John Piper and his Heretical Friends (Revised)
It has just brought to my attention that John Piper has invited Federal Vision pitchman and apologist Doug Wilson to speak at his Desiring God Conference in September. Not only has Piper previously stated that the heretical and deadly doctrines of Wilson’s Federal Vision IS NOT another Gospel, now he has given FV spokesman Wilson a platform to further advance his FV heresy on unwitting Baptists. The Judaizers never had it so good.
While as sinful as it is shameful, it is not surprising. To anyone who has suffered through Piper’s Future Grace (you can read a review of the book here), Piper agrees with the central tenants of the Federal Vision including a denial of the Covenant of Works and a conditional view of grace and the gospel.
World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky (the same magazine that refused to publish Trinity Foundation’s Reformation Statement signed by R.C. Sproul and others) will be sharing the stage with Wilson and Piper. I should point out that Olasky is (or at least was) an elder in the PCA. If that’s the case, it is more evidence that the PCA’s committee report on the Federal Vision should be shredded for toilet paper.
For Piper and DG fans, here is a quick recap of Wilson’s theology taken from his book, Reformed is Not Enough, which he wrote to answer the “call to repentance” and heresy charges leveled against him by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS).
First, for Wilson one doesn’t become a Christian by believing the Gospel, but rather becoming a Christian occurs through the waters of baptism. Wilson writes, “A Christian… is anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit by an authorized representative of the Christian church” Through the magic waters of baptism Wilson tells us that, “both the true and false son are brought into the same relation” to Christ.
So what is the determining factor that separates the sheep from the goats? Wilson explains that “faith in the biblical sense is inseparable from faithfulness…. But when we have faith that works its way out in love, which is the only thing that genuine faith can do, *then the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise has been met”* (186-187, emphasis added). Notice, God’s covenant promise, which of course includes the promise of salvation, is conditional and requires us to meet those conditions before we can receive them. The conditions Wilson tells us are our own faithfulness and it is a faith that works. God’s covenant promise is met only through our ongoing covenant faithfulness. The ones who, through their faithfulness, “meet the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise,” become sheep.
In Wilson’s “objective covenant” in which the sinner meets conditions and fulfills his covenantal obligations, thus qualifying himself for the salvation God has promised, Wilson confuses works done as the result of sanctification with justification.
In case anyone missed it, or if anyone might be tempted to think that I am mischaracterizing Wilson, he also favorably quotes his fellow FV pastor Rand Booth: “Only faithful covenant membership (i.e., those full of faith in the Savior), receive the covenant blessings, *including the blessings of imputed righteousness” (emphasis added). The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member. Wilson states “This is fundamental to the central point of this book.”
For Wilson it is the conditions of salvation that God sets at baptism that become the dividing line between salvation and damnation: “Those who obligate themselves under the terms of the covenant law to live by faith but then defiantly refuse to believe are cut away” (134). In Wilson’s scheme, “breaking covenant occurs because of unbelief, lack of faith, and because of lack of good works” (134), and fulfilling the conditions of the covenant occurs by faith and good works.
Wilson rejects the historic Reformed and Biblical view of the Covenant of Grace in which Christ is the Mediator of the covenant and the Savior of his people. As every Christian should already know, and certainly John Piper ought to know, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not contingent upon our “faithful covenant membership,” but solely upon Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father.
Wilson rejects the law/gospel distinction saying, “law and gospel divisions or grace and works divisions” is “a trap.” Wilson asserts, contra Scripture, that belief alone in the truths of Scripture and the Gospel saves no one. “I do not deny the propositional truth the solas refer to, but I do maintain that to limit them to mere propositions is to kill them. Faith without works is dead. The five solas without works are dead too. Propositions without works are dead — even if the propositions are true.” Of course, Wilson contradict Christ who said “The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).” And, contrary to works as a requirement or the one thing needful to make faith saving, Jesus said; “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has [right now, not after doing some good works] everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has [already] passed from death to life (John 5:24).” Wilson is a liar.
As John Robbins points out: “Wilson has things backwards: It is the true words, the propositions, that bring forth good works, not the works that make propositions living. The propositions are living and the source of life, and works are a kind of fruit of that life — a result, an effect of the living propositions. “
As we have seen, for Wilson Christians are saved by fulfilling the conditions of the covenant: “In the historic Protestant view, good works are inseparable from biblical salvation. They are not a condiment to flavor a “raw” justification [i.e., read “fruit” – SG], but rather are definitionally related to justification…like the terms husband and wife.” In Wilson’s theology, good works and justification are equals and correlatives, like husband and wife. Justification is not prior to, nor the cause or ground of sanctification and good works, but an equal and corresponding aspect of salvation. He adds; “No one assumes that every husband will automatically have a successful marriage. Nor should we assume that every Christian will go to Heaven.”
In Wilson’s theology some Christians will go to Hell.
To avoid Hell, salvation requires our ongoing covenantal faithfulness in order to receive what Federal Visionists call “final justification” on the last day. That’s because, and as we’ve seen in this brief summary, no man is saved by belief alone, but by belief plus works.
Wilson is a Christ denying heretic who has been warmly embraced by John Piper. Now he will be a featured guest speaker at Piper’s next “Desiring God” conference. Again, the Judaizers never had it so good.