John Piper’s Former Church Promotes Heretic Who Denies Penal Substitution in the Name of “Wokeness”


We’ve been warning you over and over that the “woke church” movement has bred an entirely new gospel altogether — one that is not Christocentric and does not adhere to the essential dogmas of the faith. While many of the proponents of the “woke” social justice movement claim wokeness as a “gospel issue,” the redefinition of the gospel into a perpetual system of self-guilt and self-atonement is the core of the problem.

Two of the primary agitators of the woke church movement are Thabiti Anyabwile and Jemar Tisby — both of whom have asserted that atonement for past racism lies in the works-righteousness of current white folks. In other words, they have made the gospel into an almost Roman Catholic-like system of perpetual penance. It is, at its logical core, a denial of the doctrine of penal substitution — that Christ alone died in the place of sinners and completely satisfied the wrath of God.

The doctrine of penal substitution is one of the most foundational doctrines of the faith. Soteriologically speaking, there is no Christianity without penal substitution. Yet, in the name of being “woke” and serving up social justice, John Piper’s former church, Bethlehem Baptist, promotes this heresy. While Thabiti Anyabwile and Jemar Tisby would both verbally deny that they are opposed to the doctrine of penal substitution, one author whose book is promoted there outright denies it.

Dominique Gilliard is the author of the book you see in the picture above on display at Bethlehem Baptist Church titled Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores. The book essentially wades through Paul’s epistles with a focus on deconstructing the doctrine of penal substitution and then attempting to prove that this doctrine is the cause of all racial injustices in America.

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In the book, Gilliard argues “Penal substitution is a reductionist theory that forsakes the embodied life, ministry, and relationships of Jesus, reducing Christ’s body to punitive surrogacy,” and from this argument, he concludes, “Rather than supporting a system that merely punishes, the church must pursue a justice system that builds community, affirms human dignity, and seeks God’s shalom.”

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While this heresy is on display, being strongly promoted by the church John Piper once pastored, the social justice warriors are championing this movement as though it’s the greatest thing ever to hit the Church. In the tweet below, you can see the librarian at Bethlehem Baptist, Lydia Arant — who prides herself on being a champion of social justice — praising the works and the team that put together the promotion above. Of course, the promotion included a swath of other social justice heretics too, including Jemar Tisby and Jackie Hill Perry.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that those who are associated with outlets such as The Gospel Coalition and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission are continuing to move to the left — however, a sign that churches are being completely given over to a false gospel is when they begin promoting heretics who deny the fundamental doctrines of the faith in order to promote an agenda of wokeness. This is more than listening to other people’s perspective or just trying to understand them. It’s even more than sharing the stage with these people at a mutual event or conference. This is a church that is selling this false gospel within its own doors and not being opposed by anyone there.

By the way, did you know Reformation Charlotte has a Christian gear and apparel store? Check it out at

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