On October 21, 2020, evangelical pastor John Piper spoke to students at Liberty University. The following day he published a piece condemning Donald Trump (without mentioning his name). In that piece he said he was “baffled” that so many Christians support the president.
Pro-Trump evangelicals responded to Piper’s post with outrage. I chronicled some of that outrage here. One court evangelical, 27-year-old Charlie Kirk, called Piper a “fool.” Some of you may recall that Kirk is the co-founder of the Falkirk Center, the pro-Trump culture-war wing of Liberty University.
It thus makes perfect sense that Liberty University refuses to share Piper’s convocation appearance with Southern Baptist Convention president J.D. Greear.
Kate Shellnut of Christianity Today has it covered. Here is a taste of her piece:
Two videos of a discussion with Piper and Southern Baptist Convention president J. D. Greear were removed from Liberty’s social media and its convocation page at the direction of interim president Jerry Prevo. Prevo cited negative feedback and the controversy surrounding Piper’s article, Lamb said.
The now-pulled convocation session was not politically themed. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Piper’s famous sermon “Don’t Waste Your Life” (also known as the seashells message). He teamed up with Greear, whose new book asks What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?, to challenge a new generation with a message about living faithful and missional lives.
The pair recorded the session with pastor David Nasser, the senior vice president for spiritual development at Liberty, on October 12. The two-part discussion aired October 21 and 23.
Comments on Facebook posts promoting the Piper-Greear convocation appeared to be directed at both speakers. One Trump supporter called out “Calvinist heresy!” while several commenters decried “wokeness” and a “social justice agenda.”
Lamb said the feedback over Piper was “a controversy we did not seek out or desire” and came from “both those who would praise us for having him [and] those who would critique us from having him.” He said that it is possible the clips will be restored once the heat of the election season has died down.
Read the rest here.
Don’t expect anything to change at Liberty University under the temporary leadership of Prevo. He is a Jerry Falwell Sr. loyalist and worked for the Trump campaign in 2016.
When you cancel John Piper, it says a lot about the identity of Liberty University. Falwell Jr. may be gone, but little has changed at the school.