Skip to comments.The Rev. John Piper: an interesting look at "heresy vs. schism"
Posted on 01/01/2007 4:23:29 PM PST by sionnsar
As readers will remember, I have a high regard for the sermons of John Piper, senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Thus I found the sermon Watch Out for Those Who Lead You Away From the Truth to be quite interesting, because in it Rev. Piper actually addresses (although I presume because his Biblical text, Romans 16:17-20, demands it) the issue we Anglicans have faced as to whether schism or heresy is worse. This is a paragraph or two from this sermon in which Rev. Piper applies his exegesis of the Scriptural text to this question:
For many thoughtful people today the only path to peaceful relationships in a pluralistic world is the path of no truth that deserves assent from everyone. It seems on the face of it to make sense. If no one claims that what he believes deserves assent from anyone else, then we can live together in peace. Right? So peaceful pluralism and diminished truth claims go hand in hand.Piper then goes on to write a few paragraphs later:
But it doesnt work like that. When there is no truth that deserves assent from everybody, the only arbiter in our competing desires is power. Where truth doesnt define whats right, might makes right. And where might makes right, weak people pay with their lives. When the universal claim of truth disappears, what you get is not peaceful pluralism or loving relationships; what you get is concentration camps and gulags.
In other words, when a person departs from the doctrine that the apostles had taught, Paul sees this as a greater threat to unity than the disunity caused by avoiding such people. If we say: How can that be? How can dividing from a false teacher who rises up in the church promote unity in the church? The answer is that the only unity that counts for unity in the church is rooted in a common apostolic teaching. Isolating false teachersavoiding themis Pauls strategy for preserving unity that is based on true teaching.Bear in mind, Piper is not addressing the Anglican situation specifically (after all, he is a Reformed Baptist)--he is speaking to all Christians who are seeking to uphold the truth of the Gospel in a world that is increasingly antagonistic to that Gospel. But I find this sermon to be worthy of our time, because he does indeed engage our situation--and quite well.
I don't know who "Will" is, but I find it interesting that he cites to a modern Baptist preacher on the subject rather than the Fathers who spoke and wrote time and again on this subject, being regualarly confronted with heresies, and said the exact same thing. Heresy preached by a church is ALWAYS worse than schism and is ALWAYS a reason to break communion.
Ping to a great - and timely - article!
I don't think there's anything wrong with citing good modern ministers (even Baptists, gasp!) who teach what the Fathers taught 1600 years ago. Sometimes a contemporary minister can communicate effectively in such a way which the same ideas by the Fathers will lose people, just due to the style of speech.
Good teachers of all eras are worthy of study and quotation.
(I know though that quoting the Fathers is to the Orthodox what quoting scripture is to Protestants...so we'll agreeably disagree, I'm sure...)
Good call in Piper: "after all, he is a Reformed Baptist..." just as Anglicans are Reformed Catholics, too.
Actually, Piper is a very well known, respected and heavily published evangelical pastor. He's influenced a lot of Baptists (and Presbyterians even....and maybe even, Anglicans!) to get back to their Reformed theological roots.
Oh, I don't see anything wrong at all with quoting the Baptist preacher. The preacher is right. I was just surprised that an Anglican would do that rather than quote one of the Fathers, a surprise likely born of my childhood image that the Episcopalians were "sort of English Orthodox" and as you say, we Orthodox are fond of quoting the Fathers.
Will's blog is generally about citing modern priests (J.C.Ryle being an exception), most frequently their sermons.
"(J.C.Ryle being an exception)"
As patristic, quotable and "orthodox" as +Ryle is, he is absolutely a "modern" to me ('course, until recently, with a few exceptions, I didn't think a decent automobile had been built since 12/7/1941)! :)
LOL -- "modern" as in "living."
" "modern" as in "living.""
Ah, well, yes, that would be a horse of a different color!