John Piper’s Bloodlines: Chapter 5

In chapter five, Piper lays out nine issues that are at the root of racial strife, and then makes the claim that the gospel is the only thing that will deal completely with these hinderances to racial reconciliation and harmony. The nine are 1) Satan, 2) guilt, 3) pride, 4) hopelessness, 5) feelings of inferiority and self-doubt, 6) greed, 7) hate, 8) fear, and 9) apathy. Personally, I think three and five are the same thing: just two sides of the same coin so to speak, but regardless, Piper is correct in that the only thing that will speak to the root of each of these problems and offer a solution is the gospel of Christ.

Where this chapter falls a little short is on specifics and fleshing out completely what it looks like, particularly in the section on guilt. For me, the two that jump off the page—maybe because I sense their realities in current situations—are hopelessness and apathy. It is true that “Hopelessness destroys moral conviction by making it look ludicrous. And therefore it destroys almost everything that is beautiful and precious.” And while Piper was just giving a summary of how the gospel deals with these situations—and I am sure that Piper is aware of the hard work necessary in getting the gospel into hopeless situations—I wish he would have spoken more clearly about practicalities. And maybe that is coming in a later chapter. Or maybe that is so distinctive to a particular culture that to speak to it would be just another “Look what worked here; it’s bound to work where you are too!” My gut is the second is true.

Which means we as the church must do the hard work of thinking and praying and being active in our communities and allowing these truths to enter in to our unique situations, but never forgetting these nine issues that we are dealing with, however they happen to manifest themselves in our place and time.


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