NOTE: The following is protected by federal copyright law and is an excerpt from the book Marxianity written by Brannon Howse and is not to be published online. The footnotes that document the content in this article are found in the book Marxianity or the eBook.
Thousands of people hear him speak and millions read his books, so the worldview of John Piper matters a great deal to the Christian community. Yet, few really grasp the deep-seated biblical and theological problems driving this popular Neo-Calvinist. The symptoms of Piper’s dysfunction include his embracing of the Black Lives Matter movement, his conviction that Christians should not own guns, and his support of those who dishonor the American flag during the singing of our national anthem.
The Racial Bridge to Progressivism
The term “neo,” of course, means “new,” and so John Piper is among the “new Calvinists” wielding considerable influence in Christian circles. Piper’s books are read even by people who do not consider themselves Calvinist or reformed—which means that Piper’s influence transcends denominational lines. It’s this widespread acceptance that makes the Piper problem so critical. He and those whom he influences—by default, even if not by intent—become bridges between conservative and liberal wings of evangelicalism and the church. They offer an amazing opportunity to progressives to infiltrate the Christian community. But how, exactly, has Piper and others who follow him become part of the movement toward liberalism?
On October 6, 2017, John Piper published an article at desiringgod.org called “Lecrae, ‘White Evangelicalism,’ and Hope.” The subject was a black, Christian rapper named Lecrae. Apparently, the rapper had publicly “divorced” himself from “white evangelicalism,” and Piper stepped in to extol the virtue of Lecrae’s action.
Piper lauded not only Lecrae’s position but also the language he used to describe his viewpoint. By doing so, though, Piper ignored a fundamental theological problem with Lecrae’s thinking. The term “white evangelicalism” implies that there could also be other evangelicalisms—black evangelicalism, of course, but also Asian, Hispanic, or any other evangelicalism du jour. Yet, the very distinction flies in the face of biblical teaching.
Acts 17:26 points out that we are all descended from one man, Adam. As a result, there is only one race—the human race. We are one blood— many people groups, but only one race. So, to introduce the notion of race into a description of the Body of Christ is disturbing. According to Scripture, we are one church with no Jew, Greek, or other dividing characteristics (Galatians 3:28). Yet, Piper has apparently bought into social-progressive race baiting, ignoring the American principle of E pluribus unum, “out of many, one.”
Even the endorsement of Lecrae as a Christian rapper is questionable. Although he has performed in many churches for people of all nationalities and groups, his disenchantment with “white evangelicalism” stems from his reaction to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. You’ll recall that a white police officer attempted to disarm a hostile suspect, Michael Brown, and Brown was shot and killed in the process. Although a grand jury agreed that the officer was well within the legal scope of using deadly force, many people were upset that the officer was not indicted—including Lecrae. The incident set off riots in Ferguson and led to the creation of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
It was an ideal set-up for agitators, race hustlers, and communists to hijack important issues and use them divisively. The strategy has roots as far back as the 1960s when the FBI warned that communist groups would leverage racial issues to create dissension and division, to agitate for chaos, and eventually to cause guerrilla warfare in American streets.
The narrative generated by communists and cultural Marxists portrays America as an evil place that has nurtured Christianity and capitalism, the “sources of all oppression and suffering.” Sadly, the reaction to the Ferguson incident reflected exactly what progressives would wish for—and Lecrae did his part to support the agenda. After Michael Brown was killed in 2014, Lecrae says things changed for him. Here’s how he explained it to an interviewer:
[quote] When Michael Brown was murdered, I just assumed that all Christians felt the way I did: this is terrible. You know, like, oh, this is horrible. And so I just put it out there, “Hey, guys, isn’t this bad?” And man, you would’ve thought that I had just said that Jesus was not real. You know what I mean? . . .
And so the visceral attacks that came my way were like a shock to my system, and it was like an awakening, like, “Hey, you know, I mean, this is—everybody’s not—doesn’t see things from the way you see things, brother.” . . . [I] did some identity work, and then from there, I think that was the jolt that made me realize, okay, all is not well. [end quote]
In his “Desiring God” article, Piper picks up some of this same language. Piper mentions “identity work,” referring to “racial identity development work.” This work purportedly is something young blacks are forced to undertake in order to come to grips with race, and Piper plays right into it while adding a few touches of his own. Speaking of himself, for instance, he says:
[quote] John Piper and a few million other supposed natives didn’t vote for Donald Trump. We don’t think unrepentant lechers should be president . . . We don’t think Robert E. Lee is a simple embodiment of nobility. We don’t think the Confederate flag can fly with impunity. We don’t think kneeling for justice denigrates the other flag. [end quote]
Unfortunately, when people like Piper weigh in on issues like this instead of just preaching, they demonstrate how little-qualified they are to speak as they do. Regarding the Confederate flag, for example: it originally featured a numeral “10” in the design; the “10” recalled the Ten Amendments to the US Constitution which reserved powers to the states that were not specifically given to the federal government. It was a statement in favor of states’ rights, but the flag as a statement of American ideals has been hijacked by those who claim it represents racism.
Even more disturbing, Piper refers to the American flag as “the other flag.” He accepts the “kneeling for justice” argument but ignores the disrespect it shows for the national symbol and the service of those who have fought for it. A more balanced perspective suggests that we recognize the symbolism of the American flag. As a nation, we have come to identify the flag with service, sacrifice, freedom, liberty, and laying down one’s life for a greater cause. And many, many flag-draped coffins have come home because men and women laid down their lives for you and for me. In this way, the flag is a symbol of service—and in some cases, a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice our fellow citizens through the years have made. What’s more, it’s a symbol of E pluribus unum. We are different in many ways, but we come together as one nation around the flag.
Ironically, NFL players and others who take a knee during the national anthem seem to forget that the American flag was the flag of the Union during the Civil War. As result, they are disrespecting the cause of the men who fought to end slavery, if indeed, they believe that’s the primary reason for the Civil War. That John Piper jumped on the bandwagon for these issues does not surprise me. I believe he has been a social and theological liberal for some time and so apparently has little trouble supporting Black Lives Matter, a cause promoted by three self-admitted communist homosexuals. And here, taken from an audio program, is an example of how fully Piper embraces the movement:
[quote] Last year, 2015, there were widespread protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter, largely because of some high-profile cases in which police killed unarmed black men—the question, whether it was warranted or not. And that’s, of course, the tip of the iceberg, because there were about 100 of those, and most of them were not high profile in 2015. I saw a statistic that there were 102 unarmed black men killed by police, and that compares in its rate to a rate five times larger than the killing of unarmed whites. So, you can get a feel for why there might be some concern and the emergence of something like Black Lives Matter. [end quote]
Yet, the information Piper cites is false. The statistic meant to imply that white cops are racists who gun down innocent black men at higher rates than they do white men is simply not true.
AmericanThinker.com published an article called “Study: Cops kill more whites than blacks.” It’s a review of a study reported in The Washington Times which said:
[quote] As researchers are quick to point out, FBI data on police shootings by race is notoriously incomplete, which may explain why Peter Moskos, assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the University of New York, decided to use figures from the website Killed by Police . . .
Based on that data, Mr. Moskos reported that roughly 49 percent of those killed by officers from May 2013 to April 2015 were white, while 30 percent were black. He also found that 19 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Asian and other races. [end quote]
Hardly the five-to-one ratio presented by John Piper.
Another source, PoliceOne.com, goes even further in giving the lie to Piper’s assertion in an article entitled, “Cops hesitate more, err less, when shooting black suspects, study finds:”
[quote] With the turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri the latest example, activists and many reporters would have us believe that police officers are prejudiciously trigger-happy when dealing with black suspects. But a scientific study from Washington State University-Spokane suggests just the opposite. In truth, according to the findings from the research team’s innovative experiments, officers were less likely to erroneously shoot unarmed black suspects than they were unarmed whites—25 times less likely, in fact. And officers hesitated significantly longer before shooting armed suspects who were black compared to armed suspects who were white or Hispanic. [end quote]
Not exactly a racial bias—at least not against blacks—and the Washington Times article that cites the work of Peter Moskos explains why:
[quote] Mr. Moskos listed two possible reasons for the racial disparity. The first is that police assigned to largely black neighborhoods face “more political fallout when they shoot and thus receive better training and are less inclined to shoot . . . The second is that police assigned to black communities with high crime rates are more accustomed to dangerous situations and thus are more likely to be able to resolve them without resort to lethal force.” [end quote]
Certainly, some police officers are bad cops. There are also bad doctors, bad lawyers, and even bad pastors. Every profession has its bad apples, but that doesn’t mean the whole bushel is rotten. Progressives, though, find fodder among the truly bad ones. Marxists, agitators, and communists use them to create a disrespect for law and order because they hope to foment chaos that can be turned to their advantage.
According to a former KGB officer, Yuri Bezmenov, who defected in the 1980s, there are four stages to bringing about a revolution: demoralize, destabilize, chaos, and then normalize the new big-government progressive/socialism/communism solution. One way to destabilize a society is to undermine respect for law and order—for police and others in similar positions of authority. And yet, the Bible tells us that civil authority is from God. He created three basic realms of authority: family church, and civil government. Police and elected officials have the responsibility to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. They maintain a stable and just society so that all three institutions can operate effectively in their complementary spheres. Planting seeds of disrespect for these institutions causes an unraveling of society.
Movements like Black Lives Matter are communist in concept and steeped in misinformation, false narratives, and propaganda designed to stir up chaos and eventually establish a new norm. Yet, Piper is on board with the movement, apparently in spite of his own better judgment. In an interview, he explains his path to accepting Black Lives Matter:
[quote] I Googled and found, oh, there’s a website called BlackLivesMatter.com. And I read it, and oh my goodness, it was awful. I mean, I didn’t like it, because it featured three women who claimed to be the founders of Black Lives Matter—Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors—and they self-identify as . . . “queer black women.” And in big, bold banners on their “herstory”—not “history”—“herstory” page, they say that they are queer-affirming and transgender-affirming. Well, this did not excite me—as, of course, it wouldn’t most of my Christian black brothers and sisters—and I was so surprised, I tweeted this link so that people could be aware of these roots.
Well, a few weeks later, I was in Louisville with the Together for the Gospel team, which included Thabiti Anyabwile. And if you don’t know Thabiti: he’s a black pastor in Washington, D.C., and he is, as everyone who knows him realizes, intellectually, theologically, culturally highly intelligent, highly articulate, highly courageous, highly levelheaded, and not a pushover . . . And he let me know, clearly, that wasn’t helpful. That kind of thing, unqualified, no-context, was in the give-and-take we were having around the table—we did it for two, three days, great friendships there, a lot of blunt, in-your-face talk at that meeting. And he helped me see, for the mass of ordinary folks—black folks in particular—that website is a non-issue, it doesn’t even exist. They don’t even know it’s there, it’s not driving anything, and therefore, my call, now, my learning afresh of needing to make distinctions between, one, a patently true slogan—“Black Lives Matter”—and, two, ideological roots of a name that may be the real roots, or they may have been co-opted. I mean, the name may have been co-opted. [end quote]
Both Thabiti and Piper have been speakers at the Together for the Gospel conference for many years along with John MacArthur, David Platt, Ligon Duncan, Matt Chandler, Matt Chandler. When so-called conservative pastors show up alongside those promoting the cultural Marxism of white privilege and Black Lives Matter, among other subversive ideas, the so-called “good guys” give them credibility. That’s why I call them “bridgers.” They bridge the gap between conservatives and progressives. What they promote is not only unbiblical, it’s also dangerous to society and our national security.
The pastors who do this reflect the useful idiot strategy in action. Communists refer to people as useful idiots when the “idiots” believe they can gain some kind of power or control—whether as an educator, a columnist, or someone in the media—by pushing an agenda favorable to progressives or communists. I am continually shocked at the number of pastors, religious leaders, influential evangelicals, writers, and authors who have become useful idiots by spewing the talking points, misinformation, propaganda, and false narratives of Marxists and Muslims.
Guilt by Participation:
The way the credibility grab works for people like Anyabwile and Piper is that they appear alongside conservative pastors and evangelicals, and the conservative constituents assume, “Well, they must be okay. So-and-so speaks on the same platform with him, so he must be okay.” Bear in mind that this is more than mere guilt by association. I regard this as guilt by participation. These “conservatives” should not be participating in conferences where other men confuse true Christians (as well as non-Christians) by repeating progressive talking points.
That John Piper could become a useful idiot shouldn’t surprise us, after seeing his ready capitulation to Thabiti. Piper obviously believed, at one point, that the Black Lives Matter website and those behind it were pertinent. Then he swallowed Thabiti’s claim that the site doesn’t matter to black constituents. But do you realize how demeaning that is to the black community? Thabiti claimed that his constituents “don’t even know the website exists.” Is he suggesting that black people aren’t sophisticated enough to use the Internet? That they somehow wouldn’t have found the website bearing the name plastered all over the news? I suspect another agenda is in play—one that is simply intended to manipulate people like Piper. He apparently succeeds in undermining Piper’s own judgment and even demeans the people in his audience by suggesting that they don’t care about important matters such as the people behind the scenes of an influential movement. But, of course the worldview behind those who want to hijack the Civil Rights movement certainly does matter.
Once Thabiti “set him straight,” Piper jumped on the bandwagon with both feet, as evidenced by these statements of his from the interview:
[quote] Patently, black lives matter. That’s true. And before—this is another little lesson, maybe; I’m just sticking this in—before we say anything like “All lives matter”—before we say that, we need to pause, because if you quickly add that, it sounds like a rebuke. It sounds like a minimizing of what was just said. It sounds like the point that was trying to be made isn’t worth being made. So, you don’t want to make that point. You don’t want to say that. So, you’d learn that pretty quickly in that conversation if you added “All lives matter.” Of course, that’s true, all lives matter, but oh, how timing matters and how context matters. [end quote]
Piper would have us believe that saying “All lives matter” is offensive. It’s the trap of the social progressives. You can only use their language their way.
Lest you think I’ve come up with a “radical new idea” about progressive tactics, please understand that we were warned more than half a century ago that this was in the works. On October 19, 1961, William C. Sullivan, assistant director of the FBI, warned Americans that pastors and clergy could be hijacked by the communist, socialist, progressive agenda. In a speech at Highland Park Methodist Church in Dallas, he issued this outline of what would happen:
[quote] Failing to recognize obvious communist propaganda in petitions, open letters, clemency appeals, pamphlets, etc.; mistaken notions that clergymen can work with communists for peace, civil rights, ending racial discrimination, etc., without harming religion and strengthening communism; confusing the values of communism with those of Christianity; confusing the social doctrines of Karl Marx with those of Jesus Christ; a tendency to reject or drastically dilute the supernatural content of religion in favor of a naturalistic form of humanism, which can make it hard to logically take a stand against communism . . .
Show a proneness to join organizations without questioning their real sponsorship, direction, policies; making statements and drawing conclusions relative to foreign policy, economics, and domestic politics which exceed their field of competence. [end quote]
Folks like Piper have certainly demonstrated a propensity to join organizations without questioning their real sponsorship, direction, and policies. He accepted Thabiti’s assurance that such origins don’t matter. And he and “evangelicals” like him have done precisely what Sullivan predicted. They are “making statements, drawing conclusions relative to foreign policy, economics, and domestic politics which exceed their field of competence” (emphasis mine). Most of these men simply are not competent to make the assertions, pronouncements, and policy statements they make. They haven’t done their homework and don’t know what’s really behind issues such as white privilege—where it comes from and what the people who teach and write about it really intend. Many talk about the environment and creation care, but they’re not meteorologists or scientists of any kind. They pontificate about economic issues, but most of them have never run a business. They’ve merely drawn a paycheck from other people’s hard work.
Sullivan wasn’t the only knowledgeable person to recognize what was happening, either. In February 1967, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told Congress:
[quote] Communists and other subversives and extremists strive and labor ceaselessly to precipitate racial trouble and take advantage of racial discord in this country. Such elements were active in exploiting and aggravating the riots, for example, in Harlem, Watts, Cleveland, and Chicago. [end quote]
It worked then, and it’s working now.
Whether you’re black or white, these people don’t care about you—or about racial issues and justice. They have one goal in mind, and that is to bring about a communist revolution. Of the 1960s racial unrest, former communist Phillip Abbott Luce wrote a book called Road to Revolution in which he stated flatly that communists were “in the center of these riots and did everything possible to expand and extend the riot condition.” J. Edgar Hoover recognized at the time what was going on and recounted a list of strategies that sound like Black Lives Matter tactics of the 2000s:
[quote] Communists seek to advance the cause of communism by injecting themselves into racial situations and exploiting them, one, to intensify the frictions between blacks and whites, to prove that discrimination against minorities is an inherent defect of the capitalist system; two, to foster domestic disunity by dividing blacks and whites into antagonistic, warring factions; three, undermine and destroy established authority; four, to incite black hostility toward law and order; five, to encourage and foment racial strife and riotous activity; number six, to portray the communist movement as the champion of social protest and the only force capable of ameliorating the conditions of the black and the oppressed . . . In fact, almost 50 years of Communist Party activity in the United States cannot be minimized, for it has contributed to disrupting race relations in this country and has exerted an insidious influence on the life and times of our nation. The net result of agitation and propaganda by communists and other subversive and extremist elements has been to create a climate of conflict between the races in this country, and to poison the atmosphere. [end quote]
The talking points and propaganda of Black Lives Matter and other like-minded initiatives derive specifically from communists and leftists.