John Piper’s Son Discusses His Complicated Upbringing


Barnabas Piper is the son of famed pastor John Piper, but he wants you to know he's more than that. In his provocative new book, "The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity," he shares honest insights from his childhood.  So honest, in fact, that John Piper writes in the book's foreword:

You will ask, "Was it painful for me to read this book?" The answer is yes...First, it exposes sins and weaknesses and imperfections in me. Second, it is not always clear which of its criticisms attach to me and the church I love. Third, this is my son, and he is writing out of his own sorrows.

Here, Barnabas discusses the false intimacy he experienced growing up, what he thought of his brother's excommunication, and the role his mother played in the household.

RNS: You say that growing up the son of a well-known pastor was like "being a sinner on display." What is the worst sin you got caught in? Any arrests or pregnancies?

BP: I was a pretty good kid growing up, at least in terms of illegal activity and the like. The big things I got in trouble for were mainly being argumentative--with everyone--and lying. I got myself in some sticky spots both ways. My biggest struggles came after I moved out of the house when the little lies of childhood stopped being so little.

RNS: You describe how pastors' kids often experience a "false intimacy." What did this look like for you? Do you still struggle with this?