The publishing of McKnight’s new essay is particularly relevant in light of the latest John Piper Tweet firestorm — enflamed by tweets which, it has been blogged, he intended as comfort for people in Moore, OK. This ‘tweet comfort’ after the brutal tornado that wreaked destruction on the Moore community. (Wade Burleson’s response to Brother Piper and that of Chris Hubbs are two of the best I’ve read.)
I would suggest that Pastor Piper has been consistent in his theological response to this and other tragedies. Would the key to understanding his response be his belief in what Scot McKnight says “might be called “meticulous” (or “exhaustive)” sovereignty“? (Note: I wrote about a Piper response to the 2007 I35 Bridge Collapse tragedy.)
Scot McKnight’s latest eBook/essay, A Long Faithfulness: The Case for Christian Perseverance, engages Piper’s understanding of God’s sovereignty. McKnight does it in an irenic manner. ( I purchased and read the essay yesterday. It is available in Canada here, and in the US here. )
He says this about the purpose of his essay:
This essay ultimately contends for a generous evangelicalism, one in which each of our theologies is represented fairly and is accepted as a genuine element. This essay is not an argument for Arminianism, which ironically is itself–as Roger Olson has clearly stated over and over in his excellent books, including Arminian Theology and Against Calvinism–a development of Calvinism. Instead, this essay is designed to cut the nerve feeding only one kind of resurgent Calvinism: the meticulous sovereignty sort. I hope to convince the reader that meticulous sovereignty conflicts with the Bible’s presentation of human freedom, namely, the ability to choose and un-choose God. If my argument is accurate, then we are set free to explore other options for tragedies and injustices in this world besides meticulous sovereignty. The heart of this resurgent Calvinism is found in the singular, clear, and passionate vision of John Piper. There are other theologians and pastors around him, including Mark Driscoll, D.A. Carson, David Wells, and many others. Alongside these key, articulate, and passionate voices are institutions that prop up these voices: places like Southern Seminary (led by Al Mohler), Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and other lesser known but serious seminaries, colleges, and conferences (like the Passion Conference and The Gospel Coalition). [emphasis added]
I would strongly suggest that using the warning passages in Hebrews — 2:1-4, 3:7-4:13, 5:11-6:12, 10:19-39, 12:1-29 — McKnight accomplishes what he sets out to do. He ‘cuts the nerve’ that feeds “meticulous sovereignty”. He also challenges and corrects those of us who’ve bought into the “once saved/always saved” cheap grace of American evangelicalism.
I look forward to my friends and others in the Piper/TGC/T4C universe giving this essay an honest assessment — actually wrestling with McKnight’s argument — treating it and Scot McKnight with the respect deserved.
I’m about to read the essay through again. I doubt it will be the last time. I do hope you will read it, as well.
UPDATE: Chaplain Mike @ Internetmonk: John Piper, Miserable Comforter