Liberty University pulls Piper videos after Trump attack

John Piper, founder of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, speaks at the MLK50 Conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and The Gospel Coalition in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 5, 2018. | Rocket Republic /Flicker

Liberty University has removed a video featuring a conversation with John Piper from the school’s online library and social media feeds after the Christian pastor and author revealed he did not plan to vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden in the 2020 election. 

In October, Piper and Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear recorded a video conversation with David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vice president for spiritual development.

The two resulting videos, later posted on Liberty’s website, came on the 20th anniversary of Piper’s popular “Don’t Waste Your Life” sermon. 

The day after the weekly convocation in which Piper and Greear took part, the former published an article on his website warning Christian voters that the president’s “deadly behavior” will lead the U.S. to “destruction of more kinds than we can imagine.” Piper also revealed he didn’t plan to vote for either the Democratic nominee or the president on Nov. 3.

Liberty, whose former president Jerry Falwell Jr. was close friends with Trump, subsequently pulled Piper’s videos. Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb told Christianity Today the decision was due to the “unfortunate coincidence in timing” of Piper’s post.

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Lamb said the feedback over Piper was “a controversy we did not seek out or desire,” as viewers accused the pastor of  “Calvinist heresy,” “wokeness” and a “social justice agenda.” He told CT responses came from “both those who would praise us for having him [and] those who would critique us from having him.” 

Lamb suggested clips might be restored once the election season is over. 

Liberty did not respond to a request for comment.

Greear told CT he was “disappointed” in Liberty’s decision to remove the video, adding that the purpose of the conversation was to “challenge Liberty students to consider how God wanted to use their lives in the Great Commission,” a topic “we can all be unified around.”

In his controversial post, Piper said he is “baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality, … unrepentant boastfulness, …unrepentant vulgarity, … unrepentant factiousness … and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.”

He suggested that when Christians “act as if policies and laws that protect life and freedom are more precious than being a certain kind of person,” they are detracting from the message of the Gospel.

Still, the pastor stressed he was not making an endorsement and didn’t intend to “dictate how anyone else should vote.”

Piper’s comments sparked reactions from both sides of the aisle. 

A campaign called Christians Against Trumpism used Piper’s name on its website, running anti-Trump ads.

“Thousands of Christian leaders and institutions have stood firm on the foundational truths of our faith, against the disheartening embrace of Trumpism,” the website reads.

“When the history books are written about this era, the principled, committed and courageous leaders who refused to compromise will be remembered, and we are deeply grateful for your stand.”

On Twitter, Piper clarified that he “did not sign and would not sign ‘Christians Against Trumpism & Political Extremism.”

“My name is being used without my permission. I do not endorse any of the organizations listed here,” he wrote, linking to their website. 

In an op-ed for The Christian Post, former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson called Piper’s stance “ridiculous.”

“Pride doesn’t kill babies. Boastfulness doesn’t tear them apart in their mothers’ wombs. Arrogance doesn’t cause a baby to flee for their lives as sharp instruments seek to rip them limb from limb while they are still alive. No. Abortion does that and abortion alone,” she wrote.

“We can’t legislate pride or boastfulness or arrogance. But we can legislate abortion,” Johnson added. “In fact, we can make it illegal. And that is what is on the line. Life is on the line. The innocent lives of precious babies are on the line. Not pride. Not arrogance.”

Evangelist Franklin Graham also said he disagreed with Piper’s reasoning, adding: “He is wrong on this issue.”

Influential pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, meanwhile, called the post “maybe the best blog post I’ve ever read” from Piper. 

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