Saturday, August 30, 2014

The legalism in John Piper's theology

   When you listen to a sermon by John Piper.  You don't assume that you are listening to a legality. You see a joyful smile, and hear a tender voice.  he keeps a positive composure and seems to love God.  But over time as his sermons are applied to your theology and his doctrines become ingrained into you.  There may be an overwhelming sense of condemnation.  how could that possibly come from sitting under such a nice devout man?  Theology is not about personality.  It is your faith applied to the rules of logic.  The personality of John Piper is nice, even loving.  But the logic is quite harsh, and it will bear such fruit.  Here is an excerpt from a larger article(book) I wrote just a few years ago.

     "you can see why this starts to get controversial. It's the seriousness of it all."John Piper Dangerous Duties of Delight pg. 15
 The Selfish God
"The ultimate ground for Christian Hedonism is the fact that God is upper most in His own affections. The Chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever." Desiring God pg. 31
In Piper's philosophy God is essentially prideful doing everything for His glory. Now this is an easy concept to confuse. God is all powerful and all-knowing. God is Sovereign over all creation. If you are absolutely objective and all powerful everything should flow in your direction.  Plus you can not esteem yourself too highly being infinite.
However, God declares that pride is a sin. God is Holy and has no sin. Piper and his followers are mocking God to paint Him is such a sinful fashion. Because instead of correcting their error, they merely insist we must be obedient to this perverted notion.

4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
1 John 4:8

13:4 Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Now charity is another word for "Love". (as testified by modern translations)
In First John we see that God is directly identified as not simply possessing the attribute of love, but actually being Love. In this 1 corinthian passage, first we see a biblical definition of love. If anything love is the opposite of pride. So the God of the Bible is not prideful or selfish. What about the verse "seeketh not her own"? Doesn't Hedonism declare that God seeketh after His own?

5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.
Matthew 19:21

2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;
Philippians 2:5-10
Here in Matthew we see a command of perfection. This is another way of commanding Godliness. Part of the definition of Godliness is shown in getting rid of what you have and giving it to the poor. In other words, to be like God is to be humble and not self-seeking or self-interested.
In Philippians we see proof of this in describing Christ. Christ had all the glory of God. Yet he humbled himself. First,to take the form of a man, where he did not even begin to reveal his deity until the age of 30. Then he truly humiliated himself through the crucifixion.

Power is the key to happiness?
"And if none of his purposes can be frustrated, then he must be the happiest of all beings." pg.32 Desiring God.
What we can
deduce from Piper's philosophy, God's morality is quite different from the ethics he demands of us. Though also different from the behavior of Christ who emptied himself.
Is God happy because simply he is the most powerful? Is "what he is" more important than who He is?

2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;
Philippians 2:5-10
How can Jesus be infallibly happy, when according to Piper, happiness emanates from omnipotence and Jesus has temporarily denied himself of those privileges
Obviously Piper's view of salvation is Calvinistic. Piper has always prided himself on being in reformed theology. though there have been recordings of Piper preaching general atonement on the internet, apparently inspired by the teachings of Millard Erickson. (although this was most likely a temporary statement) This is closer to my views. however we would still differ on his emphases on election and the doctrine of irresistible grace. (see my article on Calvinism critiqued from an Amyrauldian point of view.)
However as we shall explore. It has been reported that Piper has fallen short of Calvinistic orthodoxy and that is indeed very perplexing. Is appears that Piper is in support of "Federal Vision". This doctrine denies the Calvinistic view of redemptive history. I myself follow a Dispensational view of redemptive history and yet I find the Calvinistic model still an essential analogy in understand ding the final judgement and our salvation.
Essentially in covenant theology humanity is divided up in a covenant of Grace and a covenant of works. Those under Adam are without Christ and judged under a covenant of works they shall be found guilty of their sins and condemned under this covenant. Those under Christ are under grace since Christ has atoned for all their sins and imputed righteousness through their faith; they will inherit the kingdom.
While I may not hold this proper for a timeline, this is the biblical analogy for salvation. The Bible uses this analogy throughout scripture.

4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 4:23 But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Galatians 4:22-26

Yet Piper has taken an odd turn rejecting the covenant of works.
"Yet I am hesitant to call Jesus' obediance in life and death a fulfillment of a 'covenant of works'. This term generally implies a that 'works' stand over against 'grace'. and are not the fulfillment of faith in grace. Thus works implies a relationship with God that is more like an employer recieving earned wages than in a son trusting his father's generosity." Future Grace pg.413
So here Piper argues that Jesus never fulfilled the covenant of works. Yet if he did not fulfill the covenant of works, who did?

5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 5:12
All of us are related to Adam, and we are all under the curse of sin and death. If Christ did not fulfill the covenant of works then we are still under the covenant of works.
Piper seems to have a problem with Jesus being under a covenant of works. But the Bible says He was
15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. 15:21 For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22
The very fact Christ died places him under the covenant of works with Adam. This brings us to the penalty of death.

3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:
Galatians 3:13
Since Christ paid the penalty of death for us, it is evident that Christ indeed fulfilled the covenant of works.

3:15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a man's covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 3:17 And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 3:18 For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise. 3:19 Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 3:20 Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one. 3:21 [Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Galatians 3:15-22
Earlier Piper stated that he did not agree to a covenant of works. Yet Christ had to fulfill a covenant of works, not for his salvation, but for ours. God's justice had to be satisfied. So Christ had to fulfill this covenant to make his collateral worthy of universal propitiation.

1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.
Colossians 1:20
You can notmaintain a gift if you are under debt.
 Future Grace (payment withheld)

A few years ago, I was blessed by a book that Piper wrote called "Counted Righteous in Christ". It rightly identified that faith is not a merit na d bravely took on the "new interpretation of Paul". It was honoring Justification by grace through faith alone.
Only now, I have been shocked to find that Piper has in fact attacked the same doctrine on a different front. Could this have been a motivation for writing "counted righteous in Christ"?
Regardless, "Future Grace" redefines faith as well. Faith is seen as a virtue, which fuses Justification and sanctification together.
"The aim of this book is to examine how the Faith that justifies also sanctifies." pg. 21 Future Grace
Here, Piper sees the New Testament as a conditional covenant whereby we must fulfill a life of faith in order to experience justification. While I think the formula may be original, this was a common dilemma for the puritans. Salvation was offered by grace and yet assurance of salvation was through works. This nullifies the meaning and effect of justification by grace through faith alone. Because salvation is not yet fully received. Since the faith must be produced over a life time.
5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 5:24
As we see here in the gospel of John everlasting life is a present stage for the Believer. They "hath" everlasting life. They are not looking forward when they already have it. This is why they shall not fall into condemnation.

5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:10-13
Assurance of salvation is based upon faith in Christ and not upon our actions. this is not just an implication but the message which John has for us today.

New Conditional Covenant
"When the Old Testament says that covenant keeping is the condition for recieving God's loving kindness, that's what it meant ... All the covenants of God are conditional covenants of grace-both the old and the new covenant. They offer all sufficient Future Grace for those who keep the covenant. But what it does say is that all future blessings of the Christian life are conditional on our keeping." Future Grace pg. 249

3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 3:13-17
Here we see the Baptism of Christ as Jesus literally makes the New Covenant. He insist upon it, though he has nothing to repent of. He says that his act will fulfill all righteousness. He then promises His death buriel and resurrection. In this covenant He is then anointed with the Holy Spirit, and the Father claims him as His Son in whom he is well pleased. What conditions did Christ ask of the people in fulfilling the covenant?

2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
1 John 2:2
The work of Christ, his propitiatory sacrifice was done for the sins of mankind, no conditions are asked of this covenant.

4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 4:11 These things command and teach.
1 Timothy 4:10-11
The Deity Jesus Christ is the savior of all mankind. therefore there is no condition if everyone is involved.

3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 3:25 Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 3:26 To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 3:21-26
In Theology we refer to the "Righteousness of God" in this passage as alien righteousness. Verse 22 states this righteousness is by the faith of Christ and not of us. It is "unto all" and "upon all them that believe" making this a passive reception of righteousness; and not an act of obedience by us. It is the faithfulness and merit of Christ. Verse 23 reasons the universal sinfulness of man requires this unconditional grace. Verse 24 "Being freely justified by his grace" there are no obligations or duties in justification since it is free. Verse 25 announces that it was the act of God in making a propitiation "through faith in His blood" faith is passive again. Finally verse 26shows that God is the justifier of them "which believe in Jesus" God saving the believers. The believers are not fulfilling duties but instead are passive as God justifies them.

Sanctifying Faith is different from justifying Faith.

5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25
As we begin the passage, we are commanded to walk in the Spirit(16). This is an action of sanctification.
"My point in this book is that the faith which is the occasion of justification, is the same faith through which sanctifying power comes to the justified sinner." Future Grace
Here Piper is bring his faith closer to the Roman Catholic definition.
Catholicism teaches that faith is a gift and that the infusion of righteousness allows us to be sanctified. Also, that if a christian perseveres in faith producing works, they will be saved. You may say that Piper is still saying faith alone; but ultimately Justifying faith is never alone. After all justification depends on faith but faith is dependent on works.
Another problem is that faith is used in two different actions. Trust to receive forgiveness and faithfulness toward a christian lifestyle are two different things. Just as being strong at weightlifting and having a strong will are not the same. One word can be used two different ways.
"It is faith alone which justifies, but the faith which justifies is never alone." Future Grace pg. 21
Notice the lack of clarity in the motto. If faith in the sense of justification is never alone, it can not be alone.
The place of Christ in Piper's soteriology is incredibly diminished. It is the works of the Father and the spirit, which allows the sinner to be more righteous. While Christ only offers a conditional covenant by which if they are faithful then they may recieve future forgiveness. the act of salvation is then mixed with the act of man.

"It is sufficient for salvation, for it necessarily produces good works of love just as a good tree necessarily produces good fruit. Protestants and Catholics agree on this. The Pope even told German Lutheran Bishops so over a decade ago, and they were startled and delighted. the two churches issued a public joint statement on justification, a statement of agreement. Protestants and Catholics do not have essentially different religions, different ways of salvation."
Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli Handbooks of Christian Apologetics pg. 32, 33.
Here we see Catholic Apologists have already capitalized on Protestants redefining the faith.
"By Grace I do not merely mean the pardon of God passing over your sins, but also the power and beauty of God to keep you from sinning. By faith I do not merely mean the confidence that Christ died for your sins, but the confidence that God will 'also with him freely give us all things' (Romans8:32). Faith is primarily future oriented assurance of things hoped for' (Hebrews 11:1)." pg.13 Future Grace
Here Piper wants to focus on the evangelistic concepts of grace and faith, he fuses the concepts of Justification and sanctification. This makes salvation a lifelong process just like Catholicism. This desire to redefine terms is a classic strategy of the cults.
Do not be fooled, this is not the traditional protestant concept.
"Because the Holy Spirit is received by faith, and hearts are renewed and put on new affections so that they can accomplish good works. For Ambrose says 'Faith is the mother of good will and righteous action'" Augsburg Confession XX. B.
Justifying faith is first, only then through the Holy Spirit's regeneration and sanctification are we able to produce good works. Faith being the mother is totally independent of her "good works" children.

Not so sure Assurance(Sure? ? ? Unsure!!!)
"If faith in future grace means believing believing the promises of God, how is it that those promises could be believed and yet the 'believer' not be saved?
"This is impossibly implied in Matthew 7:21-23:'Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name did we not cast out many demons, and in your name perform many miracles? and I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me you practice lawlessness.' These folks believed that they were secure. Otherwise they would not have been stunned at Jesus rejection."
pg.197 Future Grace
7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Matthew 7:21-23
This is a major text used to declare that faith alone cannot save. However we must understand that "justification through faith alone" is a great mystery that was not revealed until the apostleship of te apostle Paul. Christ was operating under the Old Covenant.

15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises [made] unto the fathers:
Romans 15:8
3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 3:9 And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 3:2-9
Jesus ministry was under the law or Jewish covenant.The same with Peter and the Jerusalem church. Paul was unveiling the dispensation or age of Grace.
Consistent with the gospel to the gentiles was the declaration of justification by grace through faith alone.
Besides, the espoused by the damned was not at all faith alone. This was a religious faith. We notice that they declare Jesus Lord, yet there is personal identification to Jesus. This is indeed a lordship faith. There is absolutely no claimed salvation based upon the works and promises of Christ. Instead there is a demand of eternity based upon dead works. There is a false idea of faith for salvation, but it is indeed going in the opposite direction. We should not at all be intimidated by the charge of sin.
2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter; 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
Galatians 2:7-8
2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 2:15 We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Galatians 2:14-19

For legalists work in sin.
3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Galatians 3:10-11
2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.
James 2:10

So it is obvious that these religious folk were stunned by the fact that their good worksfor salvation, were in fact iniquity before the Lord. Remember that we who have placed faith in Christ are righteous before God.
3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,
Philippians 3:8

2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
James 2:23
Finally as to the nature of faith. In the book of James, written before God's revelations to Paul, James is using the word "faith" with a different definition. This book is written to address issues of religious practice. Faith here refers to a belief system. Religion is the practice of man;while salvation is the act of God. (see my article "Does James really teach works based salvation?").
Now if religious faith does not save, what faith is saving? Religious faith is something that comes from us. It may involve our imagination. It may acknowledge truth, and yet not ascend to the truth from the heart.

10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:9
This is a passive faith, but it is sincerely at the center of our beings, as a result of hearing the precious gospel.
10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Romans 10:8
10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:10
10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17

Some may ask of the spiritual gift of faith. This depends on whether we believe that faith is prior to the new birth. I believe that the Holy Spirit will, then regenerate the passive faith we have. This will secure the persevere of the saints.

Conditional Grace and Merit
"It should be plain from this, that fulfilling conditions does not imply earning anything, Grace is still free even when it is conditional. Do not equate meeting conditions of Grace with earning or meriting grace." pg.234 Future Grace
Here I believe Piper is doing something in theological circles known as "double speak". In the late 1950's when liberals infiltrated the pulpits of Southern Baptist churches: They would argue for the scriptures to the congregations and against the word of God at Seminaries I think Piper is preaching a type pf works based salvation while trying to argue he is not. I think his definitions are lining up more with Rome.
"2006 The term merit refers in general to recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of it's members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving of reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of Justice, conformity with the principle of equality and justice which governs it." Catechism of the Catholic Church." Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) pg. 541
The whole point of merit is to meet conditions. If grace is conditional then conditions must be met.
"2007 With regard to God, there is nostrict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from Him our Creator."ibid.
Honestly Roman Catholic theology is much more sophisticated than we protestants assume. They also can mask works based salvation to look as if it were grace.
"2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of His grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for His good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit." ibid.
Piper repeatedly teaches in this book that we are to meet the conditions of the New Covenant. But that is due to the grace of the Holy Spirit that we are to perform works. The only difference I see from Catholic teaching on this point is that Piper would probably not give secondary credit to man. But of course in hedonism he does have a reward-system for pursuing joy.

"2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace and forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the holy Spirit and by charity, we can merit for ourselves and for others the graces of our sanctification,for the increase of grace and charity, and the attainment of eternal life." CCC pg.542

Honestly there is little difference in Piper's teaching on conditional grace and merit. The only distinction Piper makes is that fulfilling conditions is not earning; but the Catholics have defined "merit in a way that is not "earning" either. The Catholics may be more candid about the use of the word "merit". But you find the same religious experience. For in Piper's theology we have God's grace fused to our actions. Our faith and grace become one. The actions which are solely God's, are conditional, upon our faith and eventual works. So who cares whether we use the word merit? I believe this is the reason that "federal Vision" and preachers like John Piper have seen a movement toward Catholicism. You cannot simply order people not to see your contradictions.
"Thus vanishes the absurd dogma, that man is justified by faith, inasmuch as it brings him under the influence of the Spirit of God by whom he is rendered righteous.This is so repugnant to the above that it can no longer be reconciled with it. There can be no doubt that he who is taught to seek righteousness out of himself does not previously posses it in himself ." John Calvin Institutes of the Christian religion Book 3 chapter11 section 235:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

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