On December 22, pastor John Piper wrote a response to the impassioned speech given by Jerry Falwell Jr. at Liberty University in Virginia. In his speech Falwell urged students to arm themselves as a response to the increase in ISIS attacks, rightly so.
Piper, on the other hand, took the opposite position asserting that we are not to exact vengeance and instead, Christians should further the kingdom of God by loving others as we love Christ- even if it means letting someone beat us to death or watching someone murder our spouse. I have nothing personal against Piper. I do, however have a problem with a pastor telling his congregation to put down their weapons and instead adopt pacifistic attitudes. Piper’s belief that Christians ought not use lethal force when faced with harmful adversaries goes contrary to what the Bible teaches and such pacifistic attitudes are exactly what terrorist groups like ISIS thrive on.
A major issue I have with the article is that Piper seems to be equating self defense with vengeance, citing Romans 12:19. However he never references Exodus 22:2 which condones lethal force when attacked with lethal force- “If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltniness on his account.” I can’t even imagine a world where Christians simply allow a criminal to break into their house and give up their lives willingly. In fact, I think it goes against our natural, God-given instinct to preserve life, be it our own or a loved one. Okaaay, maaaybe we could let the thief or terrorist murder us, if it was only us or it meant that our families could escape harm, but could you still argue for the morality of such a “sacrifice” if it only enabled the criminal to commit more heinous acts in your neighborhood or city? Could you really justify your action of loving your enemy while they wickedly killed your spouse and three kids? I didn’t think so. The Ten Commandments also explicitly tells us “Thou shall not murder”, a commandment that is most definitely broken by those who sit back and do nothing as people are injured and murdered.
And here’s where Piper misses the mark. No where in his response does he mention that little tiny commandment in the Bible “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19:19) which should put any hug-a-criminal notions to rest. Instead of letting protection rest in the hands of a few policemen who have an average response time of 11 minutes, we are called to protect and love others as we love ourselves. This means using force against force, sometimes our own guns.
I’m not trying to say Piper suggests we all line up like lambs for the slaughter, but his comments are alarming and destructive in nature if carried out-
And there is no direct dealing with the situation of using lethal force to save family and friend, except in regards to police and military.
Wait, what? He goes on to say that “our weapons are not material, but spiritual” and that “exhorting the lambs to carry concealed weapons with which to shoot the wolves does not advance the counter-cultural, self-sacrificing, soul-saving cause of Christ”. If this logic were carried out, Christians would have no basis for resisting even something so horrific as a genocide. If Piper is more concerned about loving the enemy, instead of protecting the innocent, if we are to disregard petty things like life on earth, why not allow suicide in hospitals or allow abortion on any terms?
One question I want to ask Piper is if he really thinks he’s going to sit back and let a thief, heaven forbid, hurt his wife. The answer is surely not because any rational person in that situation is going to love as Christ loved and choose to protect the innocent over the criminal.
Others have criticized Piper’s views, including Pastor Steve Wedgeworth of Christ Church in Lakewood, Florida who concluded that, “…his logic is badly confused, as he fails to distinguish between the spiritual and temporal realms, misunderstands the civic role of the family, and conflates the question of preservation of life with vengeance and bloodlust in general.” and that “Terrorism and mass shootings are also extremely relevant, and Christians should work to build a coherent philosophy of civic duty.”
The views Piper holds are already applied for us in the public sector, where “gun free zones” only become the next San Bernardino or Sandy Hook. Like “gun free zone” signs won’t deter any terrorist or criminal, inaction won’t deter a criminal or terrorist either.
That’s why ISIS continues to grow in America. Instead of calling it evil, we are told by progressives that all religions are equal and commit atrocities on some level. We are asked to minimize our microagressions and understand the terrorists instead of holding them accountable for their wicked acts. Our pacifist or politically correct policies are to blame for the rise of the Islamic State and I hope we begin to understand that our duty isn’t to comfort the criminal, but to safeguard our citizens.