Pastor John Piper recently gave a talk about how “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” John’s a good guy, but I think he misses the mark on this one. Below is a bit where I have a little fun with the text of John’s talk in order to suggest that his reasoning could be better. But just to be 100% clear, what is said below is not what John Piper said, and I am not accusing him of endorsing slavery. I am accusing him of bad hermeneutics.
God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as slavemaster. The Second Person of the Trinity is revealed as obedient to the First. The Father and the Slave create man and woman in His image, commanding them to become slavemasters over others, in order to express in human life the Triune nature. God blesses slavery in the Old Testament and confirms it in the New Testament, making slavery THE model for all human life and relationships (Gen 9.26-27; Gen 16.1; Ex 21.20; Lev 25.44-46; Ps 123.2; Prv 19.10; Eph 6.5-9; Col 3.22; 4.1; 1 Tim 6.1-2; Tit 2.9; 1 Pet 2.18).
Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a slave-and-master feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both master and slave. He does not intend for slaves to languish or be frustrated or in any way suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy in this slavemaster Christianity. From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of slaves and masters takes place in churches and families and plantations that have this slave-and-master feel.
That is liable to serious misunderstanding and serious abuse since there are views of slavery which would make such a perspective repulsive. So, there is more that needs to be said.
When I say “slavemaster Christianity” or “slavemaster ministry” or “Christianity with a slave-ish feel,” here’s what I mean: Theology and church and mission are marked by an overarching godly slave-owning in the spirit of Christ with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, contrite courage, risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading and protecting and providing for the people he owns. All of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It’s the feel of a great, majestic God who is by His redeeming work in Christ inclining masters to humble Christ-exalting initiatives and inclining slaves to come alongside their owners with joyful support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work.
More responses to John Piper’s “masculine Christianity” are being collected by Rachel Held Evans.