There is a place for theology. Theology gives form and structure to our knowledge and experience of God. But when theology, or more precisely, a certain brand of theology, sets itself up as the end-all, be-all of our experience of God, such that there is nothing whatsoever that we can say about God with any degree of legitimacy unless it can fit somewhere in the grid of this particular system of thought…that’s a problem.
John Piper has been on my shit list ever since “Farewell Rob Bell” a few years back, and he remains thus to this day. What I offer you today is a perfect illustration of why.
About a year ago Piper responded to a question from a female reader struggling with an eating disorder and related feelings of bodily shame and self-hatred. In a staggering display of just-don’t-get-it-ness, Piper suggested that there are instances in which bodily shame and self-hatred are perfectly appropriate–specifically when the body tempts you to sin. Basically, Piper just blew right by all the human dimensions of the situation at hand–completely ignoring the sight of this woman struggling with an eating disorder and the related feelings of shame and self-hatred and crying out for help to a trusted pastoral figure in her world–and went straight for what could fit nicely and tidily into his theological framework, along with chapter and verse to back it up.
But enough from me. I am a blogger, and as such it is part and parcel of my unique calling and vocation in life to offer my unsolicited opinion on subjects about which I know nothing. But even I have my limits. I defer to Hillary McBride, who has had her own struggles with an eating disorder and now counsels others who are in that place. In an open letter written in response to this, she goes straight to the human dimensions of the situation which Piper seems so eager to dismiss, and lays out why Piper’s comments are inappropriate and even dangerous.