Young, Restless, Reformed

(ht: Justin Taylor)

Young, Restless, Reformed, by Collin Hansen

Nothing in her evangelical upbringing prepared Laura Watkins for John Piper.

“I was used to a very conversational preaching style,” said Watkins, 21. “And having someone wave his arms and talk really loudly made me a little scared.”

Watkins shouldn’t be embarrassed. Piper does scare some people. It’s probably his unrelenting intensity, demanding discipline, and singular passion—for the glory of God. Those themes resound in Desiring God, Piper’s signature book. The pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis has sold more than 275,000 copies of Desiring God since 1986. Piper has personally taken his message of “Christian hedonism” to audiences around the world, such as the Passion conferences for college-age students. Passion attracted 40,000 students outside Memphis in 2000 and 18,000 to Nashville earlier this year.

Not all of these youth know Piper’s theological particulars. But plenty do, and Piper, more than anyone else, has contributed to a resurgence of Reformed theology among young people. You can’t miss the trend at some of the leading evangelical seminaries, like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which reports a significant Reformed uptick among students over the past 20 years. Or the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, now the largest Southern Baptist seminary and a Reformed hotbed. Piper, 60, has tinged the movement with the God-exalting intensity of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century Puritan pastor-theologian. Not since the decades after his death have evangelicals heaped such attention on Edwards.”

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2 thoughts on “Young, Restless, Reformed”

  1. To put the article in perspective, CT devoted an entire issue to a variety of “new trends” from Liberalism to Calvinism to wild pentecostalism. Thanks for bringing this one to our attention!Concerning Calvinism, the article puts its finger right on the pulse of young conservatives too. Good stuff! Some thoughts on Piper:While I enjoy John Piper, I am very concerned with the exponential growth of “Piperites.” That is, I am constantly meeting young people and church leaders who have so modeled their ministry after Piper or Bethlehem Baptist that they seem hoaky or wannabes, even if they are sincere. This shows itself on two fronts.First, Piperites unoriginally recycle his ministry. I have heard Piper preach and visited Bethlehem Baptist. Both are amazingly refreshing, but secondhand Piper gets a little old. Secondhand church websites say things like, “As we learn to desire God, and find our satisfaction in Him, we hope you too will begin to drink deeply at the well of Jesus Christ’s all-satisfying glory, so that your heart may never thirst again.” Gee – that’s original! Their preaching is full of adjectives like “glorious”, “all-satisfying” – you know the rest.You can get amazing clothes at Goodwill, even if they are secondhand. But why would I go t We all have our Christian leader/author idols that we tend toward, but ideally, people wouldn’t be able to say, “Oh, so you write with a John Piper pen, too?” This is hard for all of us.Second, my greater concern is how often Piperites defend to the death his left-field theology. They test every new doctrine through the theological grid of It’s not enough to be a five-pointer, you have to be seven. If you don’t hold to double-election and limited atonment, then you are an Arminian. Christian Hedonism becomes the litmus test for true fellowship. It is possible to greatly to enjoy someone’s ministry and not agree with them on every point. I personally enjoy John Piper. He has opened my eyes to so much. I have read at least 10 of his books and can’t wait to read another. However, it is possible to be lopsided even toward good things like the “all-satisfying” doctrine of Christian Hedonism.

  2. A clarification on my comments. Just because I expressed concern over extreme Piper fans and some of Piper’s theology with which I disagree does not mean I am upset with the growing interest in theology. Perhaps what adds to my frustration is how many young people will rise to the defense of John Piper, Mark Driscoll, etc, (men whom I respect), but won’t hesitate to take shots at our own constituency. I need to work on this as well.”So then let no one boast in men For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” 1 Cor 3:21-23.

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