In response to the horrific tragedy that has captured the minds and hearts of “all Americans” in Texas, Roger Olson has published an interesting article that reveals the dangerous tendency of Piper’s Calvinistic teachings and the proliferation of his theology as found in his oft quoted statement — “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Olson makes that point as follows . . . .
I began this blog as a place to respond to the growing influence of hard-core, aggressive Calvinism in America (now elsewhere as well). The so-called “Young, Restless, Reformed Movement” (YRRM) was sweeping through college and university campuses under the influence of people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem. I was at the starting place when that movement began. I was teaching Christian theology as a non-Calvinist at Bethel College and Seminary in Minnesota. Piper and Grudem had been there not long before me, also teaching biblical studies and theology, but left before I came on faculty.
Many of my students were quoting Piper and Grudem in class as if what they wrote and taught was God’s Word. Of course, neither of them ever said that about what they taught and wrote, but many young (mostly male) Christians latched onto their teachings about God’s sovereignty as if it is the only orthodox, biblical interpretation.
Over the years I have said here many times that IF I were a Calvinist I would have to look at a horror such as unfolded yesterday in Uvalde, Texas and praise God for it. Let me be clear: I do NOT praise God for it! But IF I were a Calvinist I would have to if I wanted to be logically consistent. I realize that very few, if any Calvinists do that, but my argument is they are being inconsistent when they don’t.
Let us be clear here. This kind of Calvinism which goes back to John Calvin himself, if not further back, teaches that everything that happens, without exception, is planned, ordained and rendered certain by God FOR HIS GLORY. Thus, whatever happens, however horrific to us, causes God to smile. Remember the Calvinist hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” — “behind a frowning providence God hides a smiling face.”
According to Piper, events such as the killing of children is truly evil but only because God has forbidden it. But also, God plans, ordains and renders it certain. According to Piper, evil events such as this sadden God—because they are necessary. But they are necessary for the greater glory of God (as is hell)! . . . .
Fortunately, for me, I am not and never have been a Calvinist and so I can look at such horrific events and call them what they are: pure evil. Who is really behind them? Not God but Satan. They are not part of God’s plan and they do not glorify God. . . .
I will ask you to respond to one question only: Why do you NOT praise God when you hear about a mass shooting including of children—assuming you do not. If you do, then all I can say is you may be consistent but you probably worship a different God than I worship.
If you would like to read his full article in its context, here is the link.
I remember talking to a member of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” As most realize, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will not serve in the armed forces, give allegiance to the United States flag, or be involved in law enforcement. In our talk, I asked him what he would do if someone broke into their home and was attacking his wife or his daughter — assaulting them physically or sexually. His answer was — “I would pray.”
My response to him was . . . .
If you are saying that you represent what the Scriptures teach as the righteous and proscriptive will of God, as found in the Bible, then I have good reason to not believe anything you say as being biblical. If you can so twist the Scriptures to allow for that kind of response — “I would pray” — then you have the ability to twist Scripture to mean anything!
I remember talking to an individual who was a pastor/Bible teacher/reformed theologian/and-or Calvinist who repeated that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. . . . .
[You can finish it!]
I refuse to follow a theological ideology (or teacher/pastor/ministry) that travels anywhere near the vicinity of a belief that suggests that God is the author of evil. Such an ideology is misguided, dangerous, and damaging!
I will leave theological room for the belief that there is far more about God that I don’t understand than I do, and some of Who He is and what He does is hidden and unknown. It is part of the mysterious nature of the God-head!
P.S. You do not have to be in agreement with all a fellow believer, professor, writer, or theologian holds to in order to find value in their analysis. I say that for those who dismiss Roger Olson’s helpful and/or valuable insights primarily because he resides in a different camp than they might reside.
If you read the same books, you will think the same thoughts!
There is more to a Christian’s view of life and living than is seen through the colored glasses of a Reformed/New Calvinistic/Calvinistic theology.
Roger Olson PDF
Some other comments on the article:
“The only way I can imagine God being glorified through evil is in His ultimate resolution of the matter in a final judgement.”
Calvinists are “reductionistic in nature. They take one tenet, such as God is love or God is sovereign, and deduce from that tenet everything that happens in the world.”
“You may not care about being a consistent Calvinist but some Calvinists do and they have been making a lot of noise during the last three decades (or so). And a set of seemingly contradictory beliefs is something to work on, not just embrace. “
“Augustine tells of a vision of seeing a little boy at a beach scooping up the ocean thimbleful by thimbleful and emptying it out on the sand. Then he sees an angel who tells him that this boy will have emptied out the entire ocean long before Augustine has exhausted what can be said about God.”