Importunate Insurgence

To quote from Piper’s Think (with a re-quoted portion for context’s sake):

“For me, seeing has meant savoring. And the clearer the seeing, the sweeter the savoring.

Not that there weren’t tears. Some of my notions about God went up in the flames of biblical truth. It hurt. I would put my face in my hands some afternoons and weep with the pain of confusion. But, as the Native American proverb says, the soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears. Some joys are only possible on the other side of sorrow. It is true when the preacher says, ‘In much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow’ (Eccles. 1:18). But it is worth it.

And I don’t mean that the seeing which led to savoring was easy. The work involved in figuring out what the Bible means when it talks about God is often agonizingly difficult. I know something of Luther’s agonizing statement, ‘I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.’1

1 John Dillenberger, ed. Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961), 12.

If we are referring to Romans 9 it appears St. Paul wants the importunate-insurrectionist-Calvinists to SHUT UP:

“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:17-20)

Piper continues:

“I simply mean that when all is said and done, the work of thinking led me again and again to worship. Academia was life-giving for me.”

On November 3, 2002 John Piper had spoken on how one notional straw of ultimate self-determination “went up in the flames of biblical truth”:

“There are two experiences in my life that make Romans 9 one of the most important chapters in shaping the way I think about everything, and the way I have been led in ministry. One happened in seminary and turned my mental world upside down. The other happened in the fall of 1979 and led to my coming to serve this church.

When I entered seminary I believed in the freedom of my will, in the sense that it was ultimately self-determining. I had not learned this from the Bible; I absorbed it from the independent, self-sufficient, self-esteeming, self-exalting air that you and I breathe every day of our lives in America. The sovereignty of God meant that he can do anything with me that I give him permission to do. With this frame of mind I entered a class on Philippians with Daniel Fuller and class on the doctrine of salvation with James Morgan.

… In the class on salvation we dealt head on with the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace. Romans 9 was the watershed text and the one that changed my life forever. Romans 9:11-12 said, “Though they [Jacob and Esau] were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’” And when Paul raised the question in verse 14, “Is there injustice on God’s part?” He says, no, and quotes Moses (in verse 15): “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” And when he raises the question in verse 19, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” He answers in verse 21, “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”

Emotions run high when you feel your man-centered world crumbling around you. I met Dr. Morgan in the hall one day. After a few minutes of heated argument about the freedom of my will, I held a pen in front of his face and dropped it to the floor. Then I said, with not as much respect as a student ought to have, “I [!] dropped it.” Somehow that was supposed to prove that my choice to drop the pen was not governed by anything but my sovereign self.

But thanks be to God’s mercy and patience, at the end of the semester I wrote in my blue book for the final exam, “Romans 9 is like a tiger going about devouring free-willers like me.” That was the end of my love affair with human autonomy and the ultimate self-determination of my will. My worldview simply could not stand against the scriptures, especially Romans 9. And it was the beginning of a lifelong passion to see and savor the supremacy of God in absolutely everything.”

As the Apostle Paul clearly states in the whole of Romans 9, those engaged in a “love affair with human autonomy and the ultimate self-determination of [their wills]” are unregenerate God-haters. Contrary to Piper’s statements, true Christians turn to the true and living God from idols; they do NOT turn from non-sovereign Arminian idols to the partially-sovereign Calvinistic idols (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9).

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