The Sovereignty of God and the Soul Dynamic: God-Centered Thinking and the Black Experience in America, Past and Future -- By: John Piper

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 08:2 (Summer 2004)
Article: The Sovereignty of God and the Soul Dynamic: God-Centered Thinking and the Black Experience in America, Past and Future
Author: John Piper


The Sovereignty of God and the Soul Dynamic:
God-Centered Thinking and the Black Experience
in America, Past and Future

John Piper

John Piper has been the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 1980. He has the Dr. Theol. in New Testament from the University of Munich and taught for six years at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of a number of books and articles, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Multnomah, 1987), Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions (Baker, 1993), and God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 1998).

Introduction

(Editor’s Note: The following message was delivered at the 2002 Bethlehem Baptist Church Conference for Pastors.) My task tonight is to answer the question:

Why This Theme?— The Sovereignty of God and the Soul Dynamic1 : God-Centered Thinking and the Black Experience in America, Past and Future. And, if God would give me the grace to do it, my aim is to light a fire in you that would forge a link between the sovereignty of God and God-centered thinking on the one hand, and the soul dynamic and Black experience in America on the other hand. There is, I believe, an explosively powerful coming together of these that I want to advance and be a part of.

But the very terms are in tension from the outset. The metals out of which I dream of forging such a link seem to be so different they could never be welded together. The term soul dynamic points to a personal energy and life and deeply-felt suffering and human kinship, while the term sovereignty of God, in contrast, points to a divine, objective power outside ourselves imposing itself down from above, not up from within.

The term Black experience in America points to the weight of history, tradition, suffering, passion, people, culture, and warmth, but the term God-centered thinking, in contrast, points to the burden of rationality, reflection, concepts, and ideas. So from the outset the prospect of forging a link between the sovereignty of God and God-centered thinking on the one hand, and the soul dynamic and Black experience in America on the other hand, looks dim.

But there is a very powerful reason why I dream in this direction and why I have strong hope that such a link is not only possible but, in fact, natural and crucial. And the reason is this: the vision of God’s sovereignty and God-centered thinking that drives the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, and hundreds of the pastors who come here, is not what many people—White or Black—have in mind when ...

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