Thursday, March 02, 2006

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals

This book by John Piper is not another one of those "How To" books for preachers and pastors. It is a cry from the author's heart for a Biblically radical pastoral ministry. I don't suppose that people who know me would describe me as a slick and professional minister. But I still found this book very challenging. All the authentic Piper touches are here, from the Edwardsian (Jonathan Edwards that is) chapter on Brothers, God Loves His Own Glory to the charge Brothers, Consider Christian Hedonism. Piper writes with passion and clarity. This is a book that will stir you up to action and sit you down for quiet, penitent self-examination.
Piper calls us to Live and Preach Justification by Faith as understood by the the Reformers, Puritans and Jonathan Edwards. We need to be reminded of the pastoral implications of this great doctrine as we engage in controversy with old-style Catholic teaching and the New Perspective on Paul. It was while Edwards was preaching a series on justification that revival began, "God's work wonderfully brake forth among us". The author also issues this challenge, "Brothers, we need to feel the truth of hell and the nearness of our own escape". With Evangelicals flirting with annihilationalism and even universal salvation we urgently need to be reminded of this. We must warn lost people, even with tears to "Flee from the wrath to come!". We seem to have lost the pulpit earnestness exemplified by Richard Baxter who would "preach as never sure to preach again as a dying man to dying men."
The writer calls us to think deeply, read widely and pray without ceasing. Those of us who have not kept up our Greek and Hebrew studies are rebuked by the example of Henrich Bitzer. He was a banker who produced a book of daily readings in the original Biblical languages to help pastors to improve their grasp of Greek and Hebrew. Piper bravely tackles the issues of racism and abortion head on and urges ministers to do likewise. In all, this book will do much good if we don't just read it, but take its lessons to heart.
Let us hope and pray that John Piper makes a full recovery from his cancer treatment.


Stephen said...

I agree, Guy. It is an excellent book, apart from his beliefs about baptism(!)...

Guy Davies said...

Hi Stephen,
With your piccy showing you against the background of an abundance of water, I hadn't put you down for a baby sprinkler.

revdrron said...

Greetings exilic brother,

Bro Piper is my neighbor. We’re both reformed Baptists and both minister in the same city. He reminds me of a throw back to a by gone age of the Puritan mind. I’m not sure it ever existed but you can’t deny its call to biblical conservatism. His concept of Christian Hedonism is something I’m familiar with but I’m often disoriented, even embarrassed, at the point of application. As I read his works, I often anticipate an epiphanic vision of Jonathan Edwards himself!

A refreshingly nostalgic read, however!

Gotta serve somebody, ron

Guy Davies said...

Hi revdrron,

Piper's genius is to show that Jonathan Edward's vision is vitally important for the churches today. I don't see that as a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Piper urges us return to the old paths of Bible-based, God exalting, joyful godliness. What could be more relevant to today's church scene?

Guy Davies