It’s Right for God to Slaughter Women and Children Anytime He Pleases

John Piper God Slaughters WomenDid you hear what John Piper said online a few years back? Check out this quote:

It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.

That is not the God I know.

Yuri Wijting on Facebook directed me to an article by Peter Enns which talked about this statement by John Piper.

Here are a couple things Peter Enns said in response to John Piper:

1. It is unguarded to make a general principle of God’s character on the basis of the treatment of the Canaanites in the Old Testament. Of course, Piper would likely retort that all of Scripture is God-breathed, does not mislead us, and reveals the character of God. But then he would need to address squarely Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that “death to our enemies” is no longer valid.

The insider-outsider premise that undergirds Canaanite slaughter (and the killing of many of Israel’s enemies in the Old Testament–see #3) is the very thing Jesus squashed: “My kingdom is not of this world.” That alone should give Piper pause from venturing forward with his assessment of God’s character on the basis of how Canaanites are dealt with.

2. Following on #1, “the Bible said it, that settles it” answer to God’s violence in the Old Testament not only runs into problems with respect to the New Testament but the Old Testament as well. There is a fair amount of theological diversity in the Old Testament regarding the nature of God’s judgment on the nations that would need to be taken into account. (For example, compare Jonah and Nahum on the fate of Assyria; the glorious fate of Egypt in Isaiah 19:23-25.) To make one view on such a thorny issue the model for how God acts throughout time runs the danger of privileging certain texts that support one’s theology.

If you get a chance, go read the rest of the article by Peter Enns. It is excellent.

I thought about adding a few choice words of my own directed at John Piper, but then I realized I was not angry. Instead, I was extremely, extremely sad.

slaughter-the-canaanitesIt saddens me deeply that people could believe such things about the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ. It saddens me that people could believe that this is the type of God who went to the cross on our behalf. It saddens me deeply that when people experience pain, suffering, torture, and death in this world, they don’t say, “An enemy has done this!” but rather, “This is the work of God.” It saddens me that rather than recognize that God is with us in our pain and suffering, crying when we cry, holding us when we tremble, wailing with us in our pain, some people think God is actually the one making us suffer, causing us to cry, inflicting us with fear, and torturing us with pain.

It brings me great sadness to know that this is what John Piper believes, and even greater sadness to know that this is what he teaches the people in his church. Those poor people. I weep for them.

How I desire they could know the love of God that is in Jesus! How I wish they could feel the love that casts out all fear. How I long for them to see God as He really is in the cross of Christ.

If you are reading this, please know that God is not like the god of John Piper. God does not slaughter women and children just because He can. He rescues women. He loves children. If pain, tragedy, horror, and death has occurred in your life, please know that God did not do it, but He does want to love you through it.

God of the Old Testament and JesusThis post is part of my ongoing series on how to understand the violence of God in the Old Testament. Specifically, I am trying to answer this question:

How can a God who says "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44) be the same God who instructs His people in the Old Testament to kill their enemies?

To see what I am arguing so far, click here.

Also, when I am done with this series of posts, I will be publishing them as a book. If you want a free digital copy of this book when it comes out, make sure you have subscribed to my email newsletter.



Comments

  1. says

    Piper has a very odd concept of God’s sovereignty. If God doesn’t actively cause it then he’s not in control and not sovereign. Piper cannot abide the idea of God giving people the freedom to choose either good or evil. I use the word ‘odd’, but it’s a view held by the majority of Reformed or Calvinistic thinkers.

  2. says

    Graham,
    I didn’t know this was the view of W. L. Craig. Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

    Kris,
    It is sad. Piper got arrested for stopping abortions? I didn’t know that either! Interesting. I think Piper would say that in God’s sovereignty, God has pre-ordained that he (and us) do what we can to stop these bad things from happening, but when we cannot, it is because God pre-ordained our failure. Or something like that….

    Andrew,
    Yes, it is an odd view of God’s sovereignty, and as you point out, is the majority view of many Calvinistic and Reformed thinkers. I used to be a Hyper Calvinist and remember thinking this way myself….

  3. says

    I think Piper tries to sidestep matters by saying that God wills, but he is not tainted with evil. I’ve never been particularly impressed by this assertion either philosophically or theologically. There’s certainly no Bible verse to back up such an assumption. In fact to the contrary. Matt 18:7 states that stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to those by whom they come. I can’t see God putting his hand up to anything there, can you?l

  4. says

    Yeah, it is like the “God is not the author of sin” argument. It’s true… but it uses semantics. I cannot see God putting his hand to anything like that either.

  5. says

    I agree that God defines justice. And I believe that God has defined this justice in Scripture for mankind to follow. Jesus most fully reveals to us the perfect way of following this justice, and God Himself does not violate His own laws for justice. That is what I am trying to argue in this series.

  6. says

    Right.

    It is this sort of teaching that causes some to be terrified of God. Which is one way I know that such teaching does not reveal God, because as we see in 1 John, “perfect love casts out fear.” If a teaching about God leads us to be terrified of Him, then we can pretty much believe that this teaching is not correct about God.

  7. says

    Yes!

    Jesus wanted to reveal God to us, not as a God who was angry and intent on slaughtering us, but a God who loves us so much that He is willing to die for us. So beautiful! And I wish more people saw this kind of God in Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>