It’s good to know my Banksy post is still gathering hits for me. :) Ha ha, just kidding. I know you guys love my posts!
I had two friends comment on my reading a John Piper book. One said, “Don’t waste your eyes.” The other said, “Don’t give up on him yet.” I have taken the latter’s advice (with no offense to the former), and soldiered on. I am now up to the second chapter, and he hasn’t really spent much time talking about how he disagrees with Wright exactly. What is he doing? Two things:
1) Making sure that he doesn’t look like a complete jerk bent on boosting his own ego by talking about how much he does indeed respect NT Wright as a scholar and brother in Christ and never aims to call him a heretic (he openly calls him one of the “justified”). What he keeps reiterating is what he feels is the need to defend scripture, to defend unifying doctrine, and to keep clarity in a church that has become more and more muddied by mystery.
2) Emphasizing caution when examining and implementing the use of so-called “new” and “fresh” perspectives of reading scripture. Piper is very much a traditionalist, and I think even he would tell you that. That traditionalism influences his views of new ways to understand Scripture. He holds everything a scholar says with great care and scrutiny, and I understand the need for this. Not everything new is good, but neither is everything old. Nor is everything old bad, just like not everything new is bad.
Everything should be examined carefully, and determined to be good, bad, or perhaps somewhere in the middle, even (one of the administrators used to describe some authors as “chicken and bones,” where good could be gleaned and the rest thrown away). This is steeped in Scripture as the greatest tool we have for discernment in a very, very confusing world, but at the same time, it can confuse us to the point where we just shut down, or we get in our own way and miss out on what God is really doing. We just throw it out because we can’t get outside of the tiny box we’ve wedged ourselves into, gorging ourselves on our own “doctrine.”
I really think Piper is attempting to hold Wright’s writing up to the light of Scripture and exegesis, and I’m going to see that more in action as the book continues on, but…I don’t want him to get in his own way. I’m not that far into the book yet, so I can’t say whether he did or not, but I’ve watched this happen before. Someone comes out with something different than what we think, not unorthodox, not heresy, but different, and it freaks the Christian community out (and I don’t mean Rob Bell). Many things throughout Christianity have shaken it up, turned people against one another, gotten people burned at the stake, but at the end of the day, it was the guy getting burned who was right, not the one doing the burning.
I don’t want Piper to do this, and I have faith that he won’t. Chapter two starts in on his interpretation of Israel’s “Law-Court” symbolism. I think Piper is a good man who is very intelligent, and I am indeed excited to read what he has to say on this matter. I just hope he doesn’t wall himself up in his own views.