John Piper’s God Looks More Like “Dexter” than Jesus
After reading my post yesterday on the great lengths God will go to for his children my brother Andy commented:
I just did a post about a John Piper video that is making a resurgence on the web… and I have come to a conclusion – You and he do not worship the same god. What do you do with a guy like Piper?
That had me curious. Did one of the most famous theologians in America and I really worship different gods?
So I watched the video my brother shared. In it Piper is answering a question about why it was OK for God to kill women and children in the Old Testament.
My thought was, “Well that should be a quick answer…it’s not OK”.
Apparently John Piper thinks otherwise.
“It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die. So everyday God is taking life. He will take 50,000 lives today.”
Piper goes on for five more minutes in a similar vein getting further and further away from the God who was revealed through Jesus Christ.
Jonathan Edwards Legacy
John Piper’s views on God’s nature did not form in a vacuum. Rather it has been shaped by the theological legacy of America’s Great Awakening 270 years ago. The Great Awakening was a religious revival that has had a lasting impact on modern American Christianity. It stressed a deep need for personal salvation and the consequences of a failure to respond to Christ.
Probably the most famous sermon out of the Great Awakening is Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
The title says it all. Yes, according to Edwards God is very angry indeed!
The God that holds you over the Pit of Hell,
much as one holds a Spider, or some loathsome Insect, over the Fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully
provoked; his Wrath towards you burns like Fire;
he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but
to be cast into the Fire; he is of purer Eyes than to
bear to have you in his Sight; you are ten thousand
Times so abominable in his Eyes as the most hateful venomous Serpent is in ours. You have offended
him infinitely more than ever a stubborn Rebel did
his Prince: and yet ‘tis nothing but his Hand that
holds you from falling into the Fire every Moment
Excerpt: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
God abhors you!
God sees you like a loathsome insect!
God holds you over a consuming fire every moment!
Oh, and by the way…God also loves you…
Can you see why John Piper, and for that matter, a large section of American Christianity, appears schizophrenic to the rest of us? They are trying to reconcile a psychotic serial killer and the Prince of Peace. The result?
John Piper doesn’t worship God…he worships Dexter!
When God Looks Like Dexter
Dexter is a TV show about a police forensic specialist named Dexter… who is also a serial killer. Dexter is aware of his brutal need to kill so he has constructed a series of rules (the law?) of who he is allowed to murder. Essentially he has created a way to methodically kill other murderers and “bad guys” allowing the release he needs to satiate his murderous nature and thus maintain the facade of a normal life.
Like Piper’s God, Dexter is capable of acts of incredible compassion…and incredible savagery. The only problem is of course…
Honestly, I was only able to watch 6 or 7 episodes of the hit show despite many friend’s recommendations. I struggled with that type of gratuitous violence, as well as the nasty feeling that came from rooting for a serial killer.
I found myself having the same nasty feeling watching Piper describe his God!
When God Looks Like Jesus
If we were still living in the Old Covenant, before Jesus appeared, Piper’s description of God could be more accepted…and forgivable.
Because people didn’t know God. They hadn’t seen him and he had not revealed himself fully. People got glimpses of what God might be like but at best they were like guessing shadow puppets on the wall. But when Jesus showed up everything changed.
The Light had come into the world and we were invited to see God for who he is with absolute clarity.
And guess what? He didn’t look like Dexter at all!
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1: 18-19
Instead of a God who takes life, Jesus reveals a God who gives Life!
Instead of a God who sees humanity as loathsome insects, Jesus reveals a God who calls us his children!
Instead of a God who holds you over the fire, Jesus reveals a God who holds you close to his heart!
As Brian Zahnd says:
God is like Jesus! God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We haven’t always known that…
…but now we do!
Instead of revealing to the Body of Christ the nature of God through Jesus Christ, John Piper clings to a shadowy image of God found in the Old Testament when even John the Apostle implies that no one really knew or saw him clearly.
I have to use the verse I mentioned yesterday simply because it is such a contrast to the image of God projected by Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and much of the church with a “reformed” theology as their foundation:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1
The Father’s lavish love for his children trumps “an Angry God” anytime!
When the church’s understanding of God comes more from Dexter than Jesus, well, we shouldn’t then wonder why the world sees the church as insane.
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