Crazy Things Church Leaders Say & Do, John Piper, Troubling Tweets

John Piper’s Tweets: Picking Apart Piper’s Peculiar Prattle

We’re taking a look at some of John Piper’s most recent tweets. What do they mean?

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We’re going to have a Piper Twitter fest today. I had originally planned to post only one tweet, but he’s been active on both of his Twitter accounts lately: @desiring God  and @JohnPiper.

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Ok, let’s first start off with one tweet in which I actually agree.  Actually, I think this is one we can use as a barometer to compare with the others:

 

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I think sometimes Piper must not think before tweeting. The following is what he tweeted on the same day the world was shocked to hear and see clips of a video in which a 26-yr Jordanian pilot was burned alive, set on fire by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It was very poor timing to tweet this:

 

 

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This is confusing to me because Piper believes that God is Sovereign and controls every molecule, so why would he suggest to pastors to use good vocabulary? Doesn’t that put the onus on pastors and contradict Piper’s beliefs that it is God who does this work? Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m open to hearing your thoughts and criticisms.

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I’m sure the following would be comforting to parents whose child has a terminal illness (sarcasm):

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Oh yes, and this phrase would be perfect to include in a card to a woman who is currently married to an abuser, doncha think (more sarcasm)?

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Ok, and now we’re at the original tweet that was going to be a post of its own:

 

pipertweet
https://twitter.com/desiringGod/status/562437166001713152

 

 

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So when David was thinking about killing Goliath, that was a sin?  When Adam and Eve saw each other naked in the garden, was that a sin? When Jairus was weeping because of his daughter’s death, was he sinning? When I’m taking a shower or doing the dishes and my mind is not on God, does that mean I am sinning?  When I’m with my study groups at college discussing relational databases or frequency probabilities, am I sinning? When you are eating a meal with your family and enjoying their company, are you sinning. Seriously, what does this tweet mean?

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jp2

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John Piper has 702 THOUSAND followers and the Desiring God Twitter account that features John Piper quotes has 294 THOUSAND followers.

I imagine that most of these followers are people who believe his words, ponder them, and try to apply them to their lives.

Do you see how damaging some of these tweets could be if they were internalized, especially victims of abuse?

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258 thoughts on “John Piper’s Tweets: Picking Apart Piper’s Peculiar Prattle”

  1. He does not relate to people as people. He relates to them as as objects—specifically, as objects of God’s wrath and undeserved favor, as though God neither relates to nor wishes to relate to his image bearers on an emotional level.

    Gary, I have noticed the same thing. People are sort of objectified or de-personed, in a sense.

    Except I do think Piper and his ilk do make appeal — significant appeal, even — to the emotions. I have listened to these guys preach and found them to create an emotionally charged atmosphere like unto the Charismatics in degree, but different in kind. Where the Charismatics tend to appeal to good/pleasant feelings, which they want to experience with intensity, Piper and his ilk create an atmosphere of intense fear. This emotion is their main currency. They make God emotionally unapproachable on any other ground than fear, and then demand we love Him or die. It is highly compelling and I think somewhat, for lack of a better word, addictive in a sense. They get high and get people high on the fear of God instead of “doing the stuff” (“power” evangelism, miracles, etc.) or the warm fuzzy God-is-my-boyfriend type of thing. Hence the shock jock value of some of Piper’s words and concepts like that “scream of the damned” thing, though I can’t remember if that was Piper or Mahaney. Wartburg has something on it. But in my experience it is very feeling centric, though couched in language of the head/frontal lobe. But they do want you to “feel” your worship, and the feeling they want you to feel is fear.

    I think this is another reason why some of these guys are so focused on condemning themselves, like Mahaney’s famous “better than I deserve” thing, though that is hardly unique to him. They are still searching for a feelings based connection with God, but it is a feeling of self loathing and fear. This is why love is (apparently) only an action to them and not a disposition of heart on God’s part.

    Anyway, it seems to me that they are not afraid of feelings at all, except good ones. Those they don’t like too well, I don’t think.

    As far as his marriage and alienation from his son, we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes with him, or in his home. What people know is his public teaching and stage presence. Perhaps he does have Ausberger’s or something like that. But a man who traffics in fear couched in heady intellectual verbiage is not going to have a real easy time with close relationships, I don’t think. Nor do I find it surprising he has empathy issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am relatively sure you will deny this, but it appears to me that your posting of Piper’s tweets was an attempt to marginalize him by showing contempt for him and making fun of what he tweeted.

    Randy – I use this blog to point out questionable words by prominent/celebrity church leaders that could cause spiritual harm. You say marginalize and contempt. That’s your interpretation and it doesn’t bother me that you disagree with me. However, I believe the Bible has given us a responsibility to call out false teachers, to warn others when there is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We are also to warn and protect others – especially the weak and oppressed. Many people who come to my blog have been spiritually battered. I view Piper as dangerous and will continue to do whatever I can to spread the word. This may not be your hang-out place, Randy. And I’m not going to continue to argue about whether or not I should have posted about Piper. I follow what I believe the Bible says and my heart. Me posting about Piper is not for debate, Randy. You’ll have to just deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tim,

    Certainly you and Brenda understand the difference between preaching a message forcefully and forcibly bringing someone to salvation don’t you? I have read Peter’s Acts two sermon, and it seemed pretty forceful to me.

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  4. Joe – I agree with part of your comment, yet at the same time, it’s not quite the same thing. Piper is a person of public interest. Trying to understand where he is coming from, how he can come up with his doctrinal or personal conclusions based on what we know of his life that he has openly shared is appropriate.

    However, it is not appropriate for Randy to insult people he is interacting with on my blog – people who are not in a position of authority to affect thousands of people. On this blog we have a rule that we debate topics and do not get personal. Randy violated that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yea, there are quite a few celebrity pastors who are into this forceful thing – they also word it as “authoritative preaching” and if you aren’t preaching with authority, then they’d probably question your credentials to preach.

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  6. Julie,

    I want to ask your forgiveness for showing you disrespect. That I see you and others showing contempt for those whose ideas they do not understand, does not justify my reaction. Will you forgive me?

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  7. Julie,

    Do you think ineffective and non-persuasive preaching if preferable? The Apostle wrote, “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” Somehow I always thought that was a pattern we should emulate.

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  8. Here’s a Piper tweet posted by Paul Dohse:

    I’m not sure if it’s going to post the actual picture so here’s the text:

    “The Bible says there are men who rape (Genesis 34:2) and women who seduce (Genesis 39:7). United in sin, distinct in form.”

    This is perfectly clear. I know exactly what he is saying and I believe I understand the point he’s trying to make.* And that is what concerns me.

    Can I “defend” what he’s saying and show how it’s Biblical? Well…errmm, sort of. :/ I mean, I see how he got there. However, all things are lawful but not all things are profitable. I can defend him (kinda), but I think it would be a very bad idea to even try and the thought of doing so makes me squeamish. On the contrary, I think he needs to be called out for this. Rape and seduction are not merely different in form. They are different in degree of damage, and that on a number of levels. Men do have power to avoid seduction. Their “no” is not taken away. Women don’t have the ability to escape forcible abuse of this nature. Seduction is a temptation that can be refused, rape is a violent assault the victim has no control over. The victim’s “no” is taken away by violent force. The difference is staggering and to attempt a moral equivalency as Piper does here simply because they are both sin is unconscionable. He doesn’t need defense for his clarity. He needs rebuke for his message. This is awful. 😡

    *I do not believe he is trying to suggest women who are raped had it coming because of being seductive, but I can easily see how someone would conclude that, especially with his use of the word “united,” and how I know these guys choose their words very carefully. I do acknowledge that I could be giving him too much benefit of doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Randy, who gets to decide what is effective vs ineffective. Do you judge by the heart of the one sharing the message or the tone?

    I do know men who think only “authoritative preaching” is right. They say their heart is right – that their message is hard, but it is the loving truth/hard truth of the Gospel. I have seen their bully behavior. That appalls me. I never saw Jesus speaking to unbelievers like that in Scripture.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Barn,

    It seems to me the point Piper is trying to make is that all sin is mortal or damning sin, but I think he must have had a major brain cramp that caused him to tweet something like that. I think you are right that it sends a wrong message.

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  11. It seems to me the point Piper is trying to make is that all sin is mortal or damning sin, but I think he must have had a major brain cramp that caused him to tweet something like that. I think you are right that it sends a wrong message.

    And how many people got that confusing tweet, Randy – people who highly esteem Piper and will sometimes question themselves as if they are having “wrong” thinking because, after all, he is a “reputable” leader.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Julie,

    My view is that God uses all different kinds of personalities to accomplish his work. It was said of one of the later Reformers, “He preached as if he was dying almost to have you converted.” My original point was that Calvinists should never think that it doesn’t matter how haphazardly we preach the gospel, since saving sinners is His work, not ours. There is nothing more nauseating than to hear a dead preacher, preaching to dead sinners the living truth. I think we are to preach as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God, because it does.

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  13. So, we’re back full circle – – Piper’s words and his approach DO matter – – even if you say that that it is God who elects – we can still preach as if lives depend on it without being a bully and without being rude. There is enough scripture that backs up how we are to use our words.

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  14. Julie,

    I am not now suggesting, nor have I ever suggested that I agree with everything Piper believes, says or writes. I would not even defend the practice of tweeting theology, though I have done it myself. All I have contended for is a fair and accurate treatment of his views. Come on now, does anyone really believe JP worships Calvin as God?

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  15. This is how I used the word:

    forceful (ˈfɔːsfʊl)
    adj
    1. powerful
    2. persuasive or effective
    ˈforcefully adv ˈforcefulness n
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
    force•ful (ˈfɔrs fəl, ˈfoʊrs-)

    adj.
    1. full of force; powerful; vigorous: a forceful blow.
    2. effective; cogent; telling: a forceful plea for justice.
    [1565–75]
    force′ful•ly, adv.
    force′ful•ness, n.
    Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
    ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
    Adj. 1. forceful – characterized by or full of force or strength (often but not necessarily physical); “a forceful speaker”; “a forceful personality”; “forceful measures”; “a forceful plan for peace”
    forceless, unforceful – lacking force; feeble; “a forceless argument”
    2. forceful – forceful and definite in expression or action; “the document contained a particularly emphatic guarantee of religious liberty”
    emphatic
    assertive, self-asserting, self-assertive – aggressively self-assured; “an energetic assertive boy who was always ready to argue”; “pointing directly at a listener is an assertive act”
    Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
    forceful
    adjective
    1. dynamic, powerful, vigorous, potent, assertive He was a man of forceful character.
    dynamic NOT. weak, exhausted, faint, powerless, frail, feeble, enervated, spent
    2. powerful, strong, convincing, effective, compelling, persuasive, weighty, pithy, cogent, telling This is a forceful argument for joining them.

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  16. Julie Anne,

    It doesn’t seem to have occurred to most folks here that it is possible to eat the meat but leave the bones. I have probably never read a book I agreed with completely, but I have derived great benefit from many of them and some benefit fron most of them.

    I think JP is wrong about some of his beliefs and he would think the same about me, but that doesn’t mean he is anymore “evil” than the rest of us. We all say and do stupid things. We are fallible human beings. The first comment on this thread is “He seems evil.”

    Has God used him in the lives of many people? I believe he has. If you need to talk about the real bones in his belief system, go for it. I would rather enjoy the meat.

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  17. I disagree, Randy. I believe his tweets and his teachings could put people in harm’s way or or even result in death (spiritual, emotional, or physical). Imagine telling a wife to endure physical abuse which ends her life.

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  18. Perhaps you have access to a statement of his that I have not seen. Just last night I watched a short video of JP answering a question about spousal abuse. He distinguished beteen verbal abuse and abuse that could put a spouse in physical danger or loss of life. I think I would need to hear more about what he meant about enduring smacking for one night. It took it to mean that once is too much. At any rate, his counsel was to take the matter to the church. Again I assume he was talking about a situation in which the abuser is a professing Christian. I don’t think he could have been any more emphatic than he was that the message of the Church to the abuser must be “This behavior is not OK.”

    What is the alternative? Are we really going to trust the corrupt U.S. Judicial system? I have seen in a many cases “up close and personal” in which a wife called the police. They put the jerk in a cell for the night, but guess what happened then. Now he is even more angry, and he comes home and smacks her again. Great! Let’s get a restraining order. What is she going to do, hit him with it? It is a piece of paper that means nothing.

    My advice would be different. Buy a gun and use it if your life is threatened. It is God’s prescribed remedy for those whose lives are threatened. And, you won’t have to pay a lawyer to get a restraining order for you.

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  19. Exactly, Julie. When Peter acted in a way contrary to the gospel and harmful to believers, he needed correcting and he took it publicly. Peter didn’t get a pass from Paul just because Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends and had done great things in the church. And we know that Peter valued Paul’s insights and referred to him with great esteem later in his epistle. That’s how it works in the body of Christ, we depend on each other to stay in line with sound doctrine.

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  20. But Paul did not misrepresent Peter. If JP is wrong, I have no problem with saying so. The only thing I have a problem with is accusing him of believing something he doesn’t believe.

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  21. “What is the alternative? Are we really going to trust the corrupt U.S. Judicial system?”

    I’ve worked in the judicial system for decades. It is not corrupt, and you defame the hard work of the judges and staff who do the job every day. Most people couldn’t handle a judge’s responsibilities for an hour let alone day after day, year after year.

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  22. Good for you Tim. I am glad you have found that pocket of functional judicial justice. Your experience has not been mine. I meant no disrespect to judges or those who work in the judicial system. It is often not their fault. Sometimes it is. It is the system I find fault with. You know as well as I do that a restraining order is useless if a person’s life is in danger.

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  23. I have not found a “pocket”, Randy. I personally know hundreds of judges in my state, and have watched thousands of cases in court. Integrity abounds, not corruption.

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  24. Randy,
    “Come on now, does anyone really believe JP worships Calvin as God?”

    Yes. I do!! Watch his video on Calvin while on his “mission trip”.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. “Piper functions largely at a merely cognitive level. He does not relate to people as people. He relates to them as as objects—specifically, as objects of God’s wrath and undeserved favor, as though God neither relates to nor wishes to relate to his image bearers on an emotional level. Perhaps this is why he views people as nothing more than God’s automatons.”

    Well said, Gary. you have articulated what I have thought since some family members of mine went to work for and study with Piper quite a few years ago. their personalities were so altered, there was much concern within our family. after those years with Piper no one in their extended family knew the true gospel and were viewed at arms length as ignorant. whereas before they were very close with their family members. they could no longer see us as people with feelings who loved and were grieved with their attitude toward us. the most important thing to them was correct doctrine on every single point.

    that was when I started paying attention to Piper and reading his books. I also knew from them that he was raised in a sort of Bob Jones type of fundamentalism. he has a lot of appeal because he really promoted the fact that he lived in the inner city and was not interested in money. I know another minor celebrity who did the same thing and socked it away for retirement….then moved away when it would not be so obvious.

    I think everyone should read Lifton before they take Piper too seriously. I do not know if anyone else has noticed this or not but Piper loves it when people are talking about him and trying to figure out what he means…..he leaves them craving more. I have been following him a long time and I believe he does it on purpose. I think it is part of his act and feeds his ego.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Randy asks, “What is the alternative? Are we really going to trust the corrupt U.S. Judicial system?”

    Well, get rid of the word corrupt, and, yes, we are going to trust the U.S. Judicial System to aid victims targets of hostile spouses. Every time. Not only will remedies be crafted to fit the circumstances (protection orders, decrees of dissolution of marriage, maintenance and support orders, property and debt division, custody orders and, if crimes have been committed, time behind bars), but the remedies are available and effective.

    Are we going to trust the typical organized church? No, almost never. IN the first place, churches just cannot provide the protection and relief that is available through the God-ordained civil authorities. What CAN an abused wife expect from a typical non-liberal Church? Demands that the police never be called. Admonitions to forgive and submit. Instructions to stay with the abuser and keep on taking it–until death is the result in extreme cases. The kinds of churches that are often the subject of this blog will never permit the married-in-name-only spouse to avail herself (sometimes himself) of the very thing God prescribed, which was a certificate of divorce–which under our law translates into a court-issued decree of divorce. Which, again, just are not available through a church.

    Oh, and even in those circumstances where John Piper will grudgingly recognized the necessity of divorce, he would not permit the wronged partner to remarry. Yes I’ve read his book.

    Courts may not work perfectly in every instance, and I will allow that there is the occasional miscarriage of justice, but at least concerted efforts are exerted at all levels of government to see to it that the courts are effective, available and, increasingly, affordable. Churches on the other hand? When it comes to spouses who have been robbed of all that life ought to be, beaten down and often beaten up, and sometimes even stripped naked in the course of forced sex, church leaders don’t just pass by on the other side of the road. The join join the offenders in their assaults, and then join them as bosom buddies as they travel on to Jericho.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Lydia,

    I find it interesting that Billy Graham started at Bob Jones and transferred to Wheaton. John Piper started at Wheaton and moved on to somewhere else. Unfortunately, it would seem that time spent at Wheaton does not fully protect one from the siren call of Liftonesque evangelicalism (also know as fundamentalism, but there is another thread discussing that).

    What do you think? Is Piper guilty of what Lifton’s “loading the language,” which I understand to mean interpreting or using words and phrases in new ways so that only insiders can understand? Is part of the appeal of Piperism that one can feel special and included simply by figuring out how it is exactly that Piper is using words?

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  28. Randy,
    I have found in abuse situations that I would far rather go to the police than the church. The church wants to put a bandaid on the open wound and say now everything is alright and we really don’t want to hear about this further. Or they want you to go to marriage counseling which is not recommended for abuse situations. The injured spouse is not free to speak in a combined session for fear of what will happen when they go home. Can a person walk through a restraining order? Of course they can, but in most cases it gives them pause to think about the situation and stay away for a while.

    When JP talks about the wife talking sweetly to a man who wants her to have group sex, I want to throw up. It is ridiculous advice and she should hand him his walking papers for even bringing up such a heinous act. Being an abuse survivor, I find his chuckle at the question disrespectful to all of us who have survived and a desecration of the graves of those who did not survive. Just because an abuser claims to be a Christian doesn’t mean they are. They certainly do not have the heart of Jesus if they are treating their family in that manner.

    JP has a permanence view of marriage. It is not biblical. When a man hits his wife, keeps her from her family and friends, does not allow her no to be no, demands submission, etc., he has broken the covenant of the marriage vows. He shows her no love. I could write a book here, but I don’t believe for one moment that it would make any difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Oh, and even in those circumstances where John Piper will grudgingly recognized the necessity of divorce, he would not permit the wronged partner to remarry. Yes I’ve read his book.

    Gary, I don’t believe that Piper (or Voddie Baucham) ever recognize the necessity of divorce. They would say to permanently separate, but never divorce. I got into this with Voddie Baucham via e-mail and he has a sermon up at sermon audio about this.

    Brenda: I changed your name on the one comment and removed your other comment. All is well.

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  30. Tim, I’m not familiar with the essay you mention. I do recall that Screwtape Letters makes reference to a department (or some such) in Hell that is dedicated to the task of changing the commonly understood meanings of words. My own opinion is that the commonly understood meanings for save and faith are corrupt. It isn’t too difficult to communicate the idea that to save means to heal and to make whole, in addition to rescue from punishment.

    The minions of the abyss have had greater success in getting us to accept the idea that faith means really really believing, and nothing more. When I stumbled over the part of my wedding vows where I plighted my faith to my wife, I was pledging to be faithful to her, and probably to trust her, and look to her and only her for all that is appropriate to receive from only one’s spouse. To believe in Jesus means much the same. There can be no faith without faithfulness. And it is faith/trust in and faithfulness to a person, not a set of doctrines. I suggest that the word fealty is fairly well suited to communicate the Biblical sense of the word or words we translate into English as faith.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. I’ll have to see if I can locate The Inner Ring.

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  31. Is part of the appeal of Piperism that one can feel special and included simply by figuring out how it is exactly that Piper is using words?

    That’s a good question.

    There is an insider feel to his language, for sure. I wonder, though, if the point of that is to create insiderism, or is it to create new definitions altogether intended for all to use? I mean, is he embarking on a massive reeducation program of sorts for the masses? A sort of Piperian Newspeak.

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  32. “I don’t believe that Piper (or Voddie Baucham) ever recognize the necessity of divorce. They would say to permanently separate, but never divorce.”

    Well, they at least recognize that one can separate. Other than that, it is fairly difficult to see how they would treat women any different than slaves. Really, their view of marriage looks very much like involuntary servitude. How very handy for abusive husbands.

    Well, off to read The Inner Ring, which I have located.

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  33. Julie Anne,

    I’m curious about something, and maybe you’ve already done this somewhere and can steer me in the right direction.

    When I read the term “abuse” here, what exactly does it mean? Who determines what is and isn’t abuse? Murder I get – death either is or isn’t. Theft is more or less black and white. Same with adultery.
    But what about abuse? Is it true that every time I’m offended I’m abused? Or if I offend, am I abusing? Physical abuse seems a little more clear, sexual abuse is clear, but emotional abuse seems so foggy to me. I know it exists – I’m not denying it. But is it possible to be abused and not know it? Or to think I am and really am not?

    I hope you know from my other comments I’m not stirring up trouble or being weird, I really want to know if there is some objective definition to work from. The reason I ask is because Piper here seems to have a rap as being potentially abusive in these tweets, and I’m just not understanding how. I understand them differently than many commenters here, I see that!

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  34. I wouldn’t consider offending someone as abuse. When I think of abuse, I think of someone uses their position, or an assumed position of authority over someone inappropriately or in a way to control them. I also believe that people who twist Scripture to mean what they want or use their own opinions as “God’s way,” can be spiritually abusive.

    His carelessness with his words, because of his status as a well-respected authority/pastor can cause great harm to people. Some will have a crisis of faith because of the flippant way he talks about human suffering.

    Take a look at this tweet:
    ” The ugliness and desperation of every disease is meant by God to show us the ugliness and desperation of our sin.”

    To me, this tweet paints God out to be evil – almost like God gives us or allows us to have horrific diseases to force us to see how sinful we are. Since we know Piper believes that God controls every molecule, this seems to imply that God planned disease to happen.

    That makes one logically ask the question: what kind of loving father plans for his children to have diseases or suffer through catastrophic events?

    You can extend that thought to: God allowed my rape or my abuse to happen?

    See how far you get with that thought in talking with a rape victim.

    I know there are some Reformed folks who read/post here and a many of them have problems with Piper’s wording. It’s like his haven is in suffering. It’s easy for him to sit in his cozy house and tweet about devastating tornados, diseases, and human suffering, and talk about how glorious it is. (One of his favorite words.)

    If we look at a pastor’s role – to reflect Christ – to guide people to Christ, if they are leading people away from Christ by their words, their own ideas instead of scripture, yes, that can lead to spiritual abuse.

    We already mentioned his stance on abuse/divorce. Although that was not the subject of these tweets, one can surmise that some women, trying to be godly, will heed his words and remain in an abusive marriage (for a season – as he says) and it could cost them their life. I would view this as spiritual abuse. God would never want a woman to be left in harm’s way. This is his opinion and putting his spiritual spin on things in an authoritative way, so yes, I would consider those words to be spiritually abusive.

    I hope that explains it a bit, Joe.

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  35. Thanks, most helpful.

    Suffering is such a difficult subject. It exists, and it’s hard to reconcile with an Almighty God. I won’t drag this thread through another circle other than to leave these texts,

    Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended [by God] for their faith… (‭Hebrews‬ ‭11‬:‭35-39‬ NIV)

    So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭19‬ NIV)
    Anytime we talk about bad things and God wanting or not wanting them to happen, we have to at least do something with these difficult texts. And don’t read that as me saying stay in an abusive relationship. I’m just saying suffering in general exists – cancer, miscarriages, and Christian women being raped in foreign nations because they are Christians – and we know God sees it, we know He is able to prevent it – so what do we say when He doesn’t? How can we explain it? God didn’t want it to happen but he’s so committed to your abusers freedom that he refused to stop it? That’s my dilemma

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  36. Joe,

    You might want to check out the definitions of abuse at http://www.churchexiters.com/spiritual-abuse/. Along the same lines see the definition at http://cryingoutforjustice.com/, where the element of the abuser’s sense of entitlement is highlighted.

    These definitions tend to emphasize those relationships in which the abuser has power over his victim. While this may be the ordinary situation, one can imagine circumstances where it is not true. For example, if an ordinary congregant who is not in a place of church authority to slanders and shuns another congregant, for whatever reason, they are abusing.

    Often times pastors, or maybe I should say “pastors,” will heap shame and blame on a wife whose husband is cheating on her, refusing to support her, physically assaulting her, or even “just” verbally degrading and tearing her down. In such a case, both the husband and the “pastor” are engaging in abuse.

    My position is that, as between Christians, every attempt to exercise coercive authority is abuse. Only love is permitted. As between Christians, authority is appropriate only to protect, never to have one’s own way.

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  37. Joe,

    Surely the best resource on the question why God permits suffering is the Book of Job. But be prepared to be disappointed. Others may see more clearly than I, but what I get from Job is that we don’t get to demand an answer to the question of suffering. Nor do we get to assign blame to God. To trust Him, to align ourselves with Jesus in trusting obedience, even in the face of suffering, is part of what faith is all about. I am convinced good is brought from all suffering, at least for those who obey, without which there is no faith.

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  38. Randy, you said: “Come on now, does anyone really believe JP worships Calvin as God?”
    Well, yes, actually, I do. He gets all emotional over Calvin, to the point where it is simple outright idolatry. I would go so far as to say that I have grave doubts that Piper has ever been genuinely converted to Christ; indeed, he bears every mark of the likes of a Simon Magus.

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  39. Ah yes, Simon Magus. Acts 8:9-24. Attempted to purchase position and power within the early church. Hence, the word simony. Ties in with the C.S. Lewis essay to which Tim points us, “The Inner Ring.” http://www.lewissociety.org/innerring.php. We might translate the essay’s title into American English as “The Inner Circle.” Oh what compromises we are prone to indulge in order to be admitted to the in crowd.

    What has Piper sold in order to be admitted to the ranks of Evangelical/Reformed stardom (Mahaney, Mohler, Dever, Driscoll…)? Some would say that, in sticking with his gang, refusing to call to account, Piper has sold his integrity. Lewis warns us of such pitfalls. I submit that the Bible also warns us against the pursuit of a place in the inner circle: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44 ESV)

    Salvation belongs to those who believe. John 3:16. It becomes a salvation issue. As is not unusual, I must be careful lest I condemn myself.

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  40. Thanks, Tim. Checked out your blog article, although I confess I didn’t play the Jackie Wilson video. There is much to contemplate here. On the one hand we appear to be created with a God-given need for connection, so that it is no more sin to need and receive love and acceptance than it is to eat. See e.g. http://brendafindingelysium.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/connection-as-remedy-for-addiction.html where it is suggested that connection is the remedy for addiction. On the other hand, just as we can become gluttons where food is concerned, so also we can become addicted to the pursuit of social status.

    My suspicion is that the pursuit of admission to the Inner Ring (or Inner Circle) is a good deal more related to the topic spiritual (and other) abuse than is immediately apparent. For one thing, I expect spiritual abusers use our need for love and acceptance to manipulate, and that the manipulation is much more effective where it’s targets are on the outside wishing they were on the inside–as well as when the targets are, or believe they are, on the inside and fear being sent into exile.

    Much to think about. Thanks.

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  41. Gary your paragraph on spiritual abuse/manipulation and our desire to be on the inside (or to stay there once admitted in) is what C.S. Lewis explored at length in “That Hideous Strength”, the third installment of his Space Trilogy.Much of the story revolves around the horrible inner ring trying to take over everything. It’s my favorite of the three books in the series, and is somewhat like a novelization of what he’s getting at in his essay “The Inner Ring”.

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  42. Tim, what do you think? Would it make sense to just dive right into “That Hideous Strength,” or would it be better to reread the volumes in order? I read Lewis’ Space Trilogy some 40 years ago, and don’t at all recall whether or to what extent one volume builds on the previous volume/s.

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  43. I’ve re-read them more times than I can count, Gary. I always start with the first and read my way through. The story arc is rich, and they build from start to finish so powerfully.

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