NOTE: The following is protected by federal copyright law and is an excerpt from the book Marxianity written by Brannon Howse and is not to be published online. The footnotes that document the content in this article are found in the book Marxianity or the eBook.
No issue seems to be safe from Piper and others used by the progressive left. Regarding Second Amendment rights, for example, John Piper has this to say:
[quote] If there is someone in your church clamoring for you to show them from the Bible that they have a right to carry a gun and defend themselves and their family from suffering, by all means spend ten cents dealing with that . . . Because you don’t need the Bible and you don’t need the Holy Spirit to encourage human beings to defend themselves . . . They are so ready, you “just tell me it’s okay, because I want to do it.”
And so does the world, without the slightest need for regeneration or the Holy Spirit or the Bible. So yeah, by all means, give it ten cents. . . . I’m going to get emails about this. They’re going to say, “Oh, there you go again, Piper, confusing a burglar breaking into your house with Christian persecution.”
I said, “I'm not confusing that. I said give it ten cents. “
. . . The world does not ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you if you tell them it’s in your holster . . .
Nobody’s going to get converted by Christians being savvy when the Muslims show up. No, they’re not. And talking like that does us no good. [end quote]
It’s strange that a pastor would say, “You don’t need the Bible and Holy Spirit to encourage human beings to defend themselves.” Making a blanket statement like that is clearly wrong. I have found that one of the most common questions people want Worldview Weekend to address is: what is the biblical worldview on the issue of self-defense?
Many people struggle with this. They rightfully struggle and are conflicted about the idea of taking a person’s life. They want to know what they should do if they ever find themselves in a situation where their life or the lives of family, friends, or other innocent people are at risk, and they have the power to do something about it. I’ve often used the Bible to explain to people: “You do have the biblical right, if you deem it necessary, to use force—deadly force—to defend yourself or the life of your family and friends and the innocent people around you.”
The Bible absolutely speaks to the issue of self-defense. The Old Testament says that if someone breaks into your house and his blood is shed, there’s no guilt on your hands. We not only need the Bible to clarify a biblical worldview on the issue of self-defense, we also need the Holy Spirit to help us understand the text we’re reading. So, it’s foolish to say we don’t need the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide people on the issue of self-defense.
And with his concluding remark about “when the Muslims show up,” Piper brushes off the terrorist threat. When a violent incident occurs, “conversion” of the perpetrator is not the salient issue. A Christian friend of mine with a military background and extensive firearms training shared this perspective with me:
[quote] If I’m in a restaurant and someone comes in and starts shooting and I do nothing, and later it’s found out that I was armed and proficient and could’ve saved innocent lives, and it also turns out that I’m a Christian, you don’t think that that’s going to be a bad testimony? You mean, “Sir, you sat there, with your training, with your firearm, with your carry permit, and you could’ve stopped the slaughter of innocent people, but you didn’t do that?” You don’t think that’s a bad testimony? Indeed, I think it is. [end quote]
To that, I would add the question: what if that armed Christian were to stand up and in the process of stopping a gunman were to be shot and die? Would that not also be a testimony? A Christian who was legally carrying a weapon sacrificed his life so others might live sounds a lot like, “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” So, the broad brush that no one gets converted by being savvy when the Muslims shows up is nothing but a straw man argument. It’s irrelevant to the issue at hand.
Piper, though, is insistent on keeping us from the testimony of sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others who may be in danger. In a roundabout way, Piper explains that he thinks Christians should eschew guns:
[quote] So, I thought, if somebody enters my house as a thief, he probably is not ready to go to heaven either. So . . . I hope you don’t take your economic stimulus money and buy a firearm. I’ve never had one, never owned a firearm. Had a pellet rifle when I was little, and I killed squirrels, and I’m sort of ashamed of the way I killed squirrels, because I didn’t eat them and didn’t do anything with them. I just felt it was cool. And I don’t think that’s a very wholesome thing.
No, I’m not a pacifist. I’m not a pacifist principally; I’m not a pacifist actively. So, somebody asked me, “So would you protect your daughter if you had a gun?” And I wrote back to him a one-word answer: “Probably,” meaning the circumstances are so unpredictable. What would you do? Would you shoot the guy in the head, shoot the guy in the chest, shoot the guy in the leg, or throw the gun at him, or hit him over the head with it, or—of course I’m going to protect my daughter. But I’m not aiming to kill anybody, especially an intruder who doesn’t know Christ and would go straight to hell, probably. Why would I want to do that if I could avoid it?
So, no, I’m not a pacifist . . . I believe there should be a militia. I believe there should be policemen with billy clubs and guns. They should take out guys who are killing people. And I believe in a military to protect a land from aggression. And I believe that fathers should protect their children, even using force, but if they can avoid killing somebody, of course they should avoid killing somebody, and having a gun is a good way not to avoid killing somebody. We don’t need guns in our house.
And I’m not against hunters, good grief. Don’t get on my case—just don’t write any letters about “Piper doesn’t believe you should have bows and arrows and rifles and hunting gear.” Of course, that’s a fully legitimate thing and I don’t even. I’m not going to get in your face if you have a gun lying in your drawer. I just think it’s not very wise. Those who live by the gun will die by the gun. [end quote]
At best, Piper is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Trying to decide where to shoot an intruder—or “hit them over the head” with your gun—is silliness, a mockery of the real issue, although he suggests that even he would defend his daughter. The real issue, though, is that if an intruder breaks into your house and you believe your life or that of your family is at risk, you’re not going to try to shoot the bad guy in the leg. If you go through proper training, you know that the best defense is to shoot at the center mass. With nerves shaken and adrenaline pumping in the moment, you’re likely to miss a target as narrow as a leg. Your goal is not necessarily to kill; it is to neutralize the threat. Then, according to Scripture, if the person dies in the process of breaking into your home, no guilt is on your hands.
Piper’s juvenile talk about deciding which body part to shoot at reflects the very thing William Sullivan warned about. Piper admits that he’s never owned a gun, so he’s obviously pontificating about something he is not competent to speak about.
It’s odd, too, that Piper would say he wouldn’t want to shoot an intruder because the intruder might die and go to hell. Such a position on the issue is seriously inconsistent for one who claims to believe in reformed theology. Piper’s confidence in election and predestination should assure him that the criminal’s fate is not in the hands of the shooter. If the intruder dies as a result of his or her criminal act and goes to hell, it should mean to a Calvinist that the person was not among the elect and had never been predestined to become a Christian.
It’s a great example of someone purporting to have doctrine all sewed up (orthodoxy) but having no real grasp on what they practice (orthopraxy). They can’t seem to apply their theology to the real world, so they end up with a theology that’s not lived out consistently in a meaningful way. But even this argument misses the real point of the Second Amendment. After all, what is its ultimate purpose? It is not for deer hunting, even though Piper apparently allows for that. The point of the amendment is to prevent governmental tyranny. Freedom exists when the government is afraid of the people. Tyranny flourishes when people are afraid of the government.
Meanwhile, we have Muslim terrorists, MS-13 gangs, and communist groups. American Christians had better be armed to defend the innocent, the elderly, the infirm, the sick, the widows, and the orphans. Yet, the best “non-pacifist” Piper can offer is to say, “A good way not to kill someone is to not have a gun.”
In most every way, Piper opens the door to the most insidious intruders of all by welcoming progressives into the church. It’s a bridge none of us should want to cross.