The news of the day in the conservative Christian world easily has to be the open letter from John Piper to Jerry Falwell Jr. about Falwells comments on Christians and guns and the letter back from American Vision’s Dr. Joel McDurmon and a letter written in 2008 by Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries to John Piper explaining to Piper the Biblical response to responsible self defense of the Christian and how maybe some of Pipers letter may have gotten scripture wrong.
First of all let us set our players so everyone knows what the heck is going on here. John Piper is educated in seminary and is the founder of desiringgod.org. He is a prominent speaker and is held widely as having quite the knowledge of Biblical theology an authority worth listening to in short when it comes to many things in Christianity Piper is the one to listen to.
Jerry Falwell Jr. is the son of Jerry Falwell Sr. the founder of the moral majority that was so instrumental in the 80’s and 90’s with guiding the political moral fiber of this country, it seems Jr. has not fallen far from the tree. Falwell is now president of Liberty University the college Sr. founded.
Falwell spoke out on how Christians need to learn how, know and use guns for the coming future. This of course set out a barrage of negative discourse among liberals and liberal Christians a few weeks ago and Piper has weighed in on the Falwells speech as well.
What makes this a big deal is why Piper would bother to get into this kind of conversation. A conversation that one would surly loose if you understand the Biblical construct of self defense and the knowledge of why conservative Christianity backs these kind of ideas. It tells a lot about Piper, it tells us either Piper has completely misunderstood Falwell (which is the belief I hold) or the liberal cracks are beginning to show in Pipers theology (which is the belief I hold as well).
I will confess I don’t know Piper and Falwell extremely well. What exposure I have had with Piper is negative at best. Watching him on a round table Q&A show hosted by Ligoneir ministries it was very front and center that Piper was acting liberal as he tried to defend a subject on social liberalism opposing the conservative view, a viewpoint that would only be rational in a perfect world and we don’t live in a perfect world.
Now don’t get this wrong this is not a scathing attack on John Piper for talking bad about guns. Much like Glenn Beck Piper has entered an arena he ought not to tread.
Glenn Beck is probably in the top three most brilliant persons in the conservative political movement. His understanding of politics is beyond most and mainly because he has values. But when Beck steps into the arena of religion and theology he immediately becomes a 4 year old and understands nothing of the God of the Bible, religion in general even his own and nothing of theology.
Piper is the same, in theology and understanding the Bible and God he is a giant and deserves nothing but respect. As soon as Piper enters that field of politics and social understanding of the secular man his wisdom drops to that of an 8 year old. Yes he can take and quote scripture to try and defend his case but his liberalistic ideas hold him back. He does not understand the conservative idea of social issues and thus I think Piper misunderstands those points of scripture, note this is nothing that anyone has not done no one is immune to this.
Why is this important why do we care and should we care? Well yes we need to care when a giant in theology attacks Christian conservatism because our theology partly rest on these ideas.
I suspect Piper does understand what he is doing he is a brilliant man but my question is does Piper really misunderstand this issue or does he want to believe this way. Better defined does Piper want the scripture to say something it might not be saying because this is what he believes in his social political beliefs.
Theology aside politics matters, I have said this before politics is woven in the fabric of the country and our lives because we are given the freedom to be a part of the freedom.
I have said before liberal Christians will often leave their politics for their liberal religion while conservative Christians will not, they hold to both the theology and the politics that allows the freedom of ideas. This is why conservative Christians have spoke out against Pipers letter to Falwell. It is not because they want to take down a theology giant but because it matters and we care what Piper says and believes. Conservatives don’t hate Piper they are concerned for Piper and how his words affect society.
John Pipers view is nothing new, I have read many blogs and articles from liberal Christians as to why we should not own guns, most of these bloggers will give away to self defense but some still hold that we must lay our weapons down for Gods trust it is not us that exacts the punishment.
I urge you to read both Dr. Whites and Dr. McDurmon’s response letters to Piper to fully understand the conservative Christian’s view. Again I am not deterring anything from John Pipers Biblical theology and understanding; I personally am a 2 year old when it comes to theology compared to Piper. What I am pointing out is when Christians like Piper take scripture out of context or misunderstand scripture it feeds their ideology and that is not good. Whether it was done on purpose or the fact Piper wants to believe this it still is not good.
We all have misunderstood or taken scripture out of context, it is easy to do but we have to remember as Christians we are in this together and being divided serves no one.
With that said this just shows there is a battle of conservative and liberal ideas in the Christians community and there will be casualties for things said.
Piper brings so much to the table of Christian theology, evangelism and teaching just as Glenn Beck brings so much to the political table but people have to understand their strengths that God has blessed them with and try not to stretch those muscles beyond their capability. Most of all truth must reign first and only first both in Christianity, theology and the social arena.