Sunday, November 29, 2015

John Piper on the Death of Christ for the Non-Elect

I recently stumbled upon this video of the popular Calvinist minister John Piper answering the question: Did the death of Christ accomplish anything for the non-elect? I believe an analysis of Piper’s answer is helpful in establishing some of the nonsensical notions upon which his neo-reformed theology finds its unsure footing. Let’s listen…

What did the death of Jesus on the cross accomplish for the non-elect? Anything?
"It’s amazing how frequently that question is coming up recently. Somebody asked me after church last week – Did Christ purchase common grace? And, and we were talking about it at table-talk with the students just a few weeks ago, and I’ll tell you my reflection just as briefly as I can. Frankly I’m not sure how to answer the question but I think in telling you why I’m not sure you’ll be able to get a grasp on it. In one sense as soon as we sin we should be punished eternally. We shouldn’t get another breath. There should be no reprieve. There should be no time given to us. So clearly then, in some sense, the time given to us is grace. " (John Piper) 
Where in the bible do we substantiate the claim that God is inherently obligated to instantaneously punish sin? I hear this notion promoted a great deal by Christian ministers but I have yet to see anyone provide an explicit scriptural argument to substantiate this claim. On the other hand, we find manifold testimony in the bible that God is long suffering (Exodus 34:6, Romans 2:4, 9:22). While it is true that God’s holy character obligates him to ultimately punish sin (Numbers 14:18), this by no means establishes that he is obligated to do so instantaneously upon the offense, especially when in the very same verse that speaks of God’s ultimate punishment of evil we find affirmation that God is long-suffering in how he deals with the matter.

Atonement to Purchase God's Delay of Punishment

"Grace is, for a sinner, requires some kind of payment or purchase or warrant from a holy God and Christ would be the one who provides that and so I’m inclined to say, 'Yes.'" (Piper) 
So because Piper believes that God is obligated to instantaneously punish sin upon its commission, and because it is evident that God does not do this, Piper must now develop a theological means of justifying God’s delay via the atonement. But in such an arrangement, what is this “atonement” actually paying for? Did the sinner do something that forced God to forestall his obligation of immediate punishment that requires payment? No. God made this decision to forestall punishment unilaterally; apparently in rebellion against his own holy obligation to immediately punish sin, so far as Piper is concerned. And herein lies Piper’s theological problem. It is evident that this “atonement,” wherein a temporary reprieve from God’s obligation of divine wrath is purchased, is actually a payment to cover something that God has not done in violation of his Holy character. It is payment for God’s delay, not payment for man’s sin. Think about this for a moment: Since in Piper’s theology God is inherently obligated to immediately punish sin, and since God evidently does not immediately punish sin, the atonement then serves the purpose of covering and justifying God’s own error in the matter. While I am certain that Piper would never characterize his view in this fashion, I believe that this conclusion is logically unavoidable based on his own assertions. Stated plainly, atonement means that something was paid for; the non-elect’s sins were not paid for (Matthew 25:41); it follows that there was no atonement for them. So to summarize: Piper’s notion that the atonement purchased a delay in punishment for the non-elect is a complete fabrication.

Piper's "Chance to Believe" Soteriology

"The fact that the non-elect the unbelievers all over the world are still believing [sic] (I think he meant "breathing", teth) and have another chance to believe is a gift. " (Piper) 
Piper uses this “chance to believe” language a great deal. The bible never refers to the salvation of God’s people as resulting from them being given a “chance to believe.” Salvation is not in any sense by chance. Salvation is by grace through the provisions of an everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure (II Samuel 23:5), and nothing that is ordered in all things and sure is a matter of chance.

Particular Redemption + WMO = Christian Irrationalism

"Just like the offer of the gospel is a gift and that offer is provided by the cross." (Piper)
Those who affirm Particular Redemption and the WMO of salvation to all of humanity do well to soberly enter into this fundamental question: How is it possible to sincerely offer eternal salvation to a man for whom Jesus Christ did not die? That question is the complete undoing of Well-Meant-Offer-Calvinism, because it underscores that if Jesus Christ did not savingly-atone for every human being’s sin, and the atonement of Christ is the only basis for eternal salvation, then any offer of salvation extended to the non-elect is insincere, since it is admittedly without any atoning basis whatsoever.

Elsewhere I have heard Piper declare that the atonement actually paid for the offer to be extended. This is an incredibly illogical statement provided someone will just think about that assertion for a moment. The atonement made a payment so that you could sincerely offer eternal life to the non-elect, while not actually paying for the sins of the non-elect? That is folly of the highest order that should be throughly rejected by God’s people.

Judgmental Grace?

"But then here’s the catch. Romans 2:4 says that, 'Don’t you know that the patience of God is meant to lead you to repentance? But you, by your hard and unrepentant heart, are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when the righteous judgment of God is revealed.' So if a non-elect person spurns, which they do, they spurn this grace, the grace itself becomes added judgment. Which makes me wonder, in what sense was it grace?" (Piper) 
Here Piper, to his credit, does enter into some of the dilemma created by his wacky view of the atonement. A more perplexing question is: If the sincere offer of salvation in the gospel is extended to those for whom Jesus Christ did not die (which would be the case if the offer is extended to all and if Particular Redemption is true) in what sense was this offer sincere? Doesn’t God realize that he’s offering something that He made absolutely no redemptive plan or atoning provision for?

Piper's "Real Opportunity" for the Salvation of the Non-Elect

"In some sense it is. It’s real offer. It’s real opportunity," (Piper)
Is it? Ask yourself the question – is there ANY opportunity for the eternal salvation of someone for whom the Lord Jesus Christ did not die? The answer to that question is abundantly clear to any rational observer – there is absolutely no opportunity for the non-elect to have eternal salvation, none whatsoever. It is for this reason that we must understand the nature of the gospel message. It is not an offer of eternal life contingent upon faith, but rather a proclamation of the finished work of Christ on behalf of his people that is received and enjoyed by faith.
"But if you spurn it, if you reject it, it backfires and mounts up with greater judgment." (Piper) 
Stated more plainly, Piper is saying that God’s sovereign mercy is ultimately contingent upon whether or not a man chooses to accept or reject His offer of mercy found in the gospel. That is complete hogwash and it is contrary to the notion of sovereign election and particular redemption.
"It’s like the more kindness is shown to a person that they resist then the more wicked they show themselves to be, and the more wicked they show themselves to be the more judgment falls upon them and so I think the answer is yes." (Piper)
So “yes” - Christ atoned to purchase a delay in the punishment of the non-elect, though he did not pay for the sins of the non-elect, but He did “atone” to allow us to make a sincere offer of salvation to the non-elect, even though He, by His own testimony, did not die for the non-elect, and even though the atonement of Christ is the only means whereby someone will ever be eternally saved. Wow. This theology is a colossal pile of contradictions.
"Real grace, real common grace, real offer of salvation, right now just watching this, is a grace. And if you’re a non-Christian grace is being offered to you at this very moment." (Piper)
All of you for whom Jesus Christ did not die - Did you hear that? Grace is being offered to you right now through Piper. I’ll make this statement again because it is perhaps the most important question that any modern Calvinist of the John Piper sort can encounter in correcting their errant theology: It is impossible to sincerely offer eternal salvation to a man for whom Jesus Christ did not die.
"But I’ve just warned you that if you spurn this, judgment will be greater and that’s a gift to you right now, that God may be pleased to then use it awaken you – say 'whoa, I don’t want to multiply my judgment, I want to respond to this moment of grace.' That’s what I think the upshot of this conversation should be. Respond to the grace. You’re alive, there’s still a chance to believe and be saved." (Piper)  


Brother Piper, the eternal salvation of God’s people is not by chance, it's by grace. It is for this reason that those in gospel ministry must reject the irrationalism of Piper’s Well-Meant-Offer-Calvinism and instead set about the business of proclaiming the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ who saved his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), and assuring those who believe this testimony that they have eternal life (John 6:47) and that they should walk in obedient discipleship (John 14:15) as their reasonable service to God (Romans 12:1), not to obtain a salvation offered via chance (Ephesians 2:8-9), but in thanksgiving for a salvation that was given to them by the pure grace of God (Titus 3:5) in a covenant ordered in all things and sure (II Samuel 23:5) established before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5).

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