John Piper gives us a sober, challenging read which should shake some of us out of our lethargy, when it comes to racial harmony. Piper brings up his own past, of growing up in a segregated south where the conservative Church turned a blind eye to the black man's struggle. He exposes his own racism, and labors to show how Scripture and specifically the gospel of Christ, cuts at the root of racism.
Piper is known for his rational thought and his Calvinism. While admitting that Calvinists have historically fared poorly if judged on racial concerns, he nevertheless builds a pretty strong case that each of the Calvinistic doctrinal points should lead toward a greater solidarity between races. None of us are favored because of our own actions, our race shouldn't determine our fate, what's more is that Jesus Christ died specifically to redeem men and women of every race. A multicolored and multi-ethnic throng surrounds the throne of the Lamb in Revelation 5. And that should be our goal, to make heaven's will a reality here on earth.
Along the way, Piper discusses practical aspects for how to implement a culture that aims for racial harmony, and he counters numerous objections. He delves into a cultural analysis too of structural racism and white guilt, among other topics. I found some of the appendices most helpful. One was a detailed discussion of the curse of Ham, which has long been a fundamentalist rationale for rigid racial segregation and separation. Another appendix shared some of the vision and policy statements of Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist.
This book is accessible, and personal. It is also informative and provocative. I believe it is very helpful and may have a lasting impact on the church at large. This topic is worth thinking through and praying long and hard about, and John Piper is just the man to help us on this journey. His prayers and his struggles bleed through the pages of this weighty little book. I hope that people of all colors will pick up this book and see the vision for the multi-ethnic church that Christ died for. We all can learn from the wisdom in these pages. I highly recommend this book.
I have always been a fan of Rev. Piper. I own many of his books and have always enjoyed the issues that he brings to the table that I have wrestled with in the past. That is why I was so surprised with this book. This was a book that seemed force, disjointed and it would seem that Rev. Piper struggles with his topic.
I was mostly disappointed that this book did not delve into the diversity of Jesus' ethnically diverse heritage.
I want to thank Net Galley and Crossway for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.
Watch the news very often in the United States on any news channel and you're likely to hear someone bring up issues of race and how to solve it in the United States. John Piper a well known Pastor, scholar and theologian knows this concern very well as he grew up during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's. In this book Piper traces the voices calling out for racism to end in popular culture and in academics.
The unique thing about this book is that it doesn't stop at just diagnosing issues related to racism. In typical Piper fashion, Dr. Piper seeks to apply a biblical and theological framework to deal with racism. In fact most of the book is an extended treatment on how the Gospel applies to issues of racism. Rather than turning to organizations, education, famous personalities, or government programs to address racial strife, Pastor Piper teaches about how the good news about Jesus Christ deals with the sins that feed racial strife, and lead to a many-colored and many-cultured kingdom of God. In this book you will learn how to pursue ethnic harmony from a biblical perspective and relate to people different than yourselves, as you take part in the bloodline of Jesus that is compromised of "Every tongue, tribe, and nation."
I recommend that you read Bloodlines Race, Cross, and the Christian not just to read another book by Piper but to learn how the Gospel is relevant to daily life and especially a sensitive topic like racism.
In Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, John Piper's story begins 40 years before mine but only a 15-minute drive away. Piper grew up in Greenville, SC in the 1950's -- the same time as my father. They are the exact same age, and they went to school 15 minutes away from each other. So, Piper's recount of racism in Greenville in the 50's and 60's, for me, is a small window into my father's childhood. Interestingly enough, only a few miles away, also in Greenville, another young boy a few years older was viewing racism from a completely different angle -- the young Jesse Jackson.
Piper's discussion of racism doesn't begin from a pulpit or academic treatise. It begins with confession -- a confession of sins both active and passive in nature. Sins from his past that he would take back if it were possible. Sins that I know can haunt forever, save for the grace of Christ.
Intertwining his personal experiences and the historical events of the time, Piper illuminates the dynamic impact the gospel of Jesus Christ has (or can have) on the racism and sin still abundant in today's society. He touches both on the academic discussions of racism between ivy league professors and on the real life challenges minorities face today, but continues to bring the discussion back to the only true Answer to the hatred in the world.
Piper goes on to explain in detail how Reformed Theology and the Gospel itself abolish any form of ethnocentrism or racism. He demonstrates the numerous angles God takes through the Scriptures to show that He is one God, and He sent His Son to die for one people -- the church. There is no more Jew or Greek. If we believe in Christ, we are all Abraham's descendants.
Finally, Piper challenges the church to see God working the bloodlines of race into one bloodline of the cross. He is not asking for social activism, but for Christian responsibility to love as Christ loves.
As the white pastor of a predominantly African-American congregation, I was eagerly awaiting the release of this book. Since he arrived at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis more than 30 years ago, John Piper has devoted one Sunday each January (corresponding with Martin Luther King Day) to preaching on the topic of racial reconciliation. This book is more than a mere compilation of what he has shared there. It is the story of his own racist attitudes as he grew up in the segregated south of the '50s and '60s. By God's grace he was able to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to conquer the sinfulness of ethnic-superiority. Today he shamelessly recommends and proclaims that saving and sanctifying grace to others. Bloodlines is more than self-revealing; it also commends the power of the Gospel as a means of not only bringing racial harmony for our time, but of it actually magnifying the purpose of God to glorify Himself throughout eternity. As in all of his writings, Piper's reformed background emerges clearly as he demonstrates how that theological interpretation of Scripture serves to unite all persons as having come from the one Creator. It further displays how the Church (the family of God) is a testimony to a watching world of God's design to preserve ethnic distinctiveness for the glory of His name. I highly recommend this book for our day when our minds are daily saturated by media-led racial stereotypes that further divide the human race. Thank you, John Piper, for leading not only by word but through your non-hypocritical example.