John Piper is a well-respected, almost revered, preacher especially in Reformed groups; but recently he ran off the rails resulting in a minor train wreck. He discussed “Guns and Martyrdom” using the 1956 killing of five dedicated missionaries deep in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador as basis for his blog. There is no doubt that that Ecuadorian event had a major impact on the world. The missionaries had guns yet only shot into the air not at the savages who were throwing deadly spears. All five men died in the piranha and crocodile infested Curaray River as it carried their innocent blood downstream into the jungle.
Dr. Piper reasons that the young men knew they were ready for Heaven but the savages were not so they basically committed suicide rather than take lives. But John is assuming that what the brave men did was the right thing to do; moreover that it was precedent-setting for all Christians to follow. That is two major leaps of logic.
Now I must add that there is no doubt God used that event to impress many hundreds of Christian workers to commit to missions. One of the widows and a sister of one of the men even went back to that heathen tribe and lived among them. Many in the tribe trusted Christ and two of the killers baptized the child of one of the missionaries in the river where the father died! After the son’s training, he ministered to the tribe who killed his father.
Their deaths impacted my life as a college student. And maybe what they did was God’s will; however, there is another side to this issue. Had the missionaries protected themselves and served another 30 years they might have reached multitudes more for Christ.
Whatever was “right” in that tragedy, it is no precedent for us today. We don’t decide “right” by human experiences. Lifetime principles are decided by the Bible.
Piper concluded that if someone breaks into his house the thief is “probably not ready for Heaven” so John would not use a gun to protect himself and his family! He ended his blog with, “I hope you don’t use your economic stimulus check to buy a gun.” No doubt he is sincere but he is also senile! His explanation doesn’t explain his position.
The threat of being killed will deter many criminals. Criminals gravitate to “No gun Zones” and our homes should not be such. If a criminal is “not ready for Heaven” he had better not be found in our home. Piper is a Calvinist so why is there a problem shooting an intruder “not ready for Heaven?” I thought the elect were going to Heaven whether they wanted to or not.
Moreover, if you have children ten or twelve years old, can you be sure they are “ready for Heaven”? By not shooting the criminal, he may rape and shoot your children who “are not ready for Heaven”! You have sent your own child to Hell by such vapid thinking.
Piper obviously has placed the possible salvation of a rapist at a higher premium over everything, even the lives of family members. Therefore, to be consistent, he should demand the state do the same. No villain, no serial killer, or terrorist should be executed. That means anarchy. God commands government to execute criminals without regard for their souls. After all, society is at risk.
He said, “No, I am not a pacifist. I am not a pacifist principally, and I’m not a pacifist actively.” He believes hunting is permissible and cops should use billy clubs and guns to capture or kill bad guys. He believes in the military to counter aggression but he is confused as to personal protection. A homeowner should not kill an intruder; however the state can kill with impunity. He has fallen into the trap that many shallow thinkers have fallen into: the state can be trusted but individuals cannot be. He is really saying, “The state is the final authority. I bow to the state and submit to it.”
When asked if he would use a gun to protect his daughter, he answered, “probably.” Probably! John, your daughter and wife are going to be raped, maybe killed! Probably! When you took a wife you accepted responsibility to pamper, provide, and protect her.
He then asked whether he should shoot the bad guy in the chest, head, or leg. Or throw the gun at the bad guy. He opined, “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.” That is the epitome of fuzzy thinking.
Since each Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit, it is unwise to value the life of a law breaker over one’s own life for the dubious prospect of the thief trusting Christ in the future. The odds are unlikely since most people choose to not trust Him. That means the practical pacifist sacrificed the life of his family and his own life without accomplishing anything other than feeding the morticians or maybe purchasing them a new hearse. It also may mean that the killer will kill others who “are not ready for Heaven.” Moreover, there is no guarantee that the criminal will get saved after the pacifist has spared his life at the expense of his own!
Piper said, “We don’t need guns in our houses.” He is wrong. It is irresponsible not to have a gun. A gun is like a parachute: if you don’t have one when needed, you won’t need it again. Moreover, I would rather have a parachute and not need it than not have one when I need it. Same with a gun.
He finally said, “Those who live by the gun will die by the gun.” But those who permit the bad guys to have guns and refuse to arm themselves may die by the gun carried by the thief or rapist who can’t even spell pacifist. But they can fire a gun!
Although Jesus tells his followers in Luke 22:36 to go buy a sword, Piper argues that Jesus did not intend for his apostles to have swords in order to use them to “violently defend against persecution.” Maybe they intended to use the swords to cut their meat, to open envelopes, and to trim their nails!
Piper and those like him can choose whatever they please but they must give account for their actions. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord and I will protect them with the help of two good friends: Smith and Wesson.
(Boys’ new book, The God Haters was published by Barbwire Books; to get your copy of The God Haters click here . An eBook edition is also available.)
(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives; ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis, wrote columns for USA Today for eight years; authored 15 books and hundreds of columns and articles for Internet and print media publications; defended his beliefs on hundreds of talk shows. These columns go to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio stations and may be used without change from title through the end tag. His web sites are www.cstnews.com and www.Muslimfact.com and www.thegodhaters.com. Contact Don for an interview or talk show.)