John Piper (theologian)

John Piper (theologian)
John Stephen Piper
Born January 11, 1946 (1946-01-11) (age 65)
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Pastor, author
Religion Christian (Reformed Baptist)
Spouse Noël Henry Piper
Parents Bill & Ruth Piper

John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is a Christian preacher and author, currently serving as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of numerous books, including ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins,[1] What Jesus Demands from the World,[2] Pierced by the Word,[3] and God's Passion for His Glory,[4] and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life[5] and The Passion of Jesus Christ.[6] The evangelical organization Desiring God is named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986).



Piper was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper. His father was an evangelist who traveled and built churches. As such he was raised largely by his mother. She was killed in a bus wreck in December 1974 in Israel (John Piper's Candidating Testimony January 27, 1980). When he and his older sister were still young, the Pipers moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the rest of his youth and graduated from Wade Hampton High School. His father died on March 6, 2007.[7] Piper has written a tribute to his mother in the booklet, What's the Difference? (Crossway Books, 1990) which is also chapter one of the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway Books, 1991).

On January 11, 2006, Piper announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to a letter sent to his church,[8] he and his doctors believed that the cancer was fully treatable. Piper's reaction to his diagnosis was: "This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet." Piper underwent successful surgery on February 14, 2006.[9]

He married Noël Henry in 1968, and together they have four sons, a daughter, and several grandchildren.[10]

Piper attended Wheaton College (1964–68), where he majored in literature and minored in philosophy. Studying Romantic Literature with Clyde Kilby stimulated the poetic side of his nature,[11] and today he regularly writes poems to celebrate special family occasions as well as composing story-poems (based on the life of biblical characters) for his congregation during the four weeks of Advent each year.[12]

In college he originally subscribed in the Pre-med program, only to be called to ministry during a bout of sickness. Following college, he completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1968–71). While at Fuller, he took several courses from Daniel Fuller and through him discovered the writings of Jonathan Edwards.[13]

Piper did his doctoral work in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, Germany (1971–74) under Leonhard Goppelt. His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel University and Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for six years (1974–80).[14]


In 1980, after what he described as an irresistible call of the Lord to preach, Piper became Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has been ministering ever since. Piper was catapulted onto the evangelical scene after the publication of his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986) and has continued to publish dozens of other books further articulating this theological perspective. In 1994, he founded Desiring God Ministries, which today provides all of Piper's sermons and articles from the past three decades, and most of his books online free of charge, as well as offering for sale books, CDs, and DVDs and regularly hosting conferences.

According to Piper, Desiring God Ministries exists to "spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ,"[15] which is also his personal motto. Piper calls those who live out this motto Christian Hedonists. He places a heavy emphasis on the objective and absolute nature of truth and is confident in the Christian's ability to grasp that truth through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.[citation needed]

On March 28, 2010, Piper announced that he would take an eight-month leave of absence from his ministry effective May 1.[16][17]

Theological views

Christian Hedonism

Piper advocates Christian hedonism and teaches that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him"[18] and that God's highest pursuit ("his glory") and man's deepest and most durable happiness come together in one pursuit – namely, the pursuit of joy in God. He was awakened to this notion in the writings of Jonathan Edwards, Blaise Pascal, and C. S. Lewis, among others, and then found it throughout the Bible, for example Ps 16:11; 37:4; Phil 3:1; 4:4 among others.

Gender roles

Piper holds to a complementarian view of gender roles.[19] This view says that the Bible teaches that a husband is called to lovingly lead, protect and provide for his wife and family, and that the wife should joyfully and intelligently affirm and submit to her husband's leadership. He also says that the Bible teaches that men are to bear the primary responsibility to lead the church and that therefore only men should be elders.[20] Piper along with Wayne Grudem was co-editor of one of the bedrock books in this area called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood . One of the chapters has been reprinted several times as an independent short book called What's the Difference?.[21]


Piper's soteriology is Calvinist,[22] and his ecclesiology is Baptist.[23] He affirms the distinctively Calvinist doctrine of double predestination, which includes "unconditional reprobation" or damnation as a corollary to the Augustinian doctrine of unconditional election, and he subscribes to the Leibnizian view that God decreed this universe to be the best of all possible universes.[24]

Piper believes in justification by faith alone apart from any works,[25] and his teachings emphasize the need for the active and inevitable perseverance of the believer in faith, sanctification, and enduring sufferings, which he believes is evidence of God's saving grace. According to Piper, a once-professing Christian who does not faithfully persevere until the end demonstrates that he was mistaken about his election and was never a true believer in the first place.[26][27]

Spiritual gifts

Regarding spiritual gifts, Piper is a continuationist.[28] That is, he believes that supernatural gifts such as prophecy, miracles, healings, and speaking in tongues have not ceased and should be sought by the church,[29] in particular with regard to missions and evangelism. He does believe, however, that the office of apostle has ceased[30] and that the gift of prophecy in the church is not the same as the inspiration of scripture.[31] While he believes that God's supernatural revelation in the N.T. gift of prophecy is without error, he says that today, outside the Biblically recorded Word of God, the prophet's perception, understanding and delivery of that revelation is imperfect and fallible,[32] thus modern prophecies within the church are subject to sifting.[33]


Piper describes himself as an "optimistic premillennialist"[34] and holds a post-tribulation view of the second coming of Jesus.[35][36] Because of this belief, he maintains that Romans 11 teaches that a mass in-gathering of ethnic Israel will be saved when the hardening of their hearts is removed at Jesus' second coming.[37] He therefore advocates the importance of hoping in the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return.[38]

Law and covenant

Piper does not don any of the typical hermeneutical frameworks, but claims he is furthest from dispensationalism, and closest to Covenant Theology, or a New Covenant Theology in matters of the Law and covenants, but agrees with the dispensationalist belief that there will be a millennium.[39] He says that the Law was meant by God to reveal sin and show man's inability to live up to God's righteous standards.[40] Christians, living under the New Covenant, are not under the Old Covenant law but able to fulfill its intent through faith in Jesus Christ.[41][42]

Piper teaches that God has only one covenant people, mostly believing Jews in the Old Testament, and now that relationship has been superseded by the Church.[43] Thus, the Church is rightful inheritor of all the promises made to ethnic Israel (land, kingdom, etc.), and Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah have no divine right of claim on those promises.[44]


  • Love Your Enemies: Jesus' Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis (Cambridge University Press, 1980; Baker, 1991).
  • The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23 (Baker, 1983; 2nd edition 1993).
  • Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah, 1986; 2nd edition, 1996; 3rd edition, 2003; 4th edition [25th Anniversary], 2011).
  • The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Baker, 1990, 2nd edition, 2003).
  • The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 1991; Expanded edition, 2000).
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Co-editor) (Crossway, 1991). Online copy.
  • Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker, 1993, 2nd Edition 2003).
  • The Purifying Power of Living By Faith In Future Grace (Multnomah, 1995).
  • A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Crossway, 1997).
  • A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1997).
  • God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 1998).
  • The Innkeeper (Crossway, 1998).
  • A Godward Life, Book Two: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 1999).
  • The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Crossway, 2000).
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2001).
  • Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2001, 2nd edition, 2004).
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight: Daring to Make God the Object of Your Desire (Multnomah, 2001).
  • What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Crossway, 2001, reprint 2008).
  • The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God (Crossway, 2002).
  • Brothers, We Are not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002).
  • The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2002).
  • Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? (Crossway, 2002). Several chapters are available online for free.
  • Beyond the Bounds (co-editor) (Crossway, 2003).
  • Don't Waste Your Life (Crossway, 2003).
  • Pierced By the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul (Multnomah, 2003).
  • The Prodigal's Sister (Crossway, 2003).
  • The Passion of Jesus Christ (Crossway, 2004). Also released under title 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
  • When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Crossway, 2004).
  • Life As a Vapor (Multnomah, 2004).
  • A God Entranced Vision of All Things (Co-editor; Crossway, 2004).
  • Sex and the Supremacy of Christ (w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2005).
  • Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Multnomah, 2005).
  • God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself (Crossway, 2005).
  • Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen (Crossway, 2006).
  • Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Crossway, 2006).
  • Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2006).
  • What Jesus Demands from the World (Crossway, 2006).
  • When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy (Crossway, 2007)
  • Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (Crossway, 2007).
  • The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World (co-editor w/ Justin Taylor, Crossway, 2007)
  • Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure (Multnomah, 2007)
  • The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright (Crossway 2007).
  • Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Crossway, 2008).
  • John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God (Crossway, 2008).
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Crossway, 2008).
  • Finally Alive (Christian Focus, 2009).
  • This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Crossway, 2009)
  • Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (Crossway, 2009).
  • A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway 2010).
  • Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to be Saved? (Baker, 2010).
  • Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Crossway, 2010).
  • The Gadarene (Desiring God, 2010)
  • The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor (Crossway, 2011).

The complete text of most of Piper's books can be accessed free of charge at Desiring God.[45]


  1. ^ "2009 Christian Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. 
  2. ^ "2007 Christian Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. 
  3. ^ "2004 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. 
  4. ^ "1999 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. 
  5. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, August 2007". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. 
  6. ^ "Christian Bestsellers List, June 2004". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. 
  7. ^ Piper, John (March 28, 2007). "Things I Have Learned". Desiring God Blog. [self-published source?]
  8. ^ Piper, John (January 6, 2006). "John Piper Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer". Desiring God. Archived from the original on January 10, 2006. [self-published source?]
  9. ^ Piper, John (February 3, 2007). "Cancer Update". Desiring God Blog. [self-published source?]
  10. ^ "Life". Desiring God. 
  11. ^ Piper, John (2011). The Pastor as Scholar. Wheaton: Crossway. pp. 30–34. ISBN 9781433526473. 
  12. ^ "Poems by Date". Desiring God Christian Resource Library. 
  13. ^ Piper, John (2011). The Pastor as Scholar & the Scholar as Pastor. Wheaton: Crossway. pp. 39–40. ISBN 9781433526473. 
  14. ^ Piper, John. The Pastor as Scholar. Wheaton: Crossway. pp. 41. ISBN 9781433526473. 
  15. ^ "Desiring God exists to say...". Desiring God. 
  16. ^ Piper, John (28 March 2010). "John Piper's Upcoming Leave". Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  17. ^ "Evangelist John Piper Takes Personal Leave". CBN News. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  18. ^ We Want You to Be a Christian Hedonist! :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  19. ^ Recovering: Chapter 2
  20. ^ for a brief overview of the complementarian position see and
  21. ^
  22. ^ What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  23. ^ I Baptize You with Water :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  24. ^ What does Piper mean when he says he's a seven-point Calvinist? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  25. ^ Does James Contradict Paul? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  26. ^ Olympic Spirituality, Part 1 :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  27. ^ Letter to a Friend Concerning the So-Called "Lordship Salvation" :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  28. ^ Are Signs and Wonders for Today? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  29. ^ Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God, Panel Discussion :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  30. ^ "Jesus chose Twelve Apostles for a unique, unrepeatable role in the history of redemption... there seem to be also another group (or groups) of men called and authorized by Jesus in the New Testament, some of whom are on a par with the Twelve in their teaching authority. Paul certainly believed that his call and commission by the risen Christ put him on a par with the Twelve in his teaching role..." [1]
  31. ^ "But the spiritual gift of prophecy is different from the inspiration of Scripture." [2]
  32. ^ "God reveals something to the mind of the prophet (in some way beyond ordinary sense perception), and since God never makes a mistake, we know that his revelation is true. It has no error in it. But the gift of prophecy does not guarantee the infallible transmission of that revelation. The prophet may perceive the revelation imperfectly, he may understand it imperfectly, and he may deliver it imperfectly."[3]
  33. ^ "We need a third category for the "spiritual gift of prophecy"—Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained, revelation-rooted, but mixed with human imperfection and fallibility and therefore in need of sifting."[4]
  34. ^ John Piper (2008-10-19). "Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ's Afflictions". Desiring God Ministries. 
  35. ^ Definitions and Observations Concerning the Second Coming of Christ :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  36. ^ What Must Happen Before the Day of the Lord? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  37. ^ Did Israel Stumble in Order That They Might Fall? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  38. ^ What Happens When You Die? The Dead Will Be Raised Imperishable :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  39. ^ What does John Piper believe about dispensationalism, covenant theology, and new covenant theology? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  40. ^ Why Then the Law? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  41. ^ What Does It Mean to Fulfill the Law in Romans 8:3-4 :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  42. ^ Hagar and Slavery Vs. Sarah and Freedom :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  43. ^ Israel and Us Reconciled in One Body :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  44. ^ Israel, Palestine and the Middle East :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library
  45. ^ Online Books by Title :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

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