Friday, February 29, 2008

Don't Shoot Me - I'm On Your Side.

Friendly Fire.

That's what I would call John Piper's Message, How Do I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels.

Let me start by saying that I am amazed by John Piper and his teaching. I enjoy reading his works and his sermons. He has made an impact upon my life that is probably greater than any other "high profile" minister. I also truly believe that he is the most humble Calvinist that I have ever read or heard. I would hold him in the line of Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon, Finney, & Moody. Some would probably even call me a "fan." I hope that I am not a fan, but someone who appreciates a person who is wholly given to Christ and to His Kingdom.

And maybe that is why I am so troubled. As I was reading How Do I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels, I couldn't help but feel as though my military comrade in the Lord's Army was turning his weapon on me. I think I am probably being over sensitive, so please understand this, but it has frustrated me that instead of fighting the enemy sometimes we fight each other.

From my devotions yesterday I read this:

Mark 9:38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

I feel that maybe I am not following in Piper's stance on Election and Limited (Definitive) Atonement, but I am following Christ. I am not against Piper and I feel that I am absolutely for Christ. So it is somewhat "offensive" when it appears that Piper is on the border of calling Arminians/Wesleyans proclaimers of a false gospel.

Why instead aren't we fighting together against people who truly are against the gospel.

  • I believe in the Virgin Birth.
  • I believe in inerrancy.
  • I believe in the substitutionary atonement (Specifically the Satisfaction view of atonement explored by F. Leroy Forlines)
  • I believe in the Physical and Literal Resurrection of Christ.
  • I believe in the Physical and Literal Return of Christ.
  • I even believe in Hell.
Why would the Reformers be turning their weapons on us, when we are on their team? I have a hard time processing this. There are plenty of people who claim Christianity, but don't hold to some or all of the above truths. Maybe we should spend our time on them?

I don't want to waste a lot of time responding to Calvinists. I feel that I've already wasted too much of my life waging this discussion when we could be working (and already often do work) together for the Kingdom.

I would count men like John Piper to be my comrade and even more, my brother. I hope that he would feel the same. I will continue to read and learn from Piper and I don't think this will hinder my feeling toward him and his ministry. I just hope that someday he may see some of these things a little differently.

In another post, I will respond to some of the statements Piper has made in this message. For now I'll leave you with two quotes from Spurgeon about working with the non-Calvinist...

It is reported that Mr. Whitefield was one day asked by a partisan, "Do you think that we, when we get to heaven, shall see John Wesley there?" "No," said George Whitefield, "I do not think we shall."

The questioner was very delighted with that answer, but Mr. Whitefield added, "I believe that Mr. John Wesley will have a place so near the throne of God, and that such poor creatures as you and I will be so far off, as to be hardly able to see him."

As I read such remarks, I have said to myself, "By this I know that he must be a Christian," for I saw that he loved his brother Wesley even while he so earnestly differed from him on certain points of doctrine.

--Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) _Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit_, Volume 51 [1905]


From the Spurgeon Archive - A Defense of Calvinism.

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one "of whom the world was not worthy." I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

No comments: