I must admit that I don’t go out of my way to either listen to or read the writings of John Piper. As the founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, he carries great influence in the Church today. But as someone whose Calvinistic and Covenant perspectives on salvation and Christian living and even prophecy differ markedly from my own, I typically don’t gravitate to his teaching.
That said, on those occasions when I see his name appear in the headlines of otherwise daily news, I will most often take the time to read his perspective on the world around us.
But I frequently do not agree.
And today might just be another one of those times.
Looking back to the day of President Trump’s inauguration, John Piper writes:
“Today we will inaugurate a man to the presidency of the United States who is morally unqualified to be there.” (the article can be read here)
Now unless we have been living with our heads buried in the ground, we should have a pretty good idea what Dr. Piper is talking about. The headlines, launched early in the campaign were flooded with President Trump’s head shaking behavior, providing Dr. Piper with more than enough ammunition to bury the President under a bulleted list of ugly accusations.
There can be no denying that the President’s behavior and street tainted language is strikingly off-color compared to what we would expect to hear from someone standing in the White House. Despite that, my issue is not with the President and his laundry list of personal failings, but with Dr. Piper himself.
I think it is important that we remember that when Dr. Piper speaks, he is not speaking as any other man, but he does so with the weight of his own office and position as a leader in the Church. Like it or not, by virtue of who he is, his judgment on the President comes with one hand gripping the pulpit and the other holding his Bible.
I am making no attempt to deny or condone any of the President’s sinful misdeeds.
But I have to wonder if Dr. Piper’s list was shortened by one or two items, would he find the President morally acceptable? Or perhaps if three of Trump’s failings were to be erased from the charges—would he be able to slip under the Piper limbo pole of acceptability.
Or perhaps it isn’t the number of accusations per se, but the items themselves which Dr. Piper finds morally reprehensible and thus disqualifying to the office of the Presidency. And if that is the case, which ones are the really bad ones?—the deplorable disqualifiers?
And I wonder, with all of the lying, pandering, fornication, political subterfuge, greed and corruption which has walked the halls in wingtips and high heels of every political edifice in our land for decades, how many other Dr. Piper sermons and how many other articles have singled out others as morally unfit for whatever political office they held. For they have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
When reading the article, I wondered what standard Dr. Piper used in leveling his judgment?
Now before anyone tries to hit me over the head saying, “the Bible, you idiot!”, let me rephrase the statement. What exactly in the Bible is Dr. Piper using as a litmus test to declaring whether this man or this woman is or is not acceptable for the office of the Presidency. Is he somehow trying to pull ideas from the pages of the pastoral epistles, and the requirements for pastors and elders? Or is he moralistically bloviating an opinion which really has no basis in Scripture other than clearly identifying President Trump as a sinner like the rest of us.
I would like to remind Dr. Piper, he being the Calvinist that he is, of the sovereignty of God. And God’s sovereignty with regards to Kings and Presidents is clear in Daniel 2:21 where the Scripture says that it is God who sets up kings and removes kings.
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. Daniel 2:21
It is important to understand that not every king that God sets up or removes is what we might consider a good king. In fact the Old Testament is filled with the names of wicked kings such as king Ahab or Agag. But the Bible also has names like Solomon and David who ruled Israel and yet had serious flaws in their character, particularly when it came to women.
So when I look at our President, do I see Ahab or do I see Solomon?
Well, I stand with Scripture and the sovereignty of God. For whatever purpose, God has placed Trump in the White House. Our President is a flawed man. There is no denying that. But is he unfit for his office, morally or on any other basis? I cringe at the idea of essentially accusing God of making a mistake. For God chose him, and therefore our President is fit for the task God intends.
Now what that task is, I have no idea. The Bible says that God chose Samson as a Nazarite (before his birth) who would deliver his people Israel from the hands of the Philistines. God chose Samson and therefore saw him fit to accomplish that task. And he did so knowing full well the failures which would pockmark Samson’s life as he turned from the laws of his people and embraced a Philistine women, a worshiper of idols as his own wife.
The Scripture is clear that our Sovereign God works all things together for good and the accomplishing of his will and purpose. It is true in our day as it was true in Samson’s day. For though Samson failed, God accomplished his purpose in Samson’s life as he collapsed the pillars and brought down the house on the Philistines through the renewing of his strength by God’s grace.
Can we say that Samson, David, Solomon and President Trump were all sinners and morally flawed?
That being said…
Was Samson fit for the office of Judge?
Was David and Solomon fit for the office of King?
God thought so.
Is Trump fit for the office of President?
God thinks so.