Paul's Passing Thoughts

John Piper Continuationism, and Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 22, 2014

PPT HandleOne of the more valuable lessons taught to us here at TANC was during our first conference in 2012. John Immel demonstrated historically and philosophically that people always believe what they believe and do what they do for a reason, and that reason is logic—logic drives behavior. Find the logic—find the reason for the behavior, or belief.

At the time, I was in good graces with Old Calvinists because I had published The Truth About New Calvinism: Volume One, exposing the dastardly evils of the Neo-Calvinist movement which was supposedly an aberration of Reformed soteriology. They threatened to boycott the conference because Immel hadn’t been vetted by them. At the time, the decision to tell them to hang it on their beaks was based on principle alone while unaware I was trading orthodoxy for knowledge that really gets down to why church looks like it does in our day.

So, why do bosom buddies John MacArthur and John Piper differ on Cessationism (first century miracles ceased after they served their purpose)? MacArthur is very inconsistent because he started out as a grammarian interpreter of the Scriptures. Later, circa 1994, John Piper et al convinced him that New Calvinism was authentic Reformed soteriology, and I don’t think MacArthur was willing to reject the Protestant narrative wholesale. If you understand how the Reformers interpreted reality, you understand how taking the Scriptures at face value is going to cause the mass confusion that we see today.

Hence, one example among many: MacArthur’s dispensationalism is going to drive many New Calvinists nuts because one of the pillars of Platonism follows; truth is immutable. Regardless of what the Bible plainly states literally, viz, that God has used different economies to bring about His will, the Reformers insisted that the Bible had to be reconciled to the great thinkers of old. That would be Plato and company. This is by no means ambiguous history. MacArthur’s unwillingness to reject Protestant tradition makes him what he is: one of the most confused pastors to occupy the pulpit in our day. He can be defined as one who interprets reality using two contrary epistemologies: grammatical and redemptive. This is indicative of most Protestant pastors who must try to interpret truth with two contrary epistemologies in order to hang on to Protestant tradition. This is the very reason for the confused mess that we see in the institutional church. For this reason, the institutional church is intellectually bankrupt.

This ministry is benefiting greatly from information sent to us. A reader sent me a video of John Piper being interviewed at a conference in London. In regard to how Piper answered a question, the reader wanted to know if his answer was related to the whole, We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Answer: yes. And, I believe I have learned something new in regard to Piper being a Continuationist. In his answer, Piper put together Galatians 3:2 and 3:5 to make the case that we are sanctified by the same gospel that saved us. Because the Christian life is supposedly powered by the finished work of justification, Christians must return to the gospel daily in order to be sanctified.

However, take serious note: to the Reformed crowd who know what they are talking about, this isn’t semantics about the best way to be sanctified, this is stating that we must keep ourselves saved by faith alone in Christian living. If we “move on to something else” other than the same gospel that saved us, we “lose both” justification and sanctification. Get this into your head: they make epistemology a salvific matter. Many Calvinists like Paul David Tripp have stated that a literal interpretation of Scripture is equal to works salvation.

In the Conference Q and A, Piper notes verse 2…

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Then he connects it to verse 5…

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—

Piper uses the adjoining of these two verses to make the case that the Holy Spirit only continues to work in our lives after salvation via the same way we were saved (by faith alone). In other words, Piper makes this verse an issue of sanctification, and not the context: justification. But, to make this point, he must concede that miracles are also a continuing part of His works when people live by faith alone in their Christian lives. This is a good indication of why he is a Continuationist.

It also bolsters the Reformed view of obedience as realm manifestation. Obviously, miracles result when God manipulates the laws of normality; in the same way, the works of Christ can be imputed to us without us actually doing the work. It’s just a lesser miracle. Christians are to live by faith alone and assume that any good works we do are wrought by the Holy Spirit and not us. Martin Luther was very specific about this in the Heidelberg Disputation. For the Christian to think himself able to do a good work is a “mortal sin.” The Christian life is to be lived by experiencing justification subjectively. As long as we “attend good works with fear” of accreditation, our good works are only  “venial” and perpetually covered by Christ’s death. This is the Reformed formula for living our lives by faith alone. This is nothing new, and is the exact same thing that James railed against in his epistle to the 12 dispersed tribes.

Paul was making the point that justification is completely out of the control of those who choose to believe. Man didn’t seek out God and collaborate with Him on reconciliation. Man didn’t call for peace negotiations. God pursues man, corners him, and presents the plan and the terms. If man accepts, the Holy Spirit quickens him or her. Even when man believes and accepts the terms, he/she cannot rebirth themselves any more than they can wrought miracles on their own like the Holy Spirit does—they can only believe.

That was Paul’s point; justification is completely apart from the law of sin and death. The Galatians were being taught that keeping a dumbed down version of the law of sin and death kept them saved. Paul said NO, if you want to justify yourself by keeping the law of sin and death, you must keep all of the law perfectly. He added that circumcision did not matter (justification by keeping the ritualistic parts of the law), but only faith working through love (obedience to the law of the Spirit of life).