Abraham Piper (Photo Credit: Abraham Piper's Website)

Theologians Respond to Viral Videos by John Piper’s Son Mocking Christianity

By Jackson Elliott

TikTok videos mocking Christianity by Abraham Piper—the son of renowned pastor and theologian, John Piper—may be catchy and have gone viral. But theologians say the content isn’t original, nor the arguments compelling. The videos do, however, sometimes carry a grain of truth.

One snarky sixty-second video at a time, Abraham Piper is attacking Christian doctrines and the Bible. And his rise on TikTok has been meteoric, gaining 900,000 followers in only six months.

Piper said in his videos that he’s attacking evangelical faith for being destructive, narrow-minded, and dangerous.

“I don’t attack Christianity,” Abraham Piper said. “I berate evangelicalism. Fundamentalism.”

However, Abraham Piper’s videos often go far beyond attacking beliefs or mindsets held only by evangelicals. He condemns belief in hell, Christian education, the Bible, and calls Jesus a thief. He refers to believers as “fundies.”

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He tends to deliver his content with a mocking smile.

Jesse Nigro, the editor of The North American Anglican, criticized Piper’s very public mockery of his father’s beliefs.

“The most disappointing part of the Abraham Piper deal is that people have lost all sense of piety and impropriety. I can’t imagine airing my grievances with my father, mocking his beliefs, etc… in such a public way,” said Nigro on Twitter.

In a tweet, Piper argued that bowling was a better “metaphor” for a religion than the resurrection. “It has all the same allegorical potency, is truer to life, generally comes w/ beer, and has no holiday you’re obliged to celebrate,” he said.

In response, Truett Seminary chaplain Tyler Conway tweeted, “I get the guy has some baggage. Definitely. Me too. But that doesn’t make this kind of stuff any less of an eye roll. Bowling!? Really?”

Piper’s criticisms of the Bible seldom rise above shallow mockery, but his strongest arguments against Christianity mainly draw fuel from the actions of believers.

“Even the most abrasive fire-and-brimstone preacher doesn’t really believe in a literal hell,” said Piper in a video. “If they allow themselves even a single banal luxury, they’re proving they don’t believe. How are you gonna take your family to Outback after church while millions of people are burning alive?”

Yet Carson Weitnauer, the founder of apologetics group Reasons for God, said Piper’s argument ignores a central part of Christian faith. The burden of saving people falls on God, not on believers.

“The main emphasis of the New Testament and the Bible is not to be so afraid and anxious and guilt-ridden that you will do anything for God,” said Weitnauer.

However, some of Abraham Piper’s videos mock legitimate issues in the church, Weitnauer admitted. Evangelical Christians have fallen for conspiracy theories about reversed satanic messages in music, treated doubters harshly, run missions trips that don’t help people, and other mistakes. Piper relentlessly jabs at evangelicals for these actions.

Douglas Groothuis, a philosophy professor at the Denver Seminary, said most of Abraham Piper’s supposedly knock-down arguments were answered thousands of years ago.

For instance, Abraham Piper has argued that only an evil person could punish evil people in Hell. However, theologians, including his own father, have offered logical explanations on why a good God punishes sinners with hell.

According to John Piper, hell is a “vivid parable of the outrage of failing to honor God, failing to glorify God, failing to thank God as God.” He adds, “The essence of evil — what makes evil evil — is not harm done to man, but indignities done to God.”

Groothius says Abraham Piper is “not saying anything that hasn’t been raised by smarter people previously. He’s just found a catchy way to say it.” Groothius adds, “These have been issues since day one of Christianity. It’s not like these are new ideas or new issues, but it’s not like Christians haven’t given answers.”

Abraham Piper is one of many recent Christian leaders and children of Christian leaders who have apostasized. They include author Josh Harris, Moody professor Dr. Paul Maxwell, and Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson.

For the most part, these leaders tend to leave Christianity for no clear alternative, said Groothuis. They don’t announce that they are now Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists. They just stop.

“Abraham Piper is not too straightforward about what he now embraces,” said Groothuis. “[These people] were just fed up with Christianity. The more recent ones are simply saying, ‘I can’t believe anymore.’”

Abraham Piper doesn’t characterize himself as an atheist because “Atheist as a blanket term presupposes a shared understanding of what God is,” he said.

The one thing that his belief system currently seems certain about is a lack of meaning and purpose in life.

Life is best when nothing matters, and an ultimate meaning in the universe is logically impossible, he said. It’s irresponsible to have children because they will experience pain, he said in another video.

“I replaced fundamentalist Christianity with nothingness,” he said in one video.

Abraham Piper previously apostatized when he was 19 years old, but then returned to the church four years later.

“At first I pretended that my reasoning was high-minded and philosophical,” Piper wrote. “But really I just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around.”

Although Christians may know Abraham Piper for his videos on faith, most of his popularity springs from videos commenting on other subjects—from the direction that doors open to the size of labels on alcohol labels, said Zach Reimer, another so-called “ex-evangelical.”

Like Abraham Piper, Reimer’s new beliefs lack a clear category. Reimer said he lives as if God exists but doesn’t actually believe he can know. Most people like him leave churches after experiencing anti-intellectualism, populism, and too much focus on conversion, he added.

Weitnauer said that when he listens to Abraham Piper, he starts from a place of empathy.

“Hearing the pain and hurt that he’s sharing, my heart goes out to him,” said Weitnauer. “He talks about his experiences that were destructive, that were anti-intellectual, that were weird, that were hurtful. The starting point is to acknowledge he had some bad experiences and to grieve with him.”

Jackson ElliottJackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.

 

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83 thoughts on “Theologians Respond to Viral Videos by John Piper’s Son Mocking Christianity”

  1. I do love that the theologians supposedly addressing Piper just tried to emotionally manipulate him remotely. That’s all Christians have. The questions they think were supposedly answered centuries ago weren’t; the people asking them were simply silenced and hand-waving stood in for real answers. Also loved the guy at the end weeping crocodile tears over Piper’s supposed paaaaaaaaaaaain. Oh PLEASE. He’d rend the guy limb from limb if he only could. “Empathy.” He can kiss my rump! He knows nothing about his victim, but he’ll gladly pretend that criticism of Christianity comes from “pain,” because that way he can just ignore everything Piper has to say. He’s just negating a source of criticism by implying the criticism is meaningless because of the supposed emotional state of the person offering it. Piper does not seem to be in any “pain” at all to me, but I definitely sense a lot of indignation in the person trying to negate him.

    Negating people and emotionally manipulating them is not loving. We ex-Christians know that. We know exactly how these “theologians” feel about us by these replies; we know they hate us and would gladly outright silence us if they could. But they can’t, so this is how they try to shut us up instead.

    Thanks for bringing us these dishonest hucksters, Julie. People need to see just how bad Christians are at handling valid criticism — and how their responses completely put the lie to their entire stated belief system.

    1. Your comment is irrational and illogical. 1 what is your final authority? Atheism? Pantheism polytheism? They all collapse when real logical thinking is applied. Only Bible Christianity makes sense. That’s why I went from new age liberal and secular Darwinian evolution to fundamental Biblical Christianity. I examined every belief system in depth from astral projection to Zoroastrianism and I concluded that Bible faith is the truth. Jesus himself is the only way. I love people even unsaved folks like you. Yes at times I do get frustrated and pissed off at the beliefs of folks like you but I still love you and want you to believe in Jesus and be saved. John 3 16 and John 3 36. Either men like Abraham Piper were saved and are now back slidden and will get into heaven with no crowns or they were unsaved church goers. Eternal justification salvation is rooted in faith in Christ alone but after we are saved we can earn heavenly crowns for faithful works. Carnal Christians will have zero or less crowns. What does bother me are people who go further than ridicule and call Bible Christians dangerous because that seems like those who believe that falsehood want to persecute Christians and don’t believe in free speech. Bible Christians believe in free speech for all even those we disagree with.

      1. I can’t remember the video now, but I thought it was quite interesting. It pointed out that one of the biggest mistakes Christians make when trying to engage with non-Christians is assuming that we think the exact same things that they do, but the opposite. For example, there’s many narratives around how atheists also worship, but they worship themselves. In reality the concept of worship is fairly irrelevant to atheists (and they’re quite capable of admitting their own faults and limitations). Similarly, the assumption that non-religious people all have one final authority figure the way Christianity does or that they all draw their whole identity and information from one label is not true. Most people I know have very personal and individualized spiritual practices, whether it might relate more to pantheism with more high-woo approaches or agnostics who have moreso of emotional rituals in their lives, and might not feel like it 100% aligns with any one label. Their label is not a source of their identity the way it is for Christians.

        It’s great that you’ve found what works for you, but to say that Christianity is 100% logical and any other religious belief is 100% not logical is a fallacy. If anything, even Christianity admits that it isn’t 100% based on facts and evidence, and that’s kind of the whole point of faith and the way faith is presented in the Bible. Trying to make an argument for Christianity based on logic alone is dismissing the very basis of it. To also try to deny the religious trauma caused in the church and simply jump to the defense of Christian theology is not the loving approach you think it is – if you truly loved the unsaved, you would be able to take a step back and be capable of recognizing and validating the harm that the church can cause without immediately getting defensive and overly theoretical. This is precisely the attitude that this person was mentioning – prioritizing theory and “logic” over the person.

        This is what annoys a lot of ex-Christians – the claim that you love them, and then immediately being dismissive over what the true topic is at hand in order to get defensive and call ex-Christians illogical, make threats relating to the eternal life, and play the victim. I highly recommend you re-evaluate what you truly consider to be a loving response, because this is not it.

        1. How ironic your reply is sadly quite hypocritical. As Mushet said, it’s irrational and illogical, the usual projection where you approve for yourself what you condemn in Christians, like Democrats and other man-centered folk despising and even hating God. Just because the Christian faith holds faith to be fundamental doesn’t thus make it irrational or illogical as wonderful Augustine, Anselm and countless others show, also seen in Carl F. H. Henry’s marvelous six-volume magnum opus I challenge you to read: God, Revelation and Authority. Only lazy stupidity unable to think dismisses the manifestly glorious (Song 6:4) Christian faith on so shallow, ignorant and facile a basis, so easy in our pathetically illiterate age. This is not to say Christians need not repent for sinful behavior as 1 John says: 1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
          1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2  and he is the propitiation (=wrath satisfier) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. 3  And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 
          I regret the 2:1 chapter division wasn’t after the first 13 verses.
          The Bible makes clear there are no “ex-Christians” since it is Jesus who is salvation’s author:
          1Jn 2:19  They went out from us, but they were not of us (for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us): but THAT THEY MIGHT BE MADE MANIFEST that they all are not of us. 
          and
          Joh 1:12  But as many as received him, to them GAVE HE the authority (εξουσια-exousia=authority, jurisdiction, liberty, right) to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: 
          Heb 5:9 … HE BECAME unto all them that obey him THE AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION.
          Since an “ex-Christian” disobeys Jesus and rejects “ETERNAL SALVATION” Jesus didn’t author him, the fruit borne (Matt 7; 12) showing him not of Jesus’s sheep:
          Joh 10:26-33  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep. 27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28  and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29  My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch out of the Father’s hand. 30  I and the Father are one. 31  The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33  The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 
          God save us.

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