@JohnPiper: “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
@JohnPiper: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” Job 1:20
It did not take John Piper long to weigh in on the tragic events in Moore, Oklahoma this week. When something tragic happens in our land, it does not take him long at all to hit the airwaves or the blogosphere with a ready explanation of what God is doing in the midst of it. These two tweets came out on Monday, the evening of the storm.
Many bloggers criticized Piper earlier this week because they only saw the first tweet. This was inappropriate and unfair because the second tweet supplies some needed context for the first, and it is never good form to quote selectively when criticizing someone.
There’s still a problem here.
The problem is this: These two tweets, as well as other pronouncements from Piper in the aftermath of similar tragedies in recent years, proceed from a theology of divine sovereignty that is more at home in Islam than in anything remotely resembling biblical Christianity.
Did Piper speak too soon? That is a common criticism, and one which is well deserved. But would Piper’s words be necessary and appropriate after the nation and the victims in Oklahoma have had some time to heal and gain perspective, say, in a couple of weeks or a couple of months?
No. Piper’s words would be just as inappropriate then as they are now.
Piper holds to a view of divine sovereignty which says, as R. C. Sproul put it, “There are no maverick molecules”. In this view, every single molecule in every storm on the earth is set in its path by God. Every decision made by people that brings misery and heartache into the lives of others who are affected is ordained by the God who holds the hearts of all men in His hands. The pious response may be to shut up, fall down and worship (Job 1:20), but it doesn’t take much to get to seeing such a God as a cynical, dispassionate being who plays dice with His creation and is untouched by the grief and misery of His people. Even worse–a God who is not above fucking around with nature, politics, the economy, or whatever, just to score a theological point or two. Is such a God really worthy of worship?
But Piper misses the larger point of the book of Job, and it is this: There are no explanations. In the face of God Himself, all attempts at explanation prove to be woefully inadequate. Even the view that “There are no maverick molecules”.
You don’t have to understand. You don’t have to explain. You can’t even begin to.
For a more detailed explanation of how the theology of God’s sovereignty expressed in Piper’s tweets is at odds with the message of the book of Job, read “John Piper, Miserable Comforter” at internetmonk.com.