In the following video (See video.) John Piper responds to criticisms about his bringing Mark Driscoll into his Desiring God conference (taking place on September 29th). In the video, Piper rightly analyzes the dangerous trend of the trivialization of doctrine by the emerging and seeker friendly churches. However, incorporating Mark Driscoll into his conference (who aligns with people like Thomas Merton), will be as devastating as the very problems that Piper foresees. Those who Driscoll admires were some of the greatest enemies of Christian doctrine of the 20th century. Let me give you an example of what we are talking about. This excerpt from A Time of Departing shows why affinity with Thomas Merton does not mix with sound biblical Christianity:
In order to understand Merton’s connection to mystical occultism, we need first to understand a sect of the Muslim world–Sufis, who are the mystics of Islam. They chant the name of Allah as a mantra, go into meditative trances and experience God in everything. A prominent Catholic audiotape company now promotes a series of cassettes Merton did on Sufism. It explains: “Merton loved and shared a deep spiritual kinship with the Sufis, the spiritual teachers and mystics of Islam. Here he shares their profound spirituality” (Credence Cassettes magazine, Winter 1998, p. 24).
In a letter to a Sufi Master, Merton disclosed, “My prayer tends very much to what you call fana.” So what is fana? The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult defines it as “the act of merging with the Divine oneness.” Merton saw the Sufi concept of fana as being a catalyst for Muslim unity with Christianity despite the obvious doctrinal differences. In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating: “Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one’s actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.” To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana and contemplation were the same thing. He responded: “Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs [i.e., doctrine] differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas [i.e., doctrine].” …
Merton himself underlined that point when he told a group of contemplative women: “I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.”
John Piper concerns himself with the vulnerability of modern Christians being seduced by post-modern and seeker friendly heresies; but what he seems to be missing is a far deadlier heresy which is steadily making its way through Christianity to many leaders. Our prayer at Lighthouse Trails is that Piper and his colleagues and friends will read and prayerfully ponder the implications of what we have just presented above. As we have stated before, bringing Mark Driscoll, with his present proclivities, will expose a great many vulnerable people to the writings of Thomas Merton and others like him. Piper’s robust endorsement of Driscoll then becomes a de facto endorsement of contemplative.
Note: The reason contemplative is worse than downplaying of doctrine is that it actually demolishes doctrine and sweeps it away as seen by Merton’s quote above. We must bring to your attention that Driscoll also promotes Alan Jones. Jones wrote Reimagining Christianity, where he calls the doctrine of the Cross is a vile doctrine. He also says: “The church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end…. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.” The fact that Mark Driscoll would promote someone with these definitely anti-Christian beliefs shows that Driscoll has an affinity with such individuals. Now the question is, what kind of response will John Piper have to the body of Christ regarding this information?