— Mathis, David. How to Stay Christian in Seminary (pp. 49-50).
We were all huddled around a circle of tables. Thursday noon meant “Table Talk” for the guys at Bethlehem Seminary, and on this particular day we were talking church unity with our pastor and school chancellor, John Piper. He had raised that subject to kick things off, though the conversation had morphed into a discussion on various denominations and influences within American evangelicalism. We were simply carrying the conversation along by our questions. Then Benjamin spoke up.
“Pastor John,” he began, “as seminarians at Bethlehem, and since we have been deeply impacted by you, what do you want us to be like? What should characterize us?”
The room became instantly still. This was a really good question. We all leaned forward, waiting for Pastor John’s reply. He looked down at his Bible, deep in thought.
“I want you to be more like John Newton than John Knox,” he came back. “Knox was passionate and wild, even abrasive at times.” We knew these could be good qualities (minus the abrasive part). But then Pastor John continued.
“But John Newton,” he said, beaming with a smile, “Newton was glad he was saved!”