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An Evaluation of John Piper’s ‘Future Grace,’ From C or C Friend Rob Weaver

20 November, 2009

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John Piper is arguably one of the most influential preachers among the current generation of Calvinist and Reformed Christians in America. So many things about Piper are great, but the things that are not so great need to be recognized — precisely because he’s so influential.

C or C friend Rob Weaver knows a lot about Piper, and a lot about confessional Reformed theology. If you’re interested in Piper’s work (or have friends that are), you should check out this brief and clear, appreciative but also critical, evaluation of Piper’s Future Grace. To read it (as a PDF) click here.

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9 Comments
  1. 20 November, 2009 10:06 pm

    I agree with you B. JP is wonderful preacher. However, the problems that Rob notices in this great man’s theology are significant. Fortunately in the post below a lot of the confusion drifts away and is replaced with sweet clarity. See ‘The Law is Not of Faith’ podcast below.
    Good Job on this brother Rob. Bring peace to the nations my dear classmate.
    p

  2. 21 November, 2009 12:35 am

    Wow! This is some pretty astonishing news because while I agree with much of what was said ‘against’ Piper, the fact is it does sound very much like the the NPP and FV views, which ultimately undermine the classical Reformed teaching of Sola Fide.

    The ‘elephant in the room’ when it comes to ‘future justification’ and the NPP and FV is that the true Reformed recognize that it is all the slippery slope to Romanism, while the pretend Reformed either really don’t see this fact or are acting deceptively.

    Piper seemed to really take the NPP view to task in The Future Of Justification, so it’s astonishing that he sounds so NPP/FV in Future Grace (which I’ve not read). It looks as if Piper has undergone his own transition of sorts, unless he still is ‘undecided’ (which, if true, makes it irresponsible for him to remain a Reformed pastor).

    My theory on the whole ‘mess’ is that more and more people are waking up to the fact the “Covenant of Works,” and Imputed Active Obedience are notions which really are foreign to Scripture. Rather, they are constructs of theologians, which are then read back into Scripture.

    Really, the ‘best’ proof for Imputed Active Obedience given in that article (Rom 5:18f; Jn 17:5) fell well short of clear and decisive proof. And the fact such ‘proof’ is either scant or implicit should be cause for concern for what is allegedly a key component for justification.

    All this stems from a fundamental error: The Reformed notion of Law vs Gospel. There is no such thesis/antithesis in Paul’s Epistles, because the Law Paul ‘opposed’ was simply the Mosaic Law Covenant. He never was establishing a grand framework of Covenant of Works versus Covenant of Grace.

  3. 21 November, 2009 12:49 am

    The key to the whole Sola Fide debate is recognizing there are two types of righteousness, not one.

    The first type, righteousness of the (Mosaic) Law, comes from adhering to the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Law was a temporal covenant and only promised earthly blessings (e.g. promised land, long life, fortunes, etc). When the Torah taught “the one who does them shall live by them” it meant only earthly life blessings, not Heaven. It’s no mistake the Torah never spoke explicitly about Heaven or Hell, for that was not in focus.

    The second type, righteousness of faith, comes from believing Jesus is the Messiah. This was an eternal covenant and promised heavenly rewards. This revelation showed that there was a spiritual reading of the Torah, and not just an earthly reading (see Rom 10:5-9).

    These two types of righteousness are not to be confused or conflated, and yet this is precisely what Sola Fide did. They taught that there was actually only one type of righteousness, received either by our own effort or by faith in the effort of a proxy. That’s flat out wrong.

    • 21 November, 2009 2:49 pm

      Nick~

      Future Grace was written in 1994, well before Piper’s latest works on justification. I’m pretty sure he’s much closer to traditional Reformed theology now. The point of Rob’s evaluation was to point up some of the less Reformed aspects of Piper’s basic theological frame of reference (again, at least how it stood 15 years ago).

      And yes, I agree with you that the fundamental differences between you and us are the law/gospel distinction and the nature of righteousness.

      ~B

  4. 24 November, 2009 1:13 am

    the “Covenant of Works,” and Imputed Active Obedience are notions which really are foreign to Scripture. Rather, they are constructs of theologians, which are then read back into Scripture.

    Really. I didn’t know this. Which theologians have done this deed?

    • Darren permalink
      8 December, 2009 3:33 am

      Nothing to be terribly concerned about there, bs. That’s the 2 cents from a Roman Catholic, so he’s probably not going to be caught reading Reformed theologians entirely with sympathy.

  5. 8 December, 2009 8:14 pm

    He’s not really RCC but more Socinian.

  6. nick permalink
    8 December, 2009 9:39 pm

    How am I not really RCC? A specific quote from a canon or catechism would

  7. nick permalink
    8 December, 2009 9:40 pm

    A specific quote from a canon or catechism would be nice.

    p.s. that avatar pic is really funny, but it’s not me. haha. I didn’t upload that!

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