I think John Piper is one of the uniquely prophetic voices in our day (in the forth telling sense). I like Piper a lot and I believe he has made a number of unique contributions to the modern evangelical church at large. However I’m not what some would call a “Piperite”. I would agree with the man himself who has said on many occasions that if you have read one of his books then you’ve read them all. My favorite book up to this point has been Brothers, We are Not Professionals. In the age of the CEO-styled pastor, this book needed to be written and its message heard. I hope it continues to enjoy a wide readership. Buy it for your pastor and make him read it.
However, Piper has turned a corner in his latest offering that doesn’t smell like warmed-over “Christian Hedonism.” Not that the “hedonism” line of thought doesn’t ring true for me, it does, it only took one book for me to get what he was saying. His latest book, What Jesus Demands from the World is a home-run and major work exalting the rightful Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things but especially over His own sheep. This book has a different feel that doesn’t come off novel or “cutting edge.” Could it be due to the fact that Piper is now a well-seasoned pastor with battle scars and deeper life experiences (e.g. cancer)? Whatever the background, I think the message of this book rings true because it drips with the words of the Evangel.
There are fifty chapters which summarize what Piper calls the “demands” of the Gospel. Every chapter forces the reader to come face to face with Jesus’ Lordship and the daily demands of following Christ. The book’s message doesn’t seem like it’s forced into a preconceived mission statement but it just flows in thoughtful prose and penetrating exposition of the Gospel. This is Piper at his best and at his most biblical. I greatly appreciate this offering from this immense evangelical leader and hope that more volumes like this one will be forthcoming from his prolific pen.
On a side note, one of the more interesting features of this book is the chapter entitled “A Word to Biblical Scholars (And to those who wonder what they are doing)”. Piper realizes that most of what goes on in the name of “Jesus scholarship” is a large waste of time and resources that has confused the Christian masses and helped very few if any. His thesis is that the most radical Jesus to be found is not one forged in the rallies of progressive revolutionaries or critical patch-works. The most radical Jesus is the one who is encountered in the pages of the Gospel. With this Jesus, there is no room for passing thoughts like “what Jesus means to me” or “most scholars believe”. No, the Jesus of the gospels calls us to embrace Him and bow to His rightful Lordship over all creation because Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”.