John Piper – Heading For the Cliff


John Piper has doubled down on his doctrine of justification by faith and works.  John Robbins first alerted the world about Piper’s rejection of the law/Gospel distinction in his review of Piper’s abysmal Future Grace back in 2002.  Today, Tim Shaughnessy and Timothy Kauffman, the team over at Bible Thumping Wingnuts, have raised the alarm again citing a very recent piece where Piper answers the question, “Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone?”  Anyone familiar with John Robbins’ review of Future Grace should not be surprised that Piper answers this central question of the Christian faith in the negative. Piper writes:

In justification, faith receives a finished work of Christ performed outside of us and counted as ours — imputed to us. … In final salvation at the last judgment, faith is confirmed by the sanctifying fruit it has borne, and we are saved through that fruit and that faith. (emphasis Wingnuts)

It is important to understand that Piper is not talking about some future reward bestowed on believers on the day of judgment (see Mathew 25:23 and 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). It’s also not as if Piper is saying that we are saved so that we might do good works as Paul explains in Ephesians 2:10.  Piper is crystal clear.  We do good works so that we might be saved.  Our eternal blessedness hangs in the balance. Adding the word “final” to salvation doesn’t change the math. Belief or faith starts the process of salvation but works done through faith finish it.  Piper attempts to draw a distinction between being accounted as righteous through belief in Christ alone in justification and being made fit for heaven on the basis of our works.  But, what good is the justification we receive through belief in Jesus Christ’s finished cross-work if our salvation ultimately rests on our works as well? What has Jesus’ life and death really accomplished? It seems for Piper Jesus only enables us to be saved.  He didn’t accomplish it.  For that, we must all do our part.  I am hard pressed to see the difference between the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by faith and works with the one being advanced by Piper … as the Wingnuts correctly explain.

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15 Comments on “John Piper – Heading For the Cliff”

  1. Michael Says:

    I don’t understand why everyone gets so hung up on James. Profession of faith before men, not salvation. You can’t interchange James and Paul and expect keep Protestantism.

  2. Gary Hinchman Says:

    If God saves us, what argument can be offered that we save ourselves in any way? Ephesians 2:8-10 explains the process from beginning to end.

    Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
    Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
    Eph 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
    Eph 2:7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
    Eph 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Our salvation is all of God IN CHRIST. NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS.

  3. Sean Gerety Says:

    Michael … exactly right. As a disclaimer, I confess I do not read Piper much at all and I have no idea why he’s so popular. But, then, I don’t understand Joel Osteen either. Lots of flowery wandering prose that tend to gloss over what he’s really saying. But check this piece out from Piper discussing James and Paul on justification. He denies James is using the word to justify in terms of those in the church who are trying to identify true believers from the feigned variety, but rather works are essential to a belief that justifies us before God. Piper writes: “For James, “justification by works” (which he accepts) means “maintaining a right standing with God by faith along with the necessary evidence of faith, namely, the works of love.” My view is if a pastor can’t get James right he shouldn’t be a pastor and that goes for John Piper and his multi-million dollar industry … I mean, ministry. But it does explain why he shares the stage with Federal Visionists like Doug Wilson and sees nothing wrong with his doctrines other than Doug is not a Baptist.

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    Oh, yeah, and it’s not just James. Check out Piper’s discussion above of Galatians 5:6 in the above piece in regards to justification and compare it to Calvin who writes in his commentary:

    There would be no difficulty in this passage, were it not for the dishonest manner in which it has been tortured by the Papists to uphold the righteousness of works. When they attempt to refute our doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone, they take this line of argument. If the faith which justifies us be that “which worketh by love,” then faith alone does not justify. I answer, they do not comprehend their own silly talk; still less do they comprehend our statements. It is not our doctrine that the faith which justifies is alone; we maintain that it is invariably accompanied by good works; only we contend that faith alone is sufficient for justification. The Papists themselves are accustomed to tear faith after a murderous fashion, sometimes presenting it out of all shape and unaccompanied by love, and at other times, in its true character. We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works. With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love cooperates with faith in justification; but, in order to avoid the appearance of representing Christians as idle and as resembling blocks of wood, he points out what are the true exercises of believers. When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle. Paul does not here treat of justification, or assign any part of the praise of it to love. Had he done so, the same argument would prove that circumcision and ceremonies, at a former period, had some share in justifying a sinner. As in Christ Jesus he commends faith accompanied by love, so before the coming of Christ ceremonies were required. But this has nothing to do with obtaining righteousness, as the Papists themselves allow; and neither must it be supposed that love possesses any such influence.

  5. justbybelief Says:

    Many times after having discussed the gospel with reformed (in name only) folks James 2 has been thrown up in my face. I often wonder if they believe that the Bible contradicts itself.

    In the OPC in Missoula MT, now defunct, we were informed from the pulpit that “as far as salvation is concerned, God is taking your whole life into account.” So much for salvation, now it has no meaning.

    The Church of Sacred Analogy replaced it.

  6. Denson Dube Says:

    “I often wonder if they believe that the Bible contradicts itself.”

    I believe much of the confusion and resulting errors in understanding scripture, by many professing Christians is under-girded by a misology that manifests itself at best as an ambivalence towards logic and at worst outright hostility; a misguided piety, that disparages “mere human logic”. If both A and not A, then rather go to the beach! As Clark wrote, logic is absolutely necessary.

  7. I wish to thank Sean for bringing to our attention this and many other bad things happening in the Reformed camp — or what passes for Reformed these days! For quite some time now there have more and more Reformed (or ostensibly Reformed) people falling into all kinds of bad theology — not just the Federal Vision kind of stuff going on now, but long before that among the Dooyeweerdians and neo-Doooyeweerdians etc. Sean, what do you think is the root cause of all this apostasizing??

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thank you Forrest, but I’m just passing along the work of others. As for cause, I tend to be in the amil camp and think it’s just a sign of the times. 😉

  9. Denson Dube Says:

    The Apostle Paul says in Titus 1:11, there are some whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households. Those who keep warning us of the errors of these popular and influential religious men are completely in line with the will of God.

    There are also anti-Calvinists like pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist church in Tempe, Arizona and Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries. What they display is an uncompromising stand for and love of the truth, yet, sadly such a shallow grasp of historic theology, blissfully unaware of the self-contradiction their opposition to Calvinism entails. This points to the current irrationalism of our age that John Robins warned about. Steven Anderson was denied visiting rights by the South African government over his stance on gays, yet Robert Mugabe, life president of Zimbabwe is a regular guest of the South African government, inspite of his rabid hatred of gays. Such inconsistency and hypocrisy!

  10. Michael Says:

    Read that article you posted Sean. That is pretty obvious catholic soteriology. No question. Wow.

  11. justbybelief Says:

    “Steven Anderson”

    Indeed, I have an affinity for this guy. I became acquainted with him when he stood up to the border goon’s checkpoints well inside the U.S. border to his own hurt.

    This guy is a rock-ribbed hard head, good in some instances bad in others. I hope that one day the Holy Spirit removes his hardness to the doctrines of grace and replaces it with the same spirit firmness in their propagation and defense.

    At least he’s not a Van Tilian:

  12. justbybelief Says:

    The video didn’t post correctly. Go to 34:44 to listen to his refutation of Van Til (and Lutherans).

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Denson, not sure I follow the relationship between Steven Anderson and John Piper and I don’t really want to listen to an hour sermon to find out.

  14. Denson Dube Says:

    @Sean: Their mouths must be stopped, the common thread for both being making invalid inferences. Piper is obviously far out and near the edge, if not with one foot over already, whilst Steven, quite sound in the main, if left to continue unchallenged/uncorrected in his ignorant anti-Calvinist rants, the long term effect will be harm to his own and many other’s faith, the undoing of the good his ministry has accomplished and deterioration into Arminianism and finally, rank apostasy. The same applies to Jacob Prasch, who has a Jewish background, and comes with a New York accent!
    Training in logic must be made compulsory in the school curriculum.

  15. Salvatore Says:

    Classic reformed theology teaches that we are saved by Christ alone and his righteousness alone; he also bore our judgement.

    In an effort to account for the passage in James and remarks in Revelation, I have considered the following: Our union with Christ means what’s his is ours. Therefore, it’s possible to speak of sanctification and justification as a whole, as belonging to us. Not just justification. This seems to me to be where the confusion lies. The Holy Spirit accomplishes something in the believer, and this is righteousness in connection with the righteousness of Christ.

    I think people who don’t understand that wind up advancing something heretical like FV.

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