John Piper, former Mpls megachurch pastor, deletes insensitive tweets about OKC tornado
Piper worshipping at his Minneapolis church in 2008.
John Piper, the recently retired pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, has made a cottage industry out of attributing natural disasters to God's vindictive will.
For instance, in response to the 2004 Asian tsunami, Piper wrote, "The point of every deadly calamity is this: Repent" and "Pain says: 'What sin deserves is this, only worse.'" Piper also said the 2009 tornado that struck downtown Minneapolis was sent to punish the Lutherans, who decided earlier that day to allow homosexuals to become ministers, and said the 2007 I-35W bridge collapse happened to instill the fear of God in people.
Unsurprisingly, Piper was up to his old tricks in the wake of Monday's deadly tornado in Oklahoma. As initial reports of death and destruction in the OKC area trickled in, Piper published these two since-deleted tweets:
@JohnPiper: "Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead." Job 1:19
@JohnPiper: "Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped." Job 1:20
The tweets provoked immediate backlash, including a lengthy blog post by Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, who wrote, "this is what John Piper does whenever there is a tornado...or earthquake...or shooting...or war" and characterized his conception of God as "like an abusive father, filled with unpredictable rage. His family must walk on eggshells, afraid of suddenly enraging him. Should he be provoked, this god will lash out."
"But mark my words, within the next 24 hours, a blog post will appear, explaining it all away," Held Evans wrote. Well, it took 48 hours, but sure enough, the "explaining it all away" post appeared yesterday.
In an article published on Desiring God by content strategist and Piper sympathizer Tony Reinke, Piper is quoted as saying, "The reason I pulled my tweets from Job is that it became clear that what I feel as comfort was not affecting others the same."
"When tragedy strikes my life, I find it stabilizing and hope-giving to see the stories of the sheer factuality of other's losses, especially when they endured them the way Job did. Job really grieved. He really agonized. He collapsed to the ground. He wept. He shaved his head," Piper said. "This was, in my mind, a pattern of what must surely happen in Oklahoma. I thought it would help. But when I saw how so many were not experiencing it that way, I took them down."
In place of his deleted tweets, Piper offered this:
My hope and prayer for Oklahoma is that the raw realism of Job's losses will point us all to his God "compassionate and merciful." Jam.5:11
-- John Piper (@JohnPiper) May 21, 2013
So a devastating tornado is somehow supposed to reveal God's "compassionate and merciful" nature? On second thought, we're not sure that tweet is an improvement over the two deleted ones.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.