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Author Topic: What are your thoughs on John Piper?  (Read 5802 times)
outdeep
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« on: September 28, 2007, 03:27:39 pm »

I have never read a whole book or listened to a whole sermon by John Piper.  I haven't given him a fair chance.  The little I tried, he seemed to vacillate between proof-texting and highly-emotional appeal both of which was a turn off due to my, well, past.  (As a side note, I walked right past his church in Minneapolis on a Sunday morning and would have gone in had I known he was the pastor there. Undecided)

Nevertheless, I know many who think highly of him because he doesn't write marshmallow devotionals and, well, he is one of the few reformed preachers that actually have wide appeal among Evangelicals.

His Book Seeing and Savoring Christ is one he is giving away for $1 to those who want to use it for an outreach.  When I was researching it on Amazon, it got many five stars.  There was one comment that stood out to me because it reflects the issues we deal with.  What do you think of the comment and how has been your reaction to John Piper's ministry?

This is a general comment on Piper's books and ministry. I deeply appreciate the work of John Piper--especially his emphasis on missions and on living God-centered, Christ-exalting lives of worship. And I am Augustinian, so I love Piper's theology and am thrilled that he has become so popular. But I do want to provide a warning. Piper's main emphasis is (and you'll read this over and over again) "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"--or when we "savor" Him or "delight" in Him. (You can tell from the titles of his books that Piper uses numerous terms to describe this same principle.) This is a biblical and wonderful proposition that Piper became aware of through the writings of Jonathan Edwards. And to Edwards, this was one small part of his theology.  But Piper has taken this idea, which he calls "Christian Hedonism," and built his whole life and ministry around it. The problem is that if you read enough Piper, you will begin to focus on the FEELING of being delighted in Christ, rather than on Christ Himself. And when your feelings don't match what you want them to be, you will become disheartened. (And let's face it, few of us have the emotional intensity of John Piper.) At that point, your feelings (of being delighted in God) become the object of your desires and, thus, an idol. Yes, they are feelings TOWARD God--but those feelings are NOT GOD. And when the focus of your life has become your emotions, it has deceptively become an idol.  I know Piper fights against this tendency. But I'm afraid he is often unsuccessful. The fact is, the Christian life is not going to be one of unending joy in God. Read the Psalms to see how often the psalmists cry out in agony and desperation and sadness to the Lord. Read Romans 7 to find out how tough and discouraging the Christian life can really be.  According to Piper, our happiness in God should be the driving motivation in our life. But when Christians are inevitably not overflowing with delight in God, then under Piper's framework, the only soluton is to seek that feeling of joy rather than just do our duty. There are times when duty and obligation (which Piper hates) are the only motivations for the Christian to be obedient and live a life of faith. I agree wholeheartedly with Piper that delight in God is a much better motivation for the Christian than duty. But when that delight is not there, we still must be faithful and obedient, and we can't always wait on our feelings to drive us on toward the prize. (I suppose one of the reasons Piper has become so popular is the fascination we post-modern people have with our own feelings and subjective experiences.) Read Piper's books. And enjoy his passionate and Christ-exalting preaching. But beware and repent when your emotions--rather than the Triune God Himself--become the focus of your life.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2007, 03:29:11 pm by Dave Sable » Logged
EricFoy
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2007, 08:45:57 am »

Wow.

Sounds to me like this commentator has nailed a key point.  I know absolutely nothing about Piper, so I can in no way offer any validation to his comments, but it certainly appears to me that this person has a clue about the ebb and flow of life's circumstances and emotional dimensions when one walks with God.

I like to borrow a term from the field of navigation to describe what I think he is talking about.  In navigation, it's all about taking readings from known landmarks or celestial bodies, compass readings, your past progress, and elapsed time; and from these data, calculating your current position.  Sometimes, when you want to know where you are, you have no fixes on any known positions, so you employ a technique called "dead reckoning."  You determine your best estimate of current position based on your last known position, combined with your history of heading and velocity since that point.  This is dead reckoning.  I like this because it reminds me that when I look for God where I expect to find Him and He's not there, or I just can't see Him, one thing I need to do is to "reckon myself dead" (but alive in Christ, of course).  This then leads me to recount the places God has taken me in the past; the places where God really met me and met my need; the places I have been where God was there too.  Then I can look clearly at which way I have been heading since the last time I saw Him - my last navigational fix, if you will.  And before you know it - there He is!

More than just an allegory, this process is a very objective analysis that helps me to cut through all of the emotional aspects of how I might feel about my current circumstance.  I can perform this analysis whether I'm "stoked in the Lord," crying out in anguish, or just feeling kind of generally bummed.  Dead reckoning is, for me, an absolutely essential part of walking with God.
______________________
Please note that what I'm talking about is not the same thing as "getting S outta there and moving C to the center," if you know what I mean - and I think you do.  I'm not talking about extinguishing my Self, or putting Self down, or suppressing Self.  This was a bunch of stuff that was taught to us in the assembly with an improper emphasis on things like conformity to someone else's preconceived idea of godliness, among other wrong ideas.

-Eric
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vernecarty
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2007, 03:54:40 pm »

One man's "emotional appeal" is another man's passion  Smiley
Piper is a very able Biblical scholar and certainly does not need to base his argument on mere passion for him to be effecive in my view.
I think it is interesting that the church in the last days is described as being "luke-warm" so perhaps a little passion in the things of God is not all that bad eh?

On another note I have been taking a few minutes to catch up on the latest on the BBs and was astonished to read somewhere an argument that contends that God does not send anyone to hell.
Isn't it remarkable how many professing Christians are so woefully ignorant of what their Bible plainly teaches?
Perhaps some folk simply reject what is plainly written as it does not fit their philosophical agenda. How strange!

  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
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