John Piper, the well known Neo-Calvinist theologian did an interview in which he spoke about how God can discipline someone with death. God after all gives people weakness, illness and even death. This theology once again shows how Neo-Calvinism makes the problem of evil, or pain and suffering worse.
“Even if you have a terminal disease, you don’t have to sit down and mope. Enjoy life and challenge the illness that you have.”
And this is[f] my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
1 Corinthians 11:27-32 NIV
According to John Piper is a malignant brain tumor God at work? Did the doctors in this medical illness who remove a brain tumor sin against God?
Recently at Desiring God I saw an interview from John Piper that took my breath away. John Piper does a question and answer session frequently called “Ask Pastor John.” This specific question deals with why does God discipline some people with death? Why does God take some people’s lives? Below you can see the Tweet that was sent out by Desiring God.
This talk by Piper is in the June 5, 2019 interview which you can access here. The theme appears to be, why would God physically kill one of his children and end their life on earth early? Let’s look at how John Piper starts out.
When God Disciplines You with Death
“My guess is that this question will seem strange to some of our listeners. Why would God physically kill one of his children? That’s what he’s asking. Or even if we soften it and avoid the word kill, why would God take one of his children home as a means of discipline to prevent condemnation when he might have prevented it another way? That’s the gist of the question. It is a very good question, and it’s demanded by 1 Corinthian 11:27–32.”
So anyone who eats the bread or drinks from the cup in an unworthy manner can be disregardful to God. According to John Piper they should have have a fear about the real Crucifixion. John describes it as this. “In other words, if you treat lightly and disrespectfully and irreverently the precious emblems of the Lord’s crucifixion, you’re showing that you don’t cherish and tremble at the horror and preciousness of the real crucifixion. I think that’s the logic.” A person must examine themself. And a person who does not eat the bread with respect brings about judgement on themself. This is why some have become weak and died. John Piper breaks that down even further by saying that when God judges us with weakness, sickness or death its done out of love. Its better to be disciplined than to end up in hell. God is always at work with his people. John writes the following.
“The question is “If God is taking the life of one of his children so that they will not be condemned to everlasting destruction, couldn’t he have spared them another way — namely, by causing them to eat the Lord’s Supper more respectfully? Why wouldn’t he do that?” That’s the question. The answer to the question is that God could indeed prevent the desecration of the Lord’s Supper by restraining the desecration. Yes, he could.”
Then John Piper goes into the way that God disciplines the ones he loves. This is what the well known Neo-Calvinist pastor said in his podcast.
Now, before I try to answer that, let’s be sure that we see how sweeping this question is. The question really is a specific instance of asking, “Why is there any divine discipline in the Christian life?” The question is not just “Why does God use the final discipline of taking a life?” but “Why would there be any physical or mental or relational difficulties brought into the Christian life as a way of preventing their sin and advancing their holiness?” Why not just prevent the sin and create the holiness by faith and by a clear sight of Jesus and by the ordinary means of word and prayer? Why should there be any form of painful discipline in the life of God’s children? That’s the larger question implied in this specific one.
Let’s be sure that we know God does discipline his children with more or less painful things in their life. We know that because of Hebrews 12:4–10. It says,
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. . . . My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? . . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (Hebrews 12:4–7, 10)
1 Corinthians 11:30 is one description of that discipline that we just read from Hebrews 12. It happens at different levels. For some, it’s weakness. For some, it’s illness. For some, it’s death. Don’t forget the words “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” If he makes us weak, he’s loving us. If he makes us ill, he’s loving us. If he takes our life, he’s loving us.
And John Piper closes out his podcast by asking the question. Why not just perfect us overnight? Piper wants to emphasize that God knows what is best. This is what the theologian stated.
Now, why does God do it this way? Why not just perfect us all overnight? That really is what the question boils down to. Why doesn’t he bring us to the greatest holiness with no painful discipline? Why doesn’t he just say, “Read your Bible and pray and be holy” — and no painful discipline at all?
My answer goes something like this. God knows the best way to bring about in his children (1) a love for his absolute holiness, (2) a hatred of our bent to sinning, (3) gratitude for his amazing grace and patience in our lives, and (4) a passion to trust him in every circumstance of life. He knows the best way to do this.
So, let’s be careful that we don’t decide what’s best and tell him how to do it. We watch him and learn what’s best. He knows best how to produce these great wonders in his church. We shouldn’t second-guess him.
Are Brain Tumors, Cancer, Leukemia, Strokes, and Heart Attacks God Disciplining his Children?
So according to John Piper God disciplines those that he loves with death, illness and disease. Stop and consider that in the context of the medical diseases and issues going on. I will use my life as an example. I watched my Mom die of low grade lymphoma. My Mom also had steroid induced diabetes which prevented her wounds from healing in the hospital. Was all this, all the pain, the suffering, the cries in the hospital God deciding to discipline my Mom with illness? Is that how God works? Some people God assigns liver cancer. Others are given a brain tumor. Yet others have heart disease, as that is willed by the Lord. And yet others are given HIV which can develop into AIDS.
Is this how God works according to John Piper? As I used my Mom’s illness as an example let me use another sensitive situation and raise a difficult question. This blog writes about former Sovereign Grace and current Acts 29 church called Redeemer Arlington. Recently it was announced at Redeemer that Pastor Jordan and Tali Kauflin’s son had a relapse of leukemia. Jack Kauflin is currently at the age of 11. He last dealt with leukemia when he was at the age of 2. You can read about this in, “Jordan and Tali Kauflin’s Son has a Relapse of Leukemia. And an Olive Branch to Redeemer Arlington is Ignored.” If you take what John Piper said in that interview did God love Jack Kauflin so much that he brought his leukemia back? Is this God practicing discipline on someone he wants? Is it better for an 11 year old face a disease and if necessary be taken away then run the risk of him going to hell? After all when you consider the issue of the elect in Calvinist theology who is saved and who is damned? How does anyone at Redeemer Arlington know with absolute certainty that they are part of the elect? This is a sensitive and heavy issue. And I use this only after using my own family as an example. I mean no disrespect to the Kaufln family during a difficult time.
In the You Tube Video Up Above Did the Medical Doctors Sin Against God in Saving a Child and Removing a Malignant Brian Tumor?
In the You Tube video leading this post there is a story of a young child struggling with a malignant brain tumor. The brain tumor is on the cerebellum part of the brain and is the size of a golf ball. So here is the question that hangs in my mind after listening to what John Piper taught. In the video doctors perform a sixteen hour surgery to remove the brain tumor. If God assigns diseases, illness and more to people then did the doctors sin against God in removing the brain tumor? Did they interfere in God’s will for a Christian child? Should a person seek medical attention in John Piper’s theology system? I really see what Piper is teaching to be nothing more than fundamentalism 2.0 Honestly there is no hope in this kind of message, instead what you get is an insecure God who is literally a monster.
John Piper Illustrates how God Makes the Problem of Evil or Pain and Suffering Worse
When I saw John Piper teach this I felt squeamish. It bothered me deeply. The ideal answer that could have been said is, “I don’t know….” That would have been a good answer that could have taken a difficult verse in scripture and leave it in mystery. John Piper’s teaching yet again reminds me how Neo-Calvinist theology makes the problem of evil worse. It makes the problem of pain and suffering worse as well. Its a warped view of God’s sovereignty that has to assign an answer for every situation. I find this approach to theology to be more in line with Sunni Islam. The God of love, kindness and more really becomes a pure monster. He’s a God that acts out of rage and jealousy. Why can’t John Piper just say that illness, loss and more are a result of a broken world and leave it at that? Why try and find a specific answer to that especially if its going to create more problems. This interview in my mind shows the insecurity of John Piper. If you want to read more about how Neo-Calvinism makes the problem of evil worse, I used John Piper’s teaching about the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to show that claim. “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Make the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut.”