John Piper on the Emergent Church

John Piper

The following is an excerpt (full mp3 here) from a panel conversation (With Justin Taylor interviewing Tim Keller, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll) at the Desiring God Conference 2006, which took place on September 29. John Piper was asked about the Emergent Church, and after shocking the audience by saying a curse word (Justin said Mark must be rubbing off on him), he said this about a lunch conversation that he had with Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village:

I just kinda kept going back on my heels, like, I don’t understand the way these guys think, and so there are profound epistemological differences – ways of processing reality – that make the conversation almost impossible; just kind of going by each other. My question sort of is, how profitable would it be to press on with that when your worldviews seem to be so different and your ways of knowing seem to be different, the function of knowledge in transformation, what the goals of transformation are – all those are so different that I’m not sure we would get anywhere.

These words by Dr. Piper caused me to wonder if this is the reason why some leaders are not in the habit of dialoguing with a lot of their critics, because how profitable would it be when your worldviews are so different? I for one don’t think that Brother John should spend a lot of his energy in dialogue with people who come from a totally different angle (although some is healthy), because it takes him away from focusing his attention on the things that he really feels passionate about. It reminds me of Nehemiah 6:3 – “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Pastor Piper is doing a great work. I hope that he’s open to correction, yet always working hard at the work he’s been given.


10 thoughts on “John Piper on the Emergent Church”

  1. i think that its funny that we even care about piper “cursing”. what constitutes “cursing”? shit? f-k? G-d? there are so many different kinds of cursing. how many of yall say “crap”? if you are a normal christian, probably most of yall. crap is no different than shit. other than the social taboo against shit. personally, i dont use the word shit in conversation for that reason, but i dont believe there is anything inherently wrong with the word.

    however, the f word is different because the very word itself has a vulgar meaning and paul tells us to not even mention sexual immorality among yourselves.

    as far as using the LORD’s name in vain, this is wrong, period. no other two ways about it. but i bet this is the one most used by “christians”. how many christians do you know that say “God” when they make a mistake or are surprised or whatever? not to mention how many christians do you know who use God’s name in vain in a different way. how many people do you know that use His name like a goodluck charm? “oh, i got the closest parking spot at church because i prayed to God and He gave it to me”. sure God could do this. but does that mean He did? maybe He gave you the farthest spot to help you learn patience, etc.

    personally, i think its sad that there needs to be so much said about the curse word that piper said rather than what his message was.

    as far as his message, about the emergent church and those who’s worldview is so radically different. i agree. i have often discussed things on my blog or others blog for a couple comments, but when i see that they are completely not understanding because they have such a different view of the world, then i dont try to convince but rather just thank them for the good discussion.

    for instance, if yall disagree with me about the cursing thing, i may try to rebut, but most likely i will just let it go, because its not that important anyway. more importantly we as brothers and sisters are to “by this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another”.

    may the love of Christ be with you all

    1. When it comes to curse words. The question is not whether you consider the word offensive it is whether or not that words is damaging to another’s psyche. You may think it’s ok to say “sh_ _” but you know it offends others especially Parents. You should do your best not to pollute a coulture with your mouth.(col.3:5)
      Remember what James said about our tongues (James 3)

      Crap is not a very polite word. Although it may be in reference to trash which is less abominable than feces. Older people typically thought of it as a curse word.
      So it should be avoided although still more tolerable than “_ _ it”

      But cursing is an excorcize of your fleshly nature.
      You have to ask your self. Do I really want to satisfy myself by talking dirty more than I care about those created in Christ image around me (james 3:9).

      I’m sure that this can be rationalized, but do you really want to bring this before the Lord?

  2. PB and J, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with curse words, either, including the f word. Like I said, I thought it was funny.

    Regarding using the Lord’s name in vain, I think we’ve taken the easy way out. I don’t think it necessarily means saying “God” or “Jesus” when we’re upset. In Biblical culture a name was much more than a name; it represented the person’s character. So to take God’s name in vain is to misrepresent his character. We shall not misrepresent God to the world, which of course raises all sorts of questions about what exactly constitutes a misrepresentation, but I’m willing to bet that most believers innately know a good chunk of what that means.

  3. I believe Rob Bell said something like that about taking the LORD’s name in vain. I thought it was an interesting perspective when I heard it.

  4. I listened to the dialogue from the 2006 conference. I find that Piper didn’t say a curse word as much as he quoted what Tony Jones had said about J Piper in his blog. This qoute is within reason to show with transparency the environment Piper was being invited in to for a dialogue. I really don’t think there is any need for correction as you had put it on this case.

    Regards <

  5. I think it is very important to dialogue with other believers who have different views than we do. You can not have unity without diversity. Unity is the meeting point of diversity, the place where differences merge, you cannot have unity without it. We need both views in the body to dialogue with each other or we won’t be the body, we’ll be an impaired body with just clumps of certain body parts all hanging out together and getting absolutely nothing done!!

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