In my last post I ended saying that the key error of the Piper Theodicy is assuming that all acts—including all acts of moral evil are intended acts by the divine will via God’s exhaustive decrees. Rather than stop at the biblical notion that God can exploit evils or use un-intended evil to bring about good, Piper goes one step further and says God intended and purposed all evil for the purpose of intending good—thus divesting evil of evil and rendering all acts morally unintelligible at best and morally equivalent at worst.
I also made the point that while Piper may agree in theory that God is by nature divine goodness and therefore serves as the ultimate paradigm of good, Piper’s own view inadvertently renders morality unintelligible and meaningless. For if all evil is decreed by divine goodness for the sake of divine goodness, what then is left for Piper to point to as a contrast to divine goodness?
I want to explore this line of thought further in this post. Of all the critical mistakes that the Piper Theodicy makes, the most profound is the unflinching, dogmatic insistence that God’s sovereignty must mean he conceived, planned and determined every evil act without exception for the purpose of something good. It is this dogmatic, universal, exhaustive scope of God’s determinative sovereignty that undermines moral categories and makes the very category of evil meaningless, illusory and indistinguishable from good.
For example consider a scenario wherein a teacher one day decides to overlook a student’s multiple incorrect answers and grant the student an “A” instead of the “F” he deserved. In the teacher’s estimation she feels she has a morally sufficient reason to do so—such as knowing the child’s parents were going through a tumultuous divorce and the child was in desperate need for a confidence boost. However now consider a scenario wherein the teacher determines to give out A’s instead of F’s all the time and to every child without exception because she thinks boosting confidence is a morally sufficient reason to withhold failure from every child on every occasion without exception. Perhaps she may even decide that “F” stands for fantastic instead of fail in order to boost confidence. Obviously such an action would consequently render the teacher’s grade book pointless because the very category of “F” for “failure” would be rendered meaningless. It would also make A’s and F’s valueless and indistinguishable from each other since there no longer would exist an actual contrast to the score of “A.”
So also in Piper’s Theodicy the category of evil is rendered meaningless and incoherent since it is said that all evils without exception are determined by divine goodness for the purpose of boosting divine goodness. Consequently there no longer exists an actual contrast to divine goodness. Not even the most insidious and vile of evils can be offered up as an example because the recalcitrant, guiding premise of Piper’s Theodicy is all evil without exception.
In the last post I offered an illustration of a scenario wherein all people are colorblind to the color red. What they perceive to be red is actually mistakenly misinterpreted as a shade of green. However if everyone in the world without exception is colorblind to the true hue of red, then who remains in the world with a perception or observation that transcends our color spectrum to tell us our observation of red is mistaken and wrong? If no such person exists—and they can’t because the premise is “all people without exception”— then the color red, as far as humans are concerned, is rendered meaningless and illusory.
To avoid this conclusion all we would have to do is posit just one person who is not color-blind or just one example or exception where humans can actually observe a red object and in turn perceive its correct red color. That one exception would in turn serve as a necessary contrast to inform us of true red in contrast to all other colors, including what we falsely perceive as red in all other cases.
Once again in the case of Piper’s Theodicy there is no exception! Therefore there is no contrast. Not even from God’s perspective is their a definitive contrast to good because because every act of evil has been divested of evil in virtue of being conceived, planned and willed by divine goodness for the purpose of divine goodness!
Given this fact the next issue to be raised against Piper’s Theodicy is why God repeatedly condemns in scripture certain events as wrong, evil and wicked? A Calvinist who holds to Piper’s Theodicy can only reply that such statements of God refer only to his revealed will—not his secret, decretive will. They try to argue that in his revealed will God can condemn that man not sin and also state his displeasure when man does sin. But “behind the curtain” there is the grand, sovereign “wizard of Oz” manipulating everything in virtue of decreeing everything—including the very acts of evil his revealed will commands men not do. The theological waters Piper’s Theodicy swims in becomes increasingly murky the deeper we travel.
Both experience and the Scriptures inform us that mankind exits in a world of objective moral values. Some things are objectively good and some things are objectively evil—independent of human assent or opinion. The ontological foundation that grounds objective moral values is God’s good nature. But what if Calvinism as seen in Piper’s Theodicy is true?
It has already been stated but bears repeating. If every act of moral evil has been conceived by divine goodness and decreed by divine goodness for the purpose of divine goodness—then what act remains to be qualified as objectively evil from God’s perspective? What is left to decry as objectively evil and thus contrary to God’s good nature if God’s moral nature is the origin of conception for every evil?
God’s good nature consequently becomes the ultimate origin and cause for every alleged “evil” that occurs. God may not be the direct cause but he is still morally bound to its committal in virtue of conceiving, planning it and rendering it certain via irresistible decrees. A husband who hires an assassin to murder his wife is understood to be morally responsible for her death despite the fact that he is not the direct or proximate cause of her death in terms of pulling the trigger.
Just because he chose to use an intermediary agent or cause to bring about his wife’s death does not thereby acquit him of moral responsibility. He is morally culpable because the evil of her murder originated with him. He conceived, planned and determined through secondary, intermediate causes to murder his wife—making him guilty of causation no less than if he had directly pulled the trigger himself.
In Piper’s Theodicy we are all God’s little “contract assassins,” bound to his sovereign will to carry out every one of his decrees to commit evil. To hold that God “contracts out” his alleged sovereign will for rape, child abuse and murder to occur via intermediate wills such as ours does nothing to absolve God of moral responsibility, causation and authorship of all evil.
But it gets worse.
To add to the glaring moral problems of his position, Piper, snubs the logical implications inherent to his own position (i.e. evil is rendered ontologically impossible and therefore becomes a meaningless category of moral language) and strangely puts forth the notion that God decreed that evils occur so as to provide a necessary backdrop to segregate evil from good and thus magnify the differentiating other-ness of God’s holy, righteous and good nature in punishing sin and sinners.
In quoting his mentor Jonathan Edwards, Piper seeks to explain as follows:
“Unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”
Piper then sums up his theodicy saying:
“So the answer to the question… “Is God less glorious because he ordained that evil be?” is no, just the opposite. God is more glorious for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil.” 
The careful reader will discern that Piper’s Theodicy collapses into wholesale absurdity. If God only decrees events that serve to magnify his righteousness and goodness, and God can do no evil in any of his decrees—then from God’s vantage point all that he decrees and all that occurs in the world is good, righteous and holy.
As such the question Piper must answer is how do God’s universal, exhaustive decrees of evil—which are really good, righteous and holy from God’s perspective—contrastingly magnify God’s goodness, righteousness and holiness from God’s perspective?
Once again we see another example where the Piper Theodicy creates a scenario wherein the moral category of evil completely evaporates as it concerns the divine mind.
The sole role left for evil to play is to serve as a grand illusion for our sake, to give us the appearance of an objective contrast to God’s moral nature so as to enhance and magnify God’s glory and goodness.
But upon further reflection we discover that the very contrast to God’s moral goodness and glory was itself conceived and determined by God’s moral goodness and glory! In the end it all just becomes cosmic theatre!
The entire theodicy of Piper is rendered unintelligible because of an inflexible, stubborn insistence that sovereignty must equal divine determinism of every evil thought, desire and choice of man throughout human history.
God is sovereign—yes. But that doesn’t therefore translate into Piper’s myopic assumptions of sovereignty. All one needs to do is take truth to extreme and it becomes error. This Piper has done—and done so exceedingly well.
If Piper wasn’t so influential we could simply dismiss his myopic propensity to only view God in terms of sheer will and raw power as just that—myopic to a fault and subsequently forget about him. However the fact that the flute of “Pied Piper” continues to carry a tune many fall under the sway of— is both alarming and saddening. Nothing less than a true apprehension of God’s glory and character is at stake in Christianity today!