John Piper Delivers Final Message as Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
John Piper

John Piper – Wikipedia

Last Sunday, December 30, 2012, John Piper announced from the pulpit that he was about to deliver his last sermon as pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  Here is how he began that message

"Before I pray, let me clarify and invite you something.  The clarification is that yes, this is my last message as pastor for Preaching and Vision after thirty-two and a half years.  And no it's not the last message probably.  I'm done March 31, and Jason begins my role on Wednesday morning at 12:01, and he will be installed January 20, and then there's a farewell service for me April 14, so if you wonder how that all plays out, that's the clarification. 

The invitation is one of the most amazing gifts that you could give to Jason besides the two you've already given him, namely a 98% vote on the first ballot and then a 97% vote on the second one three months later.  You have confirmed by your God-given action his call from God to fulfill the role of pastor for preaching and vision, and the gift you could give him is to meet this year's budget, and I mean that.  I think of myself in his shoes and what it would mean to be catapulted into the new year, my first year, with this church for the first time in what ten years maybe having met its budget.  You're this close.  You're closer than you've been in a decade to meeting our budget, so that would be sweet.  Let's pray."

It sounds like Jason Meyer began John Piper's 'role' at Bethlehem Baptist early yesterday morning.  Can anyone clarify whether this is what Piper meant in his statement? 

My initial reaction was that the announcement seems somewhat premature based on an article I read last March in The Christian Post.  That article entitled John Piper Readying to Step Down; Successor Candidate Named  included the following information: (link)

"Piper has openly talked about how churches should handle succession, including how his is being handled at his own church. Last year, Piper sat down with fellow theologians D.A. Carson and Tim Keller to discuss and compare notes on their succession for their churches and ministries.

He updated his congregation about his succession plan last June, saying that he proposed to the elders that he transition from pastor for preaching and vision to full-time writing, teaching, mentoring, and speaking on June 30, 2014."

I am left wondering where the date June 30, 2014 originated.  Is Piper stepping down over a year earlier than initially planned, and if so, why? 

What does John Piper plan to do when he steps aside at Bethlehem Baptist Church?  Last Spring he responded to that question on the Desiring God website: (link)

What will you do?

"After the overlap season with Jason, Noël and I and Talitha plan to leave town for a year or so and find a place for writing and reflection."

It sounds like John Piper will be leaving Minneapolis next spring for at least a year.  In addition to his writing and reflecting, he will probably continue speaking at conferences.  This week he has been in Atlanta speaking to an audience of over 60,000 at the Passion conference.  

In early February, John Piper and his church will be hosting the Desiring God Pastors Conference.  Here is a promo video.

It will be interesting to observe whether this annual conference continues after Piper's departure from Bethlehem Baptist.

Finally, I don't understand why Bethlehem Baptist Church hasn't made its budget during the last ten years (according to John Piper – see above quote).  One would think that a congregation with such a high profile pastor would be motivated to meet the financial needs of the church year after year.  Jason Meyer may have some challenging years ahead of him. 

What are your thoughts regarding John Piper's departure from Bethlehem Baptist Church?

Lydia's Corner:   Numbers 21:1-22:20   Luke 1:26-56   Psalm 57:1-11   Proverbs 11:9-11



John Piper Delivers Final Message as Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church — 73 Comments

  1. I came from a Reformed church and it's recommended that the pastor retiring to step away from the area to give the new pastor a chance to lead the church. If I was in the church system, I would tend to agree with this. The members of that church have to get used to turning to their new pastor, Jason. I guess it's like any other business, if a manager of a bookstore was stepping down after so many years but then also came in and sat down and read while the new manager is trying to manage the store, most of the employees would have a tendency to go and complain or go to get help from the retired manager sitting there reading. I hope that makes sense. Right before leaving the church I left, we (the members) had just finished the process. The retired pastor stayed away from the church and kept his distance from friends in that church. That's probably all it is.

    It did bother me to hear Piper tell his members that it would be nice to meet the budget. Just like anything else, cut spending first until the budget is met. It's like Piper is saying, "we need you all to give more" That's one if the biggest reasons I don't care for the system because so many if these so called Men of God make a living off of others and demand their pay be met.

  2. Ug, churches and budgets. If I lived beyond my means, year after year, I am sure the leaders at my (sorta old) church would say that was wrong (they’re Canadian, they wouldn’t say it directly -passive aggressive is so much better, don’t you think? – but it would be considered “wrong”). So, why is it OK for churches to live beyond their means.

    If you want to make the budget for this new Jason, why not cut a few staff?, trim everyone’s salary? sell off some extras – real estate holdings?, rent out the venue more? Geesh. When a church can’t meet a budget, but expands, I just don’t give. It happened at our church, they, channeling Mark Driscoll (likely), opened up a new campus with a new pastor, and hired a new helper, etc. Then asked for more money. I was thinking a) didn’t agree with the expansion, b) didn’t agree with the new pastor hired, c) never asked the congregation if they thought this was a good idea – just told us it was happening. Not giving my hard earned money to your poor planning and pipe dreams. Tithing is something people did individually – one year to the temple, one year to the poor and one year to something else. When churches ask for our tithes, I think, this isn’t your year, next year doesn’t look good either… (actually read about tithes in the OT, it is eye opening).

  3. I had to giggle at the video. He has a black background, and a black outfit on. lol It looks like his head is just bopping around! On occasion you see his hand….

    He is leaving to acquire more fame and fortune is my take.

  4. OK, got it, OT tithes were mandatory and collected once every three years. On a non-mandatory year, the tenth could go to one’s own nourishment. In other words, you would set aside a tenth of your grape harvest, but could use it as wine for your own celebrations – I am assuming they are referring to rich people here who wanted to wine and dine their whole estates. On the second year, a tithe needed to be set apart again, but this could be spent on your own estate – not specifically for a celebration and on the third year, the tithe was set apart from the harvest of grapes, oil and wheat (if more was tithed it is debated) and distributed *by the owner* to the Levities (priests), poor, aliens and sojourners at your (own) gates.

    Tithes were given by landowners ONLY – meaning a poorer family didn’t tithe, as far as the verses indicate. The landowners were to tithe a tenth of their landholdings, but to not forget that the Levites didn’t inherit land, therefore they were entitled to the tithe. Somehow, this calculates out to a 10th of the tenth, so once every three years, Levites had to go to the landowners of their region and collect a tenth of a tenth of their harvests (of wine, wheat and oil).

    This is a little different form 10% of our income each week entirely to the church we are members at. Then, at our church, an extra offering is passed around for the poor – one week that extra offering was to fund Alpha (seriously).

  5. Eagle, I’m trying to process what Tripp said in this video. Offhand, he seemed to have deep compassion for victims, but that compassion changed when he added, “victims are also victimizers” (paraphrased).

    So, do victims of sexual assault turn around and sexually assault another person? Do victims of theft go and steal from others? Or victims of spiritual abuse…do they abuse others in turn? I doubt it.

    The only conclusion I’ve arrived at by this video is Tripp is mixing apples and oranges by trying to minimize the guilt of the abuser by assuming the victim has most likely been guilty of abusing as well.

    He seems to make a concerted effort to avoid having to deal with the abuser by holding him accountable.

  6. Eagle,

    I watched the Paul Tripp video. I find it interesting that he spoke at the Desiring God Conference that year (2008) with Mark Driscoll. Bob Kauflin provided the music.

    We've come a long way since then, and the YRR movement of which Tripp is very much a part, is weakening IMHO.

    Tripp concludes by saying we are all victims and victimizers. Sometimes that may be the case, but generalizations like this are wrong on so many levels.

  7. Just out of curiosity, when John Piper speaks at conferences like Passion and Together for the Gospel, where are his speaking fees reported?

  8. Hannah,
    IMO any man who who needs women to be submissive in order for him to maintain a sense of masculinity would also always have a need for fame of some sort.

  9. Did anyone else have a difficult time watching/ listening to the video of Piper promoting his conference? It felt odd to me, like something belied his smirk. And the whole premise of the conference is nonsensical – lets get together and discuss how things like compassion and prayer and weeping and reaching out to the lost are not limited to the realm of professional ministry, but come from the Holy Spirit? What?? Sounds like Christianity 101 to me except…

    Piper is just inviting the bros whom he loves to get together with and have a good time. Heaven forbid he should wander off into territory suggestive of women having the exact same Holy Spirit who equips each one of us for ministry, and leaving anyone with the impression that ministry isn’t limited to professional men. No, he must guard any suggestion of that, it seems, lest any one of his carefully stacked apples on his apple cart fall and the whole thing come stumbling down. It feels so forced. Odd. Like, I dont even get where he’s coming from on this. And the way he presented himself felt peculiar to me.

    I think Piper is hiding a struggle that might have to do with his complementarianism. He doesn’t sound to me like a man who wants to see everyone released in to Christian ministry, he comes across as someone who wants to control what that is, who its for, and the rules. But he’s not making god sense because, regardless of how much of a “professional” he sees himself as, I don’t think its any of his business.

    I do hope Piper does go into the woods for some R&R and that he packs his boots, because he needs to take a hike.

  10. Deb –

    The link that Sad posted has some specific information about Piper's income. I have always heard that he was upfront with his income and where it went, and that he lived a simpler life than many well known pastors. Conversely, we have never known how much money CJ and Carolyn Mahaney take in or even what CJ's salary is. What I have more a problem with regarding Piper is the things he says that he believes God would say to men and woman.

    We have to take into consideration that all money that comes into a pastor (no matter how it comes) comes from the same people who tithe, buy books, buy music, attend and pay fees for conferences.

  11. 1) “Pastors of Vision” should have business degrees. Then they wouldn’t have to beg for money at the end of the year. I’m not trying to be harsh, but get your flippin’ house in order. It is certainly possible to live within your means – I manage (a small piece of) a Fortune100 company, and guess what? I’ve made budget every year. I have to. All of which also points to a lack of accountability.

    2) I don’t understand the “god-given action/god-given call mumbo-jumbo. This almost sounds like Calvinist speak for “God ordained all of this already and we are just pawns figuring this out.” Only, I would never be ungracious enough to attribute such silly thinking to Piper, or anyone else with a college degree. Sometimes I think I need a Christian Secret Decoder Ring to understand these guys.

    3) Piper made a name for himself by teaching and promoting an idea (Christian hedonism) which is at complete odds with almost everything written by the church fathers. I love Piper as a brother in Christ, but he continues to come off as “gimmicky”. The fact that he feels the need to communicate these elaborate plans for “stepping down” at his church adds to the feel. Again, not to be harsh, but if it’s time to leave – just go. The church has survived rather well for the past 2,000 years as various under-shepherds come and go. I’m pretty sure we’ll survive as Piper leaves.

    4) All of which leads me to believe that there may be an unhealthy culture of celebrity at BBC. After all, it stands to reason that Piper is communicating in a way that the church accepts and wants to hear.

  12. Bridget,

    Yes, I saw that information on the Bayly blog.ย  It still doesn’t answer where Piper’s speaking fees get reported.ย  I doubt they go to Bethlehem Baptist or Desiring God.ย 

  13. I don’t like Piper’s theology but I don’t think he’s in it for the money. I wouldn’t go so far to accuse him in that way.

    @Evie – I totally agree about the role of the Holy Spirit. These Calvinistas can have their theology and explanations for everything for all I care, but the real question in my mind is how discerning are they to the Spirit who gives the gifts? The Spirit who was to be poured out on men and women, young and old? In the wisdom of Gamaliel they should be careful that their rules don’t lead them to be found fighting against God.

  14. @ Val:

    Most churches budget more than they spend. There is a bit of looseness in the spending, such that if giving is 90 percent of budget, then there is enough play in the budget to continue operating without borrowing. So the church actually lives within its means, just not doing all of the things the budget envisioned or at the level planned.

  15. John I agree with what you wrote, and gimmicky is a good word for it. I noticed Pipers wife posted a conversation she and John had about his job change. He asked her how she felt to be the wife of an Associate Pastor, and she responded by assuring him her Johnny was she cared about. Just him.

    But I think you’re right, it does seem like his position was important in his mind as to his identity, his celebrity status. In his message following his announcement he mentions the exact date and time Jason will be taking over his “rule” That’s what he called it. He was the ruler? Like a kingship? What’s that bit in scripture about not “lording”……? I don’t get him. I’m saved but he’s lost me! ๐Ÿ˜›

  16. Deb –

    I assume speaking fees are paid directly to the individual and not to the church, the only place they would then show up is on a person’s tax return. I don’t know how that information is reported to the IRS, maybe as 1099 income. The other thing I have always wondered is the fact that most Christian speakers receive an income from their church but take time off from the church business to speak at other conferences where they receive additional income. I assume that they are not docked for the time they are away from their church business. Then many of these men take additional time off during the week, or extra vacation, because of all the time they have worked and been away from their family because of traveling to conferences AND earning money while they are doing this. It leaves so many questions in one’s mind.

    Conversely, you have the attenders of these conferences working jobs, paying to go, using some of their one or two week’s vacation time to attend, and having to be at work the day after they are back, and possibly being ridiculed by their pastors and other church members if they don’t feel they should spend their time and money to attend. It is not a pretty picture and a hardship financially, and/or emotionally, for many.

  17. @ Deb:

    That’s quite possible. He seems to be more upfront with how he functions than any of the other Calvinistas. Your link above also states that he doesn’t take weekend speaking engagements. It looked like he would only speak Tuesday through Thursday, the team is very picky about where he speaks, and they (Desiring God) holds four of their own conferences a year. I must say, though, that Jesus didn’t seem to worry about speaking where he was sure to have the biggest impact. The site text seemed to imply that Piper and the board wanted him to be where he would have the widest (largest gatherings), influence.

  18. Just a few thoughts…

    1. I was unaware of his title of “preaching and vision”. This is soooo mega seeker church speak.

    2. I was involved in a similar succession plan that followed this same formula, And yes, there are consultants out there who have formulas for mega church succession. The business model approach because it is a business.

    No one will know if it works or not because when it is a disaster, it is incumbent on all involved to present a face to the pew sitter it is working great. And the one I was involved in is still a back room disaster kept from the pew sitter. This is just another reason the celebrity culture of Christianity is so fake. There is no real “body” of Christ involved. It is all orchestrated and the bad stuff really hidden. The body of Christ should NEVER evolve around a few men and one celebrity.

    I am not real impressed with Piper’s (or Rick Warren’s) income bragging. For one reason, if you only made $120,000 a year and had NO real expenses it would be quite nice, would it not? And they have no real expenses. I think everyone should realize that these celebrities are surrounded by yes men and he even has his “submissive” wife on the 3 person governing board of DG. Nice set up. And yes, they present a air of irenic disagreement over issues like Baptism, etc but when it comes to how things are run, the celebrity has the say because without their face, the game is over. Piper has been smart in that respect when it comes to money. But I think most of their motivation is celebrity and having influence. They have a need to have followers and impart “truth” to people. They live for this. They live for stages and having their books read. And when he leaves people will act like they did when Elvis died.

    The 12:01 is total drama and the silliest part of this I have ever seen. Yes, they do see it as a “rule”. What else could it be?

    AS to the money, unless the pew sitters see a quarterly budget then there is no reason to expect the typical money game is not played. I never take their word for it because we have different definitions for what is appropriate. I do know that his son has taken a salary off DG. But if he is not an officer it won’t show up on the 990. I have a hard time believing that DG takes in less than millions every year if his books, speaking gigs, etc are funneled through it. If it is not showing up on the 990 then it is going somewhere. He is way too busy with speaking gigs that pay unbelievable amounts for a few hours of speaking. Even 15 years ago I saw checks for 15,000-20,000 for a few hours at a conference. People would be shocked at the money these guys make off their name.

    There is no worse place to be if you want to be a mega church pastor than the successor of the celebrity. You are always seen as “Jr” trying to fill dad’s shoes. That is why the celeb goes “away” for a year. But don’t believe for a minute there is not a faction calling him and keeping him informed.

    I doubt women will be able to read scripture in worship with the successor either.

  19. “It looked like he would only speak Tuesday through Thursday, the team is very picky about where he speaks, and they (Desiring God) does four of their own conferences a year. I must say, though, that Jesus didnโ€™t seem to worry about speaking where he was sure to have the biggest impact. The site text seemed to imply that Piper and the board wanted him to be where he would have the widest (largest gatherings), influence”

    Bridget, I saw these sorts of declarations all the time. But there is a catch. There are always a faction in the church concerned about them being gone all the time speaking so this sort of declaration is typical. However, a mega church pastor is usually so isolated and “busy” that no one really knows where they are. There are always exceptions but if you know the score, there are few confereces in that sphere that are on weekends. Because Piper mainly speaks to pastors. I wonder if the True Womanhood conference was on a Fri-Sat? Most of them are. That is just one example of what I mean.

  20. Val, Mega church budgeting is some of the fanciest foot work I have ever seen. Since most folk in mega churches do not tithe regularly, they must have “noses” in the pews. (About 3% tithe regularly. This is probably higher in Piper’s church due to being Reformed) People tend to give when they are there. Many even have kiosks set up for people to use their credit card. They have elaborate formulas that project each month out. Because less comes in the summer and in January.

    When it is real tight they take up “special offerings” for some disaster or “need”. I have seen special offerings bring in 500,000 in one weekend EXTRA over the church offering and I have seen a big slice of it go to “operations” needed for the special need. Smoke and mirrors.

    The amount of money that flows is unbelievable. Think of a business bringing in 2 mill per month. Much of it in cash, checks even change. The mega I have been around have bank vaults on the premises. And armed guards come around on Monday while the “counting takes place”. It is quite the site. The counters wear gloves and are in there for hours.

    One thing they NEVER suggest is cutting salaries, programs or jobs. That is done in very clever ways, though, but never for the top rung of leadership. It is more likely for a lowly admin person to take the hits. Being seen as unsuccessful is death to mega churches. People are attracted to their size and perceived success.

  21. Free wrote:

    It did bother me to hear Piper tell his members that it would be nice to meet the budget. Just like anything else, cut spending first until the budget is met.

    You never heard of the mantra of “Revenue Enhancement”? Just like Washington and Sacramento, Revenue Enhancement, Revenue Enhancement, Revenue Enhancement…

  22. I realized I had never known what Piper’s wife looked like. So I got curious enough to google her. John Piper married a strong looking girl, saw a wedding photo, and she appears like she could still be strong today, no wonder he doesn’t want her building any more muscle. His issues are becoming clearer to me all the time. Maybe his views on wives’ enduring abuse for a season is because he can only view it in his little marital box. I mean, if my 6′ 6″ 250 lb. husband who has always been the strongest man I have personally known ever even gave me so much as a little shove out of anger after 31 years of marriage I am outta here, no matter how much I love him and am committed to him, and I think even God would call me stupid for playing with such doctrine that would put me in Russian roulette.

  23. Patti, When my family members were up there working and studying with Piper, I asked about Noel and told she was very quiet but artistic and wore a beret a lot. They hardly ever mentioned her. She was sort of a non entity. It was the John Piper show. She has been mentioned more in the last 3 years or so by Piper than before. Esp since he took a Sabbatical to “work on the garden of his marriage”.

    How DO people put up with Piper’s silly flowery talk week after week? It makes me nuts!

  24. Anon 1,
    You know, I did get a sense of a quietness about her just looking at her pictures. But how much of that was learned, I’d love to know more about her.

  25. Val wrote:

    “…c) never asked the congregation if they thought this was a good idea โ€“ just told us it was happening.”

    This is not uncommon at churches that practice what is known as “elder rule.”

  26. I did hear that Noel & Piper’s marriage was in trouble a few years ago. Also heard his son(s) have been in trouble – yet magically, Piper didn’t need to resign over this, despite preaching pastors should.

    Church budgets aside, I heard a pastor speak a few weeks ago, sermon was going great until he said we were commanded to give our tithes and offerings to the church. yeah, right, these guys just assume we haven’t read up on O.T. Tithing

  27. Patti

    If you want to know more about Noel Piper go to her blog. She seems like a nice person. She does look strong in the pictures on her site. I must admit she doesn’t really reveal much about her internal self, just what is happening on the outside. Maybe she is just a very private person who has been thrust into the public sphere by her husband’s ministry.

  28. With all due respect, I don’t consider $120,000 an unreasonable annual salary for an experienced senior pastor of a large metropolitan church.

  29. Singleman, you are not alone. In fact, there are elaborate calculations involved at several mega’s. One reason why Piper’s is public is because it is so low….as compared to other’s in similar positions. Many of these guys are making 300-500 thou for salary ONLY. Not including royalties, speaking gigs, etc.

    But we have to ask what we are comparing it to. If the average pew sitter makes 47,000 and pays all their expenses for living from that, then his salary is quite large since he pays very little for living expenses. Throw in a doctrine of wives staying at home and not working outside the home and it gets even messier.

    This idea of 6 figure salaries for pastors is relatively new. It is a product of the church growth movement of the last 50 years. And it is even more interesting now that salaries are going backwards and not keeping up with major rises in prices of just about everything one needs to live.

    I would personally be stunned to find a mega church pastor making say 60-80 thou which many families live on with 2 incomes. But as long as the pew sitter thinks this is the normal, it will continue and pastors like Piper will be part of the Oligarchy just like our Congress which always exempts themselves from the laws they pass for us.

  30. @ Anon 1:
    The housing allowance is a huge benefit, non-taxed money to pay the cost of the house and utilities, based originally on the idea of a parsonage where meetings with the congregants would be held and/or the pastor’s study would be. Frequently figured at 15 percent of the appraised value of the house, plus a large share of real estate taxes and utilities.

  31. Wow, Anon 1, that is hilarious. I think he had to preach against muscular women hoping that she would abstain from becoming strong enough to pick him and throw him. I personally see nothing wrong with a wife being stronger than her husband. And if he is proud of her for it, he looks all the stronger to me, not wimpier.

  32. Arce, my bet is that the housing allowance is not included in the 120,000 as it is non taxable and not really considered part of the salary. You think that is correct? I am basing that on knowing that many were ordained in megas (even without any education for such) just to get the housing allowance but it was never posted as part of their salary.

  33. “Wow, Anon 1, that is hilarious. I think he had to preach against muscular women hoping that she would abstain from becoming strong enough to pick him and throw him. I personally see nothing wrong with a wife being stronger than her husband. And if he is proud of her for it, he looks all the stronger to me, not wimpier.”

    Patti, seeing that was weird after his treatise on muscular women. It just sort of shows how bizarro world Piper really is. It is as if he sits around trying to think up shock jock teaching that will confuse folks even more. So if we questoined him on Noel going to the gym to “work on her abs” he would say what? he was only speaking of women who are body building which is a neglent part of the population and he assumes they are all lost? Or, what? That he does not really approve of Noel working out but she had a groupon and it was a “Christian” gym? If it is a Christian gym then it is ok for a female to work on the abs?

    Again, we have classic Piper.

  34. @ singleman: I’m boggled (baffled, too). 120,000 is probably 4x what any minister/pastor that I know now sees, unless they also work part-time at another job.

    When did this kind of salary get to be something that ministers expect from their congregations?!

  35. I have this sneaking suspicion that the “prosperity gospel” crowd have some responsibility for the high salaries, along with the franchise business model that megas seem to follow.

    You would likely never find such salaries being paid at most urban churches – those that belong to denoms, that is. (Unless the congregation is very, very wealthy.)

  36. @ Anon 1:

    I find this hilarious since I happen to know two bodybuilders (a man and a woman) and they are both evangelical Christians. lol! I’ve got to read this treatise against muscular women by Piper – where might I find it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  37. Ok I just found the Muscular Women manifesto, and I have been laughing out loud like a nut for 15 minutes. My kids keep asking me what is wrong and I keep telling them it’s “adult jokes” – I think the comments on that thread here are making me laugh harder than Piper’s words but it’s a close call !
    LOL! God have mercy on us! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. K, glad you found it. Mind boggling, isn’t it? But classic Piper. I personally think he needs to work with his hands instead of thinking all this nutty stuff up.

  39. @ Victorious:

    That’s how I understood his main point (the guy in the video).

    He did acknowledge towards the end that some people are more victimized than victimizers, but he ends by saying something like ‘all of us are both.’

    I do understand that all of us are sinners, and we’ve all said and done things to hurt other people, but this does not mean all pain inflicted is equal.

    Some people are intentionally malicious and selfish and actually look for other people to pick on or abuse.

    Where I get particularly annoyed by this “we’re all victimizers” sort of thinking, which is prevalent among Christians:

    In a fit of grumpiness, I’ve been known to snap at people, but it’s not often, nor is it my default state. But because I had a mother who was codependent (a result, I think, of her having come from an alcoholic family where her father beat her and her mother up), she passed this set of traits on to me.

    I was born with a very shy, introverted, sweet temperament, but Mom made it worse, by teaching me that codependency is a normal way to deal with people and live life.

    Shy, insecure me should have been encouraged by both parents to address conflict head-on and stand up to mean people, but no, I was taught that self defense is wrong and was only encouraged to be even more shy, insecure, and afraid of people than I already was.

    I went through my childhood up until my very late 30s being an absolute passive doormat, due to my mother’s parenting. I was taught that one never, ever defends oneself when being bullied or abused.

    As a result of being taught conflict is always wrong or bad, I tip-toed around other people’s feelings to an extreme degree.

    I tried very hard not to make waves, pick fights, or offend people, because my Mom taught me other people’s feelings are delicate and sacred (more so than mine; mine were expendable and did not matter).

    I did not want to make anyone angry at me, because once they were angry at me, I could not defend myself from any physical or verbal abuse they hurled at me.

    When you go through life trying very hard to avoid making people angry, you tend to be the punching bag, not the puncher.

    I never, ever intentionally started fights with people. I went out of my way to not hurt them or anger them.

    But fat a lot of good that did me, as people were mean or abusive to me anyway, from junior high into college and jobs, in church environments, and even with some family members.

    I did not understand, why, since I was so nice to people, some people were mean to me anyway.

    It was not until I read about codependency, where I learned from psychologists and counselors, that ironically, the nicer you are to people, you will actually attract mean and abusive people to you, because mean people look for weak people who won’t push back.

    (Mean or abusive people view niceness or passivity as weaknesses to exploit.)

    Some of us get pushed around and harassed in life more than others, especially those of us who had no self esteem, were socially awkward, or who were taught that being a good Christian was synonymous with being a punching bag, and that it’s wrong to have boundaries.

    I don’t think guys, like the one in that video, understand or appreciate that.

    Maybe he’s the sort who thinks you will have an easier time forgiving your abusers and moving past your painful childhood if you realize you’re a sinner who needed Christ too. If that’s what he means, he’s chosen an unfortunate way of trying to express it.

    We all need a Savior, but I don’t think I’ve hurt others nearly as often or as seriously as I’ve been hurt by them, and I suspect that is true for a lot of other people, too.

  40. @ K:

    For anyone else who wants to read the John Piper Muscular Woman lunacy, just look under his name on this blog’s Index, which I think is on the right hand side, at the top of the home page, or this one, under “Categories”.

    There’s another, similar weird page where Piper gave his blessing to married women to use the bathroom without asking their husband for permission first.

    In light of the kooky Piper commentary about muscular women (he apparently feels only men should be muscular), I’d like to dedicate this Village People song to him:
    ‘Macho Man’ song, by the Village People

  41. Hi all

    I was away today to a parent’s orientation to my son’s new college-NC State. I will go through the thread and comments in the AM.ย 

  42. Pingback: Piper Moves One Foot Slightly Forward

  43. Daisy, I’m with you on that…whilst I freely admit I’m a sinner, & know how far I fall short, I can still say, hand on heart, that I’ve never felt the slightest temptation to abuse children or similar, that these ‘we are all sinners’ spiel often comes out of, & no temptation to go on the rampage with a semi-automatic weapon either. That’s not bragging, that’s just fact, & I’d probably top myself if I did start to feel either urge seriously. What are these people thinking? Is that what they’re really saying? I know I need a Saviour regardless of not having those urges, by dint of the fact that I haven’t loved the Lord with my heart, mind, soul & strength for every second of my life.

    There really has to be a better way of expressing this stuff, stuff here meaning reality.

  44. Beaker and Daisy,

    What you both are saying is the part of Christendom that really scares me. It has become sinful to say you would never abuse anyone or shoot up a room full of children. And we find ourselves apologizing for thinking so highly of ourselves to even say utter a thing. It automatically means we believe we are good and sinless.

    It is a bizarre place much of Christendom has come to. CJ Mahaney has taught that “we” hate God, speaking to the Resolved conference room filled with professing Christians.

    I just do not get this at all. I think it is one of the most horrible soul destroying doctrines out there.

  45. I think that they ignore the fact that Paul was FORMALLY a murderer, persecutor of Christians, and the like. He was the worst of the worst, lowest of the low. And yet – after God redeemed him he didn’t do those things anymore!
    That’s what’s missing. Those of us in Christ do not have urges to go on murdering rampages & hurt and destroy other people. And the church insisting on treating the unrepentant rapist the SAME as the redeemed person sitting in the pew is why things are going downhill fast.

  46. Anon1

    If there are nutjobs in the faith that think they are no different than a serial killer, then they all need to be assessed for mental illness and gotten out of leadership, pronto.

  47. “I think that they ignore the fact that Paul was FORMALLY a murderer, persecutor of Christians, and the like. He was the worst of the worst, lowest of the low. And yet โ€“ after God redeemed him he didnโ€™t do those things anymore!

    K, Many actually interpret that passage in present voice meaning that Paul is claiming he IS the same horrible sinner even though he does not do those things anymore as if he is teaching he is still in the same sinful state. It boggles my mind. I checked the Greek as best as I could for a novice and cannot see the present tense there at all.

  48. “What doctrine? The total depravity gubbins?”

    Actually it includes imputed guilt in addition to total depravity and excludes your ability to make any good choices even after being saved. Only God can force you to do good because your natural self is totally evil. (This is the Platonic thinking being systemized. All material world is evil and spiritual world is good. I was talking to an ancients prof a while back who told me the entire doctrine of original sin as we think of it today is anywhere to be found before Augustine writings. It was not understood that way at all by earlier church fathers who left writings. I have no idea about that and would love to dig deeper)

    I think there are many wonderful Calvinists who are very careful about their determinist God filter not taking over. But they are rare in the YRR circles which I believe teach and practice Calvinism in it’s purest most logical form: Man has no volition.

  49. If, according to the Calvinists, everyone was so close to anarchy – murdering everyone for fun, raping, etc., how did we get civilized? Even prehistoric tribes in the Amazon, Africa and Australasia have social order and members display self-control (despite the tribe having no notion of “the Bible” and, since according to Piper, one can’t get saved without a ‘proper’ understanding of the Bible).

    Sure wartime, a loss of social order, shows a very dark side of humanity, some are just behaving because the price of not behaving is too high, and wartime gives them the excuse to go rape (read about this during the Balkan wars) but social order returns – with or without a Bible. If, what the Calvinists say is true, social order would be impossible. Something is off in their views.

  50. @ Anon 1:
    Some of these guys need to explain why Jesus did NOT say, “Saul, Saul, You persecute me because you’re too depraved to do otherwise!” and why Paul did NOT say, “I am unworthy to be called an apostle, because I am persecuting the church!”
    Then again, maybe this provides a good excuse for modern aPostles as THEY persecute the church. :/

  51. Elastigirl- big up for the use of the word ‘gubbins’ for the doctrine of total depravity. There’s a word that needs to be shouted out during sermons every now & then ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Sergius Martin-George wrote:

    Great, now Iโ€™ve got an image of John Piper dancing around in a hard hat that I canโ€™t get rid of.

    I’m sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s a palette cleanser:

    Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive

    I considered linking to “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy but thought Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” was a little more subtle in the female-empowerment department. And would cause less eye rolling.

  53. @Beakerrj and Anon1

    I do agree to a point with what they’re saying (or trying to say); it’s true we’re all sinners, but it does bother me that they try to equivocate a Christian who, say, steals a pen or stack of Post-It notes from his employer to a guy who goes on a serial killing rampage.

    I know the Bible gets into this thing about how breaking even a single commandment makes you just as guilty as if you broke all ten, but even Christ seemed to teach that God considers some sins a little more repellent than others (but then, I’ve seen Christians who debate that point, who feel all sin is equal, and not just the Calvinists).

    Christ seemed to feel or display a stronger dislike towards wrongs done to the most vulnerable, such as children or widows, than to groups more capable of defending themselves.

    There’s a passage in the Old Testament (Proverbs 6:16-19) where it says (in part),

    There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
    haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    a heart that devises wicked schemes…

    So it looks like maybe God does dislike some sorts of sins more than others?

    One of my pet peeves of recent years (I am sorry to keep repeating myself on this site, but I have a handful of topics that are hot button issues for me, so I tend to go off on them often), is how a lot of people (usually Christians) blame victims.

    It’s like some Christians will try to downplay some pain you’re in by either saying (1) you don’t have it as bad as some people; or this other method: (2) saying, ‘You’re a sinner too, and you’ve sinned against people at times.’

    I can see situations where point (2) can maybe help some people. I have read books by Christian counselors who, once they got their patient to see point 2, the patient was able to forgive the person who did them wrong, let go of the anger/pain, and move on in life and enjoy life again.

    I can see how that approach might be of help to some people, in certain situations, but the person using it should be very careful who they’re using it on (and the timing of it), because using it may cause more damage and hurt.

    But this approach seems to be carelessly employed by a lot of pastors and Christian lay persons, regardless of the type of person they’re dealing with or regardless of the situation.

    There are some Christians who can get very judgmental, who make certain behaviors or sins out to be totally unforgivable, such as drinking alcohol, homosexuality, or getting an abortion, and I assume some of the Christians who say ‘all sins are equal to God’ are trying, in their own way, to bring grace and mercy back into the equation.

    If that’s their motive, I guess that’s admirable, but often I see that technique used as a weapon against hurting Christians, to tell them to shut up about their pain – i.e., ‘that guy may have chopped off your arm with a rusty dull blade for kicks and giggles, but you once flipped the bird to a motorist in rush hour traffic for being cut off, so let go of the offense.’

  54. One thing for sure, Piper is not leaving for more “fame and fortune.” That is not what drives him. I know the many negative comments and even I do not agree with all his theological stands but I have benefitted greatly from his ministry and particularly his biblical teaching on the glory of God.

  55. Hi, John.

    Please explain to me in detail just what the glory of God is. This is a most sincere question.

  56. @ elastigirl: Not an explanation by any means, but an anecdote about what someone claimed to be “the glory of God” – this woman was a speaker at a women’s retreat that I attended in, oh, 2001, I think.

    She’s a musicians and mentioned that she was doing some work for a conference that was being held on the Disneyland grounds. She was in the main conference location, all by herself, rehearsing a bit and she said that she saw a whole lot of sparkly stuff in the air and hovering just above the floor.

    she assumed that that was one manifestation of “the glory of God.”

    Because she told this story in such a matter-of-fact way, people appeared to accept it, though what they were thinking, I couldn’t begin to guess.

    [/end weird charismatic sidetrack]

  57. Tag on my last post: Forgot to say that she thought the sparkly things were very appropriate to the location (Disneyland).

    I can’t help wondering if some theater techie was playing a practical joke – y’know, pretending that Tinkerbell was in the building?!

  58. Hello Elastgirl,

    The glory of God is the sum total of all the attributes of God that distinguishes Him as God and separates Him from all creation. His glory includes wrath, anger, love, mercy, etc. and all of them in perfect measure or balance The Scriptures say that there is no god beside Him and no god before Him which means none is equal to Him or is greater than He. The very word “separate” means holy. That is His greatest attribute, His holiness, His separateness, not love, as important as love is. God loves His own glory more than anything because it is the most important thing in the universe. To the unregenerate mind that sounds egotistical but He must be true to Himself even when others deny Him. He states in Isaiah 48:11 He will not give His glory to another We all fall short of that glory but when saved are able to magnify or reflect that glory which is our highest calling . 1 Corinthians 10:31.We do so by making daily, deliberate choices to obey Him and His commandments as well as in activity’s like eating and drinking. That is the basic idea of the meaning of the fear of God; to make right choices even when it would be easier not6 to. These choices reflect the glory of God. You were kind to ask and I wish you and all the folks on here a happy new year.

  59. Just for fun, some dictionary definitions of the word “glory.

    I can’t help wondering what words in the original texts are being rendered as “glory” in English; also how those same words are translated in a sampling of other languages – it seems like there are many concepts being expressed, as “glory” has many definitions in English – all very subtly related, with tons of nuances.

    John, your description of the glory of God actually sounds closer to the Qur’an (or, at least, the Torah – Tawrat in Arabic) than any NT definitions I can think of offhand. (Reference to the Qur’an is *not* intended as a slam of your post or of Islam; it’s just a point of reference.)

  60. Hi, John.

    I truly appreciate the time you took to answer my question.

    I’ve mentioned elsehwere that my frustration is at Defcon 3 with christian culture and the bible itself. The words “glory of God” are some of the main offenders.

    “Glory of God” is quite the vague concept, but christians tend to make convenient use of it to anchor whatever point they want to make. (or to conveniently fill out a song, when lacking in lyrical ability & inspiration. the queen mutha of song-writing cop-outs!)

    I would love to know what it means (beyond shining brilliance). But I’m having my doubts that it has much concrete meaning at all.

    Again, I appreciate your information. But I have my doubts that it can be justified in the bible as a thesis for the glory of God. It seems to me to be a jumble of christian ideas, all pulled together with the convenient drawstring of “glory of God”.

    It all sounds good, and John Piper has a persuasive aura about him — but can any of this be justified? Especially that part about holiness being the most important attribute of God, more than love. Seems quite fanciful.

    I’m not questioning you, but the source of the information. Sorry to run you through my frustration grinder.