Thursday, August 7, 2008

Piper's View of Piety..."Should Produce a Passion for Social Justice and Practical Mercy "

Here's yet another reason why I love John Piper. Yesterday morning I clicked onto the blog "Desiring God" for my daily dose of John Piper. On this day, Piper summarizes one of his sermons from a few years back about what true piety should produce in us, that is "a passion for social justice and practical mercy." Preaching from Isaiah 58, he lists five needs that Isaiah and Jesus are passionately concerned about. (1) the need for freedom from bondage and oppression (2) the need for food (3) the need for housing (4) the need for clothing (5) the need for respect. The longer version of this sermon is even better, where he makes assertions such as "Piety that does not produce a passion for God-exalting social justice and practical mercy is worthless." and "I want to remind us as a church that we have been saved for the sake of God-exalting good works. We have been saved not merely to avoid evil, but to do good. Therefore the people of Christ should not be known primarily for what we don’t do, but what we do do."

Two months ago, I blogged here about a distorted piety being a fallacy that prevents today's evangelical churches from embracing its God-given responsibility to the poor. Since so many of these churches are children of the enlightenment (modernity) with their pie-in-the-sky dispensationalism, their church-growth/marketing pragmatism, their soul-saving dualism, their idol of consumerism, and of course their misplaced pietism, I've sort of wrote off the church in America (although my obedience to Christ and my calling has kept me within the church). Because Piper is such a towering, influential figure among fundamental and conservative evangelical pastors, maybe pietism in the evangelical church will begin to be restored to its proper place, which is producing a passion for social justice and practical mercy.