John Piper has consistently released a plethora of materials for years, and though I have been critical of a few minor things that he has released, his writings have been an amazing source of Biblical wisdom, help, and knowledge to me since I first discovered some of his writings four years ago. So then, one can see my personal excitement when I happened to notice that he was writing a book on race, the cross, and the Christian.
Piper does a great help to the readers on page 17 where he talks about the problems of defining race, ethnicity, racism, etc. This is a great way to get readers to understand some of the nuances of the language of ‘racial’ struggles today. In the introduction of part one Piper of course starts with writing about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, the problems and struggles that came along with it. He then moves on in section one to his personal story of struggles with the sin of racism, his salvation, ethical questions, the application of the Gospel in the socio-political world. I feel that this section is very confessional for pastor John, as it reveals much of his personal life and dealings with this topic, which are not always pretty. However, sin is never pretty and Piper does an amazing job in this book of showing how the sin of racism is nailed to the cross, and how the Gospel saves from all sins of people from every tribe, tongue and nation.
In section two of part one, Piper systematically goes through the problems and questions of black-white relationships, where the blame of racism and the onus of a cure for it lies (whether on personal responsibility or systemic Intervention), and goes on to declare the power of the Gospel over racial tension and fighting.
In the introduction to part two, Piper gives us an example of believing true, Biblical doctrine and applying it to our worldview through the life and fight of William Wilberforce who fought for the abolishment of slavery. In the first section of part two, Piper argues for the mission of Jesus in redeeming people from every ethnicity through the Gospel; thus the end of any and ALL forms of ethnocentrism on any sides. He goes on to write about the creation of a ‘New Humanity’ aka, the Church universal, through the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Thus he nails down the truth fully that God ransoms people from every tribe, and saves them all in the exact same way; on the basis of Christ’s own perfect merits.
In section two of part two Piper exhorts all to Christ-exalting diversity and to apply the truth of Gospel-freedom to all parts of our lives, even when it comes to racial struggles. He goes on to show how beautiful this liberty really is and how futile prejudice and partiality are.
In section three of part two, Piper only deals with one question; Why is it worth the death of His Son? This small section is particularly beautiful and encouraging to me because of the Christo-centric attitude it encourages to all of those dealing with these practical and ethical manners, putting Christ at the forefront of our minds.
Piper, in section four of part two, finalizes the book with two important topics. First, the question of interracial marriage, which he deals with wonderfully by exhausting all possible answers that people give and object with when it comes to this question. He then give us a solid, Biblical answer to it. Secondly, Piper writes about prejudice and Christ. He does a great job of pointing out prejudice as coming from nothing but subtle self-justification, and shows it thus to be condemned by the truth of Christ who is the justification for all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile, Caucasian or African, Mexican or Asian, Native American or German.
Summary; This book is a great, Biblical resource for all who have questions about race and the Gospel, or for those who have questions of how we treat struggles for civil rights, racial relations, political forces that try to give answers to these things, etc. Piper does a great job of showing how the Gospel reforms our minds, kills the sin of racism, and gives us a Christ-exalting command to lay down our lives for the world, regardless of race or ethnicity.