Friday, January 12, 2007

Piper: God "Kicks Our Ass"

potty mouthAt a breakout session at Passion07, Pastor John Piper used a phrase that some may find inappropriate. Here, Pastor John explains why and his reflections afterwards. Of notable quotability:

I think if I had it to do over, I would not say it. On the one hand, I don't like fanning the flames of those who think it is hip and cool to swear for Jesus. That, it seems to me, is immature. On the other hand, I want those hip people to listen to all I say and write, and I hope that the Lord may get a hold of them and draw them out of immaturity and into the fullness of holiness. But it backfires if one becomes unholy to make people holy.

I like where he is going here. I realize this is a debatable issue, but there do seem to be some biblical evidences for the use of strong language in certain circumstances. It seems like there could indeed be cultural situations where it could be appropriate. The problem though, as Pastor John states here, is crossing the line into becoming "unholy to make people holy." I don't think the pulpit is an appropriate context to drop some language bombs, but are there times and places where strong "non-churchy" vernacular (i.e. cussing) could be culturally permissable - even useful - in relating to folks outside of the Church?

13 comments:

theRoyal said...

wait? Was in the presence of the "mostyl churched"?

if so then inappropriate, i am not sure...but possibly unwarranted, because at that point no one cared what he would of said. All they would be focusing on is the fact that John Piper just said ass...

However, Jason you know me...i am a big proponent of doing what it takes and saying what must be said to get your point across, but not at the cost of who you are. What is worse, are there are some who will read that, and discredit everything he will say thus far. i.e. John Eldridge. But like i said, everyday is Christian Curse day to me. SO that being said...you people who dont agree with me, can kiss my ass...

theRoyal said...

i kid...

truittsomething said...

hi sam. it is good to hear your voice.
love, truitt.

Garret said...

Regardless of whether it's ok for Piper to say what he said, his humility in his apology is refreshing. At a time when many might say "I'm sorry I offended you" without ever acknowledging the act that led to the offense, Piper has the guts to say "I suspect there was too much of the unholy in my heart at that moment."

If only we could all look at the sin in our lives that way.

Allie said...

Jason,

I think swearing can be very funny. I am all about things for humor value. Maybe that means I am @#$%#@$ in the head.

Interesting to note, Paul uses what was considered "swear" words several times in his letters. The word "rubbish" (as in, "I can count it rubbish, etc") is actually the Koine Greek form of "shit". No joke.

Jewz!
No wonder we rule the entertainment industry.

p.s. I think its very interesting that Pipez' reason for swearing is because he wants people to listen to everything he has to say. Hmm. Why is he so concerned? I'd rather just speak the truth even if two little children hear it, and not tailor my message or try to be something I am not, than starting speaking in Jive to a bunch of yuppies.

theRoyal said...

I got alot to say, so strap in bitches...I think the reality is, as I said early is there is a time and place for all things. I agree with the passion of Piper to get his point across, and I would be dumb to question the mans motives. There is no doubt he cares about the soul of man.

As I said before, I am big proponent of saying what must be said and doing what must be done. But you have to know your audience. I think Paul NAILED it when he said it was crucial to be all things to all men...(1Cor9)

I think though this has to line up with the Truth of the Gospel, obviously, because a few books later he nails Paul for some of the exact same things (ga. 2:14)

Never would I ever say anything like that among people who don't know me, but as Jason and Truitt, and Allie I am sure, can attest to, I say it all the damn time <===look I said it again...but I love Jesus. I really do, like a drug addict loves heroin...

I dont really know where i am going with this...again was it wrong? Not at all, it did offend some I am sure...that sucks...but the guy is passionate about lost souls and the truth. I do think however, Garret, it is a bit long of you to assume sin like you do. I think you stand with the others who may of turned off what he had to say bro. Check yourself at the door holmes.

van.diesel said...

Royal & Allie... you guys are like total BFFs. What was Sam's old saying? Ah, yes... "humor supersedes morality."

But seriously...

Allie, re: Paul's use of "rubbish" (i forget the actual Greek) - yes, i've recently read several commentaries (and had a few conversations a la the Truitt) that point to such.

I do agree with what you guys are saying about not becoming someone you are not just to be heard.

Yet, along with that, I have to ask - as Sam references above - where does that leave us withI Corinthians 9:19-23? I do not think that means you sell out who God made you to be so you can swindle some suckers into the Gospel. And obviously Paul is not saying "become a murderer so you can win murderers to Christ" or "become a drunk so you can win alcoholics to Christ."

I would say, though, that those verses do seem to indicate - at least to some degree - that you leave yourself behind to communicate the Gospel to those in need. How far should one go?

Truittyourmom said...

"how far does one go?"
probably so far as saying "God kicks our ass!"

Allie said...

I think the key versus in Jason's sitation are vs. 18-19, where Paul plays on the concepts of slavery and freedom. In vs. 18 he says he "does not make use of his rights when preaching the Gospel." Interesting. Then he throws in a curveball, that though he is "free to everyone", he makes himself a "slave" to win others. Of course these verses are familiar to us. But a careful look suggests something interesting: that Paul is not concerned with Christian liberty when he preaches (ie, swearing like a soccer mom on the beltway), so much as he is concerned with being an effective speaker. When Paul says he becomes a Jew to the Jew, etc. -- he is not being literal. We know from Paul's other writing that he wouldn't encourage a person to go from Christian liberty to the bondage of Jewish law. So if Paul is not being literal, what does he mean when he says "become LIKE a Jew to the Jew"? I don't know for sure, (who does?) but I think he is getting at simply being aware of your audience. This does not mean to literally become your audience. You might drop a Jew joke, make a reference to Jewish culture, throw in some Hebrew to the Hebez if you will. You probably wouldn't say something offensive, like "your mom eats pork." Right? Maybe Paul simply met, in "being like a Jew", he tried to put himself in the Jewish mind-set so he could know just what to say. I also don't think Paul is encouraging us to become all-out entertainers. To me, saying "God kicks our ass" is not wrong, but is it effective? To a bunch of folks that probably know Pipez uses swear words never at his home church? I am not sure what it has to do with the Gospel, even if it is funny to picture John Piper saying "ass." At the end of the day, Paul's urgency is in getting the Gospel message out. It's amazing though, because he doesn't seem to concerned with "being heard" so much as he is concerned about the Gospel. And yes, I believe there's a difference between the two, even if it is slight. I think when our concern is with getting the Gospel out, we'll get it out, and at a certain level, we'll let it speak for itself and stop worrying about our part in the whole thing. If we focus on ourselves, on our credibility with the audience too much, where is the room for the Spirit to work? Yes, there's nothin' wrong with being prepared and knowing your "damn role" (in the words of the wrestler, 'The Rock') but at some point, I think we have to let the chips fall where they may and focus on Christ, Christ's message, whether we sound good or not.

Adam Winters said...

I'm glad to see John Piper is having regrets about that decision. I think the motive to be "edgy" for the sake of edgy itself is ultimately vanity.

van.diesel said...

allie - thanks for the wordz. and thanks for the heads-up about that "your mom eats pork" line. I was about to bust that out at the next 7.24. but for real, you make quite the excellent point in letting the Gospel speak for itself sans self-emphasis. challah fo a dollah, yo.

adam - while i agree with your statement that being edgy for ...edginesses ..es..sess sake is just vanity, i am not convinced this was quite what piper was going for - my opinion.

regardless, i do greatly respect and appreciate that he a.) recognized he made a decision that he felt, for him, was regrettable and b.) addressed it openly. (i think that is also pretty much what garrett was saying above as well.)

Adam Winters said...

Neither do I, but I was commending his clarification that such a mentality of edgyness-esive-isty is unbecoming of Christians. I don't know exactly why he made the spur-of-the-moment decision in question but I greatly respect his concern not to add fuel to the fire of those who try to shock people with harshness of expression rather than the actual truth. John Piper's first instinct is usually the right one, but I think he's even better if he has second thoughts.

That said, I think I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I got a kick out of this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXRqRmFg5Vs&eurl=

van.diesel said...

A-dubbs... right on.

and your video was good.
darn good.