April 4, 2007

John Piper Discussion at Sharper Iron


Over the last few days I have been in a (now closed) discussion thread at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron blog. The link to and title of the thread is: John Piper.

I had some very good exchanges with several men in a discussion over John Piper’s ministry. The discussion also included some thoughts about John MacArthur. There are serious concerns men have with Piper beyond his Calvinism and Lordship Salvation positions.

There have been numerous decisions/actions on the part of John Piper that have been quite disconcerting. These indiscretions are not limited to, but include:

* Taking his staff to the Toronto Blessing, for a blessing
* Preaching at Christian Rock concerts
* Bringing a RAP artist into his church for a performance
* Sees the miraculous gifts of the 1st century church as still active and possible for today
* Proposed acceptance of a regenerate, but not scripturally baptized church membership (subsequently dropped)
* Used Mark Driscoll (the “cussing” pastor) in his pulpit, and has used some very off-color remarks himself. (I’ve read his letter of explanation, and it falls far short of expressing repentance or remorse. He uses the off-color language choices to try and make his message relevant to his audience)

The crux of the discussion really has to do with the fact that there is a big difference between what John Piper writes in his books and what he does in practice.
Following is my summation from the discussions at SI:

I hope and pray that across the landscape of Fundamentalism everyone will recognize that men like John MacArthur and John Piper are not Fundamentalists. They are not representative of historic Fundamentalism especially in a specific area of doctrine and practice, which is: biblical separation. There is, therefore, an inherent danger in recommending these men to fundamental believers as examples in doctrine or practice.

These men have an established track record of disobeying the Scriptural commands for separation (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Examples of this can be found ecclesiastically and personally. They write books about living in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and surrendering to His Lordship. In the area of biblical separation, however, they act in such a way that one must conclude they do not see separation as a necessary part of submitting to the Lordship of Christ.

On page 202 of my book I wrote,
The command in Jude 3 to ‘earnestly contend for the faith’ and from 2 Corinthians 6:14-ff to separate from unbelievers and disobedient brethren are not open to selective application. They are mandated courses of action found I the Word of God.”
Biblical separation is one of the hallmarks, and probably most distinguishing characteristic, of our Independent Fundamental Baptist heritage. With so many respected pastors/teachers in fundamentalism pointing our people in the direction of MacArthur, Piper, Driscoll and Dever we are not just showing, but setting our people upon a path that leads to New Evangelicalism.

One of the men I interact with, who is Reformed in his soteriology and sympathetic to Lordship Salvation, made this observation,
John MacArthur poses a danger to us (fundamental Baptists) because he is closer to us than Piper and the others, and therefore, our men will accept anything he does in his ministry as normative.”
Again, differences I have with those men’s Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel set aside: If we don’t raise the level of awareness and provide serious cautions we will one day see what were once young independent fundamental Baptist preachers looking a lot more like John MacArthur and John Piper in doctrine and practice because mentors in Fundamental circles pointed them in that direction. Consequently, those pastors will lead their congregations down that road. We will see churches that were once known as a “Baptist” church undergo an overhaul. The overhaul will reveal itself when a new sign that reads Metropolis “Community” Church replaces the sign that once read Metropolis “Baptist” Church.

The promotion of men like Piper and MacArthur without serious cautions has been one of my chief concerns with what is happening across the Fundamental(ism) landscape. My fear is that as these men are continually held up as examples, (with so few clear or no cautions) some of our young people are going to follow their examples right up to, and maybe beyond, organizing and cooperating in events like the Resolved Conference.

If men like Piper and MacArthur, who do not consistently practice biblical separation, are presented as though they are doctrinally sound, then we should not be surprised when we begin to see young fundamentalists jettison the practice of biblical separation.

When young people are handed books by Piper and MacArthur I think we are kidding ourselves if we believe the young people will simply appreciate the books and steer clear of the behavior and indiscretion issues. Our young people will pick up on and adopt both the theology and practices of MacArthur, Piper or worse. An analogy from child rearing is I believe appropriate here: What you allow for in moderation, the children will take to extremes.”

If and when that day comes we are going to look back on these days and realize we showed our young people the bridge and opened the way for them to cross over to New Evangelicalism.


In the SI thread take a moment to locate read these comments I posted: p. 14, post #97; p. 17, post #’s 116,117, & 118.)

I also strongly encourage you to locate and read Bob Topartzer’s comments. He has an excellent way of defining and summing up issues. You will Bob’s comments in the thread on pages: 5, post #35; p. 8, post #52; p. 14, post #93; p. 18, post #120; p. 19, post #127