Monday, April 5, 2010

Piper and Warren, Part 2

Last week when I mentioned John Piper's invitation to Rick Warren to speak at Desiring God's National Conference in September, a commenter wanted to know a bit about who Rick Warren is and why there would be concern over him speaking at this conference.

I hadn't responded yet to that comment, but after reading this post from Tim Challies, I think he answers better than I could have. It is fair-minded and charitable, and I believe it's wise and discerning, as I would expect from Challies.

If there's still a lack of clarity about Warren, let me know and I will try to respond in some more detail.


  1. Larry,

    I've been thinking about this quite a bit for the past week. Not the Piper-Warren issue, but the fact that there's an issue at all. In other words, I wonder if our interest in the day-to-day decisions of these celebrity (for want of a better word) pastors is healthy. Is "celebrity pastor" an oxymoron? I thank God for the ability to listen to sermons and conference messages from a variety of pastors, but I wonder if this easy access to the teachings of people whom we have never met and never will meet encourages idolatry.

    I know you. I know that you are a sinner, as I am. I know that you rely on the forgiveness of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ not only in doctrine, but in your day-to-day life. I have seen God sanctify you through your reliance on the Gospel these last few years. I have seen you fail. I have seen you succeed. I love you as a brother.

    However, I have not seen this of John Piper, Tim Keller, Rick Warren, et. al. While I'm sure they live this way, I have not really seen it because they present a carefully controlled image through the media. Even if they were to try to present an honest picture of their spiritual life to us through the media, they would fail because we don't really "know" them.

    Consequently, it is a strong temptation for me to think of them as more "holy" than myself.
    When they, in my eyes, make a decision that I perceive as not consistent with this image, I get angry. Why? Out of concern for their spiritual health? Out of a love for our Savior? Maybe. But, if I'm honest, probably not. I think I get angry because an idol I had been worshipping has been exposed and I would like to continue worshipping it. This could never happen with you. Why? Because I know you. When I look at your life, I see a man, like myself, who is pointing to a God-Man who is much greater. I quickly forget about Larry and place my hopes on Him instead. I think, at least partly, that this is because I know you.

    What do you think?


  2. I think there's a great deal of wisdom in what you've written here, Will. Thanks for sharing.

    One of the observations I made in reading some of the comments on the DG blog in response to Piper's decision was that the idol of John Piper was being dethroned for some people, and they were having a hard time with that.

    Comments like "This is really straining my trust in Dr. Piper.." left me thinking, "Why should we be wanting to trust Dr. Piper?" He is a man, he's fallible, and we don't have to agree with him about everything.

    I think 5 years ago I would have reacted quite differently to this announcement. I hope that, by God's grace, that is because I've become more grounded in the gospel and therefore more charitable and gracious with those whom I disagree with.


  3. Larry,

    If there's any wisdom here, it's a result being taken to the cross after of being shown my own propensity to sin in the area, to make idols of people and, usually concurrent with this, to make an idol of my doctrinal purity.
    As you can probably tell, I still struggle greatly with this.
    I'll pray for both John Piper and Rick Warren--and those who agree/disagree with them--that through this they will find themselves "seeing and savoring Jesus Christ" instead of putting there hope in any idol. I know this might sound like "Christian hedonism", but, if we're really "desiring God", shouldn't this be the "purpose" that we are "driven" by?


  4. Larry,

    Here's a post on a related issue from the side of a pastor: