Wednesday, September 03, 2008

FORUM - John Piper on Ruth 3, all about taking refuge under the wings of God

This morning we considered Strategic Righteousness in Chapter 3, exercise by the plans of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. Naomi's skies begin to open. John Piper shared how we've been inspired by William Cowper (and his song God moves...) who could write of hope despite never really breaking free of the shadows of depression, cared for by John Newton.

He also shared from the darkest days at his church, in 1993, where the church lost members due to a hard decision he'd had to made, that took several years to recover from.

We were charged to plan righteous activity for the term. Hopeless people can't and don't plan, because they can't see ahead. We can dream when we have hope. Naomi's hope is evidently coming back as she plans for Ruth to go to Naomi. The hope shows that this isn't a loose woman and her coniving mother-in-law.

The key issue is what does the word 'garment' or 'skirt' mean. Piper argued from Ezekiel 16v8 that it's about the covenant wings of God under which his people find refuge. The ESV makes this plain, and points us back to the same word in chapter 2. I've loved Piper's rigorous argument built on verses not "logic", that has been warm, simple, accessible and compelling.

The language of Ruth, apparently unprompted, speaking to Boaz is covenant language. This is a noble relationship. He could drive her out or sleep with her, but says WAIT and he'll sort it in the morning. Then we're appalled - there is someone nearer than Boaz who could marry Ruth. We scream (with Piper) - Oh No!

We've gone into the drama of the book, we've gone to the heart of God, with tenderness and compassion in the darkest of days and found hope in a story that moves unstoppably to the rescuing of Ruth and the coming of David and Jesus. We conclude the book of Ruth tomorrow morning.


  1. Good stuff! Really wishing I was there!

    This raised my eyebrows...

    "I've loved Piper's rigorous argument, built on verses not logic, that has been warm, simple, accessible and compelling."

    I think I know what you mean, but logic isn't the right word. I think you mean not put in philosophical or theological jargon, rather than logic.

    I would be very very very concerned if you think that verses and logic could be split apart.

  2. maybe that's better language... i figured saying it was rigorous argument but not logic was a way to express that.

    Various readers had wondered where the Price hobby horse had been. I'll let them know you're back. :)

  3. That's very kind of you. Trust me, there are more important things in life than logic. But I do believe that most Christians have a big misunderstanding of what it is, and don't understand how to use a good gift that God made for us, and Jesus used all the time.

    See my post Jesus the Logician and the article I've linked to.

    I think you'll find that some of the most persuasive arguments are warm, simple, accessible and compelling. When you understand what logic really is you begin to 'get it' and see that arguments and logic are the very fabric of reality. Anyone who tries to reject that, has to use some kind of logic or argument to do so, and only ends up with a self-contradictory posture.

  4. I agree. Thanks for supplying some helpful language.

  5. I agree with you, and as a mathmo I love musing on how Jesus is our Logic - anything claiming to be rational yet out of harmony with him is perverted logic. I seem to remember Piper making a 'verses vs. logic' point in a sermon I heard of his - Hebrews or Romans probably - in response to ppl accusing him of building his theology of logical inferences "rather than" explicitly from Scripture. He used the 'that's not logic: it's verses!' wording to point out how we see these things clearly in Scripture, but it's not a helpful contrast. Thankfully he also teaches strongly the need for rigourous argumentation and use of good logic - I suspect he was partly taking the michael out of the 'logic vs. verses' ppl, in borrowing their distinction and showing it to be rubbish.