Piper’s Talk on Martyn-Lloyd Jones
I’ve been largely critical of Piper for some years now. That said, Desiring God’s decision to put all of their audio online for free was nothing short of genius (and rightly makes all other “scholarly” websites look very bad and useless; good for DG). Because of that, I was able to listen to Piper’s talk on Martyn Lloyd-Jones “Passion for Christ-exalting Power.”
I’ve listened to a fair number of Piper’s biography talks and while they are usually well-done, the one on MLJ is by far the best. Piper explicates Lloyd-Jones’s key ideas on baptism of the Holy Spirit, false ecumenism, the coming failure of Evangelicalism, and Spiritual Gifts. The part on spiritual gifts was the best. (I’ve long held the view that the typical arguments for cessationism are very weak. Note, I did not say that I am a charismatic. Nor did I say that the office of prophet and tongue-speaker is still binding today. I don’t think it is. Still, the standard argument, “That gift is past because we have the Bible” is a woeful non-sequitur.)
Piper spoke with much force and power, but he spoke in a more “down-to-earth” way. He was very frank with MLJ’s shortcomings, real and alleged. Piper’s further expositions of MLJ on spiritual gifts and baptism of the Holy Spirit were outstanding and very helpful.
At the end of the talk Piper listed about five areas where MLJ failed to come to grips with his (asserted true) teaching on spiritual gifts. I don’t think Piper did a good job in critiquing them, though the criticisms were interesting.
- The first criticism was that MLJ overly qualified the cautions on exercising spiritual gifts to the degree that the average layman would not seek to exercise them. Maybe he did. On the other hand, and it must be said that neither Piper nor I know the exact context, the abuse of spiritual gifts is worse than the use and can sometimes border on demonic (see Fr Seraphim Rose’s criticism of Pentecostalism). When I was in college a lot of “charismatics,” under the guise of spiritual gifts, would roll on the floor, bark like puppy dogs, etc. MLJ’s cautions are well-heeded, contra Piper.
- Piper criticised MLJ for not having an all-night prayer meeting. Supposedly people were getting excited about revival and asked MLJ to organize an all-nighter. He said no. Piper thinks this was wrong. I’m not sure. I agree with Murray-MLJ-Piper on revival, but none of them pointed out that in the Reformed tradition, God works through the preaching and the sacraments. All-night prayer meetings have their place, but the importance is on preaching, since the latter is a means of grace.
- Piper criticized MLJ’s negative view on “new music.” Admittedly, neither Piper nor myself understand what kind of music MLJ rejected. I’m tempted to pull the RPW card and say, Well, what does Scripture say on it?”
Despite my criticisms of Piper’s criticisms in this post, I highly recommend the lecture.