At the recent Theologians on the Christian Life conference, hosted by Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Piper for an hour to talk about the role of history and biography in his life.
Here are some of the questions I asked:
- Do you recall your early experiences with biography? Did you read missionary biographies s as a boy?
- How were were biographies particularly helpful to you when you began pastoral ministry?
- Why does biography seem to have a different effect on us than just collecting a list of principles we might learn from a life?
- When did you decide to make pastoral biographies a part of your annual pastors conference?
- Why do you think it’s helpful for pastors not only to read biography but to present it as well?
- Can you walk us through your general approach to read and preparing such messages?
- What is the difference between the approaches of a George Marsden and a Iain Murray when it comes to doing history in general or in particular with someone like Jonathan Edwards?
- How do we process our historical heroes—like a Martin Luther King or a Jonathan Edwards or a Martin Luther—who saw so much and got so much right having such significant blindspots and being unrepentant in unrighteous attitudes and behavior?
- How do you think your life and theology would be different if you hadn’t encountered C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards?
- What is it about J. I. Packer in particular that causes his work to have a timeless quality and his ministry to have such a spiritual impact?
- Of all of the men you did biographies on, who would you most like to . . . hear preach? ask a theological question? receive personal counsel?
For more videos from the conference, go here.
For the book series, go here.
For Piper’s collection of 21 biographies in one volume, go here.
See also my post, “Why and How John Piper Does Biography.”