Piper warns that Southern is "posh"

Here is an audio clip from the 1999 Mullins Lectures where John Piper warns seminarians about the dangers of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I've added some visuals to accommodate your attention span. **Video updated 3/27/07


Timmy said...

After the DG Conference, I had my friend Marc who is a worship leader there at BBC show me around the church. The moment I will never forget was entering John Piper's personal office.

It was no bigger than a regular 8x10 room with a little window overlooking downtown Minneapolis. There as a small desk and a couple of bookshelves. On the walls were a few photos. One I could remember was of his father.

I thought to myself, "This is John Piper's office?" I never had more respect for the man as I did that day. His passion for the supremacy of Christ was seen that day not in the number of books he had written, the number of missionaries that have been sent out of their church, or the sheer size of its membership. It was seen in the simple life of a pastor who has given everything for the cause of Christ. I saw the fruit of a man who has treasured Christ, for everything of value to him could not be found stored up here, or in particular in his office. No. His treasure is in heaven because that's where his heart has been.

During the course of my short time in ministry, I have been in many pastor's offices, or should I say, suites. Much of what I saw did not look any different from what I saw on TBN. I think it is a safe thing for me to say that the picture painted before me resembled very little of the cross-carrying life.

I have a lot of pictures of John Piper on my computer. However, the one I have in my head is most vivid, it is one I pray haunts me if I ever succumb to the easy life of a comfortable minister.

Anonymous said...


Just to let you know, and I think I am accurate, John Piper does most of his private work (sermons, writing) in the study in his home about six blocks from the church. Not to say that it's much bigger than the church office he has.


Joshua Chavers said...

I love this man!
Earthly speaking, who is like him?
In other words, have you ever heard anyone of similar position make statements about this type of thing in a setting like this? It is obvious, when you you hear the man speak, that he cares very little about what he might call "stuff". He cares little about what men may think or say. He is immersed in knowing Christ and His Word. Some may accuse him of unhealthy asceticism when he talks like this (and he does so fairly often), but I think we need more models like him ... I look forward to hearing him next week... A nice follow up to Dr. Vines.

By the way, Timmy, did you see the Vines sermon CD set "Baptist Battles" at Lifeway? It was taken from his recent 4 - part series at FBC Woodstock in which he exposed the perilous effects of that Satanic system most commonly called "Calvinism"
His products were displayed front & center and this series in particular was priced at something like $40+ (ouch ...)

Tony Kummer said...

When I heard Piper say that in 1999 I felt personally admonished. I was at my second semester at Boyce and all my friends wanted to write commentaries for a living. We need reminders that our little Geneva is only a very small corner of what God is doing in the world.

Timmy said...


I chose to stay off campus Tuesday through Thursday (except for a mid-term Wednesday morning) this past week.

I am very familiar with the series "Baptist Battles." I have transcripted most of his message on Calvinism as it was the centerpiece of critique for us at Strange BaptistFire. I never got around to posting my response to Vines, but many of my fellow bloggers have. The whole "Baptist Battle" lingo is very indicative of the warriors of the Conservative Resurgence. They've come from a battlefield (a worthy one of course) with a lot of fight left, or so it seems. Ergo, the last five years of battling Calvinism, alcohol, elder-led churches, etc.

I was told that @ the lunch he was asked by Dr. Mohler whether he was a friend of Calvinists. I understand Vines' response a qualified "yes" - meaning that he was not a friend to "caged Calvinists" or "militant Calvinism." I actually agree with Vines on that one. I just wonder if he is willing to let that road go both ways. What about "caged Arminians" or militant Arminians? I wouldn't want to be a friend of either sort, be it Calvinist or Arminian. Yet what shall we say of such "militant Arminians" such as . . . well, I have documented all them.

Frankly speaking, the problem in the SBC lies not in any "caged Calvinists" but rather a militant Arminianism (if not semi-Pelagianism) which disallows any form of consistent Calvinism in the SBC. Any attempt to hold the baseless rhetoric, straw men, or caricatures accountable to truth and historical fact is met with derision and castigation.

A whole lot of the problem could be resolved if Calvinism would be presented accurately, fairly, biblically, and historically. Yet as we have seen, such an approach is not very popular among those attacking (yes, they are on the offensive in this "battle") Reformed theology.

Mark and Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ajlin said...

I listened to this audio from Piper's 1999 Mullins lectures earlier this week. All I could think is, "He's obviously never been inside the Fuller Apartment building."

Joshua Chavers said...


Choosing to stay off campus may have been wise .. Not only did you guys respond to the 'sermon', but James White addressed it very meticulously as well the latter weeks of 2006 on the Diving Line. I may be unaware, but I'll assume the responses have gone unanswered & unchallenged up to this point.
In addition to the straw-men misrepresentation, etc .. during the "Baptist Battles" series, I was also bothered by Vines' brief side-bar comment regarding the ministry of a fellow brother and faithful Southern Baptist pastor, Dr. Steven Lawson.

About 10 minutes or so into that sermon, Vines said something to the effect of, ' ... A church I formerly pastored ... got a Calvinist preacher ... started teaching Calvinism ... it split the church'.

It doesn't take a life-long Southern Baptist or a Google genius to figure out who he might have been talking about. Both, Jerry Vines' ministry and the controversy at Dauphin Way are and were very well known throughout the Convention. It may have been that no single person in attendance that night at FBC Woodstock knew about what he spoke of, but obviously, the "Baptist Battles" series was intended for a much wider audience than just a few thousand folk in Northwest Georgia. This was demonstrated as the presentations were live streamed over the web, archived there, and now apparently sold at the Southern Seminary bookstore.

Upon hearing the statement, my immediate thought was:

Has Dr. Vines ever heard Dr. Lawson preach? If so, to which sermon would he refer when he says that Dr. Lawson's preaching had a negative effect upon Dauphin Way Baptist Church? Lawson himself has spoken to this issue during the panel discussion at the 2006 Shepherd's Conference. He spoke of how, throughout the controversy at Dauphin Way, sinners were approaching him after services to be converted. I wondered if Dr. Vines has ever spoken to Dr. Lawson about this issue to ensure that his words would accurately represent a brother in Christ and his ministry.

Surely Dr. Vines is not anywhere close to the worst example we could point to in describing the state of modern preaching. Vines has sought, I think, to demonstrate faithfulness to the Biblical text throughout his ministry. He values God's Word, understands the role and importance of Biblical preaching, loves people, and desires to see sinners brought to faith. Surely though, Dr. Vines is aware of the despicable state of modern preaching as Lawson has described it, "A Famine in the Land".

Steve Lawson is not a man to be spat upon and ridiculed behind his back.
Steve Lawson is a preaching hero!
And the good news is, Dr. Vines, he's on our team!

I would have loved the opportunity to ask Dr. Vines a few simple questions about this.

I understand Brother Vines sat in on a few classes during his time at Southern, but unfortunately, mine was not one of them.

Timmy, these may be the ways of the Old Guard at work, in attempt to protect what has been accomplished, but as Bob Dylan once said, 'The times they are a changin'.
The time has come for men on both sides of the court (sorry, it's March Madness baby!) to recognize the value in each other, despite non-essential differences, as it relates to denominational service and local pastoral ministry.
I pray we will see this more and more in our day.

Tony Kummer said...

I can see why Vines gets to preach at Southern. Conservative. Mega church. Denominational hero. Respected expository preacher. I figured out a long time ago that Southern's pulpit was more than just about the students. Even though most would say Vines is an excellent preacher for SBTS students to be exposed to.

Assuming that the Chapel pulpit is 'political' in at least some sense. I think we should ask why guys like Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Duncan get to preach. Chapel selection has improved greatly.

Timmy said...

Although I stayed away during the week, I did listen to his messages online and enjoyed them. I hope Dr. Vines enjoyed his visit and was encouraged to see that the Reformed hotbed of the SBC is not what many anti-Calvinists perceive.


You are right that Lawson got unfair treatment. A couple of months back I commented on the 100 fastest growing churches, of which Dauphin Way made the list. The topic of Lawson came up, and Lawson's replacement at Dauphin Way, Dr. Clint Pressley chimed in on the comments section. It is interesting to note that he also is the AL Trustee for SBTS's Board of Trustees, replacing Dr. Buddy Gray. You can find our little exchange here:


I left Mobile just before the mess occurred with the circulating letter and petition against Lawson. BTW, not only was Vines pastor there, but so was Herschel Hobbs, who has been touted for "arminianizing the SBC." Oh, and Hobbs got his Ph.D from Southern.

Needless to say, Lawson didn't fit that mold, although he is widely considered the one of the best expositors in the country.


I am not touching the Chapel pulpit with a ten foot pole.