Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Gay marriage: John Piper won’t endorse traditional marriage amendment

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, headline: “Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight.”

Excerpt:

Two key conservative evangelical leaders in Minnesota are not endorsing the marriage amendment or directing followers to vote for it, marking the first time during debate over the measure that major faith leaders have not encouraged members to take a stand on the issue.

Influential preacher and theologian the Rev. John Piper came out against gay marriage during a sermon Sunday but did not explicitly urge members of his Minneapolis church to vote for the amendment.

The Rev. Leith Anderson, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s longtime pastor, also said this week he does not plan to take a public side on the amendment, which would change the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Religious observers say the lack of formal backing from the two influential figures could signal that evangelical leaders in Minnesota are taking a less active role in supporting the amendment — a marked departure from evangelicals in dozens of other states where similar amendments have passed.

“Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism,” Piper said during his sermon, posted on Bethlehem Baptist Church’s website.

[...]Piper had been under pressure from conservative groups to weigh in on the amendment, according to his spokesman David Mathis, adding that Piper did not hold back over concerns the church could lose its tax-exempt status.

“Basically our position is, we’re not taking one as a church,” Mathis said.

John Piper has no opinion about whether the state of Minnesota legalizes gay marriage or not – he doesn’t want to get involved in politics. He is famous for pushing “Christian Hedonism” in his books, and also believes in predestination.

My advice for pastors who are pro-marriage

I think that it is important for pastors who want to take conservative positions and really have an effect on the real world to base their positions on logical arguments and evidence. Many pastors seem to just read what the Bible says to people in their churches, but they don’t really think about how the Bible applies to public policy. They don’t really think that the Bible has any bearing outside of the church – this is called subjectivism, and in Christian circles, it is closely tied to fideism.

Pastors who pass on studying apologetics often find themselves having to back away from what the Bible says in public, because they are afraid of being labeled bigots. If your views on moral questions are just held on faith, then it’s hard to tell people that public policy should be based on private faith. It’s like condemning people to Hell because they don’t like the same flavor of ice cream as you. It is much easier to tell someone that smoking is bad for their health though. Why? Because if you put the work in, you can use arguments and evidence, and it’s easy to be bold when you have arguments and evidence. But it takes work to build your case.

Neil and other people are telling me that Piper has stated his view against gay marriage in a sermon, and he cites Bible verses. My problem with this is that Piper’s sermon only applies to people who are inerrantists – who think that the Bible is authoritative. If Piper really opposed gay marriage, then he would support the marriage amendment, and he would persuade people in his state – not just his choir and congregation – using arguments and evidence that people in his state find convincing.

Here’s my argument:

1) If Piper sincerely opposes gay marriage, then he doesn’t want gay marriage to be legalized
2) To stop gay marriage from being legalized, the marriage amendment must pass
3) To pass the marriage amendment, the majority of Minnesotans must vote for it
4) The majority of Minnesotans are not Biblical inerrantists who are persuaded by Piper’s sermon and his citing of Bible verses
5) Piper’s flock cannot persuade the majority of Minnesotans with Piper’s sermon and his citing of  Bible verses
6) Therefore, Piper will have to have some way to persuade these non-inerrantist Minnesotans, if he sincerely opposes gay marriage

If your friend is on fire, you do not preach a sermon and quote the Bible to him. You throw a bucket of water on him – that’s what works. If you really want something to happen, you do what works. Preaching sermons with Bible verses to your flock and then declining to support the marriage amendment in public with evidence and arguments that appeal to the majority of Minnesota voters is not going to stop gay marriage. There are other pastors, like Wayne Grudem and Mark Driscoll who do study the research that bears on these sorts of issues and they do use evidence to persuade others – even non-Christians. They have arguments and evidence – they are bold and they do not care about sounding nice. Grudem even writes about politics and urges Christians to be involved in specific policies and legislation.

The secular left is very happy with pastors who don’t make any arguments or cite any evidence in public. They are easily marginalized and then non-Christians have NO REASON AT ALL to vote with us on social issues. It even has an effect on Jews and other religions, because they are told by the media “the only reason to oppose gay marriage is religious bigotry”. It’s similar to how Darwinists can marginalize opposition to evolution by pointing to fideistic pastors and then claiming that the only opposition to evolution is religious, not scientific. The pastors who refuse to study and make public arguments and cite research papers play right into this. They make it easy for non-Christians to vote against us because this is just “our view”. It’s not true of the real world. It’s just Bible verses. It’s not Bible verses supported by evidence.

Many pastors also kept silent during the time of slavery and Nazism, and said that they didn’t want to get involved in politics or approve specific legislation. Presumably, they expressed their personal opinions to their church choirs behind closed church doors, citing Bible verses which slave-owners and Nazis would not find convincing. But they thought that this was the best they could do since “you can’t argue anyone into the Kingdom of God” and “Jesus isn’t a Republican or a Democrat”. Not every pastor is going to be bold like a William Wilberforce or a Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and make their case in public.

The continuous refusal to engage in the public square with reasons and evidence is not good for Christianity. In fact, we may even lose our religious liberty when we only speak about Bible verses to the church choir behind closed church doors.

Look at what happened in Canada where gay marriage is legal:

In what they are touting as a “world first,” a Quebec homosexual activist group has launched a “registry of homophobic acts” with support and funding from the Quebec Government’s Justice Department.  Standing alongside Montreal Police Chief Johanne Paquin and Commander Alain Gagnon, the leadership of the group Gai Ecoute launched the anonymous tipster registry at a press conference today.

Included in the definition of actions classified as “homophobic” and deemed worthy of reporting to the registry are: “any negative word or act toward a homosexual or homosexuality in general: physical abuse, verbal abuse, intimidation, harassment, offensive graffiti, abuse, injurious mockery, inappropriate media coverage and discrimination.”

A press release from the group says that anyone who has experienced or witnessed an act of homophobia “must” report it to the registry of homophobic acts.

And here’s what happened in Denmark where gay marriage is legal:

Homosexual couples in Denmark have won the right to get married in any church they choose, even though nearly one third of the country’s priests have said they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies.

The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

Giving sermons in church is safe. But speaking out against gay marriage in public on public policy is not completely safe. If pastors pass on making arguments and producing objective evidence and pointing to current events now – when it is still relatively safe to do so – then we mustn’t shed a tear when the next piece of legislation forces pastors to have to perform gay wedding ceremonies in their churches.  Knowledge and practical wisdom are needed to be a good faithful pastor, I think. By being unable to speak out persuasively on moral issues, we leave ourselves open to the things that happen in Canada and Denmark… and around the world. We shouldn’t wait too long before we make our stand – voting “present” is not a good idea.

UPDATE: People are asking me what arguments Piper should be using instead of the sermons and Bible verses, which have limited appeal to the majority of Minnesota voters.

In order to influence the culture as a whole, Piper would have to use arguments like these:

Philosophical:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155

Evidential:
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/06/5640

Human rights:
http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No3_Severinoonline.pdf

If Piper’s goal is to DO GOOD at a practical level, then he has to use public square arguments that are convincing to people who do not accept a very very conservative view of the Bible (which I accept). He has to decide whether Christianity is something subjective and private (about him and his life, and maybe the people who hear his sermons in his church) or public and practical (about society and law). Right now, he is enjoying the liberties that exist because the foundation of the United States is Judeo-Christian, but he has to do his part in public using secular arguments and evidence to protect those foundations, or they could be taken away.

If Piper wants children to *actually* have a mother and a father, and wants Christians to *actually* retain their religious liberty and freedom of conscience, then he will have to GO PUBLIC and use PUBLIC means of persuasion. If every single person in his church agreed with him, and every fundamentalist Christian in Minnesota agreed with him, that would still not be enough to defend marriage.

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37 Responses

  1. Neil Shenvi says:

    People who are interested might want to read the actual sermon Piper preached on the amendment:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/let-marriage-be-held-in-honor-thinking-biblically-about-so-called-same-sex-marriage

    And also his response to the Tribune article:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/what-the-star-tribune-got-right-and-wrong

    The key issue to me seems to be whether we view pastors primarily as individual Christians who are appointed by God to teach the church or whether we view them as heads of organizations responsible for issuing public policy statements. I would argue that the former is taught in Scripture while the latter is quite foreign to it.

    • Here’s what he says in the post you linked:

      “The part that they got right was that I did not give a public endorsement for any legislation or candidate.”

      Now no one is asking him to endorse a candidate, so his statement can be shortened to this:

      “The part that they got right was that I did not give a public endorsement for any legislation.”

      That’s what he said, he stands by it, and that’s what I took issue with in my post. Nothing that the Start Tribune “got wrong”, according to his post, was of interest to me.

      He did not give a public endorsement of a piece of legislation that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. His definition of marriage is not meant for the public at large, it’s just meant for himself, and also for whoever comes to his church to hear his sermons and his Bible verses. That’s his view.

      If I can paraphrase his view, it’s something like this. “I personally think that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that’s what I tell people in my church with my sermons, and I cite Bible verses to them which they find convincing. But I would never say that my view should become law and I have not prepared any non-sectarian reasons or evidence with which to commend my view to others who do not assume that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. I also have not trained my flock to be persuasive to anyone who doesn’t already assume that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.”

      • Stan says:

        You’ve SERIOUSLY misunderstood his view with your paraphrase. He has plainly, clearly, and repeatedly stated what biblical marriage is. “Now go vote.” You’re responding to him like people today respond to Jesus. “Jesus never said homosexuality was a sin.” Didn’t we get enough from the Old and New Testaments and enough from Jesus on what marriage WAS to realize that we don’t need an explicit statement on this from Him?

        STR suggests we don’t rush to judgment on men of God who have proven reliable in the past. I’d suggest we go along with STR on this.

        • Piper’s sermon only applies to people who are inerrantists – who think that the Bible is authoritative. If Piper really opposed gay marriage, then he would support the marriage amendment, and he would persuade people in his state – not just his choir and congregation – using arguments and evidence that people in his state find convincing.

          Here’s the breakdown:
          1) If Piper sincerely opposes gay marriage, then he doesn’t want gay marriage to be legalized
          2) To stop gay marriage, the marriage amendment must pass
          3) To pass the marriage amendment, the majority of Minnesotans must vote for it
          4) The majority of Minnesotans are not Biblical inerrantists who listen to Piper’s sermon and Bible verses
          5) Piper’s flock cannot persuade the majority of Minnesotans with Piper’s sermon and Bible verses
          6) Therefore, Piper will have to have some way to persuade these non-inerrantist Minnesotans if he sincerely opposes gay marriage

          If you really want something to happen, you do what works. Preaching sermons with Bible verses to your flock and then declining to support the marriage amendment in public with evidence and arguments that appeal to the majority of Minnesota voters is not going to stop gay marriage.

          • Stan says:

            “If Piper really opposed gay marriage, then he would support the marriage amendment, and he would persuade people in his state – not just his choir and congregation – using arguments and evidence that people in his state find convincing.”

            To quote a well-known movie character, “I find your lack of faith … disturbing.”

            The suggestion is, therefore, that since Piper uses the Word of God to make his point, he isn’t “really opposed” to gay marriage. I worry sometimes that this approach of demanding arguments outside of the power of God (God never said that power was invested in human reason and cogent arguments, but He did say there was power in the Word of God) makes people who make this argument more deists than theists.

            May I suggest that it is possible that a preacher of the Word might be genuinely opposed to things that oppose the Word and place his trust not in mere human argumentation but in the Word and power of God. This preacher, then, would disagree that “arguments and evidence that people in his state find convincing” are better than prayer and use of God’s truth and the Word of God?

  2. Caedus says:

    I’m usually right behind most of your theological and political commentary, WK but I think you could have researched this post a little better.

    You give the impression that John Piper isn’t interested in helping Christians in the defense of their faith or in bringing their beliefs into the public square. The truth is he’s written a great book on the Life of the Mind and has spoken and written much about why Christianity is true and historically credible. He may not follow your apologetic methodology exactly but he does attempt to engage false beliefs (like pluralism or the cults) and show why the Bible is worth trusting and the resurrection is an historical event.

    In the end, I think Piper’s tactic in this sermon serves the Christian community better – rather than telling his members exactly how to act politically, he instead helps them better think about the biblical, philosophical, and political issues involved and how a Christian should approach making their decision. This is what we want – not congregational robots but thinking, reflective Christians.

    • I read his post on homosexuality. His argument seems to be that homosexuality causes tornados:

      http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-tornado-the-lutherans-and-homosexuality

      The only support he gave for his tornado argument was Bible verses that did not mention tornados. I don’t think that it is a good idea to argue against bad public policy using Bible verses and it’s not clear to me that he has ever moved beyond that. I don’t think that Christians who try to argue their views by quoting the Bible like Piper does will make much headway with non-Christians.

      We can do better.

      • Caedus says:

        For starters, that post isn’t arguing about public policy or even about why homosexuality is wrong – it’s about how we might understand God’s providence and natural disasters. Piper doesn’t suggest anything more radical in interpreting events than what Jesus did in Luke 13.

        Surely, we can read better?

      • Tracy says:

        Well, dang it. Jumping to unwarranted conclusions, eh Piper?

  3. Kunoichi says:

    “…have won the right to get married in any church they choose, even though nearly one third of the country’s priests have said they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies.”

    When discussions about SSM pop up, I have been repeatedly told that the legalization of SSM in Canada will not lead to churches being forced to marry SS couples; when I point out that it’s already happening, they brush it off as “not in Canada”, as if that will magically mean it could never happen here. Meanwhile, they have no problem with the idea of forcing marriage commissioners to perform marriage ceremonies against their will or lose their license, because it’s their job and they are licensed by the government. If they have no problem with one, why should I believe they have a problem the other?

    As an aside, marriage commissioners are not actually paid by the government in Canada, which a lot of people believe and is their justification for forcing them to perform an act that goes against their conscience. Couples getting married in civil ceremonies pay for the service themselves, and often have a list of hundreds of commissioners to choose from – and if they don’t in their area, they could even find someone willing to get a temporary license, for just one ceremony. There is no legitimate reason to force a commissioner to perform a ceremony against their will when there are so many to choose from. When that is pointed out to them, the typical response is that, if they don’t want to do the job, then they shouldn’t become marriage commissioners. o_O

    They are perfectly all right with infringing on the rights and freedoms of others, so long as their side gets their privileges.

  4. Hej W.K.,

    I stand with Piper on this ground. Even though we are against the so called SSM , we, Piper and I( or others in pastorial ministry) are first and foremost pastors. Our work is to pastor the sheep God gave us in a way that the word of God would influence their entire lives.

    I believe Piper did his part as a pastor who trust and rest in sovereign God and believes that God will lead his own sheep to do what they ought to do for his own glory.

    May God give as humbleness and wisdom to live in times like this. Remember nothing happens unless our God allows it to. We also need to examine our own heart. We need to fight a good fight, and found worthy at the end.

    Thank you W.K,

    Prayson

  5. Jared says:

    He’s playing it safe. To his supporters he can say, “Hey, I’m not advocating homosexual marriage or homosexual sex. I think both are biblically wrong.” To his non-supporters he can say, “Hey, I’m just saying for Christians homosexual marriage and sex are sinful. I’m not advocating any political position.”

    Safe.

    Weak.

    • Here’s an excellent post by Reformed Seth, Jared:
      http://reformedseth.blogspot.com/2012/06/piper-is-playing-it-safe.html

      Quote:

      However, he could have said the following: “Our church isn’t going to take an official position on the issue, but here’s my reasoning for thinking homosexual marriage is harmful to society.” Phrasing that way leaves the church out of the fight, but keeps Piper from looking weak. If you present good reasons for having a position, then you don’t have to play it safe and have no comment on public policy. However, if your reasoning is weak and totally dependent on revelation then you do have to play it safe, meaning you can’t comment on issues like this.

      I think that’s right. What was needed was for him to say, “speaking for myself, here are my reasons for opposing the redefinition of marriage. Some of my reasons are from the Bible, and some of them are studies, and some of them are philosophical and moral. Here are my problems with the arguments raised in favor of it. Now, I look at the marriage amendment, I find myself more in favor of it than against it, and so, I will be voting for it, and I urge everyone to consider the arguments I’ve made and vote for it, too.”

      It’s not the official position we want. It’s the moral reasoning and the evidence, especially evidence that will be compelling to non-Christians (not the tornado argument). He needs to then give his opinion on whether the amendment is good or bad, and then urge people to consider his arguments. The main thing is that he cannot just preach a sermon to the entire state of Minnesota – they won’t accept it, and the net result of refusing to engage will be that Piper finds himself performing gay marriages and being banned from disagreeing with gay marriage. None of us want that to happen to him. But that’s my fear about where his approach of keeping his personal opinions behind closed church doors ends up – that’s where it ended up for Canada and Denmark, etc. He needs to care about what non-Christians find convincing, or he is going to find himself in front of a Human Rights Commission at some point in the future. We don’t want to go there.

      • straightright says:

        I think that even preaching a sermon to the state would be better than his position. If we take him at his word, then his opposition to same sex marriage is good enough behind the closed doors of the church, but should not be shared with those outside the church. This amounts to a divide between the private and public – relegating the life of faith to a private sphere, and being non-committal in public life.

        This would also send a message to other church members – keep your faith to yourself in public life. That may be harsh, but in the end that is a valid conclusion one could reasonably draw.

        Now I don’t think pastors should be too involved in politics – they should stay out of the minutiae of many policy issues. But this issue is such a no-brainer it’s hard to understand his reluctance. In common language, this is a fitness test, and he failed it.

  6. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Hi Wintery Knight,

    Are you familiar with the (Radical) Two Kingdoms doctrine… which is vigorously opposed by John Frame, Steve Hays, TurretinFan, et al?

  7. Here are some very strong statements against same-sex marriage by John Piper that I found, but again these are very much geared towards Christians:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/thoughts-on-the-minnesota-marriage-amendment

    These are very strong, but they would not be persuasive to anyone who is not a conservative Christian. In order to influence the culture as a whole, Piper would have to use arguments like these:

    Philosophical:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1722155

    Evidential:
    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/06/5640

    Human rights:
    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No3_Severinoonline.pdf

    If Piper’s goal is to DO GOOD at a practical level, then he has to use public square arguments that are convincing to people who do not accept a very very conservative view of the Bible (which I accept). He has to decide whether Christianity is something subjective and private (about him and his life, and maybe the people who hear his sermons in his church) or public and practical (about society and law). Right now, he is enjoying the liberties that exist because the foundation of the United States is Judeo-Christian, but he has to do his part in public using secular arguments and evidence to protect those foundations, or they could be taken away.

    If Piper wants children to *actually* have a mother and a father, and wants Christians to *actually* retain their religious liberty and freedom of conscience, then he will have to GO PUBLIC and use PUBLIC means of persuasion. If every single person in his church agreed with him, and every fundamentalist Christian in Minnesota agreed with him, that would still not be enough to defend marriage.

  8. Tom says:

    WK,
    Several things:
    1. “John Piper has no opinion about whether the state of Minnesota legalizes gay marriage or not…” Is this accurate?

    2. “…and also believes in predestination.” Relevance?

    3. “They don’t really think that the Bible has any bearing outside of the church…” Does Piper do this? It seems like you are implying he does.

    4. “he has to use public square arguments that are convincing to people who do not accept a very very conservative view of the Bible (which I accept).” Why does he have to use public square arguments when he is a pastor called to preach the Word of God? Where is the call to use public square arguments in the Bible when preaching? Is the Bible not living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword? Can the Holy Spirit not bring conviction through the preaching of the Word?

    5. “He has to decide whether Christianity is something subjective and private (about him and his life, and maybe the people who hear his sermons in his church) or public and practical (about society and law).” Have you read Piper at all?

    6. Lastly, Stand to Reason has a good take on this issue: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2012/06/john-piper-same-sex-marriage-and-the-media.html

    Honestly not trying to be sarcastic or troll-like. Just seems to be a bit of a disconnect. I’m not opposed to using public square arguments and think that people like Wayne Grudem, Greg Koukl, Albert Mohler, and many other Christian thinkers do this through books, blogs, and speaking engagements. I just don’t see the absolute necessity of doing so while proclaiming the Word of God.

    • Do you think that we should rely on the holy Spirit working through Piper’s sermons and Bible verses to persuade the majority of Minnesotans to support the marriage amendment?

      I really need an answer here. I need to know if you think that Piper’s sermon and Bible verses and his tornado argument will work on Jews, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and so on since the majority of Minnesota voters are not inerrantist Christians.

      Please just give me a yes or no. Will Piper’s sermons and Bible verses cause a majority of Minnesotans to vote for the marriage amendment, or should he instead try what Wayne Grudem does, and use arguments and public, testable evidence from research papers?

      • Tom says:

        WK,
        “Do you think that we should rely on the holy Spirit working through Piper’s sermons and Bible verses to persuade the majority of Minnesotans to support the marriage amendment?”

        Why is it all contingent upon Piper’s sermon? Really not sure how you’re getting to your conclusions in this entire post.

        And yes, I do believe the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to bring conviction because that is what the Bible teaches (John 16:8-11).

        Now, were you planning on addressing the rest of my points? I think you’ve really misunderstood Piper in all of this. Normally I agree with just about everything you post but I’m not sure where you’re coming from on all of this.

        • If what you are saying is true, then William Lane Craig is wasting his time in his debates by appealing to cosmological, astrophysical, historical, etc. evidence and he just needs to write a really good sermon and quote the Bible. That would be more effective than using logic, science and history to debate with people who don’t accept the Bible or go to church to hear sermons, right?

          • Tom says:

            Totally missing the point. WLC is not a pastor; he’s a philosopher which is great and the Church certainly needs people like him. He has a different role than a guy like Piper.

            Further, you have ignored my first post when I said that I’m not opposed to using evidence and philosophy. I think we have a basic disagreement over the role of preaching in the church.

            What biblical evidence do you offer for a pastor to not use the Bible in favor of preaching the latest research and philosophies?

            Also, are you planning on addressing the rest of the points I brought to your attention?

          • Well, Grudem then. He is a pastor, but he writes books like “Politics According to the Bible” and “Business to the Glory of God” and other books where he says 1) what the Bible says and 2) how what the Bible says goes with evidence and arguments in the real world. So let’s use Grudem. He is a pastor who applies the Bible to the real world and equips his flock to know what the Bible says AND to persuade others who don’t accept it by using studies and research and so on. That’s a good pastor.

            When I read Piper’s posts, all I see is Bible verses and the argument that homosexuality causes tornados. That’s not as good as what Grudem does. When I read Grudem on self-defense and guns, he cites studies by John Lott and Gary Becker. When Grudem talks about capital punishment, he cites studies about how the death penalty deters crime. So he gives you the Bible verses in the sermon, and then he gives you something for your non-christian friends.

            Christianity is more fun with Grudem. You can tell non-christians:

            1) what the bible says, AND
            2) what the non-bible evidence is for what the bible says

            It’s really much better. And then the christians and the non-christians can both make sense of the world and vote correctly, and what’s more, non-christians are much more interested in christianity when they see that there are reasons for it and that it is evidence based. Go Grudem! Super pastor!

            Also, when Jesus preached to others, he preached the Scriptures, but he also performed miracles as evidence of his claims. Grudem is following the Jesus model. He gives the scriptures, then he gives the evidence. Since he can’t perform miracles he uses the studies instead. Piper is the off man out.

          • Jared says:

            There are plenty of pastors who engage the public with the bible, philosophy, science, and such like Driscoll, Sproul, Michael Horton, Grudem, Keller, and I’m sure a lot of other guys. These guys are all Reformed so they’re sola scripture, but they also know that God has not only revealed Himself in scripture, but in all of creation. These guys use positive and negative apologetics in their sermons. So, just because a guy’s “role” is pastor doesn’t mean he can only use the Bible in his sermons.

          • The White Horse Inn guys are quite good, and some of the black Protestant pastors like Harry Jackson and Ken Hutcherson.

      • Tom says:

        Here is a key line from Piper’s sermon:

        “If the whole counsel of God is preached with power week in and week out, Christians who are citizens of heaven and citizens of this democratic order will be energized as they ought to speak and act for the common good.”

        • What percent of Minnesotans do you think would find a citation of the Christian Bible compelling as an argument for a public policy dispute? Is it over 50%, which is what is needed to pass the marriage amendment? Does Piper think that Minnesota is 50% fundamentalist Christian, or that merely citing Bible verses to Hindus, Muslims and atheists will magically cause them to turn into Christians so that they care suddenly what the Bible says about marriage?

          • Tom says:

            What percent of Minnesotans were listening to or planned on taking Piper’s advice in any meaningful sense?

            Maybe I missed something, but was Piper preaching to his flock or was he giving a public address to the state of Minnesota? Pretty sure it was the former and not the latter. The church is not a public policy pulpit and I defy you to provide evidence from Scripture that this is what Jesus, Paul and the rest of the apostles taught about the role of elders and pastors.

            Again, you seem to be laying the results of the entire marriage amendment in the state of Minnesota at the feet of Piper because he didn’t cite the articles you would have liked him to.

            Piper said it best:
            “Please try to understand this: When I warn against the politicizing of the church, I do so not to diminish her power but to increase it. The impact of the church for the glory of Christ and the good of the world does not increase when she shifts her priorities from the worship of God and the winning of souls and the nurturing of faith and raising up of new generations of disciples.”

            In his follow-up response, he wrote:
            “…over the long haul Christians will take clearer, stronger, more effective stands for justice and righteousness and the common good if pastors and preachers speak powerfully and faithfully and biblically to the moral and spiritual and ethical and theological issues surrounding political issues, rather than advocating particular candidates and laws. I gave several historical illustrations of how this has worked.”

            Marvin Olasky agrees and says:
            “Wise pastors prompt [Christians] to form associations outside the church, and leave the church to its central task from which so many blessings flow….New England pastors in colonial times preached and taught what the Bible said about liberty, and the Sons of Liberty—not a subset of any particular church—eventually sponsored a tea party in Boston harbor. Pastors through America during those centuries preached about biblical poverty-fighting, and in city after city Christians formed organizations such as (in New York) the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor” (WORLD, June 16, 2012, 108).

            STR wrote:
            “We’ll analyze each issue rigorously, and you’ll know our position on each subject, but you won’t hear us explicitly telling you to vote for specific candidates or propositions.”

            This is wise.

          • Tom, I think you make the case very well for your position. But when I look at Canada and Europe and South Africa and Eastern Europe, I see that this approach has not worked, and Christianity is in FULL RETREAT in the public square, and having nasty laws passed against it. The solution is a combination of spiritual and practical, not spiritual alone. But I appreciate your comments and I do see your point. I just disagree with Piper and O’lasky and I agree with Grudem and James Robison. You should pick up the book Indivisible by Theologian Jay Richards and Pastor James Robison, to get my point of view.

  9. I guess John The Baptist should have kept quiet according to these weak willed Pastors.. he didnt and paid the ultimate price for it I believe its called putting your faith into action.

    • Tom says:

      Frank,
      You’ve referred to Piper as “weak willed” but my guess is that you didn’t take the time to read his sermon at all.

      I strongly urge you to read the quotes I’ve compiled below from Piper’s sermon. Please describe how Piper was being “weak willed”.

      “Marriage is created and defined by God in the Scriptures as the sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman in life-long allegiance to each other alone, as husband and wife, with a view to displaying Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church.”

      “God made man male and female with their distinctive feminine and masculine natures and their distinctive roles so that in marriage as husband and wife they could display Christ and the church.”

      “There is no such thing as so-called same-sex marriage, and it would be wise not to call it that.”

      “The point here is not only that so-called same-sex marriage shouldn’t exist, but that it doesn’t and it can’t. Those who believe that God has spoken to us truthfully in the Bible should not concede that the committed, life-long partnership and sexual relations of two men or two women is marriage. It isn’t. God has created and defined marriage. And what he has joined together in that creation and that definition, cannot be separated, and still called marriage in God’s eyes.”

      ” ‘Men who practice — who give themselves over to this life, and do not repent — will not enter the kingdom of God.’ They will perish.”

      “Therefore, it would contradict love and contradict the gospel of Jesus to approve homosexual practice, whether by silence, or by endorsing so-called same-sex marriage, or by affirming the Christian ordination of practicing homosexuals.”

      “We must not be intimidated here. The world is going to say the opposite of what is true here. They are going to say that warning people who practice homosexuality about final judgment is hateful. It is not hateful. Hate does not want people to be saved. Hate does not want people to join the family. Hate wants to destroy. And sin does destroy. If homosexual practice (and greed and idolatry and reviling and drunkenness) leads to exclusion from the kingdom of God — as the word of God says it does — then love warns. Love pleads. Love comes alongside and does all it can to help a person live — forever.”

      “The recognition of so-called same-sex marriage would be a clear social statement that motherhood or fatherhood or both are negligible in the public good of raising children. Two men adopting children cannot provide motherhood. And two women adopting children cannot provide fatherhood. But God ordained from the beginning that children grow up with a mother and a father, and said, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12).”

      “Marriage is the most fundamental institution among humans. It’s origin is in the mind of God, and its beginning was at the beginning of the creation of humankind. It’s connections with all other parts of society are innumerable. Pretending that it can exist between people of the same sex will send ripple effects of dysfunction and destruction in every direction, most of which are now unforeseen. And many of those that are foreseen are tragic, especially for children, who will then produce a society we cannot now imagine.”

      • Piper’s sermon will have no impact outside of the maybe 20% of Minnesotans who accept the Bible as inerrant. So if Piper is sincere in wanting traditional marriage, he will have to teach his flock to have an impact on non-Christians, and he will have to study evidence and arguments in order to do that. He needs to convince the majority, or else gay marriage will pass, and he will find himself conducting gay weddings in his church or paying fines or in jail. Those are the stakes.

        Every time you quote the Bible, you must realize that only 20% of Minnesota (at most!!!!) cares. If Bible verses and sermons ALONE is your plan to stop gay marriage, then you will get gay marriage, and you will be responsible for gay marriage becoming the law due to your decisions about how to defend marriage. Your way won’t work.

        A better plan is Bible verses and sermons AND evidence and arguments for non-Christians. That was Jesus’ approach. He used evidence.

        • J says:

          Why do you care so much about what the world thinks?

          • Because what the majority of the people in states and nations think determines the laws. And the laws can interfere with authentic Christian teaching. For example, they can make giving sermons on certain topics illegal, they can make the killing of unborn babies legal, and they can make evangelism illegal. These are all things that happen in certain countries already, but you won’t be able to read about it in the Bible.

  10. Scott says:

    FWIW, Lydia McGrew (wife of Tim McGrew) has a post on this issue.

    http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2012/06/a_strange_variety_of_apolitica.html

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