What Would Jesus Shoot? John Piper on Why Guns and the Gospel Don’t Mix


There’s been a lot of interest this week in John Piper’s position on guns and the Second Amendment.

It stems from a video he did five years ago, that stems from a blog post he wrote five years ago.

The blog post was titled, Guns and Martyrdom.  In it, he mentions the 1956 murders of a group of Christian missionaries–including Jim Elliot–by marauding members of an indigenous Indian tribe in Ecuador.

In the video he did four months later, he refers to these missionary killings, and emphatically states that the way they handled their situation–shooting their guns into the air (risking potential injury or death to other folks in the area, but that’s another story and another ethical dilemma for another day) instead of firing directly at their tribal attackers–illustrates, in Piper’s mind, the true evangelical spirit and a genuine Christian approach to using guns in self-defense.

Which means NOT using guns at all in self-defense.

The “ethic” works like this.  If you’re a Christian who knows he’s going to heaven, and you’re faced with an attacker using lethal force against you, you have an obligation and an evangelical duty NOT to defend yourself–because you might accidentally kill him and, well, obviously your attacker (by virtue of the fact that he is attacking you) is not ready to go to heaven!

Is it just me or is this just a really unbiblical way of looking at it!


Many have ruminated and commented on Piper’s pietism-driven, pacifist-retreatist position on guns and the Gospel and self-defense.

Before I give you my two cents’ worth, watch this…

There’s a lot to be disturbed about in Piper’s remarks.  Probably most disturbing of all is that millions of Christians AGREE with him!

That’s because millions of Christians are woefully unaware of the real history of Christianity and missions around the world, and the harsh realities of what happens whenever God’s church runs head-to-head against Satan’s counterfeit kingdom.  They’re unaware of what the Bible really says about weapons and warfare and evil and killing (vs. murder), and defending the defenseless and vulnerable and innocent against the heinous, malicious acts of the wicked and oppressors who would terrorize the weak through tyranny, intimidation and violence.

They seem oblivious to the fact that Jesus NEVER taught absolute pacifism and non-resistance in all cases.

They prefer a Christianity of niceness and non-confrontation, non-controversy, personal piety and silent devotion, as opposed to a Christianity of stalwart boldness, resolve and holy determination to combat evil and defeat evildoers in a spirited (and Spirit-led) defense and promulgation of the Gospel of reconciliation and forgiveness toward repentant sinners, and the foreordained advancement of Christ’s kingdom on earth.

No, that’s a bit much for them to stomach.  They’d rather just give this world and its “kingdoms” over to Satan, and focus on what’s really important–“getting ready for heaven” and remaining eternally vigilant for that most elusive of dispensational-premillennialism’s most cataclysmic events, The Rapture!

There are “unintended consequences” to embracing such a trendy, touchy-feely, biblically unnecessary argument against Christians using lethal force in self-defense against evildoers.   Besides being a DANGEROUS one, think of how man-centered and utterly lacking in faith and wisdom it is.

When asked if he would protect his own daughter if she were being attacked, Piper’s answer was–are you ready for this?–“probably.”  Probably?

“Gee, thanks, Dad!”

Think of how presumptuous and misguided this is.

Reflect back on those missionaries in Ecuador.

“We’re ready for heaven and they’re not.”  So, let’s just “help” God out a little bit here while we give a good “Christian witness” of love and forgiveness to these unconverted savages by letting them spear us to death while we have it within our power with these guns of ours to protect not only ourselves but also the poor people of this tribe that we’re ministering to.  Of course, doing so will probably embolden them and harden them further to turn their weapons against their fellow converted tribal members and slaughter them, too.  But, oh, well.  That’s the chance you take.  There’s always that risk of collateral damage whenever you “obey the Gospel.”  So, let’s just be passive non-resisters and allow these mass murderers to despatch us quickly so we can go to our heavenly reward, while they stay here (since they’re not “ready for heaven”) and keep on killing even MORE innocent people and needlessly create more widows and orphans and death and destruction after we’re gone, thus storing up even more of God’s wrath for themselves against the Day of Judgment.  After all, that’s the Christian thing to do.

In Piper’s world, none of this gets taken into consideration.  The idea that Christians have a duty to protect the innocent and defend them against evildoers, stopping them from doing OTHERS the same evil and harm that they seek to do to you.

That might not be such a bad “alternative” ethic. Sort of an alternate Golden Rule: “Do unto others–before they go and do unto others!”

Such is the theological short-sightedness and misguided application of Christ’s teachings and the Bible.  Piper and those who think likewise on this are not fully informed by God’s laws and ethics and statutes and commandments, which are infused into all of the teachings of BOTH the Old and New Testaments.

Piper could stand to read (and embrace the contents of) a few good Reconstructionist books.  Like Institutes of Biblical Law.  Like Backward, Christian Soldiers, like The Theology of Christian Resistance.  Like just about anything written by Gary North, Gary DeMar, David Chilton, R.J. Rushdoony, Kenneth Gentry, Greg Bahnsen, James Jordan, Joel McDurmon and a host of others.  These writers and teachers are NOT infallible.  Their books and teachings contain errors.  They disagree with each other.  But their works are path-breaking and eye-opening and theologically rigorous as far as seeking to faithfully apply the Bible and orthodox Christianity to all areas of life.

In addition to a thoughtful study of the Ten Commandments — from a theonomic/pro-nomian point of view! — Piper could also benefit from a more careful reading of the U.S. Constitution, especially the first Ten Amendments.

That might help him to remember which one of the Amendments has something to do with the right to keep and bear arms.


10 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Shoot? John Piper on Why Guns and the Gospel Don’t Mix

  1. Well, another well-written article with sound Biblical theology. I see Piper’s argument. It may apply in some cases, but not all. Such is the lot of us redeemed sinners. So close and yet so far. May God give us the wisdom we need when we need it!

  2. I find your article very thought provoking. I am currently in the no man’s land between these two views, trying to decide for myself what God would have his children to do in the area of self defense.

    While I appreciate what you have written, I find that your use of sarcasm and what feels like a form of name-calling tends to turn me off from what you have to say, however. Thankfully, I can see through all this and have been able to work your points out from the bashing of the other side. I am concerned that many people would be immediately turned off by the tone of your article – if you would just stick to a reasoned analysis of Piper’s view, using logic and Scripture to show where he goes wrong, I believe you would have a much better article.

    Just a thought… Thanks for the article!

    1. You’re welcome, Isaac. Thanks for your comments. I’m sure some people reading what I said were offended and disagreed. A whole lot of people also agreed and apparently thought it worth sharing on social media. (Not bragging, just stating an observation!)

    2. I assume you are turned off when Paul tells the Judaizers ” Go to hell with your gospel “, and when Peter tells Simon to ” Go to hell with your money”? Are you also turned off with Jude 3 . when It says ” EARNESTLY CONTEND for the faith “.

  3. the missionaries chose to go to another country where they wouldn’t be understood by indigenous ethnic groups, and chose to put themselves in danger by doing so. If they were being attacked in their own country they would have the right to self defence, and to defend their family & friends etc.. But what are you advocating? Go be missionaries in a foreign land in which you don’t understand, then go kill the locals when they don’t want you there? Typical American stupidity! You idiot! If you don’t want to die and be martyred then don’t be a missionary!

  4. apologies for calling you an idiot but the world has had enough of American’s going over to foreign lands and killing people who disagree with them.

    1. Will, the article deals with John Piper’s anti-gun, anti-self-defense stance, which he articulates in the video, in light of a recent (at that time in 2008) Supreme Court decision re the 2nd amendment and the overall issue of Christians and guns. It is not dealing with the matter of an interventionist warfare state using military force to selectively invade other countries to foment hostilities and generate enormous profits and political instability under the guise of “fighting terrorism” and “spreading democracy.” That’s another issue for another day.

  5. We are to trust Jesus with our life and family. There’s nothing that can happen to a true Christians unless God allows it. That is if we are genuinely seeking after His will. We are not to resist evil, but love our enemies. In the book of Hebrews it gives us an excellent example of how the early believers were tortured, murdered and treated like the scum of the world. We do not fight flesh and blood, but satan. Jesus is our example. When we say that we will take things into our own hands and kill a person, we are trusting in our own abilities to deal with a problem and not God. The bible says that we are to be a light in a world full of darkness. Those that are of the world use the second amendment because they don’t belong to God, but we do. We have Jesus that promised us He would not forsake us. We cannot live in fear, because we have the love of God in our hearts. If God is for us, who can be against us? It is a terrible thing to fall in the hands of a living God. Satan can do nothing us, unless we let him. It’s our carelessness and disobedience that causes to doubt, but we obey God and live according to His, we can say, we are more than conquerors through Christ. Are weapons are not carnal, but spiritual. We have been given the sword of the Spirit, not a gun. We are the church of Christ and His bride. How can we doubt His love for us. God will keep us and our family, but we must seek Him. Anyone that depends on a gun to protect their family, does not trust God. You can say whatever you want and claim what you want to justify killing, but you don’t trust God.

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