Good Stuff from John Piper and Phil Johnson

Good Stuff from John Piper

I’ve always appreciated Piper’s biographical lectures, but I thought his discussion of John Newton was particularly good. I appreciate God’s working in Newton’s life more, but I also appreciated other ministerial lessons—not the least of which is a comical discussion on the perils of speaking in principles rather than drawing vivid word images. Piper’s thoughts on the need for those in ministry (or anyone else) to balance “toughness” and “tenderness” are encouraging, too. Give it a listen.

Good Stuff from Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson (John MacArthur’s editor and the founder of Pyromaniacs) gave what looks to be a stellar message on Paul’s ministry in Athens. I’m hoping I can hear it soon, but the summary of the message is available at the Pulpit Magazine blog. What he said is very much in line with my recent post on Contextualization from the same passage—a post which garnered a fair amount of controversy (to the tune of 92 comments), though I still don’t understand the reason for the confusion. At any rate, I think Phil got it exactly right. (Which means, of course, that he agrees with me. Or I agree with him. Or we both agree with Paul. Whatever.) Here are some gems from the summary:

“In practice, contextualizers assimilate as much worldliness as possible in an attempt to earn the world’s esteem – because the idea is that if the world likes us they will also like our Jesus.”

“Paul did not adapt his message in any way to the basic values or belief systems of the Athenian culture.”

“In verses 29–30, Paul directly confronts the worldview of his philosophers. Paul makes numerous points that would have been offensive to those in his audience. He was challenging their most precious presuppositions. He was attacking the most precious aspects of their worldview. Paul summarily dismissed all of the fundamentals of Greek-style religion. He further insisted that the true God was not just another deity who belonged in the Greek pantheon. This was tantamount to a bold and wholesale dismissal of every aspect of Greek religion.”

“He even refers to their philosophical history and culture as “ignorance.” His message was highly and intentionally offensive.”

“In the sense that postmoderns use these terms, Paul did not employ culture, conversation, or contextualization in his sermon to the philosophers on Mars Hill.”

“This is a picture of what faithful ministry looks like. It doesn’t cower before the opposition or waver from the truth. It doesn’t shift and change its content to fit the felt-needs the audience. It has one theme, and that is Christ in His death and resurrection. And it has one strategy, to unpack the reality of Christ and His death and resurrection as clearly as possible.”

On a related note, I posted a summary of Phil’s lecture on postmodernism here.

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One Response

  1. “In practice, contextualizers assimilate as much worldliness as possible in an attempt to earn the world’s esteem – because the idea is that if the world likes us they will also like our Jesus.”

    Is this statement directed at a specific audience of “contextualizers”? I cannot imagine saying this is automaticaly true of everyone who seeks to make the Gospel comprehensible to his immediate culture. It seems like the author is making “contextualization” and “assimiliation/integration/compromise” synonymous terms (which they are not).

    “In the sense that postmoderns use these terms, Paul did not employ culture, conversation, or contextualization in his sermon to the philosophers on Mars Hill.”

    Okay, but in an object, truth-based epistemology, nobody communicates anything without employing culture, conversation, and contextualization.

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