A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

They Go too Far – Watch Out for Leaders who Have a Book or a Word for Every Aspect of Your Life

1 Co 4:3-6 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. (4) For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (6) I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

photo (4)

You are looking at just PART of the books that John Piper has written. Recently a member of our church packed them all up and brought them to me (Persistent Widow said that whoever had all these probably needs some serious therapy!). Well, I am glad to report that the person saw Piper’s errors some time ago. I am keeping these for now as we research his books for false teaching, specifically his works-based false gospel.

But here is my point, and this is why I put this picture here. One of the characteristics of an errant preaching, writing, teaching ministry is that, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the person goes “beyond what is written.” That is to say, they teach authoritatively (supposedly with Scriptural authority) on just about every nut and bolt of life. They tell you very specifically “how to” –

  • Have sex
  • Educate your children
  • Arrange your meals
  • Use your leisure time
  • Surf the web
  • Do your work
  • Purchase a car
  • Get (or not get) a divorce

And on and on and on they go. I suppose we could add another “how to” – they tell you how to think.  And if they are really good at doing all of this in a charismatic and convincing manner, they gain a following (often a very large following) of people whose experience of “Christ” goes no further than, “well, let’s see what John Piper says about that.” This is dangerous.

Yes, God’s Word can be applied to every aspect of our lives, and should be. Whatever we do, Paul says we are to do to the glory of God. But in walking with Christ, each individual Christian is indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables us to take the “condensed soup” of Scripture, expand upon it properly, and apply it to our own lives. It is the proper task of a pastor or theologian to assist us in understanding God’s Word with the goal (Ephesians 4:11ff) of seeing us grow up into the fullness of Christ so we don’t keep getting knocked off course by every trickster that comes along.

But so many go too far. They go beyond what is written in Scripture. In doing so, they quite often take us back under the law and bring us into bondage. Or they swing quite the other direction and lead us down their road of libertinism (I’m ok, you are ok, most anything is ok. Have a good time).

This going beyond what is written is often put into play when church leaders or other Christians or famous writers of enough books to fill a big box or two, begin to feel that they need to inject themselves into the lives of their people, control them, tell them…function as their conscience and even try to be the Holy Spirit. Many of you have had this happen. Here comes Mr. or Mrs. “builder of a fence around the Law so we are sure no one sins” poking their nose into your life. “You know, I noticed that you said/did such and such. I don’t agree with what you said/did. I will tell you what you should say/do.” And this very same thing can be done from the pulpit or in the myriads of books that the more skilled Holy Spirit players write.

I am not saying that we are to be total rebels and cast off any accountability to one another. If a professed Christian is abusing his wife, that guy needs to be confronted and held to accounts. Evil needs to be exposed. Error in teaching must be corrected. But what I am addressing here is specifically this business of “going beyond what is written” and judging one another in areas that the Lord has told us all to just cool our jets and wait until the Day comes when He will sort it all out.

There is something just not right – scary even – about one human being writing over 60 books, many of which are “how-to books” and even “how you must think” books. Books that come at you from the angle of “Look at this new thing I have discovered in the Bible.” Or worse, they present a “new thing” claiming that it is still just the orthodox old thing, but in new wrappings. What kind of a person is going to be produced if they were to read all 60 of John Piper’s books? Or 30 of them? Or 20? Or 10? (I sound like Abraham dealing with God over Sodom:).  Of late, I have come to the point of being able to answer that question. If they read and believe Piper, they will emerge from that reading embracing a false gospel of works righteousness, as we will be showing in additional posts about Piper’s “double justification” teaching, as we have chosen to call it.

Why are we doing so?  That is, why are we focusing on John Piper in these posts?  Because of his huge influence on so many Christians and their thinking. Because this influence has contributed to creating an environment in our churches that we at this blog have to work to expose every single day. An environment that oppresses the weak and enables the wicked. A works-based twisting of the gospel will do that every time because it takes our eyes off of the finished, glorious work of Jesus Christ and sets our focus upon what we must DO to be right with God.

1 Cor 4:6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

22 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Shepherd/Guardian.

  2. IamMyBeloved's

    So interesting. Why would a pastor/leader, want to take the part of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life? I am not sure, but I think maybe it is because they have never truly repented from the age old sin, “I can be God”. So, while they lead us to believe that they are these super Christians, somehow endued with divine ability to interpret Scripture and lead us to God, they are really nothing more than that age old sin in action. They write books with their own interpretations of Scripture, and then control everyone else from their own interpretations – saying that you are wrong and not a true believer – if you do not follow my writings, interpretations, teachings, etc.. It is just so exhausting.

    • The pastor of our old church was just like this but didnt write books. The majority of his congregation believe he is godly, as he waits on God for hours daily. Everything in his life is his Christian faith. They believe what he speaks is annointed and from God. Im sad to say I didn’t hear that ‘certain sound’ and I started to question. He is older man and been a Christian for over 50 years. He was very suspicious of anyone walking a Spirit led life.

  3. Italia

    I enjoy reading your postings Jeff! You give me something to think about every time 🙂

  4. StephenWhoElse

    I can’t say I have read many of John Piper’s books but I know what you mean and I agree completely. It is dangerous to read and accept what is wrriten without measuring and testing it against God’s Word.

    Thanks for this post.

  5. Sleeperwakingup

    I was very upset on Saturday to flip through my FB feed and see that John Piper was an honored stage guest at one of Chris Tomlins concerts (I follow Chris Tomlin). I normally really love his music but that has been extremely off putting.

  6. thepersistentwidow

    Currently I am reading Martin Chemnitz’s book, The Lord’s Supper and I find this foreword written by the University of Jena in 1590, applicable to this discussion:

    “A double calamity had befallen our age in the form of an overabundance of literary production. In the first place, the frightful maliciousness of the writing wears out most readers, and the pens of many are so contentious that they scarcely understand their own writing-and yet for them to know something is for them to write about it. And add to this evil, a second pest, the love of novelty. For the zeal of something new has so blinded the eyes of many that they show their loathing for the writings of great men by simply referring to them as old-fashioned, and they seek out emerging authors who must be read not on the basis of how well they have written but how recently.” (pg. 13)

    “If it were only a human problem underlying this evil which afflicts the minds of good men, it would be a thing of little importance. But I am persuaded that this state of affairs has come about mainly by the cunningness of the devil, so that whatever benefit has come to the Christian world through the invention of printing for the propogation of heavenly doctrine, the evil foe has corrupted, as it enters the heart of men.” (pg. 14)

    • As I See It Only

      Bingo, TPW! I often wonder at the maze of Christian books out there, many at odds with each other. No wonder ordinary folk decide to just let someone else ‘tell us what we believe’. Yep. Someone actually said that to me once. Maybe the joke is on the devil, because now people are going back to Scripture for they are growing tired of these new teachings and realizing that the ancient paths are the best.

    • Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Eccl. 12:12.

      • BIT – Eccl is one of my favorite books. sigh. 🙂

  7. Sarah

    I wonder how much of his writing is actual “this is what I believe, and what you should believe too, and how you should think, believe and live..” and how much is “the publishers want another book to promote, and I’ll get a big fat royalty advance check out of it”. My general rule in checking out a celebrity — and make no mistake, John Piper is just another “celebrity”– follow the money.

    • I think it’s all what he believes. From what I understand he is not in this for the money and lives pretty poor. I think that goes back to the McGavran/Ralph Winter wartime mentality idea. (But don’t quote me on that. I can’t recall where I heard it.)

  8. Reminds me of my Big Box. Now you have your own! 🙂

  9. At the end of last year I felt that I had to get some of my Christian books together and destroy them. I havnt done it yet but will. My experience over recent years is books can be very damaging in an abusive marriage. The ones that my husband has used against me and others are going out the door and there are quite a number.
    I totally agree with you Jeff. I have experienced this in my life, friends in minstry that think they know all about me and my life. What I think, what the problem is, what I should do. One person in particular seems to think that he knows it all. It disturbs me greatly! As ge us close to my abuser abd causes havoc.

    • Heather2

      I agree 100% that these legalistic know-it-all types really know NOTHING about what happens in the lives of others. And one solution is run away from them as fast as you can. Don’t allow a single thing they tell you into your mind, for it is all too easy for victims to go to guilt and become depressed. Instead, strengthen your relationship with The Lord and listen to the Holy Spirit in you.

      I get angry when I think of John Piper and others who make boatloads of money while trying to put a yoke on victims!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Heather – Money is certainly involved in these kinds of enterprises. In Piper’s case, we should note that he has announced that the money from his books does not go to him. He has said that while he was a pastor he only received a salary from his church. Now that he is not a pastor, his income comes from the Desiring God corporation. Publishers often do not use sound biblical judgment however when deciding to publish a book, and even Bible publishing and new translations can be driven by profit. To be fair though, we do not claim that John Piper does what he does for money.

      • Heather2

        Jeff, many pastors write books which become very popular. It isn’t fair to assume that the money is always used for personal profit, to be sure. One popular apostate pastor announced that the proceeds of his book were donated to another of his causes. This gave him credibility in the minds of his supporters, as they saw him as terribly humble, but it actually allowed false teaching to spread.

        The money alone isn’t the issue, but the celebrity and power. And their followers lap up every word and try to practice what they have read. We know where that can lead in the lives of victims of abuse…in the end it spreads a false gospel and damages souls.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks Heather. I agree fully.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Well, one thing is for certain. We will all answer for ourselves. John Piper, nor anyone else will answer for me, and the only One Who really knows the truth about my life, is Christ. Very happy to have that truth on my side. He has seen it all – and no abuser, liar or scoundrel is going to be able to dupe Him.

  10. LorenHaas

    It seems that these celebrity pastors have to keep producing books so that they have something to hawk at each others conferences. There was a good post on the “Wartburg Watch” concerning this in regards to Steven Furtick. It seems he gamed the system and his own church to sell his recycled books and drive up his numbers on the best seller’s list. How else can you afford one of the biggest estates in the Charlotte area?
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/11/04/how-steven-furtick-turns-mediocre-books-into-mansions/

    • . . . that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written . . .

      This is so essential to good hermeneutics (interpretation of scripture). Overbalancing to one side or another is dangerous.

      You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. Deut. 4:2

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