John Piper: Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?

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TylerR's picture

Editor

Piper wrote:

The concern is the forging of a disposition in Christians to use lethal force, not as policemen or soldiers, but as ordinary Christians in relation to harmful adversaries.

This may come down to the individual temperament of the Christian. Piper has always struck me as a soft kind of guy. I can't ever see him firing a gun at all. Perhaps I'm wrong. However, in this blog post, Piper presents himself as a very soft guy. I would really wonder what he thinks about Christians in the military. 

Other Christians, however, have no problem with the idea of killing somebody who is out to kill you. I am one of those people. The stereotype in secular culture is that of a redneck, Biblically illiterate Christian whi loves guns, America and Jesus - perhaps even in that order. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm simply saying that I have no problem killing anybody who is in the act of murdering other people. I'd do it gladly, and sleep quite well that night. 

I have no doubt that, if there were an active shooter on campus at Piper's seminary, he would be praying fervently for the Lord's protection. That's good. We need people like Piper. I am also certain, however, that people with guns will be on the way to kill the suspect. That's good, too. We need people like that, too.

Piper's article is still soft, though. I wish him luck on his pacifism. His explanation of what he would do if his wife's life were threatened is, frankly, pathetic.    

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Joel Shaffer's picture

Tyler, 

My challenge for you is to engage the Scriptures for his argument in order to counter his argument. He does makes a compelling case.  At the same time, I think one can also make a compelling case for the use of force in a terrorist situation as an act of Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself in the same way those who hold to Just War theory do.   By the way, he is not a true pacifist because he believes that the military and police are able to use lethal force.   Personally I would have a very difficult time killing someone because I would be killing God's image.   

TylerR's picture

Editor

Joel:

This may come down to temperment again. When I was in the military police, I was on-scene for the aftermath of many incidents that involved dead bodies, brutal injuries, and terrible crimes against persons.

  • I once nearly killed one stupid civilian female when she drove through the front gate without stopping when our base was at FPCON Charlie; she was literally seconds away from death. If I hadn't recognized her at the last moment, I probably would have shot her. 
  • I spent two days with NCIS trying to track down a LTjg who mysteriously vanished from the base, only to find out that the guy had driven far away, put on his dress blues (just like poor Col. Markensen from A Few Good Men!) and hung himself. I didn't cry or mourn the wastefulness of life, I just wish the guy had done all of us the favor of killing himself on-base to save us the trouble. He was Security Forces too; he could have done us that favor. He knew what we'd have to go through to find him. He was selfish to the end. 
  • I was at fatal traffic accident scene once when the guy's supervisor showed up, drunk, and demanded to know what happened to his man. I tried to put him off, politely, but he was drunk, belligerent, and refused to be put off. I then bluntly told the guy his man was dead. The supervisor turned white, screamed, "Noooooo!" and ran away into the darkness. Me and the other Security Forces guys laughed at him.
  • I once unintentionally made a young, female Corpsman watching her first autopsy faint when I told her, in great detail, what the small circular saw was for. I told her to watch for the dust as the pathologist cut off the top of the victim's skull. "It'll look like sawdust," I told her, "but it's really skull dust. Get it?" She fell down and her comrades had to drag her out of the room. To be fair, I didn't know she'd faint . . . My partner and I went to Applebees and had ribs after the autopsy. 

I know this isn't "normal." I know some of you would be horrified to hear this. Quite literally, some of us are just different from the rest of you. Maybe the military did it to me. I don't know. All I know is that I couldn't care less if I had to kill anybody. Reading John Piper fretting about how he fears he may be harboring bitterness if he dials 911 in an emergency fills me with two contradictory emotions: (1) extreme disgust at such pathetic wimpiness, and (2) honest admiration because that "sounds" so Christ-like. 

I have no problem killing anybody if they are using deadly force on others. I don't care if they're made in Christ's image. Why don't I care? I think a lot of that has to do with the contexts that shaped us into the men we are. I respect your convictions, Joel. I just don't share them at all. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

wcombs's picture

I hardly know what to make of Piper. None of Piper's exegesis applies to the case of one defending oneself against criminal assault. I can hardly believe that he would suggest a man should do nothing when his wife is being assaulted. Even crazier is the idea that one would not even call the police.

Bill Combs

Larry's picture

Moderator

I think this is severely misguided. I wonder why so many so-called pro-life evangelicals are against qualified and trained people carrying guns in defense of life? 

Here's a few thoughts:

  1. The commands against revenge probably do not extend to the defense of human life. They more likely apply to seeking revenge, not defending oneself from a threat. Shooting an intruder is not seeking revenge.
  2. The commands to suffer are about suffering for the sake of the gospel and the sake of Jesus. They do not seem to apply to the defense of innocent human life, unless one is the act of preaching the gospel. 
  3. Piper seems to admit that his position undermines the principle of a justice system itself. He says that even calling the police in times of threat might reflect not having the mind of Jesus. Pressing charges against criminals or even calling the police when harmed can be seen as violating the return evil for evil. 

Simply put, I don't think people can live in the kind of world that Piper wants to create. I don't think it is pro-life at all. You may be able to refuse to defend your own life, but I don't think you have the right to do that for others

apward's picture

I find myself disagreeing with both Falwell and Piper in several places. I think I agree with Tyler that this is a matter of temperament, but disagree with him on the implications of that remark.

I love the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. I’ve owned a few different firearms during my brief lifetime. If I lived full-time in Tennessee rather than Togo, I’d probably have a concealed-carry permit. Why? Because I can; it’s my right. And I think that society is generally safer if well-trained, responsible people carry firearms in a safe manner. However, I need to keep a proper attitude toward that right and know when to lay it aside for the sake of others.

We have a right to arm ourselves, and we have a right to free speech. But how should Christians use these rights? How should a Christian think about those rights?

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people…  To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, that I may become a partner in its benefits.

Paul was aware of his rights, but was willing to lay them all aside and become a slave for the opportunity to give the gospel. If we give up our rights we could very well be enslaved or killed! Are we willing to go that far for the gospel? Do we have the attitude (or temperament) of Christ?

Philippians 2:4-8  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-- even to death on a cross.

If we focus on our rights as Americans are we looking out for our own interests or the interests of others? Are we viewing our rights with the attitude of Jesus?

My rights aren’t as important as my attitude toward those rights. There is nothing wrong with exercising my rights… unless they are hindering me from being Christ’s witness. If my attitude and focus is on myself and my rights, then my focus is not of Christ, his gospel, and others. When I think about how many Muslims live in my area, is my first thought to check my self defense weapons? Or is my first thought to check my memory verses to share with them?

I’m not concerned with American Christians wanting and using their right to bear arms. My concern is with the attitude of certain people that we must defend our rights at all costs. My concern is with the attitude that my rights are paramount in comparison to my love for others.

It doesn’t help that politicians know how to press our buttons and that news stations know how to keep us entertained with fear. But we cannot give them undue influence over our emotions.

My rights aren’t as important as my obligation and joy in giving the gospel. The 2nd amendment won’t save me. My stockpile of ammo won’t save me. Jesus has saved me, and if I obsess about my rights and liberties those obsessions will hinder me from accomplishing my mission given by Him.

Jesus gave up His throne in heaven, the apostle Paul gave up his right to be paid for his work, what are we being asked to give up? Very little from what I can see.

 

Greg Long's picture

apward wrote:

I find myself disagreeing with both Falwell and Piper in several places. I think I agree with Tyler that this is a matter of temperament, but disagree with him on the implications of that remark.

I love the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. I’ve owned a few different firearms during my brief lifetime. If I lived full-time in Tennessee rather than Togo, I’d probably have a concealed-carry permit. Why? Because I can; it’s my right. And I think that society is generally safer if well-trained, responsible people carry firearms in a safe manner. However, I need to keep a proper attitude toward that right and know when to lay it aside for the sake of others.

We have a right to arm ourselves, and we have a right to free speech. But how should Christians use these rights? How should a Christian think about those rights?

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people…  To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, that I may become a partner in its benefits.

Paul was aware of his rights, but was willing to lay them all aside and become a slave for the opportunity to give the gospel. If we give up our rights we could very well be enslaved or killed! Are we willing to go that far for the gospel? Do we have the attitude (or temperament) of Christ?

Philippians 2:4-8  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-- even to death on a cross.

If we focus on our rights as Americans are we looking out for our own interests or the interests of others? Are we viewing our rights with the attitude of Jesus?

My rights aren’t as important as my attitude toward those rights. There is nothing wrong with exercising my rights… unless they are hindering me from being Christ’s witness. If my attitude and focus is on myself and my rights, then my focus is not of Christ, his gospel, and others. When I think about how many Muslims live in my area, is my first thought to check my self defense weapons? Or is my first thought to check my memory verses to share with them?

I’m not concerned with American Christians wanting and using their right to bear arms. My concern is with the attitude of certain people that we must defend our rights at all costs. My concern is with the attitude that my rights are paramount in comparison to my love for others.

It doesn’t help that politicians know how to press our buttons and that news stations know how to keep us entertained with fear. But we cannot give them undue influence over our emotions.

My rights aren’t as important as my obligation and joy in giving the gospel. The 2nd amendment won’t save me. My stockpile of ammo won’t save me. Jesus has saved me, and if I obsess about my rights and liberties those obsessions will hinder me from accomplishing my mission given by Him.

Jesus gave up His throne in heaven, the apostle Paul gave up his right to be paid for his work, what are we being asked to give up? Very little from what I can see.

I understand what you're saying, but keep in mind that Paul DID exercise his rights as it relates to civil government and the justice system in several important ways:

  • In Acts 22:22-29, he spoke up and revealed that he was a Roman citizen when he was about to get flogged. He didn't just say to himself, "Well, vengeance is God's, and I need to just suffer wrong for the sake of the Gospel." No, he stood up for his rights as a Roman citizen.
  • In Acts 25:1-12, he appealed to Caesar rather than face death due to a Jewish ambush. Again, he did not passively submit to injustice, but used the rights available to him in that governmental system. (See also the examples of Esther and Nehemiah).

I know there's no evidence that Paul had a sword to use for self-defense, but we need to keep all of these things in balance and look at the full tenor of Scripture. Certainly Paul was willing to deny his "rights" at times, but yet at other times he stood up for them and used them.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Greg Long's picture

apward wrote:

From 2008

Piper interviewed about "are you opposed to people owning guns?"

He contradicts himself in this interview:

Somebody wrote and asked me, "Would you protect your daughter if you had a gun?" I wrote back a one-word answer, "Probably," and what I meant by it was that the circumstances are so unpredictable. What would you do? Shoot the guy in the head? Or shoot him in the chest? How about the leg? Or just throw the gun at him, or hit him over the head with it? Of course I'm going to protect my daughter! But I'm not aiming to kill anybody, especially an intruder who doesn't know Christ and would go straight to hell, probably. Why would I want to do that if I could avoid it?

So no, I'm not a pacifist. I believe there should be a militia, and I believe in policemen with billy clubs and guns who should take out guys who are killing people. And I believe in a military to protect a land from aggression. And I believe that fathers should protect their children, even using force. But if they can avoid killing somebody, of course they should avoid killing somebody. And having a gun is a good way not to avoid killing somebody.

We don't need guns in our houses.

Huh?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

At the risk of seeming to be theologically shallow, let me be brutally honest here - Piper is a complete wimp. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

apward's picture

I also agree that Piper appears to contradict himself. I just added that link to shed more light on his viewpoint.

 

Certainly Paul was willing to deny his "rights" at times, but yet at other times he stood up for them and used them.

I agree with you Greg, but it's also good to see that Paul never used or laid aside his rights haphazardly. He thoughtfully chose to use them or lay them aside for a good reason. He did both with the attitude of Christ and for the glory of God.  

I didn't mean to imply that having the attitude of Christ means that we should always allow ourselves to be passively flogged or killed. But there may be a time it could come to that extreme point, and we need to have the proper attitude and perspective in both using and laying aside our rights. There were many times when Jesus wouldn't allow the people to arrest, stone, or in other ways harm him. However, He did allow it at the right time for the right purpose. Likewise, Paul sometimes avoided persecution (Acts 9:23-25; 14:5-6; 22:21-29) and sometimes allowed it (Acts 21:10-13). And if we look closely at those examples we see that Paul both used and laid aside his rights in order to have the opportunity to preach the gospel. Paul's primary concern was not it rights or personal safety, but the advancement of the gospel.

apward's picture

TylerR wrote:

At the risk of seeming to be theologically shallow, let me be brutally honest here - Piper is a complete wimp. 

I won't say that's shallow, but I'd rather say that Piper employs an inconsistent hermeneutic and teaches potentially dangerous conclusions. And that's unfortunate because as I look back at Piper's ministry I see him frequently modeling good hermeneutics and exegesis. I wish that he would employ those good hermeneutics here because I believe Christians desperately need good, accurate, Biblical teaching on this issue.

The responses to Piper I have seen from JD Hall and McDurmon have good points, but I can't agree with everything they wrote in those articles either.

ejohansen's picture

Piper doesn't comprehend that the gun isn't to kill someone, the gun is to "stop the threat."  If death of the perp results, then so be it. 

Joel Shaffer's picture

As an inner-city missionary that lives in the neighborhood where we minister where people have been shot and killed less than a block from my house or held up at gunpoint within a couple blocks of my house, we have chosen not to have a gun for protection. But we have always had dogs.  And if you know the 'hood, you realize that young thugs with guns are much more scared of dogs than someone else with a gun.  My fear of having a gun is the amount of collateral damage that can happen in a neighborhood like ours, especially since I've had 3 of my students accidentally shot and killed by stray bullets.   The houses in our community are in close proximity to each other.  About 13 years ago, a bullet entered our window that was shot a few blocks away.   Because of the work that i do, my life has been threatened on 4 different occasions, including have had a gun pointed at my forehead.  

As for protecting my family, being connected to our neighbors along with the dogs we've had, have been a successful deterrent from any crimes being committed against us for 2 decades.    

mmartin's picture

TylerR wrote:

  • I once unintentionally made a young, female Corpsman watching her first autopsy faint when I told her, in great detail, what the small circular saw was for. I told her to watch for the dust as the pathologist cut off the top of the victim's skull. "It'll look like sawdust," I told her, "but it's really skull dust. Get it?" She fell down and her comrades had to drag her out of the room. To be fair, I didn't know she'd faint . . . My partner and I went to Applebees and had ribs after the autopsy. . 

Tyler, you have a sick sense of humor and I salute you!  :-)!!

Agreed with your thoughts about Piper wimpiness.

mmartin's picture

I don't own any guns, but I believe I have a Biblical right to defend myself, my family, and those weaker than I.  If that means using a gun to mitigate or eliminate a threat, then so be it.  Yes, I have a mandate to share Christ with others including those threatening me or my family.  However, I believe my first obligation is self-preservation and defense of my family.  I can share Jesus with the perpetrator when he/she is in jail or in the hospital because I hit him/her with a few rounds of a 9mm.

I don't believe in flaunting that right nor do I think it makes sense to be overly consumed with guns beyond a hobby. 

I think there is something to be said about removing a menace to society at large.  For Piper and others to feel even calling 911 is questionable is silly.  Get the guy off the streets so he can't harm myself - or others.

Greg Long's picture

I obviously disagree with Piper's position, but I think it's uncharitable to call him "wimpy." How do you know the reason for his view isn't Bible-based conviction rather than timidity, wimpiness, or fear? Would you call Nate Saint and the other missionaries "wimpy" for refusing to defend themselves with their weapons? Do you call Joel Schaffer "wimpy" for refusing to buy a gun while living in a crime-ridden neighborhood?

For all the times I've heard/watched Piper speak and read his writings, the word "wimpy" has never come to mind.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

This comes down to temperament again. If I had been in Nate Saint's position, I certainly would have fired my gun. I can't even imagine not doing so. 

If Piper is serious about not defending his own wife, or about feeling conflicted about dialing 911 lest a root of bitterness creep into his heart, then he certainly is being wimpy. I don't intend to be uncharitable, but what else should I call it? I actually thought I was being charitable by sticking with "wimpy." 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

What kind of "temperament" is "wimpiness"? Wimpiness is not a temperament. I think you are throwing a bunch of different things like temperament, so-called "manliness" or lack thereof, Biblical conviction over leaving vengeance to God, aversion to guns, aversion to killing, etc. in a pot and calling it "wimpiness."

Personally, I don't think you are automatically any more "manly" (or whatever the opposite of wimpiness is) than Piper just because you think you have no aversion to killing people.

And again, this is coming from someone who disagrees with Piper's position.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

God makes us different. I am glad that God makes people like Piper, who feel conflicted about defending himself or his family in an active-shooter situation (which is the context of his response to Falwell's statement). He seems like a sensitive soul. That's fine.

Before I entered the ministry, I actually pondered whether I was fit for it, because I'm so cynical and can be rather "cold-blooded" about certain things. I've always read about Pastors who weep over their congregation's poor choices. I haven't wept yet. Why not? I'm not quite sure. I've been situations where I (1) listened to a wife cry to me over the phone about why her alcoholic husband has cheated on her again, (2) prayed with her honestly, (3) given her earnest counsel, (4) then hung up the phone and gone back to my novel. I compartmentalize my emotions and wall them off from the rest of my life. I did it when I was in the military police. I do it in the ministry. 

My response isn't about false bravado, manliness, or a desire to appear tough. I'm just presenting my views in a straight-forward way. God makes people different, and shapes us in different contexts - the result is that some Christians are very different than others. God makes sensitive souls like Piper. That's good. I'm also glad God makes people different than Piper, people who don't fret about a potential "root of bitterness" if they have to defend their families. I can't understand Piper's response. I can't understand Nate Saint's response. I can't even conceive of it. We're different. That's what I mean by temperment. We're just different. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

apward's picture

I think Joel hits the nail on the head. The triablogue article does point out Piper’s inconsistency on Biblical manhood, but it doesn’t give a full view of man’s duty. I do not believe “my first obligation” is to self-preservation and defense of my family.”

Joel, your story seems like 2 good examples of a Christian's exercise of rights and fulfillment of duties. 1) You have a right to bear arms, but have laid that right aside for the sake of the ministry. 2) You have prioritized fulfilling your duty to make disciples while also fulfilling your duty to protect your family. Your family might be safer in the burbs, but that would inhibit your gospel ministry in the city. You didn't ignore your duty to protect your family, but you did prioritize your duty to the gospel.

I think that is a good example of Biblical manhood.

Greg Long's picture

"Sensitive" is better, but just to press the point...

Piper is not saying he wouldn't defend his wife by shooting the attacker because he thinks guns are icky, or because he doesn't know how he could possibly kill someone, or because he gets sick at the sight of blood, or because he thinks he might run away rather than put up his dukes (or his gun) and fight. He is basing his position on his biblical conviction regarding the use of force to defend one's own person (or someone else, which is where I strongly disagree) in light of the biblical commands and examples he listed.

You just need to be very careful in making a charge like that, because you would have a very difficult time explaining to me how you couldn't call Nate Saint, or Joel Schaffer, or.......Jesus, or Paul, "wimpy."

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

Please don't take my last post as me "walking back" the "wimpy" comment. I wasn't; I meant it. I was simply explaining that God makes people different. I find Piper's position inexplicable and foolish. I'm being honest about it. I could have wrapped my disapproval up with a lot of soft adjectives to make it easier to swallow. I decided not to. I don't understand Nate Saint's position either. Can't even conceive of not defending myself. Perhaps that's why God hasn't sent me to minister to war-like tribes in a third-world context yet? 

It doesn't mean I despise Piper, or those who agree with him. It just means I don't share that position, and can't possibly understand it. To be honest, I find that position "wimpy." Wouldn't you rather have me be honest? Should I have said, "I have some fundamental misgivings about the soundness of Piper's position?" If I were writing an academic essay, I'd use that language. I'm not writing that essay, so I'll be honest and straightforward instead. 

God makes us different. I doubt I'll ever understand Piper on this one. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

I'm glad you're being honest. I'm not glad you're being uncharitable. Call Piper mistaken, misguided, wrong, even dangerous (because it might influence other men to refrain from defending their wives) but to call him "wimpy" is an attack on his manhood and personal character, and is something you can't possibly know simply from reading his post.

You are the first person I have ever heard refer to Nate Saint, Jim Eliot, and the others as "wimpy" (not directly, but you can't avoid that implication of your position). And you still haven't answered how this applies to Jesus and Paul.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

My comment about Piper being wimpy was in the context of him not defending his wife. If Piper is serious about being conflicted about defending his wife, then I find his position rather cowardly. Even the good ole' Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "wimpy" as somebody who "lacks confidence or courage." In this context, the point at issue is courage. I find his prevarication about defending his wife to be "wimpy." I find it to be rather less than courageous. I assume he takes his marriage vows seriously? 

Nate Saint wasn't a wimp. I didn't say he was a wimp. I said I can't conceive of not defending myself when being attacked. He and his companions showed amazing and remarkable courage. I was reading from the anthology A New Eusebius about Christian martyrs just yesterday. These are courageous and amazing men and women. I assume that Nate Saint and his companions did not open fire because they valued their ministry to these lost people too much to ruin it by killing them. That takes courage; tremendous courage. They're better men than me. I would have fired. 

Jesus' passive obedience precluded Him taking vengeance on His enemies in His first advent. That won't be the case in the second advent. 

Paul was an amazing man. I wouldn't have kept on going after being stoned outside Lystra. I would have wanted to kill those folks, and might have tried. Paul didn't, and he kept going. I wouldn't have. He was a better man than me. Case closed. 

God makes people different:

  • That's why it took Philip, a Hellenistic Jew, to reach the Samaritans. The apostles never tried. I think their Pharisaical baggage hindered them. 
  • That's why Peter and John kept getting released by the Sanhedrin in the early chapters of Acts, but Stephen was executed. Stephen was less circumspect and much more bold about pressing home the implications for Jesus' ministry and the 2nd temple. Peter and John didn't mention that stuff. They focused on Jesus' resurrection, and other matters. Stephen didn't do that - he zoomed right in on how the temple was obsolete, and how the Mosaic Law was obsolete. He died; Peter and John lived (for a while). I think these men had very different temperments. Stephen was a Hellenistic Jew, and wasn't as tied to the temple as Peter and John were. 
  • God led Nate Saint and his companions to minister to people in a context that I wouldn't have succeeded at. 
  • I spoke to a Pastor last month who is ministering in a terrible slum in a suburb of East St. Louis. He was saved out of that precise environment, and it's obvious that God intends him to minister and preach the Gospel to people from that environment. I don't think I'd make it there. 
  • God formed and fashioned John Piper to be a more introspective and sensitive soul than me. I confess I don't understand people like that. I think they're living in a different world. I'm glad I'm not like that. I'm glad God shaped me by different contexts to be a different person. 

If anybody is offended by the use of the word "wimpy," please understand that I'm not using it to be derogatory. I honestly find his position inconceivable, bizarre and cowardly (hence the word "wimpy"). I understand God made us different, but I can't fathom how he can justify his own position to himself. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

I asked my wife about Piper's position. She said, "If he feels that way, then he shouldn't even have a family." 

I think this would be an excellent topic for Ed's next poll!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

apward's picture

TylerR wrote:

At the risk of seeming to be theologically shallow, let me be brutally honest here - Piper is a complete wimp. 

 

 

Wait, so when you said this you didn't mean for it to be derogatory? Am I missing another way of interpreting that comment? I'm not a moderator nor the son of a moderator, but it seems derogatory to me.

You said the definition of "wimp" is someone who lacks confidence or courage. If that definition is accurate then you can't call him a wimp because based on his comments, he doesn't have a lack of confidence or courage. He didn't say that he wouldn't hurt an assailant because he can't overcome his fear of violence or guns. He said he wouldn't do it because of a moral conviction. That is courage, misguided courage in this case, but still not a lack of courage. I disagree with Piper, but you can't call him wimp for refusing to fight because of a genuine moral conviction. If you think he's using the moral conviction as just an excuse to justify his fear, that would be another matter.

There are cases when we all should refuse to fight or follow an illegal order. That is not a sign of being a wimp, but a sign of courage. We may disagree with someone on what constitutes a case where we should refuse to fight because of a moral conviction, but that doesn't mean the other person is a wimp.

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