Q & A: John Piper on Racism, Reconciliation, and Theology after Trayvon Martin's Death
The wider question is: could a Wesleyan develop arguments? Yes, he could. He absolutely could. I'm just saying, for those who wonder where the Calvinists have been or what the Calvinists believe, I want to say that in addition to what Wesleyans could do or what wider, more general evangelicals might do, if you go to the five points of Calvinism, every one of them serves racial harmony.
Bloodlines is a deeply theological book, and someone at the Race and the Christian event tweeted that Tim Keller immediately got into specifics about race, while you spent 20 minutes on the gospel. Is your more theoretical approach disconnected from the pursuit of solutions, or is it important to build that strong framework in order for them to work?
C. J. Mahaney would probably say one of my weaknesses is that I'm short on application. I'll embrace that. But I keep preaching sermon after sermon with tiny bits of application. Here's the reason: I'm wired to think through foundations and I'm less wired to tell you what to do with that. In fact, I'm a little skittish about telling you exactly how theological truth works out in your life, but I feel really confident about what I see in the Bible.
Secondly, when I think of the long-term impact of my life and I look at what God has done with the books and with the church, and the people who come up to me not with theoretical questions—they come up with tears regularly, thanking me for a life change. Why is that if I'm so useless on the application side? If I'm so theoretical, if I'm so distant from reality, why are people getting changed by these things? I don't know what the answer is, but I'm happy to just keep doing it.
You said Wednesday night that the diversity of leadership in your church isn't going to get any better under your tenure as pastor. It was just announced that the Rev. Jason Meyer will replace you in about a year at Bethlehem Bible Church. Is racial reconciliation part of his value system and was it a consideration in the choice to call him?
Was it ever talked about! This is a huge issue for our church. The way we've put it is that in looking for staff, we haven't made it an absolute criterion that X number or percentage has to be ethnically diverse. We just said we will try the ten-fold very hard in looking for people who are racially diverse, or really get it, or are really committed. Jason has two black children for starters. He's committed. He pastored a church in Louisiana that was racist to the core. When they called him, he said, "We will not maintain this." He led that church through some really remarkable [change]. He was a chaplain at a southern Louisiana college. He has had Southern racial experience and has proved himself committed there. So, even though he's white and even though he's taking up a church that's mainly white, I have a lot of confidence that Jason's commitment is as high as mine and that he'll be more fruitful than I am because he's more relational than I am. That's the big plus for Jason. When I think of Jason, I think he's more of a man of prayer than I am, I think he's more discipleship oriented, I think he's more relational. He's going to have more lunches with people. Bethlehem is going to love this guy for all the reasons they have problems with me.