Why John Piper Says I Should Not Be a Calvinist!
Did you think that John Piper wants every Christian to be a Calvinist? If so, you were wrong.
Watch and listen to this Youtube presentation by John Piper (or a Russian imitating his voice!): Does God Predestine People to Hell // Ask Pastor John .
I was joking about a Russian imitating Piper’s voice—of course. The only reason I suggested that, tongue in cheek, is because in this Youtube video-talk Piper says something very few people would expect him to say. And, in some ways, it doesn’t sound like something people who know Piper think he would say.
Watch and listen for yourself. But here is the shocking thing: Here Piper says very clearly that IF believing that God predestines people to hell leads you to not believe in God’s goodness, then don’t believe what he—Piper—believes—namely, that God predestines some people to hell.
Read that again. Better, go to Youtube and listen for yourself.
*Sidebar: The opinions expressed here are my own (or those of the guest writer); I do not speak for any other person, group or organization; nor do I imply that the opinions expressed here reflect those of any other person, group or organization unless I say so specifically. Before commenting read the entire post and the “Note to commenters” at its end.*
I have argued here and elsewhere, world without end, that if God predestines some people to hell, in the way that is meant by Piper and other consistent (or almost consistent) Calvinists, then God is unworthy of worship because he is not good. As Wesley so cogently said, that God would be worse than the devil because at least the devil is sincere.
(For more about that, watch and listen to the Youtube clip of Greg Boyd: Calvinism Refuted in 10 Minutes.)
Apparently, then, John Piper does not want me to be a Calvinist. Not because he doesn’t want me, an Arminian, among his Calvinist fold. That’s not his argument or claim. He would rather I remain an Arminian than become a Calvinist and believe what I would have to believe as a Calvinist. I would have to believe that God is: arbitrary, monstrous, cruel, hateful, and unworthy of worship. How Piper does not believe that is beyond me to understand or explain. It follows logically as well as intuitively from what he does teach and believe—namely, that God predestines some sinners to hell and that God foreordained sin itself.
If my argument about Calvinism intrigues you and you want more, read Against Calvinism by yours truly published by Zondervan.
Back to this astonishing news: Piper does not want me to be a Calvinist. But that’s odd because he told me to my face that Arminianism is profoundly mistaken and on the precipice of heresy.
Footnote: In Against Calvinism and some of my articles and blog posts I mentioned an unnamed student who, years ago, told me that I am not a Christian because I am not a Calvinist. I asked him who told him that you have to be a Calvinist to be a Christian. He said—his pastor John Piper. I confronted Piper about that and he denied ever saying it. I asked him if he could understand how and why some of his followers would conclude that from what he did say. He said he would think about that.
Anyway, that student, whose name I never forgot but never revealed, recently reached out to me. He is now in his middle age and has gone through a lot in life—including being in Piper’s “inner circle” for a time and leaving it. He called me to apologize for saying what he did. I assured him no apology is needed; he was young and impressionable and was just being honest with what he then believed. We had a nice chat on the phone and he informed me that he has left “that Calvinism” behind.
At least he did not do to me what some anonymous stinker did—around the same time. One day I came to my office (at Bethel College) and found this note attached to my door: “Dear Dr. Olson. I talked to God. You’re damned. Thought you’d want to know.” It was allegedly signed by a member of the Bethel staff but she adamantly insisted that she knew nothing about it and I believed her. So far as I know she didn’t even know me from Adam until I confronted her with the note. She worked in the food service.
Some people are just mean or have a sick sense of humor.
Thank God Piper does not want me to be a Calvinist. I was losing sleep over thinking he did. But no more. Now I rest easy.
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