06 October 2010


by Frank Turk

Having listened to all the talks now from the DGNC2010 conference, I think the best news is that there were no surprises. I mean, guess what: Al Mohler is still the smartest guy on the planet. John Piper can make you love God more and hate your pride -- he can help you see pride in places you didn't think you had a place for it. Francis Chan is still the Richie Cunningham of the Conference circuit. R.C. Sproul is still, as far as I'm concerned, the only guy who always gets Paul right from inside out. Rick Warren was commended by his hosts and, of course, criticized by all the right people (including me, before the torches and pitchforks come out).

So, yay team: nice one put to bed again. Jesus was praised one way or another, and we all got to go home edified. Some of us stayed home and were edified.

We all get to have our tidy theology and lives back, and we can go on reading Crossway with the right amount of humility and tranquility (that's not smugness, mind you: "smug" would be reading our Crossway on the subway or at Starbucks where people could see you reading Crossway, even if it's studying your ESVSB) to be edified that we are in the right place under God's sovereignty.

OK, I have to admit it: I did have a moment in listening to these talks and panels when I really, really felt like we had crossed into the surreal. There was one surprise. It was the first panel where Kevin DeYoung, Tullian Tchividlian, Burk Parsons and John Piper were sort of round-tabling with David Mathis soft-balling them with general questions about pastoral ministry.

The surreal part was not where John Piper called Rick Warren "an unbelievable communicator" in a completely-unironic way. It was the part late in that panel where he unironically said this (around 22:00):
Piper: I just think you should faithfully do what you love to do and are called to do, (I'm talking to Pastors now) and if it happens it happens. Now, I suppose Rick Warren would roll over in his, uh, not his grave but his study because that sounds so unpurposeful, but, I just, uh, it's just discouraging and paralyzing to take away specifics. There has to be a certain organic-ness to dreaming. Skill-sets and gifting and what he called SHAPE in his book Purpose-Driven Life are so crucial to the way you go about dreaming, the way you go about seeing what's not there. And you can just kill yourself trying to see what's not there that doesn't fit you at all. It doesn't fit your church, it doesn't fit your situation, and you may not know the dream God has planned for you, and so … you know, everyone speaks about their own trajectory … this is me talkin', not Rick Warren, and I just came to Bethlehem and I tried to preach the Bible faithfully.

And didn't have any other plans. I didn't. (in CEO voice) Oh, there's a 50,000 student University across the street - what's the strategy? (/voice) Well, they can come. If they want. [laughter] And there were a few other things thrown in along the way, but mainly I want to feed the sheep in such a way that the sheep love God, are so thrilled with God, they tell other people about him, and they come and worship and they love God so much, and yeah then you have to train some people and maybe a Tom Steller will join your staff and make something happen. I kinda want pastors to keep their focus clear and do a livable life, keep your wife happy, and your kids in the fold, and preach your heart out, and you really will do remarkable things. [ends at 24:25]
Now: why is that surreal? I mean, that's the reformed (small "r" intended) demographic schtick, right -- I'm just a simple preacher being faithful to God's word. That's how John MacArthur "did it". That's how Al Mohler "did it". That's how R.C. Sproul "did it". That's how Mark Dever "did it". And that, to put a fine point on it to keep our street cred, is exactly what Rick Warren said is unfaithfulness -- to be allegedly-faithful and unconcerned with fruit, to be more concerned with knowing the whole systematic ball but never leaving your study to take it out to the playground or the unreached people group.

Somebody might say that's not surreal -- that's the kind of people we are striving to be, isn't it? But look at the underlined part there. In the midst of detailing the reformed schtick under the cover of "organic" dreaming and avoiding too-hard burdens, of all people on Earth John Piper says, essentially, that intentional evangelism is not his first concern. I mean, this is the guy who wrote Let the Nations Be Glad. This is the guy who penned Don't Waste your Life. In essence, in a very transparent and self-aware way, he admitted that he doesn't have at top of mind lost people.

That is something, I think, no one expected -- because nobody heard it. Or rather: they all laughed! Nobody squared up to it and said, "well, Dr. Piper, is that why you invited Rick Warren in the first place? Isn't that a pretty dangerous diagnosis for you, given that you're in some way a leader and mentor for the so-called 'Young Reformed' movement? It plays right into the stereotype of calvinism -- and not in a good way."

Listen: that's got to be a wake-up call for all of us. That's got to be something that makes us ring hollow on the inside. If John Piper can admit that evangelism is not on the top of his mind when preaching, then I think we are all suddenly caught with the same look on our faces that the Coyote has when he runs off the edge of the cliff.

You know what? Rick Warren has a concern for people who are going to hell. Maybe we're all correct, and he's so riddled with faults and errors and unrepentant pride in his accomplishments that his message is not what we, the well-informed, would preach. But his first instinct is, as he says, "Come and See." Come and See if this is the Messiah. Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord. Look: I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!

So maybe I don't like Rick Warren. I'm actually not going to defend Rick Warren. But maybe it's not Rick Warren who needs defending, or who needs someone to justify what he does. Maybe it's the rest of us who have a perfect Gospel which we never think about taking to lost people.

I'm sure you have a full day, and this is just a blog post. Shrug it off. But I'm headed out to the yard because there's a single talent I buried out there someplace, and I think I better go dig it up before the Master comes home and asks me what I did with it ...


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
piluTLight said...

Boom... Great post Frank... my numerous google accounts are screwing with my verification.

Steve Berven said...

A great and humbling reminder.'

We need to preach the real, hard, gnarly gospel with all its sharp edges and hard truths. Yes, it in a way that is understandable, sometimes even approachable, but does not compromise the truth for the sake of palatbility.

I was forever soured on the "seeker friendly" movement when I heard the pastor of my old church, who had gone whole hog with the Saddleback model, preach in a sermon:

"You don't have to ask for forgiveness, because it's already been given. You just have to RECEIVE it."

No talk of repentance, no talk of humility, or of the need for salvation. Just stop by and pick it up like a free sample at WalMart.

We left the church shortly thereafter.

But again, it does ring a bit of hypocrisy if I spend a great deal of time condemning other's ministry models, if my entire approach to actual evangelism is trying to drive up hits on my webcounter.

This message stung me, but in a way I needed to be stung. Thank you.

Jason Kanz said...

Mr Turk,
Do you truly believe that John Piper does not have a heart for reaching out to the lost? Or are you proof-texting his response to a question (rather than a prepared sermon), lifting out a single phrase to uphold that point? I don't see any other evidences there that he believes that evangelism is not important. Apparently, neither did the audience in attendance.

Thomas Louw said...

To be frank, this is my new “most favourite post” you have ever written. Well, best one I have ever read.
Good one

Thomas Louw said...

This part in particular

"Maybe it's the rest of us who have a perfect Gospel which we never think about taking to lost people"

Unknown said...


I'd lean towards argreeing with Jason Kanz here, albeit with a slightly softer tone.

I was at the conference and it seemed that when Piper was speaking where you quoted he was contrasting a "CEO" strategy and a "preach the Bible faithfully" strategy. It seems when Piper made his comical quip he was doing just that, being funny, and contrasting some kind of contrived, forced, overly-analytical strategizing with faithful Bible preaching and its fruits. Now, I may be wrong, as you noted in your surprise at how many people weren't surprised at Piper's answer.

I'd also like to echo your own words and Jason above me with this: it seems Piper is highly unlikely to be jettisoning evangelistic zeal (because he says "I want to feed the sheep in such a way that...they tell other people about him) for bad-calvinism anti-evangelism.

Just my thoughts. I'm 22 and dumb, so feel free to converse. :-)

Verification: "undeomat"
A diplomat sent to undo all traces of theism in a nation.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder why my "perfect" Theology doesn't motivate me more to love my neighbor or even "love one another." For all Warren's flaws, and there are many, he puts me to shame in those categories.

On a side note, I asked a friend who went to The Master's Seminary at roughly the same time as Chan about him. He said Francis was known for being a bit of a rebel even then. I suspect he probably chewed gum in class and wore shorts to Chapel. Call me a lightweight but I enjoyed Chan's passionate plea to use our knowledge to spur us on to love and good deeds.

bp said...

I'm disappointed with todays post. Granted, I read it quickly before I have to leave for work this morning, but what I thought would be a post about the real concerns in regards to Rick Warren turns out to be an unfair accusation against John Piper. There's no doubt in my mind that he cares greatly about spreading the gospel.

Thomas Louw said...

I don’t know about your other readers Frank. I might of misunderstood you.
I understood that you affirm that John Piper loves evangelism
” I mean, this is the guy who wrote Let the Nations Be Glad. This is the guy who penned Don't Waste your Life”
What you did say is.
“intentional evangelism is not his first concern.”
So your saying there is something above “evangelism’ in Pipers higher order namely TRUTH.

Jacob said...

Frank: Don't miss the part in parenthesis where he says he's talking to pastors. Pastors are primarily gifted to keep the flock, not necessarily to be missionaries or street preachers. Given the context of what he said, it sounds fine. If you take it beyond that context and try to apply it to everyone in the church, not specifically pastors, then sure you'd have a valid point.

Thomas Louw said...

Biblical truth is needed for evangelism. It sounds like Piper is more an equipper and motivator for evangelism and Rick with some flaws physically doing it.
I also think that ‘intentional” is the key word here, some do it depend that evangelistic opportunities will automatically come our way while other sit down and plan it. Create an opportunity.

donsands said...

Jesus said to Peter, "Do you love Me?"
Of course Peter loved Him, more than these.
Jesus said, "Feed and tend my sheep and lambs."

I think Pastors, for the most part, will have a great desire to feed the Church with the Word; with understanding and knowledge (Jer. 3:15). Yet they will be bold in preaching the pureness of the Gospel, to their sheep, and to the lost.
Yet, there are those who are evangelists, and who God has given as gifts to the Church as well.

Just thinking a bit out loud.

Rick has a soft gospel. I don't undertsand why really. But he does stand upon Jesus as the only way to the Father.

"Dreams are for those who sleep,
Life is for us to keep"

Reforming Guy said...

Frank, I read your article twice just to make sure I got it.

I just don't believe evangelism is to be the primary. It might not even be secondary. I have a heart for evangelism (at least it is something that God has convicted me of and something that I am actively trying to instill in myself) but I don't believe that that is the primary calling of a pastor.

Would you see it that way or did I misunderstand?

David Rudd said...

glad i didn't get bogged down in the rick warren elements of this post and muddled through to the end.

the payoff (or kick in the teeth) was worth it.

well-said. fantastic use of the parable of the talents.


Robert said...

I agree with Frank. I can tell you that the church I am currently a member of does not have much of an organized effort towards outreach and that is because there is a lack of leadership in that area. The church is strong on teaching the Word, which is great, but the only new people that ever show up (with only one exception I can think of in my amost five years there) are people who are churched already. There is a strong focus on sanctification and service within the church, but there is not much attention being paid to reaching the lost in a corporate or individual fashion. This is what happens when evangelism is not an area that the pastors and elders focus upon and put work into. And it makes a church very cold.

Now, I am not saying that Piper has these problems at his church. What I am saying is that in that message, it seems like he could be encouraging pastors (like the one at the church I attend) to keep on going in the fashion that they are and that evangelizing the lost will take care of itself.

I go back to a point I've written on many blogs about people delivering sermons/speeches or even writing blog posts/comments. Before you deliver/write a message, you need to think out the further implications of what you are saying. Although it may spoil the delivery, it might even be good to have somebody read/listen through it and give a throrough examination for things you might miss. This won't guarantee that we'll stay out of trouble, but it makes it a lot less likely.

piluTLight said...

I really don't think this is an unfair accusation towards Piper. He hosts a pastors conference where he has an opportunity to stress something that is not only lacking among reformed pastors but also their flock- presenting The Gospel to the lost. If we beat the truth first then evangelism drum too long, we'll find we've lived our days in falsehood. The truth is that evangelism must happen, and with a fervency that is missing in the church right now. You can't have the truth of The Gospel without its declaration. Pastors are definitely supposed to "feed my sheep", but they are also an integral part in the process of retrieving those who are still lost. If you don't save the sheep in the first place, won't the food spoil?

Mark B. Hanson said...

Frank said, "If John Piper can admit that evangelism is not on the top of his mind when preaching, then I think we are all suddenly caught with the same look on our faces that the Coyote has when he runs off the edge of the cliff."

I am not so sure that I can go with you here. Must evengelism be at the top of the pastor's mind every time he preaches? After all, the Great Commission tells us to make disciples by baptizing and teaching all Christ's commands.

At some level there is a division of labor in this ministry. Not every sermon will be targeted at the unbeliever; many will primarily call believers to repent of their own idolatries or sins, or work to draw them further into the presence of God.

HSAT, any shepherd worth his upkeep will understand that there are likely lost sheep in his congregation - ones that may believe all is well with their souls. So there must also be a regular call to believe the gospel to those in the congregation. This is a call to salvation to the unbeliever, but a call to "become what you are" to the believer.

Still, because of the power of God's word and His promise that it will not return void, every faithful, Scripture-centered sermon can ultimately serve to call people to God.

Thomas Louw said...

Take your pot off the stove its boiling over!!

piluTLight said...


would you say PART of the pastor's primary duty is instilling a strong heart for evangelism in his flock? I don't think there's any single thing we can label as his primary/secondary duty. The Gospel is good news that needs to be delivered to people who do not know it, and a pastors conference is the perfect place for someone with such influence to remind those among him.

Barbara said...

Yeah, I'm not so sure Piper meant to imply what you heard or inferred. As to this incessant mulling over whether we ourselves are or are not concerned for the lost, I'm reminded of this very blunt quote from Spurgeon (it's in my copy of Spurgeon Gold, p.133 so I don't know which part of his volumes it came from),

Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself - be sure of that.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

John Piper is absolutely huge on missions. He is always trying to rally round the flag boys to get them on board and do missionary work. He has even devoted many sermons to this particular subject, urging people to give of themselves even if it costs them their lives or great personal harm. I have heard the sermons.

Not to mention his hugely successful mission to get us all to love and appreciate God's glory in greater depth.

That certainly is mission worthy.

DJP said...


1. Really good post. But hey -- it's Frank Turk! Duh!

2. Money-quotation: it's the rest of us who have a perfect Gospel which we never think about taking to lost people. Ouch, and bingo.

3. I'd add to that my usual lament: it seems the folks with less-perfect (read "less-Biblical") gospels are more aggressive about getting them out. Or vice-versa.

4. Doesn't it chap your lips when —
a. Piper says something
b. You take him to mean what he said
c. You comment on that
d. The comment could be perceived as being less than flattering
e. People fault
i. NOT PIPER for having said it, but
ii. YOU, for having commented on what he said?

Well done.

Robert said...


I am not sure I catch what you are saying. Might be just a figure of speech I don't get. I want to make sure I understand, though, so that I'm not distracting or upsetting anybody. Can you explain for me? Thanks...I'll probably feel dumber for asking once you explain, but I don't mind that.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Great quote from Spurgeon, Barbara.

I would add that if you pray for your worst enemy to be saved, you can be sure you're saved.

Magister Stevenson said...

Since I've never seen either of you apart (much less together), perhaps I lose some credibility, but I'm not at all convinced that Dan and Frank are not the same person.
Frank gives a great post (right on), some miss it, then Dan gives a great follow-up. As if they had the same brain.
Bravo, Frank. You were not uncharitable towards Piper--and I dare say Piper would be the first to agree with you on your post. And you are even better on Waren--you leave aside the distracting issues and focus on the elements we can learn from.
It is not about church-wide outreach programs, it is about a singular focus on a Gospel that continually transforms the Christians and calls the non-Christians. That is the focus.
word verification: forthe (as in, go ye forthe...) Maybe God is speaking to me through Blogger...

The Reformant said...

@Jason Kanz

"Do you truly believe that John Piper does not have a heart for reaching out to the lost?"

I smell a straw man burning ....

How about we read the post as it was intended and realize that WE ALL need to remind ourselves that we are to take the TRUTH of the GOSPEL to those who need to hear it.

DJP said...

As if they had the same brain

I wish. If I had Frank Turk's brain in my head, I'd be twice as smart as I am.

Now, if I had Frank Turk's brain in a jar, I'd have a nifty little tourist attraction.

Wait... is this off-topic?

Thomas Louw said...

Just my way of saying I fully agree, and if we would leave you alone you would start pounding the pulpit.
“Evangelism must take the sinner and measure him against the perfect law of God so he can see his deficiency. A gospel that deals only with human needs, feelings, and problems is superficial and powerless to save since it focuses only on the symptoms rather than sin, the real issue. That's why churches are filled with people whose lives are essentially no different after professing faith in Christ. Many of those people, I'm sad to say, are unregenerate and grievously misled.”
John MacArthur
There is a higher order. Gospel softened borders on a none gospel

Michael Adams said...

I think you missed the BOAT here!
Having a concern, but throwing GOAT food to attract sheep?
The Jehovah Witnesses have a passion to evangelize!
The un-biblical nature that Rick Warren adheres to is what is dead wrong, as is the un-biblical nature of the Jehovah Witnesses. It is NOT a matter of having a heart for evangelizing alone. And that is not addressed by Dr. Piper, or yourself in this article.

Rick Warrens message, and it appears the man himself, enjoys pronouncing men saved by repeating a prayer. see p. 58 of his PDL. This is not to mention all the Universalism he is not only engaging, but creating.

Is what is being praised is Zeal without Knowledge??? I may be wrong, but from what I have witnessed so far it is Zeal, and ignoring knowledge, wanting to do it his way, and wanting to see pragmatic results.

Anonymous said...

"I mean, this is the guy who wrote Let the Nations Be Glad. This is the guy who penned Don't Waste your Life. "

So a comment overrides two books? does Piper have to write another two books to override this comment?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well Done Frank!! I very seldom comment, but I must say this is my favorite of your posts. Let's keep the lost on our minds "as we are going" not just to think about them but to share the truth with them while God has given us time. Again "Well Done!! Praise the Lord.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What Dan said...

Here's what I read in the post, and then in the meta:

John Piper put his finger, intentionally or not, on a typical, modern-day, Calvinistic blind-spot, which, to everyone's dismay, Rick Warren doesn't have.
We should be aware of that blind spot and do what we can to counter it.

We're not so sure there's any blind spots in modern-day Calvinism, but if there are Piper can't be the one who has 'em, and Rick Warren, whatever he might have right, is still so wrong that it doesn't matter.

Whether Piper has 'em or doesn't, and whether Warren is all wrong or not (I'm not a fan BTW) this post sure held my blind-spot up to the light.

Thanks Frank. Sometimes your posts are a rear-view camera for my blind spots.
Today was once such time.

FX Turk said...

Before anyone else accuses me of saying that John Piper has disposed of Evangelism, please re-read what I actually wrote in the post:

But look at the underlined part there. In the midst of detailing the reformed schtick under the cover of "organic" dreaming and avoiding too-hard burdens, of all people on Earth John Piper says, essentially, that intentional evangelism is not his first concern.

What I did not say is that John Piper has no concern whatsoever for evangelism. You would think that insightful, discerning people could work that out from the actual words in the post, but apparently because I did not disembowel Rick Warren here the real concern for people we actually love and respect, including our own churches and our own movement leaders who we might actually affect for the positive is not only lost, but bastardized into something I didn't say at all.

If it really doesn't bother anyone that John Piper expressly said that he has a passive interest in evangelism, I suggest you're not as "reformed" as you think you are. See: God doesn't have a passive interest in evangelism. In God's case, we call this "election", right? But the ordinary means of God's working out of election is evangelism -- God doesn't save most people by sending an angel or sending a dream because they are a God-fearer.

If our theology makes us into people who have a passive view of evangelism, our theology is disasterously flawed. When we have someone well-respected in our ranks who says publicly that he has this view and we receive it as a joke, we have a very serious problem which we need to resolve.

Anti-Calvinists are not right about reformed theology: it is Not inherently anti-evangelistic. But when we take the supremacy of God in all things for granted and merely take a passive view of how and whether people will come to the Gospel, I object. I dissent. I disagree -- and whether Rick Warren is present or not, we must ask ourselves: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

The accusation that I have "proof texted" Piper is shallow at best: it's an active admission that he doesn;t plan on evangelism: he plans on something esle. It may be faithful and useful in its own way, but it is not primarily evangelism. And that ought to turn on a lightswitch for all of us.

olan strickland said...


Are you serious? Do you really believe that John Piper doesn't have a concern for those going to hell and Rick Warren does?

First off, the man who really has a concern for those going to hell will not tamper with either soteriology or ecclesiology.

Piper refused to use The [Post]modern Missional Strategy and now he's a man that doesn't care about the lost?

Does the wide gate approach of marketing your church to the unchurched (The Purpose Driven Church, pg. 139) really mean a genuine love for the lost?

Spurgeon said it best about this unbiblical philosophy, "Men seem to say — It is of no use going on in the old way, fetching out one here and another there from the great mass. We want a quicker way. To wait till people are born again, and become followers of Christ, is a long process: let us abolish the separation between the regenerate and unregenerate."

You would have thought that Spurgeon personally knew Robert Schuller and Rick Warren!

Brad S said...

I totally agree with Frank on this one. When I listened to that Q & A that struck me as well. C John Miller in "Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless" says almost exactly Frank's point in book form. And he taught at Westminster. Thanks Frank.

Anonymous said...

"Are you serious? Do you really believe that John Piper doesn't have a concern for those going to hell and Rick Warren does?"

Olan, thanks for the funniest line in the meta. Hilarious.

But then you wrecked it by continuing to write as if you meant that.

Never ever ruin a good joke. It's takes the fun out of everything.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

No, Dan is not the man with two brains, that is Steve Martin.

Dan, Frank and Phil, all have a particular genius that is very noticeable. I think the blog would not have lasted this long if they had just been run-of-the-mill-writers.

Sorry, off topic.

Michael Adams said...

I think you missed the BOAT here!
Having a concern, but throwing GOAT food to attract sheep?
The Jehovah Witnesses have a passion to evangelize!
The un-biblical nature that Rick Warren adheres to is what is dead wrong, as is the un-biblical nature of the Jehovah Witnesses. It is NOT a matter of having a heart for evangelizing alone. And that is not addressed by Dr. Piper, or yourself in this article

Anonymous said...

Pokey sticks make us say and do lots of funny things in order to avoid the poke.

Be like Paul. Embrace the poke.
It'll change you life.

I know mine needs changing.

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl Thomas said...

I have very little in common with the average reader and authors of this site. I follow it solely to round out my reading. Suffice it to say, I am not really a big fan. But I wanted to comment (for probably the first and last time) how much I enjoyed this post.

Nobody thinks that John Piper really does not care about the lost. I feel confident that the author would agree. I would also say that most of caustic accusations regarding Rick Warren are equally false.

But what I see as a major fault of the reformed movement is ensuring that the folks in the pew have what they would consider perfect theology at the expense of showing the world who Jesus is.

The movement in part lead by Rick Warren could be accused of the same error in reverse.

Guess what, we can all grow and learn from the successes of other camps.

Nice to see a little humility in the midst of a theological debate.

FX Turk said...


Please re-read the bold re-post in my last comment, and ask yourself these questions:

1. Did Frank say, "John Piper doesn't have a concern for those going to hell"? If not, what is your concern?

2. Do you honestly believe that Rick Warren has no concern for people who are going to hell? That is: do you really think that he works as hard as he does doing what he is doing -- which I admit, is not what I think is called for by the Bible -- for another motive which comes before, "people are going to go to hell?" Is it reasonable to believe that?

3. Assuming Rick Warren's doctrine is not-the-Gospel and Piper's theology is exactly-the-Gospel, if Piper's primary objective in ministry and teaching is something other than evangelism -- other than the saving of lost people -- is that the model you think is most faithful and most biblically-aligned? You think Spurgeon would agree with you if you said, "I think that giving the lost a second place, a passive place in my approach is best for everyone"?

Matt said...

I always appreciate a post that does not simply hand us all a "spiritual" sniper rifle to pick off the bad things we see around the evangelical landscape, but rather brings pause to our thoughts and the intentions of OUR hearts, and points us to the cross. Thanks Frank

"All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the Man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work"

I believe that the role of the pastor is to take the Word of God / the gospel and shepherd the flock rigorously. When the family of God sits under the faithful instruction of the Word week after week after week, the Lord's Grace and Mercy becomes more evident to us, in our lives. As a result the flock evangelizes. I believe every faithful preacher (aka Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, etc) does have evangelism at the forefront of the ministry. By faithfully administering the Word they are equipping soldiers for the battle of souls in the world.

James Scott Bell said...

"But one could hardly argue that evangelism is a key feature of modern Calvinism. Neither the writings we produce nor the conferences we hold focus much on evangelism." - Phil Johnson

FX Turk said...

DJP --

Yes it does, and I'll loan you TheBrain so you can post tomorrow. I'm beat.

Michael Adams said...

No Brother Frank...
You think Spurgeon would agree with you if you said, "I think that giving the lost a second place, a passive place in my approach is best for everyone"?
No, that is not what I think Spurgeon would say...
But I do believe it would be along the lines that you cannot separate the passion alone. Again, the Jehovah Witnesses have a passion.... Rick Warren has a passion... Islam has a passion.... You cannot put a Biblical Gospel Passion and compare or try to make it imitate an un-biblical passion. And that is what is wrong with what you wrote.

FX Turk said...

I am actually grateful that the people taking offense to this post are going to defend the idea that letting evangelism have a second place in ministry is the way they refute Islam and the JWs -- it's the differentiator.

I think this post is a better post than I had hoped for, and I thank God for it. I'm locked up in meetings until lunch, so you give it your best shot here -- but remember that if your point is that John Piper in fact has not abandoned evangelism altogether, great: I agree with you. My point is actually that John Piper plainly admitted it's not his first concern and people laughed rather than gasped.

Respond to that if you need to vent -- but pretending I said something I didn't say so you can get a nice warm rant out of your system will prolly not get a response from me.

FX Turk said...

BTW: I think Francis Chan's talk was nice. He's always nice -- he always makes me have hope that somebody in our camp actually loves people they way they ought to.

You guys do know who Richie Cunningham is, right? Am I really that old?

DJP said...

Sure: Richie Cunningham's dad played Sheridan's dad (and Kosh's avatar) on Babylon 5.

Michael Adams said...

Brother Frank, one more comment if I may... There is no doubt with myself nor many I have talked to that Mr. Warren has a passion, but it is a Pragmatic Passion, that leads to the wide path...
I have read much of your postings to know that you know this.
So it is odd that your post seems, I didn't say that it is, but it seems to be in favor of an almost zeal without knowledge.
I do not think that is your position, but it shows a reflection of that type of thinking.
And with Dr. Pipers blind-siding many of us with his past pronouncement that Rick Warren is Theologically Sound...
It leaves some of us skiddish.
When for years we were assuming that his defense of solid Gospel Preaching and denouncing of watered down preaching was in reference to preachers like Rick Warren. And then to find out that it was not. Well that leaves some of us a bit shaken, that a Theology that teaches that a man can be saved by saying a little prayer just 58 pages into a book that mis-quotes Scripture.

Reforming Guy said...


I would say that evangelism is a natural outflowing of what it is that we believe. In that, I would agree with you that we shouldn't be hasty to say things in a first this, then this kinda way.

After saying that though, there is a hierarchy in what we are called to do. We are called to glorify God first, most, and always. To do that there will be various means. Evangelism is one that is incredibly neglected and is a major importance, but it might not always be the primary one that a pastor has when speaking from the pulpit.

I believe many pastors need to be convicted in how they have lead (or not) their church in evangelism. The only thing I'm saying is that Piper shouldn't (IMHO) be castigated for his comment.

But all in all, my guess is Frank was trying to point out that universal and apply it to us individually, in which case I say, "Thanks Frank for adding to what God is already doing! You'd think I'd get a day of peace and quiet, but NOOOO!"

Reforming Guy said...


One other thing, the DG conference is NOT his pastor's conference. That may be the primary attendee, but he actually has a pastor's conference that he hosts in February.

candy said...

Did I just read an O. Henry novel? A twist to the story. :)

I am wondering if John Piper was considering the fact that he has been called to equip and train the saints first and foremost, in order that they may go out and spread the gospel. I think when he said remarkable things will happen, he was alluding to that fact. Isn't that what a church is about?

I don't think spreading the PDL all over the world necessarily qualifies as spreading the Gospel.

MST said...

Reading comprehension classes are available online. Great post Frank.

Anonymous said...

Michael Adams,

If I may...how is it that Piper's apparent embrace of Warren leaves anyone shaken?
Did we think Piper was perfect?
Was our faith so solidly in Piper?
Is our theology so weak that we think we need to follow Piper wherever he goes?
Is our "Warren-bad, Piper-great" filter so so strong that we can't see that Warren might have something right and the Piper might have something wrong?

I see great discipline and determination to excel in Tiger Woods. Something I need more of.

Am I wrong then, to point out that his blind spot is not my blind spot and the his strength may, in fact, be something I've ignored and shouldn't have?

Something to think about.

The Reformant said...

@ Daryl

Well put... otherwise we would never learn a thing from Samson, David, Moses...
well we would never be able to learn from anyone

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ Candy:

These were my thoughts, too, Candy.

John Piper may have been referring more to "his" particular profession/occupation as a "stationary" pastor, than an itinerant, missionary type occupation.

If he doesn't care for the lost, then it is all a sham and a shame, but I think we all know this is not true.

olan strickland said...


Sorry for the beating. I'll try to be as brief as possible.

1. I read your statement, You know what? Rick Warren has a concern for people who are going to hell right after your statement, John Piper says, essentially, that intentional evangelism is not his first concern. So using the hermeneutic that you are using on Piper I would say, Frank Turk says, essentially, that John Piper doesn't have a concern for those going to hell.

2. I make no bones about the truth that Rick Warren is a false teacher and therefore appears to have a concern for people going to hell but is deceiving others and being deceived himself (2 Timothy 3:13). Don't forget about what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15 - they had a concern for people going to hell and were yet sending them there along with themselves!

3. Don't forget the context in which Piper spoke those words. He does have an active approach to evangelism - I want to feed the sheep in such a way that the sheep love God, are so thrilled with God, they tell other people about him.

Michael Adams said...

Shaken, not stirred...
I believe many were shaken by Dr. Pipers delusion of what Solid Theology is.
I do not think (I hope), that anyone rely s solely on Dr. piper nor do we think any man is perfect.
But for many he has been a mentor, a teacher, one we looked to for guidance on proper Theology. Again, not a "perfect" man, but a trusted source.
And when that trust was broken, it tends to have an impact on those who trusted his teaching.
I hope this clarified what I meant.

The Reformant said...

@ Zach Skrip

"Desiring God is a teaching ministry of John Piper supplying the body of Christ with over 30 years of books, sermons, articles and more to help you find joy in God."

Still his conference... still his ministry.

Unknown said...

I think Michael Adams is hitting the nail on the head. Are we forgetting that this is the guy who referred to Jesus as issa....the muslim prophet? Talk about being ashamed of the gospel. Are we forgetting that this is the guy who encourages people NOT to bring their bibles to church? This is the evangelist we are to learn from? What happened to Spirit AND TRUTH? I never thought that here would be the place where we see the man who spreads a false Christianity like cancer would be an example.

Lynda O said...

I think everyone agrees that all believers see evangelism as important, and we all have a concern for the lost, and to get the truth out to everyone. I'm not extremely familiar with everything said/written by John Piper or Rick Warren, but it seems that an underlying issue here is: what is the church's purpose, and our purpose as believers? Is it evangelism first, or truth, or something else?

From recent Bible studies, and series from another good Bible teacher, I would point to Paul's words in Ephesians 2:18. As S. Lewis Johnson pointed out, "We think the great end of the trinity is that we be saved. It’s amazing to me after nineteen hundred years people still say the great work of the Christian church is evangelism. That’s not the great work of the Christian church. It is a great work. One would not want to downgrade evangelism, but as we see in Colossians and all through the New Testament, the whole work of salvation is the great work of the church: evangelism yes but evangelism with a view to communion with a view to maturity with a view to edification."

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ Michael:

You are so right. I was very upset when JP invited RW to the conference, and claimed that RW was theologically sound. It has taken me a very long time to see that even men such as Piper, even with his almost inspired, uncanny genius for Scripture, can be so fallible/gullible. And maybe that is the lesson behind all of this.


Ben said...


Are you really arguing that a pastor's primary objective ought to be to get non-Christians to come to church services to hear the gospel? If so, I totally get why you are feeling some sort of affinity for Warren.

But in implying that Piper doesn't have a primary emphasis on the lost, you're poisoning the well. You're adopting the seeker assumption that church gatherings are primarily about evangelism. And that's skewing your exegesis of Piper.

I absolutely think that evangelism is primary in Piper's preaching. It's right there in the words that you quoted: "I want to feed the sheep in such a way that the sheep love God, are so thrilled with God, they tell other people about him, and they come and worship and they love God so much . . ."

That's evangelism. That's the church being equipped for evangelism. That's the church being consumed by God's glory so that evangelism is unstoppable. It's NOT the worship gathering of the flock being used as a Billy Graham crusade. But that's not what the church gathers for. Is it?

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Praise the Lord that in the midst of the laughter, he touched your heart with a burden of the painful reality we face in modern "Churchianity." I have become so accustomed to inviting people to church, to "come and see," but who need to hear the gospel, to be saved and to know the Lord, not to just come to a meeting where I can hope/trust that my pastor or someone else will do the job. I think a good pastor/shepherd goes out to find the lost sheep, rather than say, "Well, they can come. If they want." It's also part of the tending process. And when I hear real-life examples from my pastor about times when he has recently shared the gospel, I am encouraged to do the same. Now I gotta shut up and go digging as well...

donsands said...

"I wanted to comment (for probably the first and last time)" Carl

Why? Your comment was good food for thought.

I see it like Candy does.

God sovereignly gives us measures of grace and gifts to serve Him, and each other Romans 12.
Our Lord also gives gifts to the Church Eph. 4.

I would think Pastor Piper would say our calling is to bring people to Christ, and those who come to Christ, we need to edify and love.

Just guessing on that. That's my own pastor's heart.

" Now, if I had Frank Turk's brain in a jar, I'd have a nifty little tourist attraction." -Dan

Yep. But be sure it's the right brain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ_pKqiB5Rg&feature=related

Merrilee Stevenson said...

One more thing and then I'm done.

In a nutshell:

Feeding the sheep is not the same thing as finding the sheep.

Michael Adams said...

Yes and No.
Again, these should not be separated.
When you call a sheep, you use a sheep-call, not a goat-call, then bring back goats and call them sheep.

Or rather you attract (call) the sheep using sheep food, not goat food.

In this way, you can continue feeding sheep food, and not have to keep using goat food to keep the goats.

The Reformant said...

@ Ben
"Are you really arguing that a pastor's primary objective ought to be to get non-Christians to come to church services to hear the gospel?"

Another straw man to burn... gonna be a long day in OZ

Anonymous said...

Michael Adams,

I'd even go this far...

The Jehovah's Witnesses have a zeal to see people converted and come to their idea of the truth.

We should see them as an example. Not in theology, nor even in methodology, but certainly in zeal.

Have I said something good about JW's?
Have I compromised anything?

Didn't think so...

The Reformant said...

Ill requote the elusive MST:

"Reading comprehension classes are available online. Great post Frank."

Charles Churchill said...

When has the first priority of an elder been anything other than feeding the sheep? In the spiritual metaphor of sheep and shepherds, an elder is both a sheep (in the fold of Christ) and an under-shepherd, acting as a picture of Christ to the sheep in his local flock, but as an elder, which is the context Dr. Piper was speaking in, his primary duty is to feed the sheep, to grow them in maturity and knowledge of the Word, with the understanding that healthy sheep produce more sheep.

Or am I missing something fundamental?

Douglas said...

The talk by Rick Warren at the DGC is one of the worst teachings I have heard for a very long time and I am glad that I have no part of Saddleback. It deeply troubled me listening to Rick Warren. I will never ever make a covenant with Rick Warren or anything Purpose Driven and hopefully he repents of all the false teachings and Scripture twisting he engages in. Listening to Rick Warren makes me wonder if he is actually born again? I don't know? I can't tell from what he proclaims. In my opinion it was nothing more than moralistic therapeutic deistic perfectionism based upon a Pelagian foundation. Warren's head is chok full of theological knowledge and information and other facts and figures that he can rattle off in a blink of an eye, all the while with a charming, disarming smile. He is a master flattery. Warren sounds worse the Charles Finney in his theology and boasts in his good works more than anyone else I know of. "Kay and and I give 91% and live off 9%." Something like that he said didn't he? He just had to let everyone at DGC and once again the WHOLE world know that didn't he? How come it has gone from "tithing" 90% and living on 10% to "giving" 91% and living off 9%? Does that make him and Kay more holy? More righteous? Better than all of us lowly givers or non-tithers? It sickens me and I often wonder what this Christian life is all about. Sometimes it sounds like one big con job. Warren constantly laid guilt trips on his listeners whether folks realized it or not. Not living up to the standards Rick Warren himself has set. I will never attain Rick Warren's abilities. I will never do as many things as Rick Warren has done. I will never read as many books as Rick Warren has read. I will never own a family library with as many books as he has. I will never be able to live up to Rick Warren's dreams, expectations, visions and on and on it goes. I'm had it as far he is concerned. I will never be good enough. I'm not doing enough according to him, I should be out there doing more. More what? I should be feeding myself. It's not pastors ministry to feed the sheep, we have to do that for ourselves? It is what I have been doing anyway because there are so many professing pastors out their leading the sheep astray with so much unsound doctrine and Warren sure teaches a lot of unsound doctrine, a?

Mental illness is sin? He said that didn't he. Well I am not only a natural born sinner, sinful from the moment of conception and birth, with no hope outside of my LORD Jesus Christ, but I also suffer from mental illness and regularly see a doctor, so according to Rick Warren because of my mental illness I am constantly sinning? I am in a constant state of sin? What hope do I have from Rick Warren's teachings? I must THINK more, a? I'm not THINKING enough, that's the problem. Now I get it. Just stop and think!

I believe Rick Warren is a false teacher and a terrible, awful in fact, Scripture twister and his Purpose Driven® gospel is no gospel at all and is mostly law with dribs and drabs of distorted Gospel here and there, truth and error, error and truth mixed in otherwise none of it would be swallowed by the unsuspecting.

Listen to this, if this is not true then I just do not know what is true anymore:

Rick Warren's Lecture at Desiring God Conference
Rick Warren's Lecture at the Desiring God Conference was a circus of Blatant Bible Twisting and Pelagianism. John Piper owes us an apology and must publicly rebuke Warren for his false teaching

LORD Jesus Christ, please help me, I am so discouraged and unhappy and saddened.

Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FX Turk said...

I like it that this discussion is going someplace I recognize.

As we start excellerating to 100 comments and beyond, I want to remind everyone of the Heidleberg Catechism, specifically question #65 and #83 & #84 . I am sure all you doctrinally-sound folks know those by heart so I won't quote it here. That speaks to an active concern and not a passive concern for the lost.

I also point to WCF XIV.1.

Robert said...

I have a childhood friend who is now a pastor (a great one, I believe...but I'm biased). He pastors a church in my hometown (I now live 5 hours away) and when I go to see family there, I go to his church. I remember one sermon where he was talking about me visiting and how he loves to talk about God with me. Then he asked "You know who I love to talk with about God more than anybody else? Most of all, I love to talk about God with people who don't know Him." That, to me, was one of the best things I have heard in a sermon because that is what we need...we need that love for the lost that Jesus had.

Jesus looked at the crowds and felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd...they were lost. He told a parable where the shepherd left the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep and he rejoiced when he found it...he even invited everybody for a party to celebrate finding it! How about the parable about the talents? The parable of the four soils? The farmer and the seed?

What did the Great Shepherd do when He walked the earth in human form? He called and taught the gospel and the Word of truth. What did Peter and Paul do in their ministry? They preached the gospel. Look in Acts and you see Peter continually preaching the gospel to the lost and telling them to repent. Paul said of his preaching in Corinth that he desired to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Yes, it is important to care for and nurture the saved, but it is just as important to be preaching the gospel to the lost.

Brad Williams said...

I'm always the last one to the party. The cheese dip is already gone, and the chips are already crumbs anyway.

Frank is right. I pastor a Reformdishst Baptist congregation. We love truth like Smeagol loved his precious. Sometimes, we are so uptight about the truth we act like we can break it. People who just learned good theology sometimes look like the 20 year old guy that just got handed a 9 week old child. He has that look in his eyes that he is terrified that he's about to drop the baby.

Some of the most caustic, ridiculous comments on here are made by people who never shepherded a single soul through a single trial, the kind of person who thinks handing out "The Mortification of Sin" to "lay folk" is a good way to have Sunday School. What does that have to do with evangelism? Everything. Because some reformed folks think that type of thing (reading Owens) is what really stokes the kiln of evangelical zeal.

Here's my belabored, late-to-the-party point. Many reformed theologs can build a fine doctrine, and I say good on it. I work hard at that as well. But many times, they seem to have no concept of building a community that fosters love and patience with the dummy who can't get over the fourth point hump. Or the dummy who wears shirts from Hawaii. And if you can't get over that guy who is in your communion, you are never going to help the guy who isn't.

Paul Nevergall said...

I don't think this post was intended to be an apologia for Rick Warren - at least not in the same way some in the meta seem to think.

Ben said...


Are you implying that Piper is passive in his concern for the lost when he specifically identifies the message he preaches as one intended to inflame the congregation with the glory of God so that they spread to evangelize?

How is that passive?

DJP said...

Brad - We love truth like Smeagol loved his precious

I trust that is on the front of every bulletin, and part of your church confession.

Anonymous said...

Pastors need a class on "say what I mean and mean what I say" period. People are so used to pastors speaking in a way that doesn't make sense, they accept it. This is why I didn't realize the problems in my former church earlier (among other reasons). I would listen and then edit to fit what I thought the pastor should mean and should be saying.

Charles Churchill said...

What I hear you saying is that an elder should have as his first concern, those who are lost. Is this correct?
Because I can't understand that argument. A father, as a father, should not have as his first concern, someone who is not his child. A wife should not have, as her top priority, someone who is not her husband.
I'd go so far as to say that if Rick Warren's first and highest desire is to preach to the lost and get them to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, to the point that he focuses on this more than other work, then he should seriously consider whether he is doing the work of an elder, because they minister to the body differently than an evangelist does.
Does that make sense (with the understanding that I may be completely misunderstanding your argument)

Unknown said...

To me, regardless of what Piper said or what Rick Warren brings to the DG conference, the most convicting thing about Frank's post was his comment about the buried talent. I am never able to read the parable of the talents without a deep prick in my own heart telling me that I am much more like the servant with the one talent than the servant with the 5 + 5 talents or 2 + 2 talents. In that context, I do have a burning desire to share the Gospel with the lost, yet I struggle deeply with fear of rejection and a nascent temptation to not rock other people's boats with the assertion that they are sinners in need of a Savior, yet I know it is sinful to fear man more than God.
So, I'm with Frank: that I need to go un-earth my own talent and be more like the other more faithful servants to whom were given great reward for their faithfulness in using the talents given to them. May God be merciful to me and grant me victory in this area.

Melinda said...

"but mainly I want to feed the sheep in such a way that the sheep love God, are so thrilled with God, they tell other people about him."

- Piper (a few sentences after the underlined part)

FX Turk said...

Ben --

It's passive because Piper is not sovereign: Piper is human.

See: God is sovereign, so when he ordains some ordinary means, he's not passive: he's done the sovereign thing and ordained the means.

When Piper just wants to inflame people with love of God so that he hopes they might become evangelists rather than doing the evangelism right there, he is not doing active evangelism. He admits he is not doing active evangelism, for pete's sake!

He is doing something else -- which I would say is also necessary. he is feeding the sheep, and that's necessary. But it's not hardly exclusive of evangelism for him personally. He could do both/and -- which he admits elsewhere in the panel discussion.

It's funny: if Piper took a passive concern for doctrine but an active concern for evangelism, we'd be all over this. We'd see immediately that it must be both/and or else it is not worth doing. What You Win Them With is What You Win Them To, right?

But here we see him confess -- in a very non-cryptic way -- that he is like a lot of reformed types and he does doctrine and doxology but not so much conscious thinking about the necessary aspect of evangelism. And to that, we say, "well, two out of three ain't bad," as if Meatloaf was suddenly our a cardinal theologian for the Calvinist cohort.

I think we can learn a lot from this. I think if we don't, shame on us. Eternal-type shame.

Ben said...

Thanks for the explanation Frank. I'm grasping your point better, and I should say that I never disagreed with the application you're driving at in our hearts.

I was reading Piper's quote as being about his preaching ministry, as in, "I preach the Bible faithfully and don't try to make my preaching an evangelistic crusade." You seem to be reading Piper as saying, "My thing is preaching and feeding the flock, not doing the work of an evangelist myself," or maybe "I don't care if we ever get to the point where our congregation is evangelizing the campus."

Honestly, after reading your last comment I can see either meaning in his words. It might turn on what the "it" is in "if it happens it happens." If the "it" is evangelism, then point taken. Someone who's listened to the audio can set me straight.

Anonymous said...

Of course, even if a pastor preaches and speaks perfectly all the time, we'll still hear things incorrectly or will understand them wrongly at times too. It's all so hard.

I am just a busy mom with 7 kids to school at home. I have a responsibility to evangelize and teach them correctly. I have a hard time when reading on this blog and figuring out what to do with it, and especially what you write Frank (this is not an attack, just an honest comment). At times I'm trying to figure out if you are predicting how people will react and write like a chess player, making a move and reading where people go...writing in a challenging way that some of us simple folks won't completely understand. I try to "get it" but I am not schooled in theology from any institution other than reading my own bible and hearing preaching. I know very little about church history. I had little family input into my faith, went to church alone a lot as a kid.

Rick Warren is easy to critique, and I can understand the problems people have with him by just comparing what he says to what my bible says. I don't know enough about what Piper teaches to have an opinion. I really have no guy I follow in the limelight of Christian popularity. I want to trust, but when my pastors at my former church taught from Warren/Hybels/Willard and on and on (spiritual formation/purpose driven) I heard the bible being misused. I saw what following after these guys did to the preachers at my church. They went so far as to make the account of Lazarus in John about psychology and community (promo for small groups) and "letting others take off your grave clothes) which are supposed to be life's problems. They rearranged their church so that Warren's PEACE plan was first and foremost. We were taught regularly about three things...Connect/Transform/Serve.

So when I see a post like this, I think on it, and then I just remind myself I need to spend more time in the Bible itself. I also know we are to share...go and make disciples...and right now I am home with 7 children. I must teach them. I also talk to those who will hear. Evangelism is part of my life, but not in a big marketed sort of way. It's not possible for me to live in a large way, it has to be small. That's where I live, a small life.

Hayden said...


For clarification only and not to derail comments.

'Are you saying that the primary duty of a Pastor is evangelism?'

Jessica Kramasz said...

Fabulous post, Frank.
An interesting side note-
Our church is fairly close to Bethlehem Baptist, and before we moved we were within a few miles, so it's not uncommon for us to gain new members who have left there (and sometimes they gain ours).
Over the last few years I've heard from many who have left Bethlelhem Baptist that they joined our church because Piper does not often preach the gospel/evangelism from the pulpit and rarely encourages it from his members. It's interesting to me to see that now he even admits it. So sad.

Michael Adams said...

Brother Frank, you cleared up some things in your last post... Thanks.
However I think the point of contention is NOT what what you are talking about and in favor of... that being that "feeding the sheep is exclusive of evangelism".
None of us can be zealous enough about evangelizing, and from my experiences, most pastors fall into an exclusion of one or the other, mostly in exclusion of evangelizing.

And if this point was standing in a statement by itself, it would warrant little feedback, as it is true.
However, since it is copulated, or linked to Rick Warren, there is a major problem that invalidates, or causes clarification to be made.

It comes across as an approval for Warrens "easy-believism", "God has a wonderful plan for you", "no repentance required" type of happy-go-lucky evangelism.

Anyone who reads your posts, knows better. And you seldom have left something so un-clarified, that can be taken differently.

What you just pointed out and clarified sounds a whole lot different than what the original looked like.

And I thank you for your heart in these posts, my responses are not meant as criticisms, but are meant in the spirit of clarification and learning.

JT said...

My appreciation for Piper is no secret, but one of the things I admire the most is his own self-awareness—both of giftings and limitations. I don't have the exact quote, but I think it was in this same panel that he said "I don't spend a lot of time trying to be something I'm not."

One of the more interesting—and ironically encouraging—sermons I've heard/read from Piper is from 1982—two years into his pastorate at Bethlehem. This son of a soul-winning evangelist is detailed and honest about how hard personal evangelism is for him and how he has tried to work through this.

You can read or listen to it here:


Lynnie Ha said...

my thought after reading your article (but not the 94 comments following!) is that what i recall being the context of that comment, 'they can come if they want' was in reference to the seminary and college at bethlehem being established across the street from another school; that he was pointing out that he wasn't thinking logistics of 'competition' when starting a college across the street from another one... just doing what God had called him to do. i didn't hear the context as being one of not caring to evangelize the studentss. but perhaps i misunderstood.

FX Turk said...

Hayden --

What do you think of my tossing into the diiscussion the Heidelberg Catechism and the WCF? Do those statements from those seminal-refomational documents give an answer to your question?

Brad Williams said...


I can't keep up! But yes, it is on every bulletin. And it's copyrighted. You owe me a nickel.


FX Turk said...


JT read my post. I point that out only to underscore that obviously, what I thought I wrote was what someone who is willing to read the post will take away from the post.

Weeks said...

Boom. Headshot.

I have to admit I missed this, Frank. I didn't catch it, so I'm glad you did because this is fascinating as it is humbling. Piper has always amazed me with how humble and open he is about his own sin from the pulpit, applying his exegesis to his own life for all to see and learn from as an example. It's astonishing, and if there was one trait from him I hope to pick up and have the courage to employ, it would be that.

FX Turk said...

100. next.

~Mark said...

Hey, there's a Jehovah's Witness ringing my doorbell right now!

FX Turk said...


Wait until next week when I pull out his quote about blogging vs. picking up the phone. If you think this comment thread is bad, take a day off from work for that one -- it will be epic.

Michael Adams said...

His humbleness in his past is not in question, or of concern here... But rather his pride in not only choosing someone whose established and continued "universal" or "File-cabinet Theology" is plainly visible, and in black and white, and as an established pattern of misquoting Scriptures, but in defending them.
Rick Warren has an established
"universal" doctrine that can be clearly seen, but Dr. Piper has chosen to not humble himself, but pridefully endorse much of what he has preached against in the past.

Every man (no more than myself) struggles with pride. But I am shaken by the continuing defense of the mistake of declaring someone who continues to is involved in the making of a world religion, of declaring them, or rather the Theology of such thought as sound.

This move on Dr. Pipers part is more different than doctrinal hair splitting, but is core splitting, especially on the core of how the Bible shows evangelism, and how Rick Warren types essentially change it from a Christ centered to a man centered evangelism.

Am I wrong here?

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say this post convicted me. Thank you for taking the time and energy to write it. And especially for the brilliant finish to the article, which is helping me turn conviction into motivation.

FX Turk said...

BTW Weeks:

We must moov leetle Caart!

Unknown said...

I liked Chan's talk, I liked Happy Days, but you need to help me with the connection. Is this short hand for "the guy who is around that everyone likes but does not add anything to the atmosphere"?

I am a little slow and I know this is kind of off topic. But us dummies need help once in a while.

chrispoblete said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Israel Sanchez said...

"I want to feed the sheep in such a way that the sheep love God, are so thrilled with God, they tell other people about him"

That's what John Piper meant. Not a strategy, not a plan to draw crowds and entertain people, but preaching the gospel. People who are grateful for their salvation, people who truly get it, will always want to tell others.

FX Turk said...

Funny that Justin Taylor can actually link to actual John Piper actually sermonizing over his own actual shortcomings, and actual blog commenters will actually ignore that for their own safe interpretation of the actual issue.

And not Funny-Ha-Ha, either. The other kind of funny.

FX Turk said...

Israel --

Was there anything offensive about Richie Cunningham?

Michael Adams said...

Israel... That is a big assumption you are making...
If Dr. Piper had specified or made the distinction of doing this without the strategy to entertain or draw crowds, it would lend merit to your thought.

But he blended right in and was inclusive of Rick Warren from the start. There was no distinction made.

FX Turk said...

Oh -woops!

That was for BrettR not Israel.

Jon M. said...

I'm not the smartest guy in the room...even when I'm alone. But here goes...

Frank, your follow up post beginning with the "passivity" stuff was helpful to me. After my initial reading of your initial post, I thought I disagreed with you. But I think I may be seeing more clearly what you are (1) pointing out in what Piper said, and (2) in what your concern is about that.

If you're so inclined, I think it might be more helpful to me to know what your definition of "evangelism" is.

Piper didn't use the word. He I said (as I read) "I tried to preach the Bible faithfully." And also, "...but mainly I want to feed the sheep in a such a way that the sheep love God...they tell other people about him..."

I'm not sure how to mesh all that together. Isn't preaching the Bible faithfully evangelism? Or is evangalism only presenting the gospel to the lost OUTSIDE the church building? (Certainly there are lost inside the church building, right?) And what does Piper mean by his "mainly wanting to feed the sheep"? Does he define the "sheep" as those who are already saved? So as to say, "My main concern is serving those who are saved now...not those who will be one day." (I know you cannot answer for Piper himself. It's just some of the wording I'm trying to figure out.)

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Bryan Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan Wayne said...

yikes . . . it was well worth reading through all these comments before I made my own comment. Would have been one of those *insert foot in mouth* moments for me.

Thanks for all the clarification you added in answering to all the objections Frank. Not that it matters coming from me . . . but regardless, it was helpful.

FX Turk said...

Evangelism: the practice of spreading the Gospel. It is distinct from teaching and rebuking.

It involves the awareness that there are some who are in Adam but not in Christ -- which we were very hot about a couple of weeks ago when the doctrine of human anthropology was at stake, but now that it comes up that we are only hot about the theory and not the practice/application, we're suddenly ready to "go long" as they say: teaching conceived as evangelism; rebuking conceived of as evangelism; exegesis as conceived of as evangelism.

How about actual evangelism? If there's an actual Adam, and actual original sin, and the actual world is actually fallen, and Christ actually died while we were yet actually sinners, and the promise is actually for even those far off, how about we act like we actually believe it?

Weeks said...


Come, to bomb wagon!

(Most appropriate response I could think of, considering the circumstances.)

FX Turk said...


Michael Adams said...

Actual Evangelism is preaching the Actual Gospel. Not just any gospel that draws people in, or promises world peace. But an actual Gospel that preaches Actual Repentance, one of the main foundations in the Gospel, that is left out so often in the warm and fuzzy gospel.

What say you?

Paul said...

I wonder whether it is possible to imagine Piper's comment in terms of the distinction between Grand Strategy and strategy as activity.

All I can say from reading Piper's quote is that he doesn't primarily consider himself a Grand Strategist of evangelism. Most historians would argue that the Romans, most of the time, had no Grand Strategy. That doesn't mean they didn't take strategic actions. Strategic activities were hard-wired into Roman culture and socio-political structure. If you have the structural materials, you don't even really need Grant Strategy to conquer and dominate large stretches of land (it helps when God's sovereign hand works to bring it about as well!).

In the same way, I'd be inclined to read Piper's statement as a reflection of "strategy as activities" and his lack of interest in Grand Strategy. I think it is a significant mistake to see disinterest in a Grant Strategy of evangelism as disinterest in evangelism outright.

Besides, all you'd need do is ride a plane with him to see his lived-out convictions on evangelism.

donsands said...

"..we're suddenly ready to "go long" as they say: teaching conceived as evangelism; rebuking conceived of as evangelism; exegesis as conceived of as evangelism." -Frank

I don't think so.

What would be a day like for John Piper, or even a week, as a pastor-teacher called by God.

I would imagine he bumps into unbelievers, and is ready to tell them the truth in love. And surely wants them to come to Christ. I believe he still lives downtown in the city.
He should be praying a lot. Worshipping our Father in Spirit and truth, taking care of his family.
Taking care of his sheep. Studying the Scriptures and seeking the Lord in order to preach and teach the Word.

I guess I'm missing something here.
It's good to be exhorted to be more concerned about proclaiming the Gospel, for we all need prayer in that regard. Even Paul asked for prayer that he might speak the "mystery of the gospel" boldly (eph. 6:19-20). And so I can appreciate that.

But I'll keep on trying to see it.

olan strickland said...


I wholeheartedly agree that our evangelism shouldn't be passive but active. Equipping the saints is not evangelism as you have rightly pointed out.

My concern is the faulty notion of turning the gathering together of the saints for their equipping into the gathering together of sinners for their evangelization. The gathering of the church is not for evangelizing and to turn it into that is to be disobedient to what the Lord said is its purpose.

The church gathers to be equipped and it goes to evangelize. Get that backwards and you no longer have a biblical church. This is the dangerous teaching of Robert Schuller who said that the church must die as a church and be born again as a mission (Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, pg. 13). In order for that to happen all sorts of gimmicks are employed to get the unchurched to come while dubbing it evangelism. You know, like Rick Warren said, "If you want to advertise your church to the unchurched you must learn to think and speak like they do" (Purpose Driven Church, pg. 189).

Knowledge without zeal is just as wrong as zeal without knowledge. So I'm not going to give credibility to either one and I pray that you don't either.

Grace and peace!

Weeks said...

This is my less-educated-than-some opinion, so take it for what it is.

A major stumbling block for me when I was struggling with the call to come back to God (I spent a lot of my life so far as a theist Taoist) was the lack of love I saw reflected in the Christians I knew. Evangelism, for me, is the loving patience practiced by my father, listening respectfully to my likely-inane philosophical rants and quietly but firmly (re-)asserting the Christian truths he believes. I still don't know how he managed to not tell me I was being an idiot. Of course, had he, I would have pushed away and stopped listening to him, and the state of my relationship with my Creator might be very different today.

By his example, I learned that the Gospel is not just something to be preached, but lived, and that through living the Gospel and loving each other we can help it seem more believable to a skeptical population desperately in need of both the love of Christ and of His Church. It sounds so touchy-feely, but in my life it is utterly true, and germane to this conversation, as that's the type of evangelism I see John Piper practice from the pulpit. The man takes the most piercingly convicting scripture, mercilessly analyzes it and then applies it to his own life for all to see, so that maybe, just maybe, someone will see and get the point, that the Gospel isn't JUST an intellectual exercise.

Then he says something like what Frank quoted in the original post here and I think, "Man, if he's down on himself about not being focused -enough- on the lost, what does that say about me!?"

May he live and preach another 30 years rather than the three he's hoped for publicly. When he walks off the stage, this whole play will be the poorer for it.

SP said...

The Reformed All-Stars are great, Francis Chan is kinda ok, we have concerns about Rick Warren, and now we have concerns about John Piper.

All we ever talk about is what our celebrities talk about at these conferences. Whether we like it or not. And we like it if it's what is safe and expected and within our boundaries. Because that's what's biblical. To us. I can't take it anymore. The question is "so why do I read these blogs?" I don't know. I've been encouraged to a point. But I can't do it anymore. There's gotta be more than this, right?


Richard said...

Please correct me if I am wrong (that is not sarcastic).

I understood John Piper to be speaking to pastors regarding the purpose of the church gathering. Specifically, the act of preaching.

His point then is that when preaching, evangelism is not his primary concern (the end goal) but rather doctrinal faithfulness (acurate teaching, the building up of believers).

He then says his teaching is purposed to send people out to do evangelsim (meaning he teaches in order to encourage evangelism).

The purpose of preaching is NOT primarily evangelism but equiping to the Saints to DO evangelism. This is what Piper said and is not wrong. In all seriousness I don't think Frank's criticism is valid b/c I don't think Piper is saying what Frank says he is saying.

Does that make sense?

Brian Roden said...

Richie Cunningham is Father Dowling's son

FX Turk said...


I think you didn't read this post at all -- you read about this post, or read the first 3 paragraphs of this post, but not the last two paragraphs.

because the concern is not about Piper! It's about US! In particular, if you read the last paragraph, it's about ME PERSONALLY!

What if everyone who read this post took on the problem stated here as a "me personally" problem and not some mind puzzle worked out in theoilogical terms so that our systematic Legos can all be put back in the right colored drawer?

Would that be a good thing or a bad thing, I wonder? We will never know -- because almost nobody is going to read this post. Most people are going to do what you just did -- and state an opinion they have to get off their chest rather than really think about the subjective referent "ME PERSONALLY".

FX Turk said...

Olan --

How can you say that after reading 1 Cor 14? How can you say that if you count yourself refomred in any way at all? Or more broadly, "evangelical"?

FX Turk said...


Please re-read my post before going on in this way.

FX Turk said...

Michael Adams:

I say that the "actual Gospel" is what it is, and can be preached using the analogy of the wedding feast as well as the explicit reminder than there was a death and resurrection for sin.

That is the major difference between the kind of orthodoxy you hold to and the kind of orthdoxy I would exhort you to hold to.

FX Turk said...

I'm going to dinner with my wife while the kids are at AWANA, and then after you-all get your best licks in I'll get the final word and lock it up.

Have at it.

jmarinara said...


So those of us who believe the right things should make like most of us already do and witness to those around us. (Ray Comfort or Paul Washer anyone?)

Doesn't make Rick Warren any less of a Heretic or any less wrong.

John Piper shouldn't have invited him and any praise the heretic Warren received will only go to further muddy the waters and blur the lines of those who speak the truth.

Frankly, Frank, I'd rather Rick Warren NOT want to tell others his false gospel.

Unknown said...


a) I find nothing offensive with the son of Mr. C.

b) enuff said. Yeah, I'm a little slow.

On your post: I am not sure of what priority that I put on evangelism and it makes me uncomfortable to think about so I don't like blog posts like yours that remind me that I need to share the Gospel. So if your write more like this I am going to stop reading them about half way through instead of three quarters of the way through.

I'm joking...kinda...

DJP said...

Frank: Please re-read my post before going on in this way...I think you didn't read this post at all...

You know... I'm starting to think we are the same person!

bp said...

I like One Crazy Christian's point. I guess your post yesterday, Frank, had me believing you would have something significant to say about Rick Warren and his teachings. So to ignore the wolf in the room to focus on the shepherd not quite making evanglism a big enough priority is kinda like straining out gnats and swallowing camels. For some of us, that's hard to overlook.

donsands said...

"I'm going to dinner with my wife"

That's great.
This is one of my favorite things to do. We are so blessed by God.

donsands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Rudd said...


for what's it worth...

your post was spot on, and powerful, and needed.

i think many got it.

sadly, many have reached the point in their walk where they only have two channels, and they're unable to pick up anything on another frequency.

you hit a different frequency than you normally do, but it was great. thanks.

bp said...

And I would just add, Frank, that in your last post, after Olan Strickland said that Warren's teachings were quite similar to Robert Schuller's Self-Esteem teachings and were unbiblical, you said, -- "I am ready to concede that your research is sound enough."

This is my frustration. When people actually see what this man is teaching and then act like it's no big deal.

bp said...

..sorry, it wasn't your last post, Frank, but your last (yesterday's) thread.

Michael Adams said...

I'll just add this...
The "Actual" Gospel is not so trivial or an orthodoxy I hold to...
I will continue to grow with it and probably never grasp it in all of its true sense...
I am not a Pastor, nor a skilled writer, but rather a simple church lay-man.
But I do know this... there is an established sense in Reformed Theology and Calvinism that defines the Gospel as it is written in the Scriptures.
And my point was not what passage could be used to share the Gospel, but to point out that what has historically been the Gospel, lets say from the Reformation onward, the Gospel that comes from the Scriptures, the Gospel that is Christ Centered... That "Actual" Gospel...
Is quite different than the man-centered gospel, purposefully designed by Rick Warren as to
please man to make it attractive.

And the first thing to go in a man centered Gospel is "Hell", lets not talk about the reality of Hell. And the second thing to go is "Repentance", lets not talk about Repentance.

And isn't it strange that neither of those things are mentioned, oh... and lets not leave out the evil word... "Judgment".

Brother Frank, the "Actual" Gospel can and is spread in many ways, as it is recorded in Scriptures in many ways, but it also is "NOT" spread in many ways, one of which we do not see is a Universal Inter-Faith sharing of the Gospel.

Seeker Friendly messages are NOT the Gospel, but it is the main goal of the book that Dr. Piper referenced with his praise of Rick Warrens SHAPE, in the PDL. I mean all we need to do is answer some questions and ala-kazam we now know our gifts.

Before I was saved by Christ and regenerated, I was a false christian, I knew the answers to give and said my little prayer many times, and even went through the PDL classes 3 times (I loved them, they made me feel so good about myself), and 3 times took the hocus pokus SHAPE that Dr. Piper seems to think is so excellent... SHAPE is a business model, not a Biblical model, and I believe that Dr. Piper should have recognized that.

I do not know what orthodoxy you may think I am of, but it is not a flexible one that has an OPEN end on it allowing for a known false gospel to be assumed that they are all the same. I tend to hold to the same Orthodoxy that Dr. MacArthur holds to, one that is not pragmatic, and uses a business model such as SHAPE.

Thank you

bp said...

It seems to me that Rick Warren is a bridge between evangelicals and Robert Schuler-like New-Agers. Though solid evangelicals would never listen or be fooled by Schuller's teachings, Warren has just enough truth added into the mix to make the rest of his new-age-like teachings palatable. Satan is no fool.

Magister Stevenson said...

And you doubted me.

David Regier said...

Wait, Frank, all of a sudden you're making this about me? I have my theology right! God saves those who have their theology right, right? That's what grace is all about!

Anonymous said...

Frank-Thanks for the great post and good discussion. Warren's talk and thinking about the whole DGNC had the same effect on me. I think this is the first time I've heard Chan refer to his roots. You have to love his shout out to MacArthur.

I especially appreciate the guy screaming that Warren is the Anti-Christ and then casually admits that he's crazy. Some of the rest of you should be so honest.

Paul said...

Hey Frank,

I went back and re-read your post (I read it well the first time, by the way, and your comments in the meta too!).

My point was that I think you make a jump from a man basically saying he doesn't have a Grand Strategy approach to thinking about evangelism to saying that he is passive about evangelism. I do not think those are the only two options. The Romans were excellent at conquering the world without having a Grand Strategy.

Additionally, I think Piper would say that the thing at the top of his mind is the glory of God. Would you have him put that second? You seem upset that evangelism would not be first.

Finally, I'm not particularly satisfied with Piper's words, just as I'm not entirely satisfied with your analysis. He doesn't seem particularly enraptured with the Glory of God, either. I don't see trembling (perhaps it would come across differently if I watched the video). I suggest faulting the soft balls, a fawning audience, and human nature.

Paul said...

Another thought struck me as I ate dinner. I really did like your conclusion. It was a convicting exhortation for me, well and strongly worded. Yet I only offered criticisms of some parts of your analysis. So I apologize for being uneven.

At the same time, I can't help but notice: you repeatedly express frustration that people respond to 90% of your post and gloss over the urgent conclusion. Might you communicate the urgency more effectively (consistently) AND garner more meaningful comments (and perhaps fewer comments, with more readers edified and out in their own gardens digging up their talents) if you just posted the 10%?

Redeemed said...

I'm quite amazed that people have taken this post to mean that Frank has somehow endorsed Rick Warren.

As far as I see it, Frank had two options for his post: he could critique Rick Warren for the faults that everyone here already knows he has, or he could point out an area that is a blind spot for a lot of us. He's chosen the second, and I'm thankful for that as it's more helpful.

To put it in bullet point form (hopefully correctly), we have the following statements

A = Rick Warren is Bad
B = John Piper is good
C = John Piper often only thinks about evangelism in a passive sense, although he cares about it deeply
D = There is a reformed culture of de-emphasising active evangelism that needs to be challenged.

Point D was the topic of this post, Point C was used only/mainly to make point D; and finally points A and B have nothing to do with this post. Big hint: Frank wants you to think about point D

jmb said...

"Unbelievable Communicator" can have more than one meaning.

Michael Adams said...

I didn't think, nor see many that seem to think Frank is endorsing Rick Warren, but is seems, and correct me if I am wrong, it seems that he is defending Dr. Piper, and making light of the fact that Dr. Piper seems mesmerized a bit with Rick Warrens style and pragmatic views.

I don't think Frank subscribes to Warrens style nor views, but I do think he is making light of it by way of his earlier quote... "Evangelism: the practice of spreading the Gospel. It is distinct from teaching and rebuking."

When we share the Gospel here in America, it can not be "DISTINCT" from teaching and rebuking! That is part of sharing the Gospel. And there are true Gospels and false gospels.
We must make known the "Good News", we must teach what it is, and rebuke what it is not, because so much of America has grown up in a Christian culture, and heard so many twisted versions, and believe so many different things, mostly that if you live a good life, you will go to Heaven as long as you don't kill anyone, or if you just say a little prayer at the end of a chapter in a book or in a church service.

That is where there is confusion.

~Mark said...

Wow...it's like having 37 wives!

Matt Gumm said...

Holy Huddle, Turkman. You mean there's something wrong with sitting in our pews like sponges soaking up doctrine, laughing when people make jokes about not evangelizing, and hiding behind God's sovereignty to excuse our own inactivity?!

Plus references to Happy Days and B5, not to mention accusations of dual personality blogging? Let me just say best...meta...everrrr.

Daryl's summary rocked, BTW. Right there with you.

Michael Adams said...

Jolly Jokers :-)

Jason Kanz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redeemed said...

I'm not American, but that's besides the point.

I'm saying that Frank's post is neither criticising defending or making light of Rick Warren's ministry because in no way is that the point of the post. The post is just using contemporary events - ie the conference - to make a point about how as a culture, we often de-emphasize direct evangelism.

On your latter point: yes, any evangelism that can be considered faithful MUST at some stage include teaching and rebuking in a central way, but teaching and rebuking is not the sum and total of evangelism as if when you evangelise, you're merely lecturing someone. People are going to hate this comment, but, for example, both listening and loving good conduct are fundamental to evangelism also; as is actually stepping out to tell people about Jesus in the first place.

IT might be my visual bias, but this would be much easier to explain with Venn Diagrams :P asier with venn diagrams :P

Redeemed said...

Oh, huge typo at the end :/

Jason Kanz said...

I went back and re-read it again. I think I understand Frank's initial point better, particularly after reading through the comments. With that said, a couple of other thoughts:

1) I was listening to a teaching that Piper did from Romans and he talked about how when he jogs, he carries books and stops and asks people how he can pray for them and invites them to "come and see". He is reaching out to his community, even if he doesn't do it with a bull horn.

2) I was accused of setting up a strawman, though I do not believe mine is the only one. I'm just saying.

3) I can cast dispersions all I want. I am not a good evangelist and Frank's point, on a 3rd read, I think finally hit home for me.

donsands said...

"Oh, there's a 50,000 student University across the street - what's the strategy? (/voice) Well, they can come. If they want." Piper

I think I see something.

Is this University the one with the "Gophers"?

bp said...

One more comment before Frank gets back and shuts er down. This thread may be about whether or not evangelism should be a pastor's #1 priority or not, but lets not pretend that talking about Rick Warren is way off topic here when Frank said yesterday (when he addressed his dislike of Warren) that he would address his "larger concerns" (about the conference, I assume) today. I believe there are many of us who would say Rick Warren's teachings and associations are a much larger concern than the above meta.

Redeemed said...

Well to me it seemed like he addressed it more directly in one of his comments on the previous post.....

Redeemed said...

... his dislike of Rick Warren, that is

Aaron said...

I think, Frank, that your mistake is using the words "Rick Warren." If you had said Pastor X instead of Rick Warren, I think everyone would have recognized your point. But since you mentioned his name, everyone is more concerned about whether Warren's techniques qualify as actual evangelism rather than focusing on our own failure to actively think about and perform evangelism.

Magister Stevenson said...

Dislike for Rick Warren is one thing, calling him a false teacher--as some have done--is quite a different matter (and off post-topic).
Redeemed 4:53 had a great summary: Piper owns up to a blind spot, people laugh at it (or rage at it here in the meta), and Frank-n-Dan gently brings us back to the issue.
The meta keeps trying to make this about "Rick's Gospel" vs the "Real Gospel", but Frank's post is about the gospel. period. no qualifications. not even Piper.
But the meta has been useful for the revealing of blind spots. Somewhere in GA is a man named John Sherwood to whom I owe a big apology, and this post for me uncovered why.

philness said...

Had the pastors of this age equip & encourage the saints for one on one discipleship we would never be in this mess Frank.

Fields void of salt bearers are ripe for poisoning.

Spiritual food from Gods Word is being replaced by cultural driven synthetic nutrients.

bp said...

Sir Aaron: I think, Frank, that your mistake is using the words "Rick Warren"

And possibly adding a picture of him sitting next to Piper into the middle of the article. :O

FX Turk said...

Oh -- waitaminit!

People think that it's more important to speak up against Rick Warren (you know: because there isn't a cottage industry speaking out against him) than it is to make a point about people we love and respect which we can apply to our own lives and therefore, as they say, improve our baptism.

I get it! I'll blog like that from now on! I'll say what all the cool kids are saying!

That's the kind of blog I want this blog to be -- I am sure you-all do, too.

FX Turk said...

You have until about lunch-time tomorrow, so you better make sure you say everything you need to say here. Put it on the record.

olan strickland said...


Did I say that people can't get saved while the church is in worship? Do you honestly believe that unless a church is "geared toward evangelizing sinners during its services" that people can't get saved through systematic exposition of Scripture?

It's a shame that since I actually believe what the Bible says in the area of ecclesiology as per Ephesians that you would accuse me of not being either reformed or evangelical for believing it!


If the primary function of the services of the church is not to feed the sheep and equip the saints then maybe you could enlighten me on this special hermeneutic that you are using so that I won't be in the dark any longer and can interpret it the same way. Maybe then I'll be more reformed and evangelical!

DL said...

Good post Frank. Here's my two cents. I heard John MacArthur once say something like, "I'm the truth guy. That's what I do," implying that he's the preacher and others carry his message to the lost masses. I see the same thing with what Piper said.

Here's the problem: These men and others who say or imply the same message (Chandler, Driscoll, etc.) are mega-church pastors. It's easy for them to say they "just faithfully preach the Word" and presto-chango, masses get saved. It looks like faith to those of us outside.

Now, for those of us who have tried the whole "just faithfully preach the Word" and little has happened, we're either left doubting our calling, or perpetually questioning our preaching. And to those on the outside, it probably looks like we're just lazy or apathetic to the plight of the lost, or else we'd be doing more than just preaching.

bp said...

Frank: People think that it's more important to speak up against Rick Warren

Only if your plan was to write of the "larger concerns" of the conference.

David Regier said...

I'll just go ahead and say it. My personal opposition to Rick Warren's teachings is more important than sharing the Gospel with the lost.

Can I get an "Amen"?

bp said...

That was way out of line, David. Frank's point was not that Piper does not care about sharing the gospel with the lost, it was that he didn't think, as a pastor, that it was his top priority.

And my opposition to Warren is precisely because he is leading people away from the true gospel and salvation. Holding PDL conferences for muslims, mormons and jews so they can grow their mosques, tabernacles and temples is not exactly sharing the gospel with the lost, is it?

David Regier said...

Sorry, bp.

Given that your post came up while I was typing, mine looks like a response to what you just said, and it wasn't meant as that.

But given the nature of Frank's post, and the fact that I've said nothing of Piper in this, there are definitely a few people that this applies to. Maybe even me.

But we could also stand to use the reminder that God's word doesn't return void, even when it's from a bad translation, or misused by a popular preacher.

And that's in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Ummm..bp? David does that. Lighten things up I mean.

One of the funniest and sharpest commenters around here I think.

And the point of the whole post had really nothing to do with Warren.

Just something he is passionate about that we Calvinists too often aren't.

Because we ignore our own theology.

But hey, if everyone wants to use this as a reason to go after Warren and miss the real "You are the man" point...then so be it. We remain in our sin.

thomas4881 said...

I think their must be a balance in evangelism. We must know what the Gospel is and give it to strangers. I don't think we must worry about everyone going to hell and blame ourself if they do because we didn't give them the Gospel.

donsands said...

I missed that John Piper was speaking of the University of Minnesota. I suppose he should have had a different way of speaking to reaching out to 50,000 young people.
I would imagine his church has some outreach for this campus, or whatever.

Yet, I would think his statement would have been more, "I pray the Lord would help us reach out to these 50,000 students, and share the love of Christ, and the truth of God's wrath.

I know my pastor was talking about reaching out in our community in many ways.
He knows a pastor who has a church right near Indiana U., where there was this coffee shop, and it never seemed to do much, and went under, so the church some how got hold of it, and they have seen some good fruit over the past couple years reaching out to the Indiana students with coffee and the good news of Christ.

But there's probably more to John Piper's thinking than this one statement. if you catch my drift.

bp said...

I apologize, David. I did think your comment was a sarcastic reply to mine. And like Daryl, I've benefited from many of your comments in the past.

Aaron said...

"People think that it's more important to speak up against Rick Warren (you know: because there isn't a cottage industry speaking out against him) than it is to make a point about people we love and respect which we can apply to our own lives and therefore, as they say, improve our baptism."

That's right! He can be taught! ;p

My theory is that its not that they think its more important...its just that they can't help themselves.

And can I be the first to say that I'm disappointed that you wont have a new post up before lunch tomorrow.

Aaron said...


I think many of us struggle with exactly how to evangelize. Most people wont open the door and talk with you. You can't really stand on a street corner in most suburban towns. So most of our time is spent trying to discern how to gain an audience with people to even present the gospel to them.

And that is why the seeker
sensitive movement was born. Knock on a door and talk about Jesus you get the door slammed. Knock on a door and offer a free rock concert and suddenly you have interest. Of course, you have to present the actual gospel at some point in time to qualify as evangelism but as soon as you do, people will leave. Thus, the charade of success of the seeker sensitive types.

David Regier said...

I, for one, welcome our Purpose-Driven Overlords!

Stefan Ewing said...

Sir Aaron nailed it with his 9:06 p.m. comment.

Anyhow, this post didn't convict me, because I'm already too well aware of my own shortcomings in this area. I have evangelized in the past and I will evangelize in the future, but frankly, it doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to, say, Zaphon or Canyon (our resident street-preaching brothers, no?).

Mason said...

I think everyone else has covered Frank's other comments quite well. I don't know if anybody else focussed on this one as I haven't read everyone. However, my chllenge from here is the one Frank had and I hope we all have:

"I'm sure you have a full day, and this is just a blog post. Shrug it off. But I'm headed out to the yard because there's a single talent I buried out there someplace, and I think I better go dig it up before the Master comes home and asks me what I did with it ..."

Let us spend less hours(and hours nad hours from blog to blog) debating John Piper and Rick Warren, etc. Let us all seek God's grace to shine His light boldly to the lost in our lives and to train up disciples for His glory. God bless all and thanks for the encouragement Frank!

Stefan Ewing said...

...Rather, I'm surprised (and not a little encouraged) to learn that I'm not the only one who struggles in this area.

May God grant that we can all share the Gospel boldly and fearlessly—and live it out in our daily witness.

Anonymous said...

So can't defending the faith go hand in hand WITH evangelism? What if people are stuck in a man centered church and reading a blog started peeling the layers off? What if the blog actually compared what the false teaching was with the truth so as to contrast it? What if whole families were saved because someone defended the faith and then also shared the gospel? I am sure some know who you are referencing when you talk about people who have a cottage industry, I'm not sure who you mean. I know that I have personally tried to evangelize by speaking directly to Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who came to my door. I did this because someone out there was defending the faith and speaking out against false teaching, it spurred me on when the door knockers came. I got into the bible and presented my best case (and used materials also to help me find the best verses to share). I was desperate to show the truth to the individuals who came to my door. I do not know if what I said got through, I do know I did share to the best of my ability.

I see some of the bloggers or those who write books about false teachings as evangelists as long as they are sharing the gospel. It should only be that they expose falsehood not over the gospel (as you say Frank). We had children involved in a church we had to get out of. They were not hearing proper teaching there, and we were realizing that the pull of peers was coming despite what we were teaching at home. I now share these blogs/webpages/podcasts etc. with my friends still attending that former church. Some have left, some are beginning to go through the process of researching and asking the pastors tough questions, and others don't want to hear it.

Why do I feel I'm sticking my neck out here?

Thomas Louw said...

185 just sound like a better number so here something.

I cut and pasted it big time. I think this is relevant to this post.
I got it from joshnmadra.wordpress.com who got it from takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com
Jonathan Leeman wrote on 9Marks Blog.
“We must recognize that words and deeds are both necessary for mission or missions, but that they play different roles and are necessary in different ways”…
“When we speak of the word being “central”—a term which I take from D. A. Carson—we acknowledge that the Word is of utmost importance; it’s the highest peak in the landscape.”…
“Word ministry really is the most important. It’s the highest mountain. But that mountain is resting upon everything surrounding it. The Scripture makes it manifestly clear that our deeds should adorn our doctrine for the sake of witness”…..
“Are good works necessary for the Word and Spirit to give new life? Certainly not!”….
“You can proclaim the gospel without deeds, but you cannot proclaim the gospel without words.”….

Anonymous said...

And would any of you out there pray for my friends still in my former church...pray for that church (I cannot name it, and I stay anon so that I do not drag the church through the mud). Please pray my dealings with my friends at the church would involve me speaking the truth from God's word in love to them. While you're praying, could you pray for my father and my grandma...and my brother and all the other members of my family who do not believe they are sinners, and even if they do they have no trust in Christ?

walsingham said...

After wading through 186 comments - though honestly I had to skim some of the novel-length posts for my sanity's sake - and wishing I had a Jolt Cola near at hand, all I can think of is Frank's final comment on digging up his talent.

Interesting since I was under some serious conviction only yesterday due to the same passage of scripture.

Methinks I have some prayer and repentance to engage in.

What a frail and rum lot we all are - with hearts prone to wander.

Stefan Ewing said...

Christianlady, I will.

Please pray for my wife, her family, and my family as well.

And no, you were not sticking your neck out in your previous comment.

Now that I think about it, my most passionate witnessing has been when I felt like I was sharing the secret key to the treasures of the Bible that neither I nor my interlocutors had ever seen before: the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Steve Berven said...

Is the point most here seem to be missing NOT that Piper is somehow to be reprimanded for his views on the primacy (or not) of evangelism, but rather, than the RESPONSE OF HIS AUDIENCE was not more taken aback?

And thus Franks post actually deals less with the words or actions ofMr. Piper, and more with our collective hearts as executors of the Great Commission?

I'm pretty sure that's what the post was about. A pastor may at times mis-speak, or misstep, but if our response as professed believers is to chuckle of a comment that evangelism shouldn't be the primary concern of our Walk, then we need to examine OURSELVES far more deeply than we excorciate or tsk-tsk Mr. Piper, et.al.


Jason Kanz said...

Mason, I wish there was a like button.

Eric said...


A couple quick questions:

1) Isn't it really quite likely that Piper was overstating for effect, and that his audience was aware of that (similar to your overstatement that Calvinists "have a perfect Gospel which we never think about taking to lost people")?

2) Isn't every Gospel-bearing sermon very much an active evangelistic sermon, as there are almost likely always unsaved people in the pews?

I do agree with your point about being able and willing to learn from the strengths of others. I do wonder, however if contrasting with Piper based on his one (seemingly obvious) overstatement served mostly to obscure your point.

donsands said...

"... you have to present the actual gospel at some point in time to qualify as evangelism but as soon as you do, people will leave. Thus, the charade of success of the seeker sensitive types." Aaron

Alistair Begg is preaching on this as I read this.
"Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

He says, "You can not entertain people into the kingdom of God. It takes the Holy Spirit moving upon a sinners heart to convince them they are a sinner in need of the Christ they just heard about in the Gospel." paraphrased

I have done all sorts of sharing the Gospel. With my neighbors.
At work. With my family. Tracts. Knocking on doors. Visiting nursing homes.
Sometimes it was wrong. Other times it was right.
I remember a lot of the times I would go about the neighborhood of my church, and talk with the people who lived there. Many good stories.
I remember going door to door on Halloween. Not only did we invite people to our church, and share Christ, we had the blessing of a few candy bars.

Sharing the Gospel is what I do. God is the one who saves. I pray He would save those I shared the truth with. But that's between Him and they.

It's been a good thread of comments from an exceptional post.

Cent, you have a uniqueness in sharing your heart, which is full of the Word, and the Holy Spirit.

FX Turk said...

Eric --

1. No. See the link provided by Justin Taylor in this very thread of comments -- he's "JT" if you didn;t know.

2. Only if you think that evangelism is a merely-passive act. Apologetics is not a merely-passive act; why would we think evangelism is a merely-passive act? Isn't that view of evangelism exactly why "we" have a huge pile of bandwidth and books decrying the "seeker sensitive" movement -- becuase evangelism is not a passive act?

FX Turk said...

Steve B --

If that's what people take away from this post, that 10,000 times better than the scurrying around I am seeing here trying to justify a passive attitude and a passive activity toward evangelism.

olan strickland said...


My apologies are in order this morning to you. You did not accuse me of not being either reformed or evangelical! You simply asked how I could be if I believed what I said.

I ask your forgiveness sir!


FX Turk said...

Here's one from last night which really needs some word:

Frank: People think that it's more important to speak up against Rick Warren

Only if your plan was to write of the "larger concerns" of the conference.

Wow. Really? So reiterating Rick Warren's theological warrant for arrest and rap sheet is more important than pointing out that we as people who say we have the correct Gospel are very frankly under-interetsed in spreading that Gospel becuase we think "evangelism" is best served as a side dish for all the tyhings we like to do -- like readin' and 'ritin' and rantin'?

I think this comment completely underscores the actual larger concern.

To say more is to post mot post for next week now, and I'm not doing that.

FX Turk said...


No hard feelings. You're usually much more helpful than not, and I don't have any doubts about your willingness to be faithful to Christ.

DJP said...

Wow. Really?

I feel your pain.

olan strickland said...

If you'll let us arrest Rick Warren then we won't have to arraign ourselves!

FX Turk said...

And with that, the comments are closed. See you next week.