The deductive use of the sovereignty of God

Peter Enns is pointing out that John Piper’s post asserting  “It’s Right for God to Slaughter Women and Children Anytime He Pleases” has been taken down. It might be just a temporary linking problem. Might not. It could be just one of those things that when you’re feeling your theological oats you just say, only to get enough of a kick back that you finally realize how stunning and absurd the thing you are so convinced is true is truly abhorrent.

Peter Enns wants Piper to explain where this post went, and if it was taken down, why so?

In that post Piper also wrote:

“God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs….
If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92.
God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.”

What else would a person who believes in the sovereignty of God the way Piper believes in the sovereignty of God say? In this form of things, the sovereignty of God becomes a first premise in a long chain of deductions that end up with increasingly absurd things being posited of God. For such people the sovereignty of God requires these things to be said. Courage and theological integrity even require you to say it.  Feels good at the moment. God’s glory has been proclaimed and defended and mankind has been made small and deserving of the worst of ruins. That’s enough work done for one day. Post it and get on with the day’s business.

But like bad food, at some point during the day the body vomits out the poison. This kind of thinking so damages the inner world of a person who tries to believe it, that nature itself rebels.

Did something like this happen in removing the post? I, too, would like for Piper to reflect on its removal. If it is true, keep it there. If it is true, but offends too many, keep it there. If it is true and hurts fund raising, still keep it there. If it is true, but not nice, keep it there. (I had rather know the saddest fact than be deluded by the sweetest lie). If it is true, but needs qualification, keep it there – then qualify it.

But just take it down? Poof! Gone! Why take it down?

Of course, Enns’ suspicion, I suppose, and mine, is that Piper showed too much of what is in his theological cards. He hasn’t changed his views of God’s sovereignty, but a little less light on them would be more comfortable.

What a fair reading of Piper’s post would lead to is the conclusion is that this is not Christianity – it is Stoicism, a philosophy so attractive to many writers in the early church that they had to work hard to make sure that the Christian faith did not turn into just a religious restatement of fatalism. We do not look on devastating human suffering and shrug our shoulders and say “Praise God! He is sovereign.”


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