Marc Heinrich at Purgatorio posted this video of John Piper talking about loving Christ more than anything else. No one can argue with the soundness of that teaching. And Piper also admonishes his live audience in the video, who were pastors, to challenge their congregations to the point of them questioning their assurance of salvation. His thinking is surely that for those who are among the unregenerate, this will bring about a recognition of their depravity which in turn leaves them receptive to the irresistible nature of God’s saving grace.
I think John Piper is an amazing teacher and author. And he is one of the important and key spokesmen for Reformed Theology in our day. But there is something in this video, that messes with my understanding of election and the sovereignty of God. At approximately :55 into the video he says that pastors who do not “jostle the assurance” of their congregation wind up sending some to hell. The following are some of the comments I have made at the Purgatorio site concerning the issue.
Let’s stipulate that it is God who ultimately does the sending of souls to hell, so my concern is NOT with the idea that a pastor literally or even figuratively does the sending. Rather, my contention is this: The elect will not be lost! To embrace such a concept to me suggests that God made a mistake (which he cannot do) in choosing the elect before the foundations of the earth. And if the elect can ultimately refuse grace, then God is less than omnipotent. (Consider the “I” in TULIP) Furthermore, if God is dependent on pastors alone to be the sole catalyst for regeneration, then He is something less than sovereign and the Holy Spirit is merely a “companion.” By Piper saying that pastors send to hell suggests this dependency.
I absolutely agree with the point that pastors need to challenge the assurance of their flock from time to time. And certainly a challenge oriented around a discussion of “what do you love more, Christ or football” (or whatever else it is that competes with Christ for our affections) is appropriate. And if someone has “assurance” but does not love Christ, then they MAYBE are going to hell. If they ultimately DO go to hell, then I would suggest that they were not among God’s elect. If that “assured non-Christ lover” IS among the elect, I doubt that God will allow that person to go to hell simply because a pastor failed in his efforts to jostle assurance, or for that matter even if the pastor never tried. Wouldn’t God find some other means to bring about genuine salvation and sanctification?
I know that Piper’s view on the “P” in TULIP is perhaps not as absolute as mine and therein may lie the problem.
What does anyone else think about this?