Dear John

Dear John,

I’m going to be honest.  I find it very difficult to maintain a respectful tone here.  I am absolutely disgusted and profoundly confused as to why you have allowed Doug Wilson to post at Desiring God.

Let’s be clear, I’m not fan of yours.  I think your teachings are damaging, your beliefs are an abuse of Scripture, and your personal bias is so glaringly subconscious that you are completely blind to how it clouds your hermeneutic.  And yesterday you proved this for me.  You showed your concern is more with preserving your boy’s club than with pursuing the Gospel of the crucified God, Jesus the Christ.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really surprising.  You project God’s wrath onto the cross in an attempt to shield yourself from the implications of a crucified God.  In fact, the staples of your theology – Christian hedonism and strict complementarity – betray the fact that the crucified Jesus terrifies you.  You are afraid of putting the last first (Matt 20).  You are afraid of a God who washes feet (John 13), touches lepers (Mark 1), and had female apostles (Luke 10, Rom 16).  You are certainly afraid of a God who demonstrates himself in weakness, in defeat, who subverts the privilege and power of a broken world and declares an ethic of self-emptying and self-sacrifice (1 Cor 1-2, Phil 2, Rev 5).

Most of all, you are afraid of losing the empire you have built because of the constant failures of friends who espouse your beliefs.  You have taught that God causes everything to happen for a reason.  You have stated that natural disasters are acts of wrath specifically targeted at sins.  You have argued that God takes delight in even the most difficult circumstances, that our suffering is still his joy.  God delights in wrath because takes glory from it.  Heck, all of humanity glorifies God because he is working with absolute providence in all situations for his own glory.  So it stands to reason that God delights, takes glory even in our sin.

And so, you support Doug Wilson.  The same Doug Wilson who has publicly shamed victims of rape and sexual abuse, telling a young girl and her family it is all their fault.  He has even stood beside the abuser, the rapist, in court and stated his actions – grooming a 13 year old girl and carrying on a sexual relationship with her – do not qualify as sexually predatory behavior.

The same Doug Wilson who stood beside a man who was a known sexual predator and petitioned for his life sentence to be commuted, for leniency from the court.  Even when the man was arrested six weeks after parole for an act of voyeurism, using binoculars to look through a neighbor’s window while masturbating, Doug stood beside him.  He introduced him to a young woman in his church because he believed a healthy sexual relationship with a woman would somehow heal his deviant behavior.  Now, this man has had a baby with this woman, yet he is not allowed near his child because he has admitted to masturbating to the thoughts of molesting his own baby.  The authorities are now investigating whether that man has actually molested his child.

The same Doug Wilson denies spouse rape.  He has said the act of marital sex cannot be egalitarian, that it is not about the pleasure of both partners.  Instead, the man must “penetrate, conquer, colonize, and plant” and a woman must “receive, surrender, and accept” this treatment.  Again,the man is permitted to do as he pleases.  It is the wife’s fault if the man must take, because she has clearly not been submissive, requiring him to “conquer” her sexually.

This is the Doug Wilson who objectifies women.  He calls women “lumberjack dykes” and “biddies” for not agreeing with his opinions.  He openly admits to eyeing a number of women to determine that Christian women are prettier.  He states that women can be seen to be godly by their physical beauty, which is the crown of their man and the glory of God.

This Doug Wilson, despite all this, claims he is innocent.  He stands with the victimizer against their victims.  He shames rape victims.  He demonstrates that he will not be held accountable, he will not repent.  He will not seek justice.  He will only do what is best for him, what maintains his privilege.

And in the wake of repeated controversy, I am fairly certain you know full well this is where your theology leads.  We’ve seen the way Driscoll imploded.  We’ve seen the way Mahaney failed.  We know about the Duggars. We know about R.C. Sproul, Jr.  I could go on and on, but you already know these things.  Your theology cannot speak into the brokenness of this world precisely because it preserves the status quo. It creates men who feel they are above it all, untouchable and unaccountable to everyone – even to God himself as revealed fully in Christ.

You must embrace Wilson because you know complementarianism and neo-calvinism created the monster.  You can’t speak against him without speaking against yourself, so you open your arms and allow a mysogynist, a man who promotes hatred and abuse, to speak to your audience about “Love and Respect.”

In this act, you have demonstrated a disturbing truth.  You’re theology is not centered in Christ.  You cannot center the crucified Christ in your beliefs because doing so would bring the whole theological system down on your head.  Instead, you circle the wagons, you preserve privilege, and you denigrate anyone who would dare stand up to you.  I feel I must remind you of the teachings of the Bible you claim to hold in such high esteem.

Jesus claimed his ministry was to “set the captives free” (Luke 4).  He died beaten, abused, spit upon, rejected, and damned to accomplish that.  The God of the universe submitted himself to humiliating, crushing defeat.  He died that we might live and he was raised by the Spirit that we might conquer even death.  But this places him in line with the victims.

As Isaiah 52-53 state, he bore all our sufferings on the cross.  2 Corinthians reminds us he died the embodiment of all sin.  Yahweh himself became weak, humble – guilty and abandoned that we might be adopted and justified (Phil 2).  Again and again, Scripture reminds us God is on the side of the oppressed, the victim, the abused, the marginalized and that his people had better humble themselves before him and follow that example (Mal 6)!

In closing, I want to remind you of Jesus words in Matthew 18:6-9.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire.  And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.”

The time has come to make your choice.  Is it Doug Wilson or the crucified Christ?  You can’t choose both God and Privilege (Mammon: Matt 6).

Deeply saddened,

Nate

If you like it, please share it! Grace and Peace!

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36 thoughts on “Dear John

  1. I read a comment from a comp who wisely pointed out that Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition are ministries that come across as more concerned for their own welfare – leaders of each supporting and marketing one another – than for actually spreading the good news of Jesus, heeding the Holy Spirit in understanding Scripture, and being faithful to our Father God.

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  2. I was in a patriarchal/complementarian/conservative tribe for so many years, there was so much I couldn’t see wrong with it because all my info came from within the tribe. I always felt something was “off” with the whole system, but, well, I was stuck with tradition. And so I was a follower, of sorts, of Piper and that network for a few years after my many years “hiatus” from church.

    I very much appreciate this post. Now that I am no longer in a patriarchal/complementarian/conservative denomination, and following and reading people in other “tribes,” I feel as though I am getting a better picture of how men and women are to work together as equals – not one or the other in domination.

    And it’s freeing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Nate.

    Appreciate your cogent and necessary critique of Piper and Wilson.

    One question: you cited the presence of female apostles in Luke 10 and Romans 16. The Romans reference I get; but where is this found in Luke 10?

    Thanks.

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    1. In the section on Mary and Martha arguing, Martha is allowed to learn at Jesus feet. That is a privilege typically reserved for the devout male disciples of a rabbi. Jesus extending her the same courtesy implies he considers her their equal.

      Thanks for reading and for the question. Grace and Peace.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wonderfully said, Nate. When I first learned of Piper a decade or so ago, he sounded “off” to me, if not downright confusing. And when I read his statement about his own prostate cancer diagnosis, I thought it reeked of self-congratulatory narcissism. (The quote is, I believe, in the Wikipedia article about him.)

    Now, after more and more evidence piling on, I think he is downright dangerous and not even truly within the realm of historic Protestantism. Here’s a link to a Reformed Anglican blog calling him out on his Christian Hedonism nonsense, saying he is adding “joy” (a fruit of the Spirit) as a pre-requisite for salvation: in other words, totally messing up the entire idea that we are saved by grace.

    http://reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/2010/12/reasonable-christian.html

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  5. Nate,
    you began this way:
    “Let’s be clear, I’m not fan of yours. I think your teachings are damaging, your beliefs are an abuse of Scripture, and your personal bias is so glaringly subconscious that you are completely blind to how it clouds your hermeneutic. ”

    Why would anyone who cares about Piper continue reading? Sorry…rhetorical fail.

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  6. Hi, I’m Nate. I am a firm believer in respectful engagement towards mutually beneficial dialogue. I hope to challenge you to rethink some ideas, and hope to be challenged by you as well. Thank you for taking the time to read and engage. My posts are intended to provoke thought and start conversations. If you have found my thoughts helpful, please feel free to share and/or reblog as long as proper credit given. Grace and Peace.

    However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

    Nate, please consider how this blog entry fits with your stated intentions above. It seems you miss your own mark for “respectful engagement towards mutually beneficial dialogue”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ron,

      I appreciate your willingness to confront me. But I’m not sure how you define the terms “respect” and “civility”.

      In what way was I disrespectful of Piper? I don’t define respect as maintaining the status quo in the face of abuse and injustice. Respect is not telling him he jumped the shark in the 80’s and has been spewing maniacal nonsense. I instead rooted my statements in firm examples. Jesus flipped the tables because he had a great respect for the temple and the people it was meant to serve and refused to watch the injustice it was being used for.

      Also, I will offer my definition of civility. It is in maintaining decorum fitting a public venue of discussion, not cowtowing or agreeing because someone considers them self a higher authority.

      If I have to choose between seeking peace with Piper or justice for the victims of Doug Wilson’s spiritual abuse, I’m going to choose the latter. Piper has demonstrated he is more concerned with appearances, and like Jesus speaking to the Pharisees I pointed out the cup is dirty on the inside.

      I didn’t resort to name calling or any other form of ad hominem. I chose to address his own well-documented statements, the well-documented abuses of Doug Wilson, and connected the two in Piper’s complicity in allowing Wilson to lost on his site on the topic of marriage.

      Nothing I said was untrue, nor was it inconsistent the witness of Scripture. I don’t see it as loving, respectful, or civil to allow one group of people to suffer to preserve the status and privilege of others. Instead, I seek to expose the injustice towards freedom of the victim and (hopefully) the eventual repentance of the abuser and his enabler.

      I welcome you to help me see how this is neither a respectful or civil approach. I am willing to stand corrected. But I have not violated my own standards, so I ask “which of yours did I violate?”

      Grace and Peace to you,

      Nate

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, Nate–I ran across your open letter to John Piper yesterday, and could not agree more. I think something is seriously wrong with Piper’s theology and with Calvinism in general. They seem to have totally missed out on the character and love of Christ! I ran across this article today, and thought you and your readers might be interested. I hadn’t heard before about his views on God’s will and child molestation, and find them completely appalling! http://evangelicalarminians.org/essay-in-a-book-edited-by-john-piper-claims-that-god-brings-about-the-sexual-abuse-of-children/

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    1. I haven’t read that particular article, but I am familiar with his general argument. I will take a look. You should also look at his stuff on cancer, its bad. Wondering Eagle has linked to some work he did on it @ Wartburg Watch and his personal site above.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  8. Thank you so much for writing this about Piper. I do not understand how anybody can quote him seriously in a sermon or writings, yet they do. Piper wrote about hedonism in 1983 in his Piper’s Notes MARRIAGE: A MATRIX OF CHRISTIAN HEDONISM. Ephesians 5:21-33, October 16, 1983. Based on everything I read about him, he loves male control over women.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve never heard John Piper speak or read any of his sermons, so I looked up the first Google link I could find:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-don-t-you-like-the-christians-you-know

    ….Seriously?? THIS guy, people are taking seriously? He sounds like a brain-damaged spastic after half-a-dozen strokes. Hell, I didn’t make it 15 seconds in because I refuse to listen to any speaker who is literally frothing at the mouth. Screw that.

    Whatever John Piper’s opinions on the Bible might be, I’m sure I couldn’t care less.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! I have been meaning to write this for some time and the Doug Wilson thing was my last straw. I’ll take a look at your stuff. Do you mind posting a couple links so others can read too? Also, I have tackled him and his ilk in several other posts if you wanted to take a look. Thanks again for taking the time to read and for your kind words.

      Grace and Peace

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just posted it on The Wartburg Watch. My East Coast Mom wrote a stinging piece about John Piper teaching about God’s will in Scrabble and child molestation. You open letter is brilliant and awesome. You have a way with words keep writing Nate.

        I used to be a John Piper Kool Aid drinker. It imploded…I gave my Mom John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” after my Mom amazingly survived pancreatic cancer. She called me out. I was livid for years…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Great piece, Nate! If I lived in Piper’s neighborhood, I’d mimic Martin Luther! I would make copies of this and nail it to the doors all over town!
        I didn’t know your website existed until today, I will have to explore!

        Liked by 2 people

Thanks for taking the time to read and engage. I look forward to your feedback, I welcome any criticism. However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

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