John Piper, God’s Sovereignty, and Sin

John Piper, God’s Sovereignty, and Sin August 28, 2012

A friend forwarded this to me: (Sorry, patheos’s format has changed again and I can’t find the key to make this a live link. Do it yourself.)

John Piper has been at it again. But there’s nothing new in the sermon reported on there. He has been saying this and writing it for decades. According to him, God foreordains sin. He “ordains and governs” it. He stops short of saying Godcauses is. But the effect is the same: sin is God’s will, even if it grieves him. And he’s talking about about every specific sin, not just “sin in general.”

Most Calvinists blush at such statements. And there’s the line for me between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” Calvinism. I cannot accept, even with chagrin, Calvinism that says God foreordains and renders certain specific sins. That inexorably, ineluctably, inescapably makes God the author of sin and evil. That sullies God’s character OR makes sin not really sin. You have to choose. There’s no way around it.

Arminius was absolutely right when he addressed this Calvinist idea (which he associated especially with supralapsarianism but which is not held only by supras). He said that in that view, then, sin is not sin, or God sins and is really the only sinner.

Again, as I have said so many times before, whatever Scripture passages used to support this view mean, they cannot mean that. (Wesley said that about the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9.) Why? Because if that’s what Scripture means, then the God of the Bible is not good in any meaningful sense. Then, if that’s what the Bible means (which it cannot mean), then the God of Jesus Christ is the ultimate sinner or sin is not really sin. The logic is inescapable.

I will not say Piper is not a Christian; I will only say that his view is worse, far, far worse, than open theism. At least open theism preserves the character of God. And I will say I could not in good Christian conscience attend a church pastored by Piper or any of his disciples (“Piper cubs,” we called them at Bethel).

I wish that more moderate Calvinists would take a stand against Piper when he says these things (and against his surrogates when the repeat them). That they don’t really worries me. What are they thinking?

Most Calvinists I know (and I have known many over the years as friends and colleagues) will leave more in the realm of mystery.

I remember well when the leader of a Calvinist Baptist organization spoke to my class some years ago. He seemed to agree with Piper about God’s sovereignty and sin and he promoted TULIP Calvinism if not supralapsarianism. My dear, late friend and colleague Chip Conyers, a Calvinist himself, cornered the speaker and berated him (I’ve never seen Chip that angry) about his presentation of Calvinism. His main point was that it robbed God’s sovereignty of the element of mystery Calvin preserved. I stood off to the side watching and listening. The speaker had obviously expected ME to attack him (which I never do with my guest speakers); he was totally taken aback when Chip did it–not in my defense but because HE (Chip, the Calvinist) was offended and was defending God’s transcendence and the mysteriousness of God’s sovereignty.

In my opinion, Piper is just over the top with these statements. But thousands are following him into a total obliteration of the good character of God. I can only shake my head in amazement and sadness and wonder what they are thinking. Is an all-powerful, all-determining God who isn’t good worshipful? I don’t see how.

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