The Critical Question For Our Generation: Piper on Heaven & the Satisfying Presence of Christ

I came across the following quote from John Piper recently and felt it needed to be passed along.  I realize that this is a well known quote from Piper, but it is timely in my own life and ministry.  Piper challenges both the believer and their shepherd.

The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

He goes on to challenge Christian ministers and preachers:

And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question and answer with a resounding No? How do we understand the gospel and the love of God? Have we shifted with eh world from God’s love as the gift of himself to God’s love as the gift of a mirror in which we like what we see? Have we presented the gospel in such a way that he gift of the glory of God in the face of Christ is marginal rather than central and ultimate? . . .

Can we really say that our people are being prepared for heaven where Christ himself, not his gifts, will be the supreme pleasure? And if our people are unfit for that, will they even go there? Is not the faith that takes us to heaven the foretaste of the feat of Christ? . . .

Nothing fits a person to be more useful on earth than to be more ready for heaven.  This is true because readiness for heaven means taking pleasure in beholding the Lord Jesus, and beholding the glory of the Lord means being changed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). Nothing would bless this world more than more people who are more like Christ. For in likeness to Christ the world might see Christ.

-John Piper, God is the Gospel: Meditations of God’s Love As the Gift of Himself, 15-16.

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson – Bibliology 10

“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 1
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 2
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 3 
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 4
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 5 
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 6
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 7
“Christian Theology”: Blogging Through Erickson – Theology Proper 8

For More on Erickson:
Blogizomai – Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology – The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai – Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai – On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai – Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai – Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
Blogizomai – The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Blogizomai – Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Blogizomai – Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
Blogizomai – A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question – Part 2
Blogizoami – Grudem on the Problems With Denying Inerrancy
Blogizomai – Inerrancy and the Early Church
Blogizomai – Divine Simplicity: Theology Proper For Liberals & Calvinists
Blogizomai – The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy – Introduction
Blogizomai – The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy – Scriptural Foundations
Blogizomai –The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy – Scriptural Challenges
Blogizomai – “Their God is Too Small”: A Review
Blogizomai – Tozer on Holiness  
Blogizomai – “Knowing God”: A Review

For more on Theology Proper:
Blogizomai – Does God Suffer?: Aquinas on Divine Impassibility
Blogizomai – Repost | Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Introduction (Part 1)
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Scriptural Foundation (Part 2)
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Scriptural Challenges (Part 3)
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Theological Challenges (Part 4)
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Practical Implications (Part 5) 
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Theological Applications (Part 6)
Theology – The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy – Theodicy & God’s Sovereignty (Part 7)
GBC – Luther, Depression, and the Sovereignty of God  
GBC – MacDonald on the Sovereignty of God 
GBC – Charles Hodge on Sovereignty 
GBC – God’s Sovereignty Defined:  AW Pink on God’s Sovereignty 
Theology –  Jim Wallis & Open Theology 
Reviews – “Process Theology
Sermon Podcast – October 10, 2010 – God is Sovereign
Sermon Podcast – April 26, 2010 – The Immutability of God
Blogizomai – God’s Many Names?: Emergent Pluralism in the Extreme
Theology – Orthopraxy is Rooted in Orthodoxy – The Postmodern Return to Rome

For more:
Blogizomai – “Salvation Brings Imitation”: Piper on Christus Exemplar
Blogizomai – Did You Hear?: Piper Interviews Warren
Blogizomai – John Piper on His Support of Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment
Blogizomai – Piper: 15 Things to Consider about Abortion
Blogizomai – “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper
Blogizomai – Repost | “Thinking. Loving. Doing.” by John Piper & David Mathis
Blogizomai – Theology Thursday | Piper On Hellless Preaching

Repost | Proclaiming a Christ-Centered Theology

In honor of this week’s Together for the Gospel conference, here is a review of one of the books that was published in light of the conference.

I have had the blessing of attending the Together for the Gospel conference both in 2006 and 2008 and have signed up to go in 2010. The sermons/lectures have been excellent each year and I continue to go back and listen to them (even the panel discussions) and I continue to learn from these great men of God.

After the conference, the talks were put into book form and recently the talks from the 2008 conference were published in a book called, “Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology.” For those at the conference, there isn’t much that is new here. Although the chapter by Greg Gilbert in the middle of the book (who was not one of the speakers at the conference) was new, that is about it. But each chapter gave insights into some important subjects.

Perhaps the two chapters I found most interesting were written by John MacArthur and R. Albert Mohler, Jr. MacArthur wrote his chapter on depravity and Mohler wrote his on substitutionary atonement. What I found most interesting about both of them is how timely they are. As one who has studied extensively the Emerging Church and postmodern theology, these books were very insightful and important.

But each chapter was its own blessings. Piper’s reminder that all those who follow Christ will suffer was both challenging and encouraging. Sproul’s chapter on the curse motif in Scripture was insightful and oftentimes something that pastors and amateur theologians all too often overlook.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and that was a bit of a surprise. I almost didn’t pick it up because I had heard all of the chapters before. You can download them online for goodness sakes! But I was grateful nonetheless that I picked it up. The chapters and the book itself was something I needed. I encourage everyone to pick it up and read it and enjoy it. Be challenged and encouraged by it. And hopefully, I will see you next year at T4TG 2010.

For More:

Repost | Pinata Theology: Ignore the Issue and Swing at the Distraction – What Piper Has Taught Us About the Church

Perhaps people are aware of the recent firestorm in the theological and Christan blogosphere regarding John Piper’s comments about the tornado that struck a church where the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) was meeting. The ELCA was discussing and debating the issue of homosexuality among their clergy. At the end of the discussion/debate, they chose to allow homosexuals to be ordained in their denomination. The firestorm has come, not regarding the ELCA decision, but regarding what John Piper, well-known author and pastor, said in response to the tornado that struck the building:

The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

The reactions to Piper’s words have been striking. Piper is being compared to a Pat Robertson who repeatedly warns of coming natural disaster upon those who vote against teaching intelligent design in school and destruction for those who promote immorality. Perhaps some of the strongest language has come from Emergent Village leader Tony Jones who although champions civility, inclusivism, openness, and ambiguity, is rather harsh, closed-minded, hateful, and straight-to-the-point:

So yesterday, John Piper once again entered crazy-television-evangelist territory and blamed a small tornado that jumped over Minneapolis and toppled a steeple on Central Lutheran Church on the fact that the ELCA delegate were down the street discussing whether to welcome practicing homosexuals into the clergy. He even implies in his post that the lack of warning by the National Weather Service shows that God cooked up this twister with her his pinky at the last minute . . .

My question is this: Where is Christianity Today? Where is Tim Keller? Where are the presidents of Dallas Seminary or Wheaton College? Where is J.I. Packer, Collin Hansen, or Darrell Bock?

These people and institutions will gladly editorialize against liberals and emergents, happily write editorials against open theists or pro-choice Christians. But will they call out John Piper?

Christianity Today mentioned Piper’s post in an online news piece about the the ELCA convention. And I can guess, knowing some of them, that they find Piper’s interpretation of the whirlwind something between laughable and odious. But will they, or anyone in the Evangelical intelligentsia, finally say that John Piper is outside of mainstream evangelicalism?

I doubt it.

Where is postmodern tolerance when you need it? I will not defend or attack Piper and his comments, for that is not the purpose of this post. I will say that the one quote given above and used by opponents of Piper is only one small paragraph in Piper’s entire article. But nonetheless, the words, by themselves, do seem rather shocking and Pat Robertson-ish. Since the firestorm from blogosphere, especially among Emergents, Piper has responded explaining what he was trying to say:

Three years ago God sent the tornado of cancer into my life. It split the steeple of my health and shredded the tents of my sexual life. I wrote an article to myself: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. It could have been titled: Don’t waste your tornado. God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs . .

That is the message of every calamity (Luke 13:1-5). And every sunny day (Romans 2:4).

I said to myself three years ago: God’s design in the tornado of this cancer is “to deepen my love for Christ…and to wean me off the breast of the world.” It aims to make my besetting sins look less attractive than they ever have.

This tornado “is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.” In other words, the cancer-tornado was a merciful rebuke to my worldliness and a timely thrust toward holiness.

This is the lesson that Luke 13:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 4:17-18; 12:9-10, and many other texts imply for every tornado in any city, and any life, anywhere in the world. Only the details change.

My tornado was a call to repentance. Yours will be too. But that is not Satan’s design. Only God’s. Satan’s design is that you approve your sin. God’s is that you let him forgive it and overcome it.

To me, this clears things up a little bit, but don’t expect the rants of persons like Jones to cease. Jones as a vendetta against Piper for reasons that go beyond his apparent declaration that God is judging the ELCA. Jones is the polar opposite of Piper theologically and stands contrary to everything that Piper believes in. In my opinion, Jones, and others like him, saw an easy opportunity to attack persons like Piper and took it.

At the end of the day, I think Dean Denny Burk of Boyce College has raised the most important issue. He writes:

What are we to make of all this? What concerns me most about Piper’s “evangelical” critics is that the direction of their outrage indicates that something is askew in their priorities. There appears to be little concern about the fact that an entire denomination has just taken a public stand against the Bible and 2,000 years of unanimous Christian teaching. There is scarcely a cross word about the fact that the ELCA Lutherans are walking away from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, the critics are offended by Piper. Moreover, the offended have responded with what amounts to a lot of ugly mud-slinging—the very kind of stumbling-block to unbelievers that Emergents say they wish to avoid.

I have to say that I think Tony Jones and company and even Greg Boyd have not read Piper’s original article very charitably. Piper never claimed to account for all of God’s motives in this calamity, nor has Piper claimed the punishment of unfaithful Lutherans to be God’s singular motive in the Minneapolis storm. Those who read Piper in this way have missed the point.

Piper is merely applying Jesus’ words about calamities to a current calamity. Jesus did in fact teach that God uses seemingly random calamities to remind all of us of our need for repentance. That truth applies to John Piper’s cancer three years ago, it applies to Denny Burk’s car accident last November, and it applies to Lutherans meeting in Minneapolis this week. As Piper said in the original article, the warning applies to “all of us.” That truth should not be controversial among evangelicals. God help us that it is.

Burk is right. The real outrage isn’t Piper’s reflection on the events surrounding the ELCA, but the decision made by the ELCA itself. Rather than deal with the issue and what it says about their faith in the gospel, many have rather turned to Piper into a theological pinata. It is these sort of distractions that Emergents and Jesus-loving liberals claim to have moved beyond, and yet the minute they get the chance, they begin swinging at their next target.

The real issue here isn’t Piper’s comments, Jones and company’s rants, but how the blogosphere has completely missed the point here. At least Piper understands the necessity of repentance as foundational to the gospel. Rather than speak of repentance of sin and condemning the actions taken by the ELCA, the theological left has chosen to keep swing at whoever they deem worthy or their bats.

What is really appalling is the complete lackadaisical attitude towards the gospel. While the gospel is being assault, persons like Jones couldn’t care less. But then again, what else should we expect. By categorically denying the gospel itself, as Jones and others like him have, no wonder the only thing they find newsworthy here is what that modernistic, right-wing, Calvinistic baboon said about the tornado.

God help the future of the Church!

For More:
John Piper – The Tornado, The Lutherans, and Homosexuality
John Piper – Clarifying the Tornado
Denny Burk – A Second Tornado in Minneapolis
Tony Jones – Who Will Call Out John Piper?
Christianity Today – ELCA Assembly: Was God in Either Whirlwind?
Greg Boyd – Did God Send a Tornado to Warn the ELCA?
Scot McKnight – The Minneapolis Tornado and John Piper
The Pains Project – The Toddler, The Discharge, and The Humidity
Notes From the Center – the tornado to stop the “gays”

The Critical Question For Our Generation: Piper on Heaven & the Satisfying Presence of Christ

I came across the following quote from John Piper recently and felt it needed to be passed along.  I realize that this is a well known quote from Piper, but it is timely in my own life and ministry.  Piper challenges both the believer and their shepherd.

The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

He goes on to challenge Christian ministers and preachers:

And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question and answer with a resounding No? How do we understand the gospel and the love of God? Have we shifted with eh world from God’s love as the gift of himself to God’s love as the gift of a mirror in which we like what we see? Have we presented the gospel in such a way that he gift of the glory of God in the face of Christ is marginal rather than central and ultimate? . . .

Can we really say that our people are being prepared for heaven where Christ himself, not his gifts, will be the supreme pleasure? And if our people are unfit for that, will they even go there? Is not the faith that takes us to heaven the foretaste of the feat of Christ? . . .

Nothing fits a person to be more useful on earth than to be more ready for heaven.  This is true because readiness for heaven means taking pleasure in beholding the Lord Jesus, and beholding the glory of the Lord means being changed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). Nothing would bless this world more than more people who are more like Christ. For in likeness to Christ the world might see Christ.

-John Piper, God is the Gospel: Meditations of God’s Love As the Gift of Himself, 15-16.

For more:
Blogizomai – “Salvation Brings Imitation”: Piper on Christus Exemplar
Blogizomai – Did You Hear?: Piper Interviews Warren
Blogizomai – John Piper on His Support of Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment
Blogizomai – Piper: 15 Things to Consider about Abortion
Blogizomai – “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper
Blogizomai – Repost | “Thinking. Loving. Doing.” by John Piper & David Mathis
Blogizomai – Theology Thursday | Piper On Hellless Preaching

Piper & Wilson: A Fascinating Conversation

At the recent Desiring God conference, John Piper and Doug Wilson had a 2 hour conversation about all kinds of matters and is well worth your investment.

http://www.desiringgod.org/player.js?embedCode=o2cnJmMzo-zW_hEw-8iKcaBKVkNk-qYg&deepLinkEmbedCode=o2cnJmMzo-zW_hEw-8iKcaBKVkNk-qYg&width=480&height=360

HT: Justin Taylor

For more:
Blogizomai – Wilson & Driscoll: On Masculinity, Spiritual Gifts, & Ministry
Blogizomai – Collision: An Important Documentary about Faith & Atheism
Blogizomai – Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Blogizomai – Did You Hear?: Piper Interviews Warren

Piper: 15 Things to Consider about Abortion

Some helpful thesis’ from John Piperon this Sanctity of Life Sunday:


1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is still legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasounds have given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, and responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast, the disadvantaged, and yhe exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15. Jesus Christ can forgive all sins and will give all who trust in him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

The Resurgence15 Things to Consider about Abortion

For more:
Blogizomai – An Important Read:  The Ongoing Change in the Abortion Debate  
Blogizomai – Are Ultrasounds Enough?  The Centeredness of the Sanctity of Life in the Abortion Debate 
Blogizomai – Repost | Public Opinion & Truth: Do Opinion Polls Determine Morality?
Blogizomai – Repost | The Good News of the Annunciation: Why Pro-Life Christians Should Celebrate the Annunciation
Blogizomai – Repost | Can One Be Pro-Life and Support Abortion?: A Serious Argument is Foolishly Proposed
Blogizomai – Bella Makes Everything Better: Santorum’s Down Syndrome Child
Blogizomai – Repost Friday | 99 Balloons: Finding God’s Grace in Life’s Tragedies
Blogizomai – The Other 10%    
Blogizomai – The Question of Infanticide:  The “House of Horrors” & the Debate Over Life 
Blogizomai – “When You Bring Your Baby Home:”  Infanticide and Arbitrary Definitions of Life
Blogizomai – What To Do With An Abortion Survivor:  Italy, Infanticide, and Secular Moral Confusion 
Blogizomai – “Badly Botched” Abortion:  Another Way of Saying Infanticide and Murder
Blogizomai – Are Ultrasounds Enough:  The Centeredness of the Sacredness of Life in the Abortion Debate
Blogizomai – The Threat of Trig Palin:  The Return of Life Worthy of Life
Blogizomai – Which Will We Choose?:  The Theology of Death or the Theology of Life – Peter Singer, Evolution, & the Ethics of Human 
Blogizomai – From White Sheets to White Coats:  Abortion and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights  
Blogizomai – Eugenics in the Present Tense: Eugenics in America Today – Part 1
Blogizomai – Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today – Part 2
Blogizomai – Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today – Part 3
Blogizomai – A Letter & Gift From God: Palin’s Letter On Trig & the Challenge of Down Syndrome
Blogizomai – On Why Darwin Still Matters
Blogizomai – Mohler: The Death Culture Strikes Again
Blogizomai – Mohler: A Threat to the Disabled . . . and to Us All
Blogizomai – Mohler: The Rise of Infanticide?
Blogizomai – Colson: The March of Death
Blogizomai – Hitler Is Alive And Well: Repeating the Mistakes of the Past
Blogizomai – Colson: Deadly Trend
Blogizomai – The Lust For Blood: The Culture of Death and Infanticide
Blogizomai – “Freedom is Dead, And We are It’s Murderers” – Nietzsche Was Almost Right
Blogizomai – Colson: What Would Darwin Advise?
Blogizomai – A Return to Rome: When Death Becomes Entertainment
Blogizomai – Colson: Thirty Pints of BloodWhere the Logic of The Culture of Death Will Take Us
Blogizomai – Euthanasia: A Good Death?
Blogizomai – Albert Mohler: That Was Then . . . This is Now? A Nazi Nightmare
Blogizomai – Repost | Mephibosheth and the Sanctity of the Disable: God’s Glory In the Face of Deformity

Repost | "Thinking. Loving. Doing." by John Piper & David Mathis

Reading books based on a conference are tricky.  If you were at the conference and you enjoyed the event and all of the talks, then you will more than likely enjoy the book that follows.  For example, I have attended each Together for the Gospel conferences, have enjoyed each talk, and have enjoyed the books that followed each conference.  But the most recently edited book by John Piper (and David Mathis along with him) is different. In October 2010, a conference was held by Desiring God ministries in light of John Piper’s book Think. The conference included renown speakers like Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Rick Warren, and Francis Chan.

The problem is that I did not attend this conference nor have I read the book the conference was based on.  Furthermore, before picking up the book Thinking. Loving. Doing.:  A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind, I was unaware that these would be prerequisites.  But nonetheless, I did pick up and read.

The challenge I had with this book was I struggled understanding its point.  What is the primary purpose and message of this book?  What is the books thesis?   The title is helpful and I understand the conversation regarding thinking, but what is the driving point?  Must I read Piper’s earlier book in order to understand this one?

Beyond that flaw, this is a book that includes helpful chapters.  Dr. Mohler had the best chapter by far as he discussed how to think about thinking – something I’ve heard him discuss before.  Thabiti Anyabwile’s chapter on Islam was good though I found it a bit out of place for this book. Chan’s exhortations regarding humility and love I thought were needed and well received.  Overall, each chapter is helpful but I am stuck with the question of why this book was written outside of putting into print what was said at a conference that readers like myself did not attend?

Don’t get me wrong.  This is a good book, but it certainly isn’t a great book or a necessary book.  I suspect that those who were at the conference will enjoy this book while most of the rest of us, like myself, will find it confusing.  Everything with Piper’s name on it is worth looking into, but this is certainly not his best work either as editor or writer.

This book was given to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.

For more:
Reviews – Preaching the Cross 
Reviews – Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology 
Reviews – “Life’s Biggest Questions” by Erik Thoennes
Reviews – “Welcome to the Story: Reading, Loving, and Living God’s Word” by Stephen J Nichols  
Reviews – “King Solomon” by Philip Graham Ryken 
Reviews – “Am I Really a Christian?” by Mike McKinley 
Reviews – The Beginning and End of Wisdom” by Douglas Sean O’Donnell

Theology Thursday | Piper On Hellless Preaching

Here’s something you won’t see or hear everyday: a modern day preacher warning other modern day preachers about the dangers of not preaching on hell. The first sermon I heard on hell was from my current pastor where I serve as youth pastor…and it was on Easter. I was so grateful.

What has caused this erosion of preaching on the wrath of God and hell is our societies fear of offending people. The gospel is an offense. Deal with it. Everyone that wants to be saved must deal with. And to eliminate the offense of the gospel is to eliminate the saving power of the gospel. I’d rather make a lot of enemies preaching the gospel, than a lot of friends preaching self-help/therapeutic sermons.

For more:
Blogizomai – Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai – Will This Sort of Love Win?:  Reflections on the Bell Controversy – Part 1

Theology – MSNBC Takes on Bell . . . Or At Least Tries Too
Blogizomai – Freud’s Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can’t Explain Atheism
Theology – Driscoll:  Hell is the Wrath of God in Effect  
Theology – McLaren and McKnight:  Conversations on Being a Heretic 
Theology – Piper on Hellless Preaching
Blogizomai – “Salvation Brings Imitation”: Piper on Christus Exemplar
Blogizomai – Did You Hear?: Piper Interviews Warren
Blogizomai – John Piper on His Support of Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment

"Salvation Brings Imitation": Piper on Christus Exemplar

One of the important doctrines I have studied recently with the feeling that orthodox, conservative, and even REformed believers and theologians have ignored is the doctrine of the atonement called Christus Exemplar. I reject the Moral Influence Theory of the atonement (birthed by Abelard centuries ago) that says that Christ died to give us an example of how much he loves us and how we are to love others.  This view has been adopted by liberals today and is nothing more than heresy.  Christus Exemplar is not that.

I will not go into great detail here into defending it, but Scripture is clear that the root work of the cross is substitutionary, but that does not mean that the only motif or purpose of the cross is substitution.  Christus Victory, when properly understood, is valid.  As is Christus Exemplar.  If we deny substitution, Christus Exemplar becomes nothing more than Abelard’s heresy.

I have found as a pastor the power of this doctrine.  The work of Christ on the cross redeems us and at the same time we as Christians are to never to leave the cross and resurrection.  Christus Exemplar assures that we do just that.

I want to quote John Piper in a book he wrote called Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (read online here).  One chapter is dedicated To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love.  He quotes from 1 Peter 2:19-21, Hebrews 12:3-4, and Philippians 2:5-8.  Piper writes:

Imitation is not salvation. But salvation brings imitation. Christ is not given to us first as model, but as Savior. In the experience of the believer, first comes the pardon of Christ, then the pattern of Christ. In the experience of Christ himself, they happen together: The same suffering that pardons our sins provides our pattern of love.

In fact, only when we experience the pardon of Christ can he become a pattern for us. This sounds wrong because his sufferings are unique. They cannot be imitated. No one but the Son of God can suffer “for us” the way Christ did. He bore our sins in a way that no one else could. He was a substitute sufferer. We can never duplicate this. It was once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. Divine, vicarious suffering for sinners is inimitable.



However, this unique suffering, after pardoning and justifying sinners, transforms them into people who act like Jesus—not like him in pardoning, but like him in loving. Like him in suffering to do good to others. Like him in not returning evil for evil. Like him in lowliness and meekness. Like him in patient endurance. Like him in servanthood. Jesus suffered for us uniquely, that we might suffer with him in the cause of love.

Christ’s apostle, Paul, said that his ambition was first to share in Christ’s righteousness by faith, and then to share in his sufferings in ministry. “[May I] be found in [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ . . . that I may . . . share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:9-10). Justification precedes and makes possible imitation. Christ’s suffering for justification makes possible our suffering for proclamation. Our suffering for others does not remove the wrath of God. It shows the value of having the wrath of God removed by the suffering of Christ. It points people to him.
 

When the Bible calls us to “endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:10), it means that our imitation of Christ points people to him who alone can save. Our suffering is crucial, but Christ’s alone saves. Therefore, let us imitate his love, but not take his place.

For more:
Theology – Allison: A History of the Doctrine of the Atonement  

Theology – Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary – Part 1 – Introduction
Theology – Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary – Part 2 – Christus Exemplar and the doctrine of sin and depravity
Theology – Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary – Part 3 – The History of Christus Exemplar
Theology – Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary – Part 4 – Christus Exemplar and Humility
Thesis – Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Social Gospel
Theology – Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution:  A Look at the Evidence
Reviews – “Death by Love” by Mark Driscoll