Did 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.
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 But then he would need to address squarely Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that “death to our enemies” is no longer valid.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.
It 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.