“Flag It, Wave It, Acknowledge It”

Daniel Kleven has posted his concluding article on Edwards, Dabney, the role and place of the Reformed movement, and John Piper’s over the past years.  Thank You, Daniel Kleven, for writing this series of articles, and even more for your insights, courage, work, and writing which began in 2017-2018. It was that work that led to this day of Flag Waving.

The title of Kleven’s post included the words . . . .

“Flag It, Wave It, Acknowledge It”

Let me “Flag, Wave, and Acknowledge” two points that surely must be made!

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The Whitewashing Of Heroes Continues In The Reformed Movement

As Kleven states . . . .

Is there still hope for that “single river” to materialize this side of eternity? As things stand, white Reformed evangelicalism has shown little interest in changing . . . . That single river might still happen, though probably not from “the mountain stream of Reformed theology,” but from elsewhere.

John Piper’s unwillingness to meaningfully address the blatant racism of Dabney and/or Murray, and Piper’s present-day unwillingness to disavow men like Doug Wilson is also being whitewashed by today’s hero worshippers — because the hero of may is now Piper himself.

Yes, Kleven is likely correct about where theological change will come from — probably not from Reformed theology!  Too many Christian leaders and pastors are unwilling to disavow John Piper.

While many literally tossed the books of Ravi Zacharias into the garbage, such is not even a distant consideration for most Piper devotees/hero worshippers. Actually, that is what it might take for John Piper to be the first and foremost advocate for a meaningful course change.

Note: Before you conclude that the horrific behaviors of RZ are not to be compared to racism, read the words of Dabney, Murray, Wilson, and then read about slavery! —  i.e. “How The Word Is Passed.” [2]

Many questions troubled minds and hearts following the RZIM revelations . . .

  • How does a man like Ravi Zacharias preach, teach, write, and defend the Scriptures while engaged in horrific sexual misconduct?
  • Have the Scriptural truths and principles taught by him been warped and twisted to allow for such behavior?
  • How have those Scriptural truths and principles taught by him been compromised to allow for such a contradiction?
  • Why did it take so long to address — not to see — what was taking place?
  • How does loyalty trump integrity when it comes to Scripture?
  • How do men justify such contradictions?
  • What truths and principles have not been / are not being taught that would have countered such ungodly attitudes and actions?

The same questions must be considered regarding John Piper!

Something is terribly broken when a leader, teacher, and mentor cannot call out racism for all that it is, historically or presently.

Something is terribly broken when Christian leaders and pastors cannot disavow John Piper and his tolerance and promotion of Louis Dabney, Ian Murray, and Doug Wilson.

“No one is helped by whitewashing our heroes!” [1]

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The Same Thread May Account For Abusive Pastoral Leadership

Kleven cites Geroge Marsden . . .

“Perhaps the greatest fault of American Reformed communities since Puritan times is the that they have cultivated an elitism. Ironically, the doctrine of election has been unwittingly construed as meaning that Reformed people have been endowed with superior theological, spiritual, or moral merit by God himself… The great irony is that … the doctrine of grace ought to cultivate humility as a conspicuous trait of Reformed spirituality… Yet too often Reformed people have been so totally confident of their own spiritual insights that they have been unable to accept or work with fellow Reformed Christians whose emphases may vary slightly.” [emphasis mine]

I would suggest that the same elitism fuels the use, abuse, and misuse of God’s people in ministries and local churches.



1. Daniel Kleven quotes John Piper . . . .

Piper responded with this:

“The first thing I would say is that no one is helped by whitewashing our heroes, your heroes. No one has been helped by it… you don’t benefit by whitewashing your heroes. You won’t ever ask yourself the hardest questions about life if the people you love are whitewashed and you don’t ever come to terms with their sinfulness.”

Then Piper said this, and referenced Dabney specifically:

“And another thought comes to my mind, namely, that if you see in Edwards, Luther, Dabney, if you see sin, you should flag it, wave it, acknowledge it.

2. “How the Word Is Passed,” by Clint Smith

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A few paragraphs from Kleven’s article worth citing . . .

It’s interesting to me that over the years, on some issues, Piper has been willing to name names and battle publicly for a position. When the Sovereignty of God was at stake, Piper publicly disputed with Greg Boyd and advocated for his removal from Bethel Seminary. Over the doctrine of hell, Piper famously said “Farewell, Rob Bell.” But he has not been willing to do this over racism. Piper has never been willing to publicly critique Douglas Wilson, and my article is the only time Desiring God has done this with Robert Lewis Dabney.

Regardless, in 2018 there was no caveat in Piper’s recommendation of Murray’s biographies, not even of Dabney. And, consistent with the list of “Books that Desiring God Recommends,” there is not a single link to a biography of a Black Christian

But when I also consider the decades long span of his work, for most of those years he repeatedly commended a white-supremacist like Robert Lewis Dabney to thousands of pastors, church leaders, and readers. When I consider the question “how and why was Robert Lewis Dabney commended to a generation of reformed evangelicals?” John Piper has played a significant role.

Is there still hope for that “single river” to materialize this side of eternity? A things stand, white Reformed evangelicalism has shown little interest in changing . . . . That single river might still happen, though probably not from “the mountain stream of Reformed theology,” but from elsewhere.

“How did we get here? How did a white-supremacist become one of our theological heroes in the first place? How and why did that happen?”

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