November 2, 2011
John Piper "Suspicious" of Muslim Dreams of Jesus
Does the gospel only advance through human "preachers," or might God use other methods?
Stories of Muslims coming to faith in Christ because of a vision or dream are not uncommon. In fact, we have reported on such things in the pages of Leadership Journal. Naeem Fazal, pastor of Mosaic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, shared with us how a vision of Christ was pivotal to his own conversion. While many praise these stories as evidence of God's providence and love for the lost, not everyone is ready to get excited. By "not everyone" I mean John Piper.
The Christian Post reported that Piper said, "Jesus coming to [Muslims] in their head, preaching the Gospel to them that they have never heard of before, and believing and being saved… that I am suspicious of… big time."
It's not the first time Piper has publicly questioned the validity of such stories. Two Leadership editors attended a talk by Piper at Moody Church in Chicago a few years ago where he also questioned the authenticity of people coming to faith through visions or dreams.
What exactly is Piper's problem? He doesn't like the fact that dreams or visions don't utilize a human communicator or preacher. He said:
“The Gospel needs to be heard. How shall they believe unless they hear and how shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach unless they be sent. That’s a pretty significant argument in Romans 10."
Piper isn't entirely against the notion of dreams or visions. He cites Cornelius in Acts 10 as legit because he wasn't presented the gospel in the dream, he was merely told to receive Peter who then preached the Good News to him.
What do you think of Piper's "big time" suspicion of Muslim claims of coming to faith through dreams and visions? Does it violate Scripture? Is it unbiblical? Does the proclamation of the gospel always require a human agent? And if a mode of conversion isn't found in the New Testament, is it automatically suspect or invalid? (Last I checked no one came to faith in the NT through a track, video, or radio broadcast.)
For someone who has built his entire ministry around the sovereignty of God, it does seem odd that Piper would dismiss the possibility of the Spirit using dreams to communicate the gospel and draw people to himself.
So, share your thoughts. Does God use dreams and visions in this way? If not, what are we to make of the stories coming from Muslim converts? Are you suspicious like Piper? How should we think about the means of advancing Christ's mission?