Minnesota megachurch pastor John Piper, a prolific author whose staunch Calvinist views have made him a popular leader in Christian Reformed circles, is taking an eight-month leave of absence to address unspecified “sins” that have “taken a toll” on his marriage.
“I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins,” said Piper, pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, in a March 29 post on his desiringgod.org blog.
In his open letter, Piper insisted his wife, Noel, “and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side.”
But he also explained: “I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship.”
“The precious garden of my home needs tending,” Piper wrote as a follow up to a Sunday sermon on the same topic. “I want to say to Noel that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.”
Piper is best known for his many books extolling the total depravity of humankind and the universal need for God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Several have tackled the theme of sin, such as Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ.
With regard to his own sin, Piper was vague. He said he was apologizing “not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effect on everybody.”
Piper’s leave will begin May 1 and will include letting go of what he called “the passion for public productivity” by swearing off sermon preparation, book-writing and even Twitter.
He’ll make only four public appearances between May 1 and December 31, including three overseas engagements, he said. His leave will include pay, he said, even though he told elders he was undeserving of his salary.
“We will seek the Lord for how much of your financial support to give back to the church,” Piper told parishioners through his blog, “to perhaps bear some of the load.”