John Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and retired senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, was asked recently in a WORLD magazine interview for a solution to what he framed as the "God-ignoring, God-belittling frame of mind" that has gripped the nation.
Piper spoke on camera with WORLD magazine editor Marvin Olasky at Bethlehem College & Seminary, where the 67-year-old Minneapolis, Minn., Christian minister serves as chancellor.
In addition to asking Piper questions about same-sex marriage, his theological interpretations, and his take on talking about God and Jesus among a general audience, Olasky brought up ABC News' "America Strong" segment, which highlights inspirational and positive news stories. The segment was purportedly inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred on April 15. In the wake of the attacks that killed three people, wounded an estimated 260 others and resulted in a citywide manhunt for the assailants, Bostonians started declaring "Boston strong" to highlight residents' resilience.
"Instead (of proclaming strength), should we be saying 'Boston weak'?" Olasky asked Piper.
"Whenever the strength of God is not recognized as the source of our strength, we are breaking the First Commandment: Do not have any gods before me," Piper responded. "In so far as 'Boston strong' or 'America strong' [if it] is God-neglecting, God-ignoring, God-minimizing, human-exalting, city-exalting, nation-exalting, it's wicked, it's evil."
Piper went on to suggest that such an attitude was the "the main problem in America today."
"The absence of God in most spheres of life is perceived to be normal, and even Christians feel it as normal — which is why absorbing the culture all around us and its priorities is so dangerous," he explained.
Piper went on to reference 1 Corinthians 12:10, in which the author, identified as the apostle Paul, writes of his pleasure in knowing that God is glorified through his neediness, and declares: "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
"Human beings were put on the planet to depend upon their Creator and to worship their Creator at every point in every sphere of culture," Piper said in relation to the Corinthians passage. "Wherever they are slipping away from that manifest, verbal, conscious dependence upon their Maker and starting to exalt the strength of something else, they are setting themselves up against God, committing treason against their Maker — and nothing will go right in the long run when a nation or a family or a person does that."
"So how do we come out of that as a nation?" Olasky inquired.
Piper suggested that a "revival" was necessary, which the 33-year veteran pastor defined as "the one-sided, supernatural arrival of God to do something extraordinary, to awaken people to their sinful condition and to awaken them to the reality of God and then the reality of Christ, the reality of sin, and the necessity of repentance in faith.
"It moves like an inexplicable wave across the culture. We haven't seen that for a long time in America, but I doubt that short of that we will come out of a God-ignoring, God-belittling frame of mind, which pretty much grips the whole nation."
But if revival is "one-sided" and dependant on God to "show up," should Christians "just roll over and play dead?"
"I think the answer to that is 'no.' You obey what's in the Scripture," Piper responded to his own question.
"If it says worship God, you worship God. If it says love your enemy, you love your enemy. If it says practice hospitality, you practice hospitality. You do the hundreds of things that a Christward heart does in the hope that God will put a match to those little sparks to cause it to become a conflagration in a community or in a nation."
The video of WORLD's Q&A interview with Piper, which was conducted earlier this summer and highlighted by the evangelical publication a little over a week ago, can be viewed at Worldmag.com, or below: