John Piper and Guns: “Unwise”

Given the theology of mainstream Christianity,John-piper-bloodlines-trailer-380x200 and the current political climate surrounding the 2nd amendment, one can expect to see Christian leaders give Two-Kingdom sound bytes against owning guns, or just advising others to not do so. Surprisingly, John Piper sounded more like a liberal in his words (now removed from YouTube) about owning guns. Now look, John Piper has some solid stuff on soteriology, however he presents the same schizophrenic views that Horton does. In one sentence guns are good because law enforcement officers can protect others and take down criminals (at the 4:00 mark).

“I’m not a pacifist. I believe there should be a militia, I believe there should be policemen with billy clubs and guns, they should take out guys that are killing people, and I believe in a military to protect a land from aggression, and I believe that fathers should protect their children, even using force, but if they can avoid killing somebody, of course they should avoid killing somebody, and having a gun is a good way not to avoid killing somebody. We don’t need guns in our house.” – John Piper, 4:00, “Are you opposed to people owning guns?”

One minute, Piper is all for guns and for the military and law enforcement officers using them to protect everyone else, yet he turns right around and states “We don’t need guns in our house”. How can Piper make these two statements? Here’s his logic.

In the linked video, Piper uses the condition of one’s soul as the standard for engaging a threat. If the person is not saved, then we shouldn’t kill them, since we want them to go to heaven. This definitely seems appealing to the shallow Christian that has no concern for society, God’s law, and maturity in Christ, since they still wear the goggles of “Hurry and get saved before you die”. Piper presents this logic at the 2:17 mark after telling the story of missionaries that were killed by natives.

“…we’re ready to go to heaven and these natives are not, so why would we kill them rather than being killed? So I thought, if somebody enters my house as a thief, he probably is not ready to go to heaven either.”

The logic seems sound, if the standard were up to pious Christians who almost desire to be martyred and persecuted. However, God’s law gives clear cut examples of how to protect yourself and your family, and it justifies taking the life of the one who seeks to take yours (Exodus 22:2 in regards to thieves). Ezekiel 33 seems to suggest that only a fool would see a sword coming, yet do nothing about it.

“The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” Ezekiel 33:1-6

Nehemiah 4 gives several examples of Israel carrying swords with them for their own protection while they rebuilt the wall. The book of Esther gives another clear and specific example of taking another man’s life to defend his own,

“…saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods,” Esther 8:11

If the logic that Piper used in this video were true, then he would have no way to justify capital punishment, which he has stated that he affirms. Capital punishment is God’s law of retribution to those who have murdered, kidnapped, and committed other great sins. If Piper’s logic were true, then Christians would be free-game to criminals, since Christians won’t protect themselves against the lost. And yes, Piper affirms the use of force, but when the criminals have a gun, what other force can you use, especially when you seem to prioritize his life over yours and your family’s? Guns are a gift from God because it levels the playing field. No longer do people have to fear large brutes, armed with hammers and axes, because a gun can bring down any man.

What Piper does not realize is that he is speaking directly against God Himself. God was not concerned with the condition of the thief’s soul. The law of God was to put them to death, whether he was saved or not. Piper’s priorities are out of sync with God’s.

Piper’s statements are liberal statements. The liberals who want gun control say the exact same thing. ‘The government should have guns, but you should not. The military should have guns, and should take lives, but individuals should not.’ The standard Piper uses is arbitrary, because he gives no basis for why he believes it, except mere opinion. Even his understanding of Jesus’ words is a mold of the liberals.

“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

A lot of Christians see this as a command to pacifist, however Jesus tells the man to put his sword away, not because using it was wrong, but because there was no righteous reason for him to kill those who sought to take Jesus away. You cannot just kill someone. Jesus was being brought to testify for the crimes that the Jews had accused Him of; that’s no reason to take a life. Jesus’ point was that handling your problems by violence will only get you killed by the civil government, proving that Jesus Himself upheld God’s law of capital punishment.

Everything Piper has said in the video turns God’s law and the examples given to us, completely upside down. He presents liberal statements about who should and should not have guns and reveals the schizophrenic mindset of Two-Kingdom theology. This theology should be avoided, since it is un-Biblical, excuses Christians from their responsibilities of stewardship, and denies the law of God as being the best, most ideal law that all governments should follow, whether it be civil, church, or individual. Our responsibility as individuals is to protect ourselves and our families.

9 comments

  • Just stumbled across this video by Piper.

    While the video is no longer available at its original YouTube location, it is now available at another one:

    Should Christians Own Guns?John Piper
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_z1qqzV8D4

  • Its one thing to be a pacifist although I don’t agree with that. But its a whole different level to be a pacifist EXCEPT FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. This is a subtle form of state-worship. And, I like Piper to. If individual Christians should not kill in self-defense, why should “the government”? Because magic?

  • A few things to consider on the subject. Dr. Piper makes a false assumption regarding firearms. He equates that armed citizens will result in higher rates of death. This is not necessarily the case. One could certainly argue that unchecked bands of murderous criminals will result in higher rates of death. The significant possibility of a criminal encountering an armed response from his intended victim will likely significantly decrease the chances that the crime was attempted in the first place. This variable alone can decrease the chance of death for both the criminal and the intended victim.

    Another false assumption that Dr. Piper appears to make is that all or almost all gunshot wounds are fatal. While the use of a firearm in a confrontation certainly increases the likelihood of a lethal outcome, the fact is that most gunshots are not fatal, particularly in locations where adequate trauma care is available.

    Dr. Piper also assumes that if a gun is drawn it will be immediately used to deliver the full force to an attacker. Although in close combat situations this may be true, in other situations it may not. Anyone properly trained and informed about the use and ramifications of lethal force would want to use this option only as a last resort. The legal, social, economic, and psychological costs and ramifications of wounding or killing an attacker are enormous for the victim of the attack. Therefore, if there is any other way of neutralizing an attack without killing or maiming the criminal, the prudent armed citizen will choose that path.

    Finally, Dr. Piper holds himself out as a Calvinist who believes in the full sovereignty of God in all situations. Ultimately, the life or death of the criminal is in the hands of God. This opens up several possible scenarios. In scenario one, the criminal is aware that his intended victim is armed and chooses against the crime or chooses to proceed to another unarmed or more vulnerable victim. In this case, the armed encounter never occurs. In scenario two, the criminal chooses to proceed with the crime but flees once aware that his own personal risks have been dramatically increased due to a firearm pointing at him. Unfortunately, in this situation, there would probably be no opportunity to witness to the criminal. In scenario three, the armed victim can share the gospel with the criminal while holding him at gunpoint until the police arrive. In scenario four, the armed victim can share the gospel with the wounded criminal until the ambulance arrives. In scenario five, the armed victim can share the gospel with the lethally wounded criminal before he passes into eternity. In scenario six, the armed victim delivers an instantly lethal wound and does not have the opportunity to share the gospel with the dying criminal.

    The only one of these situations that should give a Christian pause is scenarios six where the criminal dies before hearing the gospel and having a chance to repent. In reality, the likelihood that this criminal is going to stop the commission of his crime, hear the gospel, and repent on the spot is extremely far-fetched. However, as a Calvinist, this entire situation should not be a reason to avoid arming oneself and protecting one’s family against the threat of violent criminal attackers.

    From a Calvinist theology perspective, if the outcome is that scenario six where the criminal is instantly and fatally wounded, they were obviously not sovereignly elected before the foundation of the world so the theoretical loss of an opportunity to share the gospel with them is at that point moot.

    While the following verse discusses “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ, it is at least as applicable to unregenerate individuals in full rebellion to God’s law.

    ” If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.”
    1 John 5:16

    Obviously, robbing, attacking, raping, murdering, or other similar heinous activities directed toward an armed victim or the family he loves has a high likelihood of being a “sin that leads to death”. Almighty God is ultimately both sovereign and judge. The armed victim simply assists in arranging the court date.

  • We are to trust Jesus with our lives and that of our families. We are not to resist evil and we have power over all power of darkness. Satan can do nothing to God’s saints unless He allows it. We can use secular arguments to justify our self preservation, but the fact remains that in the book of Hebrews, the early church believers did suffer and they were killed. God has poured His love into our hearts and perfect love delivers us from fear. We must not fear, but believe. We love our families? God loves them more. We must seek God with all of our being and trust Him. We fight not flesh and blood. Our weapons are not carnal. Satan can do nothing to God true saints unless He allows it. We are the Church, the body of Christ and we our his property. Surely God can will not leave us helpless and on our own. No demon possessed person can resist God’s power. We are not the world. We are sons of the living God. It’s a scary thing to fall in the hands of a living God. He is our protector. Our strong tower. When we say we will use a gun and kill to protect our loved ones, what we are saying is that God we don’t trust God. If we are seeking God with all of our being and obeying His word, what is there to fear?

  • “I would have also put in the passage where Christ commands selling of your garment in order to purchase a weapon.”

    So many Christians quote this without blushing. Either they are seeking to mislead or they have not read the verse in context. https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/two-swords-enough/

  • Doug Wilson set the model for Christian discussion of this topic over at his Blog and Mablog blog.

  • Have to ask, at what point is the line crossed between being a citizen of the USA which was founded by chrisitans who picked up guns and killed men so we could have the freedom to write in this blog today and being passive martyrs “for the gospel”…….. Been on my mind with the latest news that has been escalating. I have an opinion of sorts but welcome input that is backed by scripture.

  • I agree with the comment by Chris, it is the same christians, our forefathers that picked up the guns.

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