YouTube has censored the audiobook version of Reformed theologian John Piper’s new book, Coronavirus and Christ, claiming it violated “community standards.”
The book offers six biblical answers to the question: What is God doing through the coronavirus?
“This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines,” reads a message on the now blocked video by Piper, the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minnesota and the founder of DesiringGod.org.
The video got over 187,000 views within roughly five weeks that it remained on the platform, according to Disrn. It was released on April 8 and blocked last Friday.
The censorship came amid a call by 22 military chaplains to “discipline” and possibly court-martial a senior army chaplain for sending nearly three-dozen other chaplains an email containing a copy of the e-book, Coronavirus and Christ.
The 22 military chaplains, some of whom are from the LGBT community, had a problem with the book because it says that “some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions.”
Representing the 22, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which advocates for a strict separation of church and state within the U.S. military, urged Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to punish Senior Chaplain Col. Moon H. Kim, the command chaplain of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in South Korea, the largest U.S. military installation outside of the United States.
The complainants, MRFF said, “do not subscribe to the ultra-conservative/Reformed/evangelical Christian theology of John Piper.”
In a section titled, “Examples of Specific Judgements on Specific Sins,” Piper wrote that one example “is the sin of homosexual intercourse,” citing Romans 1:27 in which the Apostle Paul states that “men committing shameless acts with men” received in themselves “the due penalty for their error.”
“That ‘due penalty’ is the painful effect ‘in themselves’ of their sin,” Piper wrote. “This ‘due penalty’ is just one example of the judgment of God that we see in Romans 1:18, where it says, ‘The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.’ Therefore, while not all suffering is a specific judgment for specific sins, some is.”
A copy of Kim’s email that contained the PDF sent to the chaplains was reviewed by The Christian Post. In the body of the email, Kim wrote to fellow chaplains that he wanted to share the short booklet with them.
“This book has helped me refocus my sacred calling to my savior Jesus Christ to finish strong,” Kim wrote. “Hopefully this small booklet would help you and your Soldiers, their Families and others who you serve.”
MRFF contends that the book was “clearly meant as a full-fledged endorsement and validation of what the book espouses and proclaims.”
Led by Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., they and 18 other Republican House members signed a joint letter asking the Pentagon to protect the religious liberty of service members from the demands of an “anti-religion” group.
“I think it would be fair to say that some of my views about what the Bible teaches, even rightly understood, the author of that letter hates. He hates what I think,” Piper said, referring to MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein. “‘They are,’ he says, ‘incendiary,’ ‘bigoted,’ ‘vulgar’ — not just because he misunderstands, but, in part, because he does understand, and that’s how he thinks and feels about some of what the Bible teaches.
“I consider all of those views to be true because they are what the Bible teaches, and therefore, they’re very valuable to know,” Piper stressed. “So I think it’s not just that he misunderstands, but that he gets some things right in those quotes, and he just doesn’t like them.”
Piper said there are three areas where Weinstein seems to misrepresent his stance in either the letter to Esper or an earlier interview with The Christian Post. “For example, when I say that ‘some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions,’ he assumes that I know who those people are, or at least what kind of people they are,” Piper said.
“But here’s what I write on page 72. ... The coronavirus is ... never a clear and simple punishment on any person. The most loving, spirit-filled Christian, whose sins are forgiven through Christ, may die of the coronavirus disease. But it is fitting that every one of us search our own heart to discern if our suffering is God’s judgment on the way we live.”