John Piper and Christian hedonism, does this bother anyone else?

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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Greetings:

Mr. McFadden:

I fail to see how my statement questions Dr. John Piper's salvation. In fact my statement says just the opposite:

I believe that Dr. John Piper is a Christian.
Would you mind presenting your thinking on this matter?

Blessings,

Rob

Rob,

As I said, maybe I'm just getting cranky in my old age. My thinking is that when someone decades younger with far less credentials and proven track record for ministry effectiveness utters the words, "I think that X is a Christian," it hits me as terribly offputting. Sortof like "I think that Calvin was an "adequate" exegete." Who am I to sit in judgment of any of these guys?

On the PB (in my opinion), Grudem, Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, et. al., frequently get treated with less than the adequate respect due them for their age, experience, and productivity. It always amazes me that some of us who have never penned a book in our lives, whose claim to fame consists of a bunch of postings on the PB or our own blog, deign to wax so omnicompetent in dismissing the work of people who have actually DONE something for the kingdom and done it faithfully with records over three, four, or more decades of service!

I will disagree with Grudem on a host of issues. But, man, how many hundreds of thousands of copies of his Sys Theo are there now anyway? Does any modern writer have numbers to compare with the impact he has had on college and seminary generations through his writing? And, while many of us on the PB can show our litany of doctrinal complaints with him, who has done as much for the cause of complementarianism and against egalitarianism on this kind of scale? Similarly, Piper holds to a 5pt. soteriology and has helped win young people to the cause in droves. Sproul has been cited by David Murray at PRTS as the one person, along with Pink, who caused more people to turn to Reformed theology than anyone else. Yet, he is often treated to dismissive postings on the PB.

Am I arguing for a "see no evil, hear no evil" approach? Not at all! My spiritual gift, it would seem, is criticism. There is nothing wrong with respectful analysis. However, when I read the umpteenth thread with a question, "Is X even a Christian," or "I think that so and so is a Christian," my meltdown begins.

Rob, part of it relates to my just finishing a course on historical theology and realizing the amazing breadth of convictions that have been characteristic of those who have named the name "Christian" over the last two millennia. In the larger picture, Piper, Grudem, Sproul, Keller, and even MacArthur are part of a very conservative Calvinistic camp that represent an exceedingly small slice of the Christian movement. To treat any of them as if we need to vouch for their salvation by our own judgment, strikes me as impertinent, arrogant, and bizarre in its ignoring of the larger picture of the Christian movement. To me, and in the broader context, ALL of them are the good guys, not the enemy.

If any of us were in the evangelistic "foxhole" up against a smart agnostic, Islamist, Hindu, or Buddhist, we would be blessed beyond measure to have any of these guys in the "foxhole" with us.

Rob, please don't take my rant too personally. My complaint is a generic one about how we treat those on our side when we register disagreements with them. And, it relates to the issue mentioned yesterday about the need to show some respect for those who are not only older than us, but who have actually forged impressive records of service (much of it sacrificial) for the cause of Christ.
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
As for whether Piper's writings are "Christian," this also falls under the rubric of my general complaints in the last post. How are we using the term "Christian." Like the famous Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride, I protest: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Since when is a popularization of Edwardsian Calvinism, arguably the greatest Christian philosopher/theologian ever born on American soil, not "Christian"? I'm reminded of the arguments with the pro-abort crowd on the meaning of the "product of conception" in the womb. If not a baby, what is it, a frog?

Can we stipulate that confessional Calvinists may take exception to the writings of dispensationalists, old earthers, charismatic-leaners, supralapsarians, sublapsarians, theonomists, Kyperians, Klineans, Van Tillians, non observers of the RPW, etc. without questioning either their salvation or whether their writings are "Christian"? What are they, Buddhist? Jewish? Hindu? Animist?

It is one thing to challenge the Christianity of non-supernaturalist liberals; it is quite another to turn our heavy artillery on those who hold to inerrancy, orthodox Christology, 5 pt. Calvinist soteriology, etc.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
I disagree with Piper on a lot of issues but refuse to throw rocks at him. He is miles ahead of me in intellect, scholarship, and experiential Christianity.

The Christian Hedonism always seems like a lightning rod with Piper. I wished he had never proffered it. However, it hardly means what some of you think it means -- I think.

Piper is a Dan Fuller/C.S. Lewis/Jonathan Edwards fanatic. His Christian hedonism is an attempt to reframe Edwardsian Calvinism for a new generation. You can fault him for selecting Edwards or for his execution of the translation of Edwards into our context. But, asking whether of not he is a Christian is beyond the pale, in my opinion.

Piper did his B.A. at Wheaton, his M.Div. at the school which must not be named in Pasadena, and his doctorate under Leonhard Goppelt in Munich. His work on the sovereignty of God (Romans 9), his advocacy of imputation, his upholding of justification against N.T. Wright, his willingness to speak up to Rob Bell, and many more controversial positions have exemplified standing on the side of God and the angels and against the grain of the culture. Yes, he is a Baptist with charismatic leanings. No, he would not qualify to be on the PB and (to my knowledge) does not hold to any of the major Reformed Confessions. However, the last time I checked that does not disqualify him from heaven.

Why is it we are so willing to excoriate persons with whom we have relatively small theological disagreements? Some on this board are willing to call anything but 6 day creation a heresy. Yet, our own PB historical theologian, Dr. Clark, wrote a book bemoaning what he calls the quest for illegitimate religious certainty (QIRC) = "the movement to make six day, twenty-four interpretation (hereafter 6/24) of Genesis 1 a mark of Reformed orthodoxy, theonomy, and covenant moralism" (41). Does that make Dr. Clark a heretic?

Come on folks! Disagree with Piper, Grudem, Westminster E or W, theonomy, baptism, the specific interpretation of Gen 1-2, charismatic leanings, CT vs. TR, John Frame, KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, the Three Forms of Unity vs. the Westminster Standards vs. the 1689 LBCF, Exclusive Psalmody, the North Galatian vs. the South Galatian theory, Marcan priority, supralapsarianism vs. infralapsarianism, the PCA vs. the OPC, etc. Hey, you can even write a book about it.

But, PLEASE don't play the "do you think that he is saved" card at the drop of a hat.

I am glad you said this. All of it. So, the reason I even brought up the issue of Warren's salvation is because I was going to use it as a platform from which to launch a gripe about all that you clarified better than I could frame in own words. I believe it is okay to disagree the likes of Piper and Warren, but to dismiss them as irrelevant is not right! Heretics we dismiss. With Christians we fellowship. Don't get me wrong. I will probably never read a book by Warren. But I am not going to through him under the bus.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Jon,

I owe you an apology and tender it here. You were correct; I jumped the gun on analysis, defaulting to my "pet peeve" about overly broad criticisms of conservative Christian leaders. It was wrong of me to misread your intention, incorrectly lumping you into that class. I saw the question, combined it with all too many past aspersions against Christian leaders posted here on the PB, and over-reacted.

Please forgive me for this hurtful stupidity on my part.

You were very gracious to write me a PM. However, since I wrote in the light of day, you deserve a public apology for a public offense. Thank you for your Christian graciousness.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
Jon,

I owe you an apology and tender it here. You were correct; I jumped the gun on analysis, defaulting to my "pet peeve" about overly broad criticisms of conservative Christian leaders. It was wrong of me to misread your intention, incorrectly lumping you into that class. I saw the question, combined it with all too many past aspersions against Christian leaders posted here on the PB, and over-reacted.

Please forgive me for this hurtful stupidity on my part.

You were very gracious to write me a PM. However, since I wrote in the light of day, you deserve a public apology for a public offense. Thank you for your Christian graciousness.

No offense taken, brutha-man.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Greetings:

Thank you, Mr. McFadden, for your clarification. If you will allow me the same courtesy in replying? If you investigate my post above, then you will see that I heavily criticize Dr. Piper's doctrine. In no way was I seeking to question his faith in Jesus Christ. The statement was also an expression of respect which you seem to think that he deserved. Which is why I made the statement which you are so offended by. I did not wish for this discussion to boil down to personalities - which it appears to me that is precisely what you want to do:

"John Piper has done much good for the Kingdom of God, therefore who are you to criticize him?" Is how you are coming across. If Piper is teaching the truth, then he has nothing to fear from criticism, and those who follow him should have no fear of criticism of his doctrines either. There is a very real Biblical example that soundly addresses your concern:

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so, Acts 17:10,11.
The Bereans did not accept Paul's word simply because he was an apostle, "and has done much good for the Kingdom." But they searched the Scriptures to verify if the words spoken by Paul were true. Luke, Paul, and the Scriptures all call the Bereans "noble" because they searched the Scriptures.

The right response to my post would be to investigate what I have written and ask two questions: 1) Did I rightly and fairly represent Dr. Piper's doctrine on the matters presented, and, 2) Did I rightly interpret and apply Scripture to these doctrines?

If I am right on both points, then I am doing a service to the Kingdom of God by pointing out false doctrine taught by a popular personality. I am certainly open to any criticism of the post above, but to criticize me based on personality and, "who has done more for the Kingdom of God" argument is not right. It may turn out that my "widow's mite" may be more profitable to the Kingdom than all of Piper's books. I will let God be the judge of that. The point is that we should not be making such judgments at all, and the argument you make comes straight from Rome.

Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Edwards, and others have had their problems, and that it true. But they never made the sustained and serious blunders concerning the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Piper has made. Piper does not even interpret Edwards rightly! So, I am not impressed by your "historical theology" argument. (By the way, did you guys use Cunningham?)

Anyway, your post(s) have done more to deflect the discussion away from doctrine to personalities, and, in that, I believe you have done a great disservice to the Board.

Blessings in Jesus,

Rob
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Rob,

1. no
2. no
I don't feel a need to impress you. You speculate that your criticism "may be more profitable to the Kingdom than all of Piper's books"? Wow! That is breathtaking.
I'm content leaving it to our Master to decide if you are doing His kingdom a service.
I'm sorry you consider my efforts a disservice. I'll just have to live with it.

[Note to Admins: I'm opting out of this discussion now lest I only add heat rather than light and create problems for you all later.]
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I personally have had a problem with Piper since he started endorsing Rick Warren, let alone Mark Driscoll. I have pretty much dismissed him as not being relevant as I do most "shock jock" type of preachers.

Don't forget Doug Wilson, and Shepherdites like Daniel Fuller (whom he calls the most influential person in his life, after his father).
 
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