John Piper

The Glory of God Leads Piper Astray

by Dave on February 19, 2012

in General, Theology

The younger Piper has posted about the Jeremy Lin phenomenon.  While I don’t have a problem with a basketball player being a Christian, here is an example of how the Calvinist stance in the world of seeking the “glory of god” goes astray.  I could not post a reply on his site, but was able to post this reply on Justin Taylor’s blog.

Barnabas Piper was onto something, but then he went wrong.

Yes, he was totally right that it is OK for people to compete while supporting the dignity of their opponents. He says “The truest forms of competition are not those which seek to humiliate another person or self-aggrandize.” I was on board with this.

He starts to go wrong with the attitude saying “But tension does not correlate to contradiction.” I believe Barnabas is now pushing the envelope, because a tension necessarily means that there is a tension, that there is friction, that there is a problem here or at least the warning signs of a problem. But Barnabas says no to that.

The pinnacle of the error comes at the end

“He is required to pursue excellence in the profession of basketball. Excellence is what all followers of Christ are called to pursue no matter the endeavor. God gave us talents and we are called to use them – for his glory, not our own.”

Really. Christians are supposed to be excellent no matter the endeavor? Clearly Barnabas would not support your endeavor being abortions, right? Or how about it being killing? Or, let’s say, misleading people with bad theology?

If using our talents in this world to their fullest is excellence regardless of the endeavor glorifies god then you have one sick god.

The endeavor is the thing that identifies alignment with god, not the outcome. Barnabas misses the boat.

What I see time and again is that this orientation around seeking to glorify god routinely ends up being a way to glorify the follower.  Barnabas is not right on this.

Having said all of that, I have nothing against Lin playing basketball, if he plays fair.  But to say his playing is something that promotes the glory of god misses all the things that Jesus said about who is blessed and who is not.  Barnabas Piper is wrongheaded in this.

Using our talents for to their fullest glorifies us.  Using our talents to promote god’s purposes glorifies god.

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As I said in the previous post, I started out with McKnight.  I am a big fan of Scot now and his Blue Parakeet is in keeping with my high expectation for him.  However, his book is only in printed form whereas the Piper apologetic is in audio.  So while I am halfway through with Scot’s Parakeet, I have finished Piper and am on the second time through.

Initial Thoughts on Piper’s Wright Rebuttal

I am greatly enjoying Piper’s work.  With each succeeding chapter he further convinces me of the insights of N.T. Wright.  I must say that Piper seems to continue to rely on the fact that Christianity has taught it differently as his most obvious tactic to dissuading the reader of Wright’s right.  But it just further emboldens me to find the meaning in Wright and see the folly in Piper.  Too bad.

It is a good thing, however.  I feel that I am learning more about Wright and his views by facing the critical arguments in Piper’s book.  His view of justification seems quaint to me now.  Almost like he believes in magic and refuses to let his belief in magic sway his view even though we have been shown how the tricks are done.  I have to listen to it at least once more this week then will start back into my not Tom Wright book.

Thoughts on Scot McKnight’s Blue Parakeet

My wife and I are fairly well read when it comes to different worldviews and different views on religion.  Both of us love to come across a new concept on a way to view the fundamental nature of the world and a new way to look at life.

I showed my wife Scot’s book today and had her read part of it, and she had her typical comment , “nothing that I have not heard before”.  And to me, that is the brilliance in Scot’s book.

Scot presents a clear and articulate concept of the relationship of the bible to our life today.  He goes right for the difficult subjects and deals with them in a way that almost all of us would say that his thoughts make sense.  But the issue comes when many read the conclusions and realize that his making sense leads to conclusions that are outside of the current paradigm of belief.  Way to go Scot!

I am more than halfway through, but cannot wait to get to the end, read it again, and try and get others to read it.  Enjoying a lot.


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We all have those days when we suddenly get the urge to read and all the books out there look ripe for the picking.  A couple days ago I realized that there are two from some of my favorite people that I have not read so first, I went for Scot McKnight’s “The Blue Parakeet – Rethinking How You Read the Bible“.  I spend more time on the Jesus Creed blog (which is Scot’s blog) than any other single place on the internet.  I love his posts, the variety of people in conversation, and just about everything about that site.  So I am looking forward to this one, it is long overdue.

Next, I continue to round out my N.T. Wright Collection.  So far I have read “Jesus and the Victory of God”, “Simply Christian”, and “Paul in Fresh Perspective”.  Tom Wright is absolutely my favorite theologian, period.  So this time I went for “Surprised by Hope – Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.”  I didn’t even realize until I was just writing this up the similarity in the subtitles to Scot and Tom’s books.  I guess I was in the mood for some rethinking.

Lastly, I realized that I have not read any John Piper books.  The reason I have never read anything of his is that he is a Calvinist and I am quite certain that I would not agree with much he has to say.  But one never learns unless we push the envelope so I got John Piper’s “The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright” (I bought it on audio, my preferred method for reading these days).  I think it is obvious why I picked that one.  Let’s give it a try.

So I am going to start with the Blue Parakeet, ready for a good day.

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