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John Piper (theologian)

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John Piper (theologian)

John S. Piper
Born (1946-01-11) January 11, 1946
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
Education Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary, University of Munich
Occupation Pastor, author
Notable work Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, Don't Waste Your Life, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (co-editor)
Spouse(s) Noël Piper (m. 1968)
Theological work
Era Late 20th and early 21st centuries
Tradition or movement Evangelical, Reformed Baptist, New Calvinism
Notable ideas Christian Hedonism

John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is founder and teacher of .orgdesiringgod and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a Calvinist Baptist preacher and author[1] who served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years.[2] His books include ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins,[3] What Jesus Demands from the World,[4] Pierced by the Word,[5] and God's Passion for His Glory,[6] and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life[7] and The Passion of Jesus Christ.[8] The evangelical organization Desiring God is named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986).


  • Biography 1
    • Ministry 1.1
  • Theological views 2
    • Christian hedonism 2.1
    • Gender roles 2.2
    • Calvinism 2.3
    • Spiritual gifts 2.4
    • Eschatology 2.5
    • Law and covenant 2.6
  • Books 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Piper was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper. His father was a traveling evangelist and church planter. When he and his older sister were still young, the Pipers moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the remainder of his youth and graduated from Wade Hampton High School.

He married Noël Henry in 1968, and together they have four sons, a daughter, and twelve grandchildren.[9]

Piper attended Wheaton College (1964–68) majoring in literature and minoring in philosophy. Studying Romantic Literature with Clyde Kilby stimulated his poetic side,[10] and today he regularly composes poetry to celebrate special family occasions as well as annually composing story-poems (based on the life of biblical characters) for his congregation during the four weeks of Advent.[11]

In college he originally subscribed in the Pre-med program, only to decide to go into ministry during a bout of sickness. He also completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.[12] While at Fuller, he took several courses from Daniel Fuller and through him discovered the writings of Jonathan Edwards.[13] Along with C.S. Lewis,[14] Edwards[15] and Fuller[16] are all noted influences in Piper's life and ministry.

Piper did his doctoral work in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, Germany (1971–74) under Leonhard Goppelt. His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel University and Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for six years (1974–80).[17]

His mother died in December 1974 in a bus wreck in Israel.[18] Piper's 1990 booklet What's the Difference? included a tribute to her.

On January 11, 2006, Piper announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to a letter sent to his church,[19] he and his doctors believed that the cancer was fully treatable. Piper responded to his diagnosis with the following:

"This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet." Piper underwent successful surgery on February 14, 2006.[20]

His father died on March 6, 2007.[21]


In 1980, Piper became Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he ministered until March 31, 2013. Piper hit the evangelical scene after the publication of his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986) and has continued to publish dozens of other books further articulating this theological perspective. In 1994, he founded Desiring God Ministries, with the aim of "spread[ing] a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ."[22] Desiring God Ministries offers all of Piper's sermons and articles from the past three decades—and most of his books—online free of charge, while also offering Piper-related media for sale, and regularly hosting conferences.

Piper took an eight-month leave of absence from his ministry from May 1, 2010 to January 9, 2011.[23][24][25]

He announced in June 2011 that he would soon step down from his role of pastor. A candidate to succeed him was announced in March 2012,[1] and on May 20, 2012 Jason Meyer was voted in (784 Yes to 8 No) to be the next Pastor for Preaching & Vision, replacing John Piper.

On March 31, 2013 (Easter Sunday), Piper preached his final sermon as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist[2] and announced in an open letter to the congregation that he and his family would be moving to Tennessee for at least a year so that the new leadership can develop a strategic vision for the church without distractions.[26]

In 2010, a Festschrift was published in his honor. For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper included contributions from Don Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, G. K. Beale, Thomas R. Schreiner, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, C. J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, and Bill Mounce.

Theological views

John Piper, October 2012

Christian hedonism

Piper advocates Christian hedonism and teaches that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"[27] and that God's highest pursuit ("his glory") and man's deepest and most durable happiness come together in one pursuit—namely, the pursuit of joy in God.

Gender roles

Piper holds to a complementarian view of gender roles.[28] This view says that the Bible teaches that a husband is called to lovingly lead, protect and provide for his wife and family, and that the wife should joyfully and intelligently affirm and submit to her husband's leadership. He also says that the Bible teaches that men are to bear the primary responsibility to lead the church and that therefore only men should be elders.[29] Piper along with Wayne Grudem was co-editor of one of the books in this area, called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. One of the chapters has been reprinted several times as an independent short book called What's the Difference?.[30]


Piper's soteriology is Calvinist,[31] and his ecclesiology is Baptist.[32] He affirms the distinctively Calvinist doctrine of double predestination, which includes "unconditional reprobation" or damnation as a corollary to the Augustinian doctrine of unconditional election, and he subscribes to the Leibnizian view that God decreed this universe to be the best of all possible universes.[33]

Piper believes in justification by faith alone apart from any works,[34] and his teachings emphasize the need for the active and inevitable perseverance of the believer in faith, sanctification, and enduring sufferings, which he believes is evidence of God's saving grace. According to Piper, a once-professing Christian who does not faithfully persevere until the end demonstrates that he was mistaken about his election and was never a true believer in the first place.[35][36]

Spiritual gifts

Regarding spiritual gifts, Piper is a continuationist.[37] That is, he believes that supernatural gifts such as prophecy, miracles, healings, and speaking in tongues have not ceased and should be sought by the church,[38] in particular with regard to missions and evangelism. He does believe, however, that the office of apostle has ceased[39] and that the gift of prophecy in the church is not the same as the inspiration of scripture.[40] While he believes that God's supernatural revelation in the N.T. gift of prophecy is without error, he says that today, outside the Biblically recorded Word of God, the prophet's perception, understanding and delivery of that revelation is imperfect and fallible,[41] thus modern prophecies within the church are subject to sifting.[42]


Piper describes himself as an "optimistic premillennialist"[43] and holds a post-tribulation view of the second coming of Jesus, which teaches that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation.[44][45] Because of this belief, he maintains that Romans 11 teaches that a mass in-gathering of ethnic Israel will be saved when the hardening of their hearts is removed at Jesus' second coming.[46] He therefore advocates the importance of hoping in the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return.[47]

Law and covenant

Piper does not don any of the typical hermeneutical frameworks, but claims he is furthest from dispensationalism, and closest to Covenant Theology, or a New Covenant Theology in matters of the Law and covenants, but agrees with the dispensationalist belief that there will be a millennium.[48] He says that the Law was meant by God to reveal sin and show man's inability to live up to God's righteous standards.[49] Christians, living under the New Covenant, are not under the Old Covenant law but able to fulfill its intent through faith in Jesus Christ.[50][51]

Piper teaches that God has only one covenant people, mostly believing Jews in the Old Testament, and now that people consists of all the followers of Christ, or the Church, whether Jew or Gentile.[52] Piper asserts that Israel has rights from God to dwell in that land, but not because they are merely Jewish, and Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah have no divine right of claim on those promises. Piper also believes that all Christians, Jew or Gentile, will inherit the earth, including the land of Israel, when Christ sets up the Millennial Kingdom in the Second Coming. [53]


  • Love Your Enemies: Jesus' Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis (Cambridge University Press, 1980; Baker, 1991).
  • The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1–23 (Baker, 1983; 2nd ed. 1993).
  • Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah, 1986; 2nd ed, 1996; 3rd ed, 2003; 4th ed [25th Anniversary], 2011).
  • The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Baker, 1990, 2nd ed, 2003).
  • The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 1991; Expanded edition, 2000).
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Co-editor) (Crossway, 1991).
  • Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker, 1993, 2nd Edition 2003).
  • Future Grace: The Purifying Power of Living By Faith In Future Grace (Multnomah, 1995).
  • A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Crossway, 1997).
  • A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1997).
  • God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 1998).
  • The Innkeeper (Crossway, 1998).
  • A Godward Life, Book Two: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1999).
  • The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Crossway, 2000).
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2001).
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2001, 2nd edition, 2004).
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight: Daring to Make God the Object of Your Desire (Multnomah, 2001).
  • What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Crossway, 2001, reprint 2008).
  • The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God (Crossway, 2002).
  • Brothers, We Are not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002).
  • The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2002).
  • Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? (Crossway, 2002). Several chapters are available online for free.
  • Beyond the Bounds (co-editor) (Crossway, 2003).
  • Don't Waste Your Life (Crossway, 2003).
  • Pierced By the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul (Multnomah, 2003).
  • The Prodigal's Sister (Crossway, 2003).
  • The Passion of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2004). Also released under title 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
  • When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Crossway, 2004).
  • Life As a Vapor (Multnomah, 2004).
  • A God Entranced Vision of All Things (Co-editor; Crossway, 2004).
  • Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2005).
  • Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 2005).
  • God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself (Crossway, 2005).
  • Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen (Crossway, 2006).
  • Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Crossway, 2006).
  • Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2006).
  • What Jesus Demands from the World (Crossway, 2006).
  • When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy (Crossway, 2007)
  • Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2007).
  • The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World (co-editor w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2007)
  • Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure (Multnomah, 2007)
  • The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright (Crossway 2007).
  • Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Crossway, 2008).
  • John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God (Crossway, 2008).
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2008).
  • Finally Alive (Christian Focus, 2009).
  • This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Crossway, 2009)
  • Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (Crossway, 2009).
  • A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway 2010).
  • Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to be Saved? (Baker, 2010).
  • Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Crossway, 2010).
  • The Gadarene (Desiring God, 2010)
  • The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor (Crossway, 2011).
  • Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian (Crossway, 2011).
The complete text of most of Piper's books can be accessed free of charge at Desiring God.[54]


  1. ^ a b Murashko, Alex (March 30, 2012). "John Piper Preparing to Step Down from Pastorate". Christian Post (Singapore). Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Blair, Leonardo (March 21, 2013). "John Piper to Leave Bethlehem Church for a Year in May". Christian Post (Singapore). Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ "2009 Christian Book Awards Winners".  
  4. ^ "2007 Christian Book Awards Winners".  
  5. ^ "2004 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners".  
  6. ^ "1999 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners".  
  7. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, August 2007".  
  8. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, June 2004".  
  9. ^ "Biography of John Piper". Desiring God. 
  10. ^ Piper, John (2011). The Pastor as Scholar. Wheaton: Crossway. pp. 30–34.  
  11. ^ "Poems by Topic". Desiring God Christian Resource Library. 
  12. ^ "Biography of John Piper". desiringGod. Retrieved November 2, 2012. Following college he completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1968–71). 
  13. ^ Piper, John (2011). The Pastor as Scholar & the Scholar as Pastor. Wheaton: Crossway. pp. 39–40.  
  14. ^ Piper, John (3 May 2013), "How Has C.S. Lewis Influenced You", Ask Pastor John 
  15. ^ Piper, John (1998), "Preface", God's Passion for His Glory, Wheaton: Crossway, p. xi 
  16. ^ Piper, John (31 October 2007), "Praise God for Fundamentalists", desiringGod 
  17. ^ Piper, John. The Pastor as Scholar. Wheaton: Crossway. p. 41.  
  18. ^ John Piper's Candidating Testimony, January 27, 1980
  19. ^ Piper, John (January 6, 2006). "John Piper Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer". Desiring God. Archived from the original on January 10, 2006. 
  20. ^ Piper, John (February 3, 2007). "Cancer Update". Desiring God Blog. 
  21. ^ Piper, John (March 28, 2007). "Things I Have Learned". Desiring God Blog. 
  22. ^ "Distinctives - Mission". Desiring God. 
  23. ^ Piper, John (March 28, 2010). "John Piper's Upcoming Leave". Retrieved April 2, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Evangelist John Piper Takes Personal Leave".  
  25. ^ Vu, Michelle (January 9, 2011). "John Piper Returns to Pulpit after 8 Month Leave". The Christian Post. Retrieved December 8, 2011. 
  26. ^ open letter
  27. ^ We Want You to Be a Christian Hedonist!
  28. ^ Recovering: Chapter 2
  29. ^ For a brief overview of the complementarian position see A Vision of Biblical Complementarity and Fifty Crucial Questions.
  30. ^ "A Vision of Biblical Complementarity". The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
  31. ^ What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism
  32. ^ I Baptize You with Water: The Baptism of John
  33. ^ What does Piper mean when he says he's a seven-point Calvinist?
  34. ^ Does James Contradict Paul?
  35. ^ Oplympic Spirituality, Part 1
  36. ^ Letter to a Friend Concerning the So-Called "Lordship Salvation"
  37. ^ Are Signs and Wonders for Today?
  38. ^ Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God, Panel Discussion
  39. ^ "Jesus chose Twelve Apostles for a unique, unrepeatable role in the history of redemption... there seem to be also another group (or groups) of men called and authorized by Jesus in the New Testament, some of whom are on a par with the Twelve in their teaching authority. Paul certainly believed that his call and commission by the risen Christ put him on a par with the Twelve in his teaching role..." Were Apostles Unique and Unrepeatable Messengers of Christ?
  40. ^ "But the spiritual gift of prophecy is different from the inspiration of Scripture." Why the Gift of Prophecy Is Not the Usual Way of Knowing God's Will
  41. ^ "God reveals something to the mind of the prophet (in some way beyond ordinary sense perception), and since God never makes a mistake, we know that his revelation is true. It has no error in it. But the gift of prophecy does not guarantee the infallible transmission of that revelation. The prophet may perceive the revelation imperfectly, he may understand it imperfectly, and he may deliver it imperfectly."The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy
  42. ^ "We need a third category for the "spiritual gift of prophecy"—Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained, revelation-rooted, but mixed with human imperfection and fallibility and therefore in need of sifting."The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy
  43. ^ John Piper (October 19, 2008). "Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ's Afflictions". Desiring God Ministries. 
  44. ^ Definitions and Observations Concerning the Second Coming of Christ :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  45. ^ What Must Happen Before the Day of the Lord? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  46. ^ Did Israel Stumble in Order That They Might Fall? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  47. ^ What Happens When You Die? The Dead Will Be Raised Imperishable :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  48. ^ What does John Piper believe about dispensationalism, covenant theology, and new covenant theology?
  49. ^ Why Then the Law?
  50. ^ What Does It Mean to Fulfill the Law in Romans 8:3–4 (sermon), Desiring God .
  51. ^ Hagar and Slavery Vs. Sarah and Freedom (sermon), Desiring God .
  52. ^ Israel and Us Reconciled in One Body (sermon), Desiring God .
  53. ^ Israel, Palestine and the Middle East (sermon), Desiring God .
  54. ^ Books by John Piper

External links

  • Desiring God – 27 years of sermons for free (manuscript, audio, and video), plus articles, books, and more
  • Desiring God Blog – where updates on new sermons, articles, and blogposts may be found
  • John Piper: God's Glory His Passion, by Tim Ellsworth (Southern Seminary Magazine)
  • Desiring God Radio – Piper's official radio broadcast
  • Henry Center for Theological Understanding - Sermons and talks at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
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