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|Format: DRM Free ePub|
Publication Date: 2006
Series: Swans Are Not Silent
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; This Momentary Marriage; A Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
I was immediately captivated by Pipers Introduction, so much so, that I read portions of it aloud to several people, prefaced by an excited Listen to this! His discussion of truth, controversy, and humility sets the tone for what is to come. Piper lays out the historical background for his treatment of Athanasius by discussing the nature of orthodox theology in the fourth century, particularly with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity and the heresy of Arianism. In the second half of this first chapter, he gives seven practical lessons we can learn from the life of Athanasius, and shows that old battles are still being fought, but with new terminology.
John Owen is the only swan I had read previously. Piper begins his discussion of Owen by relating the impact Owen has had on men like J.I. Packer, Sinclair Ferguson, and on Piper himself. He gives a brief biography of Owen, including a short definition of Puritanism. He sees the heart of Owens life and ministry as the mortification of sin and personal holiness: Be killing sin or it will be killing you. I particularly loved Pipers comment about the relationship between private spirituality and public ministry:
One great hindrance to holiness in the ministry of the Word is that we are prone to preach and write without pressing into the things we say and making them real to our own souls. Over the years words begin to come easy, and we find we can speak of mysteries without standing in awe; we can speak of purity without feeling pure; we can speak of zeal without spiritual passion; we can speak of Gods holiness without trembling; we can speak of sin without sorrow; we can speak of heaven without eagerness. And the result is an increasing hardening of the spiritual life. (p. 109)
Pipers final chapter is about J. Gresham Machen and his valiant battle against the Modernism of the early 20th century. After saying that it is not much different from the postmodernism of our day, Piper lists twelve lessons from Machens life and work applicable to today, and is not shy about bringing up his flaws. In fact, the final section of the chapter is titled Hope in Gods Sovereignty Through Human Shortcomings, an encouragement to us all.
The Conclusion is a gem. With a brief nod to another sweet-singing twentieth-century swan, Francis Schaeffer, Piper reminds us that passionately standing for the truth is inextricably linked to love. He discusses several Scripture passages where this is taught. He then closes the book with Our Prayer In a Time of Controversy. This brief prayer, combined with the Introduction and Conclusion, are, in my mind, reason enough to read Contending For Our All. This is not just a history lesson, but also a book for your spiritual benefit. Pam Glass, Christian Book Previews.com