No, John Piper, God Doesn’t Kill Babies Because Their Dad Looked At Porn

9am Plenary Wed 20 October 2010 Photo: Micah Chiang
Micah Chiang, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m all for charitable Christian disagreement between Christians of different expressions or traditions within Christianity. But Holey Moley, I’m starting to think that Calvinism probably shouldn’t be classified and grouped under the Christian umbrella.

I’ve also often wondered if John Piper really isn’t a Calvinist at all, but just trolling them to make their religion look so frighteningly horrific.

Case in point:

No, God doesn’t kill your children as a punishment for a parent struggling with porn. I mean, I can’t believe this even needs rebutting, but yes, this is actually something Piper recently said on a podcast.

On a recent episode of Ask Pastor John, a distraught father wrote in and asked about his wife’s recent miscarriage and his struggle with looking at pornography. Here’s what the man asked:

“Pastor John, did God cause, or would God cause, my wife to miscarry our child because I have a struggle with lust and pornography? I have a lot of guilt right now, and I don’t know how to think about God’s discipline and punishment for my sin. I’m very confused, please help.”

Piper’s answer was lengthy, and ultimately was, “I don’t know if God killed your baby because you looked at porn.” But the mere fact that Piper doesn’t know if his god would do something like this should be enough to reject his entire belief system.

While Piper claimed to not know for sure, he laid out the case that killing a baby because you looked at porn would not be outside of God’s character, who he claimed routinely kills people we love as a punishment to ourselves:

“May that discipline come in the form of harm, even death, to others that we love, as well as ourselves? And the answer is yes, it may…I would certainly say in my own life — now hear this carefully — I would certainly say in my own life, the most painful and humbling disciplining from the Lord has regularly been though the pain and suffering and sometimes death of those I love, rather than through any blows against my own body.”

Got that? The most painful type of punishment god dishes out is when he kills people you love. Piper also cited the views of Jonathan Edwards, and claimed that god will often punish a disobedient church by killing their pastor.

I mean, seriously? What type of god are we talking about here? This might be the angry volcano god who needs a virgin thrown in, but none of this describes Jesus.

Piper ultimately tells the grieving father that he just needs to stop wondering if god killed his kid over porn:

“So, what our friend must do in this confusion — he says, “I am confused.” Okay, so I am saying, what he must do in his confusion is stop fretting about whether his pornography was the direct cause of his miscarriage. He should stop fretting about that. He will never know for sure the answer to that question, short of some direct revelation. Whether he knew it was or wasn’t, the lesson remains the same…”

Piper reminds me of something I’ve long believed: the Calvinist doctrine of God is far closer to Islam than Christianity. In a Christian doctrine of God, God is restrained in what he can do– for example, he cannot lie, he cannot deny himself, etc. However, Islamic theology, it is believed Allah can do “whatever he wills” which is the same position of Calvinism– God can do whatever God wants, and we have no right to question the morality of any of these actions.

But this isn’t the traditional position of Christianity, and this is where Calvinism steps outside of our tradition and becomes closer to other religions.

Piper’s answer, as he has done on other questions such as genocide of entire people groups, reveals a fundamental flaw in Calvinism: that an all-loving God perfectly revealed in the life and character of Jesus can be the author of acts that would be unspeakably evil if done by any other agent who possessed morality and a conscience.

So, since Piper screwed up the question so badly, let me take a shot:

Grieving father: “Did God kill my baby because I struggle with lust and porn?”

Answer: Hell no. How totally depraved would someone have to be to kill an innocent baby over that? I mean, c’mon. That would be sick.

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