Posts Tagged ‘Piper’

Here is the blurb,

The following is background by John Piper on this event and the issues being discussed. Listen to the audio or watch the video for the conversation itself. On September 27, 2009, Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary hosted “An Evening on Eschatology” at the Downtown Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. It was attended by about 800 people who sat in the darkened sanctuary while six cameras were trained on the brightly lit roundtable where the four participants sat in a circle. For two hours I moderated, more or less, a discussion among Jim Hamilton (professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary in Louisville), Sam Storms (pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), and Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho).

Here is the link

I am listening to as I write this post.  It took me a few miuntes to get into it but I think the conversation is well hosted by John Piper.  I would probably align myself with a position similar to that of Doug Wilson especially in his discussion of the events of AD. 70. I do have some reluctance in going with a systematic view of eschatology but my understanding of Mark 13 points in this direction.



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Chapter 4 is entitled ‘Deep Truth’ and explores issues of epistemology.  He thinks that traditionalists have often misrepresented postmodernism and have failed to understand postmodernity as  emergent leaders understand it. Is postmodernity in all forms the enemy? Lstenign to the rhetoric of some evangelicals you would think so. However, he also criticises the emergent church for not recognizing that there are movements and thinkers in the evangelical world who also reject modernism.

‘Emerging voices tend to overstate the traditional church’s captivity to the rationalism and individualism of modernism by ignoring the last hundred years of evangelical criticism of Enlightenment rationalism by thinkers such as Abraham Kuyper, C.S. Lewis, Cornelius Van Til, Herman Dooyeweerd and Nicholas Wolterstorff [quite a few neocalvinists in this list]. Long before post-modern thinkers came on the scene, these Christian thinkers have been debunking the church’s captivity to science and rationalism. It concerns me that bright scholars like Stanley Grenz and John Franke, two influential thinkers for the emerging church, do nor bring this up. It seems the emerging church, for rhetorical purposes, uses sweeping generalizations about the traditional church that are unfair.’ 76

But the traditional church is just as guilty. By not taking the time to understand what the emergent church means by postmodernism, traditional thinkers jump to the conclusion that the emerging church is abandoning historic Christianity. This is certainly not true of the whole movement…Brian McClaren rejects ‘hard’ postmodernism. Few embrace radical relativism or deep constructivism that rejects all revelation or external authority.’ 76

I think Belcher’s analysis is spot on.  I will post more later

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The librarian at Trinity college, Bristol is excellent. I told her about the book ‘Deep Church’ by Jim Belcher which had recieved numerous good reviews. She ordered a copy  which I was able to pick up today.

Deep-Church-200x300The book explores a path, which he calls Deep Church,  which can be taken which avoids both  traditional evangelicalism and the emergent scene.  A friend pinted out to me that people in the UK may get a little confused as there is a ‘Deep Church’ movement/set of books/blogs in the UK.

There is a ‘Deep Church’ website and excerpts can be found here.

Why was I so keen to get my hands on this book?

Firstly, I appreciate the theological leanings of some of the main traditional evangelical preachers/teachers in the UK such as Don Carson, Wayne Grudem and John Piper. However, I do think that the emergent scene has rightly criticized, amongst other things, the impact of modernity in the formulation of rationalistic evangelical theology. This places me in a strange place. I spend half of my time defending a traditional evangelicalism but this, at times, leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps this book will help me be more comfortable with my posiition.  Secondly, a quick look at endorsements reveals that this book is spoken highly of by a wide ranger of scholars and practitioners. ie. Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Scot McKnight, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball. If these people from different theological and ecclesiological positions are in agreement that this is a great book then it should be read. Thirdly, I want to have an ecumenical spirit (I really do) which seeks to build bridges and find unity in the Christian Church. What has Athens to do with Jerusalem Emergent to with Conservative Evangelicalism?… well for starters both camps claim allegiance to Jesus Christ. This book, which seems to be balanced, will explore and critique both traditional and emergent.

Here are some of the endorsements.

“Jim Belcher shows that we don’t have to choose between orthodox evangelical doctrine on the one hand, and cultural engagement, creativity and commitment to social justice on the other. This is an important book.”
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

“Smart, passionate, thoughtful, hopeful and Jesus-centered–this is the Jim Belcher I used to hang out with in the early nineties (like it was so long ago!) at the Huntington–and this is the Jim Belcher in this book. Lots of people are going to find this book very helpful.”
—Rob Bell, pastor, Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, author, Velvet Elvis

“Rising above the usual shallow, facile critiques of the emergent church movement, Jim Belcher has written for us a book that, indeed, goes deep. Jim took the time to listen to emergent voices, and as a result, he appreciates the movement for what it is. And, further, his admonitions ring true. While Jim and I have theological differences, I can heartily recommend Deep Church as an invigorating study of and healthy corrective to both the emergent and traditional church.”
—Tony Jones, author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier (http://tonyj.net)

“Deep Church is a thoughtful, helpful and practical addition to the growing field of missional church thinking.”
—Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, president, Acts 29 Church Planting Network, president, Resurgence

I have just read the first few chapters and am not disappointed. Here are some of the highlights so far.

His goal is to provide  ‘well rounded picture of the emerging community’s conviction’. After surveying many books and blogs he sees the emerging church as being critical of several aspects of the traditional church. (For ordinands we must recognize that this book is from a US perspective and that traditional means ‘traditional evangelical’ as opposed to Anglican traditional which means liturgy and bells and smells).

1) Captivity to Enlightenment Rationalism (Yep! evangelicals do like their water tight theological systems)

2) A narrow view of salvation (Being a Tom Wright and Neo-Calvinist fan I agree with this)

3) Belief before belonging

4) Uncontextualized Worship

5) Ineffective teaching. I have tried to deal with some of this here.

6) Weak Ecclessiology

7) Tribalism

He goes on to mention the three fold division which Ed Stetzer employs to describe the emergent church.

1) Relevants- Driscoll

2) Reconstructionists

3) Revisionists- Emergent Village

In this book Belcher will mainly interact with those of the reconstructionists and revisionist camps.

I am going to enjoy reading this book and may well blog my way through it.

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Multi-Part Review of Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision by N.T. Wright: PArt 1

I received a review copy of N.T. Wright’s ‘Justification:God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision’ a few days ago. It has been written by Wright as a response to a critique of his position on justification by John Piper. John Piper has been a tremendous help and influence, particularly in my late teens and early twenties,on myself. Piper’s writings, sermons, and conference messages introduced me to a passionate Calvinism which is God centred and values the glory and sovereignty of God. For this I am thankful. However, as I look back on these years, I realise that ,although I had a doctrine of God, my theology of creation was stunted. God, I believed, was the creator (literal 6 days) but his plan, to bring glory to himself, concerned his choosing, justifying and glorifying of the elect. The cosmos, the created world, was merely the backdrop and stage in which this saving action took place. I favoured evangelism over what I perceived as a liberal concern for social action and justice. I would not say that Piper explicitly taught a dualistic (secular/spiritual divide) world-view but I think it is fair to say that there was not enough ‘creation theology’ within Piper to counteract the implicit dualism of much on evangelicalism. At this time I began to explore the work of N.T. Wright. I began with ‘Jesus and the Victory of God’ and before long had consumed, with youthful energy, most of the N.T. Wright books I could get my hands on. Instead of a reduced gospel of individualism and evangelism, I was developing a larger theology in which God is calling a people to himself to be a blessing to the world. A gospel which embraced justice and social concern as well as a need to evangelise. So here I find myself reading the second part of a dialogue/conversation/polite argument between these two men of God, and biblical scholars, who have shaped, at two different stages of my life, my thinking. After reading each chapter I will seek to jot down a few comments.

Chapter One

This will be a multi-part review. Here I will offer my comments on the first chapter entitled ‘What’s all this about, and why does it matter?’ which covers 20 pages of the total of 224. Wright begins this chapter with a provocative illustration in which Piper is seen to be similar to a friend who thinks the earth goes around the sun. He offers this illustration for a number of reasons but one of them stands out. Wright says ‘we are not the centre of the universe, God is not circling around us. We are circling around him'(7). I agree wholeheartedly with Wright’s statement but it does seem to suggest that Piper holds to a gospel of ‘it’s about me, I’m the centre of the universe.’ This, if I am reading Wright correctly, is a gross caricature of Piper’s position. In fact I know of no other Pastor/Teacher/Theologian who has consistently taught from such a God centred perspective as John Piper. For those not convinced read John Piper’s The Pleasures of God or spend a few minutes looking around any of his writings. Like I said in my introduction I think Piper is God centred, but from my many years of listening/reading Piper, I find that salvation is to easily reduced to individualism and God’s salvific purposes for the cosmos are not given enough status. …… (more to follow soon)

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