Here's an easy text to exegete, from Eph. 4:1, 3: "...I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called...eager/dilligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
How many of us can honestly say that we are eager to maintain Christian unity? Somehow diligence in our pursuit of unity gets us pegged as liberal. Funny- I thought seeking to obey the clear words of the Bible made us conservative. Who knew?
This passage has been rolling around my mind for a few weeks now, but I couldn't resist commenting on it more publicly as all this Piper/Warren conversation has surfaced. For the three of you who haven't heard, Piper invited Warren to be one of the speakers at this year's Desiring God conference, which is focused on the life of the mind for Christians.
Many in Reformed circles are not just surprised; they're positively upset. What is Piper thinking? How could he invite someone like Warren?
Warren is actually a confessing Calvinist, but of course he is known best for being the champion of seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven Christianity than anything else. He preaches, according to many, a watered-down gospel and pushes a way of doing church that necessitates theological shallowness.
So in the midst of all this, many are loudly commenting that Piper has invited a guy who preaches "a different gospel" (in the worst sense) to speak at his conference. Now, if Warren does, in fact, preach a different gospel, he shouldn't be preaching at any Christian conference. But for all my disagreements with Warren (and they are considerable), for the life of me I cannot find anything that tells me that Rick Warren is a heretic or a non-Christian- which ultimately is what we're saying if we say that he preaches "a different gospel". And I've been to Saddleback plenty of times- I lived 10 minutes from Saddleback for years. I've actually known many godly people who are or have been heavily involved in that church- hard to believe, I know!
All that to say this: unless you're really willing to say that Rick Warren is a heretic, it's time to back off just a tad bit. Take all that theological eagerness and reallocate it toward preserving Christian unity. The passionate desire to be humble, charitable, and personally gracious toward a professing Christian who seems to love other Christians and walk in obedience to Christ (cf. the indications of true Christianity in 1 John) is patently biblical.
And that includes how we talk about Piper in all this too. You might remember that it is fair to precede the word Piper with "Doctor", a titular prefix which he attained at no less than the University of Munich. You might remember that Dr. Piper knows a few things about what makes a Christian and has consistently displayed his godliness and wisdom in a life of fruitful ministry. You might remember that Desiring God as a whole is one of the most trustworthy large-scale ministries in existence, reformed or otherwise.
So here's what I'm thinking: maybe we go ahead and eagerly preserve unity by trusting him on this one?