[StriderMTB’s lengthy article, “The Folly of Doing Theology in an Echo Chamber: A Thorough Examination of Piper’s ‘Two-Wills’ View,” has been divided into 30 parts and edited for serial publication on this website. Here is a link to the original post. After the entire series is published, it will be made available as a single article on this site. Critique 29 is included in this post.]
Critique 29: THE PIPER SWITCHEROO: THE SUBTLE MOVE FROM “ALL THE DETAILS OF LIFE” TO “GOD’S SOVEREIGN PURPOSES.”
Here Piper digs in his heals even further, refusing to back away from his extreme presuppositional bias and groundless hermeneutic to extrapolate a universal rule from a handful of Scriptures plucked out of their wider historical context. He starts off with the following assertion,
“This confidence that the details of life were in the control of God every day was rooted in numerous prophetic expressions of God’s unstoppable, unthwartable sovereign purpose.”
Now remember, for Piper, the rather innocuous phrase “details of life are in the control of God” means God has irresistibly and determinatively rendered certain every good and sinful desire, choice and action of all men before time began.
He then proceeds to buffer this claim with “numerous prophetic expressions of God’s unstoppable, unthwartable sovereign purpose.” Did you catch that? Notice how he subtly switches out the words “the details of life were in the control of God every day” and quickly substitutes in the words “God’s sovereign purpose.”
This is no accident.
Piper is astute enough to know the verses he is about to cite say nothing of his claim that “all the details” of life are determined by God. Rather they only extol God’s power to achieve his ultimate purposes and act according to his pleasure— something all Arminians firmly believe. Observe:
“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'” (Isaiah 46:9-10; cf. 43:13). “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What doest thou?'” (Daniel 4:35). “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3)
Not one verse cited above says what Piper is arguing for throughout his article– meticulous, divine determination of all good and evil via God’s cloistered will of decree. Again it is no mere happenstance that Piper switches out meticulous, divine control and deftly substitutes in divine purpose immediately prior to taking us on a quick perusal through Scripture that affirm the later and say nothing of the former.
Piper knows the Scriptures do not lay out a convincing case that all the meticulous details of life, from whether to wear boxers or briefs, to our temptations with sin, have all been determinatively willed by God. Therefore, he firstly and cleverly argues that such a world must be what God has purposed and must be what sovereignty means. Only then can he proceed to highlight passages that generally speak of God’s purposes and the fulfillment of his sovereign pleasure— hoping that we won’t see the “switcheroo.”
The truth is all Christians, especially Arminians, believe God has certain, ultimate plans and purposes (the death of Christ, the return of Christ, the justification of his people being, etc.) and no man can subvert what God has determined to accomplish. Indeed we wholeheartedly believe God has sovereign purposes and can achieve those purposes, but that doesn’t therefore require the belief that God sovereignly purposed everything. Likewise we fully acknowledge that God can do whatever pleases him, but it doesn’t therefore follow that it pleased God to be the conceptual and determinative origin for every evil act of rebellion—against himself. Both wild extrapolations are based on Piper’s hidden and unproven assumptions.