Monday, November 07, 2011

John Piper: A Recovering Racist Changed By The Gospel

Photo Credit: Micah_68
Dr. John Piper is a renowned pastor, author and speaker that is considered by many to be among the country's top Christian leaders. But in a newly released book, Piper confesses to the racism that infiltrated his heart while growing up in a segregated South in the midst of the American Civil Rights movement.

In Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian, tackles a topic head-on that few of his peers in conservative, evangelical circles are willing to address -- racism. Piper adeptly uses the Holy Scriptures to argue that not only is the Christian God opposed to the racism that has so tainted our land but that He cares deeply for people of all cultures.  By courageously sharing his own journey on this road, Piper demonstrates that the gospel of Jesus can transform hearts in deep and undeniable ways.

While I am quite supportive of this book and would encourage you to read it, I do have one glaring concern with the potential for how it is being received within certain corners of evangelical and, more particularly, Reformed Christian circles...

On one hand, I am unbelievably encouraged that a white Christian leader of Piper's stature has chosen to write so explicitly about a topic that so many of us white American Christians would wish to simply go away. On the other hand, I am troubled that a number of people seem to be promoting this book as the first effort that a Christian has ever made to address Christianity, the Bible and racism.

Though Piper's work is theologically rich and plentifully backed up by Scripture, his is not the first to do so.  There are a number of solid Christian leaders that have written on the same subject over the years but have essentially been ignored or dismissed by some of the same types of people that are champions of Piper's book because they don't subscribe to the same systems of theology or have a different cultural background.

I am excited about the potential that Bloodlines has to influence a generation of Christians that love John Piper but don't expose themselves to many writers of color or those outside of their narrowly defined theological bubbles.  These individuals may be led to consider issues that they never have before and for that I am grateful. Racism has affected our lives as American and as individuals in ways that few other sins have.

Brave Christians need to be willing to look within our own hearts to recognize the sin that lurks within and be obedient to God to address this first in ourselves and then in the society around us. I agree with Piper that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the antidote to the disease of racism. It's just unfortunate that so many Christians feel like we're not infected.

To read Dr. Tim Keller's introduction to Bloodlines please click here.

For a moving video in which John Piper shares about his journey with racism please watch this video below.

Bloodlines Documentary with John Piper from Crossway on Vimeo.


Unknown said...

Wow, I have go to read this book. I agree Scott,I remember this summer watching CSU and that staff lady was on stage addressing the racism in her heart when she realized that she thought of a black girl doing really well in science as abnormal. That stuck with me bc she caught on to the subliminal message that her heart and mind speaks to her everyday. I myself have started realizing the prejudices of my own heart esp working at a jail. I kinda categorize criminals by race and Im realizing all races commit the same crimes. But its crazy how when I see a DWI or a possession of PG (crack) I think white. If possession of Marijauana I think black or hispanic. speeding I think young. And so on and so forth. Anyway your right, too many of us are overlooking something that plays a big part in the way we see the world and do ministry.

scottmcrocker said...

Good insights, Tyshan.

Ugena Moses said...

I agree with Tyshan's comments above. Thank you so much for posting this about John Piper. I'm sure that this book (or even hearing about this book) will challenge many others in the Body of Christ to plead with God to search our hearts and bring our sin to light.