Mark Horne Needs to Chill Out about John Piper’s Veteran’s Day Post

Posted: November 12, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in American History, Christ & Culture, From the Heart, History
Tags: , ,

I think Horne should have heeded his suspicions in his first words, “Perhaps I’m over-reacting”. Read Piper’s brief post: http://desiringgod.org/blog/posts/thankful-they-embraced-the-risk

And then compare with Horne’s reaction. You woulda thunk Piper gave an apologetic for WWI from Horne’s response. He honestly sounds like he is ranting and raving and it is way out of bounds for him to take it out on Piper. Piper was merely giving a brief historical background of how we got Veterans Day, something that we can all benefit from in a historically illiterate society. Piper’s last words show proper empathy with the soldier,

“There have been agonizing choices the veterans have had to make. May they (and we all) turn to the cross of Christ for the final resolution of what we have done. I am thankful they embraced the risk”

This simple empathy– acknowledging complexities, horrors, and sacrifice, without seeking to pretend to know such plight firsthand, nor qualify thanks according to one’s notions of just war contrasts Horne’s tone:

“There may be a time and situation in which to thank veterans for defending our freedoms. When someone from Mexico or Canada tries to invade and we have to rise to the defense of the homeland, it would be totally appropriate.  But rather than thanking them, we usually need to tell them how glad we are that they survived the attack on freedom that regularly comes from our overlords and their volunteer cheerleaders in the Church of King Jesus.”

These qualifications on when to either thank veterans or inform them of the corrupt system that placed them there makes Horne sound like an arrogant, ungrateful elitist. BTW, the only scenario he provides as meeting his litmus test for thanksgiving would deny gratitude to just about everyone who has died in battle.  Mr. Horne simply needs to say, “Thank You”, and instead reserve his vitriol for the corrupt government if he is so convinced. Don’t deny thanks to our vets because you disagree with Wilson’s foreign policy or that they happened to lay their life down in a battle that didn’t involve Canada or Mexico.

Piper wrote a very brief piece expressing his personal thanks. Piper is well aware of the complexities, as is most of the readership, and the veterans themselves. Our vets don’t need a lecture on just war theory or be enlightened by the profound news that the poweres that be may have missed the mark in foreign policy. Horne’s expose of failed foreign policy and pointers on when to give thanks to vets fails my litmus test for the decency that is required on this day for our vets. Horne intends to be prophetic, but the weary soldier simply needs our quiet empathy.

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Comments
  1. Scott Kistler says:

    Rick, I think that you’re right: it’s the wrong tone for Veterans’ Day and he probably should have written it, waited a few days, and started it with something like “I want to agree with much that Piper wrote and express my admiration for veterans. But there’s something in Piper’s approach that shows some of our fallacies in the way that we think about these things…”

    I think that Horne probably exploded in frustration because the way that we talk about the military, both in society in general and in Christian circles, seems to have become so devoid of thought. I tried to wrestle with that a bit in this post (http://temporachristiana.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/dying-for-our-freedom/), where I commented on a Facebook post going around came this close to putting the sacrifices of Christ and American soldiers on the same level.

    This was a point where I thought Horne was really making a good point:

    “How come the Apostle Paul never singled out veterans in any one of his letters? Why not? He certainly enjoyed the benefits of Roman authority and he did say that we should pray for rulers. But we don’t find that manifesting as anything like the sentiments we find expressed on Veterans Day.

    And when you disagree with this level of public idolatry, you are commonly treated as if you are violating the lesson learned from the Gospels that it is permissible to be a soldier. The entire intellectual environment of American Christianity is insane. We have polarized the options so that no rational person can survive.”

    Veterans Day was a bad day to blow off steam in the way that he did. But the way that we think, or don’t think, about this is something that Christians probably needs careful consideration (along with about 8 million other things that we need to think more clearly about).

    How would you approach Horne’s point about “idolatry”? (That’s a stronger word than I would use, especially since God’s been showing me enough political/social/cultural idols that I need to turn from that I want to be careful before calling other people idolaters.)

    • Scott, I appreciate your feedback on this, very helpful. Horne makes good points, but airing them out on the one day we are to offer unqualified thanks for those who put their lives on the line on behalf of the state (sinful as all parties are) was poor timing. Though he wasn’t attacking Piper per se, Horne seems to have used Piper’s brief post as the launching pad for his own frustration on the matter. Discussing politics, questioning the validity of holidays, and offering qualifiers on when a war merits our support of soldiers are all touch subjects. I applaud Horne’s boldness and conviction.

      I think many Christian do conflate their faith with the affairs of the state in a way that is idolatrous and dangerous. I don’t think Piper was doing that. Piper is the ana-baptist type who says to vote as if you’re not voting, the same guy who said he couldn’t vote for Obama or McCain in good conscience. Piper rails against the American dream and is one of the most globally minded pastors I have seen. He hates ethnocentricity and has been open about the evils of our country in the issue of race relations and slavery. Piper was only referring to WWI to explain the origin of the holiday and encourages soldiers and citizens alike to seek Christ. Horne should have not used Piper’s post as a launching pad, not offer these words on Veterans Day. He should have simply written a piece sharing his own convictions and concerns.

      While it is idolatrous to conflate our faith with the state in an unthinking manner, I think it can be equally sinful when you bring unnecessary controversy at the expense of our vets when you state that our vets should only be thanked if they fought against an invading Mexico or Canada.

      • Mark says:

        Rick, sorry it took me so long, but I decided you were right. I simply deleted the post. Too ranty. And it left a wrong impression, it seems.

      • Mr. Horne, I hope you would write some more on the issues you raised. My buddies have said that you raised some valid points for Christians to think through. I look forward to following your blog and have even purchased one of your books.

  2. Mark says:

    Thanks. But the fact that Piper wrote something that triggered a response got entangled with the idea that I was responding particularly to him. I’ve both agreed and disagree with Piper in the past, but he wasn’t really meant to be the target (there was a lot of other stuff going on that I was responding to…).

    So some time I’ll address these issues in a way that focuses on them and doesn’t give the impression I am focussing on a person.

    (Also, I really am not sure I should respond to a ruling class with all the invective that I did. I need to think about that some more.)

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