Future Grace (Revised Edition)
John Piper (Multnomah, 2012)
When one considers that it is, in many cases, uncharitable to criticize a theologian’s (though, perhaps, “pastoral writer” is a more apt term in this case) past writings as necessarily representing their current thoughts and beliefs, one will recognize the courage of John Piper to bring a seventeen-year-old work back to publication with the unabashed declaration that in the intervening years he has continually consulted it as “my war manual…my coach and my critic.” Whether such courage is more boldness than brashness is harder to determine.
The book’s thesis is a simple one, though perhaps pyramidal in the largeness of its simplicity. “Future grace,” writes Piper, “is all that God gives us—of his help and of himself—from this moment to eternity. Therefore, faith in future grace is always the belief in God’s promises and the embrace of God’s person.” In other words, Future Grace aims to present a summation of the Christian life in its entirety—or at least the bits that really matter day to day—quite the undertaking.
Despite claiming such a broad project, though, Piper makes his job easier by carving out a smaller space in which to work. “Could it be that gratitude for bygone grace has been pressed to serve as the power for holiness, which only faith in future grace was designed to perform? That conviction is one of the main driving forces behind this book.” It is not the entirety of the Christian life that Piper concerns himself with, then, but merely the ahistorical non-reality (or not-yet-reality) of promised future realities. His treatment suffers from this closeting of the Church’s actual history (the realist part of the capital-C Christian life), but (like God) Piper does deliver on his narrower promises: the “embrace of God’s person” and the role that faith in God’s promised blessings has in a life of holiness. Future Grace, then, is one of those bygone graces upon which a little gratitude may not be misplaced.
I received this book for free from the publisher’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.