Beautiful writing

John piper, 1981

In retrospect I think I can see that one of the deeper reasons why I left Bethel College to enter the pastorate is that the things that concern me most are states of the heart rather than states of the mind. In my own set of values orthodoxy is penultimate, personal faith is ultimate. Reasoning to and from God is penultimate; joy in God is ultimate. Ethics is penultimate; love is ultimate. Hermeneutics (no offense, sweetheart) is penultimate, obedience is ultimate. Theology is penultimate; doxology is ultimate. I think my life over the past five years or so has been a spiritual and vocational movement toward the place where the flower of the ultimate bursts forth on the stem of the penultimate.

Of course, I don’t want to imply that I spend all my time now inside a tulip cup (though I am still a 5-point Calvinist) or that I am constantly drunk with honeysuckle juice. In fact, just like you I still spend most of my hours nurturing the stem of the penultimate rather than sniffing the flower of the ultimate. So there is still a restlessness in me which I suppose will never go away until I see God face to face and everything I do is swallowed up in the immediacy of divine life.


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