"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Piper's 'Masculine Christianity' Actually Emasculates

I learned the hard way a few years ago that the immediacy of the Internet is like a surgeon's scalpel; handled intentionally and appropriately it becomes an instrument of healing, but used willy nilly  there is the potential for great harm. There are things that happen in Christendom, public things, that stir up anger within me, producing an urge to write a blog post immediately. Too many times in the past I have erred, writing too soon and too half-hazard.  Since then, I have adopted an old motto as a new paradigm for my writing: "Never make an Internet promise when glad, never write an Internet blog when mad." Contrary to what some might perceive when reading what follows, any anger over what John Piper said last week about "masculine Christianity" has subsided.

At the 2012 Desiring God Pastor's Conference last Tuesday, John Piper said, "Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel." He assured women that they could indeed experience real joy in what he calls "masculine Christianity," but Piper is unmistakably clear that his God has placed priority on maleness. I have learned a great deal from John Piper, particularly his Edwardian view that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, but I would urge my female Christian friends to ignore Piper's conception of God and find satisfaction in the God of Scripture.

It's without doubt that male personal pronouns are predominately used in Scripture to describe God, but the sacred text does not hesitate to attribute female characteristics to the invisible God. The image of God is both male and the female. God is no more all male to the exclusion of female than He is all Jewish to the exclusion of Gentile. To say, as Piper says, that Christianity has "a masculine feel" is as silly as saying Christianity has "a white, anglo-saxon feel." The same mistake our forefathers made in excluding a particular race from full participation in Christianity is being made by our modern heroes in excluding a particular gender. Christians, particularly women believers, are learning the importance of challenging statements of men like Piper. I thought that I might not be misundertanding Piper correctly, so I listened to the videos again. In one of the sessions Piper explains that "masculine Christianity" is where "men gladly bear all the responsiblity" in the church and home.

What? Seriously? Why single out men, John? Should not God's people, both male and female, take individual responsiblity for the gifts given them? Where in Scripture does it say Spirit-giftedness is restricted to gender. We are Spirit-led, not gender led. Four years ago I wrote a post warning against the growing doctrinal heresy among conservative Christians called "the eternal subordination of the Son" in order to justify the eternal subordination of women to men. The time has come for Christians, particularly Christian men, to stop remaining silent in the face of such doctrinal distortion. An excellent blog from Rachel Held Evans calls for Christian men to do just that; and the response has been encouraging.  Landon Whitsitt has written a post called Mama's Boy. Frank Viola has written a post called God's View of a Woman. J.R. Daniel Kirk has written a post called Imaging the Biblical God. Other Christian men are responding with excellent articles in rebuttal of Piper's weak masculine Christianity.

As much respect as I have for John Piper, on this matter I must express extreme disappoint with Piper's warped perception of Christianity. He is unintentionally weakening the gospel by diminishing God. Christians should maintain an unqualified enthusiasm and satisfaction for the biblical God that expresses Himself with both male and female characteristics. One of the most perceptive comments I read on this matter came from a non-Christian who posted his comment on Rachel Evan's blog. It is a strange day in evangelical Christianity when this conservative inerrantist has more affinity with the writings of a self-professed non-Christian named Michael Mock than the writings of John Piper. Mr. Mock wrote:
"Masculine Christianity? Feminine Christianity? Look, I'm not a Christian, but even asking the question seems to me to be profoundly missing the point. What I'd most like to see, myself, is a humane Christianity.

Every time I hear someone start talking about how Christianity needs to be more "manly" or "masculine" - or, by contrast, less effeminate - it seems to come at the cost of basic politeness and human decency, of empathy and forgiveness. It's gotten to the point where I assume that anyone who says that basically just wants permission to be more of a prick than the traditional reading of the Gospels says that they should be (i.e. not at all). The more of this "manly" Christianity I see, the more I'm convinced that it's just a cover for bad behavior, motivated by a misguided longing for a certain sort of machismo that Jesus neither endorsed nor practiced."

Amen, Mr. Mock, Amen.


35 comments:

Bryan Riley said...

I suppose the good news in Piper's statement is that it makes it easier to see how absurd a complementarian view is. Complementarianism sounds innocent and reasonable enough. But to say that Christianity has a masculine bent? That demonstrates the error clearly.

wadeburleson.org said...

Good point Bryan. It's all in the definitions. I have no problem with the word complementarian when defined as two equals complementing one another. When defined as one with higher 'authority' and the other 'submmitting' to that authority, well then, that's a distortion of New Testament teaching of mutual submission and sacred service leading to leadership by giftedness not position or gender.

Off The Cuff said...

I have often wanted to ask the question; “How many times must something be stated in the bible in order to make it true?”
Most Christians stand on the premise that the bible is the inherent, infallible word of God. If the bible states something only once is that enough to make it true?
Gal. 3:28 states; There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. NIV
Is this one statement about equality enough to make it true, or must we weigh this against other (mostly O.T.) scriptures written in a time when male superiority was an accepted practice?
I realize the dangers of compartmentalizing scripture in order to use it as a proof text for a particular bias.
My approach to understanding scripture was clearly stated in the 1963 BF&M. “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”
IMHO I cannot imagine Christ condoning Piper’s interpretation of scripture on this subject.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is true that Piper is actually teaching an emasculated form of following Christ.

I think he should change his ministry to "Discovering the Pervasive Masculine God" since that is what his ministry offers by his own admission.

Don Johnson

Christiane said...

God is not 'a being' among other beings . . . He is 'Being itself'.

Is Piper making God over into his own image?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the way you stand up for the truth. You make comments that face the issue but you season them with grace. I really enjoy reading your blog.

Garen Martens said...

I recently had another experience with a John Piper blog. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/know-a-christian-who-seems-to-love-movies-more-than-jesus A Baptist pastor (she doesn't even attend his church) used the tips from this blog to beat the tar out of my grace-filled, loving, giving, sacrificial daughter-in-law. It was very hurtful to her. Yes, she likes the good things of life and she is not a Bible thumper, but she is a doll when it comes to her love for Jesus, spiritual understanding, and loving relationships - especially with underprivileged folks. I'm not saying that it is Piper's fault for the attack, but caution needs to be used when he makes suggestions on how to approach others about spiritual matters. I'm just blowing off a little steam, Wade.

wadeburleson.org said...

Garen,

Uggh.

I don't blame you for blowing off steam.

Legalism combined with authoritarianism leads to dominionism (the use of power, guilt and punishment to push down others).

Vent all you like.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for standing for truth once again. Fyi, your link to Frank Viola only takes us back to Landon's blog a second time. Blessings~ Deb

Darcy said...

I keep wanting to shout "YES!" everytime I read one of your posts these days. :) Thank you for standing up for truth.

wadeburleson.org said...

Deb,

Thanks! Correcting the link now.

wadeburleson.org said...

Deb,

Thanks! Correcting the link now.

Kristen said...

There is a word for one person in a relationship taking "all responsibility": dysfunction. It is the primary characteristic of codependency. And this is what Piper would hold up to us as God's plan for marriage-- a model that ties up heavy burdens and lays them on the man's shoulders, and gives the woman no power to help lift them.

God said it was not good for the man to be alone. By hamstringing his face-to-face strong aid (real meaning of "helpmeet" in the Hebrew), Piper has rendered the man alone again. And that is "not good."

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...

Wade,

I am so grateful that you are shining the light on this nonsense. It is really getting out of hand!

Loved watching your sermon yesterday on your website. I am blessed by your tremendous preaching and want to encourage others to take the time to listen to your preaching online. You are enriching my spiritual life, unlike these 'manly' men who are so offensive to me.

Pege' said...

Wade, taking in deep consideration for the first paragraph of your post I will be brief...lol...WHAT IN THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH WESTERN CHRISTIANITY??? While our brothers and sisters on other countries are loosing their lives to confess Christ as savior, look what western leaders, authors and preachers are spewing. WOW!!! (Blog author not included ;) Turn your eyes upon Jesus people and look in to his wonderful face and these stupid idiotic, myopic,self centered,sensational things of earth will grow dim in the light of HIS WONDERFUL GRACE!!!

wadeburleson.org said...

Thanks, Wanda.

You and Dee have inspired us here at Emmanuel. Your comment about a house church, where people can gather for encouragement and prayer (and maybe join Emmanuel LIVE during our Sunday morning worship) has taken fruition. We have our first house church (Emmanuel 405) up and coming in Moore, Oklahoma as a test case. If it works we desire to have them all over - small, free, relational, with no 'top-down-authority,' but serving one another as the Spirit gifts. The group in Moore want to "affiliate" with our church, but we have told them if at any time they wish to leave, disband, or join a church near them, they have our unconditional blessing.

We are really pretty excited. Our goal is not to 'plant churches,' but to encourage people who may have been burned by the organized church--to renew them and energize them and cause them to realize they ARE the church. We here at Emmanuel are just called to encourage!

Thanks for putting us on to something!

wadeburleson.org said...

Peg,

As always, on target. :)

Blessings,

Wade

Kristen said...

Wade said:
"We are really pretty excited. Our goal is not to 'plant churches,' but to encourage people who may have been burned by the organized church--to renew them and energize them and cause them to realize they ARE the church. We here at Emmanuel are just called to encourage!"

Wow. You really aren't interested in power or numbers, are you? I'm impressed by the way you follow Christ in action as well as words.

wadeburleson.org said...

Kristen,

Definitely not perfect in what we do or say, but honest enough to tell people we aren't perfect and point them to the One who is and remind them that He never disappoints.

Thanks for the kind words.

Wade

Lin said...

Oh dear. Has not Piper read Gen 1? We are made in His Image both Male and Female. Both sexes were "Adam" (Human) and both given instructions from God.

These men seem to be obessesed with a believers private parts to the detriment of our spiritual gifts.

But I am really concerned about those men who become ill or incapacitated when they are to "take the responsibility".

Piper is making God in his own image. It is really sad. These guys are so off the mark they are really reinventing Christianity. The question we must ask is why?

Darcy said...

I don't suppose you'd want to start one of your house churches for the church-burned in central Montana??? ;) Cause what you described is exactly what we're looking for.

wadeburleson.org said...

Darcy,

We would be delighted and thrilled for you to participate. If you and your husband would like to visit about the possiblity feel free to call me at your convenience at 580-237-0602 one afternoon. We would want to answer any questions you might have. Also, just now you would be in on the ground floor! :) But that's always the fun part!!

Micah Martin said...

@ Darcy & Wade,

It is a small world... Thanks to the internet. Before long Wade will have more house churches in Montana than OK. Let me know what you guys work out.

wadeburleson.org said...

Micah,

I received the book you sent me. Read it today (all of it!). Very, very interesting. I am reserving judgment as of now, but am deeply appreciative of your thoughtfulness. I have some strong questions, particularly on the subject of the resurrection (to me the heart of the gospel), but I'm still studying.

Micah Martin said...

Wade,

Well thank you so much. I sent it media mail so I am never sure how fast it is going to go. Yeap, usually people will go right to the Resurrection. There are some good writings and series' out there that address that very issue.

I'll send you an email with the resources that have helped me connected the dots.

You are a rarity though. I applaud your openness.

Blessings,
Micah

Darcy said...

Wade, I'm not sure we're up to starting one, lol! We're about to have our 4th baby and our oldest is only 5. Busy times for us. But we would love to participate. Also....I'm still a little gun-shy when it comes to sharing some of this, but we've had major problems in the last church we were in when the pastor found out we were Preterists and Egalitarians and restricted us from serving. After we've been there working for 2 years!! For us, it doesn't matter all that much. We value relationship over grey area doctrine. But apparently for some, we're heretics and not fit to serve in a church let alone lead one. :( I'm just so done with church politics and doctrinal disputes that get in the way of fellowship. I have a hard time believing that a group could actually get past differences like these.

Jackie said...

Wade,

Thanks for the blog. Good words. However, as I was reading the comments I was interested in what you guys are doing with house churches. Would love to read or hear more about that.

Jackie Allen
Immanuel - Duncan

wadeburleson.org said...

Jackie,

We are welcoming anyone with faith in Christ to join us. Our desire is for those who may be a little bit burned out by the organized church and/or tired of religious performance to loosely affiliate with us at Emmanuel in an informal, personal way so that we might provide some encouragement we believe the body of Christ is designed to provide. We have been contacted by people in various states who desire Christian fellowship and wish to open their homes to neighbors, family, or friends for a time of Christian encouragement and Bible study. We will provide a brief 30 minute teaching time with outlines and questions for discussion LIVE or archived (whichever is preferable for the small group). We are currently going through a study Hebrews. All that is required is an Internet connection and a television large enough to be seen by everyone in the house church. We have groups in a few states that will join us LIVE. Other groups in other states will watch the archive, but our goal is to acknowledge every house group who is participating with us from the platform by name -- just to let them know somebody does care in an organized church.

We will also provide our church's support and pastoral care for those Christians who feel impressed to join us in their house church. What we promise is a team of people who will care for them and their small group, regular contact through Skype, email and Facebook, and a some encouragement through our resources in people and teaching materials. Most of all we promise them freedom.

What we value is Jesus Christ as He is expressed in the truth of Scripture, in grace-filled and loving relationships, and Spirit-gifted service to our families and communities. We don't wish to fix, correct or control anybody. There is no 'authoritarian' top-down structure--we will trust in the leadership of the Spirit to guide His church as He sees fit.

No covenants to sign. No promises to make. No vows to perform. Just love Jesus and the people around you and we will do the same.

For those interested in opening their home on a Sunday morning, or a Sunday evening, or for that matter, any other day of the week to BE THE CHURCH in your community, we will be hosting a SKYPE conference 10:00 a.m. CENTRAL TIME next Tuesday, February 14, 2012, Valentine's Day!

No invitation needed. Just SKYPE us at emmanuelenid (all one word and all lower case) and send us an invitation - we will respond and you will join us in our staff meeting to discuss being a part of our church by starting your own house church in your community.

:)

Hope that answers your question Jackie. We are just getting started. Don't have a lot of answers right now, but some interest from different quarters and our staff is gung-ho to help get it started.

Mentanna said...

using this logic, God also gave christianity a "jewish" feel. gulp. that is two strikes against me!

Laura said...

Now to add to my concern about the strangeness of what John Piper is promoting here, I am reading that he had Doug Wilson as a speaker at one of his events recently? This is preposterous...I see no similarity in philosophy between these two...or at least I would never have thought so. I know many people who think very highly of John Piper, at least from the point of view of integrity and the message of Doug Wilson and his associates seems to be from a different playbook entirely.

Slosher said...

More evidence that Christianity is for women and closeted homosexuals.

Young men:

Reject Christianity = Be a man.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wade -

This post may be of interest to you, from a conservative evangelical teaching at St Andrews in Scotland. He points out the unintended consequences of the particular way in which Piper articulates his position:

http://shoredfragments.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/if-god-is-male/

Anonymous said...

As long as you are free to stipulate my definition of the relevant term and to stipulate my definition of the anti-term, I can totally agree with myself.

shadowspring said...

Off the Cuff wrote:

1963 BF&M. “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”

God bless the 1963 BF&M! Somehow I grew up with this idea firmly planted in my young believer's brain and it has kept me from much error. Since I was born in 1962, and raised by my Baptist grandma in my early years, that must be where it came from. Thank you, whoever came out with that statement! Without that simple truth, who knows where I might be today.

Again, thanks Baptist of the '60s. You rock.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of 'silly'
The effeminate propping up of every
thing popular is pathetic.

sorry folks here are Anti-White.
Christianity IS White.

you folks are rolling back to the good old days in Africa.