Preacher and author John Piper responded to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of black teen Trayvon Martin in Florida, saying the court's verdict will not save Zimmerman from his real guilt of sin for his actions.
"Christians, who have a high view of the Bible and high view of God's justice, and that Jesus Christ is going to be the judge of all people someday have a very important message because justice will be done," Piper said in an interview posted on DesiringGod.org.
"Either the sins of George Zimmerman will be on Jesus on the cross because George Zimmerman has humbled himself, repented of his sin, trusted in Jesus, and made Him his Lord and Savior by faith, or he will suffer in hell, forever, for all of his sins, including these – that's the choice in front of all of us," added Piper, who retired earlier this year from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn.
Last week, a jury of six women acquitted neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter. In February 2012, Zimmerman, whose parents are white and Hispanic, shot 17-year-old Martin. Many believed the killing was racially motivated, but Zimmerman said the shooting was in self-defense.
Piper was interviewed about a question and answer session at the Campus Outreach Global Staff Conference in Orlando, where a group of African American ministry leaders asked him why he chose not to respond to the issue.
The theologian said he didn't respond earlier "because I didn't know what to say... I was perplexed."
He went on to say that America had historically seen "disproportionate finding of guilt for blacks and less guilt for whites."
However, Piper added that Christians needed to ask the deeper question that asks, "Where is all of this coming from in our world? Where is it all going to lead?" He added God wants to go down to the place where all of our sins, whether it is racism or pride, start, and to sever the root with faith in the finished work of Christ.
In March, Piper wrote on his blog, "Zimmerman is a hundred pounds bigger and ten years older. He had the gun, not Martin. Reportedly he has been arrested before on assault charges. As he was following Martin in his truck, he called 911 and was told 'we don't need you to do that.' The police were on the way. But Zimmerman followed him anyway. His comments on the 911 recording (I listened to them) suggested possible racial frustration that 'they always get away.' Martin's call to his girlfriend suggested he was troubled by being followed. Not all the witnesses corroborate Zimmerman's story."
In the article, Piper said race plays a huge role in our society even today, noting that it is also an issue central to biblical salvation. In the New Testament there were incidents "constantly revolving around ethnic realities," he said.
During a question and answer session at a North Carolina ministry conference in March, Piper said the church needed to continually discuss issues related to racism. "Stay at the table when the conversation is happening, which means for the rest of your life," he said. "The most sad development is to watch people make an attempt in racial harmony, get hurt, and walk away."
And last March, Piper, along with Pastor Tim Keller and Dr. Anthony Bradley, participated in a discussion on race and the Gospel in New York City. In his talk, Piper characterized racism as a "history-long, global problem" that could only be explained by the biblical narrative of sin and the Fall.
The sin of pride, Piper said, causes humans to find satisfaction in themselves rather than in God, providing the basis for racism. "That is because humans are in rebellion against God. That's where that comes from. Exalting ourselves over our maker and of course, if over our maker, over each other. That's a given," he said.
In November 2011, Piper said he was once "racist to the core" and a born-again Christian at the same time. But thankfully, he added, "God had mercy on this teenage racist who little by little was awakened to something beautiful – namely racial diversity – and to something horrible – namely my own sin – and to repentance as an ongoing way of life."