Piper: Jesus or Church?

The choice of Jesus over church implies your opinion over the Bible. The Bible is where we meet Jesus. You cannot just make Him up. If you choose the Jesus of the Bible, you must take the whole thing, including the church – by dying for the church, he is eternally enjoined to it.

To walk away from the church is to walk away from Jesus. To say “I love Jesus,” but don’t submit to His Word is a lie. “He who loves me will keep my words,” Jesus said. He founded the church, ordained it as His body.

  • John Piper

For further explanation and insight check out this interview:


4 thoughts on “Piper: Jesus or Church?

  1. Sometimes you have to make the call to fish or cut bait. If Piper doesn’t believe that there’s such a thing as a legitimate reason to leave an individual church; therefore all reasons for leaving any church must be illegitimate. He doesn’t separate individual churches from the universal church, as I learned to do when I had to deal with a bad church. The incongruity of a bad church being the same as the universal church would have been enough to have me walk away from it all. Think about it – “The choice of Jesus over Mars Hill Church implies your opinion over the Bible … To walk away from Mars Hill Church is to walk away from Jesus.”
    Sometimes when you choose Jesus, it means walking away from a particular church. Sometimes when you choose a particular church, you lose a little bit of Jesus especially when they teach him incorrectly or the pastor doesn’t reflect Christlike-ness. One really shouldn’t equate the two; Jesus isn’t the the church anymore than the church is Jesus.

    • Jamie, thank you for the comment. I don’t think Piper was trying to say that there are no reasons to leave a church. (I think he’s addressed some on his Ask Pastor John podcast). I do think that Piper is saying that you do not walk away from the Church (capital “C” – Church universal) because of one pastor’s lack of integrity or failure. Instead, one finds a biblical church with qualified pastors. Quitting the church altogether because of one local church’s shortcomings and failures isn’t biblical, and it is detrimental to one’s spiritual journey.

      So, you are correct; walk away from a particular church if that church has unrepentant and unqualified pastors, or if it has become unbiblical in practice and doctrine. It is not correct though to give up on the Church or the doctrines of the church just because of one local congregation. For former Mars Hill member to simply walk away from the Church altogether because of Driscoll, or to give up certain doctrines learned from him because of his sin isn’t biblical, and unhealthy (as if they bought into Driscoll and Mars Hill being the end all of Christianity). The proper course of action would be to leave Mars Hill (which now no longer exists), and seek out another congregation to give yourself to for worship, fellowship, edification, and service.

      I’m sure this is hard. It seems that you can attest to that. People shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Christ remains the same despite the failures of His people. The Church’s mission remains the same, and the kingdom will continue to be made manifest.

      • Now that really depends on the baby and the bathwater. You remember that church that beat a young man to death? Should it’s members hold onto the good and spit out the bad, or should they ask themselves if what they think is good isn’t actually something bad, they just don’t know it because the bad things are so much worse in comparison. Sometimes you really do have to start fresh, free from past sins, free from past toxic theology, and only then can you begin the healing process. I had to start over once, realizing that everything my church taught and exemplified was wrong, even how they taught the good things was terribly twisted beyond recognition. Because they had lost sight of Jesus, so had I; when I focused on Jesus’ ethics then I saw how they made obedience as proof of love and made it so nobody could ever obey enough to prove how much they loved Him and Jesus wasn’t like that.

  2. I don’t think Piper is arguing against that. He is saying that just because one local congregation and its leadership messed up that doesn’t mean you say “no” to the whole thing (because the Church is Christ’s body), nor should you assume that all churches are the same (all have toxic theology, all pastors are unlike Christ). Those are broad generalizations, and toe the line of falsely accusing brothers and sisters in Christ.

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