Saturday, July 04, 2009

A gentle (and not so gentle) rebuke to John Piper with regards to Douglas Wilson

John Piper has recently defended Federal Visionist Douglas Wilson as not preaching another Gospel. In light of Wilson's Federal Vision stance in confusing Law and Gospel, this is an amazing statement indeed.

In another development, John Piper has decided to invite Wilson to speak at the Desiring God conference 2009: With Calvin in the Theater of God.

In response to this, R. Scott Clark has issued a gentle rebuke to Piper, with excerpts as follows:

The complementary messages of the the NPP [New Perspective on Paul] and FV [Federal Vision] are corrupting. They are corrupting of the peace of the churches. They are corrupting of the assurance of believers. They are corrupting of the gospel itself. In the case of the NPP, the radical re-definition of “justification” from “forensic declaration by God that a sinner is accepted by God on the sole basis of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and received the faith resting and receiving alone” to a socio-religious boundary marker is nothing if not a corruption. The FV message of temporary, conditional, historical election, union, justification, adoption etc by baptism, their embrace of the Shepherdite definition of faith in the act of justification as consisting of trusting and obeying, their acceptance of Shepherd’s denial of the imputation of the active obedience of Jesus (yes, I know Wilson affirms IAO) and their advocacy of paedocommunion is certainly corrupting of the Reformed faith as confessed by the churches. Some parts of this complex of errors are more dangerous than others. Their doctrine of a temporary, conditional, historical election, union with Christ, and justification etc conferred through baptism and retained by grace and cooperation with grace is certainly a corruption of the gospel as confessed by the Reformation and by the Reformed churches.


In Reformed theology, i.e., in the confessions of the Reformed churches, with respect to the ordo salutis (the application of redemption by the Spirit to the elect), there is no such thing as a temporary, historical, conditional election or union or justification etc conferred by baptism. When the FV folk, who teach this false doctrine of a temporary election etc in the ordo salutis, claim to be Reformed when they teach it, they are liars. Yes, there is such a thing as a temporary election relative to national Israel, in the history of redemption, but that’s a different matter altogether and it is quite unhelpful to conflate the history of redemption with the application of redemption.

In Reformed theology there is only one kind of election relative to salvation and justification. Election is eternal. Election is not conditioned by anything in the elect. Union with Christ is unconditional and gracious. Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. In the Canons of Dort we deny that the elect can fall away. The FV teaches that the “elect” can fall away. These two views are contradictory. It is misleading for John to suggest that the FV is just another version or in any way consistent with confessional Presbyterian or Reformed theology.

The Reformed churches confess that there are two ways of existing in the one covenant of grace. We’ve always confessed that the visible church, the Christ-confessing covenant community is always mixed, it always has within it wheat and tares, it is always populated by elect and hypocrites. We accept the credible profession of faith of members but we do so in light of Paul’s clear teaching that there are always those who have only an “outward” membership in the covenant of grace and not also an “inward” membership (Romans 2:28). Herman Witsius described these two ways on being in the visible church as a ”double mode of communion” in the covenant of grace.

Lastly, a Clarkian (RedBeetle) has decided to tear apart Piper's implicit endorsement of the Federal Vision heresy, as well as the FV confusion of Law and Gospel

It is certainly very regrettable that Pastor John Piper has decided to entangle himself with the Federal Vision heresy. It is hoped that he would heed Scott Clark's rebuke and repent of his compromise, and turn to the Gospel of salvation by faith alone apart from obedience to the Law.


Coram Deo said...


Good pick up on Piper. To me this is troubling because it demonstrates an ongoing pattern of poor discernment which includes his ongoing endorsement of Mark Driscoll.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

In Christ,

Daniel C said...


You're welcome. May God grant Piper repentance for his poor judgment.

Mark Farnon (Tartanarmy) said...

This is troubling. I once contacted Piper a few years ago and expressed some of my concerns way back then, in matters about Law and Gospel.

My concerns fell upon deaf ears, but I did tell him that if some of his views were not made clear, it would result in very bad implications, and I did not want that to happen to his ministry and or legacy.

I hate it when some of my fears become reality.

The Lord used one of his books which really helped me through a dark time spiritually, that book was "The Pleasures of God". Also, his sermon series on Romans was helpful at that time also.


Daniel C said...


indeed it is troubling. I am similarly helped by Piper, and it would be a pity if he is remembered not for the good he does but the blunders and mistakes he made.

Unknown said...

Coram Deo nicely summarized my views on this matter. Piper is demonstrating a series of poor decisions, and it grieves me. I am thankful for your uncompromising stance on the truth, Daniel.

Daniel C said...


you're welcome. Piper is indeed making very poor judgments here.

Beng said...

Wow. You don't say.

I've just started listening to his series on signs and wonders (he's a continuationist, and I just wanted to see what the alternative viewpoint was...) and the names he drops sounds like a who's who of the emergent movement (and this was way back in 1990) - Peter Wagner, John Wimber...

Poor judgement indeed...

Daniel C said...


You mean New Apostolic movement? Hehee....