Reflecting on How the John Pipers Could Better Serve the Rob Bells And the Church

On John Piper
Years ago, John Piper was an important voice in my life. Alongside of figures like Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster and Chuck Colson, I thought books like A Hunger For God and the Pleasure of God were quite excellent. The years following, I became a bit more annoyed with the Piperclones than with the pastor himself. There is only so many times you can hear a sentence begin with, “John Piper says …”. Not his fault but in these recent years, I admit that I have become quite confused with his behavior (to put it politely). And then last weekend, if we ever needed to see what a church version of an attempted “pre-emptive strike” looked like, Dr. Piper gave us one.

I can handle the type of drama that came with his sparring with NT Wright. It was whispered through the blogosphere that he was upset that Tim Keller invited the good bishop to Redeemer and that’s ok too. As a post-conservative, I can respect his convictions on theological and political issues. My problem is more as a young brother in the Lord in not only how he deals with his differences but also how his thousands follow him and what that does to us as a Church.

I am in no position to point my finger at a man like John Piper, I regard him as a spiritual father, but this type of nonsense really has to stop. And what I mean specifically is this one-man watchgroup against what he feels is liberalism and heresy.

It seems from where I sit in my corner of the internet, that Dr. Piper cannot wait for certain people to fail like NT Wright, anyone in the emerging church conversation namely Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and many others. And we should remember that it was people like Doug Pagitt who posted on their blogs to pray for Dr. Piper during the sabbatical he was taking because to paraphrase, he was being consumed in the pride wars he was fighting were starting to affect his home and soul.

I’ll tell you this, if Dr. Piper was ever caught in a scandal, I have no doubt that it would be the Brian McLarens, the Jay Bakkers, the Tony Jones types that would be among those that would say, “Hey it sucks but he’s a brother and we stand by him …”

This is partially why it’s so odd to me that he would be so trite and worse, dismissive, with Rob Bell. I believe people like John Piper to love Christ and have a genuine concern for the church and the world in general. But judging from his use of social media from the past few years, I would say that he is lurking in the bushes waiting for anyone he has pre-determined as “liberal” so he can pop out with his stones and say, “Haha, I told you to sin no more, now suffer the consequences of your rebellion.”

Please, Dr. Piper wrote a fantastic book that I handed out to high school graduates for years entitled, Don’t Waste Your Life, is there not some irony here? And if he’s sitting in his office thinking “Come on people, I was just joking around”, then he really needs to learn how to effectively use social media. Does Bethlehem Baptist not have a youth pastor that can help him out?

I know some will think I am naive for saying this but since I hold out hope for a united church, I offer this. I think it’s the John Pipers that can be a great help to the Rob Bells. Years from now Bell will get old, perhaps even trade in his cool eye wear for bifocals. It’s the Pipers that can be of assistance there. People like him should consider offer genuine friendship and assistance to the next generation of evangelicals and he should include those outside his theological tradition. We are one church, serving one Lord. Though it seems extremely unlikely for such a thing to happen, I cannot help but think that not only is it possible, but it should actually happen.

Second, because of the following of pastors like John Piper, this is a church issue. The Piper appreciators and the Bell appreciators need to converse. As someone (sorry I cannot remember who) on Twitter pointed out that this is very similar to the Apollos, Cephas, Paul “I follow” issue that the Corinth church was tripped up in. The declining evangelical church would be wise to break down the walls of sectism (among some other walls), unite under the banner of Christ, then dialogue while serving the world and worshiping our God. Again, I know it sounds naive but at least admit, it is very Pauline.

On Justin Taylor and the Gospel Coalition
First, I’d like to be among what I assume would be the many to suggest that they change their name to something a bit less militant sounding? Second, I’m sure Justin is a cool guy and there’s some good content on his blog but it could use some diversity though. A Rob Bell type would really only help the conversation, not hurt it. Third, I appreciated the updates to the original post but perhaps a bit of humility could have been demonstrated as well. A line like, “Perhaps these words were a bit strong for not having read the book yet so I extend my apologies. Universalism is a dangerous idea and I am passionately against it but perhaps I hasted my judgement on Bell and his book.” Is that realistic for us as Christians? It will be interesting to the how/what post will sound if/when Justin reviews Love Wins.. I would advise an edifying brotherly discussion over a disuniting theological rivals tone.

On Rob Bell soon …


  1. The Slothful One says:

    Maybe an Ecumenical Council is in order ;-) I hear Constantinople…er…Istanbul is nice this time of year.

  2. i’m pretty sure you have done worse than piper in this posting.

  3. @Slothful, lol – maybe one would be. Just to mention it, there are always a number of people, networks, inniatives trying to create community and conversation but rarely it usually represents the interested, not the whole (so like those Presbyterians interested in talking to those Methodists who are also interested, not the Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church. Make sense?)

  4. @TI, thanks for reading. Being critical is not being unChristian otherwise Jesus Himself would have been in trouble. John Piper is a man that I have had huge respect and admiration for. I shed tears when he went fought cancer.
    The point is that he can contribute to the church much better than “Farewell Rob Bell” on an issue and a time like this. My brother, is that not fair and good?

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