John Piper tells Fathers to Be God in their Families

I am God to my children until they know better. (John Piper.)

That quote is from a post John Piper’s ministry published yesterday in apparent anticipation of Father’s Day. Parts of the post are innocuous and parts are troubling. The part I quoted is blasphemous. 

Here’s why:

You shall have no other gods before me. …

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God … . (Exodus 20:3, 5.)

Fathers are never God to any child. Not babies, not toddlers, not teens, not grown children. If any child seems to mistake their father for God, the father should correct that mistake as lovingly and quickly as possible. 

But don’t play God.


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28 Responses to John Piper tells Fathers to Be God in their Families

  1. Pastor Bob says:

    What is to stop such a “leader” assuming “godship” over other children, and later adults?

    We should be cautious young padawan….

  2. Lea says:

    I got to that line in the article and stopped dead. That’s what Piper should have done…’wait, did I really just write that I was like god? delete, delete, delete’.

  3. Lynn Thaler says:

    I get where he is coming from, since children see their parents as superhuman. However, he overstepped his bounds by comparing himself to God.

  4. That is such damaging theology. I honestly find much of what JP writes absolutely nonsensical — and frightening. I recently read a piece of his in response to a dad worried about his 6-yr-old son’s terror of hell. JP said it is “one hundred times better” for the child to be afraid of hell than not afraid. On what planet — in what horrifying religion — is that true? It is easy to laugh at JP’s sometimes awkward way of expressing himself, but I actually think he is kind of scary.

    • Lea says:

      He is scary! It bothers me immensely that he is so focused on, and even cheerleading!, fear. I was never afraid of my parents. That sounds like an awful thing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      On other blogs, there’s speculation as to whether JP has actually “lost it”, but he’s a CELEBRITY, and nobody tells The Great Man anything other than what The Great Man WANTS to hear.

  5. Donna says:

    Amen! I completeltly agree with you Tim! Piper and pastors like him who have this mindset know they hold a lot of influence over their people and congregation. It’s horrible and blasphemy and the upshot can lead to horrific situations if (and when) taken to the extreme in legalistic strict authoritaian (toxic) households. I shudder at the ramifications of that! I say “when” because it’s human carnal nature and only a matter of time we hear on the news or read about a family whose into payriarchy now women and children suffering even more extreme abuse at the hands of a husband whose decieved into thinking (as Piper is) that they are god to their families. Another thing that is troubling is this….if the Body of Christ (those who are into spanking wives, into patriarchy, incest abuse scandles covered up ect) and they don’t shape up real soon and fly right I wouldn’t be surprized to hear if in the near future laws start heavilly cracking down hard against all Christian people or all people of faith and this starts more persecution against the whole Body of Christ. Similar to when the teacher punishes the whole class (no field trip) because of a couple of disobedient kids who won’t behave in class. Sorry for the length but just sharing my viewpoint.

  6. Jennifer Trimmer says:

    Tim, thank you revealing again how sick and twisted John Piper’s teaching are. Not only is he twisting who God is to be and howwe as parents are to represent Him. He also is refernce to spanking and disciplining our children, “That’s why little babies have fat bottoms.”
    Now that is sick implying we should be SPANKING babies.
    This made me made adding to that saying we are God to our kids and they should tremble and fear us.
    How could a child have joy he this kind of parent. That is not how I think about God.

  7. Lee says:

    What is the title of the article?

  8. Kathi says:

    That was one of the most disturbing JP articles I’ve read in a while. He needs lots of push back on that one!

  9. JYJames says:

    Good call, Tim. Excellent post.
    A shepherd misleading the flock, … , let’s see, what does God’s Word have to say about that? Not good, not good.

  10. Kevin Mason says:

    Congratulations Tim, you win the nitpicker of the day award. You also win the award for missing the point. I read the statement and understood what he was saying. I suggest you re-read what was said and think about it and try to understand the point of the statement.

    Let me help; …from the perspective of a child, parents are god-like.

    • Kathi says:

      Piper doesn’t say that fathers are like God but are God to their children. Sorry, but people, no matter their position, are not God. This is not nipicking but critical reading skills at work.

    • Kathi says:

      The problem here is that Piper tells fathers that they are God to their children. He tells them that they should expect to be feared by their children. He tells fathers that they represent God. He tells fathers that children should delight to fear them. What does “delight to fear them” even mean? He says all of this and offers no practical examples of what he means. Because Piper adheres to a literal interpretation of the Bible and strict gender roles, I would expect his readers to read his words literally. That could cause great harm on wives and children.

  11. Ruth says:

    Cool it Kevin! He says he is ‘God’ to his children, and that is dangerous beyond belief to little ones. Sick man, children don’t have fat bottoms so he can beat them either. What ugly cruel arrogant ‘theology’, oops, blasphemy, this male has. Pity the children who suffer this rubbish 😦

  12. I have a chapter in my book “Raising the Hood” called “Desiring to be God.” Here is one paragraph from that chapter: “We remember that in Genesis 3:4, Satan tempted Eve with the fruit by telling her that God knew that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God, knowing good and evil. God was the ultimate Being, there was none like God. Now Ware claims that women want to be men and I find his comments very disturbing. Ware says that women’s salvation depends upon their denouncing their desire to be men. In this way, Ware has elevated men on earth to the status of God on earth. This doctrine diminishes God and elevates man to the status of earth-gods. In addition, Ware is claiming that women are still seeking to be as God just as the serpent said in the Garden of Eden (only now it is an earthly man-god that Ware claims women desire to be). My message to these complementarians: It is not women who desire to be God.” (Remember John Piper and Bruce Ware were cohorts in founding Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood).

  13. J R Williams says:

    John Piper occasionally just goes and says completely idiotic things, but he doesn’t always mean them. “I am God to my children” is idiot-speak for what he says later – “I represent God to my children.” There is clearly an analogy between “fear of the Lord” (God our Father in heaven) and the filial fear children may have for their father, as Alistair Begg has pointed out. And of course fathers should parent in such a way that enables children to better perceive truths about God in how they parent – to reflect God’s character. But the basis for this filial fear is in long-suffering love, patience, gentleness – not in fear of discipline or punishment. That’s closer to the fear that perfect love drives out.

    “You are playing God” and “that is why little babies have fat bottoms” (i.e., for spanking) are clearly and overtly false, and I can’t believe Piper actually means them. Unfortunately, it provides a field-day for egalitarians who want to portray all complementarians as pathological.

    • Tim says:

      You raise good points. Piper’s continuous failure to choose his words better make me think he can’t see he’s said anything wrong. He’s been doing this for decades. Doing better at it is not his concern, and I think it’s because he actually means what he says.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Like I reference above, there’s speculation on other blogs as to whether Piper has been going off the deep end one tweet at a time.

        Unfortunately, someone in his position only hears what he wants to hear, i.e. “What Wonderful Wisdom, O Dear Leader”.

    • Lea says:

      “not in fear of discipline or punishment. ”

      Except Piper specifically makes a point to mention punishment of children.

      I think you give Piper too much credit. You are editing his comments to be more palatable.

      • Tim says:

        He tries to call it discipline but it is really punishment. I don’t think he can see where one ends and the other begins.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Makes you wonder if God has any reason for existing other than to PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH!

  14. Terri says:

    The whole #Exvangelical thing: Piper clearly has no clue that raising a child with terror of hell, spanking them from infancy onward, and making them view a parent as God until they’re older (and if we’re honest, the godlike expectations may not end there)–these are some of the exact, precise things that have led thousands to leave Christianity, or at least organized religion, in adulthood.

    These practices are human arrogance and cruelty, and they’re not simply being overlaid with Christiany words–they’re being taught *as* Christian concepts. I don’t blame anyone for simply believing what they grew up being taught was Christianity by this type of leader–and then leaving because it’s intrinsically toxic and damaging to people and societies. That rejection of idolatry and cruelty is right and healthy. And maybe these folks run across some actual Christians at some point, maybe they don’t.

    It’s interesting (read: crazy-making) to note the projection that goes on. “Anyone who resists my power over them is trying to be God.”

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