Dr. Piper and His Insistence that Christians Should Lie Down and Die — Part V

Dr. Piper offers,

7. When Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword, he was not telling them to use it to escape the very thing he promised they should endure to the death.

[Jesus] said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough [that’s plenty].” (Luke 22:35–38)
I do not think that Jesus meant in verse 36 that his disciples were to henceforth be an armed band of preachers ready to use violence to defend themselves from persecution. Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in his clarifying remarks on December 9,
It just boggles my mind that anybody would be against what Jesus told his disciples in Luke 22:36. He told them if they had to sell their coat to buy a sword to do it because he knew danger was coming, and he wanted them to defend themselves.
If that is the correct interpretation of this text, my question is, “Why did none of his disciples in the New Testament ever do that — or commend that?” The probable answer is that Jesus did not mean for them to think in terms of armed defense for the rest of their ministry. Jesus’s abrupt words, at the end of the paragraph, when the disciples produced two swords, were not, “Well, you need to get nine more.” He said, “It is enough!” or “That’s plenty!” This may well signify that the disciples have given a mistaken literal meaning to a figurative intention. Darrell Bock concludes,
Two events [are] commentary on this verse [36]: Jesus’ rebuke of the use of a sword against the high priest’s servant (22:49–51) and the church’s nonviolent response to persecution in the Book of Acts (4:25–31; 8:1–3; 9:1–2; 12:1–5). In fact, Acts 4:25–31 shows the church armed only with prayer and faith in God. Luke 22:36 sees the sword as only a symbol of preparation for pressure, since Jesus’ rebuke of a literal interpretation (22:38) shows that a symbol is meant (Fitzmyer 1985: 1432; Marshall 1978: 825). It points to readiness and self-sufficiency, not revenge (Nolland 1993b: 1076). (Luke, volume 2, page 1747)
What seems plain to me is that the uncertainty of this text (which I share) should not be used to silence the others I have cited.

Bret responds,

Those passages that Dr. Piper cites that are supposed to overturn the passage in Luke 22 Piper doesn’t like are in a historical context. Jesus is speaking to his disciples about eventualities that will come upon them. Even if the message to the disciples was to “lie down and die” that wouldn’t necessarily mean that would be the message for all time and all disciples everywhere. The fact that the passages that Dr. Piper quotes (Luke 21:12-19, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 10:16-22) are not necessarily for all disciples at all times everywhere is proven by a differing counsel that the Lord Christ gave to His disciples in Luke 22:36-38

36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

The Lord Christ counsel the purchase of a sword in vs. 36 because unlike the previous, in-house missionary journeys to their fellow Israelites, the Lord Christ knew that He was now sending his disciples out into the hostile/pagan Gentile world and they would need to be prepared to defend themselves. Dr. Piper is reading the Scripture through his Anabaptistic – Pacifistic lenses and so he concludes what he concludes but Anabaptist theology is not God honoring theology.

Dr. Piper follows up his eisegesis with more or arguing from silence. “The Apostles didn’t say anything about self defense therefore that proves we shouldn’t use self defense.” Can you say “fallacious argumentation?”

Dr. Piper complains about Dr. Falwell Jr. trying to use Luke 22 to silence other texts and then Piper turns around and tries to use the other texts to silence Luke 22 by appealing to the time honored evasion of “symbolism.”  On top of that there is the whole reality that Piper is trying to keep this debate in the New Testament. Dr. Piper does this because he knows that if the God’s Word in the whole of Scripture is allowed to speak on this subject his Anabaptist pacifism is even more dead on arrival than it has been seen to be demonstrated in this series.

Dr. Piper offers,

8. A natural instinct is to boil this issue down to the question, “Can I shoot my wife’s assailant?”
My answer is sevenfold.
1) This instinct is understandable. But it seems to me that the New Testament resists this kind of ethical reduction, and does not satisfy our demand for a yes or no on that question. We don’t like this kind of ambiguity, but I can’t escape it. There is, as I have tried to show, a pervasive thrust in the New Testament pushing us toward blessing and doing good to those who hate, curse, and abuse us (Luke 6:27–28). And there is no direct dealing with the situation of using lethal force to save family and friend, except in regards to police and military. This is remarkable when you think about it, since I cannot help but think this precise situation presented itself, since we read that Saul drug men and women bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1–2).

Bret responds,

a.) Everyone reading this should have pity and compassion for Noel Piper, Dr. John Piper’s wife.

b.) Note again how Dr. Piper goes out of his way to limit this discussion to the New Testament. This is all very Marcion of Dr. Piper.

c.) As I have shown in the first entry on this subject, the Reformed Confessions demand that we conclude that we shoot an assailant of our wife if that is the only means from keeping her from being maimed and killed. To not shoot such an assailant would incur God’s displeasure against us for being so cowardly in disobeying the 6th commandment.

d.) Dr. Piper, as I have demonstrated in previous entries, is in error, when he presumes that it is doing evil to those who intend to do harm to the judicially innocent, when we stop them from doing evil. It is not doing evil to them but is returning to them good for evil.

e.) In Dr. Piper’s last sentence above he, once again, argues from silence.

Dr. Piper offers,

2) Our primary aim in life is to show that Christ is more precious than life. So when presented with this threat to my wife or daughter or friend, my heart should incline toward doing good in a way that would accomplish this great aim. There are hundreds of variables in every crisis that might affect how that happens.

Bret responds,

a.) Our primary aim in life is to glorify God. The 6th commandment, with the attendant Catechism explanations, demonstrate that if we do not defend life when defending life is possible we are defaming God.

b.) The fact that our primary aim in life is to show that Christ is more precious than life is itself reason to honor Christ by taking the life of the wicked who would take the life of my wife, daughter, or friend. Christ is glorified when the 6th commandment is esteemed.

Dr. Piper offers,

3) Jesus died to keep that assailant from sinning against my family. That is, Jesus’s personal strategy for overcoming crimes was to overcome sinful inclinations by giving his life to pay debts and change hearts. It is no small thing that Peter based non-retaliatory suffering from unjust treatment on the atoning work of Christ as exemplary: “To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Bret responds,

a.) Dr. Piper does not know that the Lord Christ died to pay the debt of the assailant who is trying to kill a family member. If the Lord Christ did die for the debt of the assailant then Dr. Piper can be sure that when he fires his weapon to defend his wife, or daughter, that he will not inflict a mortal wound since God never fails to win His elect for whom Christ died.

b .) God’s personal strategy for overcoming crimes is for people to obey his law and the law in Exodus 22 clearly and unambiguously teaches self defense.

c.) Peter is writing a suffering people who have no recourse. Peter is not writing to recommend going out of one’s way to come under suffering.

Dr. Piper offers,

4) I realize that even to call the police when threatened — which, in general, it seems right to do in view of Romans 13:1–4 — may come from a heart that is out of step with the mind of Christ. If one’s heart is controlled mainly by fear, or anger, or revenge, that sinful disposition may be expressed by using the police as well as taking up arms yourself.

Bret responds,

a.) Here John’s Anabaptist pacifism reaches so far as to suggest that calling the police would be dishonoring to Christ.

b.) The only way the heart can be in step with the mind of Christ is by esteeming the law of God which requires, via the 6th commandment, self defense. Here John is divorcing God’s Word from the mind of Christ.

Dr. Piper offers

5) I live in the inner city of Minneapolis, and I would personally counsel a Christian not to have a firearm available for such circumstances.

Bret responds,

John might as well say,

“I live in the inner city of Minneapolis, and I, as a Anabaptist pacifist, would personally counsel that you make no provision to obey the 6th commandment.”

Dr. Piper offers,

6) I do not know what I would do before this situation presents itself with all its innumerable variations of factors. And I would be very slow to condemn a person who chose differently from me.

Bret offers,

That’s big of John to allow that someone who defended his family from murder and mayhem, by way of self defense, might not be condemned by John Piper.

Dr. Piper offers,

7) Back to the first point, it seems to me that the New Testament does not aim to make this clear for us. Its aim is a radically transformed heart that lives with its treasure in another world, longs to show Jesus to be more satisfying than life, trusts in the help of God in every situation, and desires the salvation of our enemies.

Bret responds,

a.) And yet here Dr. Piper has spilled vast amounts of cyber ink to suggest that the NT does make matters clear for us. This statement is schizophrenic on John’s part.

b.) Self defense does not negate, as I have demonstrated in all these entries, the desire for a “radically transformed heart that lives with its treasure in another world, longs to show Jesus to be more satisfying than life, trusts in the help of God in every situation, and desires the salvation of our enemies.” I can do all these things and defend my pregnant wife and toddler children as in keeping with the 6th commandment.

c.) Of course with the way that John has crafted his #7 we see his Marcion like admission that the God of the OT was different than the God of the NT. What John is implying here, perhaps without even realizing is, is that the NT God has one aim while the OT God has a different aim.

Dr. Piper offers,

9. Even though the Lord ordains for us to use ordinary means of providing for life (work to earn; plant and harvest; take food, drink, sleep, and medicine; save for future needs; provide governments with police and military forces for society), nevertheless, the unique calling of the church is to live in such reliance on heavenly protection and heavenly reward that the world will ask about our hope (1 Peter 3:15), not about the ingenuity of our armed defenses.
God is our refuge and strength. (Psalm 46:1)
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. (Luke 21:17–18)

Bret Responds,

a.) Pretty soon, I expect Dr. Piper to go all John Reed on me and write, “Property is theft.”

b.) If John really believes this then why does he own anything? Is not his ownership of anything proof that he is not living “in such reliance on heavenly protection and heavenly reward that the world will ask about his hope?” Does John lock his door at night? Proof that he isn’t acting as a Christian. Does John lock his car doors? Proof he isn’t acting as a Christian.  Does John buckle up when he goes for a drive? Proof that John isn’t acting as a Christian.  Does John have a savings account? Proof that John isn’t acting as a Christian. Does John vote for the candidate he thinks will be best? Proof that John isn’t acting Christian. All these things that John is doing that is keeping the world from asking about his hope. John should be ashamed and riven with guilt.

Dr. Piper offers,

This article is about the people whom the Bible calls “refugees and exiles” on earth; namely, Christians. It’s about the fact that our weapons are not material, but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:4). It is an argument that the overwhelming focus and thrust of the New Testament is that Christians are sent into the world — religious and non-religious — “as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). And that exhorting the lambs to carry concealed weapons with which to shoot the wolves does not advance the counter-cultural, self-sacrificing, soul-saving cause of Christ.

Bret responds,

a.) On the potential spirituality of guns see the 3rd paragraph of this entry,


b.)  John Piper must really not like the 6th commandment and the Reformed Catechisms that comment on it.

c.) Piper continues with his false dichotomy to the bitter end. There is no dichotomy between protecting the lives of the judicially innocent and advancing the cause of Christ. Indeed, Dr. Piper might be amazed at how people stand up and notice the cause of Christ once a few Christians step forward to defend their wives and families from deranged sociopaths with weapons.

Honestly, I hope that Dr. Piper.’s writing can be explained by his suffering from some form of dementia that is driving him to write this kind of drivel. I would hate to think that Dr. Piper honestly is in full possession of his faculties and so really believes this eisegesis. This kind of drivel is detracting from the really stellar work he did 20-30 years ago. 

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.

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