Yesterday I posted “God hates sinners”: John Piper does believe this. In a comment Jeff, “Scripture Zealot”, noted that I had taken this from a sermon 23 years old and wondered if Piper might have changed his mind. Well, that is possible, but I have been offered no evidence for it.
However, we do have up-to-date evidence for something almost as shocking which Piper explicitly states today, or at least he did yesterday. If we can trust Adrian Warnock’s report (which is not certain; thanks to Henry Neufeld for the tip), Piper, speaking yesterday at the New Word Alive conference in Wales, said:
Someone might argue, “Sin was condemned, but not Christ.” Piper then explained: Imagine I got you on stage and said, “I’m going to hit you in the face, but it’s not you I’m hitting, it’s just your attitude.” NO! It was the will of the Lord to bruise him. God made him to be sin who knew no sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. He was wounded for us. His punishment set us free. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He struck him. It was God the Father who killed Jesus. It is considered today to be appalling to teach or sing this. Piper said it is not appalling to him, it is his very life!
To this, I will simply say that “bruise” (Adrian’s double emphasis) is not the same as “kill”, and where in this is the united will of the Trinity? But this quotation should really be checked from the audio and video expected soon.
To return to Piper’s 1985 sermon, on the same chapter, Romans 8, as last night’s, I noticed something strange here.
When I have objected in the past to statements like “God hates sinners” and its apparent contradiction with John 3:16, Calvinist commenters have claimed that in this verse “the world” in fact means “the elect”. There is in fact no exegetical justification for this at all, but it does make for a consistent, although unbiblical, system of doctrine, according to which God loves those whom he has elected to eternal life, and hates those whom he has not elected.
But the strange thing which Piper said in 1985 was with regard to himself before he was a Christian:
But it wasn’t always so for John Piper. … God hated me in my sin.
Now I am sure that Piper considers himself one of the elect. But here he seems to teach that God hated him before he repented and became a Christian. In fact, if we read on, it would appear that, according to Piper, God still hated him as he
contemplate[d] me in Jesus Christ—chosen, loved, and destined for glory … [and] fulfil[led] his predestined purpose for me by appeasing his own wrath and acquitting me of all my sin and conquering the depravity of my heart.
In other words, Piper’s view seems to be that God continues to hate humans, except for the only one he actually loves, Jesus Christ. And if he does love Jesus, he showed that in a very strange way, by killing him. Also, in this case, as Polycarp asked in a comment here,
If God hates sinners, then why Christ?
If God loved Jesus and hated Piper, why did he kill Jesus and save Piper? This just doesn’t make sense!
Now maybe Piper has some way of making this into a consistent system, but it is different from the Calvinist system I described before, and even more different from the truth revealed in the Bible:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (TNIV)
Note the first “for us”: it is not just Jesus, but us sinners, whom God loves, and he loves us before we repent.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (TNIV)
I shouldn’t really have to quote this, but it seems that at least in 1985 Piper was not aware of it. For these words make it clear that God did not love just the Son, nor even just the elect, but he loved the world, that is everyone.