A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Shocking Revelation Concerning John Piper’s Theology

After the impossible experience that caused me to write the post When Matthew 18 Breaks Down, with no other options available, I filed a formal grievance in the PCA Presbytery against the pastors. Currently the Presbytery is investigating my claims of their misconduct. I do have a collection of documents to support my case and witnesses that can be called, so I know that my case is solid. It is encouraging that we are one step from an ecclesiastical trial at this point.

Having read Puritans, Reformers, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones for years, I was unaware of John Piper until I read of his oppressive doctrine here at A Cry for Justice. Curious about his writings, I read his book This Momentary Marriage earlier in the year and reviewed it on Amazon.

I was surprised to find similarities in Piper’s theology with the response that I received from my church. Their response was not to discipline as I expected from a church sworn to uphold the Westminster Confession, but rather, they chose to minimize the abuse and attempt to force me back into a dangerous situation to ‘preserve the marriage’. Although my husband was involved with another woman in addition to the abuse, I was sent a letter that I must remain unmarried for the rest of my life or be reconciled to my husband as Piper teaches. I am now convinced that the church followed John Piper’s doctrine over and above the official position paper or confession of the PCA church — and Piper is a Baptist!

I have come to realize that John Piper is writing the practical doctrine that a lot of churches follow, despite the fact that many denominations have confessions of faith, written by learned men, that have stood for hundreds of years. Could it be that his books are just more fun to read than historical documents? Piper’s books are peppered with unwholesome sex talk that I have never found in theology books before. Ultimately it is the sheep that suffer from such negligence by the shepherds.

Curious about the Lutheran Church’s response to domestic abuse, I contacted their information center and was impressed with the response that I received (see this post I wrote last August). I began to study Lutheranism by reading Concordia, the Lutheran Confessions. The confessions were written by Wittenberg theologians, including Martin Luther, to challenge the Pope’s corrupt church and they define the Gospel, and what isn’t the Gospel, with precision. Simultaneously, I was reading John Piper’s What Jesus Demands from the World, and I saw a startling similarity between the pre-reformation Catholic Church and John Piper’s doctrine. I found that the arguments of the Lutheran theologians are still applicable nearly 500 years later against John Piper’s theology! Through them it is evident that John Piper’s doctrine is not Reformed, not even Protestant, but pre-reformation Roman Catholic! I recently asked a Lutheran theologian to evaluate my review and he said it was ‘spot on’ with Lutheran theology. Can’t you see the parallels between the church forcing the abuse victim to ‘keep trying’ and the medieval church’s rules for works-righteousness that included crawling up the cathedral steps on one’s knees? That is exactly how I felt when I was under the church’s counsel laden with impossible burdens. No wonder we have suffered so terribly as a result of John Piper’s unchecked influence in the churches.

Here is my review of What Jesus Demands From The World at Amazon, and the same review at Christianbook.

Please read this review at both sites (and if you haven’t already, my review of This Momentary Marriage) and mark them as ‘helpful’. Comments left at the Amazon reviews are being read by our adversaries and statements will be especially helpful as we continue to lobby seminaries and denominational heads. We wish to hold them accountable for permitting their pastors to promote Piper’s false teaching from the pulpit and following his books as procedure in abuse cases. Through these reviews we are able to label dangerous books with a warning, and also draw attention to the problems that abuse victim/survivors face due to false teaching. Our goal is to create dialogue, hopefully resulting in reform.

If you would go one step further, it also helps to raise our review to the forefront by marking all positively-rated reviews for What Jesus Demands From the World as ‘unhelpful.’ You may also post your own scathing review of this book to help the gold stars more accurately reflect its content.

We can’t emphasize enough how much your help is needed. We have received few helpful responses from the theologians and it appears that they would prefer we just go away. We need your help to get them to realize that we are not leaving, we want reform!

***

For further reading

The book Not Under Bondage is packed with scriptural arguments for why the Bible gives three grounds for divorce: abuse, adultery and desertion.

Online articles that give scriptural reasons why Piper’s divorce doctrine is wrong:

The Bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse

God hates divorce? Not always.

Remarriage after divorcing an abuser — in a nutshell 

Abusive Marriages Portray God’s Covenant With His People? – Really?

How Diligent, Detailed Bible Study Can Sometimes Lead to Madness

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 2) — He Misuses the Law of God

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 5) — Working Your Way Through the Gate

John Piper’s Erroneous Teaching on the Unpardonable Sin

The compulsory pursuit of joy in Christian Hedonism = compounded mind control for victims of abuse

John Piper: Love your neighbour as yourself

Whitewashed Tombs

How John Piper’s theology allows domestic violence

A open letter to John Piper about his view on divorce

One Star Review of Piper’s book “This Momentary Marriage”

Good men: please denounce the Permanence View of Marriage that denies any reason for divorce.

John Piper’s “Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse” – are they helpful?

Two posts which show how Piper’s doctrine has had horrific effects on victims of domestic abuse:

A open letter to John Piper about his view on divorce

Open letter of thanks to Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts

38 Comments

  1. As I See It Only

    Well said, TPW! I will do as you ask and visit the Amazon site. Unless the heads of seminaries and denominations have their eyes opened, they will continue to incubate false teaching in their leadership. Just because a teaching is popular, doesn’t make it right! May they wake up and undo the harm that is being done in their churches for godly people are leaving in droves while they are left scratching their heads in bewilderment.

  2. Jeff Crippen

    This subject is of direct importance to every genuine Christian, and in many ways to abuse victims in particular. The theology Piper has embraced is what is driving his legalism, to which he is enslaving so many people. As we will prove in future posts, Piper believes in and teaches what could be called “double justification.” He has been teaching for a long time (and this is why he and Douglas Wilson are buddies) that good works are necessary for justification with God. He says so. He says that without these works, no one will be saved. So it is no wonder that his teachings have progressed to more and more outright legalism, such as his permanence view of marriage (no divorce for any reason ever). Piper’s “Christian Hedonism” which is a core theme of his Desiring God ministries, turns out to be very much less having pleasure in God and more so trying to make yourself acceptable to Him….or else.

    And to the degree that your pastor and members of your church are Piper fans, to that same degree you are going to be getting this same legalism preached to you.

  3. I am now convinced that the church followed John Piper’s doctrine over and above the official position paper or confession of the PCA church — and Piper is a Baptist!

    I wish Presbyterians would reconsider this course given what Piper says here:

    • Thanks BIT, I was just thinking yesterday that we needed to have that video clip on the blog somewhere, and this is the perfect post to have it in.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      He doesn’t think that preaching a “very confusing gospel” is preaching a false gospel? Hello. Anything that changes, adds to or takes away from the true Gospel, is a false Gospel. As for Doug Wilson, his gospel is false, as he teaches FV and that folks, is a false gospel. Being a “bright guy” does not make you someone who preaches the truth. Piper also states that it is “very complicated”, but we know the true Gospel is not complicated. Piper just doesn’t seem to be able to come to the truth. He is too afraid of offending the ones he ought to offend and would rather tickle their ears. But, if his own Gospel is twisted, how can he decide if anyone else’s is straight or not?

    • Wilson is “careful”? “Careful” like when he married a convicted pedophile off to an unsuspecting 22yo woman? “Careful” like when he used totally rape-y terms to talk about sex and implied that women who don’t do the dishes should be brought up on church discipline? Also, why does Piper sound so angry? Or does he always talk like that?

      As for FV, what little I’ve read about it (because it’s confusing as all get out) sounds like Wilson badly misunderstood Lutheran sacramental theology.

      • (because it’s confusing as all get out)

        Yay! It’s not just me!

  4. Good Amazon review. I always got this vibe off Piper too, and the people I’ve known who were really devoted to his teaching. You supposedly can’t do anything to merit salvation, but he then proceeds to load you down with a million guilt trips about whether you’re being “radical” enough. Sometimes these are downright silly things, like watching a movie with your family in the evening (from Don’t Waste Your Life – even though I couldn’t finish that book).

    Also, that’s really, really scary that he actually compares not agreeing with him about divorce to the unpardonable sin. That’s just…that’s just so bad I don’t even know where to start.

  5. Carmen S.

    I’ve never read any of John Piper’s books, but ignorance isn’t bliss, is it? He’s so respected and promoted in the reformed circles. Now I am asking myself “why”?

    In Pipers’ books he gives the appearance of quoting Scripture passages, but instead he replaces the defining phrases of the verses with ellipses to change the meaning of the legitimate meaning of the text into something he would rather it have said. Then he takes the passages out of their context, again, dramatically changing their meaning.

    Desiring God ( pages 53 and 54)
    Piper “quoting” Jeremiah 32: 40-41
    “I will make with them a everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them…I will rejoice in doing them good…with all my heart and soul.”

    [Barb’s addit — compare the whole text of those two verses:]

    I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:40-41, ESV)

    Christian Hedonism….Piper developed his philosophy by studying C.S. Lewis ( The Weight of Glory) first, and THEN went to the Bible and saw what he had never seen before.

    I look forward to the future posts about Piper’s theology.

    • I have seen the same tactic used in word of faith circles to not only take a verse out of context, but even a phrase within the verse. It is the only way to justify some aberrant theologies.

  6. The average pew-sitter does not understand this about Piper. The more we talk about it, the better.

  7. Carmen S.

    Piper admits that no one else had ever taught this philosophy before, except C. S. Lewis. It’s an extra-biblical source and it’s a “private” interpretation.

    2 Peter 1: 20-22 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

  8. MeganC

    Great article AND review, friend! And so very important. I hope that those who have ears really do hear.

  9. Carmen S.

    If divorce is the unpardonable sin according to John Piper, then what is saving faith according to John Piper?

    The PURSUIT OF JOY in God is not optional. It is not an “extra” that a person might GROW INTO after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is NOT SAVING FAITH. ( p. 69 Desiring God)

    “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

    “Joy” is not mentioned as a first requirement for salvation. John Piper’s heart has deceived him on so many levels, and then he brings this deception to the church. He’s a “celebrity pastor”, but the Church has always faced false teaching. How does God’s Word tell us to confront false teaching? I’m ready for some serious Bible study in that area!

    • Carmen, I formatted your comment a bit before publishing it; email me if you want me to tweak the formatting so that it better represents what you meant to convey. 🙂

    • Carmen, do you know if this is his “official” definition of saving faith? If it isn’t, do you know if he has one?

    • Another thing. What a terrible burden to place on someone in the throes of abuse. I would think joy would be an unimaginable luxury and certainly not something you would have the energy to pursue when you are so taken up with pursuing safety for yourself and your children. And then to say someone not engaged in the pursuit of joy does not have saving faith and therefore is not saved and is displeasing to God…. 😦

      • Bingo BIT!

        So as well as the wife sitting in the court corridor waiting for her protection order to be heard and feeling horribly guilty for
        a) ‘having given way to fear’ (contra the instructions in 1 Peter:3:6, as that verse is usually taught by the church)
        b) being on the salvation-shipwrecking precipice of considering divorce
        c) leaving her children in the hands of someone at the last minute while she fled to the police and then the court
        d) being ‘an abused woman’ one of those despicable creatures that must be stupid to have put up with it for so long. . . etc.
        She now has an addition reason to feel guilty: She Has Not Been Engaged In The Pursuit Of Joy! In her mind there is Piper’s Big Stick beating her over her head.

  10. Here is another good critique of Piper’s erroneous teaching, written in 2002 by John W Robbins. It confirms what The Persistent Widow says in this post and in her review of What Jesus Demands From The World.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200197a%20PiedPiper.pdf

    The fact that this review came out in 2002 is very concerning: — Why haven’t lots of supposedly orthodox theologians and senior pastors been backing up men like Robbins and publicising the grave concerns about Piper? Or, even if they don’t fully agree with Robbins, why are they not talking about these concerns and keeping the subject alive and rigorously debated in the evangelical community? Where are the watchmen? The fence is broken down in the sheepfold and the shepherds aren’t bothering to fix it. Why? What are they doing instead? Their duty is to protect the sheepfold and flock from heresy and dangerous teaching and they’ve been mostly silent, busy with other things.

    Since 2002 a whole crop of men (and a few women) have been through seminaries and been ordained into pastoral posititions; how many of them have heard that there are concerns about John Piper’s aberrant view of justification?

    BTW, I want to credit The Persistent Widow as the person who pointed me and the rest of the back-of-blog team to that review by Robbins.

  11. Carmen S.

    BIT,
    2012 Passion Conference in Atlanta,GA.
    “Believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all that he is. That is my definition of faith on the basis of John 6:35”
    Piper gave his definition of salvation, explaining one concept in three different ways. He said that saving faith is “seeing and savoring Jesus, being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus”.

    But BIT…why bother with saving faith, when in Future Grace Chapter 19 “How Many Conditions Are There?” Piper actually enumerates 11 conditions we must meet if we want any “future grace”. The Roman Catholic Church only has 7 conditions.

    • John 6:35 ESV, so readers can compare it with Piper’s definition of faith that Carmen quoted above:

      Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

    • He said that about John 6:35? Wow. So much for context, like you said above!

  12. Carmen S.

    Barb,
    Tweak away 🙂

  13. I am grateful for your positive reference to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s position on domestic violence and abuse. In fact, our church body has recently convened a task force to deal with this issue and is in the process of developing materials and a training program for our church at large. We hope to bring greater awareness to the issue as well as offer hope and healing to those who have suffered at the hands of an abuser. It is our belief that the Gospel must be proclaimed with great clarity in these instances with no additional burden being placed on a person already afflicted with unimaginable pain.

    • That’s wonderful news, Kim. If the LCMS wants to use any of the materials or resource list on this blog, feel free; you can see a brief note about our Republishing Policy on our About page. And if you need speakers or suchlike, we might be able to help out.
      Also, if the LCMS wants to purchase bulk copies of my book at a discount, just email me. But no pressure. 🙂 This is not a hard sell; I only want to help and encourage denominations that are wanting to spread the word and raise awareness in their congregations.

    • Thank you!!!

    • Just out of curiosity, Kim, how did you come to find our blog/this post? Don’t answer if you don’t wish to. You may be feeling like you don’t want to give details because it might put some victim of abuse in danger. 🙂

      • Someone from our church body came across your post and passed the information along to my office. We are so grateful for your kind words. As we move forward with developing our materials, I’ll be sure to stay in touch. It is of vital importance for the church to handle this topic effectively. I know our task force is taking its work very seriously.

      • Thanks Kim. Good to hear 🙂

  14. Carmen S.

    Desiring God website…June 20, 2011
    Thank you, Blaise Pascal ( written by John Piper)
    “In 1968 Pascal and C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards and Dan Fuller and the Bible teamed up to change my life forever”.

    Piper first takes man-made thoughts and then attempts to make the Bible fit the words of men.

  15. Jeff Crippen

    ACFJ sees record activity Thursday, Jan 9 – I was going to make this a separate post, but for now will just place this info in the comments. Yesterday this blog saw 941 people visit the site and they viewed posts 1976 times. Thursday evening I saw that there were 225 people at the blog at one time during the evening. We aren’t blowing our horn in telling this, but I think EVERYONE, readers and bloggers alike, should take great encouragement from this. I can remember an average of only about 150 or 200 people coming each day. Now we regularly see 500-600 and more. This means that the message is getting out, gaining momentum like a big locomotive. And all of us are a part of it.

    Also, we are nearing the half million mark in the number of times people have viewed posts here.

  16. Carmen S.

    Since Piper mentions “Suppose the thought arises in your mind to speak in a small group lesson or write in a blog or tweet”, he is claiming that he always speaks under the authority of the Bible. We are called to be Bereans in regards to what John Piper speaks and writes.

    The following are quotes from Piper’s sermon entitled “How to Give the Bible Functional Authority in Your Speech and Writing”, which he gave at the Bethlehem College and Seminary. The entire sermon can be found here. [italics in original transcript on Desiring God; capitalization added by Carmen]

    In a sentence what I recommend for giving the Bible functional authority in your speaking and writing is that you cultivate the habit of mind that asks, as every debatable sentence forms in your mind, “Is there a passage in the Bible that supports this sentence?” and “Is there a passage in the Bible that sounds contrary to this sentence?” . . .
    And part of your maturity and wisdom and AUDIENCE AWARENESS will be the ability to make good judgments about what are debatable sentences. . . .

    And in thinking this down to the root you go far deeper into biblical truth, and you become more precise and careful in your expression, and therefore what you say takes a greater authority, because spiritual people will see this kind of submission to all of scripture and they will be more ready TO SUBMIT TO WHAT YOU SAY.

    • cultivate the habit of mind that asks, as every debatable sentence forms in your mind, “Is there a passage in the Bible that supports this sentence?” and “Is there a passage in the Bible that sounds contrary to this sentence?” . . .

      Surely he isn’t this simplistic? Because we have an example of this very policy being followed against the Lord Himself by the enemy of our souls in Luke 4:9-11:

      “Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:

      “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,”

      And

      “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”‘”

      Clearly, there is more to it.

  17. Carmen S.

    BIT, you might be on to something. Hmmmm…

    • “Suppose the thought arises in your mind to speak in a small group lesson or write in a blog or tweet”

      Carmen,

      Remember the Oklahoma tornadoes and that deplorable tweet Piper did where he quoted from Job 1:19? And the outcry against him became so great he had to take it down? Wrong verse for the occasion!!!! So much for authority and people submitting to what you say!

  18. Carmen S.

    BIT,

    And can you keep count of how many times John Piper has had to remove things he has said?

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