John Piper’s Prophetic Warning


Adrian Warnock relays a “prophetic word” from John Piper, who has become the poster pastor for the resurgence of contemporary Calvinism and Reformed theology. Some folks in that movement have problems digesting Piper’s charismatic leanings, so it should be interesting to see how well the warning below goes over:

I find it intriguing that Piper is careful to appease those who might blanch at the phrase “prophetic word” by saying that the warning doesn’t have to be ascribed to a supernatural revelation. Still, it’s progress…I think.

I also find it interesting that as some of the stalwarts of Calvinism age, they become more friendly with charismatic theology (see D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, for instance). Ironically, the video above appears directed at the very people who would criticize that chumminess.

Anyway, what do you think of Piper’s warning? Do you think it’s true? (I’ll reserve my thoughts for the comments section below…)

11 thoughts on “John Piper’s Prophetic Warning

  1. Reading the title, I thought that it was a prophetic word from John Piper, not a prophetic word given to him. I knew that he was open to Charismatic leanings, but was a bit surprised that he would give a prophetic word. I see that wasn’t the case, but I am glad to see that he was open enough to receive it and to ponder on it.

    As I struggled for years to come out of a Roman Catholic background, I found reformed theology to be appealing. Noticing that historical reformed theology refuted the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, it brought an intellectualism to my study that was refreshing. That being said, the attribute that eventually kept me from fully embracing a reformed theology was that intellectualism (and the concept of free will). It just seemed to me that there was something totally missing when it came to that theology. I might struggle to explain what that is, but it would have to say that it has to do with relationship and experience. Relationship as in actually being the Body of Christ (the church) and experience as in allowing the Holy Spirit the freedom to govern the gatherings. Perhaps the fact that my first experience outside of the Catholic Church was in a Charismatic Church influenced my leanings as well. I look at it as giving me balance while I was searching.

    While it is refreshing to see men like John Piper and Wayne Grudem hold to their reformed backgrounds while being open to the continuing giftings and working of the Holy Spirit, I still find something missing in the movement. It is kind of like reducing the Creation argument to Intelligent Design. Yes, as creationist, we may be able to capitulate and say that we believe in Intelligent Design, but that really doesn’t fully tell the story of God our Creator, does it?

    All this isn’t to say that there isn’t anything that the Charismatic movement can’t learn from the new Reformed movement. The Charismatic movement has been criticized in the past for being more experiential than intellectual. There also seems to be a tendency for us to quickly move on to the next “new move of God”, sacrificing a sense of history. The Reformed movement embraces both intellectualism (theology) and a sense of history.

    Piper makes some good points that are applicable to both sides. As he so articulately laid it, we are both guilty of loving the way that we do Church (or theology) instead of truly loving the church and the Head of the church.

    I find a nice analogy from the story from the Mount of Transfiguration. On one side, you have Moses, who represents people who try to bring you under the law (little ‘l’, which I loosely attach to the Reformed camp here), and on the other side Elijah, who represents the people who want to prophesy all of the time (or, loosely, the Charismatic camp). But Jesus, in the middle, brings balance to both.

    • Don wrote:
      I find a nice analogy from the story from the Mount of Transfiguration. On one side, you have Moses, who represents people who try to bring you under the law (little ‘l’, which I loosely attach to the Reformed camp here), and on the other side Elijah, who represents the people who want to prophesy all of the time (or, loosely, the Charismatic camp). But Jesus, in the middle, brings balance to both.

      Wow, Don, I really like that illustration. I think there’s a great deal of wisdom in it. I also see a rational (Moses)/emotional (Elijah) balance there too.

      • I wish that I could take credit for the analogy, but it was something that I heard in a message from many years ago. It’s always stuck with me. The refinement that you made, between rational and emotional, is very good as well. It better captures both sides that I was looking to portray here.

  2. Steve Myers

    Prophetic or not, it is scripturally sound that we are to love God with our whole heart. That, to me, is to not love anything more than Him and it includes our ministry, theology, doctrine, etc. This Godly word is a warning to us not to set anything above loving God. May we who serve Him truly be humble in all things.

  3. Bob Aarhus

    ‘Do ye think so?’ said the Teacher with a piercing glance. ‘It is nearer to such as you than ye think. There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing about God Himself . . . as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organiser of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all the snares.’ C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce”

    Guess God needs to recycle those Prophetic Words every 70 years or so…

    • Bob,

      Yea, verily, all things old are new again!

      I think the key here is that Piper’s warning is exactly what some in his movement need to hear, as I fear they have succumbed.

      I know that I, too, am guilty of this very error.

  4. Piper a radical middle guy and I like his approach. Interestingly I just reposted this video from Warnock and then saw you had done the same.

    So regarding the caution, yes, it struck me as a valid watch-outs. Of course any warning of extremism to any group is probably valid but perhaps not necessary. So I just took this as a be aware sort of thing. Did you see more to it?

    • Rick,

      You and I discussed this last week, how the TRs can be so into their thing that they miss the entire point of what they defend. I think Piper’s noting that trend and trying to bring folks back from the ledge. I’m not sure that the TRs will hear him, though, as he is beginning to be written off by them because of his charismatic leanings and his (blasphemy!) invitation to Rick Warren to attend that one conference Piper sponsored.

  5. Jeremy

    I find John Piper’s words here to be very true and they can not be said or stressed enough. However, from the reverse angle I was raised in a Charismatic family and my parents are Charismatic pastors. Growing up, the large majority of conversations, books read, and gurus followed placed an unhealthy emphasis on the experiatial. I would describe most charismatics as fideists in most resects with very little focus on critical rationalism or intellect whatsoever. I am not talking about some back woods evangelical charismatics either. I am describing ministers and lay people at the heart of the movements and leadership.

    As I attended an undergrad theological school and press toward seminary I have been warned many a time that I would lose my faith. I have found heavy anti-intellectualism in the charismatic circle. At one point I rebelled against this anti-intellectualism and became a so focused on the intellect that the Bible became solely an academic book and theology a philosophy.

    It is true that the place to be and the arena God wants us is balanced in the middle in moderation. This is the healthiest position to be in as a Christian regardless of who rejects you. I love Don’s illustration above as well because it rings so true. To lean too far one way we become Pharisaic legalists and the other way we become hippy epicureans. May we find the balance by the grace of God

  6. Larry F.

    “You can get it without any claim to special divine authority”.

    That’s called discernment. As he points out, all the cautions he mentions here can be arrived at by watching the goings on in the movement he’s analyzing.

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