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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: God is Behind Every Murder and Rape

john piper

Hello, Pastor John [Piper], and thank you for APJ! I write because last year someone very close to me was assaulted and murdered. At the time of the tragedy, I had not devoted my life to Christ. The pastor at the funeral service said, ‘I don’t think it was God’s plan for this to happen.’ I remember feeling so lost and angry. I gave my life to Christ a few months later. But I still don’t understand why my loved one would be murdered if God is omnipotent. Does God allow sin to roam unchecked? Does the Bible say anything about God allowing such awful sin to happen, and why? I am a new Christian with a lot to learn.

It’s difficult for me to know what the pastor at your friend’s funeral meant when he said, “I don’t think it was God’s plan for this to happen.” Maybe all he meant was that God never does anything wrong and never sins against anyone. But it’s one thing to say that God never does wrong, and it’s a very different thing to say that God does not govern or oversee or direct or control the wrong that happens in this world. If that’s what the pastor meant — that God doesn’t do that — I think he’s mistaken, because the Bible teaches from cover to cover that God does, in fact, govern all the details of the world, including the bad things that happen to us and to our friends.

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So God’s counsel, God’s wisdom, God’s purpose always comes to pass. That’s what it means to be God. Not the devil, not nature, not fate, not chance, not sinful man — nobody and nothing can thwart the plan of God.

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In other words, from the tiniest, most insignificant happening, to the largest global happenings, God governs all things.

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So, when you feel that you can’t understand why God does what he does, let your heart rest here: the worst suffering and the deepest sovereignty meet at the point of greatest love — the cross of Christ. So rest there.

— John Piper, Desiring God, Is Violent Crime Under God’s Providence? November 19, 2021

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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13 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Karuna Gal

    This post reminds me of a time when a friend’s young daughter died in a car accident. She was the only one of the four in the car who died. Everyone else walked away. The priest at her funeral acknowledged that her death was sad and truly evil. However, his concluding remarks were very much like Piper’s above, namely that God is in control, Christ’s love is always there, etc. Cheap and easy comfort for the grieving family, and a way to deflect thought away from questioning God’s providence.

    • Avatar
      Darcy

      Interesting idea! So maybe Jehovah or God has had PTSD for centuries from all the horrible mayhem and hopelessness that he deliberately programs into human lives. He (?) decides that he needs to come to earth in a physical form (as in how many movies?) and get counseling…maybe in person, maybe via Zoom… There has to be a movie in that. There have been plenty of wacky movies and series about God and the Devil, like “Lucifer,” so there must be room for one more. The scriptwriter could always take the easy way out at the end and claim the whole film was all a dream inspired by too much grief and booze.
      So, who wants to run with this idea?

  2. Avatar
    Benny S

    “You either have a God who sends child rapists to rape children or you have a God who simply watches it and says, ‘When you’re done, I’m going to punish you.’ If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God.”
    – Tracie Harris

  3. Avatar
    Trenton

    How is that John Piper can take a bad situation and then say the worst thing possible every time. It’s like he has nothing better to do. I have not seen one quote where he has some compassionate or positive spin on anything.

    • Avatar
      Darcy

      Trenton, maybe Piper just has a lack of compassion as a character flaw, and that doesn’t stop him from being very popular with that crowd. Says something about the people who like his work, and about maybe those who wish he would shut up but are afraid to tell him that.

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    A friend from my childhood is a devout evangelical Christian, married to a devout evangelical Christian. Her husband had served in the US Air Force until he retired, then worked for a US Airline, and when their younger child went to college, he started training to become a commercial airline pilot which goal he achieved a couple of months become his son graduated from college. At the graduation, he started having weird episodes, so he went to his doctor when he got home. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma and was offered chemotherapy followed by surgery when the tumor shrunk enough for surgery. He didn’t like the chemo and decided to let go and let God. He died 2 months later at age 51.

    My friend and her kids were understandably distraught. 2.5 years later she is engaged to another man but still struggles with why God chose to take her husband who was a devout Christian. She posted on Facebook the other day questioning why God let’s bad things happen if he’s all-benevolent, omnipotent, etc. I don’t have exactly what she said because she deleted the post. In the comments several people said bad things happen because of human sin. I posted Isaiah 45:7 – “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” My statement was that I didn’t understand this verse, even in context, and I hoped someone smarter than me could explain it. Crickets. No one would touch it, and she deleted the post.

    By John Piper’s theology the senseless death of a devout servant is all in God’s hands. That’s consistent with am omnipotent being. It is not consistent with an omnibenevolent one – but I am not sure that Pioer believes in the omnibenevolence of his God.

    • Avatar
      Kel

      The Calvinist God is only truly benevolent to his elects, but never to those reprobates destined for eternal torment: “The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom” (Proverbs 16:4).

  5. Avatar
    Dave

    Every time I read something from Piper I despise him even more. Making mattters worse he has many disciples who become mini-Pipers. Among these are a member of my family who has become completely judgmental and insufferable. Everything is pre ordained by a sovereign god who cannot be questioned. Whatever gets you through the night but keep your bullshit to yourself

  6. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    So Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, Winston Moseley, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and Hitler were puppets whose strings were pulled by an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-just God?

    Interesting. I’m really trying to understand. Perhaps it requires skills and talents that are beyond my pay grade.

  7. Avatar
    missimontana

    I’ve asked Christians to explain why God never answered my prayers as an abused child. Got blank stares, change of subject, and even nervous laughter. But there is always the few who insist on stating I just have to accept God’s plan. I used to be polite. Not anymore.

  8. Avatar
    Chikirin

    I tried reading Christian Hedonism by John Piper but it was a let down. “True pleasuere is being totally obedient to God”

    Same with Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, “Your purpose in life is to obey God”

  9. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    I have to laugh at the simian Piper in that photo there, above ! His own son repudiated him and the church last year. Lots of people detest Piper. He’s a cold, controlling person.

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Bruce Gerencser