Who Will Call Out John Piper?

Who Will Call Out John Piper? August 21, 2009

So yesterday, John Piper once again entered crazy-television-evangelist territory and blamed a small tornado that jumped over Minneapolis and toppled a steeple on Central Lutheran Church on the fact that the ELCA delegate were down the street discussing whether to welcome practicing homosexuals into the clergy. He even implies in his post that the lack of warning by the National Weather Service shows that God cooked up this twister with her his pinky at the last minute.

Of course, this is not new territory for Pastor Piper. He made similar claims to know the Divine Mind after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, the Asian tsunami, and other times. And, as might be expected, Piper has been gently questioned by Scot, excoriated by Adam, Drew, and others, and brilliantly satirized by Jenell.

All of this is to be expected. Piper’s twisted logic that interprets some natural phenomenon as authored by God to scare sinners while completely ignoring others shocks us, I think, because he otherwise seems like a pretty reasonable fellow.  For words like that to come from bombasts like Falwell and Robertson is to be expected, but Piper somehow seems above that.

But he keeps doing it, so we should no longer be surprised. It’s part of his schtick.

My question is this: Where is Christianity Today? Where is Tim Keller? Where are the presidents of Dallas Seminary or Wheaton College? Where is J.I. Packer, Collin Hansen, or Darrell Bock?

These people and institutions will gladly editorialize against liberals and emergents, happily write editorials against open theists or pro-choice Christians. But will they call out John Piper?

Christianity Today mentioned Piper’s post in an online news piece about the the ELCA convention. And I can guess, knowing some of them, that they find Piper’s interpretation of the whirlwind something between laughable and odious.  But will they, or anyone in the Evangelical intelligentsia, finally say that John Piper is outside of mainstream evangelicalism?

I doubt it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tony Myles

    What’s his phone number? We should call him directly… that whole Matthew 18 thing, eh? 😉

  • I really hope more people with influence call him on this. I’m so tired of people like Piper giving the rest of the world more fodder to cast Christians as gay-bashing wing nuts. Ridiculous and poisonous pronouncements like this can’t go unchallenged.

  • agreed.

  • Thanks for the words.

  • My house was in the middle of that there tornado; I guess I’m collateral damage.

  • I’ve never been a big fan of Piper’s theology, but I was really surprised and disappointed by this statement. What’s frustrating is to see my friends who are Piper fans support the statement, when I’m pretty sure that had it come from just about anyone else, they would have denounced it.
    I’d like to see more people challenging Piper from Scripture, rather than just getting mad. I’d also be interested to explore the link between the tenants of neo-Calvinism and the conclusion that Piper reaches. I’ve always felt that his notion that God ordains every disaster, every act of rape and war, every tragedy and every disease, has significant, troubling implications. We’re finally getting glimpse of those implications….and they’re starting an important discussion.
    Shameless plug – I asked John Piper six questions on my blog today: http://www.rachelheldevans.com

  • It’s like my friend and mentor once told me:
    “if you’ve got a skunk in a hole, by all means don’t poke a stick in there. Leave him alone and sooner or later he’ll stink himself out.”
    Piper is spiralling off into the craziness that has become the right both politically and theologically in this country. People who have turned off their brains and their hearts in order to score points.
    What a wonder it would have been to have had one ounce of humility to wonder if just maybe that tornado might have been God telling those ELCA members to CHANGE our guidelines and stop keeping the Good News all penned up and to ourselves?

  • panthera

    Please, don’t call Piper and ask him to join our discussions.
    We have enough hate-filled people advocating for the torture of gays and transgender posting here as it is. We don’t need any more.
    I seriously wonder if the christianists ever consider that their actions do not bring people to love God, they just drive them away?
    Can you imagine standing before God on your judgment day and having to explain each and every soul lost because you took it upon yourself to judge them for being gay or not male or female in the way you personally felt they should be?

  • Call him out for what?
    (Amos 3:6) Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?
    (Isaiah 45:7) I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.
    (Lamentations 3:38) Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?

  • Piper seems like a nut. But what makes Piper’s comments so creepy? Is it his idea that God controlled this one tornado, or that God is a “guy in the sky” that controls any tornado?
    I’d say it is the latter. It is crazy, but I don’t see this as any more crazy than what NT Wright says about a physical resurrection or a life-after-life-after-death. Is Wright’s superstition any less goofy just because it imagines the omnipotent being is playing nice?
    To me this all points toward the need to consider the possibility of a superstition-less Christianity. Can we do that instead of picking and choosing which strange beliefs will make our list of “approved superstitions”? Can we also do it without the misguided secular liberal need to throw out any mythical stories since they “didn’t happen”? It seems to me there is plenty of room to find a place of sanity somewhere in the middle.

  • Oh yeah, you remember Sodom and Gomorrah also? What did God do there? and Panthera when has Piper ever advocated for the torture of gays and transgenders?

  • Jim

    Ok, I’m a little bit upset here, I must warn you. John Piper is a very godly man, just because you disagree with his theology doesn’t give you the right to call him names or attribute positions to him that he never holds.
    Also, people should probably read the article before getting all upset. His reasoning runs like this.
    1.) Homosexual behavior is a sin. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)
    2.) Disasters are used by God (even meant by God) to bring about repentance from sin. (Luke 13:4-5)
    3.) This tornado, therefore, is meant to bring about repentance from sin, including the condoning of homosexuality.
    The logic is sound, not twisted. He’s not claiming special knowledge about this particular tornado, but general principles drawn from scripture.
    You may, obviously, disagree with his interpretations of scripture. That’s fine. Learn greek, and write your dissertation on how he misinterprets these verses. Don’t slander other Christians behind their backs on blog comments. It isn’t very loving.
    Piper closes his article asking God for pardon for both liberal and conservative Christians, because grace and forgiveness is also “part of his schtick.”

  • Back in 1998, in Birmingham, Alabama, the Open Door Baptist Church was destroyed by a tornado. On EASTER SUNDAY. Care to tell me what THAT was all about?
    Tornados, earthquakes, tsunami, etc. have nothing to do with “God.” They are natural phenomena that have always occurred, billions of years before humans arrived on the scene, and they will occur long after we’re gone.
    Pastor Piper is a sad, pathetic little man who is pandering to the fear and ignorance of his followers.

  • Seth

    Did any of you read the article Piper posted? I suggest you do before you comment. I did not find it of the the gay bashing nature many are suggesting.
    Piper – “The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and ALL OF US(emphasis mine): Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction.
    Piper is calling ALL of us to forsake our sin including the ELCA. Most pastors today don’t even talk about sin! While we ought to be winsome in our speech, we ought to be conformed to the Word of God and not what culture deems appropriate. We ought to not be arrogant, yet we ought to submit ourselves to the word of God. I have the feeling that many of us including my own tendancies is not to heed the word of God but the wagon train of political correctness and approval of men.
    Christ said many upsetting things that our culture damns today…that many “christians” damn today. We should we do? Should we forsake the Words he gave us? I have a feeling if Christ were on the streets of Minneapolis today he would be ministering to hookers and homosexuals and all us broken idol worshiping people, yet he would also point clearly to the sin in their lives like he did in John 4:16-18 to the Samaritan woman at the well…Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
    Just a thought!

  • Ben

    I respond to this topic in a blog I wrote yesterday. Liberal vs. Conservative Christians: The Tornado Chapter http://www.benlemery.com/2009/08/liberal-vs-conservative-christians-the-tornado-chapter.html
    It amazes me at the two-sided nature that goes on in the comments of these blogs. The name calling, the attacks on a man’s character…simply because he disagrees with your theological point of view. At least respect the guy for having the guts to continually stand for his convictions. You can agree to disagree. Of course, I might be called some names now too after you read my blog, haha.

  • Reid

    I don’t know how you are able to consistently engage in this type of religious wacko dialogue. I am exhausted after reading only a few comments.
    If God brings tornados, tsunamis, and makes bridges collapse to kill people for their sins, then with all due respect, God can go screw himself – Make me perish too, because I’d rather not live than live under a tyrant petty God like the one voiced in the article.

  • Larry

    My house was in the middle of that there tornado; I guess I’m collateral damage.
    Are you sure you weren’t the actual target? Maybe the church was the collateral damage. Just to be safe maybe you should find something to repent of.
    This is why true prophets always spoke, and speak, before the fact. After the fact anybody can put any meaning on an event they want to.

  • Like I said, I think we can use this moment as an opportunity to either 1) get upset and call people names, or 2) start a civil conversation about the implications of Piper’s theology.
    If cooler heads prevail, I think we can seriously challenge Piper on the basis of Scripture – which is the standard he always claims to use himself.

  • Larry

    At least respect the guy for having the guts to continually stand for his convictions.
    Many people who I don’t respect had the courage to stand for their convictions, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Torquemada, the list is endless. Mere conviction is not an admirable trait, or worthy of respect. There is also the matter of claiming to speak for God when God has not spoken, I’m sure many of the false prophets in the Bible were men of high conviction, too.

  • Julie

    But IS Piper outside of mainstream Evangelicalism? (What is “mainstream Evangelicalism”, anyway?)
    Piper’s conclusion regarding this and other disasters like the bridge collapse is the logical end of his brand of Calvinist theology. To speak against it is to begin to punch holes in the logic of the closed Calvinist system – even the Calvinists who wouldn’t dream of carrying their theology to this logical extreme know that it would be difficult to speak against this extreme without calling into question their more moderate ideas.
    Mainstream Evangelicalism isn’t inherently hyper-Calvinist. It’s not entirely Calvinist, in fact. But it’s Calvinist enough that speaking against John Piper would ruin a place like Wheaton – Wheaton doesn’t root its identity in any particular long-standing theological tradition other than the nebulous “Evangelicalism”, so it can’t alienate any part of “Evangelicalism” and remain standing. (This is why, incidentally, it is more difficult for “broadly Evangelical” colleges like Wheaton to hire Catholics as faculty – “broadly Evangelical” is in an identity crisis. A Christian college rooted in a denomination – whether Free Methodist or Reformed – is more likely to have a diverse faculty, since it feels its identity is less endangered.)
    The “Evangelical Intelligentsia” is still concerned about the continuation of “Evangelicalism”, for better or for worse. I doubt that we’ll see them kicking out Piper (and all his followers) any time soon.

  • Rob

    1.) Homosexual behavior is a sin. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)
    2.) Disasters are used by God (even meant by God) to bring about repentance from sin. (Luke 13:4-5)
    3.) This tornado, therefore, is meant to bring about repentance from sin, including the condoning of homosexuality.
    The logic is sound, not twisted.

    This is what is problematic. For one, the logic is not sound because #2 is an exegetical stretch. #3 does not logically follow from 1 and 2. BUT more problematic is the idea that you can logically arrange the mystery of the Scriptures to some A+B=C formula.

  • John Piper

    AMOS 3:6

  • Larry

    “John Piper”, might I recommend you keep reading, and maybe consider Amos 3:7? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. Who is the prophet that prophesied that this is what would happen? When did he speak?

  • Dan Hauge

    Regarding John Piper’s comment (whether or not you are the John Piper being disucssed):
    Amos 3:6 does refer to disaster being caused by the Lord. Good exegetical practice, as I have understood it, requires that the immediate textual context be taken into account when interpreting a text. The context here is God’s judgment on various nations for various sins. Most of the sins catalogued include violence, kidnapping, and cheating and oppressing the poor The ‘disaster’ referred to here involves enemy armies conquering the various peoples mentioned, including the Israelites.
    How is it legitmate to extrapolate from that context, and insist that every horrible incident, by either ‘natural’ or ‘human-made’ contexts, is easily identifiable as warning or punishment for an easily identifiable sin? How many conservative evangelical churches were damaged in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? How many of those churches were damaged specifically for sins which you can identify as the ’cause’ of the disaster? The attempt to find ‘target answers’ for why each specific disaster or suffering happens to a person, or a community, heads us easily into the territory of Job’s friends. The whole point of that narrative is that life is more complex than any attempt to take a principle (the idea that God does sometimes cause or allow disaster for a reason) and apply that principle with any kind of certainty to specific situations.

  • Jim

    Rob, you are right, I misspoke. I should have said Piper’s logic was valid, not sound. (Sound means all the premises are true, which I did not mean to say). Sorry.
    But conclusion 3 does follow from premise 1 and 2, though we may need to unpack it a little to make that clear. Let’s try again:
    IF disasters are meant to call sinners to repentance AND this tornado was a disaster THEN this tornado was meant to call sinners to repentance.
    IF homosexuality is a sin AND condoning sin is sin, THEN condoning homosexuality is a sin, and THEREFORE those who condone homosexuality are sinners (along with the rest of us, I should add).
    IF those who condone homosexuality are sinners AND this tornado was meant to call sinners to repentance, THEN this tornado was meant to call those who condone homosexuality to repentance (along with the rest of us, Piper is careful to add).
    See, the logic is valid. Again, you may disagree with the premises, that’s fine. But disagreeing with someone’s interpretation of a few verses is no justification for calling a fellow Christian a “sad pathetic little man” or comparing him to Stalin.
    As for reducing the Scripture to logical to syllogisms, I like to think God’s word is big enough to include both logic and mystery.
    Again, people ought to read the article before posting. A lot of these criticisms are responding to things Piper never said.

  • Panthera

    Are you seriously suggesting that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality?
    Just how illiterate are fundamentalist Christians, anyway?
    Oh, right. Guess you already answered that question.
    Were you able to parse a simple English sentence, you would have understood me to have said we already have people advocating our torture here on these threads.
    Scary. Just plain scary.

  • Rob

    IF disasters are meant to call sinners to repentance AND this tornado was a disaster THEN this tornado was meant to call sinners to repentance.
    That is not sound nor valid. You would have to say: If ALL disasters are meant….
    And even then, you have a huge burden of proof there. You have to prove that the sole purpose (as if there even is one) of ALL tragedies is to call sinners to repentence. I would argue that the context of Jesus’ statements about the tower have less to do with “sinners” behaving a certain way and more to do with changing ones views of Jewish restoration. Repent didn’t necessarily carry the connotation back then that evangelicals impose on it today.
    I pray the brother Piper never loses a family member to a senseless tragedy, like Katrina or the bridge collapse. I wander if he would then make the same assertion. By HIS logic, he would HAVE to.

  • The amazing Rando

    To those who were hit by the tornado, Gods message is to repent.
    To those who had a perfectly sunshiny day, God’s message is to repent.
    To those who lost everything Gods message is to repent.
    To those who gained everything, God’s message is to repent.
    If have more grace to offer Piper, mainly because he has been a spiritual blessing to me for so many decades. I don’t agree with what he said here, but so what.
    And btw… many people in mainstream evangelicalism have said they disagree with him, but they will not denounce him. It is just a reminder that our only perfect example is Jesus, not man.
    And Panthera: serously, you have become what you hate. Chill with the hatespeech of the other side. If you are truly “emergent” you will welcome him into the conversation. (I know, I know, “threats… torture… murder… I am justified”)

  • Christopher Rice

    I agree that “leaders” in evangelical Christianity should take Piper to task for his blog post. But you expect to see their response in less than a day???

  • Brian

    I agree that Piper’s assertion that the tornado was caused by God because of the meeting that was happening is pretty incredulous. I will also agree that Piper’s comments are troubling because they may fuel the fire of whackos and weirdos of many different kinds. That being said, I think Piper makes an important point, and we are missing something if we thrown the baby out with the bath water (as repugnant as the bath water may be). Sin- while we may disagree on how to define it- is a real thing, and we are unloving and wicked if we allow those with whom we share community and mutual respect to continue in unrepentant sin. Similarly we are unloving (perhaps even self-loathing) and wicked if we don’t allow those close to us to name what they see as unrepentant sin in our own lives.
    I don’t condone much of what Piper wrote in this article, and I see major theological problems with it (some of which you mentioned), but there is an important underlying truth in the article that we ought not miss.
    Just my $.02

  • Erik Thorson

    This sort of theologizing always reveals more about the speaker than about God. Using this logic about natural disasters, would it not be just as plausible to say that perhaps the “ruler of the power of the air” was trying to put some fear into the reformers of the church?

  • matt codd

    I find it funny you “calling to task” John Piper on bad theology, when your past couple blog posts have been rather ridiculous, theologically speaking. I wonder why it is you are so willing to extend love and compassion to homosexuals to the point of pardon, yet to the likes of Piper you attack and get incredulous towards his admittedly bad theology?
    One group perverts sexuality, the other has disturbing interpretations of weather. If there really is room at the table for discussion within the emergent church why do you want everybody who doesn’t sound like you to shut up? Don’t you realize that bullying the bullies is creating a destructive cycle?
    You stack the cards in your favor by eliminating any verses that establish a case for homosexuality is a sin and you call that a progressive discussion??? It’s like going to court without all the evidence.
    You cast judgment on a man for casting judgment, it just seems a little ironic.

  • Darius T

    Panthera, you may want to read the WHOLE Bible. Yes, it is true that Sodom wasn’t destroyed only for their homosexual perversion. Ezekiel tells us that a big reason was they didn’t care for the poor. BUT, Jude tells us that it was also sexual immorality and perversion that caused their downfall… which the angels of the Lord saw firsthand when they visited the town.

  • Darius T

    Matt Codd, you get the comment of the year. Spot on, my friend.

  • Chris Rosebrough

    Let’s see if I read this post correctly…
    Tony Jones, an Emergent, neo-Hegelian who argues against the doctrine of original sin, the penal substitutionary atonement, who practices the Lectio Divina (monastic mysticism), and closes his eyes to the clear teachings in the scripture regarding the sin of homosexuality….that Tony Jones is complaining about John Piper having ‘bad theology’ and wants to know who is going reign Piper in?!?!
    That is the funniest thing I have read in years!!!
    But of course, the one thing Tony Jones is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN about is the fact that it wasn’t God who sent that tornado and toppled that cross on the ELCA church steeple.
    Oh no! The goddess that Tony Jones believes in would never do such a thing. (The reason for that is that she doesn’t exist)
    But, the God of the Bible, the One True God has already spoken clearly in His word that Homosexuality is an abomination and warns us to not be deceived because those who practice such things will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. That God.. the One True God WOULD send a tornado to call the ELCA to repentance for their satanic rebellion against Him and His word.
    I’m with Piper on this one.

  • Jim

    You’re right, Rob. I should have said all. But on the other hand, it needn’t be the sole purpose. I don’t think Piper would deny that God can work multiple purposes through one disaster.
    My own thoughts: Piper’s particular application of his theology here is probably not helpful. Even less helpful: calling him an illiterate Stalin-like torturer just because you disagree with his exegesis.
    Obviously not you Rob, or any particular person. I’m just summarizing (and perhaps exaggerating slightly )the general vitrol of people’s responses.

  • Maybe Piper meant his comments in the light of Jesus’ comments in Luke 13.

  • Darren

    If you think matt codd *actually* made the comment of the year, what a very sad year for you indeed.
    matt codd,
    I think you missed the point of the post entirely. It’s not really about John Piper. And Tony DIDN’T “call him to task.” The question is really a commentary about the hypocrisy of those Christians who are the FIRST to throw some of the so-called “emergent” folks under the bus when they say something disagreeable, but they give folks like Piper a much longer leash! So it’s not about judging Piper. If you agree that he has bad theology, then the same people who are always calling out the “emergent” folks for bad theology need to speak up now, or forever keep their “us vs. them” yappers shut!

  • kim


  • Greg Boyd’s not exactly what I think you’re asking for, Tony, but he does lean to the right regarding homosexuality, and also condemns Piper’s words:
    I would encourage those of you that are siding with Piper here in this convo to read Boyd before you post again.

  • Rob

    I would encourage those of you that are siding with Piper here in this convo to read Boyd before you post again.
    I agree.

  • Jim

    The problem is that Boyd, along with Tony and a number of people here, are putting words in Piper’s mouth. Piper never said the tornado was a punishment against gays. If you look into his theology you’ll find that he believes all disasters call all people to repent of all sins. He’s clear that this particular tornado is a warning not just against the ELCA but “all of us,” and the warning is broad, “turn from the approval of sin.”
    Piper would affirm the same meaning in a tornado that struck anywhere. This one just happens to be a little more sensational.
    I do appreciate, however, Boyd’s charitable tone. He’s loving even in his criticism, which is something I admire, and I can feel proud to call him my brother in Christ while having strong theological differences with him.

  • Jim: I also appreciate your tone despite the difference in your opinion. Thanks.
    I am curious: Are you saying (and, is Piper saying acc. to your reading) that EVERY tornado is an act of God’s judgment? For that matter, every earthquake, every disease, every rape or murder (taking that logic to its conclusion)….. all of it is God’s judgment against sin?
    And also, doesn’t it make sense that if Piper mentions the ELCA conference where homosexuality was discussed, and the tornadoes all in the same discussion, that people (and the local news media) would understand him to be saying that he (Piper) is drawing some pretty direct connections between these events? It seems to me that a minister with Piper’s experience and insight would be sure to include a caveat or two, unless he were deliberately trying to make the very statement that Boyd heard.

    Great ad hominems. They really further your argument(s)…

  • Jim,
    By singling out the purpose of the ELCA discussion, Piper is making a purposeful commentary, not just a general statement about sin. And you can add to that his twitter comment before publishing the post
    “Tornados do have a voice. They talk to Lutherans. And the rest of us. They talk about sexual sin. Stay tuned.”
    It’s not when Piper says that God uses a natural disaster to speak that’s a problem. It’s when he tries to suggest the motive. That’s putting words into God’s mouth, and that’s not ok.

  • My Name Here

    I was incensed by Piper’s comments. Currently living in Minneapolis, growing up Lutheran (so I can appreciate the process that they are going through – they are changing, while it might seem small, it is pretty big) and now attending a more liberal church in Minneapolis. Piper’s point of view is about 180 degrees from what I believe Christ’s teachings are.
    Being a good Christian has everything to do with living like Christ, and spreading His word through your words and deeds. It has nothing to do with your color, your size or shape or your sexual preference.
    It isn’t that hard to understand, but it is very difficult to put into practice.
    We don’t need to like or believe in what John Piper has to say, it may even make us angry, but let us be bigger and forgive him. (it has to start somewhere)

  • Jim

    You’re right, Josh and Kyle. Piper is here making pretty direct connection. As I said, its a rather sensational occurrence, and Piper’s using it to make a point. I’m not sure I like this, as I’ve never been fond of sensationalism. But let’s not go farther than he does, he never says the ELCA discussion caused the tornado, or that God was specifically calling them to repent. Rather, Piper goes out of his way to say that repentance is demanded from “all of us” and also applies his reasoning to “calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Baghdad,” as well as to “left and right wing sinners.”
    josh – “I am curious: Are you saying (and, is Piper saying acc. to your reading) that EVERY tornado is an act of God’s judgment? For that matter, every earthquake, every disease, every rape or murder (taking that logic to its conclusion)….. all of it is God’s judgment against sin?”
    This is a pretty difficult question. The immediate answer is no. Christians are no longer under judgment, so (I believe) to the redeemed person, nothing is judgment. We know that for God’s people all things work together for good, so for them, even disasters and sufferings are transmuted into blessings.
    I can’t really speak theologically here, but out of my ignorance I would guess that for the unredeemed, everything (not just disasters) is judgment. To someone in rebellion against God, both pain and pleasure serve as condemnation. But again, this is just a guess. I also affirm that God desires that none should perish, and he is constantly seeking to call sinners to himself.
    If I haven’t answered your question do tell me. I’m a little out of my depth, so I may have lost the chain somewhere.

  • Mac
  • Jason

    Stop your belly-aching and listen to your conscience, Tony (or whatever is left of it). Evangelicals used to talk like this, back when the majority of them had a spine. Now they have led astray by worldly praise, Emergence apostasy, or another one of Satan’s devices.
    God has the perogative to speak however He wants, whenever He wants, to whomever He wants, and no amount of your liberal, apostate handwringing is ever going to change that.
    God is being merciful to you. Repent and trust the true Christ while there is still time.

  • Benjamin Burgess

    Tony I think I actually find myself in agreeance with you on this one. To where I do believe that God DOES punish sin, I don’t find it biblical or beneficial to directly target interest groups. I can think of few to NO reasons how it would be uplifting, encouraging, or beneficial to use uncommon happenstance (small tornadoes of whatever)to explain some sense of God’s judgement, even more so on same sex interest group. And to hear it come from Piper or at least a website and group closely affiliated with John Piper and his church is very disappointing to me. I can’t apologize FOR John Piper, nor will I attempt too. But know that I will never use such methods to ever condemn the gay community.
    I remember quite clearly Piper once saying, don’t come to me saying ‘well can you help sort this out’ [he was referring to people who come to him for counseling trying to explain why bad things happened whether because they sinned or not]. He boldly explained, “No. Nor do I care, nor should YOU care.” Piper wasn’t being apathetic, he was simply addressing the ridiculousness of justifying bad or good circumstances based upon what we’ve done. And to hear that he used this twister as a means of God’s disapproval is highly queer for a man of his character. I still don’t know his direct correlation but he is the one who is being blamed. Either way I wish to point out the biblical perspective.
    God in His sovereignty DOES sometimes use odd circumstances to draw people to Him.(i.e. a sock, or texture in the ceiling in the form of Jesus, this is all based upon how each person responds in their faith, and God being all knowing and knowing us intimatly, sometimes uses such things to speak to us) But back on the subject…it is infinately UNWISE to try and sort out the actions of an all knowing, all powerful being. (As if we in our finite thought could even BEGIN to comprehend the complexity of God).
    Even further one of the points that was in the blog was absolutely ridiculous and a textbook definition of “proof text” used to prove a point that wasn’t loving or beneficial to begin with.
    “4. Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados.
    Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)”
    Yes. God can and DOES control the whether. But this text has nothing to do with judgement. It is simply pointing out the omnipotence of God. And I am thoroughly disappointed in ANYONE who uses God’s Word to promote their own agenda. Yet, I hope you I may appeal to your better nature, or moreover the new nature that is bestowed upon us by Christ’s sacrifice and the work of the Holy Spirit that testifies with our own spirit. We are all still human and were are still bound to our sinful nature and we stumble sometimes. From the short time I have known him Piper has displayed a vast amount of insight and wisdom to some very difficult situations in life. I pray that this case of bad judgement will not forever taint your mind against him. He IS a good man…sinful still, as we all are…but still a good man.
    And don’t pay attention to anyone else who abuses the Word of God to fit their own agenda. God’s judgement for belierent, unrepenting sinners is FAR worse than any pitiful dust devil that might put a ding or two in your BMW or church steeple. At the same time keep yourself in check and stay true to God’s Word. Make THAT the love of your life and you will do well. If you do otherwise you become just like the radical conservatives who harp and spray venom at anyone who doesn’t immediately buy into their agenda, and I believe God has a greater calling for you than that.
    May peace find you when you read this,
    Benjamin B

  • panthera

    OK, I’m out of this one.
    The whack-jobs and their demand God manifest Himself in accordance with their wishes are just beyond belief.

  • @ brian – LOL! i hope you are joking because that is some of the oddest proof-texting i have seen. love it man.
    @ jim – pipe is not making an argument because it is rooted in a post hoc fallacy – the tornado is a sign of judgment as it only happened to be in the vicinity of the ELCA discussions. that’s a fallacy not an argument. what he says about homosexuality is irrelevant after that. it’s absurd and misleading looking for a magical god to do magic tricks for the sole purpose of acting as insurance for his own messed up ideology. whether or not you believe that a man is “godly” does not therefore equate the stupid things that come out of that man’s mouth as the “words” of god. i like that. it means that god is better than all of us. certainly better than the bile that piper chucked up at us.

  • I don’t agree with John Piper on this but let me throw out a random side question….
    How can Tony Jones celebrate this dialogue here as well as the blog by Jenell taking it’s pot shots but yet challenge someone like Kevin DeYoung for being “uncharitable” with some words concerning the stereotypes of liberal sided Emergents?
    Lesson learned? Making fun of others is funny. Others teasing you uncharitable and sinful….Interesting….

  • Jim

    Drew, I’m just saying people should read the article before getting all riled up. Piper never calls the hurricane judgment. He never draws any conclusions from the location of the tornado. And since when are words like, “Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners,” considered bile? We ought to at least give fellow Christians the benefit of the doubt and read what they actually say before judging them.

  • dustin germain

    i find it more than a little ironic that the same emergents who are always asking for others to be loving and charitable with them while they deconstruct the gospel, are quick to bash this man and write him off as a pyscho, deranged, qingnut, gay-bashing and hate filled. really now. does that make any sense? i’m with rosebrough on this one.

  • R. Jay Pearson

    Okay, someone please refresh my memory. According to Christians, didn’t God already have someone sacrificed for humankind’s sins once for all time? And yet (according to some Old Covenant lovers) God still feels compelled to use natural disasters to chastise, and sometimes destroy, human beings for their sins?
    Such an inconsistent God is not worthy of worship.

  • JimLas

    Come on people, open your eyes. What part of John Piper’s statement do you no understand? God is quite able to do what ever He pleases. Anyone who embraces what God hates is subjected to His wrath. Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

  • Jim

    Oh, Piper clarified what he meant:
    He explicitly applies the same reasoning and message to cancer in his own life. So he’s not chucking any bile at anyone that he isn’t willing to swallow himself. (Ok, so that was a pretty disgusting figure of speech, but you get the idea)

  • Dwayne

    Wow, it’s getting hard to take Piper seriously anymore. Although he certainly is a very serious, sober minded Christian, his line of reasoning is far over the top concerning these disasters in the Mpls/St Paul area. To claim that you know the mind of God as it relates to these tragic events is laughable. I believe that the uncertainty of life is magnified in a disaster such as a tornado or bridge collapse, and this should cause us to repent and always insist on a right relationship with God free of barriers, for we are not promised tomorrow. To suggest this specific tornado was targeted at a denomination meeting over homosexual ordination puts you in the uncomfortable position of having to excplain the reason behind every tornado, for how can some be random and others purposeful? As Boyd so eloquently said as he systematically debunked most of the nonsense spewed by Piper, there are 3000 verses in the Bible concerning poverty/caring for the poor/etc and 5 on homosexuality. Yet, as Christians, we have made gays the “whipping boys” of society while turning a blind eye to the poor. Perhaps if Piper balanced his obsession with homosexuality with a salvo or two concerning our role in helping the poor, needy, and marginalized, I could take him seriously. Until then, I will have a difficult time in doing so.

  • Charles Cosimano

    I suppose it would matter if anyone actually cared who John Piper is, whomever he may be. (I never heard of him outside of people talking about him on Beliefnet.)

  • R. Jay Pearson

    QUESTION: Exactly what kind of “god” comes down to the world, becomes human, offers himself as a sacrifice for all humankind’s sins, but then turns around and uses cancer and other events as punishment for sins he supposedly had already died for?
    ANSWER: A “god” of human invention and human imagination.
    From which we then see the sad byproduct of people’s gullibility and relinquishment of reason blindly masquerading as faith.
    I am reminded of three things Thomas Jefferson once wrote that seem applicable here:
    Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” — August 10, 1787
    Our reason at last must ultimately decide, as it is the only oracle which god has given us to determine between what really comes from him and the phantasms of a disordered or deluded imagination.” — September 26, 1814
    Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.” — December 8, 1822

  • dustin germain

    Okay, someone please refresh my memory. According to Christians, didn’t God already have someone sacrificed for humankind’s sins once for all time? And yet (according to some Old Covenant lovers) God still feels compelled to use natural disasters to chastise, and sometimes destroy, human beings for their sins?
    Such an inconsistent God is not worthy of worship.
    after jesus died for the sins of all mankind, god still saw it fit to use supernatural means to execute ananias and sapphira, as well as those who were taking communion wrongly. would you still maintain that such a god is not worthy of worship?

  • Ken

    The question is: Is God in control of the Wind?
    If you believe he is What does this Tornado Mean?
    If you Believe he isn’t, Who is, or rather, what is?

  • TallGuy

    I’ll take the liberty of answering… I’m guessing Tony would agree with me (just a guess though):
    1) Yes, God is in control of the wind.
    2) We as humans cannot know and should not represent to others that we know “What does this Tornado Mean?” ex post facto.
    That is where Piper is waaaay off-base. He may very well be right… who knows? If God’s intent is to send the ELCA a message though, shouldn’t John let the tornado (and the Holy Spirit) do God’s talking for Him?
    I’m envisioning Moses going to Pharaoh and saying “see? see? that was God… uh-huh… God… my God did all that”.
    On the contrary, Moses and Aaron were telling Pharoah — in advance — what would happen. Every time they come back, there is no need to explain it to Pharoah — he knows very well where each plague came from, and he’s practically begging for mercy. Moses even allows Pharoah to determine the time when he will pray to end the plague of the frogs (Exodus 8:9-10). Until Piper (and others) can tell us in advance what God is going to do, what it means, and perhaps can specify the terms under which it will stop as well, best to keep his counsel on such matters.
    For the record — Piper is one of my favorites — a truly great preacher and interpreter of the Word. He would do well to study Moses, Jonah, Ezekial, et al and consider their example on this. Reading Job 38-39 is the perfect antidote for “I think I know God’s mind”.

  • dustin germain

    tall guy- you made a point in your post that “We as humans cannot know and should not represent to others that we know “What does this Tornado Mean?”, expressing what you suppose tony jones would say about this. and that’s kind of the point. if there’s one thing that tony has intimated, that for suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure it wasn’t from god. that’s just as bad as saying that it was from god.

  • R. Jay Pearson

    dustin germain . . .
    The Christian scriptures are as much fable as the Christian god is fiction (i.e., the god of Piper and others). Though this is not necessarily a disparagement.
    So yes, I still maintain that such an inconsistent and seemingly sadistic god — i.e., one who dies for sins and at the same time kills for the same sins — is not worthy of worship. It isn’t even a “god”, but is certainly nothing more than an icon (and idol) of man’s fear and imagination conjured for the sake of self-elevation.

  • dustin germain

    ray. i take it then that you are not a christian? i mean, after all, seeing as how scripture is the invention of man’s imagination, you have no basis for understanding the christian faith and how that might apply to you, and therefore no way to separate fact from fiction. i would presume then, that you would believe that jesus did not rise from the dead?

  • R. Jay Pearson

    dustin germain . . .
    I am not a Christian, by choice. Though I grew up in a severely conservative evangelical “Christian” tradition. It is why have a basis for understanding Christian “faith”, as well as why I recognize the bible for the fable it is. Again, though, not a disparagement.

  • R. Jay Pearson

    Saturday, August 22, 2009
    Minneapolis, MN — The sun shined brightly upon all the Evangelical Lutheran churches in Minneapolis, Minnesota today signaling God’s favor upon the ELCA’s decision to permit active gay men and women to serve as pastors within their church. The ELCA’s 2009 Churchwide Assembly is being held this week in Minneapolis.
    It turns out the tornado of several days ago which toppled the steeple of Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis was just a message that God preferred a steeple upgrade for that building, nothing more. In fact God saved the church money since insurance will cover the replacement. An act of grace, to be sure.
    The weather tomorrow, Sunday, which is the final day of the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, is expected to be just as sunny as today, clearly indicating in advance God’s blessing on the ELCA’s deliberations.

  • ben w.

    Please note, Piper’s given some further clarification on his original post, re-iterating his main point, here: http://tinyurl.com/tornado2
    His main point was NOT: “God sent this tornado as judgment on homosexuals and approvers of homosexuality” BUT “God sent this as a call and reminder for all to repent of their sin and approval of sin (both those at the meeting and those watching from a distance.)” As Jesus says, and Piper quotes in the original post, the Tower of Siloam did not fall and kill 18 because they were more wicked, but to give a warning to all that if they do not repent of their sins, “you will all likewise perish.” Salvation by Jesus is available to all who would truly repent of their sins and trust in Him.

  • I found the clarification disappointing. It’s one thing to interpret one’s own tragedy as God’s judgment on sin; quite another to interpret someone else’ tragedy as such. Jesus said that God causes his rain to fall on both the evil and the good. Calvinists seem to assume that there are no good people, that rain (or drought) must always be a sign of sin.
    Piper is starting to sound a lot like Job’s friends.

  • dustin germain

    pearson- thanks for the clarification. in any case, it does not seem that you grasp the theology of the bible, or how such things could be wonderfully amazingly consistent. i’m not knocking you- just saying that when you take a position that the bible is a fable, that removes any ability you have to interpret it or understand god. but again, i appreciate that no disparagement was intended, and i hope you have a good day.

  • R. Jay Pearson

    Rachel, superb point on Matthew 5:45.
    And John Calvin, who was complicit in the murder of Michael Servetus in 1553 (Servetus was killed simply because of his theological views; he had committed no crime), espoused a vile theology that diminishes humankind in a manner so ungodly that it deserves to be recognized for the refuse it is, and completely and utterly rejected as a result.

  • I’m with Boyd on this one, and with the guy who said piper is starting to sound loke Jobs friends (the first 3 I mean)
    I never felt any connection with this kind of reformed christianity, and I doubt I ever will. I guess it’s a tradition too far away from my paradigm to grasp sometimes. I’ve talked with postmodern atheists and african pentacostels, and lots of others who were so difefrent, and I could get into it. But not this reformed tradition…
    And it doens’t bring me closer to Jesus so why would I waste my time with it?

  • LutheranChik

    Speaking as a Lutheran, I guess my question is why I should care what John Piper has to say about my denomination or about anything else.

  • Jesus did warn us that it would be like Sodom and Gomorrah and people would be recluse about marriage before He returns to Judge us. The propagation of sin is not compatible with honoring the Gospel of Jesus Christ that calls us to repent from sin, not embrace it.
    Piper’s mistake, if any, is to assume that such and such an event of nature is a clear instance of God’s judgment. Such a principle is consistent with God’s Word but I would be careful about making such a claim.

  • Wes

    Is there room in the conversation here for those of us who think Piper’s possibly right?

  • Charles Cosimano

    This reminds me of many years ago when a minister friend of mine was just about through with his sermon and there was a loud crack and the cross on the steeple was blown off by a lightning bolt.
    So the next time I saw him, I asked, “What did you say?”
    He never told me.

  • Jim

    Ok, I’m getting a little frustrated here, because people don’t actually seem to be reading Piper’s article, so here’s a little challenge.
    A.) Show where Piper calls the tornado judgment on the ELCA (or anyone).
    B.) Stop saying that Piper calls it judgment.
    Is this fair? If we’re going to jump all over someone for calling a tornado judgment, we ought to be able to point out where he does so, otherwise we should respond to what he does say. Am I being unfair here?

  • Your Name

    What sin should disqualify someone from holding the post of pastor/minister? That they are sleeping with their secretary (who isn’t their wife)? That they are swindling the church coffers? Of all places that we should expect people to be living repentant and holy lives, it must be in our leaders. It should not be people who try to conceal and minimise their sinfulness, or excuse their own sinful desires.
    At least piper is true to the bible rather than conforming it to the perversion of the day. Why should we stop at allowing gays to enter the pulpit? Why should that sin get special treatment? How about bigamists who also have loving relationships? Adulterers who are just as sinful as homosexuals? And then, we must ask why do the gay ministers make a big point of their supposed life long commitment to their partner? If thye have chosen to ignore God’s clear directions as to what is and what is not acceptable why should they bother listening to the calls for life long partnreships?
    We have a duty to tell people in a loving way when they are sinning. It is a disservice to allow people to go to hell thinking that their lifestyles were acceptable when the clear word of God is that it is sin. All your postmodern relativistic squirming can’t get away from that.

  • Larry

    At least piper is true to the bible rather than conforming it to the perversion of the day.
    The question isn’t about what is or is not sinful, but, rather, on what basis does Piper know that this tornado was sent by God and the specific message behind it. He seems to be adopting a prophetic stance here, but there is no reason to think that he has heard anything specific from God about this particular tornado or that the tornado was addressing anything in particular about the ELCA. A tornado went through my back yard a few years ago, what do you suppose Piper would read into that?

  • Why should this bother you Tony? It’s becoming more obvious to me that you and John Piper serve two totally different Gods. One believes in the God of revealed scripture, and the other believes in the god of only the scripture that’s “convincing”.
    But that’s just an observation.

  • Andrew

    Larry – the main issue that piper wanted to draw attention to was sin. Sin that we all have in our lives. The ELCA, by declaring that they accept something does not make it not sinful. It is disingenuous of them to pretend that they have the power of God to overrule what God declared sinful.
    His own tornado in his own cancer was a call to turn from sin in his own life.

  • Ken

    TallGuy –
    I have to disagree with you here. We must look for the meaning behind any action of God. Moreover, It isn’t as if Dr. Piper is way of base. God does call for homosexuals to repent. God is in Control of the Wind. Why is it such a far cry to say that This is a call for all men everywhere to repent, and that includes the ELCA?

  • kristi

    I don’t think John Piper is presuming to definitively know the plan of God on a daily basis. I think knowing that the Bible tells He is control of all things, even the weather, as cited to us many times throughout scripture, that John is entertaining the idea that the tornado was not coincidental or a “mishap” of God’s. If you read the whole article on the matter, he cites God using weather distruction as a warning and a punishment and cites a passage when Jesus was asked if those destroyed were worse(sinners)than any others. Jesus’s answer is no. This doesn’t sound like a gay-bashing wing nut to me.

  • Larry

    I don’t think John Piper is presuming to definitively know the plan of God on a daily basis. I think knowing that the Bible tells He is control of all things, even the weather, as cited to us many times throughout scripture, that John is entertaining the idea that the tornado was not coincidental or a “mishap” of God’s
    He’s doing more than “entertaining” the idea, from the article:
    The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction.
    He is explicitly stating that the tornado was sent by God with a very specific message. Even granting that all weather events are under God’s minute and systematic control, it does not follow that they all have messages, and even granting that these events have messages, it does not follow that Piper, or anyone else, can know what these messages are. Even if there was a message in the tornado, and it was directed at the Lutherans, how does Piper know that it was not about some other item on the conference agenda. The truth here is that Piper is claiming to know the mind of God, that you, and others, happen to like his message doesn’t change this.

  • Jim

    Larry, Piper is claiming to know the mind of God in two respects. First, with respect to the sinfulness of homosexuality, knowledge he derives from scripture. Second, he claims to know that all disasters are universal calls to repentance, again, which he claims to know from scripture.
    He may be wrong in his scriptural interpretations, but he isn’t claiming any sort of special, prophetic knowledge like you imply. He never says the tornado was “directed” against any conference agenda. Rather, it is a warning to “all of us,” especially John Piper, as he makes clear in his second post on the topic.

  • It’s truly hard to see how anyone could think that anything John Piper said was controversial. I have to agree with what Ken said in one of the first comments on this post:
    God does call for homosexuals to repent. God is in control of the wind. Why is it such a far cry to say that this is a call for all men everywhere to repent, and that includes the ELCA?
    I would add that it also includes you and me.

  • Larry

    Rather, it is a warning to “all of us,” especially John Piper, as he makes clear in his second post on the topic.
    He doesn’t, barring some direct revelation from God, know that either. Assigning meaning to events beyond our control, like the weather, or the patterns of goat entrails, is a pagan impulse, it should not be a Christian one.

  • Jim

    His claim, as he says in his post, stems from Luke 13 and Jesus’ interpretation of the Tower of Siloam. I think Piper’s take on this passage is not unreasonable, but you’re fully entitled to disagree with it. I just hope we understand the difference between saying, “Based on my understanding of scripture, all disasters are meant to call all people to repentance, and this tornado is no exception,” (which John Piper is saying) and “God told me in a dream that all you Lutherans are going to hell, and the tornado is proof!” (which Piper is by no means saying, but some people seem to be hearing anyway).

  • jon

    not sure if you saw greg boyds post but i found it one of the better responses to pipers post…http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/did-god-send-a-tornado-to-warn-the-elca/

  • Michael

    Does this mean God is telling me not to eat breakfast because a tree limb fell in the back yard pointing toward the kitchen? Or maybe I should eat breakfast? Or maybe it’s actually pointing at the neighbor’s house and I should…

  • Larry

    Or maybe God is telling you to prune your tree before a branch falls on somebody.

  • Grumpy Old Person

    Why on earth do tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and any other natural disaster have to “mean” something?
    Jerry Fal(se)well tried the same trick, and he was just as much disbelieved. Both ‘pastors’ lessen respect for Christ and the Chruch with such nonsensical utterings.
    And, to answer the other question, apparently no one, not even God, was “in control” of the tornadoes, considering how many other ‘innocent’ victims they wreaked havoc on.
    The weather is the weather, and God’s gay an dlesbian children sure don’t deserve the blame for natural disasters. Nor does treating them with respect ’cause’ any such hubbub in nature.
    Get a clue, folks. The world is laughing at you – just as it should.

  • TJ

    My My Tony, me-thinks you protest too much.
    I went back and read Piper’s blog, and it appears he is right down the center of the fairway theologically speaking. No need for mainstream evangelicals to call him out. The point of Piper’s article is that when there is natural or man-made disasters the need for repentance is always an appropriate response. Life on this planet is a short-term venture and after that, we stand before Christ and have to give an account of our lives.
    But…. speaking of calling people or institutions out, let’s call out the Emergent church. Yes, your use of “she” in the article for Mother God did not go unnoticed. I think I have it correct when the Emergent church calls on Mother God and invokes Sofia the Mother Goddess….. yes, yes details…. oh by the way, the linkage of Mother Goddess worship within ancient cultures and same-sex experiences is a very tight link indeed. By chance, at the time of the ELCA vote were they praying to the Mother God….? Just wondering….

  • Stan Hoover

    Hi Tony,
    I was wondering if somewhere else you may have elaborated on this kind of “twisted logic,” why you consider it as such, and why this “crazy-television-evangelist territory.” Even if it seems to be obvious to you, in fairness to Piper and in the spirit of fair debate, make an argument defending your given thesis. Then we can have a better conversation rather than a monologue poking fun at someone who has made an argument of whatever strength. This could be a good conversation.
    Thanks for reading.

  • Z. Bruen

    Hey Tony,
    Just to let you know you have twisted what Piper has said only offering part of it. He implied that God used a tornado to warn people to repent. And he says that it is a lesson for all of us to repent. He even uses Scripture. Which strangely you don’t in your condemning of him. O thats right you are above that, huh? Or is it the simple fact that you don’t believe it to be true. You have to be a pretty ignorant person, to not see the true message that Piper was giving. This is not only one pastor that isn’t going to rip on Piper, but this is a brother that has his back. You can put me in the twisted logic, crackpot fundlementalist category too. You should try reading Revelation. All over that book God has shown His wrath against the unrepentant. Ezekiel said that there would be earthquakes that would swallow up the people against God’s nation. Daniel said the same, Isaiah did. As a matter of fact, in the same order so did Jesus. They all talked about how things were going to happen in the end, even in the same order. If you don’t believe me check out Ez. 37-39, Matthew 24, Luke 21, Revelation 6-7. God can pour out any kind of wrath He wants on anyone He wants to. That is the message Piper was getting at. And it was completely obvious that it was a warning to that Church. I’m glad you want to separate yourself from us crackpots. God will sort us out. Trust me. Thats in those passages to, continued into Matthew 25. One last thing, to be a scholar in the Christian field, maybe you should get a Christian education first.

  • noah

    i am totally with piper on this one.
    it is funny to me that not one person upset with piper on all of these 99 comments used any scripture to back it up. people defending piper used scripture over and over….
    on what biblical grounds would piper be wrong?

  • Jake

    Piper wouldn’t disagree that he’s outside of ‘mainstream’ evangelicalism.
    Most orthodox Christians, for that matter, wouldn’t object to being outside the dreaded ‘mainstream’ evangelicalism.
    looks like your wrath is a bit off point.

  • brian

    Hey Tony,
    I agree with a lot of the responses to your blog regarding Dr. Piper. It is plain to see that Piper only stays within the bounds of biblical thinking and preaching. Instead of worrying about Piper and his so called “crackpot” antics, search the living word for yourself. What does the bible say? The severity of the warnings issued by Christ himself regarding the link between “natural disasters” and repentance out-weigh your grudge against the truth and the manner in which Dr. Piper delivers the message. Is God not sovereign over his creation?

  • Gary Plavidal

    To anyone who wishes to criticize John Piper and his comments on the tornado should answer some basic questions first.
    1. What are the statistical odds that a tornado would hit that particular church, at the particular moment in time, under those particular meteorological conditions (total surprise to the weatherman), in the precise manner that it did (breaking the cross from the top of the steeple leaving it hanging upside-down–yet sparing the people inside)? I’m serious, how about a number? I don’t think 1 in a million would come close, not even 1 in a billion.
    2. If you claim to be Christian, where does the Bible say that God would never use natural calamities to bring warning? Also, please provide some verses that mitigate the clear biblical pronouncements against the practice of homosexuality.
    3. Why is it wrong or even “hateful” to warn of the consequences of sin in attempt to persuade the sinner to forsake his sins and to seek God’s grace and forgiveness through the cross? Is it not more destructive to the sinner to affirm his comfort as a sinner and rob him of the incentive to repent of sins and to seek atonement and grace?
    The photograph of the damaged building speaks volumes. If an artist painted a picture like this everyone would be talking about the message that the artist was conveying. When I first saw the broken off cross at the top of the steeple I wondered why would God send a tornado to so precisely desecrate the cross like that and leave it hanging upside down? As I heard the rest of the story the answer became clear. The action of the convention was to stand God’s word on it’s head. The New Testament prescribes some high standards for pastors and those who would lead and teach others. The ELCA is clearly in defiance of the NT, and the upside-down cross symbolizes God speaking, “I disassociate myself from this abomination.”
    That the people in the church and convention center were spared speaks of God’s mercy. I think Piper briefly mentioned that aspect of this, so give him a break. God’s mercy abounds for those who seek it in truth. Part of the truth means that we acknowledge we need God’s grace. Those who think they have no reason to fear judgment and boldly declare that they have no desire to associate with God who would judge sin, may just get what they wish for–and regret it for eternity.

  • churchmouse

    “If you claim to be Christian, where does the Bible say that God would never use natural calamities to bring warning? Also, please provide some verses that mitigate the clear biblical pronouncements against the practice of homosexuality.”
    It does not say that God can’t do this if He so chooses. And no gay here including Panthera will get into a discussion over this point because they can’t. They uses excuses as to why they won’t discuss it. Panthera says that those that simply disagree with same sex marriage call for the torture of gays that we hate them. But when I ask him to provide one post of someone here who calls for torture, they run. They cant find one scripture in the OT or the NT where God condones sex outside marriage, and that marriage is between anyone other than one man and one woman.
    They won’t, Tony won’t discuss this, they ignore it. In fact Tony wont discuss it unless Levitiucus is eliminated from the discussion.
    Gary you make excellent points but they just wont address them. This blog is all about New Christians…..the ones who reject the Word and write their own.
    You notice that in the discussions where someone addresses scripture……the discussion quickly comes to an end.

  • Husband

    I wonder why some “pastor” doesn’t say these tornadoes and hurricanes and 9/11 all happened as God’s punishment for America being a greedy, slothful, envious people – all of those 7 deadly sins. Or, for the rampant heterosexual adultery (one of the 10 Commandments), or for not loving your neighbor as yourself (one of Christ’s 2 Great Commandments)???
    How come it’s always the gays that get blamed? There’s a lot more sinful heterosexuals out there, imo.

  • Paper

    Thank you to the writer. I wanted to find a bit of dissenting opinion on John Piper and you provided it. And to the people who postulate that natural disasters hit certain areas as God’s punishment: please stop using storms to back up your hateful beliefs. God is Love. Storms and natural disasters destroy people– good and bad–and they also miss hitting a lot of people–good and bad.

  • Susan Obeng

    Read the Bible. Homosexuality is a particularly rotten sin in the sight of Holy God. I’m surprised the tornado was so small and did so little damage. It is only by God’s mercy that this city, or this country for that matter, rises to see another day. Do you think that sounds severe? Your concept of God needs some tweaking.

  • I find it interesting that the comments defending this article use opinion and emotion to do so rather than Scripture. I myself find it to be idolatrous ranting (idolatrous because the godess of Jones and her views are found nowhere in the Bible). Isn’t there anybody out there that can provide a Biblical reference and argument in defense of this article? If not, why do Jones and his followers continue to call themselves “christian” when their views are not drawn from Scripture?
    I would beg of Jones and his followers to please stop using the name of Christ when you have no intention of reading or obeying His Word. Or….prove me wrong and give a Biblical defense of this article.

  • MikeC

    I am an ELCA Lutheran, a “convert” of sorts. I did not grow up in the Church and was, in fact, pretty anti-religion and was turned off by my conservative evangelical friends in college. But they made a big mistake. They gave me a Bible for a birthday present and I began reading it. I have found in the Gospel a different Jesus than they had told me about. The Jesus I have found speaks of a loving, compassionate God; of self-sacrifice (taking up ones cross); of forgiveness; of putting God before human precepts; of the potential dangers of worshiping idols including money and one’s own intelligence; of loving God and one’s neighbor. The Jesus I have found shared meals with the outcasts and the unclean of many stripes. The Jesus I read about spoke of marriage once, saying that is was unlawful to divorce and remarry (and, yes, he said it was between one man and one woman).
    The Jesus I have found also said some disturbing stuff about judgment in the last days. For instance, he said that if we don’t feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit those in jail we will be the goats who don’t fare so well in the end. He has called us to give our extra coats to the poor, to sell all we have and give it to the poor. And I passed by a guy holding up a sign asking for help outside the Safeway parking lot the other day without offering food or money, have never visited the county jail to minister to the imprisoned and own at least four coats.
    A Lutheran confession states that we “are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” We are all broken and there is nothing we can do to make ourselves whole. I’m not sure we are even able to articulate what “wholeness” is in God’s eyes. My church has been a “Reconciling in Christ” congregation, welcoming to all regardless of sexual orientation, for over 20 years. And I would not have a problem if our church called a homosexual clergy person some day. I have read the Old Testament passages regarding homosexuality, and I agree that St. Paul was not a fan of homosexuality. I can make a good argument about how Paul was not arguing about two gay men in a committed relationship, that his understanding of homosexuality was much different. But I do not pretend to know God’s mind or heart (or St. Paul’s for that matter). I only know that I am freed by God’s Grace to follow Christ in love, humility and service. Why do other followers of Christ feel the need to question my faith and my salvation when they are just as broken as I? In the end, when Christ comes to separate the sheep and goats, all I can do is to ask for forgiveness for all my sins, known and unknown and pray, “Lord, in your mercy…”

  • Roger

    Can I get anyone’s opinion of “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up”? Ran into it on some engine like Google or Yahoo. Roger

  • D. B. Rhodes

    I’m consistently surprised by how unfair the treatment of Piper is on this matter. Anytime someone actually applies the biblical connection between disaster and judgement, people cry heresy. Piper has never claimed to know the divine mind. What he has done is unequivocally stated that ALL disaster is an attempt from God to bring people back to him. So this tornado falls under the heading of “All disaster.”
    This is not a unique claim and it’s one that I’m fairly sure Packer, Keller and others in the Reformed community–those who assume absolute sovereignty and biblical inerrancy–would agree with. To compare Piper’s statement with Robertson, who has claimed to make prophecys predicting future events which did not come true is a gross exaggeration and a disappointing lack of forethought.

  • Jessica

    The Jesus of the New Testament does indeed preach about love in the sense referred to MikeC, but he also talks about the Judgment of a righteous God upon things that he hates. Jesus died for sinners, that is clear, not just to die for them, but so that they WILL trust him and put aside all sin and follow him.
    With this point of reference in mind, the conservative church or whatever you might want to call it has a strong biblical standing upon homosexuality. In response to homosexuality, it is clear from the Bible that if the word of God is true, which I believe it is, we can observe it in the every day world as well. Human physiology clearly shows that Males are Made for Females in the way that the Penis enters the Vagina perfectly, so when two become one, life can possibly result as an action. In the same way, we become one with Jesus through the cross NOT on our own terms, but on the terms provided by God through Christ. This is perhaps why Gay people in such relationships have such a higher chance and likelihood of dying from STD’s. God wants people to turn away from their sin. So the ordination of a gay priest/bishop/pastor, wants the love part, but refuses to accept that to follow Christ is to leave all sin behind. The Genesis account of man and woman is the clearest example from Scripture of what is God’s standard for relationships, and this can be backed up by verifiable evidence. It is made too big of a deal because it is a “hot issue,” in politics, to God, all sin is a BIG issue, so under the qualifications of a pastor/deacon found in 1 Timothy, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” and 11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. How does a church that allows the ordination of homosexuals get past this verse? But only by conforming to the standard of our country and world. God has a much higher standard, how about we let the standard of his word conform us, rather than try to let the world conform us.
    As for the Tornados, I am not God, I do know he talks about in his word about incoming disasters, but I’ve also seen “Good” Christians who love Jesus get cancer randomly out of the blue. The ones that love the Lord go to the grave loving Jesus or they gain strength from him, but they truly seek him out through the whole ordeal. So trying to explain a tornado and dissect God’s motivations for causing it to happen is by large here say. Piper is right when he says it is quite possible that God meant it as a call to repentance. Look at the storms and disaster in the Old Testament, they aren’t random acts with no purpose, God is always behind it and it is always an act to bring people back to repentance for their unfaithfulness. Whether or not the tornado “changed” directions is to call condemnation, it might be, but it also might be for other reasons. Again it is a “Hot topic.” people like to make things out of hot topics because it is something to talk about.
    The point is, our GOd is ABSOLUTELY A LOVING GOD, but he is absolutely also a righteous God that sees beyond what we see, we see the Hot topic of the day, GOd sees people turning back to him and maybe a warning to come with it. People will go there own way even in churches, they will choose their values and pick and choose what parts of the Bible they like and ignore the rest, is this biblical Christianity? This is called American Christianity largely, turn back to the Bible, not interpretations from a 21st century American – do whatever is right to you point of view as you can find in the book of Judges, but the long-lasting history of the true church that has been faithful to God. It can’t be because Jesus did not come out of nowhere, he came from the prophecies of the Old Testament, and he used his Apostles to establish his church on the basis of the Old Testament being the Word of God. Also, some extra tidbit.

  • Zach

    “But will they, or anyone in the Evangelical intelligentsia, finally say that John Piper is outside of mainstream evangelicalism?”
    This is a strong statement.
    My answer? I hope not because I don’t think that would be true. I’ve read Piper’s article carefully multiple times and don’t find anything in it that would place him “outside of mainstream evangelicalism” as I understand it. Evangelicals may disagree with Piper’s view of “Providence,” as he calls it. That is, they may disagree with his understanding of God’s intervention in the world and in world affairs. And that simply brings us back to an age-old debate.
    My question is: What, specifically, about Piper’s post places him “outside of mainstream evangelicalism?”

  • elg347@gmail.com

    I m only a training pastor in brooklyn. God called me,as i was a restaurant owner and manager for the past 25 years. I had a terrible near fatal accident one night coming home from work.then soon after God began to totally direct my life. he sent me to a pastors reveilalin boston i saw a tunnel come over the stageof fire going up to heaven. the pastor began to prophecy that God told him the next 25 years on this planet would be the worst time in history. the power of God went through me i thought i was letteally on fire. it was awsome. after that God began to show me many Futre events through the scripture and other prophets.i could write for hours of the things God has reveal to me to teach me. but here is m point. i only go or see what God is trying to show me. I beleive him i have seen so many miracles and real visions while i was completely awake not deaming. when they happen they are more real then realty. God burns them into your spirit he writes them onto your heart. that’s why know one can tell me God is not real and that he is not write now judging us in this country. we are living in the beginning of sorrows math 24
    if you beleive in the holy spirit slow down and spen time in God’s presence he will reveal many things that he is not pleased with and many things that are to come.God Loves all of us but he hates sinners he word cannot change. we try now to change his lwas and staues to fit
    our life stlye. if we reject God he says he will give us over to a lie. this has happen to many in the church and outside of the church.
    so now i know from what you said about John Piper that God is using Him and guiding him. you see it is had to realyy beleive with all of our heart and all of our mind and all of our soul. we think we are so smart because we are so educated. this has nothing to do with hearing form God or beleiving him. shut yourself into your room, secret closet, shut off your phone, do not eat anything for as long as you can. lay on the floor on your face. then ask God anything you what about anything or anybody and God will reveal it to you.
    then you will know what God is saying because you will hear him yourself

  • Its really nice post….
    I was searching this kind of posting …..
    I just liked it….

  • This article seems to ignore the full scope of what Piper really said:
    “Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.”
    Two days later he wrote the following: Three years ago God sent the tornado of cancer into my life. It split the steeple of my health and shredded the tents of my sexual life. I wrote an article to myself: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. It could have been titled: Don’t waste your tornado. God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs.”
    Biblically speaking Piper nailed it. He is in perfect alignment with Jesus’ statement in Luke 13. ANd he is not even close to echoing statements by Falwell and Robertson. If that puts him outside of mainstream evangelicalism, then so be it. I will gladly join him outside of that camp if being evangelical means watering down biblical truth.

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