the discernment deficit

I just posted an article about the default tolerance of conservative evangelicals, part of their new evangelical heritage. This is a second instance of the same affliction.

John Piper blogs today about the death of a Christian politician in Pakistan. In his article, he says:

This is my small tribute to another Christian killed for Christ’s sake. I read his story with great admiration.

I encourage you to follow the link in Piper’s post. In the article, just before a section that Piper quotes in his article are these words:

Extremists wanted to kill him because of his opposition to the blasphemy law and to Sharia legislation, and because of his work for “the oppressed and marginalised”, the Catholic politician said sombrely into the camera.

Do you catch the religious adjective? The Wikipedia article about the man clearly identifies him as a Roman Catholic.

Now… clearly this is a tragic and senseless death. Poor, bleeding Pakistan. We lament the needless loss of life and the intolerance of radical Muslims. We deplore the use of force in the name of religion.

But our concern is discernment. Here we have a prominent Christian preacher, one who influences thousands. One who is ‘Together for the Gospel’. And yet he misses a key descriptor and calls this tragic death the death of a “Christian killed for Christ’s sake.” Really? A Christian? For Christ’s sake?

Well, maybe he missed it. It is just one word in a lengthy article, after all. But we have noted a long pattern of discernment issues for this man in the past. I would urge those who are heavily influenced by John Piper to be discerning. He tends to demonstrate little discernment himself.


UPDATE: Baptist Press shows the same lack of discernment.


  1. tjp says:


    Perhaps you’re on to a new disorder–Discernment Deficit Disorder (or 3-D). It affects certain religious minds. Its symtoms are . . .


    P.S. I appreciate the last two posts.

  2. Don,

    Piper has a history of this. In his sermon on “How the Spirit Sanctifies” he takes Mother Teresa as an example of biblical sanctification and says,

    “When a young woman living in the security and comfort of middle class Western society moves to Calcutta in obedience to Jesus that is sanctification, and it is not irrelevant. Don’t let the irrelevance of the word mislead you. The reality is immensely important.”

    It is clear that Piper’s view of justification by faith alone is not the biblical or historic Protestant one. Would that count as preaching another gospel or does he get a pass because his books are popular in certain Fundamentalist institutions?

    Rob Bell got rightly lambasted for his heresy this week. I await the same consistency in respect of Piper by the same Bell critics…..

  3. Some will just dismiss you as a crackpot, but I would want an answer to this. Why do these things get said by someone like him? They are not true. Jesus is a Truth-teller. This is not the truth.

  4. Christian Markle says:

    Although I took you to task a bit on your questioning Brother Taylor’s discernment, I will have to agree with you about this sort of thing.

    It may be as simple as a lack of desire to find error — we fundamentalists are trained to find error even to assume it from a small amount of facts. We have one visceral response that causes us to violate some scriptures about biblical judging (before we have all the facts). They have a different visceral error that causes them to not think or explore deeply enough for error before they lend their support.

    NOTE: The Mother Teresa example from Brother Ferguson certainly does not fit the “nice spin” which I gave to in my last paragraph. Piper ought to know better–good works, even extreme good works, does not make one a Spirit-sanctified Christian (Matthew 7:22ff).

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    • A note regarding comments: I require full names in order to post comments. I require real e-mail addresses and some way of verifying identity. I just deleted a comment where the individual refused to supply either. If you wish to comment here, you need to have the courage to fully identify yourself.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. John Piper once wrote, “Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.”

    I trust at least some here have enough discernment to see the irony. I do look forward to MacArthur, Dever et al separating themselves now from Piper for preaching a false gospel of works and betraying the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Else the 2011 conference should be renamed “Together for the False Gospel.”

    Be interesting to also note does Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder deal with Piper as swiftly as they did with Danny Sweatt and Clarence Sexton on their blogs! In this brave new world of Fundamentalism where we are told that personalities and relationships will never triumph over biblical truth, we shall have to wait and see……

  6. Don:
    I rarely comment on blogs, however your post highlights a major problem of conservative evangelicals. The tolerance/acceptance of the “Christian” label for a wide variety of people is symptomatic of a bigger problem: lack of discernment. This problem illustrates itself in a variety of areas: music, dress, Catholicism, recommendation of neo-orthodox writings, etc. I see it all the time in our small town–good churches linking with Catholic churches in common ministry. Over time, this lack of discernment will lead many into more serious error.

  7. Don

    You have exposed another in a line of words and/or actions by John Piper that exemplifies a disconnect from biblical discernment. In light of this latest episode I’m not sure why some would object when it is suggested that Piper is a “New” Evangelical.

    My question is over how this action by Piper will be treated by those in Fundamental circles who desire closer fellowship with the T4G circle, Piper in particular. Will it be tolerated?


  8. d4v34x says:

    My guess is this will be treated as an (puzzling) error on the part of Piper and will not be glossed over.

    Did KTB gloss over the rap issue? No.

    • I am interested in hearing more from KTB and Dave on the Lansdale conference. The report Kevin gave on SI doesn’t sound as positive coming out of the meeting as he did heading into it. Of course, that’s just my take, I could be missing his points altogether.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Dave:

    My guess is this will be treated as an (puzzling) error on the part of Piper and will not be glossed over.

    With his rack record in mind; why is this a “puzzling error?”

    This would take some additional qualification with each of the men, but… If the pattern holds with Bauder and Doran the latest remarks by Piper will be essentially tolerated, allowed for, ignored and/or excused just as his invite of Rick Warren to DG was and Mohler/Duncan signing the Manhattan Declaration. Not to mention Piper’s Charismatic theology.

    On Dever and his affinity for RAP medium I am grateful that (only) Bauder has had something to say about it. In those few paragraphs, however, he said more about RAP with Dever than he has said in his Differences series about serious issues such as (ecumenism) the Manhattan Declaration, Rick Warren at DG, Mahaney/Piper’s Charismatic teaching, etc., combined.


    • Lou, I have been very busy over the last three days and haven’t taken the time to deal with your posts, one way or another. So this afternoon I took a look at them and decided to post just one of the two.

      I mostly want to keep discussion of AtC and its participants out of this thread. I don’t think it is really relevant to Piper. I also want to leave speculation out of it. So…

      As far as treating this circumstance as a puzzling error, I think it will be mostly ignored. Most people won’t even catch it, and if they do, it won’t matter to them. That’s why I point it out here, simply to raise awareness of Piper’s typical lack of discernment

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  10. Don:

    I think it will be mostly ignored. Most people won’t even catch it, and if they do, it won’t matter to them.

    I’m wondering if awareness of, it not mattering and/or ignoring this is itself an indication of discernment in decline.


    • Well, mostly it is a little blip, not much of anything. Not nearly the same as inviting Warren to speak at your meeting. That is, it is the same philosophy, but it isn’t a big noticeable deal.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3