Tuesday, March 30, 2010
John Piper Steps Back for a Season to Regain Perspective, Get "Reality Check"
In an unprecedented move on March 28, noted Christian author and pastor John Piper announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from ministry from May 1 to December 31, 2010. In his letter to his church membership, Piper cited a “growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit” as the basis for this decision.
Here's the link, so you can read his letter to his church for yourself.
Let me start by stating this at the outset: John Piper is a good man who loves God and desires to please Him.
Unfortunately, very recently, Piper has come under fire from people who have been concerned with his unchecked and often inaccurate depictions of (i.e. vilification of) people, activities, and movements within the emerging/emergent church.
The main criticism of his behavior has been centered around his approach, which has been described as smug, inaccurate (he fails to make an accurate distinction between ‘emergent’ and ‘emerging’- a BIG mistake), and frequently uncharitable rumor-mongering, that was patently un-Christian in its delivery.
His most recent critique of the movement, which can be viewed here:
...decries the emerging church’s emphasis of “relationship” over-and-against ‘truth’ (another mischaracterization). Unsurprisingly, the video caused a blitzkrieg of opposition due to the polemic rhetoric which was used, and caused an outcry amongst post-modern/post-denominational believers (A.K.A. “emergents”- if you must…) for Unity and Charity within the Body.
What I think is most poignant to note after reading Piper’s letter (link above) is that the Holy Spirit is clearly working on him and showing him truth through his relationships with other believers.
The argument (i.e. relationship versus truth), then is no argument at all; for truth is always embodied and transmitted to us through right relationships. Jesus made that quite clear in Luke 10:27.
As God works to form each of us more and more into the likeness of His image, may we, like Piper, be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to the urgings of our brothers and sisters in Christ. John’s openness to be transparent, and his desire to be obedient and humble are to be commended.
Perhaps we should all seek to display the transparency, openness, commitment to relationship, accountability, obedience and humility that Piper models.
Perhaps, we can all learn a great deal from this...
Perhaps we can, by recognizing the brokenness in each other as a point of common ground, grow more unified as a body of believers.
There are many theological points of doctrine that John and I do not agree on. But that is not the point. That does not matter…
What matters is (and I truly believe this): We both love Jesus with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength; and we both endeavor (and sadly, often fail- due to our human condition) to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Please join me* in committing to (electronically) ‘sing’ to John ‘psalms, hymns, and songs' of encouragement during this very difficult time.
You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. , or:
PO Box 2901
Minneapolis, MN 55402
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:35 (NIV)
Grace and Peace,
*comment made to his above-linked letter, made on 3-30-10 at 10:20 EST:
At a very difficult and dark period in Thomas Merton’s life, he penned this prayer that has been such a help to so many people. May it be a comfort to you now, as you continue to desire God and desire to please Him...
O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.
Source: Thomas Merton, Pax Christi, Benet Press, Erie, PA.
Grace and Peace to you,
Tracy Dickerson- a sister in Christ who is emerging and transforming from Glory to Glory (but not quite there, yet) :)