John Piper and N.T. Wright

John Piper’s sermons and lectures usually lead me to despair.

N.T. Wright’s sermons and lectures always lead me to worship.

If only I had the theological, doctrinal, psychological, and historical vocabulary to account for those two disparate reactions.

9 responses to “John Piper and N.T. Wright

  1. doulos tou Theou

    1st one makes me worship
    2nd one gives me a sense to study more

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  2. I love you, brother!

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  3. Not all surprising … the first reflects all the traditional anxiety of the Middles Ages, an anxiety somewhat mitigated in the Reformation, but finally returning in full-force with American fundamentalism and its various permutations. Wright, on the other hand, reflects the Scriptures, especially the Pauline sense of God’s absolute and utter faithfulness to God’s creation. In the first, it’s really about us, what we can do to escape the threat of hell, or whatever; whereas for Wright, and I believe Paul, it all about what God has done to bank the fires, to break open the gates of hell and bring grace to the dark realms. The first is fretful; the second indeed induces worship.

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  4. Thank you, Tom, very, very much. I’ve been looking for an historical thread to identify with Piper. I’ll reflect on your remarks about anxiety in the Middle Ages. Piper reminds me of school: I went to schools operated by Independent Missionary Baptists for grades Kindergarten-4th and 9-12th, so I have often felt that I was “hearing” (feeling?) something of the old hellfire sermonizing and anxious seal-the-deal chapel services behind Piper’s voice. I’m not sure that’s entirely fair to Piper, but his father was a fundamentalist.

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  5. We all have theological roots, and there is nothing new under the sun, so to speak. I think Wright has illumined some of Piper’s roots, and has taken us deeper into Paul’s roots. I am a Reformation Christian, for sure, but folks like Wright are helping us identify some of the problems of the Reformation, and clearly one of the problems is how we’ve read Paul. Using the Biblical categories, we’re read Paul through Gentile eyes (very anxious about the survival of our own soul) rather than Jewish eyes (with absolute confidence in God’s purpose and God’s love).

    Your comment about Piper’s father is instructive – I didn’t know that. Can you tell me about Piper’s father, family?

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  6. Thanks again, Tom, for your thoughts and insights. I saw a video of Piper, Tim Keller, and D.A. Carson on a website, maybe GospelFoundation.org (can’t remember for sure). They were talking about “mercy ministries” or “mercy missions” in relationship to the proclamation of the Gospel. In that video, the question is whether to spend time and resources on ministries for the suffering instead of evangelism. Piper identifies his father as a fundamentalist, saying something like, he believes “like my fundamentalist father” that his role is to eliminate ALL suffering, present (hunger etc.) and future (Hell). I feel logic gets strained within Calvinistic evangelism, especially if evangelism is set against ministry to the needy, especially if God has already chosen who He will save (I get the generosity of God in saving anyone, and the likely necessity of His enabling of a person to hear the Word, but… well… this is a rabbit trail). Back to the point at hand: Also, on one of Piper’s blog posts at the Desiring God site, he gives an actually exciting, intriguing, humane account of his father’s life, and that account describes the elder Piper’s presence within fundamentalist circuit. Neither younger nor elder Piper strikes me as a cartoon-like character; however, as you said earlier, anxiety travels over the younger Piper’s wires, and I’ve had a heck of a time with anxiety. Piper strikes the anxiety chord in me, while he causes others, friends of mine, to take heart, to be encouraged. But those friends of mine did not spend the first 18 years of their lives in fundamentalist schools, like I did! Context and experience interpret words. Sometimes I think these friends can do a good job reaching out to the never-churched, but not necessarily to the formerly-churched.

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  7. I’ve just begun reading, “From Bible Belt to Sun Belt” by Darren Dochuk – a book that sheds light on much of what we’re talking about, and how all of this plays into the political dimensions of evangelicalism – http://books.wwnorton.com/books/From-Bible-Belt-to-Sunbelt/
    Have you read anything by Jeff Sharlet or Chris Hedges? They both delve into what I call the dark underbelly of reactionary forces in our nation.

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    • Apologies for the late reply! I have read some articles by and about Jeff Sharlet, but I’m not familiar with the others. I will take a look. What do you think of the Dochuk book?

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  8. I’ve only downloaded the “sample” of the Dochuk book for my Kindle … but it looks like the kind of book that sheds light on the history. Seems to be well-written; I’ve looked him and he’s a reputable scholar. My friend, who recommended the books, tells me that it’s not making Pepperdine folks too happy. I’m reading some other stuff right now, so the Dochuk book in the que …

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