Tuesday, August 04, 2015

John Piper's paradox (1999-2015): natural disasters are God's gentle warnings, Mark Driscoll resigning is a victory for Satan.

August 18, 1999No earthquakes in the Bible are attributed to Satan. Many are attributed to God ...

September 2, 2005...God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He did not suffer massive shame and pain because Americans are pretty good people. The magnitude of Christ’s suffering is owing to how deeply we deserve Katrina—all of us.

Our guilt in the face of Katrina is not that we can’t see the intelligence in God’s design, but that we can’t see arrogance in our own heart. God will always be guilty of high crimes for those who think they’ve never committed any.


August 1, 2007...When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.” 

 Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”

August 19, 2009...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.

March 17, 2011Earthquakes are ultimately from God. Nature does not have a will of its own. And God owes Satan no freedom. What havoc demons wreak, they wreak with God’s permission.


So should a vast swath of the west coast of the United States crumble along the Cascade subduction zone when the "big one" hits that'd be a "gentle reminder", based on John Piper's public theology of catastrophe, that we don't deserve life.  But one guy quits being a pastor at the church he co-founded after years of controversy surrounding plagiarism and rigging the NYT best seller list and being an abusive leader who demonizes dissent and all of a sudden that turns into a triumph for Satan? Didn't Piper tell the world what havoc demons wreak, they wreak with God's permission? Where's the John Piper who habitually used catastrophes the caused the deaths of tens of thousands over the last fifteen years as a springboard for reminders that none of us deserve life and we should repent? 


Eric said...

Perhaps what Piper meant as a victory for Satan was not Driscoll's removal from ministry but the disastrous things he did while in ministry, bringing the church into disrepute.

Brendt said...

Did Pastor John run over your puppy?

Alistair Robertson said...

Surely Piper would agree that it was done with God's permission. Is it not a biblical position to say God has done something, demons have done it too. That something is a disaster for the gospel, but is also part of God's good plan? That something has been a victory for Satan, a warning from God and God's good plan?

The death of Jesus comes to mind. Satan did win - at least he thought so and so did the disciples. Jesus' death is a warning to people that they will face death if they do not repent and trust in Christ. And Jesus' death is essential to the gospel.

Does there have to be a single cause or conclusion? I don't think biblically there needs to be.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Alistair, that is an excellent point, that there can be multiple levels of potential explanation for an event or process. That's why Piper's pattern can be described as a paradox. The lying spirit that went to the prophets of Ahab was authorized by God. The tension in Piper's paradox is that Piper has been emphatic that natural disasters are only caused by God, which mean God directly willed the deaths of thousands. Meanwhile, Satan got a victory in Driscoll's resignation. Yet Satan could only have been permitted a victory and Piper himself was given an opportunity to intervene in the mess that was emerging within Mars Hill back around 2008 and for whatever reasons opted not to act.

Brendt, to the extent that men ranging from Piper to Sproul to Packer and others lent their endorsement to Driscoll it "is" a defeat for Reformed theology and one of the conundrums within that resignation (both his and theirs) is their active agency in endorsement. So in a sense Piper's totally right that the Driscoll case is a defeat for Reformed theology. This blog, however, has been an occasional document of how within Reformed thought reaction to Driscoll has not been monolithic. Piper can propose what he thinks explains Driscoll, but Piper helped make Driscoll who he was. It's the gap between saying of disasters we have a chance to repent of our personal sin on the one hand, and saying of Driscoll's resignation that it was an abstracted defeat for Reformed theology and Piper wishes he had had more influence on the other that seems like a puzzle. When given a real world scenario that touches him personally ownership of his agency is taking some time.

terriergal said...

It's hard to say Eric, because he wasn't specific enough.. typical of him. No one wants to clearly and soberly criticize the men they have empowered. They'd get called mean spirited and that is just too much for their fragile egos.

terriergal said...

Well that's mature.

terriergal said...

the point is that Piper doesn't want to blame the person who is clearly at fault here. If you were on Driscoll's side and feel you were hurt by all the people who had issues with Driscoll, Piper's words about the Mars Hill situation would equally apply to you. Piper is using deceptive studied ambiguity here in order to be able to say he's criticizing without really doing so. He's avoiding the fire he would draw by being clear and Biblically naming Driscoll's sin and calling for his repentance. Very courageous that.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

terriergal was responding to each guy in consecutive order. Since comments go straight into moderation they may not always appear right away or in a format where it's clear who's being addressed, so addressing folks by pen name as a precaution may be handy.