God Loves You. That’s Why He Might Kill You. Sincerely, John Piper. June 7, 2019

God Loves You. That’s Why He Might Kill You. Sincerely, John Piper.

Author and preacher John Piper receives lots of spiritual questions through his website “Desiring God.” Recently, he responded to a question from a reader about why God would “punish” some of his children by ending their lives early.

Let’s just say that Piper’s response doesn’t do much for God’s PR…

That is not a healthy relationship for anyone

Piper elaborated on his website, but it didn’t make his case any stronger.

Let’s be sure that we know God does discipline his children with more or less painful things in their life

… It happens at different levels. For some, it’s weakness. For some, it’s illness. For some, it’s death. Don’t forget the words “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” If he makes us weak, he’s loving us. If he makes us ill, he’s loving us. If he takes our life, he’s loving us.

This is all very consistent with the Calvinist view that Piper operates from: As humans, we are wretched, depraved creatures who always make God angry or sad with our awful life choices. This leaves God no other choice but to punish us; we deserve nothing else.

My answer goes something like this. God knows the best way to bring about in his children (1) a love for his absolute holiness, (2) a hatred of our bent to sinning, (3) gratitude for his amazing grace and patience in our lives, and (4) a passion to trust him in every circumstance of life. He knows the best way to do this.

So, let’s be careful that we don’t decide what’s best and tell him how to do it. We watch him and learn what’s best. He knows best how to produce these great wonders in his church. We shouldn’t second-guess him.

Got that, children with cancer? Guy who just lost his family in a car accident? Survivors of a mass shooting? You should all just take it in stride because God’s trying to teach you a lesson. Piper really has a gift for making God as unappealing as possible. Somehow, in his view, God is being loving. But healthy, loving relationships — spiritual or otherwise — aren’t predicated on punishment.

Thankfully, Piper’s view here is not the only one in Christianity. Most Christians I know believe that, per Matthew 5:45, “The rains fall on the just and unjust alike.” And we may never know why. That view isn’t any more “correct” to atheists, of course, but it’s undoubtedly better than Piper’s outlook on life.

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