Monday, April 18, 2011

BLBC: God is the Gospel Chapter One

“If I had a million dollars I would give 999,999 to the church and 1 to education.”  -Billy Sunday

After reading this chapter I hope that you see Billy Sunday’s famous quote is unhelpful.  Many have followed in Sunday’s trail by dismissing the importance of theology and doctrine for the sake of proclaiming the gospel.  Piper clearly shows that is false dichotomy.  It is both proclamation AND doctrine. 

While showing the importance of doctrine Piper also puts it in its proper place, when he says, “explanation is necessary, but it is not primary.” (22)  It is possible to fall off on either side of the horse; you can exalt doctrine in such a way that it fails to serve its purpose.  But you can also ignore doctrine in such a way that the proclamation becomes essentially meaningless. 

It saddens me that many see doctrine as almost unnecessary.  It also saddens me that doctrine, and our discussion of it, is often more contentious than it is worshipful.  I think Piper’s view of doctrine here is really valuable and would serve us well to attempt keeping this balance:

Gospel doctrine matters because the good news is so full and rich and wonderful that it must be opened like a treasure chest, and all its treasures brought out for the enjoyment of the world. Doctrine is the description of these treasures. Doctrine describes their true value and why they are so valuable. Doctrine guards the diamonds of the gospel from being discarded as mere crystals. Doctrine protects the treasures of the gospel from the pirates who don’t like the diamonds but who make their living trading them for other stones. Doctrine polishes the old gems buried at the bottom of the chest. It
puts the jewels of gospel truth in order on the scarlet tapestry of history so each is seen in its most beautiful place.

Piper goes on to say that with doctrine does this “with its head bowed in wonder that it should be allowed to touch the things of God.  Here is a call to humility as well as love.  As Piper will again say, “love is the point”. 


It is my hope that your comments will dictate the direction of our discussions.  I was very disappointed with the level (or lack of) discussion last week.  I will assume that it was my fault for not writing a compelling enough introduction.  I want to refrain from simply asking questions and me being the one dictating the direction of the discussion.  So this week I’ll keep it open and simply say, “your turn”.  But if there is little discussion this week I’ll assume I need to provide more direction for our little band of book readers.

It’s not too late to join our study.  The introduction and first chapter are very short so you can catch up really quickly.  You don’t even have to buy the book; it’s free online:

What are your thoughts about this chapter…


  1. It almost seems as if this chapter is more of an introduction than the introduction? Maybe that’s just me.. probably. Anyway, I like how Piper is setting up the rest of this book by emphasizing that gospel is doctrine. I’m afraid that Christianity in America is has become so watered down that the gospel isn’t much good news… we’ve cheapened it and I can’t help but wonder if its not a direct result of a lack of doctrine and more of… the preaching of good old country boys where “Jesus and me have our own thing going”.
    “When the gospel is proclaimed, it must be explained… Unintelligible good news is not even news, let alone good”. “It’s (doctrine’s) fingers tremble at the cost of what it handles”. Piper gold right there, my friend.
    The past few years has seen an explosion of the “young, restless, and reformed” and I’m pretty sure the church will benefit greatly from this. Childlike faith indeed, not childish, hence the importance of doctrine. Maybe many of us are too afraid to dive too deep in this pool? Afraid our beliefs aren’t as gospel saturated and solid as we’d like… we do like our comfortable god don’t we.

  2. Oh, and I'm a huge Billy Sunday fan! White Wedding and Dancing With Myself are two of my favs!

  3. I agree with Brian, this does seem more like an introduction to the content of the book than anything else.
    I also agree with Brian that seems that it has become so watered theologically that, in many places, the Gospel is nigh on recognizable. I think that they have bought in to the mind set of moody way too much. Another quote from history that I think is unhelpful, and is indicative of a mindset that is prevalent, is, I believe, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." That somehow we can proclaim the Gospel through our actions rather than with words.
    As this chapter says, the Gospel is in the first instance news. It is something that must be proclaimed verbally. In the second instance, the Gospel is doctrine, because news is no news at all if it is unintelligible.
    I am glad for the resurgence in people that are more doctrinally minded; however, I fear for them in the same way I fear for myself. Is doctrine serving the Gospel, or is doctrine the end in itself. Personally, much of the time, doctrine becomes the end for me and this scares me. I don't want my doctrine to be some obscure thing by which I become superior to others. I want the doctrine that I know and believe to, first, serve the God who made me and saved me and, second, serve the church, who are my brothers and sisters in Christ.



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