Studying Two Johns: Bunyan and Piper.

There’s a horrible, horrible pun that could have been said of my title, and I’m glad I decided to avoid it. Anyway, we’re starting new books! Finally!

Here’s what I’m reading:

The Future of Justification: A Response to NT Wright by John Piper.  Piper wrote this book in response to some of Wright’s statements about justification by faith, giving warning that Wright may very well be muddying the concept to justification by faith and needs to be more careful when looking at new ideologies that come across the theology scene. Thus far, I’m still in the introduction, and I have a few praises and concerns:

Praise: Piper consulted Wright on this book. He sent Wright his first draft, and Wright wrote an 11,000 word response to it, helping to clarify things, and Piper adjusted the manuscript to meet those clarifications.  Wright also has published a book since Piper’s explaining his views on justification in order to help further clarify what he meant.  Big time props to Piper on this one.

Concern: Perhaps this isn’t something that can be helped on some levels, but Piper (and many in the Reformed school he comes from) write with a very coercive, “you-must-see-things-my-way-or-perish” tone, or it least comes across that way.  He’s very presuppositional, assuming that his views on matters of salvation and atonement (him being a rather strict Reformed Calvinist) are not only held by everyone in his group, but also are the absolute truth, and those not adhering to that truth are gravely in the wrong.  He never calls Wright a heretic, and doesn’t consider him cursed by God, but he does hold that Wright could be leading people astray, and this statement still bothers me a lot.  For Piper, when it comes to differing opinions on matters more of scruple than doctrine (Wright does hold to justification by faith, though not entirely define the same way), the rule of thumb tends to be more like, “That’s absolutely not true” as opposed to, “I see where you’re coming from, but I disagree.”  It’s that lack of humility that makes me rather unhappy with Piper in many of his writings, and I have a feeling it’s going to rub me the wrong way quite a bit here.

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

I do wish the cover of my book looked this cool, but oh well.  This is something I’ve been meaning to read for some time now.  It’s status as a Christian classic, and its use of fiction and allegory to portray the journey of every Christian (sort of an Everyman play), make me very excited to dig in and get going.  The narrative format should be a welcome break from nonfiction reading, and I’ll probably be posting on this book more than Piper’s, though I’ll try to keep a balance going.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on right now.  See you folks tomorrow!

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One thought on “Studying Two Johns: Bunyan and Piper.

  1. I had so much Piper stuff on my desk top I had to get a TB external drive in which to move it. Then in the middle of my pastor’s explorations of preterism I actually started to read and listen to NTW, instead of neo-Puritan handwringing. I think I get the hint about ‘narrative’ and I’ll be checking back in. Just like the massive irony – discovered for me by NTW – that Jesus and the evangelists used all the stories and images of God coming to free his people from the various Babylons to describe how Jesus had come to free True Israel from Spiritual Babylon, I may go back to Bunyan for refreshment and guidance as I leave my wife and kids (the neo-Reformed) and head off towards the light.

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