Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dump That God Already!

You fathers--if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?
Luke 11:11 (NLT)

John Piper, a prominent Calvinist pastor and author and one of the heads of the Neo-Reformed movement of Christians that includes luminous pastor-leaders as Mark Driscoll seems to believe in and speak for a misogynistic, bullying, monstrous God that if the Christian Church is his bride, as the bible says, we would need to divorce and put out a restraining order on. Being battered, bruised and subject to abuse is no way to live in a relationship. And it's hardly a way to live at all...

I've already written about Piper's excuses for a physically abusive spouse here, and plenty of prominent Christian scholar/writers (including Tony Jones, Rachel Held Evans, and Scot McKnight) have written about the problems of Piper's all-controlling, male-dominant god/supervillain before. And then this morning I saw that Peter Enns delved head-first into the swarm. And I'm thankful for that. Because this is the sociopath that Piper describes as God based on his reading of the genocides of the book of Joshua:

God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs….
If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92.
God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.
This, courtesy of Heath March at marchingonandon

This is what we're supposed to believe about the Hebrew/Christian God. We are supposed to accept the image of (and cower before and accept the fate of) the God of Conquering, Genocidal Joshua over and above the God of Humble, Healing Jesus. I can't. I refuse to. I've seen enough abuse in my clients, in my friends, in my co-congregants, in the churches I've attended and been around, in my community, in my own life. I refuse to bow before a God who demands I love Him*.


I used to sing songs like this, in church, to this destructive, manipulative, abusive God. I used to pray to Him and try to find some solace among all the destruction and death surrounding me that He supposedly allowed and even willed. I used to sing lyrics about how He is greater and stronger and able to beat your god into a pulp.


Is this the kind of God that Jesus presents?

  • The kind of God that has to force you to love Him?
  • The kind of person that wants us to accept how beautiful He is, but tells you you're contemptible and ugly?
  • The kind of lover who treats you like garbage and will only accept you when you realize that you are worthless without Him?
  • The kind of husband who forces you to receive and accept His seed? (Does that sound like rape? Because, despite the counter-claims by the authors, it is)
  • The kind of man who believes that His emotional needs are supposed to be first and, if there is any left over, you must give that to your other leaders?
  • The kind of spouse who gives ultimatums and threats?
  • The kind of lover who can only accept you as worthy of His presence when He hides you behind someone else's (His own?) image?

Is this the God of Jesus, or the God of our theology based on a man-centric, cold and cruel world? This kind of God/lover can't be trusted. He is abusive.

Or is Jesus and his God known as a wooer? As the ultimate in Truth. As a healer? Loving all? Creating all? Asking that we love our neighbors AS we love ourselves, and our wives as Christ loved the Church?

What kind of God do we believe in?

Any father who gives His children snakes when they're hungry needs to have His children removed, brought to a safe place far away from Him, and counseled and treasured.

*I normally do not use gender-specific pronouns to describe God. But this is a different God, a patriarchialistic God, and so needs to be identified as such.


  1. Anonymous10:54 AM

    It is the belief in this kind of misogynistic God that caused four priests to tell my two grandmothers, my mother and me to stay in abusive relationships, because the Savior had his cross and the abusive relationship was the cross God gave us in this life to bear. The women before me listened. I rose up and said, "No!" Now I teach my congregation about God's all inclusive, all emcompassing, compassionate nature. I teach them about a God that wants no one to suffer and who looks upon all as equal. And, I also say that if God is the God that people like John Piper say God is, I want no part of it. Period. End of story.

    1. :)

      It takes a lot to break those cycles, eh? Thank God you were able to!

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    1. thanks, Philip. I'll try to get ahold of you through alternative means.

  3. Kristin1:50 PM

    I'm actually reading Piper's "Desiring God" right now, and though I'm only a few chapters in, it strikes me how often Piper likes to play the "well, God is God" card and just leave it at that.

    For example, he says here "He does not owe us anything." That may be true when you consider simply God to be God, and we're not God. BUT (and this is a huge but) God does owe us something. God 'owes' us what he promised, not in a "let's demand our fair share from God" kind of way but a "we can rest in what he has promised us" kind of way. He is faithful. Did God have to make promises to us? No...but he did.

    Same when we discuss the love of God. Some would like to say things like "you're unworthy of God's love." True in the way he frames the issue, but ultimately not true. We are worthy of his love because in his mercy he has declared us worthy. He has lavished love on us. If God says He loves us, who are we to argue with God?! That's false humility. To constantly retreat to "we are unworthy, we are nothing, etc" when God has clearly revealed otherwise in his Word is a slap in the face to our Father!

    I don't know if he's afraid of believers being cocky and demanding before God or what, but there's a difference between humility and self-flagellation.

    1. Thank you, Kristin.

      I used to be a Piper fanboy. That's, um, all I'll say about that right now. LOL

  4. This is one of the few posts that I will write that is in a sort of shaky agreement with you. I agree that God doesn't want us to be forced to love sie. I also agree that God is not an abuser. I think the reason for the presence of this type of God in churches is language. Many of the words used in the KJV, are not used in commonly used ways (regardless it is still my favorite). Fear of God for example isn't supposed to mean that we are to be afraid of God but really speaks to respect.

  5. This is one of the few posts that I will write that is in a sort of shaky agreement with you. I agree that God doesn't want us to be forced to love sie. I also agree that God is not an abuser. I think the reason for the presence of this type of God in churches is language. Many of the words used in the KJV, are not used in commonly used ways (regardless it is still my favorite). Fear of God for example isn't supposed to mean that we are to be afraid of God but really speaks to respect.

    1. Anonymous11:07 PM

      Fear is very different from respect. I was a 'good girl' growing up because I feared my parents and the God I grew up in. But this grew to resentment and I soon moved out of home and left the church. This is very different to acting out of love for a God who loves you, and only asks that you share that love with others. A God that keeps promises is something I can trust, and therefore respect.

  6. Jason, The problem with your analysis is not John Pipers view of God but your view of man. The bible too me is the most amazing book not because of the promises and "good" things it tell me but because it pull no punches about my heart. I know my heart. I too from years of observation see a bit of the hearts of my fellow man and I must tell you from my point of view and maybe from the Bible's too we better hope God over rules our hearts or we have no hope of falling in love with him. We have no hope of asking for fish. We don't know what's good for us! We need God to transform us.

    As for our point of view that God acts monstrously. That is often the cry of a child who is being protected from their own self destructive desires. We are fools, We want what will hurt us and when God keeps us from complete and utter destruction we cry out like spoilt brats. Make no mistake whether you choose to love him or not, or recognise his ways he is what he is.
    Or you would have to dismiss page after page of the bible as being untrue as to the character of God.

    What is happening in Revelation? What happen at the flood?
    or this picture:

    14 “That terrible day of the LORD is near.
    Swiftly it comes—
    a day of bitter tears,
    a day when even strong men will cry out.15 It will be a day when the LORD’s anger is poured out—
    a day of terrible distress and anguish,
    a day of ruin and desolation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and blackness,16 a day of trumpet calls and battle cries.
    Down go the walled cities
    and the strongest battlements!17 “Because you have sinned against the LORD,
    I will make you grope around like the blind.
    Your blood will be poured into the dust,
    and your bodies will lie rotting on the ground.”18 Your silver and gold will not save you
    on that day of the LORD’s anger.
    For the whole land will be devoured
    by the fire of his jealousy.
    He will make a terrifying end
    of all the people on earth.

    Or Zechariah 14

    I do not espouse this persons view point or their web site and He does take many of these passages out of context and misinterpret them but still there is a lot here to be dealt with.

    We can not make God out to be what we want him to be. In the end look what he did to his own Son.

    I know you do not deny the cross. And I know you do not deny that the Bible says this was God's way of showing love. And I know you do not deny that God planned this before even the creation of the world. And I know you do not deny that God choose to suffer and even to strike his own relationship of perfection with isolation and rejection. This God did to himself.

  7. As to your abusive picture above signed by God. It does not tell the whole story does it? But even if it did, you can not compare a man saying that to God saying it. Man is not perfect. Man is not all knowing. And the man or woman is not the victim. God is the victim. Men and women are plotting to overthrow God. They can not, but they still plot it. There are no innocent humans. The picture is emotional but not true, not because God is love but because behind the fearful eyes of every human victim is a tyrant willing to kill their saviour.

  8. Your theology can not be built on a rightful sense of injustice at the evil inherent in the church. You can not look at the tyrannical misogynist loveless hateful proud racist group of people who lead the so called church and then reject the Bible. We must grapple with what God says of himself.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Thanks... I guess I'm not worth it to you...


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