Dr. Piper Fires Blanks

    “And therefore, as a man is his brother’s murderer, who, with froward Cain, will not be his brother’s keeper, and may preserve his brother’s life, without loss of his own life… so, when he may preserve his own life, and doth not that which nature’s law alloweth him to to do, (rather to kill ere he be killed,) he is guilty of self-murder, because he is deficient in the duty of lawful self-defence.”

-Samuel Rutherford, p. 157 (Lex, Rex)

John Piper citing a question that was sent into him,

“You recently said, ‘you wish people wouldn’t buy a gun with their economic stimulus checks.’ This sounded to some like you’re a strict pacifist who’d rather avoid confrontation with an intruder than protect his family. Would you respond to this.”

Dr. Piper answers,

The context of my comment was that the missionaries in 1956 who were martyred in Ecuador—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Roger Youdarian, and Peter Fleming—were all speared to death, but they had guns. (This came out through research, and I saw it in a documentary.) And they shot their guns in the air as the spears were going through their chests. They could’ve saved their lives by just shooting horizontally, but they didn’t. They shot in the air because they decided earlier that they were ready to go to heaven but these natives were not. So why would they kill them rather than being killed themselves?

In relation to that, our Supreme Court just declared that the Second Amendment right to bear arms includes not just the right of a militia to bear arms, but the right of a person to have a firearm in his house.

And as I contemplated those two events—the missionaries’ decision and new decision of the Supreme Court—I thought, “If somebody enters my house as a thief, he probably is not ready to go to heaven either.” So then I just ended the blog with, “I hope you don’t use your economic stimulus check to buy a gun.”

I’ve never had one. I’ve never owned a firearm. I had a pellet rifle when I was little and I killed squirrels. But I’m sort of ashamed of the way I killed squirrels, because I didn’t eat them or do anything with them. I just felt it was cool, and I don’t think that’s a very wholesome thing.

No, I am not a pacifist. I am not a pacifist principally, and I’m not a pacifist actively.

Somebody wrote and asked me, “Would you protect your daughter if you had a gun?” I wrote back a one-word answer, “Probably,” and what I meant by it was that the circumstances are so unpredictable. What would you do? Shoot the guy in the head? Or shoot him in the chest? How about the leg? Or just throw the gun at him, or hit him over the head with it? Of course I’m going to protect my daughter! But I’m not aiming to kill anybody, especially an intruder who doesn’t know Christ and would go straight to hell, probably. Why would I want to do that if I could avoid it?

So no, I’m not a pacifist. I believe there should be a militia, and I believe in policemen with billy clubs and guns who should take out guys who are killing people. And I believe in a military to protect a land from aggression. And I believe that fathers should protect their children, even using force. But if they can avoid killing somebody, of course they should avoid killing somebody. And having a gun is a good way not to avoid killing somebody.

We don’t need guns in our houses.

And I’m not against hunters. Don’t get on my case about that, saying that Piper doesn’t believe that you can have bows and arrows and rifles, etc.

And I’m not going to get in your face if you have a gun lying in your drawer. I just think it’s not very wise.

Those who live by the gun will die by the gun.

Bret responds,

Really this is a bit of confusing mish mash. But what I think Dr. Piper is saying is,

1.) “I wouldn’t shoot to kill someone in defense of self and family because said assailant might not be ready to go to heaven and I would thus be responsible for sending someone to hell.”

If that is what he is saying one wonders how a Reformed minister of his stature could ever believe he could send someone to hell before God was able to get them ready to go to heaven?

I know there are many times when God sees a person die and says to Himself, “To late again … and here I was going to get that person saved for heaven next week.”

2.) Here is Dr. Piper’s question as put in the mouths of the Martyred Missionaries, and then as seemingly leveraged for a sort of pacifistic disposition when it comes to self defense, “So why would they kill them rather than being killed themselves?

Here is my answer to that question

a.) Because the Scripture gives me license for self-defense,

Exodus 22:2-3 teaches “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”

One conclusion which can be drawn from this is that a threat to our life is to be met with lethal force. During the day, presumably because we can recognize and later apprehend the thief if he escapes, we are not to kill him in non life-threatening circumstances.

In Proverbs 25:26 we read that “A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.”

Dr. Piper seemingly would have us faltering before the wicked by not being armed.

b.) Because God has called me to be a good steward of all that He has given me and the most precious gifts that God has given us is our family and our lives. To throw our lives away because the wicked are not ready for Heaven is to violate the call to be good stewards.

c.) Love for others requires me to protect the judicially innocent from those wicked who would do harm. It is not love for the judicially innocent for me to be so pious that I allow harm to the judicially innocent because I was too pious to squeeze off a round in order to demonstrate my love to them.

3.) Dr. Piper claims he is not a pacifist but much of his counsel comes across as pacifistic. True, the answer is full of contradictions that can be read both ways but he ends his answer by warning against owning a weapon. (“And having a gun is a good way not to avoid killing somebody.”)

4.) Dr. Piper’s statement, “We don’t need guns in our houses,” belies a serious misunderstanding of necessity of self defense, a serious misunderstanding of the average response time of the Police to a distress call, and a serious misunderstanding of the purpose of the 2nd amendment.

5.) We applaud Dr. Piper for his thoughtful counsel regarding avoidance of taking life it at all possible. However, we should keep in mind that a home invasion crisis, that includes a potential threat to life, often does not allow for easily determining the intent of the aggressor. As such, often it may not be possible to avoid taking life, and in point of fact, to much concern for the life of the aggressor might translate into not enough concern for the lives of those of the family being protected.

6.) One wonders if Dr. Piper is operating from a kind of Big Brother mindset. Note that in his list of people who should have guns he lists all the organs of the State (Militia, Police, and Military). Again, one wonders why those people are more qualified to have tools of protection where individuals are warned off against tools of protection. What makes Big Brother a better candidate for tools of protection as opposed to John Q. Public?

7.) Are we to understand that the warning in Scripture that “those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword” was meant to include those who use weapons according to a Biblical standard? When Dr. Piper says, “those who live by the gun shall die by the gun,” are we to understand that Dr. Piper is including those who use a gun to rescue their wife and children as under that curse?

8.) In the final analysis Dr. Piper’s advice on this matter is unreasonable, uninformed, and what’s worse … unbiblical.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

10 thoughts on “Dr. Piper Fires Blanks”

  1. No reason to get offended by Piper’s comments. If he is convicted that it is better to let him or his family members, who would go to heaven, be possibly killed by a thief than to send that person to hell, I see no reason to get defensive about it.

    For the record, I think he’s got a good point. That’s the way I approach this issue. I don’t and never will own a gun. My reason is I don’t want to send someone to hell who is trying to send me to heaven.

    An eternal perspective is not a bad thing to have.

    I recognize brothers in Christ disagree, and that’s OK. But Piper said nothing here to be criticized for.

  2. Micah,

    First, defense of one’s family is never predicated in Scripture on whether we expect the attacker to go to hell or not. Exodus 22:2 makes no mention of it.

    Second, a man who does not strive to protect his family from murder falls under the condemnation of 1 Tim. 5:8. He has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.

    After decades of reading, studying, and preaching, and with millions of people following his lead, John Piper should have something resembling an even remotely Biblical worldview. That so many people with Reformed inclinations listen to him is a tragedy.

  3. If the Elliots had used their guns to defend themselves they would have impressed the natives much more effectively than by allowing themselves to be killed by savages. The next missionaries who came to the village with a Bible would be looked upon as representatives of the God of thunder, which is what most savages understand instinctively.

  4. Micah,

    The fact of the matter is that we are to live by the word of God and the word of God alone. It is not my right to determine if I kill someone in self-defense if that person is going to heaven or hell. What most people do not understand is that the sixth commandment has positive duty as well and not just the negative clause “Thou shall not kill”. It is my moral duty to protect myself and others around me from murder if it is at all in my hands to do so. Failure to protect my family and/or myself or others would place me guilty of murder as much as the person who pulled the trigger.

    Westminster Larger Catechism speaks regarding this matter,

    “Q135: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment? A135: The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves [1] and others [2] by resisting all thoughts and purposes,[3] subduing all passions,[4] and avoiding all occasions,[5] temptations,[6] and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any;[7] by just defense thereof against violence… comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.[25] 1. Eph. 5:28-29 2. I Kings 18:4 3. Jer. 26:15-16; Acts 23:12, 16-17, 21, 27 4. Eph. 4:26-27 5. II Sam. 2:22; Deut. 22:8 6. Matt. 4:6-7; Prov. 1:10-11, 15-16 7. I Sam. 24:2; 26:9-11; Gen. 37:21-22 8. Psa. 82:4; Prov. 24:11-12; I Sam. 14:45 … 25. I Thess. 5:14; Job 31:19-20; Matt. 25:35-36; Prov. 31:8-9

    Q136: What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
    A136: The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves,[1] or of others,[2] except in case of public justice,[3] lawful war,[4] or necessary defense;[5] the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life;[6] 1. Acts 16:28
    2. Gen. 9:6 3. Num. 35:31, 33 4. Jer. 48:10; Deut. ch. 20 5. Exod. 22:2-3 6. Matt. 25:42-43; James 2:15-16; Eccl. 6:1-2

  5. “And therefore, as a man is his brother’s murderer, who, with froward Cain, will not be his brother’s keeper, and may preserve his brother’s life, without loss of his own life… so, when he may preserve his own life, and doth not that which nature’s law alloweth him to to do, (rather to kill ere he be killed,) he is guilty of self-murder, because he is deficient in the duty of lawful self-defence.”

    -Samuel Rutherford, p. 157 (Lex, Rex)

  6. Piper left much to be desired with his responce to the question. Why is this man in any position to answer as any sort of authority? That was sloppy and careless and most serious, unbiblical. My 7 year old son could give a better answer to the question posed.

  7. Piper seems to say that it’s not OK to defend yourself with a weapon, and then he seems to say that it is OK (maybe sometimes). As the Scripture says, the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

  8. I think that, as nice as a man Mr. Piper is, he is letting a sad story about segregation in church govern his whole view. John Piper has never heard of the Wichita Massacre or the Knoxville horror. If he did, he would change many views on race and guns. (But I don’t have a gun)

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