The Calvinist: A Poem by John Piper

In the popular mind, the thought of a “Calvinist” conjures up thoughts of “predestination”, “horrible decree”, “hellfire and brimstone”, “condemnation”, and “rigid”. Basically, what you get is a sourpuss. Not a lot of fun and happy thoughts here, as “Calvinism” for a number of folks today gives Christianity a bad name.

I never thought that the power of a poem on video could viably challenge such as assessment. But I think I have found something that might do just that.

John Piper served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years, and he is currently the chancellor for Bethlehem College and Seminary, and founder of DesiringGod.org. John’s theological hero is the 18th century colonial preacher, Jonathan Edwards, probably the greatest American philosopher ever…. and a Calvinist.

What gets me about Jonathan Edwards is that he was able to have this awesome, even terrifying, view of God’s majestic sovereignty on the one hand, as well as a tender, joyous fondness for the “sweetness” of God on the other. How was he able to put these two things together?

John Piper’s most popular book is Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, which is nothing more than a contemporary exploration of Jonathan Edward’s faith and thought. John wrote a poem recently, and he invited a few friends to add their voices to help him read the poem: D.A. Carson, R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, Matt Chandler, and Sinclair Ferguson.

This really surprised me. It may not change your view of a “Calvinist”, but it might give you some pause to ponder. I would like to know what you think.

Additional Resources:

Just in case you thought that Calvinism was on the periphery of the evangelical church these days, you might want to rethink that and look into the recent CrossCon student missions conference, held in Louisville, Kentucky, the last week of 2013. The Gospel Coalition posted a number of videos from this new missions conference, an event designed to mobilize a new generation of young college students. I recently talked to one of the 4,000 students who attended. It was quite an experience from the report I received.

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

4 responses to “The Calvinist: A Poem by John Piper

  • fullofrosesinspirationals

    I think revelation tell us there is a day coming when God will bring together the seven broken churches that have one thing in comon and one thing right Jesus Christ is the way! I don’t know a church or a person for that matter who hasn’t got something wrong about God. The one thing we can get right once Jesus is the center is to love one another. We all have gifts that are meant for the body and if one judges because of a difference in opinion you just might miss the gifts God gave us to share! 🙂

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  • John Paine

    I’ve been mulling a series of blog posts on Calvinism, which has been a topic of personal study and interest over the past several months. I was raised Presbyterian, and more or less automatically considered myself a Calvinist. I always thought the good guys were Calvinists. After some recent challenges to my position, deeper study led to some working ideas:

    • It’s OK to question theology (in fact it’s healthy and necessary from time to time).
    • When I consider the details of Calvinism, as I understand them (and that’s a significant qualifier), I have issues with unconditional election as a complete doctrine.
    • I fully agree that God in His sovereignty can elect whomever He chooses for any purpose that pleases Him, but I don’t think that is a complete picture of the doctrine of salvation.
    • Scripture is replete with examples of unconditional election.
    • Scripture also teaches us that what we do matters to God, and that there is a purpose for our life here on earth (it’s not all a done deal).
    • Scripture clearly teaches that we are not saved by works.

    I reviewed a lot of material including a famous lecture by Norman Geisler and podcasts, videos, and posts by William Lane Craig. There are many, many brothers and sisters in Christ whom I love and deeply respect who call themselves Calvinists.

    So what about unconditional election and the doctrine of salvation? When the apostle Paul and Silas were asked by the Philippian jailor in Acts 16:30,”What must I do to be saved?” they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

    Ultimately I’ve settled on the idea that it isn’t necessary to call myself a Calvinist. God is bigger than our linear thinking, and I can see the truth in Calvinism, just as I can in Arminianism and Molinism. Mostly I’ll stick with the idea that I am a Christian and a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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  • Frances Flanagan

    I heard the poem. The meaning was obscure to me. I cannot understand why people respect beliefs that are totally abhorrent! I am a Christian, yet I have to say Atheists have a better sense of morality than Calvinists do. Calvinism gives Christianity a bad name. This is one of the reasons why so many are put off Christianity. Calvinists malign the character of God and render him no better than Satan. Think about it. If you were born in India you would be a Hindu, if you were born in Pakistan you would be a muslim, in Thailand or Tibet you would be a Buddhist. The Gospel is Good
    News not bad news. Go to Tentmaker.org and discover that endless punishment is of Pagan origin and not of God. I have always known that
    God is not going to be unfair in his judgements. If God’s standards are not
    better than ours then He should not be worshipped! You should not worship an evil, abusive deity. I am a former Catholic and now consider myself an independent Christian.

    Like

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