John Piper, Guns, Self-Defense

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by BayouHuguenot, Dec 23, 2015.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Is John Piper saying arming oneself is a sin?

    This paragraph is ambiguous.

    He acknowledges "situational ambiguities," but then he offers a number of reasons why someone "living the tenor of the Christian" life shouldn't ever kill. In which case, there are no situational ambiguities.

    His #2 argument almost carries water, except I dispute the point that a bad guy in a back alley, trying to kill and rape my family, is simply an "unjust situation."

    #3 argument: I dispute that every act of violence against a Christian is necessarily an act of persecution.

    #4 doesn't deal with self-defense.

    #5: Does loving my enemy mean letting my wife and daughter be killed and raped? Is the most loving act I can do for my enemy is letting him satiate his lusts?

    #6: Piper again confuses persecution with self-defense situations.

    #8.1 He says the NT 'resists that ethical reduction," but then he goes on to give just such a thing.

    8.4 is just confusing. Let's pursue it:

    (8.4*) Is Piper saying calling the police is an okay thing? He doesn't really make it clear but I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

    (8.4') When the police get there--if they get there in time--they will probably kill the assailant. My actions in calling the police led to the assailant's dying. Even though on his quasi-anabaptist ethics, where the state has the right to kill, the bad guy is still dead and I am partly the reason. I'm not sure the end result, on his principles, is any better.

    8.6 "nd I would be very slow to condemn a person who chose differently from me."

    I'm glad he said this, but it raises some problems:

    (8.6*) If I arm myself and proverbially kill the bad guy, did I sin? If yes, will I be placed under church discipline?
  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with you. I was disappointed with Piper's article on this topic.
  3. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I believe this poor article is the result of not understanding that a pastor is also a citizen who has a duty, like all men, to protect himself and neighbor. As a pastor he fights a spiritual battle BUT as a citizen he should be willing to fight a physical battle with a gun if need be.
  4. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

  5. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I've disagreed with Pr. Wedgeworth in the past on other issues, but he has a solid critique here.
  7. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    I too am very disappointed. As a woman who knows women who have been raped, he seems to overlook the responsibility of men to protect their women from rape. He never read John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime". Nobody can be an expert on everything. If he knew how much hand carry reduces rape and murder rates, I think he might reconsider. (Maybe not.)

    On another note, I have a relative who has been a cop for years and gave hubby and me gun lessons. He did however tell me that his experience is that a nice Christian woman with a gun will tend to freeze for a split second, while thoughts run through their head that they are about to kill and send someone to hell. And that split second freeze is enough to allow the crook to lunge and get the gun. You have to practice a lot at the range to get past the freeze reflex, and I hope Falwell doesn't do more harm than good. Maybe Liberty should offer Krav Maga classes.....
  8. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    You see Piper's radical division of the Old and New Testament, as if they were somehow two different religions; as if God had suddenly "mellowed out" in the New Testament and gave us a better ethic. Notice how many times he uses the phrase "New Testament" because he wishes to avoid looking at what the Old Testament might have to say. Ironically, he quotes Psalm 46 from the OT to try and make his case.

    Neo-Calvinists* like Piper also love to use the "radical transformation" bit as if no one in the Old Testament had a circumcision of heart. Dangerous stuff, and will lead you into heretical places as it directly reflects on our understanding of God's eternal and unchangeable nature, and how God saves His People.

    Fortunately, confessional types can easily see that the 6th commandment requires us to protect and preserve life. If someone wishes to harm my family, I have no problem dispatching them should they try to do so. Isn't it interesting to see how much care and concern that Piper has for the criminal, with little regard for the innocent? It's almost a kind of Eastern hyper-spirituality with very selective proof texting. If I recall correctly, he's always had this sort of poor understanding of lawful self defense, and how love of neighbor is expressed through the protection of our neighbor.

    Finally, I have no idea what this statement means, "Jesus died to keep that assailant from sinning against my family." I don't even understand what this could mean, but it sounds really alarming, theologically speaking.

    *Jacob and Daniel have rightly pointed out that New Calvinist is a more appropriate label for John Piper.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  9. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    As Romesh mentions, while somewhat unrelated from the OP concerning guns and self-defense, this dividing the Old from the New is one of the more serious problems in the evangelical church today, and it is not just Piper or NCT folks doing it. Even in confessional Reformed/Presbyterian circles there is a view of the OT, mostly seen in Redemptive-Historical analysis that sees to downplay, whether intentionally or not, the larger purpose of the OT in the Christian life. You can see this especially in the way passages in the OT are used in Christian ethics (see the 2nd and 4th commandment especially).
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I understand what you mean and agree, but "Neo-Calvinist" means someone in the Kuyperian tradition. I think Piper is more of a Young, Reformed, and Restless type guy.
  11. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    So does this mean Piper is a no longer a complementarian???
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    New Calvinist is probably the right term for John Piper et al.
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That's better.

    I understand he is reacting to Falwell Jr, and Falwell was no doubt crass about it. Though I have guns in my house and can use them (though for the record I can throw a hammer or h underhanded and hit a doorknob faster than most people can draw, aim, and fire accurately), I understand the difficulties. Unless you are mentally ready to take someone's life in a high-adrenaline situation, you might not realize what all is going on.

    On the flip side, if it is a home invasion and you have a 12 gauge pump shotgun and your attacker has to enter a narrow hallway, you might not have to worry about accuracy.
  14. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I am convinced that the people should have a right to own firearms; I am not, however, convinced that guns should be available at vending machines. Moreover, I do not think making someone do a firearms safety test is placing an undue restriction upon their rights; instead, it seems like a common sense application of the sixth commandment. What does the general equity of Old Testament personal safety laws have to tell us about the possession and use of firearms in the modern world?
  15. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm very glad that we don't have handguns easily accessable in Australia.
    I may regret this statement if we ever experience a war on our own soil.
    But until then, I'm happy to let our police officers carry for us.
  16. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    I think his charismatic emotionalism overtook his logic and right thinking.......
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I wonder if Ann Frank said the same thing.
  18. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    For our non-American friends, the larger point is not an issue of firearms; but any form of lawful defense of yourself or others.

    In the protection of your family, I doubt Piper would want you to drop an anvil on the criminal's head either. Or use a sword. Sorry, Knox - Piper disapproves!
  19. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I think the root cause is the desire to achieve some sort of false piety. This seems to be a common thing amongst new Calvinist types who are always seeking to be "radical." I suppose lying down and allowing the wicked to take your life and the lives of your loved ones is one more way to achieve this.
  20. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    I think he just has a different view on certain scriptures and you shouldn't assume his heart or motives.

    I have always been unsure on this issue. What do you say to all of the scriptures about not charging interest when lending, allowing people who take from you to take you tunic also, just paraphrasing the scriptures but how would you respond to scriptures like that biblically??
  21. Captain Picard

    Captain Picard Puritan Board Freshman

    You addressed two separate issues there. I think that typically, the prohibitions on usury had more to deal with in-built cancelation of debt in the Sinaitic code (like the Jubilee year) and "unjust indebtedness" than with "no interest whatsoever". If someone has biblical-historical contradiction to me, I'm sure they'll correct me. Jesus would have spoken against unjust levying of debt (or any other servitude) against your neighbor, that seems to be a clear Decalogue issue.

    The cloak passage, to my mind, cannot be absolutized. It's parabolic language arguing for radical generorsity, compassion, neighborliness and non-"othering" of gentiles as the normative expression of the Christian walk. It's not saying "please become the whipping boys of the sinful universe", that would run aground on numerous other passages.

    It's worth pointing out, as Steven Wedgeworth did in his response article to Piper, that Piper essentially threw up his hands and said the "sell your cloak and buy a sword" passage in Luke was some kind of "mystery text". E.G., Piper would assume a concrete definition of that text's normative teaching isn't knowable, but "turn the other cheek" is absolute. Paul didn't even turn the other cheek verbally when the high priest struck him, but rebuked him with divine curse (although he apologized for insulting a priestly authority later).

    As Rom pointed out, I think it's a grave error to say that Jesus died to "prevent" criminals from harming your family. Does he mean that no harm can befall them because they're going to heaven? Not only is it vague, but to turn our earthly lives into quests to die nobly and head to heaven seems, forgive me for the emotionally loaded term, gnostic.
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    The Westminster Larger Catechism condemns usury. And for what it's worth I've given away probably a half dozen good coats that I still used.

    This is part of Piper's problem. He is a good exegete and a bad ethicist. Like Doug Wilson, he has no unpublished thought. Like Doug Wilson, he doesn't have a coherent system that forces consistency. Unlike Doug Wilson, though, he doesn't protect pedophiles.
  23. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    :lol: Rom, you are no doubt probably the smartest guy I know, but you are also one of the wittiest!
  24. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    If I follow the logic of John Piper's argument correctly, then it is difficult to see what there is to prevent him from becoming a full-blown pacifist. If a man is not "loving his neighbour" by protecting his family with the use of fire-arms, then that raises the question of whether or not the civil magistrate is "loving his neighbour" by using physical force to protect his civil family (i.e. the country) from invasion and murder?
  25. Tirian

    Tirian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm puzzled to the rape in the dark alley analogy being used as a justification for killing someone in the name of "protecting" your wives and children.

    Why is your wife and your children in a dark alley in the first place?
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    It's been used as an example so often that it is a figure of speech. No matter, The rapist comes into your house. Same scenario.
  27. Tirian

    Tirian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Amen brother - let the magistrate do its God appointed job.
  28. Tirian

    Tirian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Same question then - why is there a rapist in your house? (because he overcame the locks) how did he overcome the locks? (because I bought cheap ones at the hardware store).

    In the end, our God-given need to protect mingles with a sense of vengeance. Instead of "I will be accountable for ensuring my home is secure" we are overcome with "anyone tries that with my wife or children and I will blow their brains to hell".

    I read Jon Pipers article as a cri de coeur rather than a water-tight case for change.

    It will take bravery to examine it in such a light.
  29. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    So, do you reject the Confessional understanding of the 6th commandment? You cannot accept Piper's reading and hold to the 6th commandment, plain and simple.

    Are you somehow implying it's my fault if a rapist breaks in my house, that any broken lock is a cheap lock? This is faulty logic and it seems to blame the victim.
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    How will the magistrate stop the rapist in that moment?
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