An Invitation from John Piper
With Calvin in the Theater of God
If you have just stopped by the website or come often, I am writing this to tell you why I am excited about the Desiring God National Conference, September 25–27, 2009, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I thought my excitement might rub off on you.
So why do I think ordinary Christians should consider coming to the Desiring God National Conference? I can give my answer in five words: Kim, Wilson, Olasky, Talbot, and Storms. They are the reason I want to be there.
Whenever students ask me how to choose a school or how to choose classes, I almost always answer the same: Don’t choose locations, campuses, buildings, libraries, or even courses; choose teachers. That is the way I think about conferences. Don’t choose topics; choose speakers.
The reason is that a deeply wise man will give useful, enduring, Christ-exalting wisdom for life, no matter what topic he is assigned. That is why I am eager to sit under the wisdom of these five speakers.
First, Julius Kim has a passion for sustaining pastoral excellence among Korean-American pastors. As part of his duties at Westminster Seminary, California, he heads the Center for Pastoral Refreshment. In view of that passion and others, I want to know why he cares about John Calvin. Is Calvin relevant to that calling? To mine?
Second, I want to hear someone who really believes the Bible talks to me about how Calvin’s allegiance to Scripture shaped the Western World—maybe all the world. When we agree and when we don’t, I admire Doug Wilson’s unashamed embrace of all that the Bible teaches. He thinks in big globe-embracing categories. I am always hungry for messages that grab me by the collar and lift me high enough to see the greatness of God’s purposes in the world.
Third, I really want to hear Marvin Olasky. He is the editor of WORLD Magazine. His pilgrimage is seriously fascinating: Jewish, atheist, communist, Christian, watcher of the world. What is the meaning of Calvin’s vision of God and life for Olasky’s public world—and ours? I want to know: How can a Christian function in public life today? One of the things I love about Olasky is how informed he is with the earthiness of history. When I read his pieces in WORLD, I generally come away captivated and helped by how much “the way it was” sheds light on “the way it is.”
Fourth, just watching the Desiring God videos of Mark Talbot awakens my affections for this man. He has the marks of seasoned maturity and grace about him. No one I know talks about the broken world—of Calvin’s world and ours—with more insight and authenticity than Mark Talbot. He has suffered more than most of us. It has not embittered him. It has opened his eyes to see things we need.
Fifth, of all the speakers, I know Sam Storms best. We have been friends a long time. Frankly, I just like hanging out with him. There is a topic I would entrust to only a few people: “Calvin on the Joy of the Last Resurrection.” Sam knows how to strike the note of joy. And he knows how to soar toward the glory of God in the future without losing his footing on the earth. It is not possible to be too heavenly minded. It is only possible to be wrongly heavenly minded. I want Sam’s guidance and inspiration on this.
John Piper will be speaking on “Calvin and the Supremacy of Christ in All Things.” He is really excited about his topic. But I have heard him speak so many times that I am thrilled there are some others to listen to!
Ask the Lord if he might want you to be here at the conference to hear these voices, and to praise the majesty of God in Christ, and to sink your roots deeper into biblical truth, and to get fresh perspective on how to live for Jesus in a broken, sinful, and brilliant world—the theater of God, radiant with his glory.
I hope you will come,