In the ruckus following Rachel Held Evan’s attack on various and sundry, at least three important things have been going on in the barrage of comments at various sites.
The first has to do with the alleged abuse case at Sovereign Grace Ministries. That is a situation about which I know next to nothing, and so I will content myself with the praiseworthy policy of saying nothing about it. But I will say something about a related matter. In my day, I have been the recipient of the tender ministrations of various discernment bloggers, the kind who have the discernment of a particularly dimwitted and goggle-eyed goldfish, peering out of a particularly curved bowl, to know that certain kinds of cases are best not tried in venues like this one. When I see a lynch mob outside the courthouse, yelling and waving a rope, it does not tell me if the man inside is innocent or guilty. But it does tell me something.
The second point has to do with whether or not John Piper is a “miserable comforter,” as Internet Monk put it. With all the perspective that Monday morning quarterbacks enjoy, I think it is possible that the original tweets would have been better placed had they been sent out a day or two later. So I understand why John took them down — it was precisely because he is not a miserable comforter, and was trying to be reasonable with regard to the feelings and responses of others. But notice how such accommodations make no difference at all to the fellowship of the grievance. For those who are theologically tweaked, their problem with you is that you still think it, and that God is still sovereign, and that the world is still the way it is. The problem is that the world (the way God governs it) is still resented, and especially resented are those who have made their peace with God’s majesty — a majesty on terrible display in tornadoes like this one. John Piper is among those who understand this, but anyone who believes that this makes him calloused or insensitive or unfeeling towards the sufferings of men, are huntsmen who do not know their quarry. It is like saying that Jeremiah didn’t love Jerusalem.
Related to this, whenever a dispute like this breaks out, ostensibly over the “timeliness” of the comments, this is frequently just a proxy for the real issue — in this case, distaste of Calvinism. If you don’t share that distaste, as I do not, then it will be harder to see the problem, if indeed there was a problem. We can illustrate this easily by flipping it around. If you do not share RHE’s peculiar theological approach, it is much easier to see her post as opportunistic ambulance-chasing. A Calvinist lecturing tornado victims in the rubble is an easy caricature to draw, but that’s not the only one. How about the pharmaceutical rep who says something like “our hearts are broken over the devastation caused by this tornado. It reminds me, in fact, of the heartbreak of psoriasis. I happen to have a bottle here . . .”