I have always enjoyed John Piper and when he released a book on the topic of “thinking” I was excited. There have been many great books on how thinking is a God honoring exercise. One such example is Mark Noll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which is an excellent read. Piper’s goal is unlike many other books that venture into this same sphere. He desires to search the scriptures and give a preachers expository approach and account on thinking. Piper saysThink is “a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people” (p. 15).
Throughout the book, Piper talks about his own story of how he went from an academic setting to a pastoral pulpit. The work of Piper in Think is a good overview and read for any Christian who thinks thinking is not what God desires. It serves as a great reminder that thinking is important in a world of relativism and anti-intellectualism, which is tearing the fabric of orthodoxy in evangelical Churches. However, this is not a review of Think, but a few concerns I have deduced.
My concerns are not in chapter 1 or 5 or of any real part of the actual book. My concern comes in the highly unnecessary appendix at the end of the book. Appendix 1 serves as an example of how Think would be applied to a seminary or college setting. Sadly, this appendix has some very poor and ill implications. At the end of appendix 1, you come to a heading titled “Where we stand.” This section lists a number of “hot button” issues in order to tell us what Piper and the school believe on such issues.
So far, so good. As you make your way through the list, everything appears normal. Historical Criticism, Roman Catholicism, etc. Some of the subject list two things that are synonymous in idea and thought (coupling). One example is “Relativism and Pluralism.” Although these are not necessarily the same thing, Piper puts them together as if to say they are close enough that they have no need for distinction. This list becomes problematic in a few areas.
“Feminism and Egalitarianism!” This coupling is outrageous! Feminism is a far cry from Egalitarianism (at least the Christian form). Feminism is a group of movements that started in the nineteen hundreds and has many shapes and forms. For the most general, it is a movement that strives for equal political, social, and economic rights for women. Concerning Egalitarianism, I assume Piper means Christian Egalitarianism and not the political aspect of it because he compares this coupling with Complementarianism, which is a Christian viewpoint of the marriage roles of men and women. Egalitarianism and Feminism share similar ideology in the sense that they both recognize equality among men and women. Christian Egalitarianism is a very new perspective on the roles of men and women. Christian Egalitarianism is held in deep conviction by a number of respectful Christians and should not be placed on the same level as Feminism.
“Arminianism and Open Theism!” This is perhaps the strangest and most egregious coupling I have ever seen. For anyone that doesn’t know, Arminianism is a Christian view mainly dealing with salvation that is generally seen as an alternative to Calvinism (please note that Calvin and Arminius clearly agreed in many areas. See my blog on Arminian Theology.) Open Theism is a recent unchristian understanding that believes God does not know the future. Now, you see how these two are nothing alike. To akin a non-Christian belief to Arminianism simply shows how much John Piper isn’t thinking.
My hope is that Piper will clear up this matter in Think and simply come to better understanding of these topics that he clearly does not understand. I will continue to read and listen to Piper, so I am not saying that one shouldn’t. I simply was so surprised at these errors on a book and area that I thought he would hit a home run.