Saturday, September 30, 2006

DG: A Conversation with Pastors Hosted by Justin Taylor

(John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller)

Justin Taylor: In postmodern culture, John, what did studying the commands of Christ do for your soul?

Piper: A devastating thing to submit yourself to the 500 imperatives of Jesus in the Gospels. He is always pressing deep. 11 weeks of having my heart exposed. Then clamoring for the second impression of the offerings of mercy for the sinner. Desolation and hope. The personal effect was to intensify my desire to be in the face of a post-modern world with the power of Jesus Christ.

There is so much mealy-mouthed hesitancy to preach righteousness.

JT: The relationship of Christianity to culture is the current crisis point of the church. Can you explain the Biblical way to influence culture.

Keller: Niebuhr’s book lays out five approaches – maybe there are two ways to do each one of them. Bethlehem Baptist Church is an alternate city, to show Minneapolis what it could look like. But somehow there has to be some kind of service to the community – serving the needs of your community. We want to make this city good for everyone. Care for poor, etc.

JT: Mark, you go to concerts, comedy shows, etc – John, you don’t. How do you stay relevant by avoiding pop culture and Mark how do you stay faithful in being in it.

Driscoll: The two problems are syncretism and sectarianism. Be with the people in this world but with Him – tethered to Him through His Word. Relevant orthodoxy is our goal. As missionaries, how do we incarnate into these cultures? Jesus was in culture, never went too far…

JT: John, are you relevant?

JP: I don’t know.

Is the target common? I think I am weak and would fall if I plunged into culture.

There are common denominators: everyone will die; everyone loves authenticity; people like to have issues resolved; I need to understand how John Piper ticks; then figure out how to work on that; study advertisers since they are the ones who know the culture.

Emerging Church Conversation and Movement:

JT: John Piper – you met with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. Can you tell it about this?

JP: Do you always precede lunch invitations by calling someone “smartass?”

JT: I think Mark is rubbing off on you.

JP: I like these guys, because they are both hotheads and I am too. My root sense is that committed relationships trump Truth. They may not like that. There are profound epistemological differences that make the conversation almost impossible. How profitable is it to press on with this when worldview is so different? Ways of knowing are so different – so that I cannot really state where they are. We don’t try to get agreement here. Getting agreement on the nature of atonement is not an issue to them – so I do not know where to go with them?

JT: Mark, you have been in both worlds and going from being a travel partner to McClaren to being here.

MD: I met a girl and she gave me a bible. I read Augustine in college and found out I was a sinner, God saved me, Grace married me, I planted a church with 10 guys committed to anarchy. Leadership Network called me in to speak to a pastor’s conference nearly 10 years ago. Then I started traveling with Doug Pagitt and the team of preachers. I was on a reformed trajectory, but I was not representing myself or my side well. I broke off very early on.

JT: Tim, is the emergent church going to be a footnote or a chapter in the history of the church?

TK: If you define evangelicalism in a John Stott kind of way, the seeker movement is inside evangelicalism. The emergent church is moving away from orthodoxy. In places like Yale, there is a post-liberal emphasis on the text that shows a distinction from old liberalism. This emergent group is really much like this group. Emergent will never really grow as they will not plant churches or build colleges. They may produce some writers… but that is probably about all.

JT: Is emergent growing?

TK: It is producing pundits, but not community and institutions.

JT: The two hottest theologies are reformed and emergent. Mark, why are these rockers listening to Keller and Piper?

MD: Grudem’s systematic. Mahaney’s non-cessationism. Keller’s urban missional engagement. Piper’s passion and emphasis on supremacy of Christ. These things are drawing young men.

JT: John, foreign missions are often forgotten in conferences like this. Are you concerned that foreign work is being forgotten.

JP: I don’t know since I do not see evidence. The great commission is no where near finished. Muslims and others are hostile and difficult to reach. We need to go there! Are we raising up an army to go?

The seeker sensitive way is having a trickle-down effect in missions in a harmful way. There is a fear of not succeeding. So, foreign missions can be undermined when you go with a compromised message – or a contextualized message that abandons Christ.

There is no radical Jesus without hell. What emergent is doing is what they say we are doing: “domesticating Jesus!”

JT: When you see street preachers, why don’t we do that?

JP: I don’t know of any places where Paul was going to work. Synagogues, or Aereopagus, etc. Why not ask for 15 minutes to speak of Jesus in the mosque. Then Paul got run out. Generally there is some kind of suffering. Then he left behind some believers.

JT: How is Acts a model for us in going to the cities. None of us are going to get stoned tonight. Are we doing something wrong?

TK: Paul did a lot of public speaking in a lot of different settings. Hall of Tyranus. Public proclamation can be done. You need a team of people around you. Kuyper says that all systems of thought take a good thing and make it an ultimate thing and then it never delivers what they hope.

Paul did not preach expositorily in Acts (although I love expository preaching) but he grabbed hold of something and worked it.

JT: Christians in the workplace – how should they think about their vocation. Secret Christian… then the guy who leaves tracts in the bathroom.

TK: Let the Gospel shape the way you work. [this was a much longer answer]

JT: Any books you are working on or you would like to recommend?

MD: Rodney Stark has a new book in November called Cities of God. Historical missiology book. Books on cross, hell, roles, etc with a desire to reach younger crowd.

JP: I am working on Andrew Fuller for Pastor’s Conference. I just read a letter of his to John Thomas – had terrible mood swings and depression. He recounts his own battles. He said, “John Owen saved his life.”

Tell us Justin, about the book you are working on.

JT: Overcoming Sin and Temptation – it will be out in a couple of weeks.

JP closed in prayer.


  1. I have many friends who are in the emerging church movement and I wonder how your two interwiewees can be so sure that this is not a 'work in progress' of the Holy Spirit.

    It is also curious that when asked about "growing" the response is institutions and community. Community - YES, but institutions?

  2. "None of us are going to get stoned tonight."

    I did a wee double take on that one!

    Many thanks for this -- very engaging conversation, and whets the appetite for hearing it in full.

    I wonder if Piper's "Why not ask for 15 minutes to speak of Jesus in the mosque?" is really analogous to Paul in the Areopagus.... Again, it will be interesting to hear the thinking in full.

    David Reimer


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