Thursday, May 17, 2007

Following the Pied Piper

So I first heard about John Piper a couple years ago. Apparently he's all the rage! I have a few close friends who are big fans, and I think our church is pretty into him. Myself, not as much. I do own an excellent book written by his wife, Noel. I started "Desiring God" but didn't finish, and some of his ideas I admit I'm not too into.

It's funny how there are certain Christian authors/pastors/speakers at any given time that are ultra popular with certain groups. Among some, it's Piper. Among others, it's Brian McLaren and Donald Miller. Still others, Elizabeth George and Beth Moore and James Dobson.

I think it's interesting how we kind of latch onto a school of thought and the spokespeople for that school of thought, or I guess sometimes we do it in the reverse order. Some of these spokespeople are more acceptable in some groups than in others. For example, at my church I'd feel much more comfortable admitting I read "Beautiful in God's Eyes" by Elizabeth George than "The Secret Message of Jesus" by Brian McLaren. At an emergent church, the opposite would probably be true. FYI I've read both books, and enjoyed both of them, and disagreed with aspects of both of them. (There Lara, the McLaren blog-ice has been broken! :) )

My favorite Christian thinker/author of all time is CS Lewis. I first read "Mere Christianity" in college (thanks to Kevin, president of the CS Lewis fan club, for the recommendation and book loan--what a good boyfriend!) and have read a few more of his books since. I love his thoughts on most things, his ability to be content with leaving mystery in the Bible and not having to understand everything, the things God didn't make explicit and that Christians like to argue about. (A great Lewis-ism, referring to the Lord's Supper: "The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand..." I love that!). Current Christian leaders/authors I really enjoy or admire are Gary Haugen, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Philip Yancey, Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Rick Warren (who's doing some sweet things in Rwanda). No women on here, kind of weird, maybe I should branch out. :) All the people I just listed are big proponents of missional Christianity. Some are tied to the emergent church. Most would be considered "liberal" compared to, say, James Dobson.

I was emailing with my friend (a big Piper fan) who referred to herself as a "bandwaggoner", which I thought was a great term! (Shoutout to Rebekah!) I think that's all of us. We gravitate towards authors/thinkers who read the Bible in such a way that resonates with us, or inspires us, or that just plain makes sense to us. It's interesting how each of our goals as Christians is to live our lives for Jesus, yet that can look so different for each of us, or have a different focus for each of us. I obviously gravitate towards a certain type of book/leader while others enjoy something else. (YES, I am a TOTAL bookworm!)

Whose "bandwagon" are you on? In other words, what type of thing or who inspires/impresses you? Why?


cathy said...

WOW! I thought I was the ONLY person in the universe that wasn't crazy about Piper. Nice to know I'm not alone. We used to live 2 miles from his church and I never darkened the doors. I lean toward more "liberal" writers, for lack of a better word, as they're usually discussing love in action (read: get out there and get your hands dirty) as opposed to just love. Make sense?

Emily said...

I am actually a fan of Piper- God has really used him in our lives with regard towards adoption. Love his book "Don't Waste Your Life" and his sermon "Adoption- Heart of the Gospel". I also love the freedom we have in Christ and the right to an opinion! I really enjoy your posts:)

Brianna Heldt said...

cathy, heehee, I also thought I was the only one that hadn't been impacted by Piper. I also mostly enjoy the "get your hands dirty" type reading right now.

emily, I was so excited when I learned that the Pipers had a transracially adopted daughter! (Have you read Noel's book "Treasuring Traditions" or something like that? It's wonderful!) I've heard great things about "Don't Waste Your Life", I'll see if I can get that at the library. And I agree, our freedom in Christ is a priceless, precious thing!

Jeannett Gibson said...

Brianna, I just got Dont waste Your Life at the conference. Haven't started it...have all those baby birthing books to you can borrow it if you'd like. I admit to being a huge Piper fan. He takes huge and complicated theogology and explains it in a way that a simpleton like me can understand. Listening to him speak got me all fired up for whatever the Lord wanted from me. CJ Mahaney was probably my favorite though. The guy has more energy than a classroom of 2 year olds! CS Lewis is huge. He's one of those people that you wish you could just follow around all day and learn from. Haven't read many of the other authors you mentioned, but I'm definately interested in taking advantage of the Heldt Family Library during my maternity leave!

Kate said...

Brianna, I loved "Don't Waste your Life"...quite life changing. I think you would eat it up. Funny that you don't think that Piper is a "get your hands dirty" type of guy cause that is exactly how he seems to me. His thoughts and reasonings are so helpful to me. He always encourages me to get my heart right before the Lord before I do anything else. I love his living example (kinda like what we talked about earlier) how he lives in the poorest part of town so that he and his family can be in and amongst the people who need Him.
So wonderful how the Lord works differently in each person's life. We get to learn from each other then. If we were all just fans of one person our perspectives would be so narrow. But thank goodness God uses all of his people apart from their faults. I'm sure Piper isn't perfect, MacArthur isn't 100% correct in all theology, and CS Lewis isn't absolute authority in every one of his books. For who knows the mind of Christ? Thank goodness God loves us no matter how passionately we believe a non-salvational issue (i.e. pre or post trib, etc.) cause we are bound to mess up with our fallen human mind.
I'm on the bandwagon ( and I know you are too) that puts me on my knees in humility. Oh, I love a sermon, book, friend, hymn, or anything really that will just point me to Him and how I can magnify Him in my heart and life.

Brianna Heldt said...

Jeannett feel free to utilize the Heldt family library! I would love to borrow "Don't Waste Your Life" whenever it's available. I agree, CS Lewis I would also like to just follow around and learn from. No one writes or thinks quite like him. (Even though it takes me awhile to read his stuff, as I too am a simpleton!)

Kate, I honestly don't know much about Piper (when I referenced "get your hands dirty" I wasn't meaning to imply anything about Piper), that is neat that he lives on the poor side of town, etc. It's mostly some of his "theology" that I disagree with, namely some of his thoughts in "Desiring God" regarding God's sovereignty and man's free will.

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI... Noel Piper will be at a church in Santa Maria this Saturday speaking on "Finding Your Passion"... With all the spare time I'm sure you have, it might be nice to go! :)

Lisa said...

I love Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Philip Yancey. And yes, I believe I read them because their message resonates with the way that I try to live my life and the way I view things spiritually. But I have grown and expanded my view of God through Frederick Buechner, Henri Nouwen and Madeleine L'Engle ( a female writer, although of another generation...I think she is in her upper eighties). Although I hate to use the word "bandwagon" for these writers, I have to admit that I gravitate toward their books, and lean away from authors like James Dobson, Beth Moore, Max Lucado (nothing I disagree with, just doesn't move me), John Eldridge. But God uses all kinds of people with different perspectives. Thank goodness we are all not on the same page and that we don't think in exact unison. That would be boring (and creepy!).

Jenn said...

I claim no band wagon but Jesus'. I was raised in a denomination full of teaching based on man's opinion/interpretation. So I shy away from "movements". Honestly, Christian lit. today disappoints me. I agree with you... C.S. Lewis. Another would be Oswald Chambers. I did read the Eldredge's book Captivating and it was pivotal for me. Very interesting topic. I am going to muse on it more.

Brianna Heldt said...

jenn i of course agree that Jesus' bandwagon is truly the only one we can be on. I too love Oswald Chambers! AND I'm also disappointed in much of the Christian stuff being put out these days. (Read John Eldridge's "Wild At Heart" and enjoyed it.)

rebekah said...

okay. so maybe i should keep up on this blog a little better since some of my comments have been posted! (: i feel like i have to defend myself (because most of your friends don't really know me, and the full story wasn't really explained to you...only a glimpse...). i'm not sure this defense is even valid this late in the game (i'm like 6 posts, and 7 days behind the game. oh well.)
i am not a "bandwagoner" just to be cool or hip or "in the know". that is not what i meant (that is not what you said i meant, i know). i meant in the sense that Piper speaks to me, or better, God speaks to me through Piper's words. and that excites me! and i want to know more and seek more because of this excitement (so I'm in, i'm on the bandwagon).
i know little of the man (piper) himself, only that God has put a blazing fire of truth in his soul, of which he is not ashamed to teach. i never even knew of the popularity of Piper (until you and i discussed it just the other day--how many people we knew who talked about him-- and a friend of mine from college shared her interest in his preaching too). i had, first, been introduced to his online sermons and, much later, his books (by my sister, who isn't very trendy! hahaha).
he is not the only person i listen to/read, in theology and thought. i enjoy others as well (and i, too, am quite a simpleton in most respects). CJ Mahaney, CH Spurgeon, and Oswald Chambers are others that come to mind. i appreciate anything written by the puritan leaders, and i really enjoyed reading on the life of Mother Teresa (years ago). there are so many thinkers and leaders over the last centries that i don't think we have to just bandwagon on today's popular thinkers.
a comment was made on not being on anyone's bandwagon, but Jesus Christ's, and i whole-heartedly agree. the Bible is my main source, but there are others too who have dedicated their lives to God's service, and he has gifted them in exposition of the word. they have been appointed by God to do his work, and that is a resource worth using, in my view.
so in lieu of being thought of as totally shallow and trendy in my walk, those are my best thoughts...happy "bandwagoning"!!

Lara said...

Hey, thanks for breaking the ice for me. =) I commented when I got back from Mississippi, but for some reason my comment isn't here now. Bummer. I'm sure I said something really profound and wonderful the first time around. Oh well.
I loved hearing everyone's comments on this one. I haven't been a huge fan of Piper's writing either, but after what Kate said, I am a huge fan of his life and I think that is so much more important.
As for me, I've been on a McLaren kick lately. I've been scared to admit it because he has gotten so much criticism within many Christian circles. But through his "New Kind of Christian" series I've learned so much about what it really looks like to love and interact with non-christians. He certainly isn't right about everything, but he's pointed me back to Jesus and that's a good thing.


Blog Template by