Thoughts on John Piper and Rachel Held Evans

John Piper is at it again. Shortly after the OKC tornado, he made the following tweet (which was later deleted):

Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead. -Job 1:19

Just as night follows day, Rachel Evans promptly called him on it.

First, some thoughts on Piper.

This is not the first time he has done something like this.  He’s developing a pattern.  I really wish he would think ahead of time before speaking when people are hurting.  It damages the witness of all believers.  Pat Robertson does this thing too often as well.  They remind me a tiny bit of those folks from Westboro Baptist who hold out their “God hates gays” signs any time someone dies. I do think Piper and Robertson are genuine believers, I’m not so sure the Westboro folks are (no one knows but God).  However, they have similar attitudes towards suffering and their understanding of the wrath of God.  I bet the Westboro crew is on their way down to Oklahoma right now.

As Christians, our job is to mourn with those who mourn.  We are to help and comfort those in need, even when we don’t think they deserve it.  It is not for us to assign blame.

Now on to Rachel Evans.

She takes things things too far.  Although her post made some good points,  she too damaged her Christian witness, placing her criticism of Piper in front of the fact that he’s a fellow believer.

She wrote:

Piper’s god is like an abusive father, filled with unpredictable rage. His family must walk on eggshells, afraid of suddenly enraging him. Should he be provoked, this god will lash out with deadly, earthquakes, tsunamis, violence and war.

Two things here:

First, this is not a quote Piper would agree with.  Evans should not attribute a belief to Piper that he would reject, or to which he would at the very least give a nuanced explanation of.  The most that can be fairly said is that from Evan’s view, Piper’s theology inadvertently leads to a misunderstanding of God’s character, and this misunderstanding leads to an inaccurate picture of God who is abusive, full of rage, etc.

The second thing is that she refers to Piper’s “god” in the lower case.  She does this throughout the post.   This implies that Piper worships a false god.  Despite our differences, all Christians worship the same God.

Just like Piper, Evans needs to think ahead of time before speaking.

And I suppose I do too.


Filed under Calvinism, disaster, John Piper, Rachel Held Evans

10 responses to “Thoughts on John Piper and Rachel Held Evans

  1. One of the problems with the fixation on pet doctrines (Calvinism–for or against–is a prime one) is that one loses touch with reality, tunnel vision overtakes. There is a temptation when caught in your pet issue to use absolutely everything you see and hear as a way to make your point. You think you’re being discerning and helpful, when in reality your words are cold and cruel.

  2. Dave

    Hi Kevin,

    So full disclosure would have been to include the second tweet that went with Job 1:19 and that was Job 1:20:

    20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.

    Tony Reinke wrote about this a few days back:

    When Piper makes a reference to Job when these events happen, it is not surprising for people who have read and understand his position in this area.

    For anyone that cares to learn about that, Piper did an interview with NPR back in 2005 when the horrible tsunami occurred. It can be found here:

    On the tornado in OK this week, it was awesome to see the teachers and principal of one of the school’s give God the glory for His protection of their lives and the children when being interviewed on CNN.


    p.s. Kevin – Got my copy of Olson’s “Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities” yesterday :-).

    • Hi Dave, I read the Reinke clarification. I disagree with his world view that attributes natural disasters to God. Enjoy the Olson book. :)

      • Dave

        Hi Kevin,

        Hope you had a good Memorial Day.

        Neither Reinke or Piper attribute natural disasters to God; what Piper consistently says is that God must be ordaining (not causing) them (since He could have stopped them and didn’t). And since He does do things on a whim, there must be some divine purpose in allowing it to happen.

        Of course we do know that He has actually caused them in the past (eg The Flood).


      • Dave

        Ooops – forgot to mention something. Caveat – I actually have seen one article on Desiring God where the direct reference to “caused” was used. It is unfortunate (and perhaps it isn’t there now); it was in a short, summary document, and doesn’t give sufficient context/background and could therefore cause confusion and misunderstanding.

        Piper’s own words in this area are generally something like “Whether God causes something or allows it to happen, I don’t find the difference helpful.”


      • Hi Dave, Piper may not always be consistent on the matter, but he has used language before that states God does cause tornadoes. See his post here:

        “Why would God reach down his hand and drag his fierce fingers across rural America killing at least 38 people with 90 tornadoes in 12 states, and leaving some small towns with scarcely a building standing, including churches?

        If God has a quarrel with America, wouldn’t Washington, D.C., or Las Vegas, or Minneapolis, or Hollywood be a more likely place to show his displeasure?

        We do not ascribe such independent power to Mother Nature or to the devil. God alone has the last say in where and how the wind blows. If a tornado twists at 175 miles an hour and stays on the ground like a massive lawnmower for 50 miles, God gave the command.”

  3. Marc

    I definitely don’t believe in the same God as John Piper.

    I believe in a God who loves unconditionally every human being.

    He believes in a god who uses human as tool for exalting his own glory, choosing to save a few while predetermining the large majority to die in their sins and suffering eternally as a consequence.
    The entity is whorshipping is worse than the devil.

    I don’t know for you, but for me it’s always sure he’s not a fellow believer.

  4. cantfoolmenow

    Piper absolutely states that God’s sovereignty controls every speck of dust floating through the air. I’ve seen the video. I count myself among those who don’t believe we believe in the same God as Piper. I’m not the judge of human belief, however I see a vast chasm in between believing in a pre-time “in God” election for salvation and faith in the Savior. The weather happens to the just and the unjust alike, and is the appropriate response to a tornado. I have no problem with Rachel’s rebuttal. Mine would have been even stronger. Piper believes God hates almost everyone anyway, which is convenient for him, since he thinks he’s elect. These notions about weather are, in my thinking, pagan superstitions – emotional notions extended through the ages from legends of gods like Zeus. They are most likely ancient myths from the Nephilim hybrid giants. Piper’s comments are not a testimony of Christ to the world, and IMO should be stomped on immediately, and the same goes for Robertson and the rest. I really wish some of these people with big platforms would stop speaking for God like some OT prophet and stick with the text.
    Comparison with the flood is not valid. God vowed not to ever do that again.

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