WATCH: What Went Down the Night John Piper Made His Most Famous Attack on the Prosperity Gospel

John Piper’s most-viewed sermon clip of all time was an afterthought.

In fact, it was an off-the-cuff tangent to an afterthought, unusual for a man whose sermons are well-prepared and meticulously researched.

“I don’t know what you feel about the prosperity gospel—the health, wealth and prosperity gospel—but I’ll tell you what I feel about it,” Piper told a gathering of more than 1,000 college students in November 2005. “Hatred.”

The founder of Desiring God and then-pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church continued:

It is not the gospel, and it’s being exported from this country to Africa and Asia, selling a bill of goods to the poorest of the poor: “Believe this message, and your pigs won’t die and your wife won’t have miscarriages, and you’ll have rings on your fingers and coats on your back.” That’s coming out of America—the people that ought to be giving our money and our time and our lives, instead selling them a bunch of crap called “gospel.”

The sanctuary at Mountain Brook Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was so full “it felt like college students were hanging from the rafters,” recalled David Mathis, who accompanied Piper on the trip.

But “you could hear a pin drop that night,” said Bryan Johnson, who was helping lead the University Christian Fellowship (UCF) campus ministry.

“I’ll tell you what makes Jesus look beautiful,” Piper told them. “It’s when you smash your car, and your little girl goes flying through the windshield, and lands dead on the street . . . and you say through the deepest possible pain, ‘God is enough.’”

The nearly three-minute clip taken from the hour-long sermon was posted to YouTube in 2007; since then, more than 1 million have viewed it, more than any other solo Piper video.

“There was a gospel plea there, and a rawness that really resonated,” said Joel Brooks, who headed UCF at the time. “I’ve never heard Piper say ‘crap’ in a sermon before. Even his illustration about a child going through the windshield is over-the-top in a way that showed Piper was caught in the moment. It was really engaging for college students.”

The reach has been remarkable, especially for a three-minute segment thrown in on the fly. (Piper himself has “zero recollection” of it.) Its popularity helps illustrate how proponents of Reformed theology and the prosperity gospel have contended with one another as each view has gained followers during the last decade.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

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