An Apology to Dr. John Piper

The following is a copy of the letter that I sent to Dr. Piper regarding one of the quotes I used from him. I used the quote in a public way, and so in like manner is my apology.

Dear Dr. Piper,

My name is Ronnie W. Rogers, and I am writing to you in order to apologize and ask your forgiveness.

I most regretfully and inadvertently misrepresented a statement of yours in my book Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist. Please see quote at the close of this letter.

I have quoted hundreds of persons in my books and other writings, as well as thousands of persons in my messages, and I have never to my knowledge misquoted or misrepresented a quote; however, I have come to the conclusion that I did in fact, unintentionally, misrepresent one of your written statements. No one pointed this out to me, and as far as I know, no one has noticed it. As a matter a fact, I remember seeing this particular statement similarly referenced elsewhere, but I cannot remember where. I now believe that you were misrepresented there as well.

Please know that I read your statement in context many times before citing you. Then, still not absolutely sure of your intended meaning, I even inserted a footnote expressing a possible misunderstanding of your statement, which would in fact negate my argument (see the foot note below quote).

Recently, I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book, and it was in working on that project that I returned to reconsider the citation. As I was still uncomfortable with my lack of certitude regarding my understanding of your statement, I went back and reread everything several times. This time, I began to see more clearly how, as I now believe, you were not saying what I had previously determined that you were. It appears to me now that you are speaking only to believers with regard to comprehending the truth about depravity and not both believers and unbelievers as I previously thought.

I have been misquoted and misrepresented many times, and often in such a way that did not evidence being a regretted mistake. Consequently, I am well aware of the harm and personal hurt from being misrepresented, and I am painfully aware, that even when unintentional, such harm cannot in this life be completely undone. I do deeply regret having made this mistake; however, please know that I truly tried my best to rightly represent your comment. It is now painfully clear to me that my mistake is due to my obtuseness and not your lack of clarity.

I have the utmost respect for you as a man of God. I have unquenchable gratitude for your work for the kingdom. Although I now find myself disaffirming Calvinism, my abiding desire is to express what God has taught me with accuracy in letter and gentle and humble in spirit as well as with love and respect for his servants who see things differently. I seek to present my understanding in a way that does not unnecessarily hurt others, although it appears that I have much to learn in this area. Quite contrary to what is being said about me, I have no axe to grind with anyone regarding Calvinism or any other topic or with any other person, especially one of my brothers or sisters in Christ. Further I have no less love or respect  for my Calvinists brothers and sisters now than when I was a Calvinist, and this quite contrary to how my disagreement is often portrayed.

My supreme desire in what I write or say is that it might, at least, in some miniscule way cause the body of Christ to know and love God more, others to follow Him, and supreme of supremacies that our Lord Jesus might be pleased and glorified. My mistake accomplishes none of these but rather quite the opposite.

Although I must live with the reality, that I have by my own dullness, hurt and misrepresented you, and you must live with this as well, due to no failure of your own. I have and am doing the following:

I found this error myself, and have written you this letter to ask your forgiveness.
I have deleted it from the chapter that I have been asked to contribute to a book.
I will delete it from the first revision opportunity in Reflections….
I have posted this letter on my blog, www. ronniewrogers.com

Thank you for all you do for the kingdom.

Indebted,

 

Ronnie W Rogers

 

This is found in the book Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, pages 59-60 of Chapter XI, entitled Faith and Regeneration.

An example of seeking to soften the sharp edge of Calvinism can be seen in statements like Piper’s assertion, “If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective. But if we will humble ourselves under this terrible truth of our total depravity” (emphasis added).[i] To anyone reading this, it seems as though a sinner can do something to move into at least understanding some of salvation to the point where sinners “will humble ourselves”, which is impossible if salvation is monergistic and we are dead like people in a graveyard. If this is not his intent,[ii] then it is at least misleading or unclear how sinners can humble themselves or have anything but a defective view of redemption. This is a disquieting reality.

 


[i] Piper, “Total Depravity” in What We Believe, page 8, paragraph 1.

[ii] It is difficult to definitively determine whether Piper is speaking of “we” as sinners or “we” as believers, but it appears that he is either referring to unbelievers alone or included with believers. If he is not referring to or including unbelievers, my conclusions are unwarranted.