John Stephen Piper (born January 11, 1946) is an American Reformed Baptist continuationist pastor and author who is the founder and leader of desiringGod.org and is the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years. His books include ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word, and God's Passion for His Glory, and bestsellers Don't Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ. The organization Desiring God is named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986).
Piper was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bill and Ruth Piper. His father was a traveling evangelist and church planter. When he and his older sister Beverly were still young, the Pipers moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent the remainder of his youth and graduated from Wade Hampton High School.
According to Piper, he had a religious conversion at his mother's knee while on vacation in Florida. He remarked that it "blows him away" that he was saved at six years old, not because he remembers the event, but because the Bible tells him what happened to him.
Piper attended Wheaton College (1964–68) majoring in literature and minoring in philosophy. Studying romantic literature with Clyde Kilby stimulated his poetic side, and today he regularly composes poetry to celebrate special family occasions as well as annually composing story-poems (based on the life of biblical characters) for his congregation during the four weeks of Advent.
In college, he was originally on the pre-medicine track, only to decide to go into ministry during a bout of sickness, while listening to the sermons of Harold Ockenga over the radio from his hospital bed. He then completed a Master of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. While at Fuller, he took several courses from Daniel Fuller and through him discovered the writings of Jonathan Edwards. Along with C. S. Lewis, Edwards and Fuller are noted influences in Piper's life and ministry.
Piper received his Doctor of Theology degree in New Testament Studies at the University of Munich, Germany (1971–74) under Leonhard Goppelt. His dissertation, Love Your Enemies, was published by Cambridge University Press and Baker Book House. Upon completion of his doctorate, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel University and Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for six years (1974–80).