Author and pastor John Piper recently spoke at a Liberty University online convocation ceremony. That by itself isn’t particularly noteworthy, given that Piper is a conservative Christian. As fate would have it, that same week, he published an article explaining why he wouldn’t be voting for Donald Trump (though he didn’t plan on voting for Joe Biden, either). He basically said he couldn’t support Trump’s behavior, but he also couldn’t support the pro-choice platform of Biden.
He’s not alone in that thinking. For Christians who are single-issue voters and only care about abortion, Piper’s belief that neither candidate is worth supporting makes some sense. But at a school whose former president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., went all in for Trump, Piper’s refusal to fully support Trump — and act like that was an acceptable position for a Christian leader to take — was not appreciated.
The convocation video has since been removed from Liberty’s website.
Writing for Christianity Today, Kate Shellnutt reports:
Though he had called the president “morally unfit” in 2017, Piper isn’t in the habit of speaking out about politics or political candidates. His Twitter feed in recent months is almost entirely Bible quotes and Bible commentary. He’s mentioned Trump just a few times in the past couple years, mostly to pray for him in accordance to Scripture.
Two videos of a discussion with Piper and Southern Baptist Convention president J. D. Greear were removed from Liberty’s social media and its convocation page at the direction of interim president Jerry Prevo. Prevo cited negative feedback and the controversy surrounding Piper’s article, Lamb said.
The now-pulled convocation session was not politically themed.
Comments on Facebook posts promoting the Piper-Greear convocation appeared to be directed at both speakers. One Trump supporter called out “Calvinist heresy!” while several commenters decried “wokeness” and a “social justice agenda.”
Lamb said the feedback over Piper was “a controversy we did not seek out or desire” and came from “both those who would praise us for having him [and] those who would critique us from having him.” He said that it is possible the clips will be restored once the heat of the election season has died down.
The idea that Piper or Greear could reasonably be accused of “wokeness” is laughable. Greear’s most liberal position in recent memory was admitting that Black lives matter… without adding the phrase “All lives matter” immediately afterwards. If that’s the best he can do, well, let’s not pretend he’s some radical progressive.
The bigger story here is that, even with Falwell out of the picture, Liberty U. still holds true to his politics.
As we have posted many times on this site, Liberty is not a place known for independent thinking or openness to new ideas. It’s not surprising that administrators would take down a video of someone who doesn’t love their corrupt candidate as much as they do. (Why let students make up their own minds when administrators can do it for them?)
But it’s still shocking because Piper is a well-known and well-respected figure in conservative Christian circles. His opposition to Trump, though, is being treated like a form of spiritual heresy — something Piper is an expert in — which is further evidence of just how cult-like Trump’s followers have become. It’s not entirely surprising at a school where the Falkirk Center, a conservative “think tank,” still remains even as Falwell has resigned.