Having been raised an Atheist, God used many individuals, circumstances, and authors (C.S. Lewis, Norm Geisler, etc.) to draw my aching heart to Himself, but for the first 7 years after God got His grip on me I was – in response to my small-town, conservative upbringing (I truly ‘repented’ of my past) – so attracted to the Social Gospel aspect of the faith that I found myself drinking almost entirely of the neo-orthodox and neo-evangelical streams, studying the theology of Jurgen Moltmann and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reading the existential philosophy of – as much as I understood it – of Soren Kierkegaard, enfleshing the spiritual and social practices of Ron Sider and Richard Foster, and reveling in the Democratic-Socialism of Cornell West. Now, I still find much good in those authors (though I also find enough to disagree with) and I have little doubt of their sincerity or relationships with Christ – that was just to say, I was a card-carrying ‘Christian Hippie Mystic” (I was ‘Emergent’ before there was ‘Emergent’), and because that was the only stream of the faith I was influenced by, my view of the Bible was weak, and I was still a fairly immature believer.
Enter John Piper‘s “Desiring God” and it’s sequel, “The Pleasures of God“. I was equal parts infuriated and fascinated with Piper’s ability to dig deeply into the Scriptures, pulling out passages I’d always written off as unimportant, and/or simply confusing – everything everyone I’d ever heard preach before ignored and skipped while preaching – and weave them together into such a huge, magnificent, and overwhelming picture of both God and Scripture that – for the first time in my life – I felt the true weight of my sin, the radical nature of God’s mercy, and felt the Biblical ‘fear of the Lord’. I wanted to tear up the book for throwing my life and faith in such emotional and intellectual turmoil – all of the pieces of my ‘faith-system’ as it had existed in my head had to be entirely re-organized, and reworked through, too make room for this new, rather overwhelming revelation – and yet I also wanted to shake his hand, for opening my eyes to see a much bigger glimpse of the true beauty and glory of God than I had ever experienced prior.
It was Piper that God used to give me a deep love and trust in the absolute truth and authority of God’s Word. It was Piper that God used to draw me into the deep, beautiful theology of Jonathan Edwards, the Puritans, and those they influenced, like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and one of my current favorites, Sam Storms. It was John Piper who planted the seeds for my eventual embrace of both Reformed Theology, and the ongoing Work of the Holy Spirit today. And I know that God has used him not only in my life to such ends, but in many others.
That is all to direct you to the significance of an excellent blog by Mark Dever over at his 9Marks site.
It’s called “Where’d All These Calvinists Come From? Part 9 of 10” and it’s all about the influence of John Piper.
It’s truly a great blog – be encouraged to read it.
May God’s blessings be evident!