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Why John Piper is Dangerous

A while back a commenter asked me to do some sort of incendiary write up about John Piper like I’ve done a few times about Mark Driscoll. One would think that it would be much harder to write such a critique of Piper because he is far more personable and, by all appearances, charitable. Driscoll is a rapacious frat boy who can’t stop flapping his trap. Piper is a pastor. It’s a good deal easier to see the absurdity of Dirscoll’s theological and social views when he preens about how often he gets oral sex from his wife and hosts mixed martial arts fights that supposedly tell real Christian men how to be. He’s patently ridiculous in almost every way. Its all theatrics and megalomania. With Piper however everything is different. Piper is measured, sensitive in speaking, and by all appearances, fairly humble. He’s far, far more palatable, personally and pastorally than Driscoll.

However, this is precisely why John Piper is far more dangerous than Driscoll. Piper’s pastoral manner renders him far more subtle, more believable, more seductive. Whatever else I may say about Driscoll at least he lives the absurdity of his theology out to nth. Piper however is able to project calm compassion and thoughtfulness onto his preaching and teaching in a way that many find appealing who woudl be immediately put off by Driscoll. This is why Piper can get away with saying the most utterly insane things. Like his recent claim that the tornado touchdown that hit a Lutheran church in Minneapolis was God’s judgment and warning to the denomination to stop their proposed initiative to allow gay clergy.

If someone like Driscoll or other more obviously crazy evangelicals like Pat Robertson were to say something like this they’d immediately be called on it (remember Falwell’s whole thing about how the gays, lesbians, and secularists made God bring about 9/11?). But Piper’s defenders flock to him when he proclaims this sort of insanity. And its all because of the image he projects of being the sensitive, strong, measured, and humble pastor.

Driscoll is an obvious yapping wolfling. Piper is the quintessential wolf in very authentic-looking sheep’s clothing.

171 Comments

  1. David Brush wrote:

    It’s okay for me to be a misogynistic homophobe as long as I couch it with nice terms like complentarianism and charitable disagreement. I also go around and tell people that have just lost a loved one tragically that it’s okay because it’s all in God’s plan.

    No wonder everyone thinks Christians are jerks…. Oh, I am sorry, they don’t have a problem with us, only the unfiltered truth of scripture…

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  2. Brad A. wrote:

    Interesting how he uses the Luke 13 passage directly contrary to its intent (which he seems to admit when setting it up).

    I read these types of pronouncements as stemming in part from a faulty understanding of God’s judgments announced in the OT. Those judgments are almost always logical extensions of the sins involved. Not tornadoes or terrorist attacks for sexual sin.

    Of course, they’ll point to the fire and brimstone on Sodom, etc. But according to Ezekiel, that was first and foremost a problem of greed and neglect of the poor, not to mention hospitality. Let these guys ask themselves about that one.

    I wonder if they called to offer assistance when they saw this…

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  3. This may not be the best time to raise this question..and I’m afraid of being misunderstood here…but is Piper’s hermeneutic of interpreting “signs” so crazy? I’m not saying that God is judging the ELCA–not at al. I think Piper is completely off in what he is saying. I can’t stress that enough. But is that because the interpreting of such signs is crazy, or because of the meaning he is attaching to the signs?

    For example, if a tornado were to tear in half an American flag at a building where cluster bombs were being built at the same time the Government announced that it was ordering more cluster bombs, would it be completely ridiculous to see it as a sign? I’m just raising the question.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  4. Geoff wrote:

    wow… the call to be incendiary has been answered!

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  5. Halden wrote:

    I aim to please.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  6. roger flyer wrote:

    I am REALLY looking forward to this thread of 100+ comments…and though it is an incendiary post (and there will be some fierce ‘fire’-fighters), there will also be some thoughtful posts giving weight to Halden’s accusations. I look forward to all of it. It is time to engage this stuff.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  7. roger flyer wrote:

    David…What?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
  8. Thom Stark wrote:

    Right, David. You nailed it.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  9. Thom Stark wrote:

    Mark,

    If a tornado hit a cluster bomb factory, there would be unstable cluster bombs dropped all over the area, in people’s back yards, on highways, on soccer fields. Would God really do that?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  10. Tim wrote:

    Halden, if you aim was to inflame, you did that admirably. If, however, you want to engage in the claim Piper’s making, I’d say there was very little of that present in your post. One small note about Pastor Piper. He would probably accept the title “wolf in sheeps clothing” upon himself readily. He is a deeply humble man who happens to have very strong convictions.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  11. Jeremy wrote:

    I wanted to echo Mark’s statement that if the situation was reversed I suspect some might speak out on God’s judgment on America’s greed and evil. The obvious problem with Piper’s analysis is (barring the misappropriation of scripture) the selective use of this hermeneutic. What strikes me as odd is the blog post he wrote about the Minnesota bridge that collapsed where he argued a similar point, except God’s judgment was less localized and more focused on man’s depravity in general. According to Piper, one of the reasons God allowed those people to die was so that they would turn from sin and fear Him.

    So is his basic line of thought this: when tragedy X strikes against people I disagree with, it’s because God likewise disapproves of them. When tragedy Y strikes against people that Piper doesn’t know it’s because God wants them to repent and fear him.

    I kind of wonder how he exegets John 9? And Job? Given his perverse reading of the cross, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  12. Cortney wrote:

    Thanks Halden. The wounds caused by precious pastors like John Piper cut the deepest and take the longest to heal. That is if they ever do. I wonder what he’d say looking into the eyes of a broken child of South Africa (or anywhere) who’s dying of AIDS. Some poetic bullshit like don’t worry my child I know this is hard but it’s God’s plan for you. One must find the good in every situation. Or maybe a violent disgusting statement like this is God’s judgment on your parents for having unprotected premarital sex. Driscoll gives me chills and causes my stomach to turn but Piper brings depression and the feeling of hopelessness. Sometimes it feels as if the image that Christians have painted of God’s true love, compassion, forgiveness, grace and character is irreversibly damaged. I guess it’s a good thing He’s larger then all of us and our stupidly.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink
  13. David wrote:

    Halden, am I right in thinking that for you a genuine relationship with Christ should dissolve (political-social-cultural) ideology, freeing the believer to relate to other people in a spontaneously Christo-centric way, without the fantasy of ideological hang-ups? (That is an extremely brief summary of how I have interpreted some of your posts – I could be wildly wrong!) I say this because I often get the impression that religion and politics are much more closely entwined in America than they are in England (despite bishops in House of Lords, Queen as Head of church etc); that is, one’s religious beliefs and one’s political beliefs are often entwined to such a degree that “mainstream” Christianity – such as that which Driscoll and Piper propagate – are effectively indistinguishable from political ideology. I’m not suggesting that Christianity in England is somehow free of false ideological structures (far from it!), just that the battle-lines from across the Atlantic seem more clearly defined within Christianity itself in America than they do here (which could be because I am living too close to whatever ideology my beliefs tend towards). I say this because it is only in this context that your criticism of Piper makes sense to me. Of course, his comments could be, and probably are, complete nonsense, but we are all guilty of that sort of thing (as your recent post on blogging confessed to). But to label someone a wolf in sheep’s clothing is quite a charge! Is there really no doubt in your mind that he might in fact be a brother in Christ of yours, whatever ill-thought or ill-intentioned things he might say from time to time?
    Obviously, I recognise the seriousness with which you take this, because otherwise you would not see Piper as a bigger threat than Driscoll; that is, the fact that he appears so nice is almost proof that he is a bigger threat than Driscoll or (and if fingers could choke, mine would be now) Todd Bentley.
    The point that I am driving at is that misinterpreting an event does not make someone a wolf, any more than does holding fast to, and including in one’s faith, a false ideology. Of course such things should be challenged, but from the inside, as though speaking to a brother (or at least a 2nd cousin once removed) like Paul did to Peter about the circumcision issue. I just get the very strong impression with American theological blogs that when Christians criticise each other it is usually, at rock bottom, a political difference that is being criticised, for which theology is a cover.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  14. Thom Stark wrote:

    Mark,

    I was just joking.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  15. Sean wrote:

    Well, suppose this is inevitable.
    But at least read what he said – not that the tornado was “judgement” but that it is a call to “repent” – to ALL of us. I believe that was Jesus’ point on the tower collapsing – no it’s not a judgement, but a call to all of us to repent. Piper sure tried to make that clear – but I’m sure it’s more fun misquoting him.
    Also, funny how mean these comments are against somebody for being a “jerk”. Dave’s comment… strike you at all as hypocritical?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  16. Ryan wrote:

    This incident highlights evangelicals’ extreme preoccupation with sexual sins. Why did God not intervene or send warning to the Rwandan churches which were complicit in acts of genocide? Answer: obviously God cares more about homosexuality than genocide.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  17. roger flyer wrote:

    Help, I don’t get where the sarcasm begins or ends…can you help me?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  18. roger flyer wrote:

    @ David-
    Piper and co. have taken aim at several heretics in the camp. They are not open to conversation or critique. They stand above- like Churchill’s quip: “There but for the grace of God goes God.”

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  19. Nathan Smith wrote:

    You’ve given a single example of him interpreting geopolitical events theologically. Is it wrong to do that generally, or did he interpret this one wrong? All in all, your indictment does not sound all that bad. You’ve established the sheep’s clothing, but is there really a wolf in there?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
  20. Hill wrote:

    I want to also voice my opinion that I find no problem with the general structure of God causing natural disasters to people as a form of punishment. I just think Piper is wrong that this is what happened here. Actually I don’t think that… it’s sort of an empirical question and I’d just be saying that to sound progressive. I have no idea.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  21. John wrote:

    Halden, I am sorry I was asked to read your blog. Critique is good; character assassination is sinful. I am sorry that you have written as you have. I do not believe you would say such things to these men if you met them face to face. I am confident that conscience or fear of rejection would temper your remarks in their presence. You might even conduct yourself as a gentleman which would focus attention on your reason instead of yourself. But it is clear that your writing is a reflection of the spirit of this age of backbiting and vitriol that most of us have grown tired of long ago. I find such careless exercise of your freedom of speech says more about you than you are saying about them. May God’s grace enlighten you to your need.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  22. Brad E. wrote:

    Being someone who emailed Halden to address Piper (was the tornado actually God’s way of answering my prayer, so that there would be an event which would inspire Piper to write something which would then draw the ire of Halden…?), I’m glad to see this response. More than anything, it is just deeply saddening to see a man who is the theological pulse for so many well-meaning, honorable Christians the world over, say something so utterly arrogant and uncompassionate. Even if his claim were true, would naming it make a difference? Are we so absolutely sure in our interpretation of half a dozen biblical texts that we are able to identify the forewarning wrath of God in a brief and sudden tornado?

    Sigh. I always think, maybe we only have these fights because we aren’t worrying about being persecuted or killed; maybe we could worship together in a dark apartment with a dozen broken folks trying to survive. But as it is, it is difficult to know which God who is worshiping, and if they are related.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Permalink
  23. John inman wrote:

    He’s channeling Jonathan Edwards , interpreting God’s providence for public consumption.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
  24. David Brush wrote:

    Yay, my sarcasm worked! It’s so seldom sarcasm works on the internet….

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  25. roger flyer wrote:

    Brad-
    I sigh with you, and I am a Wilco fan, too.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  26. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Piper worships a different God than I do. I don’t recognize him as a fellow believer. He and those tv swindler preachers don’t show the fruit Jesus talked about. I know in this day of ecumencism and politeness, that does not sit well. But I am an an old school Anabaptist and I don’t care. I went to Wheaton and had to sit through several days of Piper telling the whole school how God is a hedonist and sends people to hell and all sorts of aweful things for God’s own pleasure.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  27. Halden, thanks for drawing my attention to Piper on tornados. I was indeed suprised to read this. Still, you really do need to read some Calvin (who is, apparently, a good friend of Piper’s) whose conviction it was that in the face of human pride, it is appropriate that ‘God purposely selects vile and worthless persons to instruct and warn us, in order to subdue our pride’. Thanks be to God.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  28. dave wrote:

    Also with Brad, and you, especially on Wilco. The new album is one of the best this year.

    I would also like to echo Nathan’s comment earlier for a more substantive look at Piper. To be honest, I hadn’t heard about his claim, and I’m surprised that he made it. I’ve never really engaged with Piper, but I feel pretty familiar with him because a few people I know have been pretty influenced by him. From what I know of his theological positions, I think our biggest difference is probably methodological, but I’m curious to see some more criticism here.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  29. roger flyer wrote:

    Jason-
    You must mean Calvin and Hobbes? It seems to me that Piper’s ‘prophecies’ of judgment are comi-tragic.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  30. Rachel wrote:

    I once had a professor call Piper’s version of Christianity “Trinitarian Islam.” I thought that was funny. :)

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink
  31. roger flyer wrote:

    I’m with Andy. In Piper’s world, God is so narcissistic and consumed with sin management (and blowing tsunamis and tornadoes all about) that he can’t remember what love’s got to do with it. He’s very pissed off at us but He can’t flood the whole thing again and start over because He promised Himself He wouldn’t do that again–even when He’s had a really BAD DAY, like the day the Lutherans agonized over their sexuality debate.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
  32. roger flyer wrote:

    …yeah, and sad.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  33. Ryan wrote:

    Jude says that Soddom and Gomorrah was for sexual sin!

    Jude 1:7
    just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  34. Halden wrote:

    That’s awesome, Rachel.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  35. Ryan wrote:

    Sexual sin is serious! don’t sleep!

    just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)

    If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
    (Leviticus 20:13)

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error (Rom. 1:26–27).

    or as Piper noted,
    The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Permalink
  36. Halden wrote:

    Nathan, the wolf is, in my view in his theological views, especially his determinisitic (and as far as I’m concerned, demonic) view of God. A close second is his whole theology of patriarchy and his general endorsement of neoconservative politics.

    You’re right that I didn’t lay all this out, I assumed it because its pretty much out there and known. The danger is in his seemingly innocuous appearance through which he deceives many.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  37. Halden wrote:

    I hope some day to be as enlightened as you clearly are, John. So awesome that you understand my “need” so well. You are so wise and cool.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink
  38. Halden wrote:

    So, sexual sin is more important to God than genocide? That’s where you’re…headed…with this… ?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  39. Ryan, I can proof-text better than you can.

    Ezekiel 16:48-50
    As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. “Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me Therefore I removed them when I saw it.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  40. Halden wrote:

    Oh snap!

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Permalink
  41. Ryan wrote:

    Genocide was inflicted on the people that God loved most, Isreal. Maybe instead of seeing the punishment as uncompassionate you should see it as the exact opposite. As Hebrews 12:7-10 says,

    7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  42. Ryan wrote:

    Okay, but overall he inflicted punishment for unholy behavior. That is my point and you just helped me make it.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  43. Halden wrote:

    Wow, you’re totally right! Genocide is good! How could I not see it?

    Ezek 18:32.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  44. Ryan wrote:

    Likewise, the tornado in Minneapolis was a warning to the ELCA for unholy behavior an Piper is correct. Ultimately though punishment is loving and you guys are persisting that it does not happen in ignorance. See my post above.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:35 pm | Permalink
  45. Ryan wrote:

    Do you have children? Do you take pleasure in punishing them? That’s why the end of this verse says, turn and live!

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Permalink
  46. Halden wrote:

    Death isn’t discipline. Its death.

    Tell me, are you formally educated? At all?

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  47. dave wrote:

    Just replying to recant the second half of my comment, somewhat because I’ve thought about since posting, but also because Halden addressed Nathan above.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  48. dave wrote:

    Maybe this puts me on shaky ground, but it has always struck me that Piper places a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the wrath of God. Taking no position on how that should play into theology, in my limited exposure it comes across as something fundamental to God’s character. It’s probably best illustrated by saying that if you removed any mention of it from the theology, things would go completely haywire (within that theology). I realize that isn’t the fairest way to go about critique, but I think the point stands and helps put some substance to the methodological issues that I was pointing to below.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Permalink
  49. Halden wrote:

    Piper is in love with the idea of God being mad. In fact, in Piper’s view God needs sin and evil to exist precisely so he can show his wrath and judgment which glorify him. Perversely, Piper’s God requires sin in order to be fully glorified. God’s glory is dependent on sin’s existence for Piper.

    This is one of the many points at which I regard his theology as demonic and utterly destructive to the church.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  50. Cortney wrote:

    Oh yes. Death, torture and destruction sounds about right. That’s exactly how a loving God/parent disciplines their beloved creation/child. Do you have kids? If so I’d hate to see how discipline happens in your house.

    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
  51. adhunt wrote:

    This is certainly not the first time Piper has said things as ridiculous as this. Remember when our bridge collapsed? Piper was so happy to inform the Twin Cities that God let it happen to glorify himself!

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 1:23 am | Permalink
  52. Ryan wrote:

    God gives life and he takes life.
    The scripture that Piper mentioned makes his point exactly,

    Jesus: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)

    Is intended to tell you that we are all justly headed for destruction and that being so, God is just to take out whoever, whenever he wants. He knows man’s heart and who will or has turned in repentance and any calamity is intended to bring us collectively to repentance. That’s how it serves as punishment, the punishment is both just and purposeful. You are the one to receive the purpose of that suffering, we should all repent.

    About the education, philosophical education is what your looking for not biblical education. Your arguments are philosophical not biblical.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 2:00 am | Permalink
  53. #John1453 wrote:

    Ryan, do you have any children? any left, I mean. After you finish with a little housecleaning genocide for their disobedient actions, do you get right to work on filling in the empty bunkbed?

    I can also see that death is very effective discipline for the child you kill (he won’t disobey again, will he/she?). But is it equally effective on the children that are left?

    Inquiring minds want to know. Especially me, I’ve got three kids and I’m always interested in learning new discipline techniques.

    By the way, has Dobson hit you up yet to write an additional chapter for the next edition of his “Dare to Discipline”? A chapter called “Discipline Through Death” has a catchy ring to it.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 2:02 am | Permalink
  54. Ryan wrote:

    Cortney,
    My punishment could never be just because I am not omniscient or just, God is.God inflicts just punishment and has chosen on whom it will be executed for the sake of you and I, so that we would turn and repent. Nothing happens without his divine approval. See Job.

    He is just because sin is grievous and he has payed the penalty for the sin of the elect in Christ. He is therefore compassionate, to a people that are undeserving.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 2:15 am | Permalink
  55. Brad A. wrote:

    This is exactly what I was referring to above. Thanks David.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:14 am | Permalink
  56. Brad A. wrote:

    Ryan, neglecting the poor and oppressed IS unholy behavior, and it’s unholy behavior God punishes far, far more often in Scripture than anything sexual. So the question for you (and Piper) is, in what ways are you complicit in the neglect of the poor or in the oppression of the “least of these”?

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:18 am | Permalink
  57. Jake Belder wrote:

    That is funny, but also really interesting. Yesterday, before I read this comment thread, somebody had pointed me to this article, about the Islamization of Christianity. Take what you will from it—I’m not necessarily endorsing it, just suggesting that it may be of interest—but it makes a few points that square with some of the things being said in the comments here.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:42 am | Permalink
  58. jenny wrote:

    I thank God for all the comments I read. I praised God for opening my heart to HIS ABSOLUTE WORD and Pastor John Piper is one of the instrument for that. All of your comments folks just prove that what Piper teach is true because your comment reflect how carnal the world is.

    Thanks

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:05 am | Permalink
  59. JM wrote:

    I really hate it when discussions such as these degenerate into “If you don’t believe the crazy things I do, then your comments just prove that I’m a genuine believer.” This is why fundamentalism/evangelicalism is just as cultish as any other sect of Christianity – it can’t handle differences of opinion except by retreat into the security of the cult that assures its believers that they are the true Christians.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:24 am | Permalink
  60. Ryan wrote:

    Brad,
    I am clearly the worst of sinners and deserving of the worst punishment but I have put my faith in Christ as the punishment for my sin and I am daily repentant and trying to conform my life more and more to what scripture teaches. That’s where I differ from the ELCA, I let scripture convict me, I don’t take it lightly.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:37 am | Permalink
  61. JM wrote:

    Be honest – you didn’t “thank God” for all the comments you read and you didn’t “praise God” for when you uncritically swallowed whole Piper’s preaching. You just talk that way because everyone in your small world of Christianity talks that way, thinking it more “God glorifying.” Any excitement or thanks was probably just the natural reaction of feeling secure in your beliefs or, more probably, just an attempt to deceive yourself that you are not challenged by these comments when, in fact, you feel threatened to the point of writing a little comment which you could revisit and with which you could reassure yourself anytime you start to question whether these people actually might have a point.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  62. Ryan wrote:

    John,
    See how I responded to Cortney below. God is omniscient, holy and just and I am not. Therefore His judgement is right and I need guidance from someone like Dobson.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:47 am | Permalink
  63. Halden wrote:

    “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. . .” (Eph 5:21)

    If God disciplines by death and destruction we should too.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:24 am | Permalink
  64. dave wrote:

    It’s almost like a kind of manicheanism in that sense. Evil seems to acquire an ontological status in order for God to always have something to be wrathful about.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:34 am | Permalink
  65. Brad A. wrote:

    Ryan, in my experience of knowing some ELCA folks, they take Scripture pretty seriously, too. What I find is a tendency with all parties to gravitate to different parts of Scripture and read them according to presuppositions that are not themselves in Scripture. This is normal, and we can’t help but do it. But be very, very careful of saying that somebody who interprets Scripture differently than you takes it less seriously as a whole.

    Hence my point about the poor and oppressed, hospitality and charity. Why is it that their neglect – which is scandalous in biblical terms – is so dwarfed in importance by issues like homosexuality? Why is it that these pastors are fairly quick to endorse state violence in many forms, and so slow to condemn the nationalism and state idolatry that undergirds it? Not to mention the inherent incompatibility of the violence itself…

    Oh, and be careful with your “worst of sinners” claim there: it can often operate as a sort of prideful claim to legitimacy for one’s views.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink
  66. Halden wrote:

    Its actually a bit worse than manicheanism. At least for the Manichees good and evil were at odds with one another (even though they were locked in an eternal dualism). For Piper good and evil are not ultimately distinguishable and God is equated with both.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  67. When I first read your post, Halden, I was like: “Zing! Take THAT Piper.”

    But the more I stew over the stupid things that Piper has said and your response here, the more I feel like your response falls short, for the following reasons (take them as a sympathetic push back):

    1) I get the feeling that only Piper-bashers and/or people who already agree with you will appreciate this post. For most folks, it will probably just come off as mean. I’m all for challenging John Piper’s misguided theology, but pragmatically, it doesn’t seem like a good tack. It will probably just polarize and cause people to entrench into what they already believe.

    2) This post and subsequent comments fall into this over-used formula: A mocks B because B’s views are seen as heretical or stupid. Mockery has a place, but it is a very sloppy tool that lacks precision. I wouldn’t want you to be thought of as some sort of neo-anabaptist Mark Driscoll. In other words, is the best way to respond to a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” to become a “sheep in wolves’ clothing?”

    3) I’m not sure if, in your post, you are rejecting Piper’s interpretation of the specific “sign” or the idea that such signs can exist. It would be helpful for folks all around if we could focus on specifically what it is about Piper’s argument is foolish so that, perhaps, those that appreciate Piper’s theology can start to recognize its flaws.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink
  68. Paul B. wrote:

    Piper isn’t trying to “read the signs”. Every catastrophe ought to warn us of the danger of sin and point us to repent. Whether or not there is any causative relationship between any particular sin and any particular disaster, we should use it as an opportunity for repentance. He cites Luke 13:4-5.

    I don’t know that I am entirely comfortable with this kind of use of disasters, but I am surprised and surprised at the strong reactions here that have little to do with what Piper actually said.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  69. Nathan Smith wrote:

    Plus his sermons are too long. :-)

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink
  70. Hill wrote:

    I have needs too!

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  71. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Well put Mark.

    I don’t think we need signs from nature to reveal God’s will. Sounds too much like natural theology to me, and I’ve read too much Barth and Yoder to buy that. The sign of God’s grace is Jesus. I don’t see Jesus in Piper’s words. I’ve not read or listened to anything of his since he dis-graced the faith at Wheaton while I was an undergraduate. He seemed at that time completely unopen to any discussion that he might be mistaken or projecting his image of God onto the skies. That lack of openness to criticism is a mark of pulling oneself out of discussion.

    I have no doubts whatsoever that had we been living in another time and place, Piper would have been one of those with the tongue screws and skin pinchers ready to put you and I through hell for our own good and confirmation of his closed-minded view. He shuts down conversation, just like those reformers did back then. And like them his view of God is one of a very angry God, who tortures for pleasure. He says that pretty clearly from my recollection. He calls it God’s hedonism.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  72. Okay Paul, how about this. Abuse of scripture in point four: “even the wind and the waves obey him” for Piper means that God is a micro-manager. However, such an idea is not self evident directly from the text, rather, this is predicated on Piper’s warped sense of divine sovereignty. Now, after dealing with that, why would want to waste time systematically critiquing Piper blog post? Personally, I don’t think he is worth the time.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  73. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    Amen

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  74. dave wrote:

    Hegelian manicheanism?

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  75. Ryan wrote:

    D.W.
    Can you proof text better than that?

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  76. Halden wrote:

    Just saying…. I guess you don’t really have and answers for my “philosophical” arguments, huh?

    No, wait. The Bible says to imitate God, that’s a “biblical” argument….

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  77. Laura wrote:

    Sometimes I wonder if we are wasting our time debating and hating on each other.. when we could be doing something more meaningful.. like.. reaching out to others in love, stepping away from our theology books, and washing the feet of our enemies.

    Doesn’t it always come down to that? No matter how much we think we know.. we really know nothing but the grace and love of Christ that saved us?

    Its easy for me to get caught up in debates, but I always come back to that foundation.
    Just a thought.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  78. Yes. Because he delights in all things that bring him glory. Even exploding babies.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  79. Halden wrote:

    Exploding babies give God the most glory!

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  80. Ryan wrote:

    Brad,
    You are taking this way off topic. We are talking about homosexuality and the fact that it is clearly stated as sin in scripture (see my posts). These are the things that I want to see reconciled. Can you show me how the ELCA reconciles those texts? If not they should not accept that blatant sin within clergy.

    This is not about me (my pride/sinfulness) nor is it about Piper, its about the authority of scripture and whether God would inflict judgment in lieu of its dismissal.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink
  81. Halden wrote:

    Thanks for the “sympathetic push back,” Mark. These comments are growing numerous and so I’m about to take my hand off the wheel and let them play out, but I did want to acknowledge your comment.

    I’m sure the post falls short. I’m sure most posts do. Hopefully that is what is good about blogs. A series of inadequate, piecemeal reflections eventually add up to something useful. Hopefully that will be the case on this topic as well.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  82. Halden wrote:

    God already has inflicted judgment on sin. It happened in the cross.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  83. Heh.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  84. roger flyer wrote:

    Put on your hairshirt, Hill.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  85. roger flyer wrote:

    Andy-
    You’re right. He’s be a judge at the Salem witch trials.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  86. Rasselas wrote:

    me, three!

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink
  87. Theophilus wrote:

    Piper is the good cop in a Reformed good cop/bad cop routine with the likes of Mark Driscoll, and it makes the entire Reformed movement look very bad – if even their personable, less polarizing leaders have the same positions as the antagonizing hard-liners, it’s a pretty good incentive to stay away from anything with which they are affiliated.

    I was soured on Piper by his criticism of the document “A Common Word Between Us And You”, a Christian statement to Muslim leaders which suggested that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Piper’s assertion that Muslims did not believe in the same God as Christians because they rejected the divinity of Jesus is simply insane. Such a position precludes the possibility that any non-messianic Jew believes in the one true God, and therefore comes perilously close to requiring a Marcionist rejection of the Old Testament – the Jews clearly weren’t worshiping God, and so therefore how can the OT be valid scripture? For such a highly regarded teacher to make such a simple, imbecilic claim that even he could not come close to carrying to its logical conclusion had a very negative effect on my views of Reformed figures in general.

    Fortunately, I later encountered the work of Karl Barth, so I’m not knee-jerk anti-Reformed anymore.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  88. Jeremy wrote:

    Hey Laura, I don’t think anyone would disagree with you that the loving our enemies and neighbors are indispensable practices for Christians. However, I believe Halden’s point is that this theology can be dangerous. It can lead to hurt and pain and really shitty theology. The fact that it stirs up such vehemence in this comment thread is evidence enough how deep these sort of (mis)interpretations cut. It certainly doesn’t necessitate personal attacks, but I don’t think being a Christian means you allow a fellow brother in Christ to say whatever they want. Unity is important, but that shouldn’t serve as a guise to mask laziness and fear.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  89. Philipp wrote:

    Years ago, it was Piper who got me thinking about God, or whoever he might have been for me back then. I still own a lot of books from him. Having just moved, I realized how many. At some point, I felt like I had hit a glass ceiling when I was reading him. Piper’s God, who he preached as a monstrously powerful and consuming giant, began to look smaller by every page I read. It’s been a while since then.
    My faith has changed, Piper obviously hasn’t. It sickens me to read of his most recent judgments. As was said above: were it another time or another part of the world, who knows what means the likes of Christian hedonists would employ. On the other hand, I know that he is one of the few that are outspoken on race issues within this particular conservative evangelical segment, and even though it barely has anything to do with what is being discussed here, I still give him credit to having woken me up to them. And it gives me pause when I realized how excited I would have been over the vision of a “gently” punishing, wrathful God years ago. And how excited many, many young people are about it, today. Kind of a personal history moment…

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  90. Philipp wrote:

    One more: above Piper and Driscoll were named as big dogs for the “reformed movement”. Whatever that movement may be, I don’t believe it’s reformed. It has gathered a lot of eclectic doctrines and practices from the hodge podge that is American evangelicalism and naive views of doctrinal history. But “reformed”? There’s a lot more to that word than Piper.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  91. Paul wrote:

    I would enjoy seeing you spell this out for a Holocaust survivor.

    I think the verse you used applies to smaller life-trials, but certainly not to little Jewish boys and girls clutching their stuffed animals as they’re hauled into “de-contamination rooms”. To suggest that God was “disciplining” them is patently offensive.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  92. Evan wrote:

    Interesting how he uses the Luke 13 passage directly contrary to its intent (which he seems to admit when setting it up).

    That’s the odd thing! He seems to get Luke 13 exactly right… just before he gets it exactly wrong. One wonders whether he sees the obvious contradiction, because when he first introduces Luke 13 he’s spot on with how he qualifies God’s judgment. (Perhaps others have already gotten into this- I’m not going to wade through 91 comments to find out)

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  93. Thom Stark wrote:

    Sarcasm: It’s okay for me to be a misogynistic homophobe as long as I couch it with nice terms like complentarianism and charitable disagreement. I also go around and tell people that have just lost a loved one tragically that it’s okay because it’s all in God’s plan.

    Not Sarcasm: No wonder everyone thinks Christians are jerks.

    Sarcasm: Oh, I am sorry, they don’t have a problem with us, only the unfiltered truth of scripture

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  94. Theophilus wrote:

    Since I started that one, I ought to respond. I understand that Piper, Driscoll et al. are not the sum total of the Reformed movement. That should be self-evident if Piper, Driscoll, Karl Barth, and Rob Bell can all consider themselves Reformed. However, both Piper and Driscoll self-identify as Reformed, and by virtue of their celebrity and prominent self-identification with the Reformed label, it certainly casts an impression for the less-informed, like me a few years back.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  95. Thom Stark wrote:

    Without exploding babies, God’s glory would be diminished. We might not even know that God is glorious.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  96. roger flyer wrote:

    I think they should be sent back to reform school.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  97. Rachel wrote:

    I think it depends on which Reformed circles you run in. I went to Calvin College and didn’t hear a thing about either of them.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  98. Laura wrote:

    Definitely Jeremy,

    I just wanted to make sure people were not losing site of that..
    because what can be “dangerous” to us.. could be valuable and
    considered truth to others.

    I am an avid Greg Boyd fan.. so I definitely see the problems that people
    have with John Piper, but I always find it helpful to center myself
    in what is ultimately the most important.
    Thanks for your thoughts :)

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink
  99. *Rimshot*

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  100. james wrote:

    Yeah the baptists have taken over the Reformed community and stunk up the place.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Permalink
  101. Hill wrote:

    I don’t really even know what Reformed means anymore other than a nominal affiliation with John Calvin.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink
  102. dave wrote:

    Even then it depends on which baptists your talking about.

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Driscoll and Piper have some reformed tendencies. Piper’s whole thing (and the whole thing with neo-reformed or whatever it wants to be called) is a central position of the sovereignty of God, which is also a basic reformed tenet.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
  103. Ryan wrote:

    I meant judgment in the sense of… (n = noun.cognition) an opinion formed by judging something, you could also use the word- determination if that helps. i.e. homosexual activity within clergy is determined sin and worthy of warning.

    Not the same sense as the judgment done on the cross which was a final judiciary decision (n = noun.act) .

    I can see how you thought I was talking about final judiciary decision because i used the word inflicted but that was used in the sense of:
    to deal or deliver, as a blow.

    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  104. cbsowers wrote:

    Read the article AGAIN by Piper.
    Could it be correct?
    Is there anyone that could cofidently say
    “Aint no way that was God!”

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 3:47 am | Permalink
  105. Is there any way to confidently say it was God in this space and time? I heard of no voice from heaven, no out-of-the-normal phenomenon (by the way, fire and brimstone is not normal) or invading army, and actually, I wonder if Piper himself would have escaped a stoning because he certainly would have failed the biblical test for prophet (prophet=messenger of God, not future-teller as it is so often misconstrued). So all signs point to, “Why the hell even make this statement?” What about this says it was God, other than Piper’s warped sense of sovereignty?

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  106. Doug wrote:

    Wasn’t the Republican convention in Minnesota also interrupted by a hurricane (albeit, the actual disaster happened in Louisiana) … and Michael Moore said something about God’s making it happen or whatever? More in jest, though. I certainly got a kick out of it.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  107. Todd Erickson wrote:

    If I may:

    4For certain men have crept in stealthily [[c]gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

    5Now I want to remind you, though you were fully informed once for all, that though the Lord [at one time] delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, He subsequently destroyed those [of them] who did not believe [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him].

    6And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place–these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day.

    7[The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns–which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity–are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire.(A)

    8Nevertheless in like manner, these dreamers also corrupt the body, scorn and reject authority and government, and revile and libel and scoff at [heavenly] glories (the glorious ones).

    The phrase “unnatural vice and sensual perversity” isn’t just talking about sex. The idea of unnatural vice and sensual perversity is raising the pleasing of all senses, all needs, all wants, above God. They pleased themselves rather than serving or offering hospitality to others, they pleased themselves while others starved.

    The practice of trying to rape the angels when the came to Lot’s house still exists in some parts of the world, it has far less to do with sexual pleasure than it does with exerting power over outsiders. They were simply inhospitable.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  108. a.b.e. wrote:

    Jenny,

    Your comments really turned me off. John Piper says some very unrealistic things. Just because he has helped you spiritually does not mean that everything he says is correct.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  109. Todd Erickson wrote:

    What about the other five tornados that touched down at the same time? What were they teaching?

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Permalink
  110. a.b.e. wrote:

    Laura,

    I honestly believe some of John Piper’s theology has hurt Christians – particularly women. I think this needs to be discussed.

    I think what you are seeing here is frustration over the power John Piper has over parts of the Christian community. I definitely feel that frustration. It’s painful to see the lives of Christians hurt and torn apart because some people believe everything he says is correct.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  111. a.b.e. wrote:

    I wish Piper would have to live through the subordinate status he has assigned to women. I wish also he would face the destruction he has caused in many women’s lives with his patriachal teaching.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  112. Todd Erickson wrote:

    The thing that always strikes me about thoughts like this is that they generally fall out in one of two ways:

    One in which the poster is basically talking about you as if you had walked in through a pile of dog turds and smeared them all over the carpet, and was shaking their head at what an irresponsible child you are.

    The other is generally sad at the lack of love being presented, but in no way talks down to you or makes you feel like you are being attacked in turn. Unfortunately, this second type is extremely rare.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  113. Todd Erickson wrote:

    As another person who graduated from Calvin College, I can tell you that the entire idea of being “reformed” is that our job, as handed to us by God, is to reform the world into God’s image, an image of life, healing, and love. Messages which oppose this are following a type of “reformed” that has little to do with the image of Christ, and everything to do with a more satisfying, gut pleasing “justice” here and now.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  114. Rasselas wrote:

    ditto

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  115. Cortney wrote:

    Along with the families displaced, injured and/or killed by Katrina and alike disasters. Thank you and Amen.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  116. Geoff wrote:

    Thanks for doing that, Todd… well put.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  117. Ryan wrote:

    The other five tornados were calls to repentance too. All those that experienced the effects, should repent and see how helpless they are and that life is fleeting. We should repent too come to think of it!

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 2:53 am | Permalink
  118. Ryan wrote:

    Todd,
    How can you maintain that argument when the Angels had already been shown hospitality and had eaten a feast served by Lot?

    Genesis 19:2 “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night s and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

    If they already had their needs met and hospitality shown to them by Lot, how could there possibly be an expectation that the rest of the town should do it again? If that is the case then hospitality could never be adequately shown, regardless of where you live.

    The sin was clearly that the town threatened the Angels and wanted to have sex with them, that is why Lot offered his virgin daughters.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  119. roger flyer wrote:

    Gotta keep the string going.

    The problem develops when theologians get as much power and influence as people like John Piper and Mark Driscoll (absolute power corrupts absolutely) and don’t seem to have any ‘governors’ on their speech or accountability to others. Every word that proceeds from their mouths becomes the ‘anointed word of the Lord’…Think I am exaggerating?! Can you imagine yourself having the chutzpah saying something like this on your blog? Why not? Because you have friends in your life who would call you CRAZY, not St. Bob the prophet.

    These ‘senior pastors’ are loose cannons blowing smoke and fire over the land. They are self made prophets who are revered as heroic champions and followed by their followers ‘to the gates of hell’…

    I, for one, am sick of it.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  120. Jacob S. wrote:

    I know this post has probably past its expiry date, but in case anyone is interested Piper has clarified (*revised*) his remarks on the tornado a bit — evidence that he hasn’t gone completely Pat-Robertson-Jerry-Falwell-batsh!t. Every calamity, he now says, is a call to repentance and holiness of life. http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1968_clarifying_the_tornado/

    Okay, sure.

    Nevertheless, just about everything in Halden’s subsequent post against Piper’s broader theology still hits pretty close to the mark.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  121. Ryan wrote:

    For those who cannot worship God in all circumstances read no further!

    We can see that children (I mean children literally in reference to your post above) of Israel suffered during Gods wrath with hope of restoration for the community in instances in the Old Covenant period and the New Covenant period. It is in this sense that I refer to it as discipline.

    Consider Lamentations where children were devoured by their mothers due to starvation that was the result of Gods wrath (see: Lam. 2:20, 4:10) or the fact that the children starve to death as in Lam. 4:4. Yet as a community they had hope (Lam. 3:24).

    Or for a New Covenant example, consider the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70, which was clearly divine wrath as predicted by Jesus himself (Luke 21:1-37 & xrefs). Here is an account of the outcome from Josephus:

    “While the Temple was ablaze, the attackers plundered it, and countless people who were caught by them were slaughtered. There was no pity for age and no regard was accorded rank; children and old men, laymen and priests, alike were butchered; every class was pursued and crushed in the grip of war, whether they cried out for mercy or offered resistance.

    Through the roar of the flames streaming far and wide, the groans of the falling victims were heard; such was the height of the hill and the magnitude of the blazing pile that the entire city seemed to be ablaze; and the noise – nothing more deafening and frightening could be imagined.”

    Yet there is hope Romans 11:30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    Israels disobedience was for the purpose of grafting in the Gentiles so that he could eventually show his mercy to both Jew and Gentile.

    The point is the suffering due to sin in the instances of the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians in 586BC, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70, the Holocaust, and every calamity that takes life has purpose and will eventually be redeemed for the glory of Christ.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink
  122. a.b.e. wrote:

    I agree, Cortney.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  123. a.b.e. wrote:

    He may have been good on race, but not on women. I feel he has dragged women down.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
  124. Theophilus wrote:

    That’s still overly simplistic proof-texting. I’m sure you’re aware that Romans 12:19 instructs believers to “never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God”. This is a central passage to John Howard Yoder’s explanation of the authority text in Romans 13; Romans 12:19 is held up to demonstrate that not all God’s characteristics are to be imitated by Christians.

    I don’t disagree with your ultimate conclusion about Piper, but your exegesis here is inadequate.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  125. “Israels disobedience was for the purpose of grafting in the Gentiles so that he could eventually show his mercy to both Jew and Gentile.”

    This is so wrong, I’m not sure where to begin… Oh wait, the Noah and Abrahamic covenants are predicated on positive promise and had universal implications in the least (Noah for creation, Abraham for humanity–his descendants moving out into the world and witnessing about God), not negative disobedience. Stop confusing divinely orchestrated disobedience (God causing us to sin) and God doing good in spite of our disobedience: redemption comes because we messed it up on what we did, not because God wanted to trip us up. This is a relationship, and so, think of what kind of relationship you’re describing here — a manipulative and abusive one, a God who trips us up so he can look benevolent. I’m not going to even get into the problematic conflation of glory, glorified, and praised.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 2:12 am | Permalink
  126. Brad A. wrote:

    Absolutely right, David. Of course, the positive promise and universal scope are also present in Israel via the Sinaitic Covenant. I’m not willing to surrender that one. Ryan’s right on a different important point, though, the fact that we’re grafted on, rather than wholly replacing, Israel.

    Israel wasn’t set up to sin and be judged for our benefit, a rather egotistic and selfish theology – sorry, but you can’t have a “biblical” theology that requires an unbiblical ethic or character to hold it. Israel was set up to be a visible sign of what God was doing in the world, and at its failure, that mission is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, his embodiment to be continued in his church (and quite despite ourselves).

    Ryan, there’s no disagreement that every calamatiy can be redeemed for the glory of Christ. We just object to the rather strange notion that such events are orchestrated by God for the glory of Christ. Just because God brings good out of evil doesn’t make God the author of evil in the first place.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:32 am | Permalink
  127. Ryan wrote:

    Just because a choice is caused by God does not mean that it is not a genuine choice. Where does scripture ever teach that our choices have to be free from Gods influence or control in order to be real genuine choices? A genuine relationship with him does not require us to be absolutely free moral agents, although we do make our choices based on our own preferences or wants those choices happen to sovereignly fulfill Gods purposes. Consider what that means for Judas:
    John 17:12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
    I did not say that God is the author of evil or himself involved in sin but he does have purposes in which evil is utilized.
    Theodore Beza reflected this perfectly:
    Nothing happens anyhow or without God’s most righteous decree, although God is not the author of or sharer in any sin at all. Both His power and His goodness are so great and so incomprehensible, that at a time when He applies the devil or wicked men in achieving some work, whom He afterwards justly punishes, He Himself none the less effects His holy work well and justly. These things do not hinder but rather establish second and intermediate causes, by which all things happen. When from eternity God decreed whatever was to happen at definite moments, He at the same time also decreed the manner and way which He wished it thus to take place; to such extent, that even if some flaw is discovered in a second cause, it yet implies no flaw or fault in God’s eternal counsel. (Quoted in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978, orig. 1860], 143–144.)
    All of the covenants require their fulfillment in Christ (there could be no covenant outside of Christ and his death and resurrection) which was planned before the foundations of the world.

    Consider Acts 4: 27as a event orchestrated by God:
    for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  128. Frank Turk wrote:

    I like all the “would God really do that” threads in this little corner of the blogosphere.

    I wonder: would God /really/ hand over His son to sinful men to be crucified like a thief or a rioter? I mean, his own son?

    Oh wait — if we deny that, we have to deny what Scripture actually says in words. But if we deny that God ordains war, or that all the weather is actually under His command, we’re devils — dangerous men.

    I’ll be a dangerous man. You can be harmless.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  129. Halden wrote:

    Wow, maybe you could draw an awesome comic strip about this! And/or take an English class sometime.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  130. Frank Turk wrote:

    ED: This isn’t a spot for your free advertising. Do that somewhere else. -Admin

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  131. Frank Turk wrote:

    what a compelling reply. I’ll have to revise my entire world view after that.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  132. Halden wrote:

    Just saying. When your blog is nothing but a bunch of goofy comic images, are people supposed to take you seriously?

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  133. Bobby Grow wrote:

    What are you doing over here, Turk? It’s strange to see you commenting on Halden’s site . . . but I was wondering which brave soul would venture to this “side” of the tracks.

    I see Halden has provided you with a warm welcome ;-).

    Halden, don’t debate; it’s a trap.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  134. Halden wrote:

    Didn’t take me more than a second to figure that out. Thanks, Bobby. : )

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  135. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Btw, Frank,

    Halden wasn’t talking about MacArthur, it’s Piper . . .

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  136. Halden wrote:

    Well, MacArthur sucks too. Another enemy of the gospel there.

    As long as I’m being contentious about the “reformed”. . .

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  137. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Yeah, I started a debate once (along time ago); then I realized it wasn’t really on the up-and-up — so I graciously bowed out :-). Hi Frank.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  138. Bobby Grow wrote:

    I would agree with you, Halden; I would just say it differently . . . I still have certain Fundy proclivities (you know that).

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  139. Bobby Grow wrote:

    ;-)

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  140. Bobby Grow wrote:

    I still like having Frank here, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to witness: Frank Turk talking with Halden Doerge . . . strange.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  141. Brad A. wrote:

    But you notice, as somebody on that blog said, there’s still the “my tornado” and “theirs” thing going on. Screwiness, to be sure…

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  142. Halden wrote:

    Apparently I don’t know the significance of this special little fellow and his obscure blogs. Ah well.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  143. Halden wrote:

    His malignant little avatar makes clear that he’s up to no good. That was my first clue.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
  144. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Well he’s a contributor to the Pyromaniacs blog, which is a group blog founded by Phil Johnson; who is the executive director of John MacArthur’s Grace to You radio program . . . Phil has also edited most, if not all of Mac’s books. Unfortunately (at a more populace level), their blog has a huge, huge following (amongst the devoted); even, I’m afraid, Halden “huger” than yours (which is hard to fathom ;-).

    I once did an expose on these characters, hope you don’t mind me linking to it: Expose’ on the Pyromaniacs

    And I have a new blog, The Evangelical Calvinist which I have started to expose the particular flaws that Classic Calvinism (of which I would situate MacArthurites—in its own strange hybrid way) has imposed upon scripture (my name is hyper-linked to that blog).

    Sorry, I don’t mean to leach your blog, Halden; it’s just that for some reason I have an interest in trying to uncover the terrible theology that folks like the Pyromaniacs are forwarding — usually they are unaware of their own assumptions — and if they are then their error is doubly dastard.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  145. Bobby Grow wrote:

    I think Frank means well; but he’s just a little too cocky, and I think he wades into the waters too quickly sometimes — and starts at the wrong end of the pool.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  146. Halden wrote:

    And probably pees in it?

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
  147. Bobby Grow wrote:

    I’m not sure about that; nobody knows, except Frank; unless of course they use that kind of chlorine that turns color around the offender ;-). Hi Frank :-).

    Sometimes, I’m too diplomatic (I have a weak conscience). ;-)

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  148. Ryan, you’re projecting. I said nothing — not a thing — about choice.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  149. roger flyer wrote:

    I hope the Turk comes back. I liked his avatar…he looks sort of…dangerous in an incendiary kind of way. Things are heating up…

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  150. Halden wrote:

    Its always after the post has been up for a few days that the crazies start biting.

    By the way, we’ve now passed the Mark Driscoll point for most comments. To be honest I didn’t expect such response. I guess Piper is still popular.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
  151. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Halden said:

    Its always after the post has been up for a few days that the crazies start biting.

    Hey . . . ;-)

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink
  152. roger flyer wrote:

    Told ya.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  153. roger flyer wrote:

    Humility requires that a person acknowledge mystery.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 6:14 am | Permalink
  154. Frank Turk wrote:

    I love this blog — where else can people see exactly what this side of the theological fence is really about? Pee jokes? Fantastic.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  155. Frank Turk wrote:

    To be honest, I found your little men’s room here by accident — someone e-mailed me. It’s always enjoyable to read the rantings of someone who works for a publisher which has fewer readers than my blog.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink
  156. Frank Turk wrote:

    I’d rather they take me at face value. That way the serious stuff sneaks up on them and they find themselves challenged and surprised because they have underestimated what they are handling.

    Poor Bobby found out the hard way. You’ll just have to sulk around your office and tell yourself what a great job you did slapping down that comic book guy.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink
  157. Bobby Grow wrote:

    You mean like “chub’s of meat” jokes about PoMo’s, Frank?

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
  158. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Actually, Frank, I just wasn’t comfortable with your format; there wasn’t anything about what you had/have to say that is very hard to “deal” with. Your debate blog is just kind’ve, contrived; so it just does not come off as a genuine place for fruitful dialogue, except for you to try and impress your “choir.”

    I think you need to just let this go, Frank . . . quit pouting.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  159. Frank, if Glen Beck in all his glory (and I use that term lightly — perhaps I the term sublime would be a better fit, with the aesthetic definition of sublime rather than a popular dictionary definition) can get 2.8 million viewers now, perhaps your digs mean nothing.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
  160. Halden wrote:

    Heh heh. The delusions of the neurotically “reformed” are so funny to listen to.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  161. Halden wrote:

    they find themselves challenged and surprised because they have underestimated what they are handling.

    Wow, so you really do make sweet passionate love to yourself every night, eh?

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  162. Brad wrote:

    I can’t resist. I was under Piper for years and then a Calvinistic Charismatic thing and I see God using both sides to reach people with the message of Christ life redeeming transforming and empowering. Anyway. I think it is so funny that as you read through Romans 11 you come to the place where you realize.

    The ones God chose (elect) rejected Him.
    The ones that rejected him became His elect.
    And then Paul’s like ok so now you are elect don’t blow it like the previous elect and cut off.

    It’s Hilarious. God is so funny.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  163. Brad wrote:

    Sorry when I said both sides I was thinking Calvinist and Arminian. I really am amazed at how God takes what we give Him and works through our imperfect understandings to further His kingdom. Like Paul said the kingdom is not a matter of talk but of power.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  164. Brad wrote:

    Okay, lets say that we sinned and so we get cut off from God and live our lives in rebellion against him. So then we hear the message of forgiveness and peace with God and we receive Christ message. We are transferred from darkness to light, kingdom of Satan to God, bondage to freedom. WHY would you ever say after all that Christ has done for you…

    i AM the worst of sinners and I DESERVE the worst punishment.
    Dude, like read your Bible. Paul writes the letters to all the churches and says to “the sinners in the church and to those that deserve the worst punishment” OH WAIT no that’s not it. You got teachers that have convinced you to overlook the obvious. You are a Saint, a holy one, a redeemed, loved, enjoyed by God, masterpiece of a work, fighting on the winning side. COME ON MAN, shake off all that false guilt the devil is heaping on you and get excited you are FREE.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  165. Brad wrote:

    I hope that doesn’t mean that you think all Christians should agree with Ryan that they are the worst sinners and deserving punishment.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  166. Brad wrote:

    I am so glad that you guy are able to be so certain that Piper is not even saved. I for one would rather take a safer route instead of standing over as you are judge/jury emphasizing in a very cutting/sarcastic way the things that make Piper’s theology stand out. Guys this is a guy who has given himself to serving people and made it his ambition in life to serve Christ passionately however the Lord leads him. I’d rather say as the High Priest said about the disciples.

    “Men consider carefully what you are about to do to these men.”

    I for one don’t want to limit what God is attempting to do. Call it naiive if you like. But John Piper is a good man. He also lives a lot more disciplined, God-fearing, and a loving servant to those around him. While I strongly don’t agree with many parts of his theology. Just listen to the man and see how he loves his Lord, and passionately proclaims his life’s ambition to exalt Jesus. If you haven’t noticed his message, in it’s extreme may be whacked out, is full of words of deep conviction. His church is strong and they are a people of great faith. They are incredible in prayer, abundant in giving, explosive in missions, helping the poor and the urban community like you wouldn’t believe! And we dare have the right to say all kinds of evil against him so what we can feel better about ourselves?

    Paul said, “if anyone thinks that he has knowledge and that knowing makes him anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.” Humility friends of the cross and of the love of God.

    Sure continue to disagree with the man’s teachings on one subject. But don’t fall into an extreme of taking one thing and discounting every other good thing. Let us remember that we ought to be sober, level headed and not cynical as men that must give account for any rash words we have spoken or typed.

    Carry on with your banter, debating, jesting, sarcasm if you so desire. Just remember to keep in the Spirit with Christ. Who was not vicious and sarcastic, even with the Pharisees until he had perfectly understood the way they lived their life not simply a teaching they had. Continue now demonstrating patience and kindness, refusing to argue in the hope that people that are in bondage may find freedom.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink
  167. Andy Alexis-Baker wrote:

    I meant what I said about him. It was not sarcasm or jesting. He worships a different God than I do.

    Jesus was quite biting when he wanted to be Brad “You brood of vipers!” “You make your disciples twice the sons of hell that you are.”

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
  168. isaac wrote:

    to borrow a line from Hauerwas: i have no doubt that Piper is sincere in his faith; but that just goes to show that sincerity has nothing to do with being a Christian.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  169. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    I brought this point up in a class the other day when we were discussing the flood and I made reference to Piper’s statements.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  170. Patti wrote:

    You won’t understand until the Holy Spirit comes into your soul, and HE may never come You can’t see until then… It is supernatural. That’s why you can’t argue with an unbeliever.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  171. Anne wrote:

    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. We all deserve hell. When you talk about horrible things happening to people, you should remember that the good things are actually the exception, and the question we should be asking is why do good things happen to us? If we truly understood how awesome and terrible God is (for our God is a consuming fire), we would shudder at our audacity to think that He owes us anything. The fact that He sent His Son to die for us should shock us into mystified silence. You can talk about how a good God would not want horrible things to happen to us, but you forget that He is justified for we have sinned . . .
    PS: Here’s my caveat – I only read through the first few comments. I haven’t seen Piper’s message about the tornado and the church or the bridge, so my response is really not directed at Piper or what is being said here about him. I’m just responding to the general sense I received from the post/comments. If God decided to destroy us all (not just physically, but spiritually by sending us all to hell, He would be justified – we need to remember that).

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

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