“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” CS Lewis
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I grew up in a home in which I was loved by both of my parents. However, neither practiced their faith. My dad loved the Rissian Orthodox church festivals in which food and music were the keys. My mother rarely entered a church but would drop my brother and me off at a rather dead (at the time) Methodist church for Sunday school from time to time. She would never enter the church.
Both she and my father loved music. They would go to nightclubs to hear folks like Barbra Streisand and Satchmo. (I have pictures of them with their favorites.) They adored big band music. We would go to the Lone Star Ranch in New Hampshire to hear the greats in country-western music. I saw Johnny Cash as he was making his ascent to stardom. To this day, I love to play his music.
I was one of those annoying children who always had questions about life. I tried to ask my parents about faith issues but quickly learned that there was nothing there at that time. It wasn’t their thing. I remember a devout Jewish girl in my class who once told me that she was planning to go live in a kibbutz. I wondered if that was what I should do. My Catholic friends once slipped me into their church, St James, and told me how to do a confession. They gave me a rosary and explained how to use it. Thankfully the priest was kind to me and went along with my confession. My friends told me that I would go to hell unless I became a Catholic. So, I wondered if that was the answer.
So, I would go, off and on, to my church’s Methodist Youth Fellowship. One day, two students from Gordon Conwell decided to reach out to this dead little group of teens. I think we were the most clueless group of young teens they ever met. Yet, over time, I began to try to understand. You know the rest of the story. I would become a Christian while watching Star Trek although Star Trek had nothing to do with it. I remember the change in my life that happened almost immediately. I could read the Bible and understand it and that young couple pointed me in a couple of directions to find a church and fellowship. This was no easy task on the North Shore of Boston.
My children were born and my husband and I wanted to raise them as Christians.
This was not the easiest of tasks. Neither of us came from a Christian background so we didn’t have a clue. I read books (please don’t laugh) from Focus on the Family. You know the type, “How to raise Christian kids in 10 easy steps.” I often envied friends who came from Christian homes and seemed to have it all together. Then, my daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor when I was pregnant with my son. My other daughter, at 4 years old, began acting out because I had so little energy to devote while trying to care for my daughter and new baby.
My husband tried to be of help by leaving the long hours of academic medicine. But he traded one difficult job for another. We put our kids in Christian schools because we needed all the help we could get in figuring this stuff out. That move was helpful but I started asking questions. What about young-earth creationism and evolution? Why do some little children get sick and even die? What about those difficult verses in the Bible? Who really understands the Old Testament? Why do some Christians stop believing? Why do I keep believing despite the obvious difficulties? Why do kids raised in Christian homes rebel and turn away from the faith? Why do some people say those people never believed in the first place when I knew they did?
And so I began a search for answers, I read about church history and found that many of my questions have been asked throughout the centuries. If you ever go to EChurch you will see prayers written by the early church leaders. They are surprisingly relevant. I feel blessed to have visited over 40 national parks because it is in these places of beauty I see Christ.
All three of my kids have struggled with their faith. Yet, they still believe. My daughters have decided that I should be considered a moderate. I have come a long way from my Focus on the Family days. I have great empathy for those who want their children to be Christian and, instead, see them walk away.
The intriguing story of John Piper’s son, Abraham who has left the faith
As TWW readers know, I am not a fan of John Piper. He takes a pretty hard line when it comes to faith, often adding to Scripture to have what he believes is a cohesive view of God. He has tried to moderate his views on the abuse of women, saying that a woman can leave for her safety but should not divorce and remarry on the off chance her spouse sees the light and becomes that wonderful spouse he should be. As many here know, that is impossible.
John Piper’s son, Barnabas, remarried after his spouse left him. I am happy for him as he makes his own way in life. However, John’s son, Abraham, not only has left the faith but has become a media star on Tik Tok which led me to do something I said I wouldn’t do. I now have an account on Tik Tok and will use the *wartwatch* name there.
I knew that Abraham was no longer following the faith. However, I was surprised when Ruth Graham, writing for the New York Times posted A Pastor’s Son Becomes a Critic of Religion on TikTok It was subtitled: “John Piper is one of the most influential theologians in America. His son Abraham calls evangelicalism “a destructive, narrow-minded worldview.”
John Piper answers a question about unbelieving children
He has made quite a bit of money in the tech world. In 2017, it was estimated he made $16 million in one enterprise and he is set to make more money in other ventures. Curiously, in 2017, Piper posted How Did I Fail My Unbelieving Children?
But in either case (I’m not going to argue for that translation), warning or promise, I don’t see the nature of Proverbs or the rest of the Bible suggesting that this is an absolute guarantee of believing children to believing and faithful parents.
Is he saying something here?
We all sinned. We all did less than we could. None of us prayed as much as we could. None of us fasted as much as we could. Did you fast at all? None of us humbled ourselves as much as we could. None of us was consistent in our life as we could have been. None of us was faithful to the word of God as we could have been. None of us in exhortation, kindness, meekness, or gentleness was as good as we could have been. It is hopeless to base our present peace and joy on the assurance that we did a good job as parents. That is building a house on sand
He ends by saying:
Now, in the natural, human heart, this combination of emotions is impossible. It certainly seems so to me from time to time: (1) unceasing anguish in your heart because of the lostness of your loved ones, (2) daily earnest intersession to God on their behalf, (3) peace that passes all understanding because we entrust ourselves and our loved ones to God.
I suppose that is precisely why Paul calls it “peace that surpasses all understanding.” It isn’t based on rational deduction.
The peace of God in these kinds of situation — painful situations — that peace is a miracle. It is a gift. It cannot be produced by the natural reasoning mind. So, may the Lord give us (give our friend who wrote this painful note), grace to live in this kind of peace in spite of all our troubles, so that our children can see it, because that’s what they need more than anything.
Abraham Piper is making good money in the tech world and causing a sensation talking about his former faith.
Abraham is becoming well known in the exvangelical world. According to the NYT:
Mr. Piper’s pedigree is proof that ex-Christians should not be dismissed as people who were never really committed in the first place. “One of the common refrains is that these people were never Christian,” said Blake Chastain, who popularized the term “exvangelical” when he named his podcast in 2016. “But the people who leave over these issues are the people who took it seriously. They were the youth group kids who were on fire for God.”
Graham(NYT) writes about Abraham’s rocky road regarding church membership in his father’s church
Can you imagine the pressure of growing up in Piper’s church? If you click on the above NYT link, you will see that Piper had no idea of the path his son would take.
Abraham Piper was excommunicated from his father’s church at age 19 after rejecting the faith. “At first I pretended that my reasoning was high-minded and philosophical,” he later wrote in a Christian magazine. “But really I just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around.” Four years later, he returned to the faith, and was welcomed back at the church in what his father has described as a “beautiful restoration service.”
At some point after that, Mr. Piper departed again — this time, apparently, for good. In his videos, however, Mr. Piper talks only vaguely about growing up in and rejecting what he describes as fundamentalism. He never mentions his lineage, and he declined to participate in this article. John Piper, too, declined to comment.
So what’s going on?
Neither of the Piper agreed to be interviewed by the NYT. However, it is crystal clear that Abraham no longer believes in Christianity. Years ago, I would have wished that I had been raised in a good Christian home with the likes of John Piper as the father. However, it is becoming clear to me that my parents may have given me a gift. I had to seek out my faith over many long years. As I read my Bible, along with help of commentaries and church history, I developed into who I am today. I’m not sure that would have happened if I was a member of the Piper household. Imagine disagreeing with John? I bet all of his proofs would have been piled on the table before one could breathe.
Abraham is very bright. However, just like his dad, he appears to know that he is right as well. I wonder if the two debate or if they have decided not to discuss issues? I would love to sit in a room when these two Pipers debate!
I’m going to make it easy for you to hear the thoughts of Abraham.
Today, I joined Tik Tok. That platform makes it easy to embed these short clips. I spent quite a while today listening to his thoughts and choosing the clips for the post. There is no question that Abraham is highly intelligent. Maybe it is just me, but he reminds me of his father. Both appear to be quite sure they are correct in their point of view. I bet the discussions over the Thanksgiving turkey are fascinating if they still talk to one another which I hope they do.
I hope this helps you to get to know Abraham better. These clips are his way of letting you know what he believes.
For kids stuck at home with evangelical parents
Kids and mission trips
If you believe in a literal hell, how can you go out to eat at Outback?
Coming out of fundamentalism
The problem with Christian education
Not attacking Christianity but attacking fundamentalism
People would be better off if they didn’t exist
Pretending that Hell is real punitive justice is BS
Reading the Bible as a kid
A passive nonbeliever
The book of Revelation is overhyped
He left the fundie Christianity that he grew up with
Your God needs a therapist
Bonkers Bible stories: Abraham
Memorizing the Bible wasn’t worth it
5 insane Bible stories
A final comment from the NYT: Abraham and John Piper are both insufferable. He may have a point.
Taylor Brown, a New Testament Ph.D. student at Baylor University opined on his dislike for both Pipers in a comment on Twitter Monday: “Abraham Piper seems just as bad as his dad with saying dumb stuff but just in an insufferable exvangelical way instead of an insufferable hyper-Calvinist way.”