Does pastor and theologian John Piper worship a different God than the one I do? That was the question I unpacked a couple posts back when I suggested that, based on some comments made by Piper, the God he worshiped looked more like the T.V. serial killer Dexter than Jesus.
As vexed as I was by the statements made by Piper such as,
“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.”
I still had this bad feeling inside about suggesting we worshiped “different Gods”. I have always been one who strived to pull the Body of Christ together despite theological differences. I don’t care so much about opposing ideas on baptism, communion, or eschatology; show me somebody who loves Jesus and I’ll show you someone I share the Lord’s Table with.
Then I received an e-mail from a friend about the post:
I have been pondering on this idea of how Piper
worships a different God…
I think this is a really tricky one… I guess he appears a different God
(because so harsh/horrible/ungood), but I hope it is the same one… because
I used to be quite conservative…, and I have
old friends who still like Piper.
And I think if we start saying that people with beliefs we find hard have a
different God, then we’d have to start writing off a good chunk of the
historical church. I am sure that is not what you meant, but I think it is a
somewhat perilous trajectory
He’s right! It is a perilous trajectory…
Dividing the Body
During the 2012 American presidential election I remember being bothered that whenever President Obama would mention his Christian faith, many in the evangelical community would question, “Well, what God is he talking about?” and suggest that it was a “different God.”
I remember thinking how dangerous it is to divide the Body of Christ; to break the communion of the Lord’s Table with another person who claims Jesus as King. Now I was doing the exact same thing!
I shared with another friend (yes this post solicited some e-mails) how I try to avoid singling out Christian leaders by name preferring to be more general when critiquing elements within the church. But something stirred up in me when I saw that video of Piper saying how it may please God to slaughter women and children.
It would never please God!
And the last thing the world needs to hear is a respected minister of the Gospel revealing God as a cold heartless monster who is, nevertheless, capable of random acts of compassion on occasion.
As I suggested…When Piper describes God’s nature it looks more like Dexter than Jesus.
So although I would have to say Piper is my brother in Christ, I feel I must take issue with him in this area:
John Piper says: “It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.”
Jesus says: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom.” Matt 10:13
John Piper says: God gives life and he takes life.
Jesus says: “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!” (Luke 9:60 in a parable on how his disciples are supposed to act)
John Piper says: “Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.”
Jesus says: “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords.” Matt 26:52
John Piper says: “He (God) will take 50,000 lives today.”
Jesus says: “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Can We Know What God is REALLY Like?
Admittedly the Bible does have some conflicting verses which challenge the “goodness” of God. But Jesus came to clean up ALL those misconceptions.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.
John 17: 25-26
We never really knew God. The Old Testament writers never really knew God. Jesus came to make God known to us. Jesus and the Father are One so when we see how Jesus treats humanity, we know how God in heaven treats humanity. (John 14: 8-11)
Replacing “God” with “Jesus” in John Piper’s statements reveal them for the absurdity they are:
“It’s right for Jesus to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. Jesus gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because Jesus wills that they die. So everyday Jesus is taking life. Jesus will take 50,000 lives today.”
To paraphrase and tweak Brian Zahnd’s quote from the last post:
God is not like Dexter! God has never been like Dexter. There has never been a time when God was like Dexter. We haven’t always known that…
…but now we do!