I have of late been entranced by pastor, preacher, and writer John Piper. I just finished his book, The Pleasures of God, and I have started working my way through his Romans sermons series (I’ve finished about twenty sermons, and we aren’t out of chapter 1 yet!).
Briefly, here is what I love about Piper and his theology:
- He is passionately and intelligently Calvinistic. He brings passages from the entire Bible together to show just how explicitly sovereign the Bible portrays God to be.
- At the same time, his Calvinism does not become an overly-intellectual exercise that leaves his audience smug with their own knowledge of the Bible and theology, but instead he is committed to glorifying the God of the Bible. He said in a sermon (I’m paraphrasing) that his mission is not to dissect God, but to proclaim him in his glory. Although Piper is not one of the most enjoyable speakers I have ever listened to, his sermons carry great weight because they unashamedly glorify God.
- He is committed to evangelism and missions. Moreover, his passion for evangelism does not come from a mere emotional desire to keep people from hell (although that component is a large part of his message), but he instead views evangelism and world missions as the means by which the glory of God is proclaimed and God’s fame is increased among the nations. His Calvinism does not constrain his idea of evangelism, but permeates through it: he greatly desires to bring those who are Christ’s own into the flock (John 10:16).
I wonder, though, how much every ministry should be like his. If I ever pastor a church, would it be wrong to pattern my ministry after his? (I would note that he patterns much of his ministry on that of Jonathan Edwards.) How much room for variation is there among churches where we all serve the same God, but, at the same time, that God takes pleasure in the diversity of his Body?
I guess, though, that I have several years to sort that stuff out. For the time being, I will just keep on reading, praying, and thinking.