See It For Yourself: Piper On Wilson, Baptism, And The FV

Heidelcasts responding to these comments:

Heidelcast episode #2: A Gentle Rebuke to Brother John (pt 1)

Heidelcast episode #3: A Gentle Rebuke to Brother John (pt 2)

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  1. I admire that Piper is trying to judge Wilson charitably, but I can’t help but think that he just doesn’t understand the teachings of the FV movement.

    To say that he is concerned about Wilson’s “trajectory” is somewhat confusing. It sounds like he realizes the logical (and in some points heterodox) conclusions of Wilson’s views, but doesn’t want to deal with that.

    I actually found his comments on N.T. Wright more disturbing.

  2. So glad to belong to a Reformed church that looks to councils rather than conferences and the ignorance of one or three dudes (and their hubris).

  3. Yikes! Mark Driscoll is one of the guys who got T.D. Jakes mainstreamed as a “brother” (though he denies the Trinity!) Why would John Piper behave like he’s buddies with him?

    Mark Driscoll is a celebrity “pastor” who sells his curriculum for $$ to pastors. He says he will throw anyone (church member) who doesn’t believe in his visions “under the bus” . . . . that he won’t be happy until there’s a “pile of bodies” behind the Mars Hill bus.

    Thanks be to God for providing the historic Reformed Confessions to protect the church from the ineptitude and ambition of confused and arrogant men.

    • I have heard the bus quote numerous times. It’s so amazing that he would say “and by God’s grace there will be a pile of bodies behind the bus”. It sounds like he wants people to disagree with him. That’s odd. He’s odd though so there you go. The main Mars Hill is a mile from where I live. They sure know how to bust out the rock show at that place with a lot of candles all about. Truly hip. I can hear them from here. God wants a guitar solo so get that going.

      Piper’s a bit of a “Reformed Charismatic” so that’s why they hang out together.

  4. Greetings in the Lord. As an outsider looking in at these controversies I can’t help but wonder: Is it necessary to be truly Reformed to be in Christ? Are non-Reformed believers not in Christ?! Is it possible for John Piper, Doug Wilson, and NT Wright not to be “truly Reformed” (per Clark’s criteria and the WCF), and still be truly “in Christ” by grace through faith (per Christ and the apostles)?

    • JMT,

      This question comes up frequently. I’m not the Lord. I’m not the church. I’m just a minister and history prof trying to tell the truth about a dangerous and damaging movement within the Reformed churches (the Federal Vision), which has torn apart congregations, damaged lives, and distorted the good news into bad news. I’m trying to help the Reformed churches recover and retain their identity. It’s not my vocation to say who is and is not a believer. That’s the church’s job. The churches, however, have confessed the faith and they have made a judgment as to the status of the Federal Vision theology and that’s worth discussing.

  5. A couple of observations:

    1. “I don’t think N.T. Wright preaches a false gospel either… ”
    This is helpful for the Church.

    2. Why does Douglas Wilson need 11,000 words to explain that he believes in justification?

    I saw an episode of The Waltons,
    where they chased a greased pig at the fair.
    It was great fun on Walton’s Mountain,
    But a cataclysmic burden elsewhere.

    (BTW, I think Ben finally caught the greased pig, in case the lover of poetry is wondering…)

    P.S. I really don’t mean to imply that Mr. Wilson is a pig. He is not. I’m just saying, with so many words, things get slippery and elusive, when in truth it should be – and can be – straightforward.

    (Jud Budkins is a pseudonym, with your permission…)

  6. Thank you. I pastor a non-denominational Christian church near Dallas. In the past we were part of the Restoration Movement / Churches of Christ. Now, we consider ourselves Reformed in many ways. (It’s long story.) Along the way we have benefited from a cross-section of the Christian thinkers, including–but not limited to–those I mentioned above. We desire to join a Reformed denomination or communion and escape our independence, but it seems that wherever we look Reformed Christians are biting and devouring one another, straining gnats and splitting hairs. (Which we also witnessed in the Restoration Movement.) We believe Reformed is as Reformed does. So, if we all profess one Lord, one faith, one baptism, et al, shouldn’t we also practice humility, gentleness, and love towards one another, according to the grace Christ gives us? Perhaps I am hopelessly naive, but I long to experience more Reformed Catholicity in my lifetime. For God’s glory, and our good.

    • JMT,

      Take a look at this book.

      The problem is that the confessional Reformed churches and Christians are trying to make their pilgrimage in what I call “Sister Aimee’s America.” Since the 19th century, American evangelical Christianity has been largely been dominated by a modern form of Anabaptist theology, piety, and practice. On this see the essay on Sister in Always Reformed.

      Was Paul biting and devouring when he remonstrated with Peter for corrupting the gospel?

    • Thank you Dr Clark. You asked: “Was Paul biting and devouring when he remonstrated with Peter for corrupting the gospel?” No not at all. Paul saw a brother caught in a trespass (hypocrisy) and sought to restore him in a spirit of meekness. He confronted Peter face to face in front of other brothers, then he counseled and comforted him with the gospel. But the differences between their story/situation and our stories/situation are too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that when it comes to conflict resolution the Internet exacerbates more problems than it eradicates or resolves. As Paul showed us, inter-personal dialogue based on love is more conducive to reconciliation.

      • JMT,

        You’re assuming quite a lot. In fact, people did try to reach out to John, through multiple channels. He wasn’t having any of it.

        It was morally necessary to speak out publicly because the very thing about which I warned in 2009 has happened. Tens of thousands of naive evangelicals and even more than a few NAPARC pastors—who should know better—who trust Piper as a guide to theology, piety, and practice have taken Piper’s endorsement of Wilson as a signal that he is orthodox. He’s even being invited to speak in NAPARC churches and to fill NAPARC pulpits. People are being led into error because of Piper’s endorsement.

        What do you think I should do?

  7. As a PCA guy I don’t think that we misunderstand Wilson at all. Piper’s recitation of Wilson’s views pretty much confirms that he (Wilson) is out of step with the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Piper’s endorsement means nothing to me. Correction: actually it is a huge disappointment. That he blames PCA guys for not reading and listening carefully to Wilson is beyond the pale. We have read him along with Leithart, Lusk, Wilkins, Meyers and others only to conclude that they are not in accord with the Westminster Confession of Faith or its catechisms.

    My takeaway is that Piper really doesn’t understand the Westminster standards either. Folks should not call him ‘reformed’ except perhaps, only in his soteriology.

  8. Sad, but John Piper has a tendency to make romance with other big name preachers, no matter their heterodoxy. He seems to have one criteria for fellowship and accord: Are you a big name?
    -Rick Warren
    -Doug Wilson
    -Mark Driscoll
    -Beth Moore
    Need I go on? The worst part, of course, being that Dr. Piper is the face of “Reformed” Christianity in America, and therefore no one or their mother knows what Reformed means. And I have experienced the confusion and derision of Christians when I try to warn about Piper’s doctrine and associations. Heck, I know the confusion well enough. How can these things be?

  9. Dr Clark, John Piper mentioned that he questions the Wilson’s trajectory. A big part of the FV’s trajectory (and Wilson’s) seems to relate to hermenuetics. Wilson and some of the others seems to take a less systematic/holistic approach to the way they understand and describe the teaching of Scripture. For example, when I hear Wilson talking about what has been described as “future justification”, he is taking some passages very “literally/at-face-value.” A surface level reading of Matthew 25, for example, seems to lend credence to the concept of “future justification.” An honest person can see why Wilson takes that text the way that he does. However, when we look at Scripture from a holistic/systematic perspective, it is easy to see why folks in your “camp” find Wilson’s interpretations to be problematic.

    I do not want to reduce this controversy to a matter of hermenuetics. But does hermenuetics play a part in this controversy?

    I think it may be fair to say “Wilson/FV employs a hermeneutic that is dangerous and questionable because of where it leads.” I don’t know if I agree or disagree with the FV folks, but it’s understandable to draw that conclusion.

    Wilson and the FV do, in general, employ a slightly different hermenuetic in interpreting Scripture than do folks like yourself. I feel like that is a big part of what is underlying this controversy, yet I have not seen much about that issue. If that is a big part of the controversy (which it seems to be), why is this underlying issue not a bigger part of the discussion?

    If Wilson/FV is approaching Scripture in a different way than the Reformed Churches typically have, then of course some of his conclusions are going to differ from theirs. That is inevitable.

    I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Brad,

      Yes, he does have a different hermeneutic! That does lead to a different theology. He does have a different spirit (Luther). Thank you for recognizing that. That might be why he wrote, Reformed Is Not Enough. So, why does he protest that he is Reformed? Now that’s an interesting question. Here is a perceptive analysis of what is afoot. This post also speaks to relevant issues here.

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