I really liked Mike Bird’s blog post dealing with John Piper’s sermon on “Did Jesus preach Paul’s gospel?” This topic is confusing to me to say the least – perhaps I am reading into it too much but why would Jesus preach Paul’s gospel (whatever that was)? For Piper it is imputed righteousness as seen through the lens of the WCF and LBC (makes me wonder, is it anochronistic?).
For Mike Bird here is what he avered:
I submit that the WCF and LBC 1689 are not the contexts for understanding Jesus’ proclamation of a gospel. Rather, I would say that Isa. 52.7, Ps. Sol. 11.1-7, 4Q521, and the Priene inscription help us to understand what Jesus and the Evangelists meant by “gospel”. When I read Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:16-21; Matt 24:14, imputation does not come to my mind or to the the mind of any ancient Gospel commentary that I know of. Jesus’ “gospel” is Isaianic not Calvinistic (and this is coming from a Calvinist!).
This bears repeating: Jesus’ “gospel” is Isaianic not Calvinistic [or Lutheran or Arminian, etc]. Indeed.
Later he writes, which reflects my question above (which I asked to myself when I learned about the sermon and before I read this post):
Piper’s Jesus, on this point about imputation, is a construct conducive to a particular hermeneutical community, but it is neither canonical, nor catholic, nor historical. Piper is setting off on a noble task of trying to show the parity of Jesus and Paul when it’s all the rage to drive them apart. The problem is that rather than showing that Paul was a faithful follower of Jesus, he seems to make Jesus an advocate of a theologically freighted reading of Paul (for a better effort on this task I recommend the work of David Wenham).
I know in the comments Bird noted he was trying to be sympthetic to Piper – but at this point I stand in complete agreement with Mike Bird on this issue – Paul’s gospel was actually a reflection of the gospel Jesus and the Apostles preached, not the other way around.
In other words, Piper sees the “gospel” Jesus preached through a particular interpretive lens (the theologically freighted stuff Bird noted), which is deemed by himself and his followers, as the “right” interpretive lens – ie., “right” doctrine. In reality, it reflects his own theological commitments over and against a committment to read and understand the Gospels and Paul’s Letters as they stand, and in their historical context.
I could be off on this and looking at it from the wrong angle – if so, let me know how to see it differently.
ps., I guess we shouldn’t really pick on just John Piper, he isn’t the only person who does this (read Jesus through Paul instead of vice versa).