John Piper (theologian)
John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is founder and senior teacher of desiringGod.org, and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for 33 years. His books include ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word, and God's Passion for His Glory, and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ. The organization Desiring God is named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986).
John Stephen Piper
John Piper in 2016
|Era||Late 20th and early 21st centuries|
|Tradition or movement|
|Notable ideas||Christian hedonism|
Piper was born on January 11, 1946, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper. His father was a traveling evangelist and church planter. When he and his older sister Beverly were still young, the Pipers moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the remainder of his youth and graduated from Wade Hampton High School.
According to Piper, he had a religious conversion at his mother's knee while on vacation in Florida. He remarked that it "blows him away" that he was saved at six years old, not because he remembers the event, but because the Bible tells him what happened to him.
Piper attended Wheaton College (1964–1968) majoring in literature and minoring in philosophy. Studying romantic literature with Clyde Kilby stimulated his poetic side, and today he regularly composes poetry to celebrate special family occasions as well as annually composing story-poems (based on the life of biblical characters) for his congregation during the four weeks of Advent.
In college, he originally desired to pursue a career in medicine, only to decide to go into ministry during a bout of mononucleosis, while listening to the sermons of Harold Ockenga over the radio from his hospital bed. He then completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. While at Fuller, he took several courses from Daniel Fuller and through him discovered the writings of Jonathan Edwards. Along with C. S. Lewis, Edwards and Fuller are noted influences in Piper's life and ministry.
Piper received his Doctor of Theology degree in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, Germany (1971–1974) under Leonhard Goppelt. His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel University and Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for six years (1974–1980).
On January 11, 2006, Piper announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to a letter sent to his church, he and his doctors believed that the cancer was fully treatable. Piper responded to his diagnosis with the following:
This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet.
His father died on March 6, 2007.
In 1980, Piper became pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he ministered until March 31, 2013. Piper hit the evangelical scene after the publication of his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986) and has continued to publish dozens of books further articulating this theological perspective. In 1994, he founded Desiring God Ministries, with the aim of "spread[ing] a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ." Desiring God Ministries offers all of Piper's sermons and articles from the past three decades—and most of his books—online free of charge.
He announced in June 2011 that he would soon step down from his role of pastor. A candidate to succeed him was announced in March 2012, and on May 20, 2012, Jason Meyer was voted in (784 yes to 8 no) to be the next Pastor for Preaching & Vision, replacing John Piper.
On March 31, 2013 (Easter Sunday), Piper preached his final sermon as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist and announced in an open letter to the congregation that he and his family would be moving to Tennessee for at least a year so that the new leadership can develop a strategic vision for the church without distractions.
In 2010, a Festschrift was published in his honor. For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper included contributions from Don Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, G. K. Beale, Thomas R. Schreiner, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, C. J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, and Bill Mounce.
Piper advocates Christian hedonism and teaches that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" and that God's highest pursuit ("his glory") and man's deepest and most durable happiness come together in one pursuit—namely, the pursuit of joy in God.
Piper holds to a complementarian view of gender roles. This view says that the Bible teaches that a husband is called to lovingly lead, protect and provide for his wife and family, and that the wife should affirm and submit to her husband's leadership. He also says that the Bible teaches that men are to bear the primary responsibility to lead the church and that therefore only men should be elders. Piper, along with Wayne Grudem, was co-editor of one of the books in this area, called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. One of the chapters has been reprinted several times as an independent short book called What's the Difference?
Piper's soteriology is Calvinist and his ecclesiology is Baptist. He affirms the distinctively Calvinist doctrine of double predestination, which includes "unconditional reprobation" or damnation as a corollary to the Augustinian doctrine of unconditional election, and he subscribes to the Leibnizian view that God decreed this universe to be the best of all possible universes.
Piper believes in justification by faith alone apart from works of man, and his teachings emphasize the need for the active and inevitable perseverance of the believer in faith, sanctification, and enduring sufferings, which he believes is evidence of God's saving grace. According to Piper, a once-professing Christian who does not faithfully persevere until the end demonstrates that he was mistaken about his election and was never a true believer in the first place.
Piper espouses a brand of creationism known as "historical creationism", and credits John Sailhamer's book Genesis Unbound to explaining the view. "Historical creationism" states that God created the universe, planet Earth, and many creatures and things within Earth itself over the course of an indefinite time period before the first day of the week of Genesis 1, and that the days of the creation week were God changing a desolate piece of land into the blessed region of Eden, where God would bring Adam and Eve into existence and place them within it on the sixth day. "In verse 1," Piper said, "'In the beginning he made the heavens and the earth,' he makes everything. And then you go day by day and he's preparing the land. He's not bringing new things into existence; he's preparing the land and causing things to grow and separating out water and earth. And then, when it's all set and prepared, he creates and puts man there." Piper acknowledged, however, that although it is his interpretation of the text, he is not dogmatic about the issue and that "every pastor should go ahead and say what he believes ... I'm inclined to not draw that too narrowly."
Regarding spiritual gifts, Piper is a continuationist, however not in the classical Pentecostal sense. That is, he believes that supernatural gifts such as prophecy, miracles, healings, and speaking in tongues have not ceased and should be sought by the church, in particular with regard to missions and evangelism. He does believe, however, that the office of apostle has ceased and that the gift of prophecy in the church is not the same as the inspiration of scripture. While he believes that God's supernatural revelation in the New Testament gift of prophecy is without error, he says that today, outside the biblically recorded Word of God, the prophet's perception, understanding and delivery of that revelation is imperfect and fallible, thus modern prophecies within the church are subject to sifting.
Piper describes himself as an "optimistic premillennialist" and holds a post-tribulation view of the second coming of Jesus and of the Rapture, which teaches that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. Because of this belief, he maintains that Romans 11 teaches that a mass in-gathering of ethnic Israel will be saved when the hardening of their hearts is removed at Jesus' second coming. He therefore advocates the importance of hoping in the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return.
Law and covenantEdit
Piper does not deny the typical hermeneutical frameworks, but is furthest from dispensationalism, and closest to Covenant Theology, or a New Covenant theology in matters of the Law and covenants, but agrees with the dispensationalist belief that there will be a millennium. He says that the Law was meant by God to reveal sin and show man's inability to live up to God's righteous standards. Christians, living under the New Covenant, are not under the Old Covenant law but able to fulfill its intent through faith in Jesus Christ.
Piper teaches that God has only one covenant people, mostly believing Jews in the Old Testament, and now that people consists of all the followers of Christ, or the Church, whether Jew or Gentile. Piper asserts that Israel has rights from God to dwell in that land, but not because they are merely Jewish, and Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah have no divine right of claim on those promises. Piper also believes that all Christians, Jew or Gentile, will inherit the earth, including the land of Israel, when Christ sets up the millennial kingdom in the Second Coming.
- Love Your Enemies: Jesus' Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis (Cambridge University Press, 1980; Baker, 1991).
- The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1–23 (Baker, 1983; 2nd ed, 1993).
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah, 1986; 2nd ed, 1996; 3rd ed, 2003; 4th ed [25th Anniversary], 2011).
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Baker, 1990, 2nd ed, 2003).
- The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 1991; Expanded edition, 2000).
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Co-editor) (Crossway, 1991).
- Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker, 1993, 2nd Edition 2003).
- Future Grace: The Purifying Power of Living By Faith In Future Grace (Multnomah, 1995).
- A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Crossway, 1997).
- A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1997).
- God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 1998).
- The Innkeeper (Crossway, 1998).
- A Godward Life, Book Two: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1999).
- The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Crossway, 2000).
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2001).
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2001, 2nd edition, 2004).
- The Dangerous Duty of Delight: Daring to Make God the Object of Your Desire (Multnomah, 2001).
- What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Crossway, 2001, reprint 2008).
- The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God (Crossway, 2002).
- Brothers, We Are not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002).
- The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2002).
- Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? (Crossway, 2002).
- Beyond the Bounds (co-editor) (Crossway, 2003).
- Don't Waste Your Life (Crossway, 2003).
- Pierced By the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul (Multnomah, 2003).
- The Prodigal's Sister (Crossway, 2003).
- The Passion of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2004). Also released under title 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
- When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Crossway, 2004).
- Life As a Vapor (Multnomah, 2004).
- A God Entranced Vision of All Things (Co-editor; Crossway, 2004).
- Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2005).
- Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 2005).
- God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself (Crossway, 2005).
- Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen (Crossway, 2006).
- Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Crossway, 2006).
- Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2006).
- What Jesus Demands from the World (Crossway, 2006).
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy (Crossway, 2007)
- Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2007).
- The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World (co-editor w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2007)
- Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure (Multnomah, 2007)
- The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright (Crossway 2007).
- Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Crossway, 2008).
- John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God (Crossway, 2008).
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2008).
- Finally Alive - Christian Focus, (March 20, 2009).
- This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Crossway, 2009)
- Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (Crossway, 2009).
- A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway 2010).
- Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to be Saved? (Baker, 2010).
- The Gadarene (Desiring God, 2010)
- Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God Crossway, (March 31, 2011).
- The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor - Crossway, (March 31, 2011).
- A Holy Ambition: To Preach Where Christ Has Not Been Named - Desiring God, (July 1, 2011)
- Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind (co-editor w/ David Mathis; Crossway, (September 8, 2011)
- Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian - Crossway, (September 8, 2011).
- The Innkeeper - Crossway; Reprint edition (September 14, 2011)
- Adoniram Judson - (Desiring God, 2012).
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent - Crossway (August 31, 2014)
- A Godward Life: Seeing the Supremacy of God in All of Life - Multnomah; Revised edition (October 6, 2015)
- Think It Not Strange: Navigating Trials in the New America (co-editor w/ 9 authors; Desiring God, 1 edition * (January 1, 2016)
- Lessons from a Hospital Bed - Crossway, (February 12, 2016)
- Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy: Morning & Evening Meditations for Holy Week – CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (March 1, 2016)
- Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power – The Good Book Company, (March 15, 2016)
- A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness – Crossway, (March 31, 2016)
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor – Crossway (April 30, 2016)
- 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood (co-edtior w/ Wayne Grudem, Crossway (April 30, 2016)
- Andrew Fuller: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Mission – Crossway; (August 31, 2016).
- Happily Ever After: Finding Grace in the Messes of Marriage – Desiring God; 1 edition * (January 25, 2017).
- The Collected Works of John Piper (13 volume set plus Index) – Hardcover: 8464 pages * Publisher: Crossway (March 31, 2017).
- Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture – Crossway, (April, 2017).
- The Satisfied Soul: Showing the Supremacy of God in All of Life – Multnomah, (September 5, 2017).
- Shaped by God: Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms – Desiring God, (November 17, 2017).
- Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship – Crossway, (April, 2018).
- Coronavirus and Christ – Crossway, (April, 2020).
- Murashko, Alex (March 30, 2012). "John Piper Preparing to Step Down from Pastorate". Christian Post. Singapore. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
- Blair, Leonardo (March 21, 2013). "John Piper to Leave Bethlehem Church for a Year in May". Christian Post. Singapore. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
- "2009 Christian Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
- "2007 Christian Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
- "2004 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
- "1999 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
- "Christian Bestsellers List, August 2007". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
- "Christian Bestsellers List, June 2004". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
- "John Piper's Testimony". Desiring God. August 26, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
- John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life – (Crossway, 2003), 20
- "Biography of John Piper". About. Desiring God.
- Piper 2011, pp. 30–34.
- Piper, John. "Poems by Topic". Christian Resource Library. Desiring God.
- Piper, John (2003). Don't Waste Your Life. Crossway. p. 21.
- "Biography of John Piper". About. Desiring God. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
Following college he completed a Master of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1968–71).
- Piper 2011, pp. 39–40.
- Piper, John (May 3, 2013), "How Has C.S. Lewis Influenced You", Ask Pastor John, Desiring God.
- Piper, John (1998), "Preface", God's Passion for His Glory, Wheaton: Crossway, p. xi.
- Piper, John (October 31, 2007), "Praise God for Fundamentalists", Blog, Desiring God.
- Piper 2011, p. 41.
- John Piper's Candidating Testimony, Desiring God, January 27, 1980.
- Piper, John (January 6, 2006). "John Piper Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer". News & events. Desiring God. Archived from the original on January 10, 2006.
- Piper, John (February 3, 2007). "Cancer Update". Blog. Desiring God. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007.[self-published source]
- Piper, John (March 28, 2007). "Things I Have Learned". Blog. Desiring God.
- "Distinctives: Mission". About. Desiring God.
- Piper, John (March 28, 2010). "John Piper's Upcoming Leave". Taste & See. Desiring God. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
- "Evangelist John Piper Takes Personal Leave". News. CBN. March 30, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
- Vu, Michelle (January 9, 2011). "John Piper Returns to Pulpit after 8-month Leave". The Christian Post. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- "My flock", Bethlehem updates (open letter), Hope in God, archived from the original on October 2, 2015, retrieved April 2, 2013.
- Piper, John, We Want You to Be a Christian Hedonist!, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, "2", Recovering, Leader U, archived from the original on February 8, 1998.
- Piper, John, A Vision of Biblical Complementarity (online book), CBMW, archived from the original (brief overview) on March 3, 2016.
- Piper, John, Fifty Crucial Questions (online book), CBMW.
- Piper, John. "A Vision of Biblical Complementarity". The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Piper, John, What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, I Baptize You with Water: The Baptism of John (sermon), Desiring God.
- What does Piper mean when he says he's a seven-point Calvinist?, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Does James Contradict Paul? (sermon), Desiring God.
- Piper, John, "Part 1", Olympic Spirituality (sermon), Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Letter to a Friend Concerning the So-Called "Lordship Salvation", Desiring God.
- Sailhamer, John (1996). Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account (First Edition). Multnomah Books. ISBN 978-0880708685.
- Sailhamer, John (2011). Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account (Second Edition). Dawson Media. ISBN 978-1-93565-121-5.
- What Should We Teach About Creation?, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Are Signs and Wonders for Today? (sermon), Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God (panel discussion).
- Piper, John, Were Apostles Unique and Unrepeatable Messengers of Christ?, Desiring God,
Jesus chose Twelve Apostles for a unique, unrepeatable role in the history of redemption ... there seem to be also another group (or groups) of men called and authorized by Jesus in the New Testament, some of whom are on a par with the Twelve in their teaching authority. Paul certainly believed that his call and commission by the risen Christ put him on a par with the Twelve in his teaching role ....
- Piper, John, Why the Gift of Prophecy Is Not the Usual Way of Knowing God's Will (sermon), Desiring God,
But the spiritual gift of prophecy is different from the inspiration of Scripture..
- Piper, John, The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy (sermon), Desiring God,
God reveals something to the mind of the prophet (in some way beyond ordinary sense perception), and since God never makes a mistake, we know that his revelation is true. It has no error in it. But the gift of prophecy does not guarantee the infallible transmission of that revelation. The prophet may perceive the revelation imperfectly, he may understand it imperfectly, and he may deliver it imperfectly..
- Piper, John, The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy (sermon), Desiring God,
We need a third category for the 'spiritual gift of prophecy'—Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained, revelation-rooted, but mixed with human imperfection and fallibility and therefore in need of sifting..
- Piper, John (October 19, 2008). "Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ's Afflictions". Desiring God Ministries.
- Piper, John, Definitions and Observations Concerning the Second Coming of Christ, Christian Resource Library, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, What Must Happen Before the Day of the Lord?, Christian Resource Library, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Did Israel Stumble in Order That They Might Fall?, Christian Resource Library, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, What Happens When You Die? The Dead Will Be Raised Imperishable, Christian Resource Library, Desiring God.
- Piper, John, What does John Piper believe about dispensationalism, covenant theology, and new covenant theology?.
- Piper, John, Why Then the Law? (sermon).
- Piper, John, What Does It Mean to Fulfill the Law in Romans 8:3–4 (sermon), Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Hagar and Slavery Vs. Sarah and Freedom (sermon), Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Israel and Us Reconciled in One Body (sermon), Desiring God.
- Piper, John, Israel, Palestine and the Middle East (sermon), Desiring God.
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