Piper's Sinful God

I saw that a video and post had been published on John Piper's Desiring God website that piqued my interest, "How to Know the Will of God," but I had determined (pun intended) not to give it attention. What Piper and his distorted theology is in no need of is more attention. However, having read a post from Dee at The Wartburg Watch, and from reading in the comments section some very painful reactions to Piper's latest contorted exegesis, I think a response is in order. Since this month is devoted to the life and teachings of Jacob Arminius (1559-1609) and the Remonstrants, I decided to allow Arminius to enter into the discussion of Piper's theology, especially since he has already addressed, four centuries ago, the very same issues raised by Piper when debating men like Franciscus Junius (1545-1602), William Perkins (1558-1602), and Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641).

He introduces his passage from which he will springboard into the topic of God's will and how we might know that will and live out that will within the context of renewed minds by grace through faith in Christ Jesus: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Rom. 12:1 NRSV) I will only address problems with Piper's exegesis and, even in that, I will not be exhaustive but only challenge those areas, so that anyone reading this post will not be overwhelmed, but able to assess and understand the issues at stake, and judge for him- or herself whether Piper's view of God is orthodox according to passages of Scripture which clearly contradict his claims.

Piper begins: "In other words, the aim of all human life is that God in Christ be displayed as infinitely valuable. That is what life is for, to live your life in such a way that by what you say, what you think, what you feel, what you do with your arms and your lips and your eyes and your legs and your hands, all will show he is more valuable than anything." (emphases added) Now, merely from assessing his own words, one can intuit that he is inferring that a renewed person in Christ is able to live life in such a way that, by whatever he or she does, he or she is the one performing the action -- the desire to live in such a fashion, as well as the actual volition to do so, is contextually within the tangible and ephemeral capability of the individual. So that, if one fails to live life in such a manner, then the only one who can be blamed is the person.

Why is this important? Because Piper's views on God's sovereignty contradict what he is preaching throughout this text. The Calvinist will not concede the contradiction, however, but rename the same as a mystery or an antinomy -- a seeming contradiction but an actual paradox. Compatibilists are infamous for using the antinomy card. When they cannot adequately articulate how God can control and decree every minutiae in our lives, and yet we remain free to do what God has decreed we do, such is not a contradiction but a mystery. More on this point below. From his inference that we are capable of choosing to please God, and actually please God, Piper proffers his philosophical meandering of the alleged two wills in God novel theory.

Since I have already addressed the nonsensical notion of the existence of two wills in God in the post, "Arminius Rejects the Two-Wills-in-God Theory: God in Confliction," what I want to briefly highlight from this false philosophy is the following: Worse than rubbish, this theory is deceptive in nature, an attribute quite unbecoming of a God of holiness, righteousness, integrity and truth. In actuality, the so-called two-wills theory perpetuates an inevitable Achilles heel, inherent within its own framework.

If the decretal or hidden will is that will by which God "absolutely wills [all events] to be done or not to be done," in meticulous, deterministic fashion, then the revealed will is not a will at all, at least, not in a proper sense. The alleged revealed will is no higher concept than wishful-thinking: it is entirely benign. The revealed so-called will is not a will at all, as it is in no sense whatsoever causal in nature, as is, allegedly, the hidden will. Moreover, as Arminius dismantles this inept and God's-character-assassinating theory, the entire concept can be disputed by emphasizing "whether a hidden will can be maintained in God, by which He may will to be done or not to be done what His revealed will wills not to be done or to be done."1 He notes that most Calvinists attempt to wiggle out of this logical necessity using varying, albeit deflated and defeated, means:
And it is wonderful [or something of a wonder to behold] in what labyrinths [think, philosophical and theological gymnastics] they involve themselves, blinded either by unskillfulness or by prejudice, or rather by both. But to those who rightly consider the matter it will be evident that the will of God is one and the same in itself, distinct only in its objects.2
What confliction must the Trinity experience in "willing" what actually occurs in the universe and yet "willing" that events could be different than what the Trinity has "willed" to occur. What inner turmoil must involve God's very being -- having decreed or, rather, having "willed" from eternity past all that shall, by absolute, divine necessity happen, yet also be "willing" that another reality could exist. The Calvinist God is schizophrenic.

Of course, our glorious God is not schizophrenic, and we understand that Calvinists have so distorted the God of Scripture that He is hardly recognizable. For example, Piper states, "You are saying that God's sovereign will that always comes to pass includes sin? Yes." Piper is forced into this deplorable mindset because of a priori notions that Calvinism logically and philosophically (not biblically) creates. Because God determined that His own Son would die for the sin of the world (John 1:29) -- and Jesus laid down His own life (John 10:18), so He was not forced into this scenario -- Calvin, Beza, Edwards, Piper, Grudem, MacArthur, Sproul and all other consistent Calvinists argue that God also decrees our sin. Forget that God is holy: He decrees sin. Forget that God is justice itself: He decrees sin. Forget that God is righteous in His very nature: He decrees sin. He, logically consistent within a Calvinist framework, both hates and decrees sin. Hence yet another example that the Calvinist God is schizophrenic and hardly recognizable from the God of Scripture.

Let us keep Calvinists consistent: every act of incest, rape, molestation, drug addiction, sex addiction, thievery, greed, lust, porn, abuse and whatever else can be named that properly belongs to the depths of hellish depravity belongs to the decree and the proactive bringing about of the Calvinist God. Again, I remain unconvinced that Piper and the Calvinist's God represents the God of Scripture, the God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How anyone can read the Bible and conclude that God decrees and brings about the most deplorable and heinous sins known to humanity can only be viewed as being inspired from the pits of Hades. If God really is holy, really is justice, then He has no vested interest in me or others sinning. Decreeing and bringing about sin and wickedness betrays His very nature.

Piper boldly confesses: "Throughout the Bible 'will of God' often means what he does and it always happens. God is sovereign. He decides what happens." (emphasis added) Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Hosea disagree. Imagine informing a sexual abuse victim that God decided that to happen and actually controlled every single circumstance to ensure its occurrence. Then imagine trying to inform the same victim that God is a God of love, holiness, justice and righteousness. Should the victim ask, "Do you mean that God will bring about justice and punish the man who abused me?" the answer can only be granted, "Perhaps: But God may also monergistically turn the man's heart around, and justice may never actually occur." Worse, however, is when the victim learns that God did not just decree and bring about the circumstances of her rape: God influenced the man's desire and decision to rape her.3 This is the truthful and loathsome nature of Piper's Calvinism! This is why Arminius argues for God's sovereignty devoid of pagan determinism.

The truth regarding the concurrence of God is a staple doctrine in Arminius' hamartiology (study of the doctrine of sin): "because nothing whatever can have any entity [being, existence] except from the First and Chief Being, who immediately produces that entity."4 (cf. Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3) Regardless, no one sins by decree, nor by God bringing sin or evil about by His alleged divine Will or Power. If Calvinism is true, and God has decreed, rendered certain, and brings about or influences our desires and decisions, then "God really sins," according to Arminius, because a person "moves to sin by an act that is unavoidable, and according to [God's] own purpose and primary invention, without having received any previous inducement to such an act from any preceding sin or demerit" (i.e., in Calvinism, God's eternal decree preceded the sin of any rational creature): thus "God is the only sinner"5 in the known universe. God forbid! Not only do Calvinists attribute sin and evil to God but they morph Him into a sinner Himself, which is beyond evil, and should in no sense be accepted by anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ.


1 Jacob Arminius, "Analysis of Romans 9," in The Works of Arminius, the London edition, three volumes, trans. James and William Nichols (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 3:505.

2 Ibid.

3 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1993), I.18.1. See also Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 319-30; Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, ed. Jeff Purswell (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 143.

4 Arminius, Works, 2:183.

5 Ibid., 1:630.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.