I ended off my last article on John Piper’s new video with the following quote where Piper embraces the possibility that God has willed Piper’s own children be reprobate for God’s greater glory:
“I am not ignorant that God may not have chosen my sons for his sons. And, though I think I would give my life for their salvation, if they should be lost to me, I would not rail against the Almighty. He is God. I am but a man. The potter has absolute rights over the clay. Mine is to bow before his unimpeachable character and believe that the Judge of all the earth has ever and always will do right.” (Cited in Jerry L. Walls and Joseph Dongell, Why I am not a Calvinist, (InterVarsity, 2004), 162)
Let me be clear: at a deep, visceral level this passage strikes me as completely monstrous. Basically, Piper’s words reduce to this:
If God wills that my beloved children reject him so that he may punish them as reprehensible objects of his just and holy wrath, then I will agree with that willing of their damnation. Yea, though God slay my children, yet will I worship him.
Ack! What kind of parent could say such a thing?
And yet, there is a sense where I recognize the rightness of what Piper is saying. Think about it like this:
(1) God is the most perfect being there is or could be.
(2) It is good to will whatever the most perfect being wills.
(3) Therefore, it is good to will whatever God wills.
I take it we’re all on board thus far. But now Piper adds:
(4) Possibly, God has willed that Piper’s children be damned for God’s greater glory.
I think Calvinism is false, and so I don’t think God damns anybody’s children for his greater glory. At the same time, I concede that (4) is true because I recognize the broad logical possibility that Calvinism is true. But then it follows:
(5) If God has willed that Piper’s children be damned for God’s greater glory, then Piper ought to will that his own children be damned for God’s greater glory.
Of course, Piper doesn’t presently know that God has willed this, so he oughtn’t presently will his children’s damnation. But the argument requires that if God does will this then as soon as Piper discovers the divine will, Piper ought to will it as well.
So I get all that. I understand where Piper is coming from and I agree with the logic of the underlying argument.
And so I agree that if God wills the reprobation of one’s children, then upon discovery of this fact one ought to will the damnation of their own children. (Consequently, even atheists should accept (1)-(5.))
But until that day comes when we all discover that Calvinism is true and God has willed a subset of humanity to be damned, and that your progeny is among the damned, I will continue to will both that Calvinism is false and that my progeny (and indeed all people) be saved.
(All people? Yes, all people. See my book What on Earth Do We Know About Heaven, (Baker, 2013), chapter 20.)