A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

John Piper’s Erroneous Teaching on the Unpardonable Sin

John Piper has had and continues to have a huge influence upon the church. We at ACFJ do not believe that the effects of his teaching are always good, and in fact we believe that Piper has done great harm to abuse victims. (Posts showing the harm Piper’s teaching has done to abuse victims are linked at the bottom of this article.)

You recall that Piper claims that God forbids divorce for any reason whatsoever and that remarriage is a sin as long as an ex-spouse is still alive. In addition, we are seeing other false teaching in his writings and we believe that these false doctrines have done widespread harm to Christ’s people. That is why we are publishing this series of posts on Piper.

Who is John Piper?

John Piper has an impressive biography on Amazon.com:

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

We have pleaded with Reformed theologians to take a closer look at Piper’s teaching. We were ignored. But even those of us who are not theologians have reason to question assertions made in his books. Today, we’ll focus on his teaching about the unpardonable sin, found in the chapters pertaining to divorce in his book, What Jesus Demands from the World.

The Unpardonable Sin According to John Piper

Here is John Piper’s (re)definition of what constitutes the unpardonable sin which can be found on page 320 of What Jesus Demands From The World [Internet Archive link]  [bold and underlined emphases added]:

Forgiveness is received through trusting Jesus to forgive our sins, This implies that we see sin as sin and hate it as a dishonor to Jesus. The only unforgivable sin is the sin that we refuse to confess and forsake. We commit unforgivable sin when we cleave to a sin so long and so tenaciously that we can no longer confess it as sin and turn from it. What Jesus calls “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (in Matthew 12:31-32) and “eternal sin” (in Mark 3:29) is the resistance against the Holy Spirit’s convicting work to the point where he withdraws, leaving the sinner in helpless hardness of heart, unable to repent. Neither divorce nor remarriage is in itself the unpardonable sin any more than murder, stealing, lying, coveting, adultery, or homosexual behavior.

Piper specifically cites the two Scripture references below (we’ve added the seven extra verses in the Mark citation for context):

Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31-32

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.  Mark 3:22-30

A Doctrine Apart

Was this a sound interpretation of Christ’s words? It is evident that Piper is not addressing the context of Christ’s words when he teaches that the unpardonable sin is any sin that we do not repent of.  According to ESV Study Bible, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is one of the most enigmatic, debated, and misunderstood sayings of Jesus’ ministry,  but the references below are, we trust, a reasonable overview of what Protestants have understood by this term:

The sin against the Holy Spirit, or the unpardonable sin, involves conscious, stubborn, malicious opposition to divine truth once recognized as such and blasphemous hostility against it.  LCMS Christian Cyclopedia [Internet Archive link]

Speaking against the Spirit, calling the work of the Spirit the work of Satan, involves an explicit willful, and decisive rejection of the Power that can bring about repentance. . . . The unforgivable blasphemy specified here is the act of deliberately associating the power and the work of Jesus, who is full of the Holy Spirit, with the work of Satan (pp.1525 & 1566 Reformation Study Bible)

to ascribe the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, or to equate them. R C Sproul [Internet Archive link]

The sin is attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God, and doing this through the flagrant, willful, and persistent rejection of God and his commands. This sin is committed today only by unbelievers who deliberately and unchangeably reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in calling them to salvation.  (ESV Study Bible note on Matt 12:31-32)

if a person persistently attributes to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God — that is, if one makes a flagrant, willful, decisive judgment that the Spirit’s testimony about Jesus is satanic — then such a person never has forgiveness. (ESV Study Bible note on Mark 3:29)

Key to understanding this passage  [speaking of Luke 10:8-1, which is another passage on blasphemy against the Spirit] is the distinction Jesus makes between, on one hand, the extreme case of blasphemy against “the Holy Spirit” and, on the other hand, the lesser case of speaking in a dishonorable way against “the Son of Man.” One who asks to be forgiven for disrespectful words hastily spoken against Jesus (the Son of Man) will be forgiven. (Note, e.g., Peter’s rejection of Jesus and his subsequent restoration.) But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit — that is, the persistent and unrepentant resistance against the work of the Holy Spirit and his message concerning Jesus (cf. Acts 7:51) —this, Jesus says, will not be forgiven. The person who persists in hardening his heart against God, against the work of the Holy Spirit, and against the provision of Christ as Savior, is outside the reach of God’s provision for forgiveness and salvation. (ESV Study Bible note on Luke 10:12)

Sin Against The Holy Ghost. There seem to be three things essential to this sin, viz., conviction, malice, and presumption in expressing that malice. (Jonathan Edwards [Internet Archive link] — Edwards’ teaching in this link is highly recommended; read it if you have time)

The unpardonable sin, then, is speaking against the Holy Ghost. (Charles Hodge [Internet Archive link])

O, there is no crime on earth so black as the crime against the Holy Spirit! Ye may blaspheme the Father, and ye shall be damned for it, unless ye repent; ye may blaspheme the Son, and hell shall be your portion, unless ye are forgiven; but blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and thus saith the Lord: “There is no forgiveness, either in this world nor in the world which is to come.” I cannot tell you what it is; I do not profess to understand it; but there it is. It is the danger signal; stop! man, stop! If thou has despised the Holy Spirit — if thou hast laughed at his revelations, and scorned what Christians call his influence, I beseech thee, stop! (sermon by Spurgeon)

what of blasphemy against the Spirit? To understand this difficult saying, we need to see that it came in the context of Jesus’ opponents charging Him with doing His work by the power of the Devil rather than by the power of the Holy Spirit.  R. C. Sproul [Internet Archive link]

maliciously speaking to the highest reproach of the Holy Spirit, contrary to the rational conviction of their own consciences. . . . if any person hath been instructed in the things of God, and hath made a profession of religion and godliness, and afterwards falleth off from his profession, and becomes a bitter enemy to it; saying that those things are the effects of the devil in men, which his heart telleth him are the operations of the Holy Spirit, and be so hardy as to persecute and seek to destroy such persons for such profession: the interpretation be to those that hate us, and to the enemies of our God. . . .
[Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is] not words spoken ignorantly or hastily, or according to our real judgment and opinion; but words spoken maliciously, in order to destroy God or Christ, if it were possible. . . (Matthew Poole [Internet Archive link], English Nonconformist theologian)

Someone who knows who Jesus is — who realizes that his work is by the Holy Spirit — and yet so refuses to believe that he actually ascribes the Spirit’s work to the devil, cannot possibly be saved. Why? Because that person is not just ignorant, but they willfully, knowingly, reject Jesus as Messiah, as proved by the Holy Spirit. So this passage describes not someone who in a fit of anger or temptation commits blasphemy, but someone who refuses to believe on Jesus as the Messiah, even when he recognizes the Holy Spirit at work. (Rev. Richard Phillips, chair of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology [Internet Archive link])

Therefore, the unpardonable sin was — and is — in ascribing the works of the Holy Spirit through Christ to Satan. How could it consist of anything else?  Fundamentalist Baptists [Internet Archive link]

Finally, here is a long quotation from Calvin’s commentary on Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol 2 [Internet Archive link].  In relation to Matthew 12:31 and the related passages in Mark and Luke, Calvin says (emphasis added):

Having proved that the scribes could not blame him [Jesus] for casting out devils, without opposing the kingdom of God, he at length concludes that it is no light or ordinary offense, but an atrocious crime, knowingly and willingly to pour contempt on the Spirit of God. We have already said, that Christ did not pronounce this decision on the mere words which they uttered, but on their base and wicked thought.

All sin and blasphemy. As our Lord declares blasphemy against the Holy Ghost to be more heinous than all other sins, it is of importance to inquire what is the meaning of that term. Those who define it to be impenitence may be refuted without any difficulty; for it would have been in vain and to no purpose for Christ to say, that it is not forgiven in the present life. Besides, the word blasphemy cannot be extended indiscriminately to every sort of crimes; but from the comparison which Christ makes, we shall easily obtain the true definition. Why is it said that he who blasphemes against the Spirit is a more heinous sinner than he who blasphemes against Christ? Is it because the majesty of the Spirit is greater, that a crime committed against him must be punished with greater severity? Certainly that is not the reason; for as the fullness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9) shines in Christ, he who pours contempt upon him overturns and destroys, as far as it lies in his power, the whole glory of God. Now in what manner shall Christ be separated from his Spirit, so that those who treat the Spirit with contempt offer no injury or insult to Christ?

Already we begin to perceive, that the reason why blasphemy against the Spirit exceeds other sins, is not that the Spirit is higher than Christ, but that those who rebel, after that the power of God has been revealed, cannot be excused on the plea of ignorance. Besides, it must be observed, that what is here said about blasphemy does not refer merely to the essence of the Spirit, but to the grace which He has bestowed upon us. Those who are destitute of the light of the Spirit, however much they may detract from the glory of the Spirit, will not be held guilty of this crime. We do not maintain, that those persons are said to pour contempt on the Spirit of God, who oppose his grace and power by hardened malice; and farther we maintain, that this kind of sacrilege is committed only when we knowingly endeavor to extinguish the Spirit who dwells in us.

. . . But here a question arises. Do men proceed to such a pitch of madness as not to hesitate, knowingly and willfully, to rush against God? for this appears to be monstrous and incredible. I reply: Such audacity does indeed proceed from mad blindness, in which, at the same time, malice and virulent rage predominate. Nor is it without reason that Paul says, that though he was

a blasphemer, he obtained pardon, because he had done it ignorantly in his unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13;),

for this term draws a distinction between his sin and voluntary rebellion. This passage refutes also the error of those who imagine that every sin which is voluntary, or which is committed in opposition to the conscience, is unpardonable. On the contrary, Paul expressly limits that sin to the First Table of the Law; and our Lord not less plainly applies the word blasphemy to a single description of sin, and at the same time shows, that it is of a kind which is directly opposed to the glory of God.

From all that has been said, we may conclude that those persons sin and blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, who maliciously turn to his dishonor the perfections of God, which have been revealed to him by the Spirit, in which His glory ought to be celebrated, and who, with Satan, their leader, are avowed enemies of the glory of God.   . . .

From sources like these we see that Piper’s definition is unorthodox among his own Protestant Christianity.  We know this is a strong claim which some may want to challenge, so let us explain in more detail why we say that Piper’s definition of the unforgivable sin is unorthodox.

Fans of Piper may defend him by pointing to the similarity between Piper’s wording and some of the other references above. We have extracted the essentials of Piper’s definition here, just to remind you what they were:

The only unforgivable sin is the sin that we refuse to confess and forsake. We commit unforgivable sin when we cleave to a sin so long and so tenaciously that we can no longer confess it as sin and turn from it.  . . . the resistance against the Holy Spirit’s convicting work to the point where he withdraws, leaving the sinner in helpless hardness of heart, unable to repent.

Did not some of the other authors describe the unforgivable sin as the rejection of the power (viz. the Holy Spirit ) that can bring about repentance? Yes they did, but with exception of  Spurgeon (who refrained from defining blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) they all noted that blasphemy includes a sin of words, a sin of the tongue; and they pointed not just to obstinate refusal to heed the Spirit’s promptings to repentance (a la Piper) but the outright and deliberate lie which, full knowing its own deceitfulness and rebellion, declares the works of God to be the works of the devil. Piper’s definition lacks any mention of this highhanded deceitful lying accusation that the works of God are the works of the devil. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit may be one of the most enigmatic, debated, and misunderstood sayings of Jesus’ ministry (as the ESV editors note) but even so, Piper’s definition appears to fall short.

Unlikely agreement between Piper and Rome

Interestingly, Piper finds some common ground with the Catholic Catechism.  Again, Piper:

The only unforgivable sin is the sin that we refuse to confess and forsake. We commit unforgivable sin when we cleave to a sin so long and so tenaciously that we can no longer confess it as sin and turn from it. . . .  the resistance against the Holy Spirit’s convicting work to the point where he withdraws, leaving the sinner in helpless hardness of heart, unable to repent. Pg. 320. What Jesus Demands From The World [Internet Archive link] [emphasis added]

Compare to the Catholic Catechism:

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.” Section 1864 pg. 509

The Catholic Catechism seems to stress not repenting of any sins (unbelief), but Piper once again is even more extreme. He says that you can be lost by not repenting of even one sin. Note the singular in Piper’s passage — “the sin. . . a sin”.

Even more scary, Piper’s interpretation is identical to a definition of the unforgivable sin at the website Chastity: Psychological and Spiritual healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition [Internet Archive link].  It reads:

An unforgivable sin is simply a sin which you do not repent. There’s really nothing mysterious or mystical about it. God has told us over and over that if we sincerely repent our sins and ask for mercy, we will be forgiven. No sin, not even murder or abortion, will condemn a soul if only it is repented. [emphasis added]

Regardless if Piper follows the Catholic Catechism or Catholic mystics, neither of these are in line with the Reformed/Protestant church that he has such influence over. He deceptively calls his teachings radical, but because he has departed from the accepted reformed understanding with his doctrine, a more accurate term would be heretical. If the unpardonable sin is the extent of our grievance with John Piper’s doctrine, we could overlook it and wonder how such a learned man could be so confounded and why no one seems concerned that he has casually recast a doctrine to his liking. But we believe that Piper’s definition of the unpardonable sin is evidence of a false, works-righteousness gospel that we will further address in the next post in this series.

Does it matter a great deal that Piper’s definition falls short? Yes, we believe it does, because that shortfall opens up a legalistic trap for all believers. Furthermore, we suspect that Piper’s erroneous teaching on the doctrine of unpardonable sin in What Jesus Demands From The World  is deliberate because it is necessary for the reinforcement of his legalistic divorce doctrine. His definition of the unpardonable sin was given in the chapter titled “Demand #42: What God has joined together let no man separate — one man, one woman, by grace, till death.” It’s a definition of convenience, not a definition you’d expect from a careful theologian.

If Piper thinks that his definition of the Unpardonable Sin has sweetened the bitter medicine for victims of marital mistreatment, he is dead wrong. His definition only sharpens the blade that will plunge into their hearts if they are swayed by his permanence view on divorce.

But we get ahead of ourselves. Stay tuned.

Note: This post was written by Persistent Widow, with contributions by Barbara Roberts


Our earlier posts canvassing the harm Piper’s teaching has done to abuse victims:

Shocking Revelation Concerning John Piper’s Theology

A open letter to John Piper about his view on divorce

John Piper is Clueless, and Dangerous to Abuse Victims

Abuse and Divorce: The Case Against the “Permanence View”

A review of John Piper’s “This Momentary Marriage” that you might like to vote on

John Piper’s “Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse” – are they helpful?

Open Letter of Thanks To Jeff Crippen And Barbara Roberts

The church thinks it’s being proactive but it isn’t


  1. Bonnie


    Thank you for posting this series on John Piper. I’m amazed that the amount of Christians who think John Piper is a great theologian, when in fact he has several things wrong.

    I also think it is a bit scary that people make him a demi-god. Sometimes people, of certain circles, quote him more than they quote the Bible. For example, even Jesus says one can divorce in the case of adultery -(I don’t think divorce is limited to this time, but my point is that John Piper has a higher standard than Christ himself).

    Thank you for posting this. I wondering how we can get those of the Piper club to read such articles and see the truth about Piper.


    • Hi Bonnie,
      We received a comment you had submitted on today’s post (the post about Michelle Lindsey) and we are unsure about publishing it because it was fairly identifying. If it’s safe for you to do so, can you please email me and Twbtc to discuss it? Thanks. 🙂

      barbara@notunderbondage.com twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  2. MeganC

    Wow, Persistant Widow. Well well well done! You make things clear for those who feel a check in their spirit over some of Piper’s readings and yet cannot put their finger on it.

    In counseling, it is becoming more clear, over and over and over again how much poor theology contributes to emotional and spiritual unhealth . . . to the point of almost a “death” in the spirit. In speaking with abuse victims (and this is something already noted over and over again by Jeff Crippen), 90% of counseling is listening and affirmation . . . the other 10% seems to be correcting theology like Piper’s. 😦

  3. Annie

    “The only unforgivable sin is the sin that we refuse to confess and forsake.”

    If the words of Piper above were to be true, a perpetrator of abuse would be guilty of committing the unforgivable sin. In such a case, he/she would be incapable of being pardoned and in which case, Christians should stop trying to wait for change. In which case, hoping and waiting for a marriage to be healed would be futile. So the permanence of marriage position is refuted. You can’t logically hold both positions, unless marriage is seen simply as one which is legally recognized as such, and a victim is meant to stay in a marriage with someone who has committed the unforgivable sin.

    • Barnabasintraining


      Well played, Annie! 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Annie – and as Martin Luther came to realize, what about the sins we don’t know about and thus which we don’t confess? And how much confession is adequate? Was my confession sincere enough? Did I really forsake it? These are the unanswered questions that Rome always leaves us with. The gospel however points us to Jesus Christ and HIS righteousness, which is perfect and complete, fully accepted by the Father.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Annie, I have yet to read that Piper states that his unpardonable sin doctrine should apply to abusers. Actually, I haven’t even read where he explains how discipline should apply to abusers. There is another group who he specifically decrees to have comitted the unpardonable sin. We will reveal who that accursed group is in my next post, but some of us may be in it.

      • Brenda R

        TPW. A cliff hanger. : ) I can’t wait to read the sequel and see if I am on the list of Piper’s condemned. In certain ways I feel that if I am, I am probably on a much better path as far as God is concerned. I am much more concerned about what God thinks than Piper any day.

  4. Brenda R

    Persistent Widow, Great job on this critique. Nothing John Piper says surprises me any longer. He twists scripture just enough that many don’t see his total disregard for the truth. I have several of his books on my book shelf. He was on top of the reading list at the church I have attended for the past several years. I have begun speaking out against his teachings. The books I have will stay on the shelf so they cannot infect anyone else. Piper is put on a pedestal where he should not be. He is a man and far from a great theologian. His theology is false doctrine and he passes it off as “there is no other way of seeing it”. He needs a second pair of eyes. The ones he currently uses are impaired.

    • For anyone who has a Piper book on their shelves, here is an exercise to do. Take a pencil. Take mental courage and determination. Then read as much as you can stomach of Piper underlining or margin-marking every time there is a sentence or phrase that seems a little ‘off’ to you. And observe whether Piper then qualifies or contradicts his ‘off’ statement a little later on so as to leave himself wriggle room to squirm out of the charge of wrong teaching or a wrong attitude towards God. This is the pattern I’m finding in his writing.

      I guess this only works if you have a reasonably good foundation in orthodox doctrine. For a new Christian, they would probably take it all on face value and not see the subtle divergences and confusion of orthodoxy and unorthodoxy.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Barbara – That is a precise and accurate description of what Piper does. I will give him this – he is ingenious in his methods and tactics. Unfortunately, ingenuity and novelty do not make for a good theologian and pastor.

      • Brenda R

        Sounds like a project, Barb. I won’t buy new ones though.

  5. Carmen S.

    Piper has many patterns. One is to say things so many different ways that by the time you think you know what he’s saying, he switches direction and goes at it from a different angle. Very confusing. He goes after time-held positions, replaces them with his own, then turns around and softens his stance….but the next chapter will find him attacking all over again.

    Why does he repeat a phrase that he invents and coins hundreds of times in a book?

    He practices reductionism, and once he has established his premise, he forces everything else in Scripture to support his man-made thoughts. How many times do you find yourself saying, “There’s no Scripture to support this”.

    Frequently he is placing the Christian under the Law. Why don’t people see this in his books? Why aren’t there others who point this out? Because they are also twisting Scripture, and making it say what it does not say, and writing books. And then people are told this is “radical” or “fresh and new”….and people buy it.

    And don’t discount the “fear of man”. Many of these people consider each other friends, and the pastors who are not in the “Big Dog” group will face a lot of flack for questioning them. Pray that people in congregations, and pastors, will have discernment and then courage.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Carmen – This is an excellent summary of Piper’s method. Thank you for saying it very, very well.Your first paragraph describes Piper’s method succinctly and accurately.

    • Hester

      Frequently he is placing the Christian under the Law. Why don’t people see this in his books? … And then people are told this is “radical” or “fresh and new”

      In my experience this is sold as the only way to be “holy” and “sold out for Jesus.” It then gives people a way to look down on other Christians for being not “holy” and “sold out” enough, whether they do this consciously or not. I’ve also met a lot of people whose idea of Bible study is basically looking for more rules than the next guy. Whoever can find the most rules (preferably with the most obscure verse reference possible), is the “holiest” and most “committed” person in the room. It’s like a scavenger hunt.

      I also think a lot of this “radical” stuff is indirectly related to things in society like reality TV, because Christians are told that if they’re not making a big enough “splash” for Jesus, they’re not doing it right. It’s not enough anymore to raise your kids and serve at church. It’s too boring, too anonymous, and not glitzy enough. Personally I think this applies to all or most of the currently fashionable “radical” preachers, not just Piper.

      One homeschool mom I know, after reading Don’t Waste Your Life, told my mom that “everything I do in my life is worthless.” So apparently what she learned from Piper was that raising her children, teaching them, serving at her church, etc., are all “worthless” activities, presumably because they aren’t “radical” enough. So I guess Paul was wrong when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Funny how that keeps happening.

      • Brenda R

        Hester, I hope I never attend a bible study like that one. I’ve read Radical. It is a pretty intense book, or at least it was for me or perhaps it was the timing. I believe we all have a calling and we can reach people in our normal, boring, everyday lives. I know a wonderful lady that is going through chemo (again) and has 3 children at home. She still comes to church every Sunday and plays the piano beautifully. She is always smiling. If she does nothing else, she is a huge blessing to many people including me.

        You never know who is watching. Just the fact that you get up and go to church on a regular basis tells people something about you and more importantly Jesus. I play the piano, mostly southern gospel. Neighbors in my apartment building would like me to play a little louder. God is being taught even though I was playing for His glory and my enjoyment. Christianity is not Hollywood. Amen. What your friend has missed is that raising your children is exactly what God wants. He wants them trained in His ways. This is a wonderful example of what the Word says we are to do. There are different phases of life and bringing up our children to love and serve the Lord is a great part of our lives.

        I agree, there is too much emphasis on getting your name out there and not enough on living your life for Jesus in the way HE chooses and not some big name selling lots of books. I recently spoke to an older man who is teaching a course for young men and gets to witness for the Lord to them. He said it was the first time he ever felt called to do anything. He was being prepared for this one thing his entire life. We need to listen more to God’s timing and not to big name authors.

      • Barnabasintraining

        One homeschool mom I know, after reading Don’t Waste Your Life, told my mom that “everything I do in my life is worthless.”

        Oh for crying out loud! 😦

  6. Hester

    Those who define it to be impenitence may be refuted without any difficulty

    Awesome catch. Calvin flatly disagrees with Piper, the modern-day emissary of Calvinism. Oops. It would be hilarious if so many people didn’t believe him.

    I’m sure this has been said before and will be said again, but the way Piper has defined the unforgivable sin here, would make everyone who divorced their abuser and does not feel sorry for it, a blasphemer against the Holy Spirit. Actually, it’s worse than that, because Piper doesn’t even believe in divorce for adultery. So even someone who divorced their spouse for adultery (following the explicit teaching of Jesus Himself by doing so) and didn’t feel sorry for it, would be a blasphemer against the Holy Spirit too. So following the explicit teaching of Jesus = blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Wow. That is twisted right there.

    Basically, what I think is clear about the unpardonable sin, is that you have to work really really REALLY HARD to commit it. It doesn’t just fly out of your mouth one day by accident when you’re in a bad mood. So Piper is making it way too easy to commit, when it’s clear that it’s not easy at all.

    • Jeff Crippen

      You nailed it Hester.

    • Hester — exactly right. Piper’s definition says that you have committed the unforgivable sin if you divorce for adultery or abuse and do not repent of that divorce and name it as sin. This makes me and many others at this blog blasphemers against the Holy Spirit. WRONG!

      Many of us here have testimonies that God guided us to divorce our abusers. We have numerous accounts from survivors on this blog saying that they resisted God’s gentle promptings for years but in the end they heard and acted. They divorced. They followed not only the guidance of the Spirit but (whether they knew it then or not) the express precepts of the Bible which let victims of abuse and adultery divorce their covenant-breaking spouses without incurring any sin whatsoever. Piper would have these people labelled as blasphemers against the Holy Spirit. But in effect it is Piper’s teaching that by inference blasphemes the Spirit because Piper calls the work of the Holy Spirit sinful when the Spirit guides abuse victims to leave their monsters-in-wedlock.

  7. Heather2

    As a divorced and remarried victim I am beginning to understand why one of my adult children has chosen to distance herself from me. She respects Piper! He is at the top of her reading list. 😦

    • Brenda R

      Heather 2, This could be added to the list of hurtful things that Piper’s teachings have done. I don’t believe that God is happy in separating families because of what comes from the pulpit. In my opinion only, it is much worse that separating families because of domestic abuse.

  8. Joe Pote

    Very astute observations and very sound teaching! Thanks for sharing this series.

  9. Finding Answers

    Coming in on the original post and the comments generated way late in the game….

    Keep in mind, I have no formal theological training, no Bible studies per se, and no real practice at expounding on Scripture.

    When I read the Piper excerpt describing his version of the unpardonable sin, my reply was “Um, wrong.”

    When I read the verses from Matthew and Mark, I played a game with myself, seeing if I could figure the answer out on my own. (Mark makes the context plain.)

    I read the rest of the original post, read as many of the links as are unbroken (I may search for them later), then read the comments generated.

    Yep. Figured it out correctly.

    (Couldn’t find a gold star emoji to finish my comment.)

  10. Adebisi Peter

    I want to ask a question can an unconfessed and unforsaken sin be forgiven? And if someone is divorced can he \ she go ahead and remarry?

    • Hi, Adbisi Peter, I apologise for taking a while to deal with your questions.

      Can an unconfessed and unforsaken sin be forgiven?

      I will answer this in two parts because the answer is both yes and no. I will give you my understanding of what the Bible teaches.

      If the person is born again (you must be born again to become a Christian; you must be born again enter the kingdom of God) and that person KNOWS he is sinning yet chooses to not confess and forsake the sin, God will not forgive. You may find this post helpful in thinking this through: Blindness from Original Sin – part 2 of series on blindness and deception.

      When a person is first born again, that person will very likely not be aware of all the sins they have committed. The Holy Spirit convicts the individual of sin (and reveals Jesus to the individual) in order to bring the individual to the New Birth. But that does not mean simultaneously with the New Birth the Holy Spirit necessarily brings to that person’s mind all the particular sins that person has done. The person comes to faith by confessing and repenting and putting their trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. A born again person’s sins (past, present and future) are all forgiven in Christ. But the person may not have confessed and forsaken each and every individual sin. As the person continues to walk with Christ, the process of sanctification goes on. In that process the Holy Spirit will convict that person of more particular sins and (hopefully) the person will confess and forsake the particular sins they feel convicted of.

      If someone is divorced can he \ she go ahead and remarry?

      I suggest you look at these two pages which are part of our FAQs —

      What about divorce?

      What about remarriage?

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