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“The Internet world we live in today is awash in narcissism and vanity, with some people taking their clothes off literally, because exposure gives them a rush, and others doing it spiritually—because the addicting power of talking about yourself, where anyone in the world can read it, is overpowering.”

—John Piper, “The Pastor as Scholar,” in The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry by John Piper and D.A. Carson, ed. Owen Strachan and David Mathis (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), p. 24.


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15 thoughts on “Exposing Yourself on the Internet”

  1. This is a strange thing to say in light of Piper’s many great sermons, but this particular lecture (I think he’s repeating it from an older GC) is one that had a profound influence on me. I think it was due in large part to his humble testimony in regards to his education.

    Scholars often seem to wear their credentials on their sleeve–Piper is very casual about his. I appreciate that.

    1. Spencer says:

      Piper is not talking about himself, but about the mass of bloggers. I’m not big on blogs – it is not a wise use of our time – but I wonder how so many guys can think they are worth listening to. Is it a sign of self-love? Even these comment boxes. The problem is that all voices are assumed equal when they’re not.

  2. I was referring to the actual lecture, not the particular quote.

    I’m sure there are many bloggers who blog out of self-love. But I wouldn’t punish the select few that do have something good to offer because of them.
    A similar statement could be made about writers, right?

  3. Terry says:

    John Piper has a good warning. Facebook and blogs can be good, but our motives can get messed up very easily and very quickly.

  4. Erik says:

    Ain’t that the truth!

    Well said Piper, well said.

  5. Tom says:

    True. But can’t writing the same sorts of things in personal journals have the same effect? The danger is the constant introspection and self-absorption, however it is documented.

  6. marc neppl says:

    The internet has revealed human nature at it’s lowest point. In a moment of foolishness, one can post, upload, or publish something that will ruin their digital and real life permanently…when given a moment to consider it, we would opt out of such an act, but the internet is so instant, often we don’t think before we press send

  7. PJ Lincoln says:

    The Internet and Blogs are simply tools, that can be used for good or bad. The fact that we are sitting here, on Justin’s blog having this conversation, I think is wonderful. Blogging and other social media have opened lines of communication and created communities of like-thinking folks that couldn’t have existed before. Like any tool, on-line communication needs to be kept in the right perspective and not abused.

    I can’t speak for JT, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t maintain this blog out of vanity. I think his love of the Lord comes shinning through. I, for one, am very grateful for JT’s work here and others like him. It’s helping me in my Walk.

  8. Dave Moore says:

    Justin,

    I have much respect for John Piper. He has blessed me through the years. However, I was disappointed by his terse comment about Rob Bell. Theologically, I am with Piper, but dismissing someone in a tweet hardly seems the appropriate medium for doing so. I am also disappointed that no concern was raised about this within the Gospel Coalition.

    Best,
    Dave

    1. Dave,
      Well said. Social media does lend itself to instantly reacting. It’s much easier to make quick statements on Twitter than when you are publishing a book (I think…never written a book, but I’ve said a lot of dumb things on Twitter).

  9. Jim Miller says:

    This sounds odd to me coming from Piper who told the world about his marriage troubles before going on his “sabbatical.” Maybe he should listen to his own advice with regard to discretion before critizing the blogging or social networking of others.

    1. jared o says:

      Maybe he has. And maybe you need to. Just look at how quick you were to criticize the man instead of evaluating the claim.

  10. Deven says:

    That is an interesting point that Piper makes. Reminds me of my blog and facebook writings. Also, check out my myspace, MSN messanger, and Twitter accounts for more thoughts on this quote. And please, if you still have ICQ, look me up. I got so much awesome stuff to share about how too many people share online.

    PM me.

  11. I believe the line between a healthy, Biblical vulnerability (always for the purpose of bringing glory to God and His grace in our lives) and inappropriate, worldly indiscretion (where “being real” is equated with indiscriminate sharing of our sin in a “nobody’s perfect and therefore I’m so down-to-earth and lovable with all my foibles” way) is difficult to maintain and easy to cross.

    I believe this is true in blogging, on the telephone, via email or text message, and in every real-life human conversation I have. I do think any form of communication that does not require us to look a fellow sinner in the eye as we speak probably makes it easier for our sharing to become irresponsible, unholy, and self-centered.

    But, wow, there is some awesome stuff about God being shared in the online world these days, and praise be to God for the accessibility of “where anyone in the world can read it” when it’s used appropriately, ay? :)

  12. Steve Martin says:

    “Facebook and blogs can be good, but our motives can get messed up very easily and very quickly.”

    Ain’t that the truth!

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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