John Piper’s Insensitive, Careless Tweet

Preacher/Theologian John Piper is one of those guys who gets off on telling women that God has a special role for them: to be subservient to their husbands and never in a position of authority. He’s one of those guys atheists salivate over because every time he says something, the pendulum moves a bit closer to our side.

So when he started tweeting last night in the wake of the Oklahoma tornado that has already killed dozens of people, bloggers like Nate Pyle were ready to take screenshots. Good thing, too, because he caught a tweet that has since been deleted:

It’s that middle one that raised Nate’s eyebrow:

I’m not sure what bothers me more about this. That in the face of loss and tragedy Piper callously quotes a random scripture to make a point I cannot fathom, or that 50 (since I imported this picture I saw another that had 65!) people retweeted it.

Granted, Piper did take the quote down rather quickly. But I cannot for the life of me figure out what he was trying to communicate. Was he trying to say that this stuff happens because God ordains it to happen? Was he trying to make a cause and effect connection between people’s sin and God’s judgement as he has in the past? Or did he find a verse that reminded him of the days events and so just tweeted it out? I can’t figure it out.

It doesn’t matter. It should never have been there.

Incidentally, Job 1 tells the story of how God told Satan that Job was a faithful servant and would never curse him no matter how shitty things were in his life. Satan doubted that, so God (in an awful judgment call) gave Satan the power to make Job suffer so they could all see how Job doesn’t blame God for it. Soon, messengers are telling Job that some of his animals have been stolen, while other animals have died by fire… and then we get to the verses in question:

While [a messenger] was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

What significance could that possible have after the tornado? Like Nate says, it doesn’t matter.

But let it be known that after dozens of people had died and untold numbers of people were trying to figure out how to make sense of a natural disaster that took away their family members, homes, and memories, Piper saw fit to quote a Bible verse depicting the death of innocent lives at the hands of a dickish, “benevolent” God.

This afternoon, Piper issued a follow-up tweet that made even less sense:

Of course, there’s nothing compassionate or merciful about a God that would kill off innocent people just to prove a point to His enemy.

You know, for all the faults of the Catholic Church, at least the Pope tweeted out something in response to the tragedy that was at least genuinely heartfelt:

I learned a lesson from all this, though: Always take screenshots of pastors who have a habit of putting their foot in the mouths. Thanks, John Piper.

(Thanks to Ward for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.