In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, people started using the slogan “Boston Strong.” It’s a bit of silly twaddle, in my view; after all, the people of Boston are no stronger than people anywhere else (this is the sort of provincial self-congratulation that I find quite annoying, like when a politician says he opposes some idea because it conflicts with “Michigan values” or some such rot). But famous Baptist preacher John Piper has another reason for not liking it:
ABC’s evening news now has an “America Strong” segment, and after the marathon bombings Bostonians started saying “Boston strong.” Instead of proclaiming strength should we be acknowledging our human weakness apart from God?
Whenever the strength of God is not recognized as the source of our strength, we are breaking the First Commandment: Do not have any gods before me. If “Boston strong” or “America strong” is God-neglecting, God-ignoring, God-minimizing, human-exalting, city-exalting, nation-exalting, it’s evil. That’s the main problem in America today: The absence of God in most spheres of life is perceived to be normal, and even Christians feel it as normal—which is why absorbing the culture all around us and its priorities is so dangerous.
If there’s anything more annoying than believing that people in one location are stronger than another — “New Yorkers will get over 9/11 because they’re tough, hardy people” — it’s the idea that everyone is weak and incapable of doing anything without the help of a non-existent god.
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