperfect -- and will be getting less perfect -- but God never told me that I'd live in a perfect world. In fact, he promised the opposite. I should devote myself more fully to God, no matter who wins. This election is just one huge reminder to trust God, not man. For all men are fallible, weak, and imperfect. Only God is the perfect ruler of this world. One day, he'll rule openly. And that's the day I'm waiting for.

Until then, I'll follow Pastor Piper's advice and vote as though I was not voting.

Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That's because "the present form of this world is passing away" and, in God's eyes, "the time has grown very short." Here's the way Paul puts it:

The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Let's take these one at a time and compare them to voting.

1. "Let those who have wives live as though they had none."

... So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don't. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.

2. "Let those who mourn [do so] as though they were not mourning."

... So it is with voting. There are losses. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope. We vote and we lose, or we vote and we win. In either case, we win or lose as if we were not winning or losing. Our expectations and frustrations are modest. The best this world can offer is short and small. The worst it can offer has been predicted in the book of Revelation. And no vote will hold it back. In the short run, Christians lose (Revelation 13:7). In the long run, we win (21:4).

3. "Let those who rejoice [do so] as though they were not rejoicing."

... So it is with voting. There are joys. The very act of voting is a joyful statement that we are not under a tyrant. And there may be happy victories. But the best government we get is a foreshadowing. Peace and justice are approximated now. They will be perfect when Christ comes. So our joy is modest. Our triumphs are short-lived--and shot through with imperfection. So we vote as though not voting.

4. "Let those who buy [do so] as though they had no goods."

... So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved--but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme.

5. "Let those who deal with the world [do so] as though they had no dealings with it."

... So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

Things that Might Interest Only Me

Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus - New York Times

In 1988, the surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, proclaimed ice cream to a be public-health menace right up there with cigarettes. Alluding to his office's famous 1964 report on the perils of smoking, Dr. Koop announced that the American diet was a problem of "comparable" magnitude, chiefly because of the high-fat foods that were causing coronary heart disease and other deadly ailments.

That was a ludicrous statement, as Gary Taubes demonstrates in his new book meticulously debunking diet myths, "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (Knopf, 2007).

It may seem bizarre that a surgeon general could go so wrong. After all, wasn't it his job to express the scientific consensus? But that was the problem. Dr. Koop was expressing the consensus. He, like the architects of the federal "food pyramid" telling Americans what to eat, went wrong by listening to everyone else. He was caught in what social scientists call a cascade.

Because of this effect, groups are surprisingly prone to reach mistaken conclusions even when most of the people started out knowing better, according to the economists Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer and Ivo Welch. If, say, 60 percent of a group's members have been given information pointing them to the right answer (while the rest have information pointing to the wrong answer), there is still about a one-in-three chance that the group will cascade to a mistaken consensus.

In the Battle Against Cancer, Researchers Find Hope in a Toxic Wasteland - New York Times

Death sits on the east side of this city, a 40-billion-gallon pit filled with corrosive water the color of a scab. On the opposite side sits the small laboratory of Don and Andrea Stierle, whose stacks of plastic Petri dishes are smeared with organisms pulled from the pit. Early tests indicate that some of those organisms may help produce the next generation of cancer drugs.

For decades, scientists assumed that nothing could live in the Berkeley Pit, a hole 1,780 feet deep and a mile and a half wide that was one of the world's largest copper mines until 1982, when the Atlantic Richfield Company suspended work there. The pit filled with water that turned as acidic as vinegar, laced with high concentrations of arsenic, aluminum, cadmium and zinc.

Today it is one of the harshest environments in the country. When residents speak of the pit, they often recall the day in 1995 when hundreds of geese landed on the water and promptly died.

But the pit itself is far from dead. Over the last decade, Mr. Stierle said, the couple have found 142 organisms living in it and have "isolated 80 chemical compounds that exist nowhere else."

Panel Sees Problems in Ethanol Production - New York Times

Greater cultivation of crops to produce ethanol could harm water quality and leave some regions of the country with water shortages, a panel of experts is reporting. And corn, the most widely grown fuel crop in the United States, might cause more damage per unit of energy than other plants, especially switchgrass and native grasses, the panel said.

The report noted that additional use of fertilizers and pesticides could pollute water supplies and contribute to the overgrowth of aquatic plant life that produces "dead zones" like those in the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

Book now for the flight to nowhere - Times Online

An Indian entrepreneur has given a new twist to the concept of low-cost airlines. The passengers boarding his Airbus 300 in Delhi do not expect to go anywhere because it never takes off.

In a country where 99% of the population have never experienced air travel, the "virtual journeys" of Bahadur Chand Gupta, a retired Indian Airlines engineer, have proved a roaring success.

"Some of my passengers have crossed the country to get on this plane," says Gupta, who charges about £2 each for passengers taking the "journey".

The Odyssey Years - New York Times

People who were born before 1964 tend to define adulthood by certain accomplishments -- moving away from home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family.

In 1960, roughly 70 percent of 30-year-olds had achieved these things. By 2000, fewer than 40 percent of 30-year-olds had done the same.

Overlawyered: Welcome to West Virginia: Joe Meadows v. Go-Mart

Joe Meadows was drunk. Very drunk. 0.296 percent blood-alcohol content drunk, 12 or 13 beers worth. Fortunately, he didn't drive in that state. Unfortunately, he chose to sleep it off by resting under a parked 18-wheel truck. More unfortunately, the driver, Doug Rader, who didn't check to see whether there might be drunks lying under his truck at 1:40 a.m., ran over Meadows. Rader had EMT training, and was able to save Meadows's life, but Meadows lost a leg, and sued both the truck company and the store that owned the parking lot. A Kanawha County jury decided that Meadows was only a third responsible for his injury, which means he "only" gets two thirds of the three million dollars they awarded.

What is Orthodoxy? (Part 1, Part 2)

What is the "orthodoxy" in our "humble orthodoxy" anyway? What do we mean when we say "orthodoxy?" "What must we agree upon? What are the basics, what are the essentials?"

Now this is a dangerous question. And we have to proceed very carefully here, because if you take this wrong, this question can sound a little like the teenager in the youth group asking, "How far can I go? What's the least I have to believe and still be considered a Christian? What can I get away with?" Friends, that is not the spirit in which I'm posing this question. You want to pursue truth in every single matter about which God has revealed Himself in His word. If He's gone to the trouble of revealing Himself, you should care as a Christian, you should want to understand it, so that you can know more about who this God is that you're worshiping.

Part of what we need for doctrinal discernment is to understand what must be agreed upon and how serious errors are. Because you know not all errors are created equal--they're not all the same. We need to understand the significance of the doctrine that is in question.

... So God, the Bible, the gospel.

Those are the things that we must agree upon to have meaningful cooperation as Christians. True Christian fellowship cannot be had with someone who disagrees with us on these matters. These are the essential of the essentials.

Finally, for Adam, Pastor John Piper's view of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Several years ago, after I read Adam's copy of Atlas Shrugged, I disagreed with her view of altruism. But I couldn't put my feelings into words. Now I find that John Piper has.

Atlas Shrugged Fifty Years Later :: Desiring God

My Ayn Rand craze was in the late seventies when I was a professor of Biblical Studies at Bethel College. I read most of what she wrote both fiction and non-fiction. I was attracted and repulsed. I admired and cried. I was blown away with powerful statements of what I believed, and angered that she shut herself up in what Jonathan Edwards called the infinite provincialism of atheism. Her brand of hedonism was so close to my Christian Hedonism and yet so far--like a satellite that comes close to the gravitational pull of truth and then flings off into the darkness of outer space.

Sentences like these made me want to scream. No. No. No. Altruism (treating someone better than he deserves) does not have to involve "betraying your values" or "sacrificing a greater value to a lesser one." In other words, I agreed with her that we should never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one. But I disagreed that mercy (returning good for evil) always involved doing that.

The Effects of Sin

Several weeks ago, Pastor John Piper preached a message entitled The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and the New Earth. I started listening to it yesterday. One portion in particular really caught my attention. I'm guilty of not taking sin anywhere near as seriously as it should be taken. This message really gives me something to think about.

The Unendurable Sight of Suffering

So the big picture in outline form: God created the universe out of nothing; it was all very good the way he made it; it had no flaws, no suffering, no pain, no death, no evil; then Adam and Eve did something in their hearts that was so horrifyingly evil -- so unspeakably wicked, preferring the fruit of a tree to fellowship with God -- that God not only sentenced them to death (Genesis 2:17), but also subjected the entire creation to what Paul called "futility" and "bondage to corruption" (Romans 8:21-22).

In other words, whereas once there was no suffering or pain or death, now every human dies, every human suffers, animals suffer, rivers overflow their banks suddenly and sweep villages away, avalanches bury skiers, volcanoes destroy whole cities, a tsunami kills 250,000 people in one night, storms sink Philippine ferries with 800 people on board, AIDS and malaria and cancer and heart disease kill millions of people old and young, a monster tornado takes out an entire Midwestern town, droughts and famines bring millions to the brink -- or over the brink -- of starvation. Freak accidents happen, and the son of a friend falls into a grain elevator and dies. Another loses an eye. And a baby is born with no face. If we could see one ten-thousandth of the suffering of the world at any given moment, we would we would collapse under the horror of it all. Only God can endure that sight and carry on.

The Horror of Sin Pictured in Creation's Futility

Why did God subject the natural order to such futility because of the sin of human beings? The natural order did not sin. Humans sinned. But Paul said, "The creation was subjected to futility." The creation was put in "bondage to corruption." Why? God said, "Cursed be the ground because of you" (Genesis 3:17). But why? Why are there natural disasters in creation in response to moral failures in man? Why not just simple death for all the guilty offspring of Adam? Why this bloody kaleidoscope of horrific suffering century after century? Why so many children with heart-wrenching disabilities?

My answer is that God put the natural world under a curse so that the physical horrors we see around us in diseases and calamities would become vivid pictures of how horrible sin is. In other words, natural evil is a signpost pointing to the unspeakable horror of moral evil.

God disordered the natural world because of the disorder of the moral and spiritual world -- that is, because of sin. In our present fallen condition, with our hearts so blinded to the exceeding wickedness of sin, we cannot see or feel how repugnant sin is. Hardly anyone in the world feels the abhorrent evil that our sin is. Almost no one is incensed or nauseated at the way they belittle the glory of God. But let their bodies be touched with pain, and God is called to give an account of himself. We are not upset at the way we injure his glory, but let him injury our little pinky finger and all our moral outrage is aroused. Which shows how self-exalting and God-dethroning we are.

The Trumpet Blast of Physical Pain

Physical pain is God's blast with a physical trumpet to tell us that something is dreadfully wrong morally and spiritually. Diseases and deformities are Satan's pride. But in God's overruling providence, they are God's portraits of what sin is like in the spiritual realm. That is true even though some of the most godly people bear those deformities. Calamities are God's previews of what sin deserves and will one day receive in judgment a thousand times worse. They are warnings.

O that we could all see and feel how repugnant, how offensive, how abominable it is to prefer anything to our Maker, to ignore him and distrust him and demean him and give him less attention in our hearts than we do the carpet on our living room floor. We must see this, or we will not turn to Christ for salvation from sin, and we will not want heaven for any reason but relief. And to want heaven for relief is to be excluded.

Wake Up! Sin Is Like This!

Therefore God, mercifully, shouts to us in our sicknesses and pain and calamities: Wake up! Sin is like this! Sin leads to things like this. (See Revelation 9:20; 16:9, 11.) Preferring television to fellowship with God is like this. Desiring relief in heaven, but not desiring the Redeemer, is like this. The natural world is shot through with horrors that aim to wake us from the dream world of thinking that demeaning God is no big deal. It is a horrifically big deal.

I preached this truth at Bethlehem on the fourth anniversary of Nine-Eleven, knowing that there were people in our church dealing with terrible suffering. Two or three weeks later, I was in a pre-service prayer meeting with our folks, and one of the young mothers of a severely disabled child prayed, "Dear Lord, help me to feel the horror of sin the way I feel the horror of my son's disability."

This entry was tagged. John Piper Sin

FG: Introduction

I was given a copy of Pastor John Piper's book -- The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace -- for my birthday. Pastor Piper wrote the back as a series of short chapters, intended to be read one a day. I've been attempting to do so.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'd like to blog about my thoughts as I read through the book.

Chapter One -- The Debtor's Ethic: Should We Try to Pay God Back?

In this chapter, Pastor Piper addresses the popular idea that we should obey God out of gratitude for our salvation. Piper calls this the debtor's ethic:

The debtor's ethic says, "Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you." This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce. God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors. If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor's ethic -- and the effect is to nullify grace.

What's gone wrong? It's not wrong to feel gratitude when someone gives us a gift. The trouble starts with the impulse that now we owe a "gift". What this feeling does is turn gifts into legal currency. Subtly the gift is no longer a gift but a business transaction. And what was offered as free grace is nullified by distorted gratitude.

Piper goes on to demonstrate that nowhere in Scripture is gratitude given as a reason for obedience. Rather, the people throughout the Bible are condemned for their lack of faith -- not their lack of gratitude. (Numbers 14:11; Deut 1:31-32; Psalm 78:15,17,22.) Rather, Piper says, we should obey God out of a faith in future grace.

Faith in future grace is the secret that keeps impulses of gratitude from turning into the debtor's ethic. True gratitude exults in the riches of God's grace as it looks back on the benefits it has received. By cherishing past grace in this way, it inclines the heart to trust in future grace. We might say that gratitude has a strong appetite for the enjoyment of looking back on the outpourings of God's grace. Since God does this future outpouring through faith, therefore gratitude sends its impulses of delight into faith in future grace. This is expressed in the words: lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord (Psalm 116:12-14). Gratitude exults in the past benefits of God and says to faith, "Embrace more of these benefits for the future, so that my happy work of looking back on God's deliverance may continue."

Chapter Two: When Gratitude Malfunctions

A Filipino Insight

Pastor Piper starts chapter two with an anecdote about encountering a missionary to the Philippines. She told about the Filipino concept of utang na loob. She said "To a Filipino, to show a lack of due gratitude is outrageous; being grateful is almost second nature to him. His sense of utang na loob defines his integrity as a person in the context of social relationships." Unfortunately, this debt lasts a lifetime -- it is difficult to measure the extent of the debt, and thus impossible to every pay the debt off. The debtor lives in a constant state of obligation and has no hope of ever being freed from the debt.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy for Christians to fall into this trap. We try to serve God out of gratitude, but know that we can never retire the debt. Thus we are always concerned about what we must do for Him, not what He will do for us.

In chapter one, Pastor Piper demonstrated that faith in future grace is the antidote to the debtor's ethic. Piper uses chapter two to demonstrate that the New Testament is even more more explicit on the subject of future grace than the New Testament is.

Romans 9:31-32; Hebrews 11:7,8,27,33; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:6; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Thess 2:13. None of these passages mention gratitude as an inspirtation for obedience. All mention faith. This truth liberates us forever from the need to repay God through our service. Instead, we can look forward to God providing us with what we need to service Him.

The main problem here is that the past-orientation of the debtor's ethic tends to blind us to the infinite, never-ending, inexhaustible, uninterrupted flow of future grace from this moment to eternity. This grace is there in the future to be trusted and lived on. It is there to give the motivation and power for our obedience. This infinite overflow of God's grace is dishonored when we fail to appropriate it by faith in future grace. Gratitude is not designed for this. Faith is. Past grace is glorified by intense and joyful gratitude. Future grace is glorified by intense and joyful confidence. This faith is what frees us and empowers us for venturesome obedience in the cause of Christ.

How does this play out in actual practice? Chapter three provides a clue. But more on that later.