Feb 072018
 

John Piper set the internet on fire with another one of his often inane tweets.

The problem with this tweet is twofold.

One, Piper knows nothing about mental health issues.

Two, he talks about it anyway.

Let me share something with you.

I’m a pastor, so I have a decent grasp of theology and liturgy.

I am not a doctor.

Or a therapist.

Or an economist, or a politician, or a sociologist, a psychiatrist ,or anything other than a pastor.

Therefore, when I speak to those things in which I have no expertise,(but have assumed it) the chances are that it’s nothing more than the same kind of pious tripe Piper belched.

If you grant me this assumed expertise, your life could end up in shambles and you could end up dead or wishing you were.

The only advise I’m qualified to give is spiritual and theological and that may be helpful, but it won’t cure organic disease.

Pipers fans spew their own pious tripe to defend him.

“The Gospel is the answer for everything”.

No, it’s not.

My truck needs new tires

We don’t have enough snowpack for the summer.

I need a new heart valve.

My brain chemistry is off.

I loathe avocados.

As you can see, the Gospel is not the answer to everything.

Your pastors expertise is limited…whether he tweets like it or not.

If you need professional help, seek it and listen to it…and tell your pastor to mind the business God gave him.

 

 

  54 Responses to “Piper’s Pious Tripe”

  1. My goodness. These folks never cease to amaze me.

  2. I’m hoping everyone in our group here has been reading Babylon Dread’s beautifully honest posts this week on Fb about mental health…. What a blessing.

    John Piper. sigh

  3. Paige,

    I’m hoping to publish those here as well…they’re fantastic.

  4. Michael,

    Not only well said, but something that needs to be said. I think the business term is, “Stay in you lane…”

  5. Duane,

    I wish I had remembered that phrase…it’s exactly what I wanted to say.

    Too many pastors think they own the highway…

  6. Michael,

    By the way, this is “a gate that swings both ways”.

  7. Too many pastors and other Xn leaders have a “totalistic” view of reality. They think because they’re a Xn pastor or leader, they’re automatically wise in other spheres of life.
    Or, they misread the Bible in a totalistic way. Like Duane said, “stay in your lane.”

    I’ve seen firsthand the results of the “God is all I need” POV. The results can be
    devastating.

  8. Duane, yes it is…in more ways than one.

  9. I particularly appreciate Alan’s FB post. I have a newfound sense of compassion, especially in light of some seriously harsh exchanges between him and me.

    Peace, Alan.

  10. Thank you Michael for a good dose of common sense. 🙂

  11. I attained some good mental health when I left a prominent Calvinist SBC church here in town, a church which counts Piper among its numerous influences.

    I think if I had told any one of the pastors to “mind the business God gave him”, I either would have been told “that’s what I’m doing” or subjected to church discipline on the spot 🙂

  12. Isn’t the whole purpose of Twitter to speak authoritatively on subjects you know practically about?

  13. I really don’t understand the purpose of Twitter used in this way, except that it’s self-aggrandizement.

    You can’t pastor, counsel or treat anyone via twitter. To the contrary, posts like Piper’s, which are totally Law for anyone keeping track, are more likely to harm hurting people more than help them.

    Imagine someone reading this advice: “fix your eyes on the strength and beauty of God.” What does that even mean?
    Was that the Lord’s answer to Paul when he asked to have his own thorn removed?
    Piper’s advice is not only bad advice, in the wrong forum, but it’s not biblical at all.

    Christ came for the heavy laden, for the burdened, to give us rest. I find no Gospel at all in Piper’s advice.

  14. Isn’t this the same guy who “warned” people not to spend too much time with their dogs?

    Excellent article…

  15. I agree with all the comments and Michael’s article but I’m not totally convinced John Piper is speaking in the context of “mental illness” when he refers to finding “mental health” unless we have the context of this tweet. He probably is but I’ll give the guy a break even though he doesn’t deserve it that he is just saying that its mentally healthy to fix our eyes on the strength and beauty of God. I can’t disagree with that.

  16. #17

    I wish I could agree, Steve. But I don’t.

    He’s contrasting “staring at the mirror” (bad, I guess) with looking at God’s strength and beauty.

    We shouldn’t have to parse these words in the first place, really.

  17. JoelG, he also advised abused women on the correct and Christian way to respond to that abuse.

  18. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” proof text that he is right. But wait.

    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

    The latter seems to be a promise in the kingdom to come. Most (all?) Of the beatitudes seem to be promises that may or may not be fulfilled here on this plane.

  19. Duane, as a professional truck driver, “stay in your lane!” is something I say several times a day out here on the road. It’s amazing how careless some folks are out here.

  20. Hopefully his advice included calling the police, J2.

  21. I also want to encourage folks to check out Babylon Dreads Facebook posts on depression.

    Good stuff there from a very godly man who has been through a lot himself and has a desire to help others through it.

  22. THANK YOU MICHEAL for posting this. I have had it up to here with Pastors thinking that just because they are a pastor, they can speak with authority on anything they want to. Also I am very angry that this kind of false belief is still parroted around in church circles!

    Again, THANK YOU!

  23. I’ll pray about the avocado thing. 🙂

  24. To be fair you should show DG’s follow-up tweet, inadequate though you may find it.

    Even with a doubled tweet limit it’s hard to put things clearly.

  25. #18, But he is not stating that staring in the mirror is clinical illness, that is why I am wondering what prompted him to tweak this? Is it a response to something? Maybe he is referring to himself since he like many celebrity pastors are just narcissistic and love hearing and watching themselves preach. After all he calls himself the pastor of vision since he believes God gave him and him alone the vision for his church. Maybe its a small sign of repentance from him.

  26. Even though this may be the “rage du jour” on twitter…this has been a LONG-time problem within the Church…especially from our Charismatic/Pentacostal brethern (I cannot say about Calvary Chapel because I have zero experience/knowledge of their beliefs apart from what I read here) – see Gloria Copeland and her recent statement on the flu and the Cross.

    Doesn’t just stop at mental illness, but also other physical illnesses as well. I lost my oldest sister to liver cancer back in 1998. Memory…when I was at her home one day I spotted a grocery bag sitting behind a chair in the family room. I peeked in the bag and noticed A LOT of books and tapes from your usual “health and wealth gospel” types. I felt angry about this.

    To this day this is one of my biggest points of rage…those who think that it’s your fault your sick, you have cancer, you have PTSD, you have depression, and you have a hidden sin your life…

    Yes, I understand that there can be consequences of sin and living in this tainted world, and that I can get sick/depressed/cancer because of my thinking pattern (depression – this may be my case), not washing my hands (the flu), and lung cancer (working around asbestos – my dad passed away due to this).

    I feel passionate about this. This is my hill to die on.

  27. Dan, I’ll die on this hill with you. And regarding CC, they for the most part come from the charismatic/Pentecostal tribe or come out of it. While trying to put some balance on this, I think in some ways they have actually added an element, which is hard to describe, that is far worse than the long standing problems you mentioned. That extra element I think is ruthless market and business practices and leadership strategies that belong in the secular world and not the church. This ends up putting gasoline on the fire and they call it the Holy Spirit when they see their numbers soar.

  28. For those of you with an interest in music, Springsteen’s autobiography, ‘Born To Run’, documents the struggles of his father with mental illness as well as Springsteen’s own battles with depression. His conclusion – get therapy, use the medications prescribed. One of the most brutally honest accounts I have read…

  29. Thanks Steve and Duane!

  30. Many of the old timers here remember my involvement here on the PP many years ago.

    I myself have struggled with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression most of my adult life. I’m a senior citizen now so it has been a long battle.

    For me, the meds didn’t work at all. Rather, they ended up with me being admitted to the hospital emergency room with a severe attack of vertigo.

    I guess my body has bad reactions to SSRIs. I even had horrible withdrawal symptoms in slowly weaning myself off them. I’m not opposed to others being helped by meds to adjust biological imbalances- it just didn’t work well for me.

    I’ve been through therapy a few times and that did help a little. In my own situation, God has primarily used the love and support of family and friends to help me. He has also used times of prolonged, intense prayer, singing songs of praise and worship, Bible devotions and Scripture meditation, exercise and good nutrition, and the distraction and therapeutic aspects of drawing and painting.

    All that and the realization that sometimes we just have to go through tough stuff as part of the suffering present in this fallen world, and that we don’t have to go it alone. Jesus is ever present to help us.

  31. ***Hopefully his advice included calling the police, J2.***

    Several years after his original advice, he did issue a meandering “clarifying words on wife abuse” that let women know they were permitted to contact the authorities if they wanted to go that route.

  32. A Believer

    Good to hear from you!

  33. #33 – How loving of him to condescend to being human.

    Re: Bruce Springsteen…

    Some of the most realistic lyrics I’ve ever heard are from his song “Two Faces”:

    “Sometimes mister I feel sunny and wild
    Lord I love to see my baby smile
    Then dark clouds come rolling by
    Two faces have I

    One that laughs one that cries
    One says hello one says goodbye
    One does things I don’t understand
    Makes me feel like half a man

    At night I get down on my knees and pray
    Our love will make that other man go away
    But he’ll never say goodbye
    Two faces have I.”

  34. This reply is getting rather long-winded so suffice to say I come from a background of being born into the church, suicide attempt, being told that I was mildly mentally retarded by a psychologist, having another tell me that I was untestable, diagnosis of ADHD , then homelessness, inability to hold down a job, severe depression, divorce, remarriage, salvation, healing, repair. You know, life. But a life in touch with both the church and the psychological profession.

    Belief in the efficacy of medications is not ubiquitous in the psychological profession, as I’m sure you all know well. Everyone also knows that mind-altering substances are what the Bible refers to as pharmakeia.

    Now I am of the opinion that anything that God has made or any knowledge he has allowed us to gain he allowed for our good. It is only man that is allowed Satan to usurp Authority and twist the purposes of God’s creation.

    However, the best advice my mother was ever given in my case was to “keep that child off of any psychiatric medication.” In his estimation medication only treats symptoms and screws up development. By focusing on symptoms you allow pathology to adapt and morphe into something different and often worse. In my time in Special Ed I have seen that exact history with very young children and adults.

    Now I am not a doctor so you can only take my experience as simply that, my experience. But in my experience service professionals deal with most people on the macro level. Therefore they are not as careful as they would be with their own family member or friends. This is not malevolence but simply a derivative of being a service professional. The Dr. Moreaus of this world are extreme outliers.

    If you’ve made it this far then I get to tell you that I also disagree with John Piper.
    John Piper forgets that the word of God itself is a mirror – not a window.

    More to the point , this world is full of mirrors. It is like a fun house of mirrors though not really fun – it’s actually kind of horrifying.

    John Piper wants us to stop looking in the mirror but he’s forgetting that he polishes the mirror into which his congregation looks every Sunday. Very few of us who are neurotypical look into it and sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to interpret it for us. Sadly most of us look to a pastor to do that for us. No less who suffers from mental illness.

    John Piper’s tweet is itself a mirror and not a very helpful for somebody like myself. We can fathom his intent is probably good but too Broad and misdirected. I assume he is aiming at the psychological profession but he’s hitting the sheep.

  35. My favorite Cinematic hero is Forrest Gump. Paradoxically one of the greatest life lessons I have learned, starting with that movie, was

    S#!7 happens

    We learn to move on.

  36. “Everyone also knows that mind-altering substances are what the Bible refers to as pharmakeia.”

    For some people medications are life serving and life giving.

    Some children need medication to tone down symptoms so they can learn how to cope with the disease they have.

    It is not an exact science…but it is a science and one that needs much more investment in research.

  37. You are absolutely right, Michael. No disagreement here

  38. I should clarify,

    The abuse of psychiatric medications (pharmakeia) is what I think the bible refers to as sorcery. We are often talked into this practice as patients under the care of professionals with philosophies antithetical to our own.

  39. “The abuse of psychiatric medications (pharmakeia) is what I think the bible refers to as sorcery. ”

    I think that’s bizarre and potentially dangerous.

    The use of the word is debated, but probably involves combining mind altering substances and occult practices.

  40. To that point if I am being canceled by a Jung-ian psychologist who tells me that I don’t need to look outward to find God I just need to look hard enough inward and I am also on mind-altering substances as therapy then I think that comes pretty close to what you described, though most likely unwitting by the patient.

    Maybe the word “abuse” is what is too fuzzy because what is abuse for one person may be what another person needs.

  41. I’ve worked with both psychiatrists and psychologists a lot over the last twenty years…and the only one that mentioned God was my wonderful Christian counselor/psychologist.

    The rest pretty much stuck to their lane…

  42. Mine always did, because I asked.

  43. “The abuse of psychiatric medications (pharmakeia) is what I think the bible refers to as sorcery. ”

    Trying not to use the word BS here…oops, guess I did anyway.

    It’s not just psychiatrists who can prescribe, for example, antidepressants. Many MDs
    today can and will do so.

    I understand that if you’re seeing a shrink with a philosophy that’s not compatible with your faith, it’s time to put on your running shoes.

    But otherwise, what’s the big deal? A competent surgeon is a competent surgeon, no matter their belief system. Same with shrinks and MDs. If you don’t like the counsel, find another. It’s not an excuse to not find help. During my CC days, I was always saddened when others were basically brainwashed into not getting medical/psychiatric help because of CC’s ideology.

  44. Bob

    I’m.not against using medication or finding psychological help, but caution is often thrown to the wind. Psychiatrists and MD’s are often as careless and obstinate as any pastor can be.

  45. I agree with descended that psychiatrist and MDs can be just as careless and obstinate as a pastor. In addition, Big pharma is also complicit in keeping people on their money making drugs. St. John’s wort and Valerian root extract are two naturally occurring substances that in my estimation could be better alternatives to anti-depressant SSRIs or anti-anxiety Valium pills for some people. Just something to possible consider and never take advice from an online blogger. Do your research yourself.

  46. “I’m.not against using medication or finding psychological help, but caution is often thrown to the wind. Psychiatrists and MD’s are often as careless and obstinate as any pastor can be.”

    That sure hasn’t been my experience. My life has been turned around for the better thanks to my MD’s willingness to help me with my suffering. I’m sorry you’ve had a different experience. Let’s not toss out the baby with the bathwater here.

  47. It seems to me that the life of a Christian is best lived according to common sense. Faith does build through study of the Book that God has supplied, but we may focus too much on contrived “application” and not enough on simple garden variety obedience.
    Not mindless obedience, but just doing the best we can. For instance, I can drive a car adequately, but i dont feel like i have failed because i’ve yet to qualify for the Daytona 500, or whatever it is called, nor would i be a failure if i couldnt drive at all. In my book i’d be a failure, if i didnt help the one who could not drive and if i didnt do so without opinionating on the non driver’s inadaqucy….
    ‘course that’s what i’m doing right now…. Opinionating. 👼

    Now hating avacados is another thing altogether… That’s not natural LOL

  48. Bob

    I’m not, if you read what I’ve posted that’s clear. I’ve had good experiences as well; more good than bad. But I’ve also seen friends, children of friends and family members be over medicated, misdiagnosed, and even been put on meds with severe contraindications and seen severe results in children.

    The axiom that they treat symptoms rather than illness itself holds true.

    IMO, of course. I’m just some guy.

  49. Well, i’ m not ” some guy” but amen to #50

    FWIW – Thursdays find me reading in Ezekiel …. Today.was ch 34… It seems reasonable to me to force celebrity pastors so callec to read that chapter everyday…

    There are many successful pastors – shepherds – who comment and post here on Pastor Newnham’s site, btw

  50. I stopped listening to John Piper when I watched his video on youtube “Does a women submit to abuse”. That one is a real hoot ! (yes I know the title should say woman but that is what it’s titled on youtube )

  51. This angers me. I have suffered (yes its painful, thus suffering is the right word) from depression all my life. Honestly I feel I just do not have the capacity to experience real happiness. In spite of a good life. And that makes me feel guilty because the Lord has been good to me and blessed me. Yes I am a born again Christian, have been for 25 years and I read my Bible. I am an ex CCer. I tried SSRI meds and could not tolerate them. So I just take an old pretty ineffective antidepressant (Trazadone) every night for sleep. I am so tried of being made to feel that I am a lousy Christian because I don’t have “joy”. I can’t change my DNA! I have prayed for years that the Lord would heal me and change my thinking. Being told to just immerse myself in the Word and that will change my “mind” is…. dare I say… fruitless in changing my “mind”. I have come to the conclusion that this is my thorn in the flesh and His grace is sufficient for me. One day when I see the Lord face to face I know that I will experience true joy and utter happiness for the first time. Oh what a glorious day that will be. I also believe I will receive a crown for perseverance under this cloud, that I continued to hold onto the Lord in spite of it. People who have not experienced it cannot understand, including Mr Piper.

  52. #53 I think you probably have experienced this Addison, so I feel safe to say to you that I almost feel closer to God when I pray to Him through the deepest parts of my depression. I wonder if the reason Piper feels the ability to speak on mental health is because he himself has suffered through depression. I don’t know if he has, maybe someone else knows.

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