"God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry." – John Piper
John Piper - Wikipedia
When I think of Reformed Theology, I immediately think of John Piper. As the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church where he has served for over thirty years, Piper and his church host an annual Pastors Conference. This year's focus was God, Manhood & Ministry: Building Men for the Body of Christ. Here is the promotional video tor that conference which was held January 30 – February 1, 2012.
The Christian Post provided an excellent summary on this "manly" conference, including some revealing quotes from John Piper. Here are the highlights:
"God's intention for Christianity is for it to have a "masculine feel," evangelist John Piper declared…
"God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother," Piper said at this year's annual pastors conference hosted by the Desiring God ministry. "Second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name of the male."
He continued, "God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head."
"Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female."
…Piper acknowledged that speaking about a primarily male-led Christian community can attract controversy. However, he outlined what he sees as God's plan in regards to the relationship between men and women.
"He does not intend for women to languish or be frustrated or in any way suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy in this masculine Christianity," he explained. "From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families that have this masculine feel."
As Piper takes his interpretations of Scripture to a "whole nutha level", is it any wonder that committed Christians are leaving their churches in droves? Our brothers and sisters in Christ are literally being KNOCKED OUT of their congregations by this kind of misogynistic babble. I firmly believe that pastors who follow Piper's edict to establish a masculine ministry will cause an EXODUS of the faithful from organized Christianity. As we explained in a previous post, the "Nones" are on the rise, and the nonsense we are experiencing from Mark Driscoll's antics to John Piper's Macho Gospel will only increase the momentum of this trend.
Wade Burleson weighed in with his thought-provoking post Piper's 'Masculine Christianity' Actually Emasculates. He explained in his introductory remarks that he allowed his anger to subside before expressing his thoughts on the God, Manhood & Ministry Conference. Here is the crux of his concerns:
I have learned a great deal from John Piper, particularly his Edwardian view that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, but I would urge my female Christian friends to ignore Piper's conception of God and find satisfaction in the God of Scripture.
It's without doubt that male personal pronouns are predominately used in Scripture to describe God, but the sacred text does not hesitate to attribute female characteristics to the invisible God. The image of God is both male and the female. God is no more all male to the exclusion of female than He is all Jewish to the exclusion of Gentile. To say, as Piper says, that Christianity has "a masculine feel" is as silly as saying Christianity has "a white, anglo-saxon feel." The same mistake our forefathers made in excluding a particular race from full participation in Christianity is being made by our modern heroes in excluding a particular gender. Christians, particularly women believers, are learning the importance of challenging statements of men like Piper. I thought that I might not be misunderstanding Piper correctly, so I listened to the videos again. In one of the sessions Piper explains that "masculine Christianity" is where "men gladly bear all the responsibility" in the church and home.
What? Seriously? Why single out men, John? Should not God's people, both male and female, take individual responsibility for the gifts given them? Where in Scripture does it say Spirit-giftedness is restricted to gender. We are Spirit-led, not gender led…
As much respect as I have for John Piper, on this matter I must express extreme disappoint with Piper's warped perception of Christianity. He is unintentionally weakening the gospel by diminishing God. Christians should maintain an unqualified enthusiasm and satisfaction for the biblical God that expresses Himself with both male and female characteristics.
In response to one of the comments he received, Wade wrote: "Legalism combined with authoritarianism leads to dominionism (the use of power, guilt and punishment to push down others)." I'm not sure whether Wade investigated the speakers at this 'manly' conference, but I certainly did! As you heard in the promo video, John Piper was thrilled to have Doug Wilson come and speak to conference attendees. Wilson is a controversial individual, as evidenced by a Christianity Today article The Controversialist, published several years ago. It is interesting to watch these alliances being formed.
The Christianity Today blog her.meneutics featured an interesting post on this pastors conference called John Piper and the Rise of Biblical Masculinity. Rachel Stone posed an excellent question: "Why do Piper, Wilson, Driscoll, and other neo-Reformed leaders feel the need repeatedly to defend masculinity, often stridently?"
She does an excellent job theorizing why pastors like John Piper and Mark Driscoll are so focused on building a macho ministry by explaining:
"I think it’s because they see the handwriting on the wall. Women are half the church (maybe more than half), and women’s voices are being heard loud and clear in and out of pulpits around the country. While gains for women are uneven, most studies show a slow but steady increase for women in church leadership. And that’s just inside the church: Outside, U.S. women are outperforming men in higher education and the workplace. When men did represent the dominant voice in Christianity—as they have for most of church history—there was no need for these public performances reinforcing both male leadership and cultural notions of masculinity."
Some of you will remember that three years ago (right around the time we began blogging), TIME Magazine came out with its 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Number Three on the 2009 list was "The New Calvinism". At that time we were just beginning to learn about The Gospel Coalition (TGC), which was established in 2007 by Don Carson and Tim Keller. As you might imagine, TGC bloggers proudly announced that New Calvinism made the TOP TEN list. There were multiple articles written by Justin Taylor, Tullian Tchividjian, Trevin Wax, etc. These Calvinistas were ecstatic!
Just three years later, The Gospel Coalition website has reported this year's top ten ideas (changing your life) this way: The Old Ideas Still Causing Us Problems
Here is what The Gospel Coalition website featured:
The Rise of the Nones: "The fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. (16 percent) is the category of people who say they have no religious affiliation."
That doesn't mean "the Nones" don't want any kind of church; no, they just want to do be free from "rigid dogma" and do it their way. The unofficial chaplain of "Not Church," a regular gathering of American expats on Mexico's Baja peninsula, said, "The underlying drive is to distance themselves from organized religion and build a rich if unorthodox spiritual life."
We believe there is a direct correlation between New Calvinism and the Nones. Why do we believe these two "ideas" featured in TIME are linked? Because over the past three years we have been hearing from those who have been adversely affected by hyper-authoritarian pastors, and some have felt there was no recourse but to leave their church. From our vantage point it "appears" that to some degree the popularity of New Calvinism was manufactured through websites, conferences, and publicity (like the YRR article in Christianity Today). As Dee would say, "Big Hat No Cattle". Granted the overwhelming internet presence of these Calvinista groups and churches drew the attention of a good number of Christians, but as the hyper-authoritarian tactics (changing by-laws, implementing membership covenants, imposing church discipline) are being inplemented to control church members, the flock is waking up! Watchdogs who are using the very same technology that bolstered the YRR movement, are broadcasting far and wide the abuses and strong arm tactics that are being implemented.
Incredibly, John Piper and his ilk just don't get it, as evidenced by the recent focus on "masculine ministry". The only ones who appear to be excited about New Calvinism are the wannabe leaders who flock from conference to conference (like Together for the Gospel) rubbing elbows with their Calvinista idols. It certainly appears that instead of attracting a throng of followers, they are driving them away in droves with their macho ministries. This HOT idea – New Calvinism – that was predicted to change the world appears to have done just that in three short years. The "Nones" have fled the organized church, perhaps as many as 16 million of them. The hemorrhaging seems to be getting worse as masculinity is modeled by these macho ministers.
Will this be the legacy of John Piper and those who stand together with him – knocking a multitude of faithful Christians out of church?
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 30:1-31:26 1 Timothy 2:1-15 Psalm 87:1-7 Proverbs 25:18-19