At his 1988 Pastor’s Conference at Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper preached his first “Biography” message which would launch an annual tradition and a new genre category on the greatly helpful Desiring God site. Each year subsequently, Piper would read the works of one particular pastor, theologian, or missionary and give a biographical sketch at one portion of the conference. Most year’s he would then take questions for the time remaining.
For the first year, Piper chose as his subject – ultimately the first of many such sketches – his dead mentor, Jonathan Edwards. In this message, Piper sketches Edwards’s life, and gives a short history of the Bethlehem Pastor’s own reading of Edwards: first with An Essay on the Trinity, then The Freedom of the Will, The Nature of True Virtue, and the Religious Affections.
For me as for many of the new young Edwards enthusiasts, this talk sparked an interest in the man and the message of Jonathan Edwards. Piper passionately showed how the Northampton Puritan simultaneously held his “God-besotted worldview” with a massively beautiful God, how he labored daily to enjoy the Scriptures God gave the Church, as well as how Edwards maintained vigorous study habits throughout his days with Bible and pen in hand.
I suspect that this single message was as responsible as any other individual factor (although there were many) in relaunching the Edwards craze among young scholars. Piper’s passionate plea to take up the worldview of Edwards, with its gloriously central view of God’s sovereignty, and to take it back into pulpits all over the world.