Language is so woefully inadequate. I often find myself wondering why we haven’t invented something better. Music, painting, art, perhaps? It doesn’t matter, when we are trying to speak of God, everything is going to be woefully inadequate. Also, some things must be subjectively received and spiritually discerned.
That said however, words do mean something. You can get yourself into a great deal of trouble in faith by putting your faith in a word or the complete misunderstanding of a word.
So many people have walked away from faith over one misused word. That breaks my heart, that presses on me. I can’t say it often enough, spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. Sometimes people are just plain wrong and sometimes we just hear what we want to hear.
I’m picking on John Piper today because he is notorious for making word salad and an easy target. So this tweet over here is a good example.
John 16: says, “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away.” Some versions say, “so you don’t fall into doubt and confusion.” Those are much better translations that more accurately reflect the heart and intent of those passages. We are being told this so we don’t “fall into doubt and confusion.” To “fall away” in modern Christiannese means to backslide or lose your salvation.
Piper has only contributed to the confusion and tossed the word salad even more by talking about how that passage means “imperil our perseverance.”
I don’t know what is worst, that half his Twitter feed is filled with people who think he is suggesting we are saved by our own works and behavior alone and if we don’t get it right we’ll be thrown out, or that half his feed is filled with people quite delighted to proclaim that false notion and grateful to have some theologian affirm it for them. If your own efforts fail you and you neglect the words of Jesus you will loose your salvation and fall away.
Ai yi yi.
What is unanimous here, is that nearly everyone commenting agrees on and believes in, “fall away” and to “imperil your perseverance” means to loose your salvation. So the vast majority, a good hunk of Piper’s comments clearly indicate that a lot of people want to believe our salvation is directly connected to our own efforts, our own works.
I’ve read enough of Piper’s word salads, like I’ve read enough of children’s poorly written notes on the fridge, to now be able to now accurately read things that are not even there and fill in the blanks. Yeah, clearly that is not what Piper is trying to say at all. In fact, he actually believes the precise opposite, we are justified by Christ alone. It is His grace that keeps us in His hand.
We can totally “imperil our perseverance,” in Christ. You can do things the hard way or the easy way. But regardless, God’s not standing by just waiting to kick you out because you didn’t persevere. John 16:1 is actually offering support and comfort, words so you do not “fall into doubt and confusion.” Why? Because God loves us! Because falling into doubt and confusion is scary, uncomfortable and uneccessary.
It is NOT a passage about condemnation and losing your salvation. I honestly don’t believe Piper intended it to sound that way, either. But he did it make it sound that way with his word salad and he did not correct anybody who falsely affirmed just that….
It is so important that you read the Bible YOURSELF, talk to God YOUSELF, pray YOURSELF, check out the meaning of things yourself, and learn to think for yourself.