Two Challenging Sentences

I am reading John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals in my spare time (!) and finding it quite a motivating read. One of the chapters is on the value for pastors of reading Christian biographies. Surprisingly, Piper recalls the effect of two sentences he read from a biography of Karl Barth, the neo-orthodox theologian (i.e. not evangelical!). Piper writes:

One was: “That evening Barth began [writing] a pamphlet which he finished the next day, a Sunday (13,000 words in a day!).” I responded, “If neo-orthodoxy merits such phenomenal labor, how much more evangelical theology!”

The other sentence was, “Barth retired from his chair in Basel in March 1962 and so lost the stimulus provided by the need to give lectures.” I wrote in the flap of the book, “Has greatness emerged from anything but pressure? If greatness is to be the servant of all, must we not be under authority, under demand, pushed, pressed?” (p. 92)

One would think that as evangelicals, as those who have received the greatest motive for service to the Lord, we would be the greatest examples of hard work and commitment to the cause of the gospel. Piper’s comments show that those with whom we disagree, at times profoundly, often show us up in our willingness to graft. Piper’s second point shows the kind of life the prospective pastor must expect.

Just as well Piper’s writing style inspires and encourages, or we might get a bit depressed!

Two Challenging Sentences

2 thoughts on “Two Challenging Sentences

  1. David says:


    I’ve been thinking about this topic too.

    One of my thoughts was that the world, flesh and devil don’t fight half as hard (if they fight at all) against error. Schemes which exalt man instead of Christ are not opposed by the remnants of sin within us, or by the legions of spiritual fiends who oppose the kingdom – and they usually don’t challenge worldliness either.

    That’s not an excuse for sloth though! If we’ve really had a sight of Christ, we should be on fire… …but maybe it does in part explain why the proponents of error seem so energetic.


  2. Stephen says:

    Hi David (the David I know and love? or a david which is not the David? 😉 )

    I think what you are saying is that if we allow the w,f and d to get a grip then we become lethargic. True enough.

    Also, are you suggesting that though in error, errorists are motivated to promote what they do know of Christ, and in doing so promote error as well? Sounds plausible.

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