Review of some chapters in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper.
“Some chapters” because I am only going to refer to the six new chapters in this expanded second edition. Plenty of other reviews have been written about the material in the original book.
Most honest new chapter: Brothers, God does make much of us (4)
When great men (or women) realize they’ve taken a wrong turn, under- or over-emphasized some truth, or become imbalanced through trying to correct imbalance, they correct course and put things right – publicly.
Sadly that’s extremely rare. Some may correct things privately, but never say what needs to be said publicly. Others just stubbornly and proudly continue to teach the same things in the same way, no matter how much evidence to the contrary is presented. Still others dig even deeper to prove their theological muscles and macho spirituality.
Thankfully John Piper has the spiritual guts and the humility to sometimes say, “Hey, I went too far there,” or “I missed something out there.” That’s what he’s doing in chapter 4, which he calls a “mid-course corrective.”
It’s not that he taught major heresy or anything like that; just that he probably over-reacted to a particular evangelical problem, and now, with the benefit of time and thought, he is re-balancing to a more biblical weighting.
Most God-centered new chapter: Brothers, God is the Gospel (6)
Piper is concerned that we do not define the Gospel by its benefits alone. He wants us to go on past all the glorious benefits to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. That alone makes the other good things promised in the Gospel good. God is the Gospel because it brings us to Him. If it doesn’t, it’s not the Gospel.
Most courageous new chapter: Brothers, be Bible-oriented – not Entertainment oriented preachers (13)
Here Piper bravely takes on the flippant, funny, feel-good entertainment-type preaching that can be found in so many churches. He says the main problem with this “is that it is out of sync with the subject matter of the Bible, and diminishes our people’s capacities to discern and feel the weight of glorious truth.”
Most original chapter: Brothers, pursue the tone of the text (18)
For me, this was the most thought-provoking chapter, mainly because of my interest in preaching and in teaching students how to preach. Piper asks, “What tone should you aim at in preaching?” and answers, “Pursue the tone of the text.” I’m sure most preachers do this sub-consciously to some degree, but I found the ten areas of reflection in this chapter to be extremely helpful for stimulating a more conscious and intentional exegesis and communication of each text’s tone.
Most controversial chapter: Brothers, help them act the miracle (22)
These statements shouldn’t be controversial:
- The cross of Christ unleashes power that expresses itself though my volitional attack on sin.
- The cross becomes effective in conquering sin by empowering my will to oppose sin in my life.
- The link between the cross and my conquered sin is a Holy Spirit-empowered will.
- God intends that part of our experience of sanctification be the conscious, willed, opposition to specific sins in our lives.
That these statements are now controversial, indicates how confused the present church scene is. I’m hopeful that the clarity, balance, and exegetical accuracy of this chapter will go a long way to advancing the truth and impeding error.
Most practical new chapter: Brothers, bodily training is of some value (27)
A few years ago, I had to learn this chapter the hard way – through various operations and a brush with death. I hope the biblical balance and common sense of this chapter will prevent other pastors suffering similarly and also enable us all to see how God uses bodily health and fitness to open our eyes to His glory and serve Him better.
Concluding question: If you bought the original book, do these six additional chapters make the second edition worth purchasing?
My answer: YES!
Brothers, we are not professionals by John Piper (307 pages). Available at Amazon.com.