Laughing at Sin…or not. A final thought on the AACC & John Piper.

Depending on where you hang out in the Christian blogosphere determines whether or not you’ve heard any of the commotion that has been raised over the attendees of the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors) conference which had John Piper as the keynote speaker.  Justin Taylor had a post entitled “How to Train Your People to Laugh at Anythingwhere he blogs at the Gospel Coalition website.  Another blogger, Nathan W. Bingham, also picked up on the “puzzling” subject of the attendee’s response to John Piper’s candid and open confession of sin.  There have also been numerous bloggers discussing the “other side” of the coin and taking these previously mentioned brothers, and others, to task for their “self-righteousness”.  Some of these bloggers are: David Mohler (here, and here), as well as 2miteshere.

I received an email from a friend, and attendee of the AACC conference, and he spoke his concern for the reaction this has caused in the blogosphere.  With his permission I have reprinted his email below:

I was at the conference. Pastor Piper was the keynote speaker. The only speaker before him was Dr. Tim Clinton and his brief message was quite serious. So I don’t see that the AACC conference trained anyone to expect laughter and levity.

Pastor Piper did start with some ironic quips to which the crowd responded with natural laughter. Though the tape and Dr. Piper’s comments might make it seem like all 6,000 people were laughing, this is far from the case. Many people “got it” and understood that John had switched to serious mode. Many people were “with John” in thinking it odd that some people didn’t get the switch to serious. I spoke to many people directly after the message who were saddened that the laughter by some continued. But those people were not judgmental of the rest of the audience.

In comments in this blog and over at [Justin] Taylor’s blog, some folks are really taking the audience to task with a stereotype that “obviously these Christian counselors just don’t get sin.” I take issue with that. The AACC World Conference has over 40 pre-conference sessions and they deal with the issue of sin from the perspective of the sufficiency of Scripture to deal with sin and with suffering. The same is true of the over 150 track presentations.

Personally, I think there is a good deal of overreaction going on to this tape…listened to out of context. It is easy to judge others from a clip of a tape, or a page of a book, or a section of a blog. That strikes me as more of a “Corinthian” attitude than a “Berean” attitude, in my humble opinion.

What do we do about this?  What can we take away?  In my tiny corner of the blogosphere I would echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.

May we be gracious to one another!  With the grace we have received so abundantly from Christ, may we give abundantly to one another.  Let us not excuse sin…but let us pray for one another passionately that we would continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  May we lay aside the bickering, back-biting and engage in the stimulation of one another to love and good works.  This is a day and age where every idle word of man is recorded for an entire world to examine.  As brothers & sisters in Christ, let us commit to encourage one another to be responsible, mature and forgiving.

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