Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is John Piper Charismatic?

A rare occurrence has happened this week. An occurrence so rare that my on theological foundations have been shook. Truth be told, there is a new sacrilege in Christendom. This is scandalous. This is tantalizing. This will not elapse without notice. This is an occurrence so paramount to an insurmountable truth that to believe its occurrence is beyond itself in could be called heresy. Not really that the occurrence, or at least the testimony of the occurrence is rare, but the fact that this confession is coming from this man, is rare indeed. Not known for his charismatic beliefs, Dr. John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, has confessed to an all-too-real-to-be-true event that has transformed his life. This week, John Piper heard the voice of God. And today, you too can hear the voice of God.

He shares,

“God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-authenticating ring of truth”

“God said, “Come and see what I have done.”[…]There settled over me a wonderful reverence. A palpable peace came down. This was a holy moment and a holy corner of the world in northern Minnesota. God Almighty had come down and was giving me the stillness and the openness and the willingness to hear his very voice.”

“Think of it. Marvel at this. Stand in awe of this. The God who keeps watch over the nations, like some people keep watch over cattle or stock markets or construction sites—this God still speaks in the twenty-first century. I heard his very words. He spoke personally to me.

What effect did this have on me? It filled me with a fresh sense of God’s reality. It assured me more deeply that he acts in history and in our time. It strengthened my faith that he is for me and cares about me and will use his global power to watch over me. Why else would he come and tell me these things?"

Has Dr. John Piper actually heard the voice of God? Absolutely.
Has Dr. John Piper become a non-cessationist in regards to the gifting of the Spirit to provide greater revelation today? Absolutely not.

Read his complete article here.

8 comments:

rick said...

I'm not sure what "Has Dr. John Piper become a non-cessationist in regards to the gifting of the Spirit to provide greater revelation today?" means.

Piper is not a cessationist and is open to all gifts of the Spirit.

KC Armstrong said...

Rick,

Thank you for stopping by and for posting your comment. I hope that I have not misrepresented Dr. Piper, for I must be upfront that I am not an authority on the man, his life, or his doctrine. My understanding is that Dr. Piper’s teaching on the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the church today is not to give greater revelation outside the authority of Scripture – the revelation that has already been given – but rather to confirm that which has been spoken through illumination. Thus, we should not seek to hear God’s voice detached from the authority of Scripture as we “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 Joh 4:1) we must compare, test, and measure all things in accordance with the revealed, authoritative word of God.

My understanding of Dr. Piper’s teaching on this subject comes from this sermon from Hebrews 1:1-2 where he shares,

"Every time I begin to complain that God is silent and that I need God to speak to me—at that moment I should stop and ask: Have I heard this Word? Is this Word from God—spoken in the Son of God—so short and simple that I have finished with it, and now I need more—another word? Have I really heard the Word of God in person and the teaching and the work Son? Is the aching of my soul and the confusion of my mind really owing to the fact that I have exhausted hearing this Word and need another word? And so I feel another gracious rebuke to my unperceptive and presumptuous ears."

Further,

"This Word of God in his son is so decisive and so full that there will be no third phase of God's speaking in history."

And concluding with,

"But the point for the writer of Hebrews is this: The Word that God spoke by his Son is the decisive Word. It will not be followed in this age by any greater word or replacement word. This is the word of God—the person of Jesus, the teaching of Jesus and the work of Jesus.

When I complain that I don't hear the word of God when I feel a desire to hear the voice of God, and get frustrated that he does not speak in ways that I may crave, what am I really saying? Am I really saying that I have exhausted this final decisive Word revealed to me so fully in the New Testament. Have I really exhausted this word? Has it become so much a part of me that it has shaped my very being and given me life and guidance? Or have I treated it lightly—skimmed it like a newspaper, dipped in like a taste tester—and then decided I wanted something different, something more? This is what I fear I am guilty of more than I wish to admit. God is calling us to hear his final decisive Word—to meditate on it and study it and memorize it and linger over it and soak in it until it saturates us to the center of our being.

If you ask, What about the ministry of the Holy Spirit today, for this I direct your attention to Hebrews 2:3-4 and to this week's STAR article. In a word, it is the passion of the Holy Spirit to focus all our attention and all our affection on this final and decisive Word spoken in the Son of God for these last days. That is his great work, and the aim of all is gifts."

This sermon was given Palm Sunday, March 31, 1996 and I was unable to track down the "STAR article" that he referenced. However, I did find this sermon covering Hebrews 2:3-4 given in the same series the same year (May 5, 1996).

All this to say, please point me in the proper direction if I have misrepresented Dr. Piper in any way. I attempt to be accurate in the things that I write and I thank you for your gracious rebuke to prevent me from this error.

In spirit and in truth,
KC

rick said...

Thanks for the thorough response. I wasn't thinking you made an error. I was thinking Piper holds to both sides of this "issue".

The reformed Charismatic gang (I think I'm one) claim Piper because of all you stated. We agree that Scripture is sufficient (even though we're accused of playing "games" with that word). Yet we believe God still speaks "extra-biblically" and still gives the sign gifts of 1 Cor 12.

What we love about Piper is he articulates so well the idea that we believe all that you outlined is true and yet He still gives sign gifts. Importantly, God doesn't do this as a replacement to His written Word. Piper does a real nice job of confronting us when we get more excited about "signs and wonders" than we do over His Word.

I'm not too good with hypertext so I'll paste the whole link below but his "Are Signs and Wonders for Today" sermon is one of several that demonstrate his balance and is representative of the thinking in the reformed charismatic crowd.

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/BySeries/36/711_Are_Signs_and_Wonders_for_Today/

"I want to have my keel deep and stable in the once-for-all Biblical revelation of God, and I want to have my sails unfurled to every movement of God's spirit upon the deeps."

KC Armstrong said...

Hey Rick,

Thanks for the guidance. I will be sure to check the semon link that you provided.

"May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Cor 13:14)

Grace & Peace,
KC

Anonymous said...

If you read that article more carefully, he's talking about how he hears the voice of God through the Bible, and how he clearly hears it through the Bible every single day.

He was pointing to the fact that he was saddened by a man who claimed he heard it outside of the bible.

Anonymous said...

Piper CLEARLY SAID:

"And best of all (the Word of God), they are available to all. If you would like to hear the very same words I heard on the couch in northern Minnesota, read Psalm 66:5-7. That is where I heard them. O how precious is the Bible. It is the very word of God. In it God speaks in the twenty-first century. This is the very voice of God. By this voice, he speaks with absolute truth and personal force. By this voice, he reveals his all-surpassing beauty. By this voice, he reveals the deepest secrets of our hearts. No voice anywhere anytime can reach as deep or lift as high or carry as far as the voice of God that we hear in the Bible.

"It is a great wonder that God still speaks today through the Bible with greater force and greater glory and greater assurance and greater sweetness and greater hope and greater guidance and greater transforming power and greater Christ-exalting truth than can be heard through any voice in any human soul on the planet from outside the Bible.

"This is why I found the article in this month’s Christianity Today, “My Conversation with God,” so sad. Written by an anonymous professor at a “well-known Christian University,” it tells of his experience of hearing God. What God said was that he must give all his royalties from a new book toward the tuition of a needy student. What makes me sad about the article is not that it isn’t true or didn’t happen. What’s sad is that it really does give the impression that extra-biblical communication with God is surpassingly wonderful and faith-deepening. All the while, the supremely-glorious communication of the living God which personally and powerfully and transformingly explodes in the receptive heart through the Bible everyday is passed over in silence.

"I am sure this professor of theology did not mean it this way, but what he actually said was, “For years I’ve taught that God still speaks, but I couldn’t testify to it personally. I can only do so now anonymously, for reasons I hope will be clear” (emphasis added). Surely he does not mean what he seems to imply—that only when one hears an extra-biblical voice like, “The money is not yours,” can you testify personally that God still speaks. Surely he does not mean to belittle the voice of God in the Bible which speaks this very day with power and truth and wisdom and glory and joy and hope and wonder and helpfulness ten thousand times more decisively than anything we can hear outside the Bible."

We hear from God through His Word! The Bible people! And don't take my word for it. As, Paul Washer said, "Stop comparing yourself to other chritians who compare themselves to other christians, who compare themselves to other christians. Compare yourselves to the SCRIPTURES!"

Mr.Vick said...
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Mr.Vick said...
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