John Piper Contributes to Culture of Fear

I’ve never liked John Piper. In college, this certainly put me outside a certain “inner circle” of Whitworth religion majors (those who all read John Piper, were being “mentored” and attended Faith Bible Church). Now, I never had any problem with that, and I was always a little concerned with just how much some of my peers loved John Piper’s sermons and books.

This morning – years after those Whitworth college days – I am reminded again why I never liked John Piper. Many of you know that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is holding their 2009 Churchwide Assembly this week in Minneapolis. Of course, because they are discussing the proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality and issues of ordination, the meeting is being covered extensively throughout the media. Many of you also know that a tornado hit downtown Minneapolis yesterday and even damaged the roof of the church building where parts of the Churchwide Assembly were meeting. New York also faced hurricane-force winds yesterday, while Anchorage, Alaska dealt with a 5.0 magnitude earthquake. It was a big day for nature yesterday.

And then leave it to John Piper to help explain exactly why the tornado came to Minneapolis. And of course, it was because of the gays.

piper_handsJohn Piper’s blog post today was entitled, “The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality.” And Piper continues on in the great tradition of Pat Robertson by helping to explain why natural disasters occur – and naturally, they are an expression of God’s wrath and serve as “gentle but firm warnings” from God. Piper makes some very compelling arguments, detailing eyewitness accounts of when exactly the tornado hit downtown, and compares that to the EXACT time that the conversation about the Social Statement on Human Sexuality was on the schedule! And he shares how the tornado hit the convention center (where there must have been Lutherans discussing homosexuality) and Central Lutheran (again, where more Lutherans discussed homosexuality) – even breaking the steeple in two – and then it lifted. The above photo is John Piper, although I can’t tell if he is shielding himself from the tornado or giving God a “10” score for God’s placement of the tornado.

As Piper works through his post and details how unrepentant sin (like homosexuality) excludes persons from the kingdom and how the potential decision of the ELCA could be evil, in that it condones something God is clearly against, I couldn’t decide whether I should just laugh (LMAO) or get upset with yet another interpretation of scripture that is clearly contributing to the culture of fear we experience surrounding this issue.

I think most would agree that Americans lived with a strong culture of fear in our post-9/11 world. We were told by our government to fear Muslims, anyone with a Middle Eastern background, and the heightened security everywhere kept everyone on edge. As the church continues to debate the issue of homosexuality, we find ourselves facing another culture of fear. Many in the church fear those who are other, who are different, and are able to find ways to manipulate scripture to support this fear.

And it certainly doesn’t help when extremely influential Christian leaders like John Piper make absolutely ridiculous statements about the connection between a freak tornado and an ELCA meeting. I have to wonder if even John Piper really believes what he has written – or whether this is a convenient way to support the discrimination and hate of the LGBT community. It’s certainly a much more convincing argument to sway others to believe that not only you are against something (and have scripture to support you), but God is also pissed about it – so pissed that He [sic] is going to bring tornadoes and other natural disasters our way if we keep approving this sin.

Piper ends his blog post with the following conclusion:

The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

I completely agree with Drew Tatusko’s post, The Tornado to Stop the “Gays.” It’s worth a read – he comes to this conclusion about Piper’s connection between the tornado and “the gays”:

This sort of “theology” tries to divine God’s pre-destined program for us by picking and choosing natural events that appear to confirm a pre-existing ideological condition. It’s not theology, it’s insurance to justify one’s own ideology.

It’s an easy way to convince others that God is on your side – insurance to justify one’s ideology. While I’d like to think that Christians in this nation and world are slowly moving toward a more open and inclusive position when it comes to our LGBT brothers and sisters – posts like Piper’s remind me that we have a long way to go.

For a better sense of the ridiculousness of Piper’s interpretation of the tornado, check out Jenell Paris’s post: The Toddler, The Discharge, and The Humidity. Thanks Jenell!

Comments

  1. says

    Yuck. As Martin E. Marty once said, we often listen to those who have the least faith teach us about faith. Or as Reinhold once said, “Often when people want to be fools for Christ they just end up being damn fools.”

  2. says

    While you and I don’t agree on the issue at hand I have to agree in full with this post – this type of “interpreting the signs” is a waste of time and by parallel, any church that gets hit by a natural disaster should be wondering “What are we doing wrong?” Yuck.

    • scott says

      The meta issue is whether there is “chance” or just our finite grasp of what happens. Is your GOD “big” or “small” in terms of involvement in our present history (and revelatory to give us the truth to apprehend it). In what way can John Piper be “proven” wrong and that “coincidence and chance” carry the day? Those who preach are under severe penalty and judgment when misusing their pulpit for other than scriptural truth, this cautions all but the foolhardy to under promise and over deliver. Whether John Piper is in error is not for me to judge, I instead will receive his statements and take responsibility for how they affect my action and spiritual life. Those of faith cannot be complacent, deceived or unloving but instead must be vigilent and not led from the narrow way. Brother Brian, be not so quick to be tolerant of what may be error, but engage the struggle to be salt and light to a lost world.. Peace but not at any price.

  3. Matt Richards says

    Adam, thanks for this post. Even if you believe that God communicates with humanity through natural disasters (which I don’t), it’s instructive that Piper assumes such a disaster is functioning to validate his own theological agenda. Might a cross broken by a tornado symbolize a broken communion, a church divided, or a body struggling to extend Christ’s radical welcome? It seems to me all these are conceivable interpretations. Yet, in Piper’s world of magic and paranoia, of course all natural disasters function to authenticate his own theological commitments. Piper continually amazes me with his confidence that he has God so calculably figured out. David Bentley Hart would have a field day with this one.

    • Luke says

      Matt,
      Don’t mistaken confidence in the revealed word of God with ‘having God calcuably figured out”. Preachers should preach with authority, so long as it is grounded in God’s word, and not be muddling around with soft-padded feet on issues and theology which God has made plain. I won’t say which ones, but just be careful to pin up Piper just because he has conviction about God’s word. I wish all had the kind of self-sacrificial conviction that Piper has, more authors and Pastors that could be making hundreds of thousands of dollars would be living in their cities downtown, and shopping at discount stores so as to not waste their money on worthless junk.

    • Matt Richards says

      Luke,
      The fact that many people, like myself, understand Christ as the revelation and scripture as a means for coming to terms with what is revealed in Christ, does not mean I don’t take Scripture seriously. That is a total lacuna and one that Piper employs all too regularly. In his analysis (and apparently yours), Karl Barth would be construed as having “soft padded feet” because he rejects the inerrancy of Scripture. Homosexuality, as NT Wright recently noted, is a quite complicated question. A question which well intentioned Christians are entitled to disagree about–this is what the Lutheran statement on Human Sexuality acknowledged. To ascribe these important disagreements to a lack of conviction or disregard for God’s word is a tyrannical move and one which I have no patience to engage. That said, I have great admiration for Piper’s biblical aptitude and his sacrificial lifestyle. I think he has a lot of personal integrity which makes these sorts of outbursts all the more unfortunate.

  4. says

    Is it so hard to comprehend that God could bring natural situations as a warning or judgment or do we simply disregard the entire Old Testament and the book of Revelation for how God moved?

    I am not going to say if Piper’s assertions are correct or not but by your opinion, you are doing the same thing you are accusing Piper of doing, putting God into your own ideological box for your own theological conclusions.

    But of course, what do I know? Haha, you’re the one with the masters degree. =)

  5. ben w says

    peter – Piper did acknowledge that the tornado was a warning to himself as well.

    Adam do you find Piper’s statements laughable b/c you don’t think God work in this way anymore, or simply because you find him too confident in understanding God’s mysterious ways? I can understand the latter, but the former would seem to be a big problem.

  6. says

    A few things to ponder:
    – Isn’t the weather a highly inefficient manner with which to communicate w/ humans? Why not just show up and tell them they’re wrong?
    – Why do tornadoes rarely occur in liberal strongholds like NY or California? If this was a warning, why wasn’t there a natural disaster @ the Episcopal Church’s convention last month?

  7. Phil says

    k – forget Piper for a minute, and focus on Jesus. If you’re a Christian you’ll hold that the Bible is the Word of God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, aka – Jesus, and that he died for our sins (“If you confess your sins,he’s faithful to forgive our sings”). Confession and repentance is what Piper is talking about. No matter what the sin is, if you’re willfully living in it and not repenting – you’re not saved. Why all of a sudden for our generation is the scripture not being considered “culturally relevant”? If a person came up to me and said I want to lead your congregation, but I’m openly “greedy” and materialistic – I’d say “not a chance”. Sin is sin. Trust your bible, not yourself (as I don’t trust myself either).

    • says

      Phil – thanks for your comment. But your comment presupposes that everyone here views homosexuality as a sin. I for one, do not. So — while a sin may in fact be a sin — I don’t believe that LGBT folk are sinning (but you can read more here for more of my take on that).

    • Dan says

      Adam,
      If homosexuality is not a sin, then why has God excluded those who practice it from His kingdom? How do you interpret the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah? Certainly God did send the catastrophe on those cities because of their perverted sins. So what activities and deeds of men are judged by God and demand our repentance so that we don’t face the consequences of what we have sown?

  8. Jacob says

    While I disagree with Piper’s pronouncement of the tornado being an act of God, He was still accurate on the correct view of homosexuality (as well as other sins) as prescribed in Scripture.

  9. Ernie says

    Here’s the thing. I understand that as soon as someone like Piper says something like that, everyone is up in arms because they believe, “Well God is loving, how could He ever bring judgment on people in that form?” I believe that God is extremely loving, yet even moreso, I believe that God is HOLY, completely set apart from our sinful existence. We should all believe that God is sovereign, meaning He is in control of everything that happens, and everything that happens happens because He allows it to happen. Ultimately, God DOES control nature, so we cannot say whether this was judgment or not. However, I would challenge you with this: John Piper is an extremely humble man who loves people with a capacity that I have trouble measuring up to. Look at his views on himself, completely sinful yet redeemed by the grace of God. He seeks to win the lost for Christ and do so will passion-filled preaching. No, you don’t have to agree with everything he says, no one has it all correct, but he absolutely respects the Word of God and has built his entire life around it. Don’t discredit him as a hateful man, it simply isn’t who he is.

  10. Taylor GEorge says

    “I don’t like Piper” doesn’t cut it. If you want to take on the issue put forth some logical argumentation, or maybe provide a link to someone.

  11. Marie says

    I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to think I know what God thinks or why He allows and/or makes things happen. So, in a sense, I disagree with you and with Piper. God is infinitely powerful, and as others have pointed out, He has used nature to send a message many, many times. Is He using it here specifically in response to the assembly/statement? I don’t know. The best I can do is to love God and others, and trust that He has a plan. And His plan, when all is said and done, is good.

    • Luke says

      Marie, that is well put. God does have a plan, and he “works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”. ALL things. I agree, whether or not God used a Tornado to warn us about the imminent danger we are in as sinners is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the theological truth that Jesus affirms is very akin to this situation. “Do not be amazed that they died in that way, rather be amazed you have not died in the same way”. Are homosexuals worse sinners? No. Jesus would simply say, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” We should be amazed not at the Tornado, but that God doesn’t destroy us now.
      This, however, I am sensing more and more is not agreed upon…and I think this is probably the most tragic thing in Christendom today.
      Do you, reader, believe that you deserve anything more than judgment and wrath? The Christian should only answer this one way.

  12. Saskia says

    Ooh, people get touchy when you take on leaders! Nice going. Looking forward to reading more of your writings.

  13. Dana says

    Phil,
    I think you hit the nail on the head. Sin is sin and the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is sin. Is it divisive to say that adultery is sin or that premarital sex is sin… or that thinking lustful thoughts is sin… ? I guess to some who don’t want to hear that they are engaging in sin it is, but it is not to those who are open to the fact that we ALL have sinned. John Piper is just calling out people who want to justify sin and who want to openly lead other members of the church while engaging in overtly sinful behavior.
    I don’t think this is an issue of liking Piper or challenging leaders “authority”. I think it is an issue of the authority of God and His Word. If you do not like what God says then I guess you could just change it but then I would ask what is even the point of believing in the Word of God and following Him.

  14. Tyler says

    Have you actually read/listened to ANYTHING John Piper has written/spoken on the subject of homosexuality? Please do so before repeating statements such as how he wants to “support the discrimination and hate of the LGBT community”. I recommends starting here: http://tinyurl.com/kp8qdn

  15. says

    So I wonder what the people in New Orleans did (or were doing) when Katrina hit? Or the people in Asia when the recent Typhoon hit? Or, how about this, Mr Piper, certainly the workers in the Twin Towers were involved in all sorts of vile sins when God destroyed them.

    Just silly.

  16. Doug Gordon says

    2000 years of church history and tradition (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist and Protestant) and what the Scriptures have to say about homosexuality (Old and New Testament) mean nothing to those who have been brainwashed with the idea that to disagree with their agenda and belief system is “intolerant” or breeds fear.

    What is truly scary is the power of the homosexual lobby and their sympathizers to stifle debate and free speech. Nothing more scary or fear creating than that!

    There’s coming a day (unless things change soon) that men like John Piper will be imprisoned for their conscience and their speech. That’s not a statement intended to create fear, it’s the cold hard truth. Welcome to Amerika!

  17. Jeff says

    In response to Jeromy:

    Don’t you know what the people were doing during Katrina? They were black. They looted the stores after the storm. And don’t you know that the people in Asia were Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim? And don’t you know that 9/11 happened because of the ACLU? Just ask Pat Robertson. (I’m saying all of this tongue in cheek btw)

    Great response to Piper’s article.

  18. ben w says

    Jeromy, actually John Piper does give some preliminary thoughts on Katrina and other natural disasters here: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2005/1304_Was_Katrina_Intelligent_Design/ and http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2005/1279_Tsunami_and_Repentance/

    There is no such thing as an “innocent person” before God. We’ve all sinned before Him and it is nothing but His grace and mercy in Christ that keeps us from terrible judgment at any moment. Did these events happen by mere chance? Were they impossible for God to stop? Why would God not stop these and prevent destruction? Was He too weak? Too apathetic? The fact that God would send natural disasters as a judgment should not be surprising if one recognizes the pervasive nature of sin (even within themselves). And the general absence of disasters should humble us in light of His mercy.

  19. says

    “I think most would agree that Americans lived with a strong culture of fear in our post-9/11 world. We were told by our government to fear Muslims, anyone with a Middle Eastern background, and the heightened security everywhere kept everyone on edge.”

    I’ll grant the last part of that (about heightened security), but can you please cite where our government told us to fear Muslims and Middle Easterners? As I remember it, we were told not to live fear, and that Muslims were just like Christians (our lovely, pluralistic culture).

    As for Piper, it’s hard to deal with a situation like this. The Bible clearly records God’s use of natural disasters to judge sin, but, I don’t know that we can ever make a clear statement that a particular, modern disaster serves that purpose. I would say Piper clearly crossed a line here….

  20. says

    I live in MPLS and have friends in town for the ELCA assembly. Yesterday afternoon they voted to pass the social statement, which briefly addressed same sex relationships but also talked about sex trafficking, being in right relationship with one another, marriage and children, etc etc. It wasn’t just about GLBTQ folks, but did a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people. The statement passed by literally ONE VOTE, 66.667% to 33.333%.

    In the evening after the session, I attended Goodsoil’s [a coalition of ELCA GLBTQ positive organizations] church service which was, quite simply, beautiful. The Goodsoil leader was asked something along the lines of “well, won’t the weather send a message about what you’re doing?” to which he responded, “the sun did break out from behind the clouds as soon as we were finished voting!” How’s that for meteorological divine message sending?

    The text for the service was Mark’s calming of the storm and never have I heard a gathering of 1,000+ people laugh at 4:37 – “A great windstorm arose…” Barbara Lundblad, from Union Theological Seminary, focused on the questions in the text: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” and tied it to people worried about people leaving and congregations breaking away; Jesus’ response of “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” It was a wonderful service and quite possible the most perfect text for the entire situation.

  21. says

    More evidence that Piper is a nut job. That form of religion is little more than silly superstitions. I’d rank it right down there with Scientology, fairies, and voodoo.

  22. Amos says

    And posts like this remind me that we have a very long way to go, as well. Adam, you should read this. Perhaps then you could realize just how your blog and its contents are just another moral ship passing in the night of modernized ethical mumbo-jumbo. Culture of fear? Spending an entire lifetime harping on “crazy preachers” like Robertson and Piper doesn’t sound too far from the cultivation of a culture of the fear of “Evil Evangelicals.”

    Think outside the box, Adam. Stop posting artificially controversial nonsense just to get a bunch of hits on your blog to drive ad revenue.

    • says

      Amos – your link didn’t work. And while I certainly don’t mind posts that do well in the “hits”-department, that wasn’t my sole purpose for writing this post. I honestly believe that his interpretation is not helpful – even extremely hurtful & hateful toward an oppressed group of people in our nation.

  23. Amos says

    Here. Read it. You may begin to say why claiming that moral discourse is “hurtful” to “oppressed groups” goes under the guise of moral discourse but is really something very different. Seriously. Just read the first two chapters.

  24. says

    Nice post. I regret that my respect for Piper is shrinking as he seems to become even more forceful with his narrow “reformed” view of God and the hell-fire brimstone fear tactics of the Great Awakeners. He is certainly being faithful to the testimony of those 16th century reformers who became increasingly hostile toward other believers who differed in their theology and church practice. Don’t be surprised if there are some bonfires lit for those who are leaving and have already left the “Mother Church.” Because I don’t see this being about homosexuality as much as I do about fueling the dogmatism of the Evangelical Political Party.

  25. Amos says

    @Brian Merritt – no idea how many times MacIntyre has or hasn’t been married. At any rate, his own personal life doesn’t bear on his account of the decline of morality since the Enlightenment.

  26. mankind says

    Maybe I missed something…What about “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, which Dr. Piper quoted in his post constitutes, as you said, “another interpretation of scripture that is clearly contributing to the culture of fear” and “an easy way to convince others that God is on your side?”

    That baffles me. Whether you agree with him or not about his conclusions about the tornado, the least you can do is acknowledge his THOROUGH familiarity and DEEP understanding of Biblical Scripture. He took NO scripture out of context in his argument, yet you accuse him of fear-mongering. Nothing in the tone of that blog post communicates hate – rather, it sounds more like a loving rebuke and exhortation toward repentance. Of course, you’d probably say the same things about Dr. Piper regardless of what sin he happened to be speaking to in this particular case.

    • says

      Maybe he was just sending tornados to minneapolis because of their greed and drinking. I know they have rich christians who don’t give money away and get drunk.

      I’ll be the tornado was for them.

  27. Sandy says

    As a Christian and a lesbian, when I saw the report of the tornado I wondered how long it would take before somebody blamed me (20 seconds or so, it seems). I find myself semi-amused by these things. It’s really a bit of a come-down actually, after Katrina. You’d think we could have gotten a little hail out of it or something.

    I love my partner (a graduate of an evangelical seminary) and don’t believe that our relationship is sin. I have a lot of sin to answer for but my love of her is not part of that. Can I hear wailing and gnashing of teeth as I type this? Yes. Do I care? No. God and I are good. We’ve talked a lot about this and I am assured of my salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Piper doesn’t have to agree.

    For the record, my gay agenda for today:
    Get up and go to work and come home.
    Grab a little dinner.
    Go fill my 85-year old mother’s pill box for the week.
    Take out the trash.
    Go to bed.

  28. bertimaeus says

    Don’t be deceived, no matter what our rather self-seeking, relativistic, contemporary culture propounds, sexual sin of any kind is a big issue to God, especially for those in Christian leadership.

  29. Jose says

    Greetings,
    I do not know you, but I’ve known John Piper for decades. I do not attend John Piper’s church and has been years since I last saw him.
    You identify yourself as a “progressive Christian” (whatever that means) and John Piper identifies himself as a “Born Again Christian” (which I know what that means… you may read the third chapter of John if you need to.)
    John Piper has been teaching on the Holiness of God, His Awesome power, and His Sovereignty since he graduated in the 1970’s. At the same time John Piper has also been teaching that the Lord of scripture, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and the one that in His compassion and grace provided His only son to die in our place is able, capable, and willing to love us and forgive us without compromising His Holiness or Sovereignty.
    In your article you provide a link to John Piper’s understanding of the events. In his article I see many Scripture quotes to back his beliefs. Neither in your article nor in the article of the person you completely agree with – Drew Tatusko, do I see any Scripture quotes. Maybe I misread them.
    John Piper’s aim is to glorify God, what is your aim? Many of your readers have been able to use your article to vent and justify their complacency toward God, and I suppose they thank you for providing them this platform.
    As far as I’m concerned God can do whatever He pleases. He may choose a tornado, or He may use other means to send a message, but He will never be contrary to His Holiness.
    Sin is sin. The nature of sin does not change, or soften, based on cultural trends. You may choose to engross you fan base by telling the GLT community that they are OK and their live style is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of… your god. But the One that is Holy, Holy, Holy will never be contrary to Himself.
    You don’t like the books John Piper writes? That’s a different conversation. But Piper does not quote from his books, he quotes Scripture. What do you quote? Piper, to justify your anger toward God and Drew to justify your position. Interesting.

    God bless.

    Jose

  30. says

    Remember, please, that not every Christian in the world subscribes to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy and literalism! This does not mean that Christians who believe otherwise are disrespecting, disregarding, or otherwise ignoring God’s word.

    And if all of you passing judgment on “sexual sin” were to be keeping close tabs on all that is going on at the ELCA assembly, you might realize that the conversation and the whole issue are heartbreaking to everyone involved, on all sides of the issue. This church is doing hard theological work, and a little compassion for everyone would be much appreciated, because it is not easy for anyone. We as a church are plumbing the depths of what it means to be faithful Christians, faithful followers of God’s word, and faithful people of God’s grace. I’d suggest that you take a step back, give some grace to a church that is struggling with scripture in a meaningful way, and stop treating those of us who do not hold to a literal or inerrant point of view as if we were heathens, destined straight for hell.

    I try to be calm and reasoned around here, but today, I am just feeling hurt. Hurt that for many of the commenters here, there is little room in your theology for either complexity or grace.

  31. rndaniel says

    “…there is little room in your theology for either complexity or grace.”

    Melissa,

    It might be helpful for you to create the same kind of room for “complexity” in your theology that you champion by recognizing that not everyone who disagrees with you is an inerrantist or literalist.

    You’re right that this is a tough issue for everyone involved, but creating those dichotomies seems to do little to put a stop to what you see as the problem in the first place: a lack of complexity.

    • says

      I apologize for making it sound that I believe literalists, etc. are on one side, and non-literalists, etc. are on the other side of the issue. That’s not what I meant at all. My frustration is with those who happen to be literalists, who quote a Bible verse and then follow it up with a “I don’t understand how you [anyone who disagrees with me] can just ignore God’s Word! God’s will is so obvious!” But on all sides of this issue and on all points of the Biblical interpretation spectrum, I am passionately discouraged by the lack of space we make for one another and the lack of grace we show one another.

      I suppose that both sides of the issue feel that absolutist comments are being thrown at them from the other side, comments that imply that one side of the issue is more obvious or more supported by the Bible. My last statement, “[I am] hurt that for many of the commenters here, there is little room in your theology for either complexity or grace,” was not intended for one side of the issue or the other, or for one particular bent of scriptural interpretation. It was for the wider problem of “Christians behaving badly,” and writing off one another with patronizing and self-righteous comments.

      And as far as my stance on the issue at stake, suffice it to say that things are quite muddy. I know where my heart lies, I know where my mind wrestles, and I know that every voice in the conversation is trying to be faithful to God and God’s word. I know that people will walk away hurt no matter what the decision of the ELCA. I just wish that less people would have to walk away hurt from a string of blog comments!

  32. ben w says

    Piper’s clarification of his main point, written in the original but I think misrepresented by most because we all love to have an enemy to rail against every once in a while, is written here: http://tinyurl.com/tornado2 . If you read this and think you’ve misrepresented him or mis-spoken in your criticisms of this man, the honorable and godly thing to do would be to publicly acknowledge your mistaken criticisms, sensationalism, sin and repentance.

  33. prespreacher says

    Piper’s clarification, http://tinyurl.com/tornado2 is, bull-shit.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with talking about metaphorical tornadoes or storms in one’s life but he’s simply back-peddling here, covering up a really ugly, judgmental statement. When he said the tornado in Minneapolis was a wake up call to the Evangelical Lutherans about homosexuality, he wasn’t speaking metaphorically. He was directly implying that tornadoes are God’s warning of the wrath to come if we accept the “gay agenda.” And that’s ridiculous. It’s fear-mongering and blatant abuse and misuse of scripture and faith to further the dehumanization of the other. And to defend this guy as some holy crusader, is committing a sin of self-righteous idolatry.

    Adam, thanks for the post and links. It’s a good one. It’s time more people of faith spoke out against false prophets, teachers and fundy nut jobs.

    • J-Mac says

      prespreacher……….false prophets! LOL.

      Forget Piper….AWC is leading the pack. 29 year old pomo with his cool looking beard wanting to prove that “Jesus was wrong”. If thats not a false prophet, I dont know what is.

      Piper may have overstepped his bounds (and maybe he didnt), for AWC to make that call shows who is truly closed minded.

      AWC, I believe you said it yourself in your “Jesus was wrong” sermon…..if he can be wrong, maybe you can too right?

      You’re a joke bro.

  34. says

    *Pasted comment from the DG site:

    Like it or not naysayers, Piper is right.

    1. His first point is absolutely true, and it has nothing to do with the tornado
    2. Again, nothing to do with the tornado, the church has embraced repentant sexual sinners. Absolutely true.
    3. Pronouncing that what will keep you from the kingdom is actually permissible is wicked. Absolutely true.
    4. Jesus controls the weather, and therefore ordained that this particular tornado exist and sent it to the location to which it went. Again, absolutely true.
    5. Calamities of all sorts are meant to bring repentance to unbelievers. Definitely true.

    Number 6 should be the only controversial point in this whole article. We know for certain that the tornado and the damage done by it were ordained by God. We do not know FOR CERTAIN if the specific goal of the tornado in God’s mind was to bring about repentance for condoning homosexuality in particular, but this would be a coherent and logical explanation.

    So enough of this “shame on you Dr. Piper” nonsense. The 6th point is the only point that requires conjecture, which is why Piper spell out his logic and TELLS YOU THAT HE IS MAKING HIS OWN INTERPRETATION:

    “Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant.”

  35. Chris says

    I read your article just out of curiosity. I have loved John Piper for many years now. I thought that maybe he might have said that and spoken wrong. I read the article and watched a video about it, and I found out that you were the one who got it wrong. You did not listen to the entire message. He was talking about God’s warning every day all the time. He just used that city as an example because of what happened. Now as a minister, you should have investigated everything. Because you did not, you got it wrong. I’m sorry to point it out, but I’m just telling you the facts.

  36. Ed says

    Piper may not have stated everything the way he perhaps should have, but I think he was onto something straight from Jesus mouth.

    Luke 13:1-5
    Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

    All sinners deserve immediately to be wiped out. God, in his mercy does not do so. But God, in his mercy, does sometimes allow things to come about that remind us that the world is in rebellion to Him. Imagine what foolishness we would hear about sin (or the lack of it) in a world with no tragedy? We have a hard enough time convincing people that just because they have the “typical American lifestyle” that there is grave consequences for sin. Pain and tragedy wakes us (or should) from our slumber thinking everything is OK.

    Now, while I cannot claim to know a one-to-one correspondance of tragedy and sin – I can agree with Piper that it is no mere coincidence of a storm hitting there at that precise time. What clouds the issue is the thousands of other times where we cannot make such a connection – or when “good people” are caught up in tragedy, too. All I can say is, humbly, none of us deserve anything but immediate death and casting from God’s presence. To shrug off the movements towards the acceptance of homosexuality in light of all the Bible teaches is to just compound – like we all do – one sin upon another.

  37. says

    @Ed,

    There was also another time when Jesus said something that may or may not relate to Piper’s comments.

    Jesus is asked who had sinned that caused a man to be blind. His parents? The blind man himself? Gays?

    Jesus said that the natural disaster of blindness was not related to someone’s sins, but so that God might be glorified.

  38. Mark says

    I do not think that John Piper is out of line for writing that God has used destructive weather as a judgment and warning against the ELCA. Scripture often tells of God’s use of nature and the nations as a sign of judgment or coming judgment (Exodus 22:24; Numbers 16:46;2 Kings 22:12-14; 2 Chronicles 19:1-3; Job 21:20; Isaiah 13:12-14; Ezekiel 38:18-20; Revelation 6:12, 8:5, 11:13; etc.) Therefore I do not think that it is beyond the realm of possibility that this storm was a demonstration of God’s displeasure at the Lutheran Church for even considering the embracing of a sinful activity. To have a good understanding of his argument, we must have a good understanding of what scripture teaches concerning God, ourselves, our sin, and the nature of separation that is caused by our sin.

    From a worldly, human perspective it would be silly or even outrageous to say that innocent people are targeted or even destroyed (Hurricane Katrina, September 11. 2001, etc.) as they are because of any action that they have committed. However, from God’s perspective (as found in scripture, not from my own understanding), any sin (not just homosexuality) is the choosing of something else rather than Him. In essence, when we sin, we make the choice to place something in a higher position than God, therefore making that thing a god to us. This choosing of anything other than God is the worthy of His divine judgment and wrath. Exodus 20:4-6 states that” for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” This is not egotistical or selfish, for God is the greatest reality in the universe. It should be reckoned as wise to embrace the greatest truth, the greatest love, the greatest mercy, the greatest righteousness in the universe; to not would be foolish. This is why God treasures His name so preciously, because it is the greatest thing in the universe. Through Christ, God gives believers the ability to approach Him without fear of judgment and wrath. As posted above, Jesus states very plainly when he says in Luke 13: 1-5“1There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or 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? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The assertion that Jesus was making was not geared toward one particular sin because all sin is an abomination in God’s eyes.

    My life is a perfect example of these truths. For 15 years I was addicted to sexuality and pornography. While professing that I believed in Christ, I set these things a god before me and worshiped them. I medicated deep personal pain by turning to an idol instead of to God. Because my sins were of a heterosexual nature does not make me better than those who are homosexual. In God’s eyes, my sexual impurity was equally as worthy of His judgment. Because a sin is sexual in nature does not make it any worse of a sin. It is still the choosing of something as greater that our sovereign God. God rescued me out of my sinful passions and desires and set within my heart a love and desire for Him that now makes my previous love of the flesh seem utterly foolish.

    As Christians, we must learn to have a God centered view of sin, and how horrendous it is. Without this, we will never realize how horribly hopeless we are without the shed blood of Jesus, for our sin created a record of debt that would lead us to a worthy judgment from God. However, Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-14 “13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” So our sins separate us from God and entitle us to His divine judgment. But Christ “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26). So we must know the nature of our sinfulness and what it brings, in order to fully realize how precious and undeserved this great salvation is which comes from God’s gracious love through Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Something that Piper grasps very well (much better than myself in fact) is that those who are in sin need our love, not judgment. Part of love though is not allowing the name of God to be slandered. This means that we should not simply embrace one another in light of our differences. We should be motivated to help others through Christ’s power to break the bonds of their sin. This is love: choosing to help a brother or sister carry their burden, not simply pointing out that it is sin. We must return to a Christ centered focus on those who are outside of Him. We must love them. When we show indignation toward others who are outside of Christ, we do Jesus a great disservice. Think of yourself in your helpless condition lost in your own sins. You were rescued by Christ, having done no good thing yourself worthy of salvation, but being completely dependant on His grace alone. How then could you look upon another who is in that pitiable estate and judge them? Is this not in essence saying that you deserved God’s merit, but they do not? Therefore do not judge, but love. Do not hate, pray for those outside of Christ, no matter what their sins are. Show them God’s love in your life and in your attitude toward them. This is how we share the Gospel. Through our lives, and through our suffering for others.

    So finally, I believe that John Piper is right in his denouncement of the embracing of a sinful pattern of life by any church claiming to belong to Christ. He is also right in loving those who are outside of Christ enough to tell the truth, and not hide behind the vale of postmodern, pluralistic acceptance of everyone and everything in order to create a false harmony that leads only to the destruction of men and women’s souls.

  39. Ed says

    @Adam

    I don’t think your choice of biblical scenes fits, primarily because Jesus did in fact heal that man then and there and it was recorded in Scripture for all to read about since that time. It is hard to see how the Tornado fits with that same scenario. As far as I know, none of the dead were brought back to life, and none of the injured healed miraculously in such a way that Jesus alone was obviously the one to be glorified in it.

    Blindness, as far as I know, is not mentioned as a sin in Scripture. Homosexuality is. Along with pride, greed, idolatry, etc. Isn’t the point ultimately that all of us deserve the same fate, and that it is by God’s mercy that we live to take the next breath – and it is also by God’s mercy that we don’t all live to be 100 and die of natural causes? Who would believe the horror of sin then?

  40. Cush says

    The pro-homosexual view of this author has determined that God, being God, cannot use natural occurrences to call sinners to repent (either on the left, or the right as Piper is quoted)? That’s really odd. Also one post suggests that he needs to know God’s reason for allowing natural disasters in Alaska as opposed to New York, as if to be justified by that individual? Very peculiar reasoning. I would hope for a more coherent argument, theologically rather than emotional as it appears..

    • Mark says

      The reason why emotional arguments are used is because there is no theological leg to stand on. It is an often used tactic to use emotion when evidence, and fact are missing. In the case mentioned here, there is no scriptural backing for the claims that are being made. Therefore, the author (and those in support of the author’s claims) has to rely upon hows they feel about the situation. This is inherently dangerous as our ability to reason is clouded by our sinful nature. Remember “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12). So, everyone, draw your understanding from scripture, not from how you feel.

  41. Cush says

    Thanks Mark for your reply sounds reasoned. After I read you comments I looked up and read Pipers blog post. I took the post as reasoned and balanced. Piper did not seem to be on the deep end..

  42. says

    I’m confused. I first read your blog post, and then I read Piper’s blog. You are respond to his blog about the tornado, right?

  43. Marc says

    If you dont think homosexuality is a sin, then you are lost and dont even know it.You cant cherry pick scripture and twist what shouldn’t be twisted.God loves his children that struggle with homosexuality but he still condemns it and offers deliverance from it .It’s pretty clear ther are so many scriptures that proove you are wrong in your opinion.And there is also scriptures that say that people who speread blatant sinful error will come under a harsher judgmant.And pramoting a homosexual lifstyle in an ever rebelious god hating(Gay marridge) world is paiting a wrong picture of a holy God.God is love but not the love your trying to potray.Homosexality is absoluty wrong no two about it and a reprobate mind would say it isnt.

Leave a Reply