02 February 2011

Open Letter to John Piper

by Frank Turk

Dear Dr. Piper,

With my letter last week is still rippling through the blogosphere, I had a list of letters I wanted to write, and they are all still in draft form as they're not ready for public consumption -- they are certainly not ready to be released into the public square under the jaundiced eye of those whom I last week offended. So to give them a breather, and to give myself some simpler fare for the week, I just wanted to write a letter of thanks.

I thought about writing a letter to the pastor who baptized me and who discipled me in the early years of my Christian life, and also my married life. But he's not a public figure, and he doesn't try to be. He has a flock which has grown, by God's grace, over twenty years if ministry in one place. He's got a brilliant heart for the lost, for those in his spiritual care, and for Christ. I am certain his reward will be great when he sees his Master.

So rather than draw attention to him, I thought I'd think about someone who was in the public eye, and does serve us all so well, and who probably isn't expecting it from this blog, anyway. You took almost a year off last year, and many of us were surprised -- especially given the reasons you listed (rather cryptically, I might add). But to come back to your pulpit and your church and your public life with a frank self-assessment of where you have been and where you'd like to end up if the Lord waits a little while more is an encouragement to the rest of us. It's encouraging to know that one can admit there is something spiritual and significant to do better, especially when one is at the top of his public game, and especially when it connects directly with one's qualifications for ministry.

I wanted to tell you that I have been encouraged for years by your love of, and exhortations from, the lives of post-biblical saints. It's one thing, for example, to be a properly-informed admirer of William Tyndale, and another to want to weep because his life story is so alien to mine -- and his faithfulness so simple and convicting. Thank you for showing us the myriad of ways to live faithfully through their example.

I wanted to thank you for your care for the Gospel even in your enthusiasm for, well, spiritual enthusiasms. I can't agree with you on all of the ways you think the Holy Spirit works today, but I am always edified to see you put God's word and His message to us above any other impulse or private revelation you might have confidence in. It teaches the model of spiritual moderation to all of us, so that we may adorn the Gospel and not cheapen it with our favorite gimmicks.

I wanted to thank you for the nearly-endless resources at DesiringGod.org. The only thing I can say there is "wow. Free? Wow."

Last, as I do not want to belabor this note, thanks for giving us hope in a world that can seem out of control. Thanks from making the supremacy of God in all things a matter that we have to consider and reconsider daily, hourly, minute by minute. Thank you for showing us that the Gospel is not just a declaration, but the definite plan of God which holds us together and keeps us safe. That you for showing us how good the good news can be.

As you come back to your ministry, and start ordering your legacy for the next generation, may what is left for you in this world be a blessing. We love you and honor you for giving your life to the encouragement of God's people.


Thomas Louw said...


When I read your title my first inclination was, well “Frank I love u but, I think I’ll be taking off the gloves today, no dishing my hero’s.”

Then I read your post. Could not agree more. When I heard he was taking the year off, I was devastated, see he was scheduled to come to South Africa. Luckily he still came and I was able to listen to him live. Just loved it and was blessed by his teaching.

Thank you Frank this, post shows you actually also like some people:)

How was the visit to the cardiologist last week?

Morris Brooks said...

I have told people, many times, that when you become active in ministry that you will need to give the leadership (pastors and elders) some space to be human, and not be disappointed if they are not perfect.

One of the things you must appreciate about Piper is that he lets you see his warts, which is pretty, no very, uncommon for someone in the big eye of evangelical Christianity. Through this transparancy and vulnerability he has endeared himself and gained the trust of evangelical community.

CR said...

Thomas:When I read your title my first inclination was, well “Frank I love u but, I think I’ll be taking off the gloves today, no dishing my hero’s.”

Well, we don't believe in evangelical popes, do we?

CR said...

"we", meaning we Christians.

Mark said...

Hopefully, there will be no criticism for giving this post an "amen" so...Amen!

Vinod Anand S said...

Hey Frank, any idea why only 5 comments for this open letter? :-)

Anonymous said...

While I like this open letter in general, I find the tone a bit much.

Matt said...

Spot on, Frank. Thanks for this.

DJP said...

Given the amazing equanimity with which you took the ridiculous abuses of the last couple of weeks — an equanimity which I can only view from afar, and over which I can only sigh — let's see how I can troll this meta up to 600 comments.

1. I object to your tone! This kind of giddy fanboyism is totally out of place on what is supposed to be a sober and discerning blog! Harumph! Ghargh!

2. I object to your tone! Ohh sure, you strike this pose of admiration and respect, but I can see your heart! I can read your mind! I know that, underneath, you are seething with boiling, bubbling, blistering, sarcastic horribleness! How can you judge John Piper like that, in your heart! I judge you for judging him!

3. I object to your tone! This unbridled, wildly hostile attack on Charismaticism is completely beyond the pale! You cessationists just will not give it a rest! Ohhhh, if only the church could know the pulsing Pentecostal power of a fresh whatever! Away with you!

4. I object to your tone! How can you pretend to ignore that John Piper has done This, and That, and The Other Thing? Are you trying to sweep all that under the rug? What do you take us for? Are well all Minneapolis Piperics?

5. I object to the tone of this comment!

There, that should do it. Did I miss anything?

Bernard Rosario said...

I was shocked when I saw the title on my blogroll. "No! Not Piper," I would say. I was thinking of spiritual gifts or Rick Warren issues. Then, I read.

May Pastor John learn that a United Methodist from the Philippines is now a pastor because of Apostle Paul and him.

Family Blogs said...

Great letter, succinctly put. Your tone is fine. Your spelling, well, I'll say nothing about that.

Chris Tolbert said...


Well done. The Lord has used John Piper to disciple me greatly. Again, I've been challenged and edified by one of your open letters.

God bless!

Victoria said...

Amen and thank you-this was an uplifting and refreshing post. I have benefited from John Piper's ministry over the years-second only to John MacArthur's. I have been a bit troubled over the same things the rest of you have with his choice of conference speakers. It has been too easy to let that cloud the whole of John Piper's ministry. This is a helpful reminder NOT to do that.

FX Turk said...

OK - the post date was wrong so it posted in the wrong slot on the front page. That's fixed.

I wonder: why the apprehension over writing an open letter to Dr. Piper? What if I had inserted this paragraph before the paragraph that begins "Last, ..."

All that said, Dr. Piper, your gift to us over the years has been encouragement and admonition -- the right mix of Gospel and, as you rightly say, what Jesus demands of the World. But I have wondered for years why your camp in the conservative movement finds conflict so distasteful? Any disagreement aired for the sake of making clear distinctions which you have not instigated is labelled "unhelpful", and the matter is therefore closed.

Having had a great conference in the past about Christian eloquence, I wonder if DG and Bethlehem would consider having a conference on rightly contending -- both toward our brothers, and toward those who are at enmity with the Gospel and Christ. If indeed iron sharpens iron, how does that look in a Christian context? That conference, I assure you, would do many people a great service as it would likely hem in the feminization of the English-speaking church.


You could drop that in exactly before the paragraph that begins "Lastly, ..." and not miss a beat. How would that comment undo the great thanks I have framed and have meant here in the letter in its published draft?

[Note to DJP: ... wait for it ...]


Robert Warren said...

Minneapolis Piperics

That would be Minnesota Piperics. They name their teams after the state up there (since the Lakers left).

greglong said...

One question...

Did you contact Piper personally and privately before posting this open letter?

DJP said...

Oh yeah (and without reading any other comments):

6. I object to your tone! If you were a humble, teachable Christian brother, you would have accepted all the rebukes and exhortations and STOPPED this series of posts! This can only mean that you think you are an inspired apostle writing Scripture, and that you are arrogant, stiff-necked, self-willed, unyielding, and proud.

And equally:

7. I object to your tone! This happy-face, positive post can only mean that you have caved in to criticism! That means that you are weak, indecisive, unprincipled, shallow and addicted to praise!

8. I object to the tone of all the comments except mine. All this high-fiving praise can only mean that everyone but me is a craven sycophant, bereft of my ability to think independently.


DJP said...

Oh, and btw, I completely agree about Piper. Thank God for him.

DJP said...

Robert Warren, I trust it goes without saying that I object to the tone of your correction.

DJP said...

Greg Long FTW.

physicsphantasm said...

this was great. piper has meant a lot to me. i grew up charismatic (read arminian, antinomian, completely unsound in doctrine) and when i heard piper four or five years ago preach on the sovereignty of God i was blown away; at how big his God was compared to mine. and from that i slowly became more and more Calvinistic (read i learned and believed sound doctrine) and for that i am very very thankful. (and fwiw i also very thankful to MacArthur for charismatic chaos that removed the last vestige of my pre-Calvinistic days)

FX Turk said...

I am pleased, btw, that we have started using "FTW", although Chantry earned a FTW every day in the last week and did not get one.

Greg Long: you owe Tom Chantry a FTW, and I'm going to hold you to it.

Robert said...


Great post...both the original and the added text via your comment. And with that comment, I am back to my curiousity over whther or not there will be a humble and grateful response.

I know it is hard to take criticism because of our fallen state, but when we see somebody who loves us enough to show their concern for us in this fashion, it should make us grateful for the effort (after getting past the sting). I know that when I have taught, I have always wanted feedback. That's because I know there is so much that can be improved...I just can't see it all from my perspective.

I guess that is one of the things I like about being an engineer...many people check my work and I am always going to be around people who know a lot more than me in different areas of a project. I'm just thankful that I get the chance to have so many people willing to lend their counsel. As you suggested in your comments, maybe there needs to be a coming together of Christian leaders to do the same type of work and really let iron sharpen iron. I can only imagine what the results of that would be...

James Scott Bell said...

I greatly admire John Piper. Desiring God was one of those life-impacting books for me. I love his passsion for preaching and the witness of his life.

James Joyce said...

I was caught off guard by the title too. Frank threw three fastballs and then whiffed me with a change-up.

Open letters are not just for rebukes. Hmmm....
Thanks for exposing that bit of prejudice in my heart Frank.

Philippians suddenly feels like a good read today. I remember that John Piper recited that letter from memory for a sermon once.

Pierre Saikaley said...

I was introduced to Piper via his book, Desiring God, and Future Grace.I was immediately fascinated and edified by his message of God-centeredness.

He is a pastor's pastor. He has been the modern, evanglical exegete of Jonathan Edwards and communicated that Puritan wisdom in a day when such a legacy of sagacity is sparse.And he has the gift of teaching well, and presenting well so that you get his infectious enthusiasm for God and the Gospel. It isn't just intellectual for him, and it cannot remain so for us, under his Shepherding.

Having Said All That (for those who don't have the dictionary of blog acronyms), Piper has gone off a little-at times. Nobody is perfect, yet. He's definitely done a disservice with the Rick Warren thing. But it's because of excellence otherwise, that such things make you shake you head.

But be that as it may, I think such blights can only be forgiven. With that, I say, John Piper is a blessing to us all. His preaching and teaching, his wisdom, his holy passion for the truth and for an all-encompassing, doxological God view are riches that he has shared with us.

Thank you John Piper, and with discernment I will continue to read and follow you.

Steve said...

I'm with you, Turk.

In particular I have returned again and again to Piper's article:

"Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be? / Jonathan Edwards on the Decrees of God".

It is one of the most readable and meaningful short works of theology that I have ever read.

Peace and joy to the Pyro family!

Mark Patton said...

Paul's words of encouragement and rebuke are both necessary for the church, so thanks for both...not that I am saying you or this blog is equal with Paul or that er uh...nervermind.

Josh said...

What actually concerns me here is that some people were relieved when they found out Piper wasn't being criticized.

I deeply respect his ministry and have grown as a result of his teaching but...

Why are we so afraid of people raising concerns or adressing disagreements even with those we appreciate?

That seems idolatrous to me.

FX Turk said...

Robert --

None of these people owe me an answer. Not one! If they utterly ignore my letters, or perhaps they never read them, it is no different than any other piece I have blogged.

Here's the question I think most people are avoiding: how do these letters expose our evangelical blind spots? For example, I got a handful of responses early on to blog Rick Warren. Really? He needs another critic and another demand for conformity to something he plainly is not? And that improves the rest of us how? But then having written a letter to Dr. Horton, was the tidal wave of responses in any way related or aligned to the actual scope and measure and tone of my concern?

But if I write open letters to people we love and ask them the questions that, frankly, no one else will, am I actually a bad guy?

Or is the only way to do that by opening a domain which is also my name and fawning upon them until delivering the Seinfeld-esque, "not that there's anything wrong with that"?

Cathy M. said...

I appreciate the grace and kindness in which you lovingly wrap every mild notice of disagreement. For the life of me, I can't understand why last weeks letter should have caused a flap.

One point missed by DJP: Perhaps if you'd spend more time doing actual ministry, you wouldn't have so much time for writing "open letters." Slacker.

DJP said...

Cathy M. ties FTW.

Solameanie said...

Dan and Stan stole my thunder. I came armed with all sorts of little witticisms about tone, and your failure to go see John P. over a cup of coffee, hidden in a cloister away from all microphones and internet connections, to tell him privately first of your admiration before blabbing it all over the blogosphere to see.

But Dan and Stan stole my thunder. I'll never get it back again.

Solameanie said...

I also must register a panicked concern about the usage of the inflammatory term "FTW." Some misguided blogger or commenter will interpret it to mean "fatwa" despite all evidence to the contrary.

I can see the cyberlines blazing now. TeamPyro issues a fatwa aimed at John Piper. Katie, bar the door.

Sharon said...

@Frank I am pleased, btw, that we have started using "FTW", although Chantry earned a FTW every day in the last week and did not get one. Greg Long: you owe Tom Chantry a FTW, and I'm going to hold you to it.

For us uninitiated ones, would you kindly translate "FTW?"

DJP said...

Not Frank, but:


Sharon said...

Thanks, DJP. I was hoping it wasn't some sort of "reverse initials" thing . . . yikes!

DJP said...

Oh, dear, no.

Rachael Starke said...

"What if I had inserted this paragraph before the paragraph ...

Well, obviously, you'd be mimicking the literary style of apostles like Paul and John (heartfelt encouragement and thanks first, brotherly exhortation and admonition second), which means you'd be thinking you have joined them in their apostleship, which means you are an heretic, sir.

That you didn't possibly means that you are possibly growing in discernment. Possibly. Prayers from the ranks of the professionally discerning will no doubt continue, however.

Bryan Wayne said...

Frank -
Although your comment was directed to Robert ... I have to say I hope more people read it.

"Here's the question I think most people are avoiding: how do these letters expose our evangelical blind spots? For example, I got a handful of responses early on to blog Rick Warren. Really? He needs another critic and another demand for conformity to something he plainly is not? And that improves the rest of us how? But then having written a letter to Dr. Horton, was the tidal wave of responses in any way related or aligned to the actual scope and measure and tone of my concern?

But if I write open letters to people we love and ask them the questions that, frankly, no one else will, am I actually a bad guy?"


Rachael Starke said...

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system... :)

Beautiful letter, to a man worthy of a every word.

My husband and I began our long-distance courtship reading "Desiring God" over the phone together. It was like nothing I'd ever read before. On the first readthrough, not only did I realize I needed to keep reading it until I really understood it, but I realized that this guy I'd just met who had recommended it, and was helping me understand it, was on a whole different level to some of the previous crazies I'd been dating. So - John Piper helped me know who marry.

Beyond that, for a man of his reputation and influence to take a year off to care better for his family spoke volumes. In some churches, even expressing that desire would be cause for "concern" among the elders about his pastoral fides.

FX Turk said...

BTW, because I am on intimate terms with the Internets, he has asked me off-line (you sort that out) when I willo be writing a letter to John MacArthur.

I will not be writing a letter to John MacArthur in the first half of this year, and I think if there is one at all it will be at Christmas -- in the Advent season.

Next Question.

Robert said...


I totally understand and hope to have more of my blind spots exposed. I usually get a lot of them exposed through my wife, but I am sure we have some common ones that we can easily miss (I do have some of my own favorite pastors/theologians).

I guess I am just saddened by what I have seen from some of those who have responded (Especially last week). You are definitely correct that nobody owes you a response...I just feel that if we are all serving our King, that we should welcome such counsel/advice and actually pay it some heed. The Bible is full of examples of people that provided such counsel/advice, although at different levels (prophets to Israel & the kings, Paul to Peter, Paul to the churches in his epistles, Jesus to the churches in Revelations). Before anybody makes the comment...I am not saying anybody here is a prophet, apostle, or Jesus...or on the same level. I am saying that they have provided models and guidelines for us in the Bible. Are we not to live out the Bible in our everyday lives? (That might get me in trouble based upon last week)

I guess I'd just like to see more of the biblical response to these letters from some of the religious leaders of my day and age. Although I will admit there have also been a lot of encouraging responses in some of the comment streams that show humility and thankfulness. Similar to what I saw you showing at the beginning of these Wednesday letters.

Susan said...

Frank, I almost didn't want to read this post when I saw the title...but I'm glad I did. I haven't read that much of Piper's works (please don't stone me), but I'm glad that his works have benefited so many.

(And Dan, why do I hear a vague resemblance of "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" in your "I object to your tone!"? Are you saying that Frank is a hypocrite?? Now I object to that kind of judgmental, finger-pointing, unkind, unloving , intolerant tone!!)


David Regier said...

Doesn't John Piper have any Charlie Ray's to watch his back?

Merrilee Stevenson said...

First, let me congratulate you for allowing the world (aka blogosphere) to see first hand that you do in fact have a heart of flesh and not of stone. I'm tempted to say "I told you so" to last weeks' criers, but that would be condescending and snarky and prideful, and I would get that dreaded "look" from my husband.

Second, if you had inserted those two paragraphs in the letter, my guess is that the comments might push close to 200, rather than a handful of praises from the faithful choir. Guess I'll go read a book now.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Thank you for this love letter concerning John Piper. When I first read it I thought you would mention the debacle of Piper inviting Rick Warren to speak at his conference. This was something that set many of us a bit off course. I, for one, have had to do some deep thinking about this entire issue. How do I reconcile my love for this brother when I feel he has endorsed a man who does not preach the true gospel?

But, I know a good book when I read it, and a good man when I read his thoughts. And John Piper’s thoughts about God and His glory (which is a common theme throughout many of his books), says all I will ever need to know. John Piper has been deeply, deeply instrumental in *elevating* my love for God’s glory like no one else. He has done for God’s glory what Dr. Sproul has done for God’s holiness, by bringing great emphasis to bear on this matter.

He is unique, an artsy type intellectual, and I just pray that God keeps him sufficiently humble, so that we can enjoy many more years of his unique insights and sermons. Does that sound selfish, or what?

I have learned about God’s glory from Dr. Piper, God’s holiness from Dr. Sproul and Christ’s Lordship from Dr. MacArthur: God has chosen these three men, wisely.

Thanks for this excellent letter, Frank. I couldn’t agree with you more.

donsands said...

"... thanks for giving us hope in a world that can seem out of control." -Cent

Amen. Piper is such a fine shepherd to our Lord's flock. And he knows he is still a sheep as well.

He preaches with humble integrity, and confident faith in the Word, with authority.

"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate." From 'Let the Nations be Glad!'

Thanks for the good letter to Pastor John. I hope he has a chance to read it. I know he will be built-up in his heart.

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

I was thinking FTW stood for, “For The Whiners”, oh well. ;-)

Seriously though. This is another good letter Frank, just like the previous ones, including last weeks to Horton… yes… including last weeks… because it says what is true and that is what I’m here for. Thanks for having a greater concern for what is true than for what some would be more comfortable hearing.

BTW, I just started reading Pipers “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ” again. I love that little book.

ANiMaL (richard) said...

Josh, I had the exact same thought as you. That people were 'afraid' that Frank was 'going after' John Piper speaks for itself.

When Rob Bell swept through our church there was little warning against it. My wife discovered some major issues with him and we eventually brought the issue up with our pastor along with another church member. Because of our concern Rob Bell was 'put out of the church'. Or so we thought.

Rob Bell made a come back for a short trip and when the issue was re-raised the pastor mentioned someone my wife really liked in contending for the case that perhaps we were overly critical. We of course did not take that well since Rob Bell is, gasp, a heretic and the other was not. While that annoyed me, I realized it was very important that I could take that critique, process it, and respond in love or else I was completely incapable of being a person who attempted to provide loving discernment on these issues.

When I saw the open letter to John Piper my mind immediately went to, "I bet he is going to praise him and I wonder if he will mention the 'charismatic thing.'" My hope was he'd do both and I would be edified by the wisdom Frank has so often conveyed in his posts.

My wife and I have grown so much from being able to process these otherwise avoided issues. While we struggle with "TONE" on pyromaniacs at times (not the open letters though), after careful consideration we have concluded that the posts themselves have always been reasonable at worst and generous at best.

From that I would encourage more of what seems like to me, carefully thought out epic blog posts!

Thanks you little pyromaniacs!

ps. DJP the tone of your 8 points was down right reprehensible. When I did a search for "bible tone" the most I could find was Duo-tone, so next time please limit it to 2.
pps. Yeah I had to throw epic in to go with the FTW.

Halcyon said...


If anyone ever knocks your knuckles again over writing an open letter as opposed to having a private conversation, then just tell them that an open letter is analogous to a private conversation.

You can't lose.

Mike Westfall said...

The "reverse initials" of FTW stands for Welcome To Facebook, the initials of which is what I exclaim whenever Facebook decides to change things.

It took me a while to figure out what FTW stood for too, because when I was younger (back before the Internet) it stood for something else.

J♥Yce Burrows said...

What these letters mirror(correct me if the mark has been missed) is God's glory/truth/ALL and so great our need; to that end we should pray for one another and stand in the gap for the good of others while willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness ~ even in our being perfected that shouldn't trump the Master's message for the messenger. It's all about Him, lest we miss that ~ yes?

Stefan Ewing said...

Frank, you're a cheeky guy.

I don't believe people when they say that coffee almost shot out their nose onto their keyboard upon reading this or that, but it dagnabbed nearly happened to me just now, when I read the post title.

It is good to give thanks and credit to the Lord's faithful servants. There are some things about Piper's style that I'm not totally on board with, but he has done tireless work for the body of Christ lo these many years, and thanks to his being a "Pastor's Pastor," he has even graced our small pastoral conference by preaching twice for us.

That (a) he is also open about his own shortcomings, (b) placed family above church last year, and (c) his ministry has made all his writings freely available—are all a credit to God, to whose ministry of the Gospel this faithful pastor has been called.

Stefan Ewing said...

Just an idea...

How about an open letter to all the "nameless" pastors in small churches all around the world, who tirelessly carry out their Gospel ministries to their own small flocks, along with all the challenges that they also face?

Morris Brooks said...

Well, Frank, if you ever did do an open letter to John MacArthur you might set a record for comments.

John isn't as lovable as Piper, and I believe he is the biggest lightning rod in evangelicalism. Take this latest flap over the Darrin Patrick comments for example.

I don't think John is ignorant of the fact that anything and everything he says goes viral, and that in itself can be a good corrective for the evangelical body at large.

Geoff said...

Frank, I object to your now weeks-long hatred of relevant song quotes to bolster your letters. How dare you eschew the culture when you should be redeeming and creating it.

Despite that, I also have been greatly blessed by Dr. Piper's biographical messages, esp. Athanasius and Adoniram Judson. Wow. I am thankful for how Piper's passion for God is so evident in every message I've listened to.

Lastly, well done for last week's letter. I just wish the CT article wouldna detracted from your godly and loving letter.

Anonymous said...

What? No blood and guts? No naughty bits? Only a whiff in a would-be emendation. Darn. I'm outta here.

Except one thing. Mr. Phillips, if Mr. Turk was so equanimous in the face of his ridiculous detractors, why was an apology issued the very next day?

DJP said...

Seriously? That Frank would issue an exceedingly gracious apology for about eight words seems like an exception to equanimity? Mercy; some people just can't get a break.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ Morris Brooks:

Morris, John MacArthur is indeed greatly loved. The very fact that he stands up against all forms of heresy, and does so to protect his flock from going astray, should be a valid reason for all the YRR's to follow suit. Everyone is called to **contend for the faith**, why do we act as though those words were not inspired by God?

Those who love the truth, dearly love John MacArthur.

Just sayin...

FX Turk said...


Because I'm not an anonymous blogger, and I take responsibility for every word I put into the blogosphere.

Given your open letter to me/us, I think you should consider doing the same.

I have an open invitation to anyone, at any time, who wants to foist upon me charges against my character or theology (or both) to form an affirmative thesis (for example: "Frank Turk is an uncharitable and irresponsible blogger") and defend it in an open discussion which I can host at my DebateBlog. The guidelines for such an exchange are there, and I am open to format and rules. My only stipulation is that there is a limit to the exchange and a fixed scope of the grievance. I have one taker who is now trying to hone a sufficiently-narrow (or perhaps sufficiently-broad) charge against me just so he can "prove me wrong".

I look forward to your accepting that invitation as soon as possible so we can air out your grievances and see if you can do more than simply assert that something is true.

DJP said...

...do more than simply assert that something is true

That's really well-put, gels something I've been pondering. It is as if, in the minds of many, the mere assertion that something is true obliges Phil, you, and me to snap into line. We write posts with Scripture, quotations, and our best attempts at a reasoned case; but let someone assert something about our attitudes, or just assert that we're wrong or haven't proven our case, and now the ball is in our courts either to accept the assertion, or reveal ourselves as arrogant and mean.

Now I get it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turk,

I am not anonymous. I left a link to my blog. It has the text of an open letter I wrote to all of TeamPyro expressing my concerns, and my love for this blog, and my good wishes for you all. It says all I think I want to say.

You also might be interested in one of my pages, titled, "Why I Just Don't Want to Argue Anymore."

Mr. Phillips:

The apology was indeed gracious. The comments that engendered it were not.

Karen Butler

donsands said...

"Thank you for showing us the myriad of ways to live faithfully through their example."

I thought of that series of books as reskimmed your post, and Charles Simeon came to mind, as I read through the commets, especially Dan's last one.

"Wakeful endurance was a life-and-death matter for Simeon. He dared not have a casual, sleepy-eyed approach to ministry.
It did not matter that his people were often against him. he was not commisioned by them, but by the Lord. And they were his responsibility. He believed Hebrews 13:17--that he would one day have to give an account for the souls of his church." -John Piper, 'the Roots of Endurance' [Book Three]

Morris Brooks said...


I did not say John wasn't greatly loved, but he is not as lovable as Piper, for the reasons you have stated; therefore he is also the object of much vitriol as well. He does take on issues and people (Let's see...Lordship Salvation, Charismatics, Mark Driscoll, CNN interviews,Cessationism/Continuationism, Pre-mil vs A-mil...) and because of that many people consider him polemic and strident. You do not see Piper generating the same amount of polarization among the evangelicals (exception being Rick Warren). Except in his response to N T Wright in defense of justification by faith, Piper is not that outspoken. I have even run across this polarization regarding John in the Ukraine.

I think someone of John's stature in the Christian community has an obligation to speak out about certain people and issues, so I am not criticizing John, just stating the obvious.

FX Turk said...

Karen --

Please see my comment in moderation at your blog.

Anonymous said...

Franks said: "But if I write open letters to people we love and ask them the questions that, frankly, no one else will, am I actually a bad guy?"

No - you're a hero... :o)

James S said...

I agree, Frank. Excellent post.

I'd like to add my appreciation for John Piper having all his great audio (and even video!) completely free for the taking.

This simple act of opening up desperately needed resources at no cost has set the bar for all other online ministries.

And not just at no cost, but at 'no trouble', meaning he doesn't even make you waste time registering or filling out forms or clicking around to get to the material that is offered.

Again, this arrangement has set the 'tone' for all other websites.
'Desiring God' has the shown the way for all truly honest and God glorifying online ministries to go about equipping christians with the knowledge of God, and it is just that - 'knowledge of God', from God's Word, which leads to authentic faith.

I want to single out Desiring God's MATT PERMAN, former director of Internet Strategies for 9 years, who was the mind behind "making it free".

Matt put out an awesome pair of articles that first, explained the strategy, and the follow up which answered all objections to his plan. I present here to you the address to the link. From there you can click on the 'part 2 follow up'.


I would recommend saving these documents (as I have ever since I first read them). It is the best business plan I have ever read for a ministry to go about internet operations, (and it has proven itself to be correct).

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

So sorry! I enjoyed an afternoon's blissful gardening in the warm sunshine,(that is what "gloating" is, Frank, as you seemed particularly confused by that word in my post) and I have just fished your comment out of the Askimet spam filter, and am mulling over my reply. You will have to be patient with me. My brain is very lightweight.

I have to admit, I am somewhat nonplussed. I thought you had an English background, and even were flirting with a MFA. I am indeed overfond of rhetoric...but still the text seems plain enough to me. *sigh* What to do, what to do?

I know! Mr. Phillips would shrug wearily and recommend you read it over less cursorily, but I have a better idea--I will model for you gracious bloghosting!

I will prepare a handy "Butler's Notes"--a quick guide for hasty readers who have been trained by Facebook and cannot attend to texts over 140 characters. Unless they are their own words. Or someone's they don't condescend to.

yours truly,
Karen Butler

Bill R. said...


I must admit I also thought you were going to take him to task for the Rick Warren (hmmm which word to use... I really can't improve on debacle :-) or his association with Mark Driscol, 'the cussing pastor'. A Piper fan friend reminded me that Jesus dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, and then I reminded him, "Yes, but Jesus didn't invite them into His pulpit!"

Anyway, I was pleasantly reminded of all the wonderful things that Piper HAS done for the Christian community. I might add, apologist (N.T. Wright book), promoter of pithy puritans (many more besides Edwards!), writer of amazing and thought provoking biographies, and author of at least 2 books that have changed my life forever ('When I Don't Desire God' and especially 'God is the Gospel').

Thank you for reminding me that even favorite pastors, warts and all, should be ruminated and reviewed from time to time to remember why they are favorite pastors.

I too will continue to enjoy him with and I will also do so with a discerning ear. God bless you.

FX Turk said...

Karen --

Good luck with that.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

As to this issue of whether or not it is charitable for Christians to debate issues that are controversial, or instead "agree to disagree," I have someone else's words to consider.

In other words, it's an ideological battle.
Our strategy is to dismantle the false belief systems that keep people in bondage, and our weapon is the truth. Specifically the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. And the struggle is never ending.

Not every debate is a foolish ignorant controversy. Because the same apostle who wrote what I just quoted said in Titus 1 "there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers whose mouths must bre stopped." Being gentle and patient does not mean yielding ground to the pervayors of false doctrine. There are today many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers whose mouths must be stopped.

And some of them are authors of best selling books put out by supposedly evangelical publishers.

But we live in a culture that has lowered the tolerance for that kind of candid discourse. To practically zero, in the name of a false and phony standard of charity and gentleness.

It shocks us some days when anyone does rise up in defense of some truth...
"lets just agree to disagree"

No. how about we agree to argue until one of us actually refutes the other and we can come to a common understanding of the Scriptures?

Taken from "Marching orders for a Backslidden Church," (2010-03-05-PJ) from the 2010 Shepherd's conference, where Phil Johnson preached from 1 Corinthians 16:13. It is subtitled "understanding the influence of post-modern thought on the church today." A very edifying message worth listening to a few times.

(I apologize for my poor quoting skillz. Cutting and pasting from my own notes on my smart phone. This would be much easier if I had transcripts from which to cut and paste.)

David Ould said...

And all the people said...

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

This was a good ode to a man who helps people maintain their daily devotion. More thanks needs to be given to people who are committed like this.

northWord said...

Bravo, Frank, bravo.


Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

First, I owe you an apology for the bit about gloating and playing contact sports like a big boy. You're right, and I won't even complain that it was the confusing way Dr. Clark conflated your objections and CT's, or that I was distracted by his crass merchandising because I have ADD. But I won't.

Because, although it is tempting to want to make excuses, I will follow your good model of an apology, and say you're right. It was perfectly fair game to quote him, and for me to even ascribe such a silly phrase to a man with your rich skills with words--what was I thinking?

Go ahead and gloat. You have every right.

I am going to have to withdraw my offer to do an exegesis of my text.
I really haven't the time, and frankly, I also just don't have the heart. This whole thing has started to make me feel very sad, especially after fielding the comments stream this morning.

Though, Providentially, everything you could wish to know about what I meant to say in my Open Letter is right there in the comments field.

There you will find a shark circling, little children stumbling,the ministry of the rest of the Body of Christ made to feel inferior to that of the ginormous brains.

And as for "brain damage"--there will be lots of damage done to the hearts and minds of those who continually engage in this crustiness. Kevin DeYoung described what it looks like better than I could.

Karen Butler

Robert said...


I pose to you the same question I did on the comments over at TGC. Was Paul being crusty when he wrote Galatians? Are there not some issues where we must make a stand for the truth? Kevin DeYoung included inerrancy in his "crusty" statement, and I surely hope that he will find a way to account for that...because without inerrancy of Scripture we have no authority and no real idea of Who Jesus is. That is because John 1 says that Jesus is the Word. So either Jesus is inerrant or He is fallible. I don't see how a Christian can be of the latter opinion.

Elaine Bittencourt said...

@ Morris.
"John isn't as lovable as Piper".

Matter of opinion. I believe MacArthur is loveable. It might be that people just like to love people who are easily loveable. I love MacArthur's boldness, for example. He doesn't shy away from difficult/controversial issues, he knows exactly Whom he serves and what he's been called to. I appreciate that. His boldness doesn't come without costs, I am sure.

I don't pretend to know MacArthur at all, but this is the verse that I think of when I think of his personal ministry:
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel."

It takes a godly man to preach the Gospel. It takes a great godly man, with a lifetime commitment, to preach the Gospel boldly.

Grace and peace,

Morris Brooks said...


I did not say that John wasn't lovable, just that he is not as lovable as Piper. Because John tells the truth, and speaks out on issues and people, he has sharper edges than Piper. John is well loved by many, myself included, but his sharper edges keep him from being as lovable to many.

DJP said...

If I remember hearing him right, I think it's John MacArthur's position that he's totally lovable, and that the only problem is the mean things Phil Johnson keeps putting in his mouth.

Tom Chantry said...

And yet I've heard that Phil is also totally lovable, and that the meanness all emanates from you and Frank. Now look what you've done!

Morris Brooks said...


Some of the commenters on this blog would be in agreement that statement.

DJP said...

Well, that's not right. I know for a fact that Frank Turk is a totally lovable, cuddly fuzzball. So that would mean...


Elaine Bittencourt said...

point taken, I was just saying that the comparison is a matter of opinion. Or preference.

Especially now that I also heard MacArthur say that Phyl is the one to blame. =)

FX Turk said...

I find the humility of Karen Butler has a funny flavor.

Anonymous said...

Your'e not trying to lure me into some strangling web of self-defense, are you, Mr.Turk?

It has a very sour taste in the mouth doesn't it? It was the flavor of Weltschmerz mixed with sarcasm, and it does not satisfy anyone who tastes it. The two should never be together on the same spoon.

So I'm just going to emulate your excellent example and say, I was wrong in that quote, and I'm sorry to say you gloated, or even to predict that you might.

really humbly this time,
Karen Butler

Anonymous said...


Sorry, I didn't see your question until I had nearly logged off, and then my son's hair was violating Scripture in that it had started to be what pertaineth to a woman, and in obedience I cut it.

And no, of course Paul was not crusty in his sharp denunciation of the Judaizers in Galatians. The little children were being stumbled, and the Gospel was being perverted. Things worth dying for.

And I feel that the things I would argue over are the things I would die for. Not Romans 14 things.

And in defense of DeYoung, the quote about what is crusty is

"a demeanor where being Calvinist or paedobaptist or inerrantist (three things I am gladly) are put on like armor or wielded like weapons, when they are meant to be the warm glow of a Christian whose core radiates with love for Christ and the gospel."

And if even the truth of inerrancy is wielded like a weapon without that the blazing hot center of love, it becomes a sounding gong, the sound of a clanging crusty Christian.

My husband is home, so I have to go. I hope that helps.

Karen Butler

Anonymous said...

Dr. John Piper
Bethlehem BC
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Dr. Piper,

DECAF. Also: say it, don't spray it.

Warm regards,

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

But that was a relatively minor gaffe, wasn't it? A misattribution?

The substantive charge remains. In the "Butler's Notes" version of the text, it would have read something like "you are guilty of blatant hypocrisy in your rebuke of Michael Horton."

If you are confused about why I think your blogmetas encourage unkindness and unhelpful competitions for consumers of scandal, then read my comments meta. Don't worry. I set clear boundaries for what is acceptable there, and I have edited entries that don't meet my standards of what I let be said in my kitchen.
Your ears might burn,but only a a little.

But I pray reading uncursorily would bring forth fruits of repentance, and this charge is not just for you, but DJP, too: like Play Nice. Like share your toys with those not so abundantly blessed. Since you two are such strong big kids, help the younger and weaker ones. Don't make fun of the retard.

Sit on the think bench for a little bit. At least five minutes. And please don't talk with your mouth so full of that nasty camel.

affectionately yours,
Karen Butler

DJP: Don't worry about it. I'm sure your mother thinks you're adorable.

Blue Collar Todd said...

I think it is time for some of the major Evangelical leaders to issue an open letter to Rick Warren. Maybe someone who has some serious influence could do this. His new Daniel Plan is utilizing Dr. Oz, a guy whose thinking is in more in line with Oprah than anything Christian. Oz believes in meditation and mass hypnosis. Is that something Christians should be exposed to?

Bill said...

Although I find John Piper's preaching biblical, I have to admit that it baffles me his public endorsement of Rick Warren. Mark Driscoll has also expressed support for Rick Warren. For me purpose driven theology is deeply flawed, it is bad, I wouldn't even call it christian. A line in the sand ought to be drawn that clearly states that seeker sensitive preaching is unscriptural. Not sure why both Piper and Driscoll fail to see this, but regardless it makes you wonder about how sound their theology is.

The Daniel plan that Saddleback put out has a lot of good things on diet and exercise, but there's also new age philosophies that these 3 doctors hired by Rick Warren share. Christ as the great physician is nowhere to be found, but reiki, transcendental medietation, and other teachings opposed to christianity are being espoused by these doctors hired by Rick Warren.

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

"I’ll be glad to receive their repentance, and to receive their renewed work in the Spirit it ought to be delivered."

The hypocrisy watch continues,and I believe I detect its accustomed flavor of pomposity in your challenge here.

"Hilarity will ensue..."

Indeed it already has. From where I sit this has the makings of a delicious little farce, with everyone calling everybody else out,intriguesand backstage manipulations, posturing for the audience, and of course, the essential: the overweening ambition of all the principal players.

But I think the One who looks from Heaven laughs the most, over all our little washpots He casts His shoe.

Chuckling Still,
Karen Butler

FX Turk said...

Am I really the only one who found this thread funny?


Anonymous said...


Was your intention in writing this post to be funny? I guess I'm a bit daft.

May I ask a serious question? I would truly like to know your thoughts. I have presented this question many times with not one biblical response.

At what point does a believer become apostate?

Thank you, in advance, for your response.


Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

"intrigues and backstage manipulations, posturing for the audience, and of course, the essential: the overweening ambition of all the principal players."

Okay. This was unacceptable--I know nothing of what is going on behind the scenes, and in particular what is motivating any principal character in this sad little comedy, other than myself...so I am sorry for impugning your motives. I have read enough of your posts to know that your motive in blogging is like mine: to build up the Body of Christ, and to glorify our gracious God. And so these remarks were not true, or kind. Please forgive me.

My deep fault as a writer really is to get carried away by a metaphor, which can be lovely in the poetic realm, but not in the real. So I overreached here. I am not taking back, however, the charge of hypocrisy. That still stands, and it sticks, I think. But I am done trying to press that point.

I am going to get out of the way here, and simply pray for the Holy Spirit to do His work. I have been writing about this for
too long, and I am testing my family's patience. Some of us bloggers like our anonymity, and the comfortable hum of our blog statistics. This spike in reader hits makes it so much harder for my second grader to plot the points for math class. So thank you for your patience in hearing me out. Again, I'm sorry for the sinful aspersions I cast on your character.

Thank you,
Karen Butler

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

Blogger wouldn't let me post this as a complete comment. Too long.I had to divide it up.

Because I have to speak up one last time for the retards--those like me, those escaping Charismania, who through a lengthy period of having our minds continually offended so that our hearts might be revealed, are thus a little delayed in our critical thinking skills. We are also, unfortunately, usually overfond of rhetoric.

We come with a deep distrust of cessationists, and have been trained to think of them as heartless whitewashed Pharisees, loving their doctrines more than the actual people of God. You and Mr. Phillips delight in skewering our logical deficiencies but do nothing to erase the caricatures we have already formed about you all.

The focus here seems to be all about who is going to score FTW, but with your curt dismissals and rude behavior to those without your theological training and vast reasoning skills, you have actually forgotten the most important thing. I forgot today that it wasn't a word game I was playing but that actual hearts and minds were being affected. Please do not forget that some may actually be in dangerous mind-control cults, like IHOP. All kinds of people come to this blog. It seems like you all forget this is not playing a game, but this is for real. Forget about FTW. Win their hearts. Teach them what a wonderful and exciting thing it is to adore the Lord Our God with all of their mind.

So I'm done. I have to be. My littlest just now was so upset that I was on the computer again, and that is what matters most to me now.

Best Wishes,
Karen Butler

Dave said...

Karen, Your point has been made, and it is time to let it go and see if any change comes from it.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Anonymous said...

"So I'm done."

Deb said...

Guys, I know this thread is long gone and I don't know if you'll even see this comment. But are you going to comment or do a post on Piper holding the next Desiring God Conference at Saddleback with Rick Warren??
That seems shocking to me -- even ,ore shocking that just inviting Warren to speak.
What do you all think?