Honoring John Piper

Posted: October 6, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Biography, Calvinism, From the Heart, Theology
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Justin Taylor and Sam Storms served as editors of a book that was released at the 2010 Desiring God “Think” Conference. The book is titled, “For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper”. Check out the lineup of contributors and the video of John Piper being presented with the book here.

I add myself to a great multitude of grateful saints for the ministry of John Piper. I was gifted on Christmas 2001 with the book, “Pleasures of God” from Pastor Ty Van Horn of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Manhattan Beach, where I served as a Pastoral Assistant/Intern. I have forever been changed by that and subsequent books and sermons by John Piper.

Here is a list of things I most admire about Pastor John Piper:

  1. His Godliness. Some fault Evangelicals for being overly pietistic, and John Piper confirmed in me that we are not pietistic enough in a Godward sense of emoting. Whenever folks accuse me of just being a pietistic Evangelical, I gladly bear the criticism. John Piper taught me, through the voice of C.S. Lewis, that our emotions are not too strong, but rather too weak. Piper’s words are forever branded in my heart and mind, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”.
  2. His Exegesis. Piper wants everyone to see his preaching as the result of careful exegesis. Piper is committed to Holy Scripture and is captivated by it. Piper said that the best advice for a preacher is to be incredibly excited about the Bible. I may not agree with everything Piper says, but I don’t doubt for one minute that his convictions flow from hours of burning the candlelight before Holy Writ.
  3. Preaching as Exultation.  “The Supremacy of God in Preaching” is the greatest book I have ever read on preaching. Piper taught me that preaching is worship. Piper models this. He is known for often looking upward in a heavenly gaze when he preaches and I can’t help but think he is preaching to God’s glory above all else, before an audience of one. I have learned that the most important person to please when I preach is God Himself.
  4. Arcing. For more on arcing, visit http://www.biblearc.com/web/
  5. Love for the Unborn. Piper is a champion for the dignity of human life as reflecting the image of God. He has been arrested for protesting for life and has been bold enough to call out President Obama on the abortion issue. See this clip. I have taken up Piper’s tradition of preaching on Life every year during Sanctity of Life Sunday. I also walk in the annual Boise Walk for Life along with my family.
  6. Love for the Afflicted and Suffering. My theology of suffering was non-existent before I devoured Piper’s resources. While I affirm that Satan and his minions are at work in much suffering, I know that it is all sifted through God’s loving hands. I had the opportunity to attend The Bethlehem Institute and had some preliminary correspondence with Piper about starting a ministry for the disabled at Bethlehem Baptist. He was excited about such prospects. God closed that door and I never did go, but Piper’s love for the disabled, afflicted, and suffering is a healthy antidote to the “Health and Wealth” crap that passes itself off as Christian. Our family walks in the annual Boise Buddy Walk for Downs Syndrome and my pastoral care to the afflicted and suffering is much indebted to John Piper.
  7. Love for Global Missions. “Missions exists because worship doesn’t” says Piper. It is no secret that Piper loves the lost, was a friend of Ralph Winter, wrote a book on missions,  and has featured missionaries to his annual conferences.
  8. Racial Harmony. Piper has retained his residence in the “dangerous” urban area of Minneapolis. He has adopted Talitha, a black girl, and has reached out to the African immigrant community in the Twin Cities. Rather than “white flight”, Piper has embraced ministry to all who surround him.
  9. A Kinder Glorious Calvinism. Piper could care less if the “Truly Reformed” label him “Essentially Reformed”. I couldn’t care less as well. When Piper labels himself a 7 point Calvinist, he does so to see God’s glorious creation before, and God’s glorious consummation at the end. The glory of God bookends the doctrines of grace. Like Piper, I am an unashamed “Calvinist”, but I wear such a label as a humble  sinner who seeks God’s doxology above all else. Calvinism must be stirred within the broader framework of Scripture and the Glory of God.
  10. Theological Honesty. Love him or hate him, Piper is an eclectic dude theologically. His thoughts on Law and Gospel have evolved, he believes in the continuation of Spiritual Gifts, and his eschatology always seems to be intentionally ambiguous. He has fought against Open Theism in his own denomination, is complementarian, and supported an amendment to the bylaws of his church that would allow those baptized as infants join the membership of the church. He has caused a stir by inviting the likes of Doug Wilson, Mark Driscoll, and Rick Warren to his annual conferences. Don’t confuse this charity with theological indifference, but a canny discernment to be inclusive of those who keep the main thing the main thing. He even moderated an eschatological roundtable not to long ago between Sam Storms, Doug Wilson, and Jim Hamilton. Piper models charity to those within the broader Evangelical church, seeing the strengths among those he might disagree with on other issues. I try to model this healthy ecumenical Spirit. I am also an eclectic Evangelical, holding convictions on a host of theological issues that wouldn’t place me perfectly into any one circle. It’s better to be Theologically honest than a cross-fingered Evangelical who affirms doctrinal elaborations on paper that they really don’t believe. Theological credibility is important and I hope to be bold enough to state what I believe the Bible to be teaching and also humble enough to admit that certain things are a work in progress. This discernment that Piper has modeled teaches me to keep the Gospel front and center and to be gracious on secondary issues. My friends in the current pastorate consist of colleagues from the Foursquare Church, Nazarene Church, United Reformed Church, CREC, PCA, and OPC.

Well, I was teary-eyed seeing Piper accept the book on stage. I am grateful for him and am convinced that he will go down as one of the greatest Pastor-Theologians our country has ever seen.

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Comments
  1. Scott Kistler says:

    I’m grateful too, Rick. I enjoyed watching the video and also thought that it will be a great book!

    I’m really glad that you and John Svendsen introduced me to him and helped put me on the road to Reformed theology.

    • grateful for Svendsen teaching me theology and also meeting you in God’s providence. Our gratitutde and thanksgiving to God is an affirmation of His providence over all things.

  2. Bruce Skaug says:

    Much enjoyed reading the above Pastor Rick! Would you show me a sample page of “Arcing” Bible study notes sometime? Watched Piper’s comments, but would appreciate a visual sample.

    Blessings,

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