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…)

Throwing Stones in Glass Houses of Worship


People who worship in glass houses...Some arguments that crop up in the Godblogosphere just kill me. If I were a non-Christian, I’d have all the ammo I’d need from blogs alone to make a compelling argument to look somewhere other than Jesus for my salvation.

Can I reiterate the old aphorism that the biggest argument against Christianity are Christians? Hackneyed, yes, but sadly true.

Last week, the old divisive question of cessationism vs. charismata raised its perpetually ugly head for the umpteenth time over at Pyromaniacs. It seems that we simply can’t let this issue die, as if one more post on it’s going to force one side or the other to capitulate.

Whenever the supporters of a cessationist view want to make their point that all charismatics are “shambalahonda”-babbling, heretical nutjobs, they go to the same well again and again: TBN. The same tired arguments are trotted out. “Look at Benny Hinn! Will you get a load of that screwloose?” Or “What’s with Paul and Jan Crouch? I mean, seriously!”

And thus all charismatics—myself included—are painted with the same exceedingly broad brush. The blanket of condemnation falls on anyone who spoke in tongues after the Apostle John died, and we’re all Benny Hinns, W.V. Grants, and purveyors of error worthy of an extra bucket of red-hot embers when we finally croak and wind up in hell.

But is that the truth?

I’d like readers to bear with me through the next few paragraphs. Don’t even read them unless you’re willing to read to the end. Just stop reading now if you aren’t going to finish this post. I’ll even highlight the questionable words in blue so you know which ones I mean.

Pyromaniacs is a Reformed site. They support 5-point TULIP Calvinism. In truth, we agree on most things, though I understand that my Lutheran theology (though Reformation-inspired) coupled with a belief that the charismata are still working today would not endear me to my brothers there. Certainly, I would not be branded Reformed by their definition.

So while Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs talks of bad experiences with charismaniacs, I’d like to share my experiences in the Reformed church, since I was a part of a few Reformed churches over the years and have friends who have attended Reformed Calvinist churches.

One Bible study I attended consisted solely of men from a respected, wealthy Reformed church. Before the Bible studies started, these men would sit around and belittle the poor, talking about “those people” and how they were lazy and ignorant. (That they laughed while they tore down “the least of these” made it all the more excruciating for me to even be in the same room with those “Christians.”)

Or let’s consider the Calvinist church that split because some people in that church wanted to evangelize the nearby Hispanic community. Objections swirled that the church would be ruined should “those people” (there it is again!) come in and disrupt things by bringing their culture and customs with them.

Or how about greeters at a Reformed church “greeting” visitors by immediately asking if they were Calvinists, then walking away when the visitors said they did not know?

What can be said of the Reformed church that belittles congregants who can’t afford to send their kids to an exclusive, private Christian school (founded in part by the church)?

Or how about the couple who wanted to start an evangelistic outreach in their Reformed church, but encountered constant apathy on the part of the congregation because “those who were predestined were already in the church”?

In short, which is worse—the babbling, emotional, theology-challenged, snake-handling charismaniac OR the self-righteous, xenophobic, status-seeking, materialistic Reformed/Calvinist?

It’s a pointless question, isn’t it?

If we Christians want to speak words of death in the Church, then by all means let’s resort to naming the worst possible examples of living the Christian life that we might possibly find in some other denomination or sect. Then let’s write as if those worst possible examples were the norm.

I didn’t want to write this post. That this post even needs to be written saddens me. Writing those examples of how some perverse subset of Reformed/Calvinist brothers and sisters ignored the very heart of the Gospel gave me no pleasure at all. Why? Because I know that thousands more Reformed Calvinist brothers and sisters in Christ are NOT like that. In the same way, thoughtful, theologically-sound charismatics who don’t like TBN or the excesses displayed within some charismatic churches exist in large numbers.

Because some Reformed and Calvinist believers are jerks doesn’t negate the Reformed/Calvinist message anymore than wacky charismatics negate theirs. The truth here is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before we disparage others from some other flavor of Christianity, we should ask if our own flavor has its house in order. Railing on “those other guys” comes easy to us because few of us wish to acknowledge the problems in our own house. (If Team Pyro wants to correct those Reformed churches I mentioned above, I’ve got the phone numbers for a couple of them. They can drop me an e-mail. I’ve already corrected charismania many times here.)

If Reformed/Calvinists with a keen eye for discernment would work to clean up their house, and Baptists worked to clean up their house, and Nazarenes worked to clean up their house, and charismatics worked to clean up their house, I have an idea that God would bless each house in a profound way. Perhaps then, even our differences wouldn’t seem so large.

But if the Nazarenes decide to point fingers at the mess in the Baptist’s house, and the Reformed/Calvinists decide to ridicule the excesses in the charismatic house, then the world they all live in will go on spinning and the Church of Jesus Christ will smother itself with a blanket of words that kill.

Because I can always find a problem with my neighbor. It’s my own problems I’m not so keen to fix.

Thoughts on Halloween and Reformation Day


We interrupt this Cerulean Sanctum “Being the Body” series to bring you the ubiquitous Godblogger posturing on Halloween and Reformation Day. I’ve seen scads of previous analyses of the former over the last few years, but now there’s a push to bring the latter out from under the covers. Better discuss both.


As to Halloween, last year I wrote a piece detailing why I now opt out even though I was raised in a Christian household that had no problems with the “holiday.”

The Obligatory “Halloween Is Bad” Post

Rob Wilkerson over at Miscellanies on the Gospel is one of my favorite bloggers. His recent post on Halloween is outstanding:

A Gospel Perspective on Halloween Horror

I don’t know what it is about folks from charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds, but they seem most leery of Halloween, almost without exception. Meanwhile, Christian folks on the far, far side away from that perspective seem to be more tolerant of trick or treating.


Celebrating Reformation Day, for me, is a little like remembering someone you loved dearly who has passed away. As a dyed-in-the-wool, anti-RCC Protestant, I would love to rousingly celebrate the anniversary of Luther’s pounding his 95 Theses into the cathedral door at Wittenberg. But I think we’ve squandered a lot of what the Reformation bought us.

I don’t think we practice most of the backbone concepts of the Reformation, even in the most ardent Reformed churches. I grew up Lutheran, and even so I ran into disconnects all over the place.

Take the idea of the priesthood of all believers. Nothing in our practice of our church life proves that we believe this foundational truth of the Reformation one iota. Too many of our churches have pastors who lord it over their congregations, disempowered congregants who are routinely told that only the specially trained (read “seminarians”) are equipped to minister, Martin Luther sticks it to the RCCand vicious church factions debating the same “who is greater?” nonsense that got the disciples in hot water with Jesus. Truthfully, our practice of the priesthood of all believers better resembles that classic line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

I know in my own life I’ve encountered that hypocrisy more times than I can count, none more glaring than my experience in the church Martin Luther founded. I worked at a Lutheran camp a couple summers and got in serious trouble with the leadership of the camp for baptizing kids who converted to Christ. Seems like a perfectly ordinary action to take with new believers, baptizing them and all. From the reaction of the leadership, though, you would’ve thought I’d killed those kids à la Jason of Friday the 13th movie fame.

At sole issue was the fact that I wasn’t a pastor. When I countered that the Philip who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch wasn’t an apostle but a guy who waited on the tables, I was lucky not to be stuffed into a canvas sack and thrown into the lake right then and there. So much for the priesthood of all believers. I guess some priests are more equal than others.

I could walk through the Reformation’s five solas and ask how we practice them in reality. Just the other day, I experimented by Googling the phrase “What must I do to be saved?” and perused the answers provided by leading Protestant Web sites. If that cursory survey is any indication, we’ve got to do a whole lot more to be saved than have faith in Christ, trust His Scriptures, and receive His grace. (Though I think soli Deo gloria still holds up in all cases.) Sadly, at the site of one prominent Reformed blogger, the list of requirements for salvation (according to the sermon by Cotton Mather posted there) included a whole lot more than what we got out of the entirety of the Reformation. Somehow, we Protestants have found a way to obscure the simple answer to that most necessary question. In many ways, we’re back where we were just prior to the Reformation.

But I guess the main reason that I’m not quite as pumped about Reformation Day as some others is my speculation about Martin Luther. I fear that some of the loudest celebrants of Reformation Day might be the very same people who would call for a good old burning at the stake for Martin Luther if he showed up today and pounded a new set of 95 Theses on the doors of our modern Evangelical churches. Love to see them Catholics squirm, but don’t tell us to give up our modern indulgences.

Too many of us Protestants have capped Christianity at the Reformation. We believe that nothing more can come out of Christ’s Church than what we got out of the Reformation nearly five hundred years ago. In some ways, we’re like the fifty-year-old shoe salesman at K-Mart who once quarterbacked his high-school team to a state championship. Our entire lives revolve around that day when we threw the winning touchdown. We relive it, revel in it, and on and on. But we let that one event in time become the be all and end all of our existence. It can never get better than that time, nor can we ever let it possibly come close.

But oh what we may be missing because we can’t see the opportunities that lie before us today!

Don’t get me wrong. I supremely value the Reformation. I also supremely value practicing what we preach and asking if we need a new reformation even better than the old one.

Now what church will let me nail that to their door today?