Thursday, March 8, 2012

Piper Guilty of Christian Vulcanism?

This video has already made the rounds. It has already started heated arguments between hardcore Piper defenders and people with more common sense than that. I'm not bringing it up to stir up a bunch of heated argument but rather to analyse it with this new information I have on how New Calvinists approach the gospel, the world, other people, and themselves.


I have had sort of a theory in dealing with decent men who don't understand abusive men. They don't 'get' the abusive mindset but they understand that women can really drive men crazy and that there are even scriptures talking about contentious women and constant drips. So these decent men make the mistake of thinking that, yes, it's never right to hit a woman, but that some women ask for it and if they would just obey the Bible and submit, then they wouldn't be abused. I put Dobson in this category. I also used to put Piper in this category.

I remember someone saying, concerning the clip that I link above, that Piper was being rather cold hearted and uncaring and used the little nervous laugh that Piper gave upon reading the question as evidence.

At that time I wasn't willing to go that far. And even now, I'm not willing to say that Piper, himself, is coldhearted. Rather, I'm coming to the conclusion that New Calvinism creates coldheartedness in people. It is New Calvinism that is clinical and coldhearted. Trying to be pure, New Calvinists have made themselves sterile and reclusive from the human condition.
One of the reasons I'm coming to this conclusion is that I could see that Piper might actually be a very sensitive man. So sensitive, in fact, that he needs a doctrine that helps to shield himself from the pain of walking this earth.

Now I'm guessing here, of course. But the reason I'm turning this direction in my reasoning and theorizing is that this is possibly happening to the young man in my church. He had a very hard blow. Very emotional. Something that made him cry. But men aren't supposed to cry... Right?
So how do we deal with this, since manhood in men doesn't look so manly when it is dealing with honest pain in the thick of turmoil? Well, Vulcanizing their Christianity by way of New Calvinism could be an option. Think of it. Rather than rolling around and getting messy in the pit of emotions we can take ourselves out of the pit, sterilize everything and become the distant scientist observer, a Vulcan type dude. It certainly could cut down on the immediate pain and make life a bit more bearable in the now. But the down side is that, as it causes us to withdraw from the pain, it also causes us to withdraw from that which is human, created in God's image. And ultimately it makes even God more distant. We become something less than human, cold blooded, perhaps even reptilian.

But we are not to be reptiles. We are to be human. We wrestle with emotions and many other things. We have highs and lows and, if we will let Him, God will stay near to use through all of it.
I'm going to leave you with a song here that expresses well our need for a God who is near.

11 comments:

Lynne said...

YES! This makes so much sense, and chimes in exactly with my own experiences of the Calvinist world

Mara Reid said...

You have walked in the Calvinist world?
What's that like?
I haven't walked in their world, but I'm watching New Calvinist Creep.
It's creeping in where I don't want it and I'm looking for ways to defeat it.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

http://boarsheadtavern.com/2008/12/15/1347/

From Michael Spenser years ago. He was a Calvinist for a while and backed New Calvinists for a time but changed his mind. The New Calvinists will tend to take a very uncritical acceptance of Jonathan Edwards. As I've been discovering since becoming Presbyterian there are Reformed thinkers in America who considered Jonathan Edwards to introduce a lot of bad elements into Reformed thought, whether his endorsing revivalist techniques that have been assimilated into the emotional manipulation bag of tricks used by American preachers or by his front-loading sovereignty at the expense of other considerations about the character of God.

At least according to the now passed Internet Monk Piper stopped being the "Christian hedonist" he was famour for and took on an Edwardsian approach to super-sovereignty that not all Calvinists endorse but that, apparently, New Calvinists are happy with ... at least when that particular providence doesn't include disciplinary cases getting leaked to the press anyway. :)

Paul said...

On the Piper video and New Calvinism:

As in all of life--New Calvinists see everything through "the gospel."
So, being abused by your husband is a good thing because it enables the wife to partake in the sufferings of Christ. It's not about us, it's about making the cross bigger, and what better way to do that than to suffer?! It makes counseling as easy as 1,2,3. Everything is about making the cross bigger. Um, and these comments are based on data by the way.

Mara Reid said...

Good points by WTH and Paul.

Both points are good for my continued learning of what is up and what is wrong with New Calvinism.

Thanks guys!

I'm also noting, from Paul's extras and it being confirmed by WTH's talk of front-loading sovereignty at the expense of other considerations about the Character of God the following.

One characteristic of God that I see being compromised by NCs is the depth of His love and lovingkindness and tendermercies towards us.


Paul I've looked at the extras on Piper, and plan to post them next week as a group. But I want to watch Extra #4 again because I found it to be particularly helpful in furthering my understanding.

Paul said...

You got more videos coming sis, but how can you stand my droning voice?

Mara Reid said...

Paul,
I can tell you are an intellectual.
I grew up in an intellectual household. I am at home with the intellectual mindset.

You may call what you are doing droning, if you like. I call it a lifeline to understanding another bunch of intellectuals (NCs) who are so enamored by their own intellect and in love with the superiority of their own interpretations and applications of the gospel that they have turned the simplicity of the gospel into an intricate and confusing mess.

I perceive that one of the drawing powers of NC for young, intelligent men is that they think it is intellectually dazzling.
I don't know if you ever heard the saying,
"If you can't dazzle them with you brilliance, then baffle them with B.S."
Much of NC is actually baffling and a chasing after wind.

Lynne said...

Here in Australia, both the Presbyterians and the Sydney Anglicans are strongly Calvinist. I have been in both denominations. I actually was stuck in healing from major abuse issues in my life until I said goodbye to Calvinism. It left me paralysed in a paradigm that said that the horrible things that had been said and done were part of God's perfect will for me. It also left me with such a distorted and confused picture of what God's love and character were truly like that I felt totally abandoned in the universe, and nearly went under. it was only when I studied more deeply, and discovered that there were alternative ways of putting together one's theology that I was released to experience the God who truly loved me and mourned with me in my pain, and whose justice will ultimately triumph. So I am a little biased about the whole issue, I'm afraid.

but I do know some lovely Christian people who are strong Calvinists, and your Vulcan analogy makes a lot of sense to me and helps resolve the cognitive dissonance

Mara Reid said...

That makes a lot of sense, Lynne.

I take it that the Calvinists you knew in the Presbs and Angs we just Calvinists and not NCs?

The more I learn about Calvinism the more I know that I'm NOT one.

I completely relate to knowing "the God who truly loved me and mourned with me in my pain, and whose justice will ultimately triumph."

Lynne said...

Actually they were kind of both. they had been Calvinists before the NC crowd appeared, but i have noticed a change in the last 15-20 years. Not only do they embrace the NC crowd (Piper seems to be everyone's hero except mine) but I have noticed a growing harshness in the theology they express. Also, and this is an odd one, but I think it shows how the fanboys tend to take on the whole package indiscriminately, some of us are noticing that these Presbyterians and evangelical Anglicans are becoming more Baptist in some respects -- a decreased value put onto the sacraments, a growing disrespect for anything at all liturgical or ceremonial, and a noticeable drop off in baptising babies (and this is happening even to the children of some of the clergy). I can't help feeling that this has something to do with the predominance of Baptists or those with Baptist tendencies, among the leadership of the NCs -- particularly as Baptists are one of the smaller denominations in Australia.

rach.h.davis said...

Can someone answer this question for me? (I'm trying to fit some puzzle pieces together about NC)...

I see from the example in the post (that of a woman being abused "partaking in Christ's suffering") that NCs can come off as ambivalent about helping/stopping suffering when it rears its ugly head.

Do they take it a step further and actually emphasize suffering as a goal/way of life?

In other words, it's one thing to tell a suffering person that they shouldn't seek to change their situation. It's another thing to tell a happy person that they should actively aspire to be suffering.

I am starting to see this attitude in my church and it really bothers me. For one thing, I know very few well-adjusted people who actually aspire towards suffering as a way of life (plenty of people who give lip service to that, mind you, but I see them out having fun and smelling the roses just like everyone else). Also, as someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I've had to hold onto God's promise of mercy, joy and hope in order to get myself to a place of health and healing...and I see people in my church who have never struggled with these things decreeing quite confidently that trying to escape suffering is not what we want. (I wonder if any of them have ever found themselves truly unable to get out of bed in the morning, and how they justified that this was necessary for them to serve God....don't know about you all, but I always serve God better when I get up, go about my day, and interact with other humans).

Anyway...thoughts?