Book Review: “Coronavirus and Christ” by John Piper

Posted: July 28, 2020 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , ,

I admit to being a bit surprised when I first saw a post about John Piper’s recent, small book Coronavirus and Christ. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Since the book was being offered as a free PDF to anyone wanting it, I downloaded it and read it over the past weekend. A slight majority of the book (Part 2) is given to answering the question, “What is God doing through the Coronavirus?” Piper gives six possible answers to that question, but he first deals in Part 1 of the book with the foundational concepts one needs to understand before addressing the question at hand.

The chapters of Part 1 – “The God Who Reigns Over the Coronavirus” – include:

  • Come to the Rock
  • A Solid Foundation
  • The Rock is Righteous
  • Sovereign over All
  • The Sweetness of His Reign

In Part 1, Piper seeks to draw people to the solid Rock, Jesus Christ, as the only sound place to stand in this world of uncertainty. This pandemic has rocked our world in many ways unimaginable just a few months ago. All of us have been impacted in some way, and most of us in significant ways. Piper shares from his personal experience of a cancer diagnosis about how he had to come to grips with the ground on which he stood during that time of physical uncertainty. Now in this pandemic, he writes that his aim is to “show why God in Christ is the Rock at this moment in history—in this pandemic of the coronavirus—and what it is like to stand on his mighty love.”

Reiterated through the book is the truth that “the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.” Piper devotes nearly half the book leading up to answering the specific question of Part 2 because he wants the reader to be very clear on the holiness and righteousness and goodness and wisdom of God. In speaking about the sovereignty of God, he explains that God doesn’t just take seemingly bad things that happen (like a pandemic) and then turn them into good somewhere along the line. Rather, he shows how God has a purpose and meaning in them from the beginning. That’s important! This pandemic didn’t sneak up on God and surprise him.

After laying the foundation about God, Piper then offers in Part 2 six reasoned biblical answers to the question, “What is God doing through the Coronavirus?” He admits that God is always doing a billion things we do not know, but at least from the Scriptures we can be sure that God is up to a few specific things during this pandemic. The chapter titles and summary answers below give you the big picture of his answers about this “bitter providence,” but you need to read the entire text to fully understand them:

  • Picturing Moral Horror
    • “God is giving the world in the coronavirus outbreak, as in all other calamities, a physical picture of the moral horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin.”
  • Sending Specific Divine Judgments
    • “Some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions.”
  • Awakening Us for the Second Coming
    • “The coronavirus is a God-given wake-up call to be ready for the second coming of Christ.”
  • Realigning Us with the Infinite Worth of Christ
    • “The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ.”
  • Creating Good Works in Danger
    • “The coronavirus is God’s call to his people to overcome self-pity and fear, and with courageous joy, to do the good works of love that glorify God.”
  • Loosening Roots to Reach the Nations
    • “In the coronavirus, God is loosening the roots of settled Christians all over the world to make them free for something new and radical and to send them with the gospel of Christ to the unreached peoples of the world.”

Piper closes the small (5″ x 7″ with 112 pages), quick read with a prayer. The back of the book also includes footnotes and a Scripture index which, being a John Piper book, is filled with many, many Scripture references used in the book.

Some people may see just the title of this book and assume his message is no more than the second answer above, “sending specific divine judgments” since that tends to be a common refrain heard from some pulpits when bad things happen in our world. That would be a wrong assumption. There is far more thought and biblical teaching put into this text than that simple, single, partially true answer.

The closing chapter’s prayer will bring home Piper’s passion on this subject. The final paragraph of that 2-page prayer says: “Stretch forth your hand in great awakening for the sake of this perishing world. Let the terrible words of Revelation not be spoken over this generation: ‘Yet still they did not repent.’ As you have stricken bodies, strike now the slumbering souls. Forbid that they would remain asleep in the darkness of pride and unbelief. In your great mercy, say to these bones, ‘Live!’ And bring the hearts and lives of millions into alignment with the infinite worth of Jesus.” Amen.

Please take the few hours it will require and read the free book Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper. If I haven’t convinced you, perhaps the brief intro from John Piper in the video below will.

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