John Piper and Divine Command

I’ve been hearing a lot about John Piper recently. He’s a pastor at of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and along side Mark Driscoll he seems to be the voice of Reformed Christianity in America. He recently called for Christianity to have a “masculine feel,” and his steadfast support for patriarchy has earned him many detractors. Rachel Held Evans is acting as the hub for many of the responses.

The America Jesus recently pointed me towards one of Piper’s editorials at The Christian Post, in which Piper responds to the question, “Why was it right for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament?” His response is pure and unadulterated Divine Command Ethics: What God does is good, period. It’s gorgeous in its simplicity and horrifying in its content:

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. God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs. So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing.

However, it gets complicated when humans are the ones doing the killing. Piper wobbles a bit here:

So I would vindicate Joshua by saying that in that setting, with that relationship between God and his people, it was right for Joshua to do what God told him to do, which was to annihilate the people.

I’d love to see a debate between a modern Islamic terrorist and someone like Piper. I suspect that when it got down to fundamental issues, the only difference between them would be a difference in opinion about what God wants at this moment.

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