Monday, October 16, 2017
Desiring "God" Continues The Error of John Piper's Works-Salvation
Piper’s focus, as one can tell from the title, is what he calls “future grace.” The phrases “future grace” and “faith in future grace” appear hundreds, if not thousands, of times in the book. It is a clever propaganda device that has been used many times: Repeat a phase so often that the reader cannot get it out of his mind. But what does Piper mean by the phrase? In fact, what does he mean by “faith”? The answers are revealing. Here are his own words: “....the focus of my trust is what God promised to do for me in the future” (6).
This may not be the central error of Piper’s book, but it comes close. The focus of saving faith is not what God has promised to do for us in the future, but what God has already done for us in Christ. Christians preach and trust only Christ crucified, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Christ crucified is the sole focus of Biblical, saving, faith; it is the focus of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, by which we remember the Lord’s death; and it is the focus of worship in Heaven (see Revelation 5), with endless future ages before it. Piper wants to change that focus, from Christ crucified to something else. In attempting to change the focus of our faith, he avoids discussing, although he grudgingly admits, that all the benefits Christians receive from God are because of what Christ has already done on their behalf and in their place.(11) Piper’s admission is grudging, for he wants to argue that our future happiness, benefits, and final salvation depend upon our meeting conditions that God has established for receiving those blessings. In Piper’s Plan of Salvation, despite what Christ said on the cross, “It is not finished.” The be-liever must complete the work of salvation that Christ began. Future grace is conditional, and it is we, not Christ, who must meet those conditions.
Because Piper’s focus is on benefits we may receive in the future, this long and repetitive book omits any discussion of the Satisfaction by Christ of the justice of the Father (although Piper has a great deal to say about our being satisfied); it fails to discuss either Christ’s active or passive obedience; it omits any serious discussion of the imputation of sin and righteousness (imputation is mentioned in passing); it omits any discussion of the law of God; it omits discussion of the covenant of works; it fails to mention Adam and Christ as our legal representatives; and it depreciates the law and justice of God.
End quote. (bold, my emphasis) Robbins goes on to show Piper's penchant for Post-Modernism's slight-of-hand with words. Just as he did with "hedonism" by trying to change it's definition by marrying it to "Christian"--he also also redefines "lostness" as "not merely rebellion against God's authority, but blindness to His beauty", so he does with "works" (notice his similarity with Romanist theology of "congruent merit"--this isn't the only time Piper shows a Romanist influence on his thinking (no doubt in part thanks to his hero C.S. Lewis):
Piper tells us that future grace is conditional grace, but meeting these conditions is not meritorious: “It is possible to meet a condition for receiving grace and yet not earn the grace. Conditional grace does not mean earned grace” (79). Those acquainted with Romanist theology may recognize here in Piper’s conditions something akin to the Romanist doctrine of congruent merit. Meeting conditions is not an example of condign merit-that is, Real Merit, but it is an example of congruent “merit,” a “merit” that is not really merit.
How does Piper try to evade the charge of teaching salvation by works? Simple: He redefines works. “The term ‘works,’ “ he asseverates, “refers to the warfare of righteousness unempowered by faith....in future grace” (220). So, by definition, a person who has “faith in future grace” cannot do any works. His efforts, his labors, his doings are not works, because they are “empowered by faith in future grace,” and therefore his salvation is not and cannot be conditioned on works, but on the “obedience of faith.” Theology is a word game for the Neolegalists.