This week John Piper, a famous pastor and author, is speaking in chapel. It has been really horrendous. Among the many outrageous claims he’s made:
- God ordained that we should sin, but it is still completely our fault and we deserve to go to hell for sinning.
- God designed and planned every evil thing that happens in the world in order to fulfill his purpose of being glorified.
- We deserve every evil that befalls us; they are all given by God. But even so, we should never be bitter towards God, but constantly thank him for his grace.
- The existence of hell glorifies God, even though most people are going there. Hell also exists so that people who aren’t going there can praise God for not sending them there.
- God designed cancer and terrorism so that in suffering, people can experience the anguish that we should feel constantly because we are sinners.
Piper is really an old-style preacher, and it should relieve you to know that most people here disagree with what he says. Actually, I haven’t heard a single person agree with him on those major points above. I just started reading his book “Don’t Waste Your Life,” and it is a real gem of absurdity. He writes with excitement about his childhood with his father who was a traveling fire-and-brimstone-preaching evangelist, and how thrilling it was to hear stories about teenagers who rejected God and then died soon after. Interestingly, I was talking to someone about this who remarked that that kind of childhood was a form of abuse. That really made me want to refer immediately to Richard Dawkins, but I restrained my excitement.
Several people have even said that hearing John Piper speak makes them want to not be a Christian. I really hope that people come away from these sermons and really scrutinize Christianity with an open mind. It’s not my goal to draw anyone away from Christianity, and I don’t advocate uninformed atheism– that’s why I keep going to chapel and reading things written by Christians. But questioning is completely pointless unless you’re willing to accept whatever answer turns out to be right.