Monday, August 8, 2011

The Piper-Warren Conclave, Part 1

Our next 2-3 entries will have some commentary on an interview here between Rick Warren and John Piper. Readers may be aware that I am not particularly impressed with either of these men as teachers, and the first 34 minutes of this interview (which is as much as I can stand to listen to online at one time for anything) didn't do much to raise them in my eyes. Warren still sees God in too personal terms (though not as badly as for example, Joyce Meyer!) and Piper is still lacking the anthropological insight to know that Calvinism doesn't cohere with the Scriptures.

What has happened here though is that Piper came away from a reading of Purpose-Driven Life impressed by selected statements about the sovereignty of God within, such that he says he doesn't understand the problems people have with it. Well, perhaps I can see why: Piper's own view of God is a bit too personal as well; or at least, it's far enough away from what an agonistic person of the Biblical world would have conceived that it is still uncomfortable. In that respect it is ironic that one point made is that Warren does not trivialize the glory of God by making God too personal -- and yet that is indeed what he does; Piper just doesn't have his own anthropology properly adjusted either.

How personal, though? Warren states that it brings glory to God for him to play with grandchildren. Really? I rather doubt that. Understood in terms of Biblical concepts of honor, our human play wouldn't do any such thing; it doesn't hurt God's glory either, of course, but to suggest that it somehow adds to God's glory (honor) is itself quite trivializing -- perhaps even insulting. That's obviously not to say, "don't play with your grandchildren, don't laugh," etc. It's just to say, don't gratuitously add sanctification into occasions where it doesn't exist.

One other disturbing point is where Warren says that his hermeneutic does not require him reconciling apparent problems in the Biblical text. Faced with tension, he says, he just believes both. A comment like this would be made worse if Warren had not in the past managed to give apologetics some exposure; but it is bad enough that he says such things as a teacher whose mouth is fixed to so many people's ears.

Part 2, and the next 30 or so minutes evaluated, on Wednesday.


  1. Hi. This may be a little bit out of topic...

    I've being trying to grasp these concepts you bring about often, such as "agonistic" and "collectivism." I think I have been able to wrap my head around "collectivism," but I'm having a hard time to "get" what "agonism" entails. The longest treatment I've been able to find was in Wikipedia (yuck), and to be honest it wasn't really that helpful for me. Maybe I'm too thick headed.

    Is there any article or book you can recommend to learn about agonism (and, why not, collectivism) in the ANE?

  2. Yes, a good place to start is deSilva's Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity. After that Malina's New Testament World and Pilch and Malina's Portraits of Paul.