The Main Point of the book

Piper on the main point of his book:

Two passages of Scripture provide the main point of this book. The first is 2 Timothy 2:7, where Paul says to Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” The command is that he think, consider, use his mind to try to understand what he means. And the reason Paul gives for this thinking is this: “For the Lord will give you understanding.” Paul does not put these in tension: thinking on the one side and receiving the gift of understanding from God on the other side. They go together. Thinking is essential on the path to understanding. But understanding is a gift of God. That’s the point of this book.

A story about Benjamin Warfield may make the point clear. Warfield taught at Princeton Seminary for thirty-four years until his death in 1921. He reacted with dismay toward those who saw opposition between prayer for divine illumination and rigorous thinking about God’s written Word. In 1911 he gave an address to students with this exhortation:

“Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. ‘What!’ is the appropriate response, ‘than ten hours over your books, on your knees?’”10

10 Benjamin Warfield, “The Religious Life of Theological Students,” in The Princeton Theology, ed. Mark Noll (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 263.

Both-and. Not either-or. That’s the vision I am trying to encourage in this book.

A couple of questions might be: 1) Who are those who see “opposition [or “logical tension”–CD] between prayer for divine illumination and rigorous thinking about God’s written Word”? Charismatics? Pentecostals? Who? And 2) What are the various unbiblical presuppositions that underlie such or similar objections?


Now, to Introduce a Friend and Lay a Foundation

In one sense the next chapter is an extension of this one because it tells the story of how one man made a huge impact on my experience of this both-and life. You could say it is a tribute to a friend I never knew personally. In fact, he’s been dead over 250 years. He became for me an inspiration to be this kind of both-and person.

But in another sense, the next chapter is the basis for the rest of the book. What this friend provided for me was the deepest foundation for how thinking and feeling relate to each other. He did this through his vision of the Trinitarian nature of God. I hope you benefit from his vision as much as I have.

Piper’s friend is the American theologian, Jonathan Edwards.

To me, the interplay and connectedness between “thinking and feeling” is complex. I have had face-to-face encounters with persons who “FELT” angry because they “THOUGHT” or “REASONED” that God was “unjust” (I had used Romans 9 as my gospel-presentation springboard). In reading the biblical account of The Prodigal Son it appears that one son “FELT” angry because his “INTELLECT” informed him that he had been slighted by his father.

The interplay and connectedness of emotion (feeling), intellect, and volition [1] is extremely complex to intellectual-short-persons such as myself. So I’ll end this post here.

[1] e.g., The decision of the “non-prodigal” to FEEL slighted, and the decision of self-appointed-human-deities to FEEL or express anger at Romans 9 truth.