Pastor Piper

If An Author Changes Their View, Should We Still Read Them? Piper Answers

Sep 13, 2017 by Will Maule

We are all fickle, ever-changing human beings. We form opinions, and then leave them by the wayside. We tend to go with the wind of popular culture with regards to many key issues. But what about when a Christian author takes a big turn in direction? Should we still read their books, and take their spiritual advice? Pastor John Piper advises us. 

"I would say that it seems to me one lesson we should learn from these repeated situations that happen in history is that we should avoid excessive, uncritical praise for an ordinary human author," says Piper at Desiring God, alluding to our raising up of Christian authors as a definitive authority on certain issues.

"If a writer does move in a seriously defective direction doctrinally or morally, we have good reason to reread what he has written and be on the lookout for the seeds and trajectories that might give some explanation for why he went in such a wrong direction," urges Piper, referring to Eugene Peterson's recent revelations on homosexuality.  

"In principle, a book that was once properly seen as true and helpful may remain true and helpful. The reason I used the phrase “in principle” is to distinguish it from “in actuality.” In other words, a book never exists in principle alone — in abstract," says Piper.

"It never exists isolated from connections with author, real and potential readers, churches, publisher, ministry, the fruit it bears, and the time in history when it served its purpose."

"Bottom line: test all things and hold fast to what is good."

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