TUESDAY UPDATE: WOW! You girls have no idea how much I am loving your responses. Your thoughts on 'Wimpy Doctrine' in Question 4 really have me brewing on how should be as alert to the absence of truth as we are to outright lies.
Obviously these questions require some thought and some comments are still trickling in. I'll leave the this post open until Thursday and then do some type of wrap up at that time. So far I see 18 of you but roll call said 40+. We're waiting, girls!! (And boys??)
I am SO excited to finally begin our Spectacular Sins Book Club! I've shared with you on several occasions that the author, John Piper, is among my favorite theologians. Spectacular Sins has done for me in the area of God's Sovereignty the same that Desiring God did with the concept of Christian Hedonism. His writing is heady, but girls, if you're gonna go deeper you gotta think deeper.
So here's how this thing will work:
Each Monday there will be a post here from either myself or Missy covering the chapter for that week. When I say cover, I mean we will post questions to help internalize the material and give you the opportunity to share insights. A scholar I'm not but if you have a really deep question that I can't answer, then expect a visit from The Preacher. He's really smart. (And good looking. Can't forget that part.) Missy can probably answer her own questions because she's just awesome like that.
Please number your responses with the corresponding question and post your answers in the comments. At this point, Missy and I feel the best conversation will take place if all our remarks are in one place. If you are inspired to write your own post, by all means feel free to place your link in the comments but please know that for the sake of time and clarity that she and I will be responding on this post only. Also, please try to keep your answers concise so everyone will be able to read all the replies.
I think that covers the details for now so, without further delay, here are my thoughts and some questions for you from The Introduction of Spectacular Sins...
1. Let's ease into this. I'm a huge quote girl so tell us, what is your favorite quote from the Introduction? What about it resonated with you? (Try to keep the quote to two sentences. I only say that because I find myself quoting entire paragraphs!)
2. Piper opens the book by describing the most spectacular sin ever committed - that of the murder of Jesus Christ. What does he say the commission of this sin actually accomplished? (p.12, paragraph 2) How do you interpret the phrase, "He made evil commit suicide in doing its worse evil"?
3. How is evil defined? (p.12, paragraph 3) How does the understanding that "the apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ" impact your thinking? How will you allow this truth to shape your thinking when you are tempted to ask 'why' in the midst of calamity?
4. I was stopped cold when I read, "The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? And also, "Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians." (p. 13 paragraph 4). Continuing along that line of thought, what false teachings do you recognize as being popular but unable to prepare us for catastrophe? In what ways have you discovered you've been influenced by those those lies?
5. Piper states that the purpose of Spectacular Sins is not "to meet felt needs, but to awaken needs that will soon be felt, and then to save your faith and strengthen your courage when evil prevails." (p. 16) If you feel compelled, share a time when evil prevailed in your own life. Refer back to Question Two and give God praise if He has revealed how that evil served His glory. Also feel free to note any relevant Scripture God used for your healing. I know this will be a difficult exercise for many. Please know we will be so tender with your responses and will pray with you if you are in a place of suffering.
The Introduction concludes with one of my favorite thoughts: "There will be much to endure. Without a way of seeing the world that can deal with massive evil and unremitting pain under the supremacy of Christ, we will collapse in self-pity or rage."
Perhaps the chief complaint of the wayward believer or scoffing pagan is that God allows unjust calamity. My own conclusion is that, while we are designed to long for Heaven, we mistakenly expect to find it here. Think about that. We want eternal life. Freedom from sickness or sadness or pain. We desire an absence of evil. We want all that Jesus Christ offers to those who persevere through this present age. If we were given all these things on earth now, the Person on whom we place our hope would have no value. This earth stands in quickly deteriorating contrast for what is to come. Every heartbreak, every disillusionment, every catastrophe reminds me to lift my head, for my redemption draws nigh (Luke 21:28). God help us if this is all there is! Why hope for a Savior if the things for which we long can be provided by a president or friend or child? No, there is more and if Christ is not raised and if He has not prepared a better place, we are indeed to be pitied above all (wo)men.
And though we groan, let us not be found pitiful. Though we are pressed, let us not be crushed or destroyed because we were not prepared for suffering. These thoughts and many more are why I felt it important to introduce this book to you and for us to work through it together so that hopefully we will develop that 'spine of steel' we need to overcome.
So hang in here with us. I think you'll be glad you did.
Okay, it's your turn!
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