John Piper’s Conflicted God

Please listen to the above video released one week ago (as of 6/25/20) – particularly at time-frame 6:26.
Dr. Piper is a lovely and passionate man of God – I have no doubt about that…. But I am astonished that he seems to believe that God is at conflict within himself.

Do I even need to state the blatantly obvious theological problems with Dr. Piper’s answer? Even if we take into account that he is speaking “anthropomorphically” (describing God in human terms) of this conflict – it still leaves us (at the very least) violating the divine attribute of “Simplicity” – and, perhaps most striking of all, this may be the most poignant admission of the basic contradiction at the very heart of Calvinism that I have ever heard.

I want to grant that this recording may be somewhat unrehearsed and therefore unguarded – and that Dr. Piper would possibly (on second reflection) want to re-state some of the things he said.

But then, maybe not… I will, perhaps, always wonder…

And then there is his wonderful conclusion by simply quoting from Romans 11 (with NO commentary or explanation) is absolutely amazing to me – but that may be because I “hear” these words of scripture as offering a hope for the “hardened” (non-elect!) of Israel – and, therefore, a glimmer of hope for all who are considered the hardened and “reprobate”! It makes me sadly suspicious that Dr. Piper may not be “hearing” what I am hearing…. (but then again, maybe he is beginning to see the larger hope hidden within the “hardening in part” of Israel???)

And let me say plainly and loudly I DO applaud Dr. Piper for acknowledging the “plain” meaning of 1 Timothy 2:4, that God really “desires all men [humanity] to be saved”! Many of the Calvinist/Reformed camp insist this means something like “all kinds of men” instead of its “plain” meaning – every human ever born, “all of humanity without exception“.

The setting for this? Dr. Piper is challenged by a listener (Max) to resolve the apparent conflict between this verse and (such verses as) Luke 8:9-10. Piper in effect acknowledges there is really, truly a conflict – and (essentially) it is only resolved by realizing there is a “wider” “commitment” (even a “wider love”!?) – that “prevents him from acting on the desire for all to be saved”.

Below is a transcript of the critical (and last part) of the video posted above (please excuse any errors – this is auto-generated from YouTube with a few edits/corrections):

“At one level God desires all to be saved. He does not delight in the death of the wicked, Ezekiel 18:23 says. But another commitment in God, another commitment to act with wisdom and justice and a wider love, love seen through a wider perspective, a wider lens prevents him from acting on the desire for all to be saved in a way that saves all. So, in reference to Max’s question about Luke 8 about God’s choosing not to liberate some from their rebellion and spiritual blindness, what we have seen so far is that this is not a contradiction of first Timothy 2:4 where God desires all people to be saved. He desires it but he doesn’t always perform it and Max’s is asking, “well please help me understand God’s reasoning behind the hardening of certain hearts to keep them from repentance”, and then he quotes Luke 8:9-10. It says this when… Jesus disciples asked him what the parable of the sower meant, he said “to you it has been given”. So it’s a gift – they don’t deserve it; they didn’t earn it. “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom but to others they are in parables so that” and here’s the divine purpose “so that seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand”. And Max sees rightly that this is an allusion to Isaiah 6:9 and 10 where God gives Isaiah the painful task of preaching with the effect of hardening. So he says this -God says, “go Isaiah say to this people ‘keep on hearing but do not understand, keep on seeing but do not perceive’. Make the heart of this people dull and their ears heavy and and blind their eyes.” This is God telling Isaiah what his preaching is going to do, blinding their eyes lest they see with their eyes… this is his purpose lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears. And understand with their hearts and turn and be healed. So the explanation of hardening in Isaiah’s and in Jesus ministry is that this design of God’s Word is judgment; its judgment upon sin. This dulling, hardening effect of the preaching is not happening to people who love the Word of God. He’s not going out and finding people who love and submit to the Word of God and then preaching so that they become hard-hearted. No. No. No one is made blind against their will. Mark that this indifference to God is what they want; there’s nobody kicking and screaming moving into blindness. I want you to see there are no innocent people under the judgment of God’s blinding. None. Nobody is made blind to God who loves to see God. This blindness and dullness are judgments for sin; they are [being handed] over into blindness to be blind.

And I’ll end with this: where is this judgment leading? What’s the big picture? And Paul tells us in Romans 11:25 and 26. He says to us Gentiles, lest you Gentiles be wise in your own sight I don’t want you to be unaware of this mystery brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel until until the fullness of the Gentiles. That’s us and the great world mission of the church until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in… and then in this way all Israel will be saved. It’s leading to salvation – and then later in that same chapter verse 32 he says,

“God has thus consigned all to disobedience that he may have mercy on all – Oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments! How inscrutable are his ways! For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. and ever – Amen!”

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