Christianity Is the Best Explanation

John Piper

Yesterday I said I’d share Mark Noll’s explanation of America’s successes and failures in the matter of race. Here is his summary which penetrates to the bottom of the “both-and” nature of the God-loved, God-cursed world we live in.

To explain the simultaneous manifestation of superlative good and pervasive malevolence in the history of race and religion, neither simple trust in human nature nor simple cynicism about American hypocrisy is adequate.... [Something else... Continue Reading

How the “Fierce Caucasian-Gentile-Visigoths” Flunked

John Piper

Mark Noll attempts a theological explanation of the “conundrum” of America’s successes and failures in regard to race in his book God and Race in American Politics. To set the stage for the explanation he quotes Walker Percy’s book Love in Ruins.

Noll says Percy “got it right”:

What a bad joke: God saying: here it is, the new Eden, and it is yours because you’re the apple of my eye, because you the lordly Westerners, the fierce Caucasian-Gentile-Visigoths,... Continue Reading

How Barack Obama Will Make Christ a Minister of Condemnation

John Piper

At Barack Obama’s request, tomorrow in the Lincoln Memorial, Gene Robinson, the first openly non-celibate homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church, will deliver the invocation for the inauguration kick-off.

This is tragic not mainly because Obama is willing to hold up the legitimacy of homosexual intercourse, but because he is willing to get behind the church endorsement of sexual intercourse between men.

It is one thing to say: Two men may... Continue Reading

Noll Wisely Risks the Un-sensible

John Piper

In his new book, Mark Noll says that “a sensible historian would now end with a summary as follows...” (176). Then he coolly summarizes, in a single paragraph, the historical observations.

I am thankful that Noll was “promoted to move beyond historical interpretation” in the conclusion of his book. He calls it a “Theological Conclusion”—un-sensible, I suppose, for a historian. But wise and helpful as a human being willing to help the rest of us get our bearings.

He sets up... Continue Reading

Joyful, Serious Church Life Together

John Piper

In my thinking about the nature of the church, I am often inspired byDietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by Hitler in 1945. He wrote alittle book called Life Togetherthat described his plan for church community in the agonies of WorldWar II in Germany. John Godsey says that it involved “a kind oftheological education that was startlingly new in Germany: a communallife in which Jesus Christ’s call to discipleship was taken seriously.”That is what we want to do at... Continue Reading

Just When You Die for Them, They Lynch Your Nephew

John Piper

Mark Noll’s new history of God and Race in American Politicsis permeated by the paradoxes of his theme. Nothing in history, it seems is simple. There is always another side. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Just when you think you are seeing virtue, the underbelly of sin exposes itself. Just when you think wickedness has fully triumphed, some upright soul takes a stand. Just when you think the North is worth dying for, it lynches your nephew.

Consider July,... Continue Reading

Agonizingly Both-And: God and Race as the Inauguration Approaches

John Piper

It is fitting as the inauguration of the first African-American president approaches that we highlight some history in a theological context. Remarkably, a newly published book helps us do this. The book is Mark Noll's God and Race in American Politics: A Short History.

Mark and I graduated together from Wheaton in 1968. He was my Resident Assistant during my senior year. I admired him then; I admire him today.

With an eye for concrete... Continue Reading

Jesus and Jazz

Jason Harms

This past summer, God gave the Jason Harms Quintet, the opportunity to spread the Gospel among the people of the Dominican Republic through jazz.

We were invited to play at a club in Santiago. The house band gave us a half-hour before they would take the stage that night. Once all the technical issues were worked out, we had about twenty minutes to play. We started our set and out of nowhere, it seemed, people began to fill the place.

The leader of the house band was so blessed with the... Continue Reading

Franklin and Whitefield as Opposites

John Piper

In the most cynical, unsympathetic, and misleading biography I have ever read, there is a magnificent paragraph about Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield.

The Deist and the Calvinist were best friends. “Franklin became Whitefield’s best American friend and, reciprocally, Whitefield was Franklin’s only evangelical friend” (The Divine Dramatist, 220).

Here is the diamond paragraph:

Here we see the greatest difference separating the religious worlds of Franklin and... Continue Reading

Is Satan Pro-Man?

John Piper

When the choice is between exalting God or exalting man, Satan is pro-man. When the choice is between exalting Satan or exalting man, Satan is pro-Satan. Here are the texts.

1. In Mark 8 Jesus told his disciples he must suffer. Peter rebuked Jesus! Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mark 8:33).

So what Satan was standing up for in the mouth of Peter was “the things of man.” He was very... Continue Reading