on so much for my quote game

Last week, I posted a list of quotations in hopes of getting some unbiased responses from some whom I know to be readers of John Piper. I wanted to get a comparison of Piper’s teaching with the quotes offered. My reason was that I see some strong similarities between some of these quotes and Piper’s approach. I wondered if someone else who is more familiar with Piper could tell me if I were right or wrong. Alas, no one chose to enlighten me — perhaps they thought I was baiting them, perhaps they weren’t interested, perhaps my estimation of my readership is greatly exaggerated (and I think that I have only a few readers!). In any case, a couple of people have asked who the quotes were from, so I will offer the answers here.

All of the quotes come second hand via a book by Elmer Towns, Understanding the Deeper Life. Towns is trying to systematize various types of teaching regarding Christian Experience. In the section from which I am getting these quotes, Towns is discussing what he calls the ‘deeper life experience’. He sub-categorizes this view as ‘Christological deeper-life’, ‘Holy Spirit deeper-life’, and ‘soteriological deeper-life’. He offers two quotations illustrating each sub-category:

Christological deeper-life

QUOTE ONE

On the contrary, the life that God has given us is the life of His son. All whom He has called He has also justified, and all whom He has justified He counts as already glorified. God never begins anything that He does not bring to an end. The world may start that which it cannot finish, but God says: “He that hath begun a good work in you, will keep on perfecting it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1.6, Gk.). Here are all three of the great doctrines of God’s work within us. He which hath begun a good work in you — that is justification — will keep on perfecting it — that is sanctification — until the day of Jesus Christ — that is glorification. There is no change in God, and there will be no change in His work in us.

This one is Donald Grey Barnhouse, Life by the Son: Practical Lessons in Experimental Holiness (Philadelphia: Revelation Publications American Bible Conference Association, 1939), 33. quoted in Towns, p. 23.

QUOTE TWO

The apostle Paul gives us his own definition of the Christian life in Galatians 2:20. It is no longer “I, but Christ.” Here he is not stating something special or peculiar — a high level of Christianity. He is, we believe, presenting God’s normal role for a Christian, which can be summarized in the words: l live no longer, but Christ lives His life in me.God makes it quite clear in His Word that He has only one answer to every human need — His Son, Jesus Christ. In all His dealings with us He works by taking us out of the way and substituting Christ in our place. The Son of God died instead of us for our forgiveness: He lives instead of us for our deliverance. … It will help us greatly, and save us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this fact, that God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only, namely, by showing us more of His son.

This one is Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, Penn.: Christian Literature Crusade, 1973), 9. quoted in Towns, p. 23.

Holy Spirit deeper-life

QUOTE THREE

I want here boldly to assert that it is my happy belief that every Christian can have a copious outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a measure far beyond that received at conversion, and I might also say, far beyond that enjoyed by the rank and file of orthodox believers today. It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed faith is impossible, God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled.

This one is from A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest (Harrisburg, Penn.: Christian Publications, 1950) 121, 122. quoted in Towns, p. 24.

QUOTE FOUR

The fullness of power is the heritage of every Christian! It may be an unclaimed heritage, but the power of God which enables a Christian to witness for Christ and win souls is the right of every Christian. Not to be filled with the Holy Spirit, not to be endued with power from on high, is to miss the highest good, and fail to claim the Highest blessing, offered to every child of God. … That the power of Pentecost is for every Christian is made clear; first, by the promises which are to all alike; second, by the New Testament examples; third, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Christian makes the enduement for service logical for every Christian; fourth, by the fact that the soulwinning task demands supernatural power; and, fifth, because the Word of God clearly commands Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This one is from John R. Rice, The Power of Pentecost or the Fullness of the Spirit (Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1976), 277, 278. quoted in Towns, pp. 24-25.

Soteriological deeper-life

QUOTE FIVE

‘I have been crucified with Christ,’ says Paul. What does this mean? In principle, it means that my right to myself is annihilated, as His concern and love for others is expressed through me. Identification, that’s the first thing. Not simply to die to myself, but to live in Him. Bless your hearts, evangelism isn’t a ‘project’, it’s a way of life! ‘Feed My sheep. Identify yourself with My interests in other people,’ says Jesus. Oh, to be so satisfied, identified with Jesus that my life is spoiled for everything but His will! Am I more concerned with my right to live, than with my daily dying to Him? Which are you more concerned about? Paul says, ‘I die daily’ — do you? Do I? Is that my major passion?

This one is from Alan Redpath, “The Price of Christian Service,” The People and the King, ed. David Porter (Kent, England: STL Books, 1980), 154. quoted in Towns, p. 25.

QUOTE SIX

It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is come to the decision which Paul forces here. … I cannot reckon myself “dead indeed unto sin” unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God. Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood?

This one is from D. W. Lambert, Oswald Chambers An Unbribed Soul (London: Marshall, Morgan Ea Scott, 1972), 62. quoted in Towns, p. 26.

Now, I don’t have an axe to grind against the deeper-Christian life movement (although I do tend to mock its extremes). There are some flaws to Keswick thinking, but some valuable teaching is produced by the Keswick movement in some of its forms, especially the more early forms. Many good men were involved in its initial efforts and their lives and work are nothing to sneer at.

My interest in the comparison with Piper is my thesis that Piper is promoting a neo-Keswickian experience oriented theology in his whole ‘Desiring God’ mantra. It seems to me that many who follow Piper are quite critical of Keswickian teaching, but at the same time are pursuing almost the same experience orientation they decry in others [albeit with somewhat different terminology]. I suppose I might be forced to read more Piper myself (Lord, would you require so much??) in order to prove or disprove my thesis.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Comments

  1. Jerry Bouey says:

    Nee’s bad news – he is so experiental, that he seems to base his theology on his experience. In some of his books (only read or skimmed through a few), he actually contradicts the Bible in favour of his experience.

    Tozer bugs me – he seems to be so borderline on mysticism that I am never comfortable reading his stuff.

    The Rice quote was the one I appreciated – he has a very balanced approach.

    I am not that familiar with Barnhouse. He seems to be Calvinistic.

    I do not know the last two authors either – but their quotes don’t sit well with me. Lambert’s quote actually contradicts the Bible in favour of his experience (ie. he contradicts it because he hasn’t experienced it yet):

    I cannot reckon myself “dead indeed unto sin” unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God.

    We are to reckon ourselves dead unto sin – ie. believe it even before we experience – not hold off believing it until we’ve experienced it.

  2. Kent Brandenburg says:

    Bro. Don,

    I’ve read one Piper book. I liked most of what it said (besides the use of another version)—it was on the Passion of Christ, put out around the time of Mel Gibson’s film. However, I thought much more was needed in the way of differentiating true doctrine from the false doctrine of Gibson. He was using the hype of Gibson to market his book, the cover even looking like the Gibson promotional material, without saying anything bad about what Gibson believed or was portraying. People needed something to expose the wrong view of the passion—he was all positive all the time—very much like a new-evangelical.

    Regarding your quotes, people don’t want to judge Piper. They want to bask in his glow. They do want to tar and feather anyone with high standards (the old fundamentalist standards) of personal separation.

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