Book Review: Five Stars for Piper’s Five Points —A Decent Articulation of an Indecent Theology
5 out of 5 stars.
In John Piper’s “Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace,” Piper lays down a clear case for this crazy crazy crazy theology, complete with Piper’s self-assured tone and total blindness to his own domineering presuppositions. In typical John Piper fashion, which I’ve come to simply consider part of his charm, instead of accepting the obvious disastrous implications of his theology, he rather boldly and blinklessly claims the opposite. Any 5 year old can see Piper’s theology makes a mockery of things like evangelism and missions. But Piper, without blushing, claims that his theology reminds him that “evangelism is absolutely essential for people to come to Christ and be saved.”
My college roommate and I shared a principle about debating and lying: If what you’re saying is bullshit, say it with greater boldness and conviction. There’s a great deal of that sort of tone in Piper’s work.
There’s also some great biblical argumentation, and that’s really the strength of the Calvinist perspective. They have a compelling constellation of biblical texts that they line up in such-and-such a way and the whole textual orchestra hums along with a tone of truthiness. First, Romans 9 bangs loudly, then Ephesians 1 adds melody, then drop in a few flourishes from the prophets. “Look how biblical this is,” they say, eyes wide at their hermeneutical creation.
What’s never really discussed, though, is the ordering of their theological orchestra. For instance, why start with one single chapter in one single letter from one apostle? That is, why start in the middle of the Letter to the Romans (Romans 9) and interpret all of scripture through that? Why not start with something like, for instance, the entire Two-Ways Tradition—built on human freedom—that stretches from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, from Moses to Jesus himself (see Deuteronomy 30:19: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live”). Why not interpret Romans 9 and Ephesians 1 through that?
Piper and the Calvinists might be right about starting with Romans 9.
My point is that they never offer a defense of that ordering. They do not question the prioritization of one text over another. That allows them to walk around confident that the Bible clearly says so-and-so when it’s actually their own personalities, values, and biases injected into the text.
I gave Piper’s book 5 stars because he does clearly and effectively communicate his perspective. As an expression of the Five Points, he does well. People who give fewer stars simply because they do not agree with a book are acting like bozos and need to check themselves.
Blessings and tingle-positivity to you and yours.