Archive for April 5th, 2010
ed. Note: I wrote this last week when I first read the “April Fool” post at Wittenburg Church Door. The post and the use of “fool” demanded a response. Since it was Holy Week I decided it best to wait.

I have a colleague who appreciates modern art. He really really appreciates it. I like it, but I’m not sure I always appreciate it. Whenever I question the value, or worse, the talent of the artist of a piece, the response is inevitable; “This says more about you than the artists/art.” He may very well be right.

This response is what came to my mind when I read a blog questioning John Piper’s decision to invite Rick Warren to fill the pulpit at Desiring God 2010. I believe the angst says more about the blogger than Piper. If you have read the comments here for any length of time you are familiar with both the blogger and the arguments against Warren… the sad, tired arguments.

For the record, this is not so much a defense of Warren as it is a critique of this brand of discernment, of Christ and culture, logic, and tiresome accusations. In a recent blog Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk took Warren to task for suggesting Easter can be leveraged for church growth – I think I understand Warren, but it sounds bad. I agree with Chaplain Mike, and if you read his blog you will see the difference in approach.

Apparently the blogger at Whitenburg Church Door does not agree when Piper says “…I don’t think he’s emergent. At root I think [Warren] is theological and doctrinal and sound.”1 That he disagrees is obvious by the first question the blogger suggests Piper ask – “What is the Gospel ? Be as complete as possible with your answer.” Clearly Piper promotes the true Gospel, which is designed to imply that Warren does not… so it makes sense that this would be the first question. But Warren better pay close attention to the condition – he best be as complete as possible. As we have seen, if he assumes anything, is he leaves out a word, if he uses the wrong words – his Gospel will be rejected. If the blogger really wanted to know the Gospel which Warren believes all he need do is read it.

The rest of the list shows a lack of cultural discernment and questionable logic. The list of questions is not supposed to be “an exhaustive list” – oh but it is… it is very exhausting. It is exhausting to see, yet again, the tiresome arguments of “Issa” and “Murdoch” and “Ecumenicalism.” The latter point best illustrates the real issue – guilt by association. Whether it is associating yourself with Arabs, or associating in person with a President, or associating with Catholics – it’s all about outward appearances, about associations, about some perceived endorsement. Fortunately, Piper is not so worried about such tangential things. Piper wants to get to know Warren, to see what makes him tick, because (like many of us) he likes Warren but is frustrated by some of his stuff. This is the respect one servant of the Lord should show another… the respect one brother should have for another brother.

1 Piper quotes taken from Wittenburg Church Door blog transcript.

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