John Piper and Guns
For many years John Piper was something of a hero to me. I read everything he wrote and treasured my one chance meeting with him. Then came the Twitter age and, probably because both he (in his post-pastoral years) and I have shifted our theological emphasis, I find myself wincing at some of the things he has said. I say emphasis because we could probably sign the same doctrinal statement even as we differ in ways to live out that doctrine.
His tweets always seem to be glaringly offensive, such as his tweet to those who had lost everything in a tornado saying God had planned it, or gave dubious applications on secondary issues, such as his casting doubt on whether egalitarians can be saved. I’ve sometimes thought that Twitter just isn’t his medium.
Recently though he wrote a long post in response to Jerry Falwell Jr’s call for Liberty University’s students to carry guns so they can they could “end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.” It is one of the best things I’ve ever seen him write. It is both gracious to those who differ and a ringing endorsement of Christian reliance on God and not guns and power. It quotes some pacifistic verses from Jesus, Paul and Peter that were the hallmark of early Christianity and he stands in contrast to the way contemporary gun-loving evangelicals often explain away those verses. Here is my favorite quote from the article:
“I can say with complete confidence that the identification of Christian security with concealed weapons will cause no one to ask a reason for the hope that is in us. They will know perfectly well where our hope is. It’s in our back pocket.”
It comes as no surprise that several evangelical gun advocates are already trying to say that Piper has those troublesome verses wrong and it is perfectly OK to pack heat. For my part I think Piper is exactly right, even as I know full well that I could not fully live up to what the verses teach. His take on the question “Can I shoot my wife’s assailant?” is really good even though I feel pretty sure I would pull the trigger.
Piper’s article is long and thoughtful but worth reading. You can find it here. Way to go, John.