Incorrect Explanation #23749 for the Bridge Collapse

I’ll preface this by saying I know people have different ways of grieving.

As of now, there’s no official explanation for the Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis. And the most rational explanation is poor infrastructure.

But how sad that some people believe the following and others encourage it (emphases mine):

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old) and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed “Please don’t let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.” When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.

Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.

(Thanks to GuyIncognito and Michael for the link)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Bridge Collapse, Minneapolis, John Piper, God, Christian, Jesus[/tags]

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Wow, that kind of bullshit is exactly what Richard Dawkins is talking about when he says that religious indoctrination is child abuse. How horrible to teach a child garbage like that.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    That’s exactly why we shouldn’t try to cure AIDS, or give your kids the HPV shot, because disease, and bridges collapsing, are God’s way of punishing the wicked. You should not be allowed to sin without fear.

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  • http://misanthropic-bastard.blogspot.com/ Rasputin

    I have never understood this whole thing of being comforted by the notion that god has a plan. If god has a plan and it involves people dying then god wants people dead. If he didn’t want them dead they wouldn’t die. He can do that, he’s god. So first of all, your god likes to kill people and you’re okay with that? Second of all, if it’s someone I know and care about that god wants dead, then fuck him.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Oh. My. God.

    I hope that above quote is some sort of sick joke. Otherwise I second Rasputin.

  • Secretary

    In the old days a God could be blame for anything that happen to ones self or others or anything anywhere. It is either the “Will of God” or ” Only God Knows” so as not to question God. A hundred years ago the first heart attack killed you. Today it could the 4th or 5th that kills you, dead. Once if a building fell down either from poor workmanship or age or Mother Nature it was the “Will of God”. I seems to remember that all things do wear out, either from age or being used to many times. The Goldern Gate Bridge will one day need to be replace or it too will fall. The tallest building anywhere will one day come down either by the hand of man or that of Mother Nature. I also remember that the human body also wears out even with other people replacement parts.
    I guess it is human nature to think up if a bridge collapse then it must have been the “Will of God”, problem is God did not build the bridge so why would God destory it in such a crude way. A Bolt of Lighting has always work in the past. A least it did for THOR.

    Secretary

  • Darfasti

    I suppose if god is willing to have his son tortured and killed for no good reason, I shouldn’t feel surprised if he kills a bunch of random people to basically tell the rest “Behave.”

    Ah, the god of “love.”

  • Darren

    Ugh. That is just sickening.

  • Tim D.

    I never did like that term, “God-fearing.” Why do you have to fear him to believe in him? A relationship with God is portrayed in the media as an endeavor of love….but how can you love something you fear?

    It seems there are some people who will take whichever explanation most closely supports their own agenda under the guise of “gospel truth.”

  • http://suttsteve.ueuo.com Steve Sutton

    When the bleep are people going to grow up? No god was responsible for the collapse or was sending anyone a bleeping message. The bridge just collapsed. That’s all.

  • Jonas Green

    When the bleep are people going to grow up? No god was responsible for the collapse or was sending anyone a bleeping message.

    Yeah, when I first say Friendly Atheists’s blog on the bridge collapse I wondered where the ads at the top of his page came from. The link to the Pastor’s blog where he talked about reading Luke something that night didn’t make any sense to me. — Is it just that I wasn’t born Christian, or more than that the two stories seemed incredibly unrelated.

    In the Luke story, Pilote intentionally slew several rebels, in the bridge collapse people were just unlucky wrong place wrong time. Hmm maybe we could repair the damaged bridges.

  • http://starseyer.blogspot.com Mikel

    Uh….that just makes me feel ill…Religious indoctrination as child abuse, indeed.

  • http://www.runicfire.net ansuzmannaz

    Hello. I am new here, though I’ve been reading for a while. Nice to meet you all.

    I didn’t find any place I could reply on the article, but I wish I could’ve asked this: “You say a sin is against god is a thousand times greater than a sin against man. If god’s so great, shouldn’t it be a thousand times more difficult to piss him off?”

    As for what Tim D. says… I personally find the encouraged love/fear relationship with a diety to be warped. If you had a loving and fearful relationship with a human that would be an abusive relationship. But if it’s a god, somehow it is the greatest holiness that can be.

  • James

    The more I read that article/blog entry/whatever, the more I’m pissed off at this guy.

    He takes the blame of what happened on himself as if he was the one that designed, built, and declared it was ok to cross every damned day it was in existance. I could see this if someone he knew or someone in his family were lost in it. But without looking around the site more, it sounds like he lost no one, just that the church offices were within blocks of the site.

    And to poison an 11 year old child with the “God is great, he does everything, he has a reason for everything, he cannot be understood by man” meme. The man should be arrested for child abuse, plain and simple.

  • Richard Wade

    The bridge collapsed for a mundane reason. It was neglected in its maintenance. Many people cannot accept that death happens for stupid, unimportant, mundane reasons. Bridges are big symbols to us. They carry us over barriers of danger and fear, to places we cannot see. People see their faith as a bridge to “over there.” So this man made the association.

    I can only feel sorry for this man. He’s trying to shore up the collapsing of his bridge, his faith, to brace it with cliche rationalizations that he was taught by his parents. He abdicates his adulthood right in front of his daughter, reducing himself to her level. That’s not what she needs. She needs an adult who can take responsibility for the things that happen around them. Responsibility means the ability to respond, not the blame. Responsibility is an adult concept; blame is a child’s concept. But what he tells her is not child abuse, it’s multiple generational victimization by a primitive world view. He’s a victim too. He’s doing what he was taught to do. It is almost impossible for him to not do it.

    Most people can take the responsibility for the collapsing of their car, their marriage and their business, but they pass life, death and bridges to the jurisdiction of God. Suddenly this man, who is probably a very responsible adult in other areas of his life, when confronted with the inescapable honesty of his little girl’s questions of why do such things happen, falls back on his training to “be as a little child” and hands his ability to respond to life, death and neglected bridges to his invisible surrogate parent. But he can’t help it. He was brought up that way. Don’t be angry with him any more than you can be angry with his beloved little girl. Coax him, or at least her toward accepting the ability to respond to her life.

  • Tim D.

    And to poison an 11 year old child with the “God is great, he does everything, he has a reason for everything, he cannot be understood by man” meme. The man should be arrested for child abuse, plain and simple.

    The worst part of this particular problem is–in my experience–that harsh criticism of their methodologies only empowers them further. That’s part of why I so admire Hemant’s “friendly atheist” approach; if the other party overreacts and tries to call him a devil-worshipper or something, then anyone else who is watching (in this case, countless folks across the internet) will see which one of them is rational and which one is not.

    And that, in my humble opinion, is another important aspect of life: When you’re talking to a reasonable person, the object of the conversation is to at least open his/her eyes to the possibility of respecting your ideology (not adopting it, per se, but respecting it). When you’re talking to an insane person, or an irrational person, the idea is to act sane and reasonable yourself, and let him or her show the world that he/she is a complete basket case–simply put, “give ‘em enough rope.” There will always be insane people out there who will try to emulate that person’s behavior, but hopefully the vast majority will be reasonable.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    John Piper is a well known Calvinist preacher in conservative Christian circles. There are also a lot of Christians (such as myself) who strongly disagree with his extremist theology. Already the Christian blogosphere is reacting negatively to Piper’s comments as well. This is not the only Christian response to the tragedy and you atheists are not alone in your distaste for Piper’s comments.

  • Maria

    John Piper is a well known Calvinist preacher in conservative Christian circles. There are also a lot of Christians (such as myself) who strongly disagree with his extremist theology. Already the Christian blogosphere is reacting negatively to Piper’s comments as well. This is not the only Christian response to the tragedy and you atheists are not alone in your distaste for Piper’s comments.

    good to see :)

  • Calvin Moore

    Question: If a Christian says, “I believe the Bible and the Bible tells a Christian to indoctrinate–”put doctine into”– our children” but does not do just that, would you not call him a hypocrite? It seems to me that either way a Christian acts he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. The LEAST someone could admit is that Piper is being conistent (and I strongly suggest reading the entire post, not just the excerpted pieced posted here) with what he says he believes to be true. Even the more, while the idea of indoctrination is distasteful to many who frequent this site, it is only considered abuse because you do not agree with it. If one indoctrinates a child in the belief that there is no God, which I believe to be incorrect and dangerous, I would not call it child abuse. I would call it foolish. (As a matter of fact, indoctrination is what Dawkins sets out to do in “The God Delusion”–and that is CLEARLY stated from the outset.) We can disagree on it all day long. I am fine with that. In fact I welcome it. But, the moment a person says, “I believe this about the Bible,” but does not LIVE it, this site and others like it will be the first to cry foul. Case in point, if I say, “I believe God says we are not to have sex outside of marriage,” and I participate in it, would you not call me a hypocrite? Would you not hold me up as yet another example of a Christian not practicing what he preaches? Here is my ultimate point, agree with him or not, agree with Christianity or not, agree with the Bible or not, Piper is being consistent with what he believes. And when you call him WRONG or SICKENING, what are you measuring this against save for personal distaste, rather than an overarching litmus for whether his indoctrination is right or wrong? I know many will not agree with me on this, but I think it is food for thought. Give me feedback and something to chew on myself. YHWH’s pax.

    Note: While I do not necessarily agree with all of Piper’s theology or with his ultimate interpretation of the bridge collapse, my argument is that he is CONSISTENT in his belief and that indoctrination is not incorrect, but that you disagree with the indoctrination of children in the tenents of religion–especially Reformed theology.

  • Calvin Moore

    Deleted by author.

  • http://www.christiansontheclock.org Matt L

    I’ve seen many posts like this on this blog, about “crazy mean Christian says or does ‘X”,” but I’m not sure how “friendly” that is, or what the goal is.

    There will always be people who pervert (what I believe to be) the word of God, saying and doing all kinds of things. If the point of these posts are to prove that Christians aren’t as perfect as others believe that Christians believe they think they are, then you win… Christians will always sin and look like complete idiots, but that has nothing to do with disproving the existence of God. The two are mutually exclusive events.

    God watches while people thumb their nose at him, AND while people that supposedly know the truth do even worse. I don’t understand how he can be so merciful but that gives me hope because I wouldn’t last long otherwise.

    The message of the gospel is in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    The message of the gospel is not “become a Christian so you can be perfect and judge people” The common meme is that Christians say these things (I even supported that at a time), but it’s not true for the vast majority I’ve met.

    Don’t get me wrong – I like the accountability this blog brings and think we need it, but I’d like to get back to some of the better flagship content you had that made this blog so good, and move away from the “dopey Christian” pieces. Those people aren’t reading this blog anyway (unfortunately).

  • Greg Peterson

    What Piper wrote is intirely consistent with the “Word of God.” People who reject what comes out of “revelation” in favor of reason and compassion are stepping away from orthodox Christianity. Keep stepping. Just a little farther now. I love Piper–he’s as good as anyone at depicting just how corrupt and wicked Christianity actually is. When I heard a sermon very like this one on KKMS, the Twin Cities’ Christian talk radio station, on Saturday, I literally got sick. I began to gag. How wonderful it is in a world with natural causation, even random causation, rather than having to believe that some perverted egomaniacal invisible superbeing is behind such tragedies. On the other hand, I shed tears of pride and admiration that some of neighbors lept into the water to rescue strangers. Human agency came out looking pretty good in those cases. God–not so much.

  • Steven Carr

    Mike C. might disagree with John Piper, but Piper is only reflecting the values of Luke 13.

    ‘Repent or perish’ said Jesus (allegedly)

    Who can blame followers of Jesus for following Jesus?

  • http://www.myspace.com/timandjeffrey Tim D.

    There will always be people who pervert (what I believe to be) the word of God, saying and doing all kinds of things. If the point of these posts are to prove that Christians aren’t as perfect as others believe that Christians believe they think they are, then you win… Christians will always sin and look like complete idiots, but that has nothing to do with disproving the existence of God. The two are mutually exclusive events.

    I can’t speak for Hemant (as I obviously don’t know what he’s thinking), but when I post atrocities relating to Christianity, it’s to show a counterexample to the oft-cited argument that one has to be Christian to have good morals (or, in some cases, that all Christians are moral people simply by virtue of being Christian).

    One of my long-held beefs with religious fanatics is that they seem to think that atheists (or others of actual faith) are immoral. The truth of the matter is that, in my experience, atheists seem to get their morals from a combination of logic and emotion, while Christians get their morals straight from the Bible, no questions asked (I know some people will disagree with this, but the reason I say it is, the most-cited answer to the question of “Why is that wrong?” tends to be, “The Bible says so”). For example, how I came to the belief that murder is ‘wrong’ is based on the idea of treating other people as an extension of myself, an idea I feel in my heart is right (this is not based on any logical deduction or religious belief, it’s simply what I feel); if I wouldn’t want that person to murder me, thus extinguishing my hard-earned experience, then I wouldn’t do that to the other person. Many Christians believe the same way, but in my experience, it seems to be that they come to the logical deduction phase after the fact; the Bible tells them that murder is wrong, and they’re content with that; the explanation comes later.

    Which really isn’t that bad; we both arrive at the same basic conclusions for the most part (though there are obvious differences); the trouble starts when people try to say that values start with the Bible and can’t come from any other source, which means that a person without belief in the Bible can’t possibly have those same morals. Too many people of faith, I think, are of the belief that if it appears in the Bible, then it comes from the Bible.

    The LEAST someone could admit is that Piper is being conistent (and I strongly suggest reading the entire post, not just the excerpted pieced posted here) with what he says he believes to be true. Even the more, while the idea of indoctrination is distasteful to many who frequent this site, it is only considered abuse because you do not agree with it.

    On that note, I think it’s interesting that we label Muslim extremists as “insane” or “evil” based solely on the fact that what is “good” and “holy” to them is so different than what’s “good” or “holy” to Christianity. Muslim faith as I understand it advocates the idea that, if you die in defense/promulgation of your religion, no matter how many innocent people you hurt (because noone is innocent if they don’t believe in Allah), then you automatically go to heaven. I think that is a horrible and wrong belief, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it’s a religious belief–in this case, religion is only the vehicle that carries the real problem.

    For the record, though….the reason I disagree with such ideologies has nothing to do with consistency and whatnot–rather, it has to do with the fact that I believe it’s a hateful message, and also a disturbing one (see my example of “loving and fearing God”).

    Understand that I’m not against the idea of religious doctrine; I believe that many people find inspiration in it, and I see no harm in that (I have personally found inspiration in completely fictional characters, be they from a movie, video game, or book). However, I fear that extreme or hate-mongering ideologies will try to wedge themselves into our society under the guise of religious doctrine. For this reason, I believe in holding people who say things like what that guy said in the blog post accountable for their words; we need to hold people accountable for doing terrible things, whether they’re religious in nature or not. I think the focus should be not on the fact that the person in question is using religion to spread his beliefs, but that he is spreading hateful ideologies. I think if we approached it on this level, more religious people would be on board; so often, religious folks seem alienated by the discussion of religion in conjunction with hate-mongering, as they seem to think that the target is religion itself. I wish more atheists would, as Hemant has done, make it clear that destroying religion is not their intent.

  • Calvin Moore

    …I fear that extreme or hate-mongering ideologies will try to wedge themselves into our society under the guise of religious doctrine. For this reason, I believe in holding people who say things like what that guy said in the blog post accountable for their words; we need to hold people accountable for doing terrible things, whether they’re religious in nature or not.

    Hate-mongering. I think that’s a rather strong word. While I disagree with Muslims and the like, I can hardly say I’m surprised by the things they do because of their indoctrination. I call them “evil” not in that they are following their faith as best they know how, but rather in that Islam disagrees with the words of Jesus. However, to say that Piper’s words are “hateful” or “hate-mongering” I’m not exactly sure where you’re seeing that. Piper is not being hateful. He’s agreeing with what he believes Scripture teaches. Scripture teaches that God is sovereign and answers to no one, whether we disagree with His actions or not. Scripture is rife with people disagreeing with God’s actions. This is no different than a math teacher agreeing with 2 + 2 = 4 in a system of ten. He is simply in agreement. However, as none of us live in an absolute monarchy, it is difficult for us to understand the nature of sovereignty, especially on the level of God’s sovereignty.

    I wish more atheists would, as Hemant has done, make it clear that destroying religion is not their intent.

    I too wish more people would realize this. However, as long as the main spokespeople for atheism (i.e. Sam Harris and richard Dawkins) are antagonistic and people here champion them as the saviors of the world from religious thought, it will be difficult to see the friendly side of atheism. I understand that atheists feel persecuted, and their writings and the teasing here is reactionary to that. On the flip side, Christians feel persecuted also. Some might argue that because Christians are in the majority and atheists in the minority, the persecution Christians experience is invalidated. We, however do not use this argument when it comes to the Nazi minority persecuting the Jewish majority or the white minority on plantations beating and raping the black majority. Furthermore, the Islamic majority in Muslim countries constantly persecute Christians. The atheistic majority in China persecutes, jails, and systematically murders Christians every day. All this to say, many here align themselves with those who are hostile to religion in general, Christianity in particular (though, to be fair, I have seen news slices looking at other religions), thus communicating that while they are “friendly” in theory, they are not friendly in practice. I do not claim you are without morals. I do not think you are stupid. I do not think you are worthless. I simply think you are wrong. That is said with as much hatred as a math teacher telling a student he has gotten his sums wrong. We can dialogue about it. But, please don’t pretend to not be hostile towards religion when this site and so many like them are clearly hostile, just as I do not pretend that a majority of Christians are hostile to the idea of atheism.

  • http://www.fireandknowledge.org Josh S.

    The man should be arrested for child abuse, plain and simple.

    It’s plain and simple to believe John Piper should be arrested for teaching his child something he believes? It sounds like you could use a “friendly atheist” course.

  • http://www.myspace.com/timandjeffrey Tim D.

    @ Calvin:

    I went back and re-read the original blog post, and I suppose I can see where you’re coming from; perhaps the term “hate-mongering” in this context isn’t necessarily accurate. Not to divert responsibility from myself, but I would attribute that to my feelings about the “love/fear” relationship with God that is portrayed in the media (see my earlier post). More accurately, I attribute it to the shock I feel when I hear someone say that. If I may once again “drudge up” my perspective on such a relationship, I don’t feel it’s any different than battered wife syndrome. On that, I feel we can reach a respectful disagreement.

    On a slightly different note, though, I will say that I don’t exactly agree with the idea that teaching children interpretations of religious ideologies is “child abuse,” no matter how harsh those beliefs might be. What I do consider to be child abuse is when a parent actually abuses their child (go figure) in an attempt to instill religious belief (basically, inflicting any manner of punishment that legally qualifies as child abuse). That is what I specifically had in mind when I was talking about hiding terrible actions behind religion; I don’t think there is any excuse for child abuse, whether it’s religious in nature or otherwise.

    My strongest case for this is actually Hemant, of all people; he says he was raised in a very religious family (going by what I read in his book), and yet he was able to make his own decision to leave his faith and become an atheist (much like I was). He was exposed to very in-depth religious sentiments left and right (though not fanatic or abusive), and yet he hasn’t become a hate-mongering religious fanatic. I believe it’s very possibly for a child to grow up in an even harsher religious environment than that, and still arrive at an educated conclusion about his or her faith (be it the same choice his/her parents made, or something else entirely, like atheism), so exposing one’s child to religious beliefs doesn’t really constitute “abuse” in my book; in fact, it might be a good thing in the long run, even if the child doesn’t turn out to be of the same faith–at least then, he or she will have some knowledge about religion, and won’t have to choose between the popular interpretations so often seen in popular religious (or non-religious) literature.

    I also find truth in the (correct me if I’m wrong) 5th Commandment, “Honor Thy Mother and Father.” I believe that the very essence of freedom of religion is exemplified by keeping the government out of personal religious matters; as long as there is no physical or mental abuse taking place (examples include child beating, torturing, etc.), I don’t see much wrong with exposing one’s children to religious ideologies; I believe the very foundation of society is that the child is exposed to the parents’ limitations until he or she comes of age, and then he/she is allowed to leave home and create their own life, free to discard or carry on their parents’ religious legacy as they please.

  • Spiderpig

    I think the reference to Luke was not about Pilate’s murder of the worshippers, rather the tower of Siloam which fell down and killed people. (although parallels are drawn between the two in that both groups of people were killed suddenly and without warning)

    Piper’s attitude can be easily misinterpreted and I know that when I read that passage the unspoken theology which Piper uses to support his statement to his daughter is open to wide misinterpretation. He speaks honestly about his own personal response, though, and I think it would be fair to say that this conversation would have been preceeded by an evening of great emotional pain and mourning for those affected by the tragedy. The Christian does not revel in it. He does not enjoy “judgement”: it makes him quake in fear. But Piper acknowledges what he believes to be true about it, rather than placating the child with petty non-answers like “sometimes bad things just happen”. The response to a tragedy is for the living, because it is too late for the dead, after all.

    I was challenged by the thinking behind this response, and I would have said it was important to more roundly explain his thinking as he does here:

    Unless You Repent…
    There is a provocative sermon title right there!

    (if you click on “listen”, the sermon includes more qualifiers which help with not misunderstanding the message. e.g. from the notes, you might think he didn’t care about AIDS when in fact he cares greatly about AIDS”

    The basis of his teaching is that human beings are rebellious sinners not accepting God’s sovereignty, choosing to reject him and everything he stands for. Because of the grievous nature of this rebellion (made even more grievous by the sheer perfection of God) humans invite justice upon themselves every day, every minute.

    Piper’s belief is that it is by God’s grace that we are given innumerable second chances every day we survive, to repent and return to God’s authority.

    Therefore, Piper says, we should not be surprised when people are taken, suddenly, utterly. (After all, everyone dies. Is unexpected death such a travesty in light of this?) Rather we should be surprised that we have managed to escape similar destruction ourselves for this long, if what the bible says about God is true. The claim is that greater than God’s judgement is his mercy. But mercy can only be understood in light of judgement. (you don’t enjoy forgiveness until you realise what penalty you were saved from)

    Piper, as a Christian, believes that we are eternal beings, and informing his perspective is this quote of Jesus: “Do not fear what kills the body and after that can do nothing. Fear what can cast both soul and body into hell” (Luke 12:4–5). In his sermon response to this, it makes me think that maybe John Piper cares a lot more about us than we do for him!

    Understanding the biblical concept of heaven and hell is something that can only be approached in the light of understanding the character of God as it is set forth in the bible, I think. Mythology, human imagination, hearsay all contribute to what we think we understand about God.

    I know that many people reject “God” on the basis of what they think they understand about him. In the same way, many people become Christians (or theists of some description) based on equally shaky justifications.

    Some posts in this thread suggest to me that many atheists are going to town on their own concept of God, rather than the one Piper believes in.

    I hope this does not come across as a blind defence of Piper’s thinking. All I am suggesting is that readers who can spare the time take a look and listen to the article above may find they understand the Christian perspective (as espoused by Piper) a lot better. May it be of use to you in the interests of the pursuit of truth.

  • http://www.novuslumen.net jeremy bouma

    As a follower of the teachings and way of Jesus, I, like you all, are disturbed that John Piper would exploit such a tragedy. I think his comments are silly and wretched and severely distort the character of God.

    I find it very odd that Piper would think there was some special message for the Twin Cities through Luke 13:1-9. When I read this I thought, “This is what God want’s to say to Minneapolis? If Jesus was walking around the twisted metal jutting from the ends of the bridge, wading into the Mississippi around the the chunks of concrete, and moving through the throngs of injured THIS is what he would say in the midst of this gut wrenching scene? Are you kidding me?

    For me, there is a wonderfully instructive story in the Scriptures that describes a scene that Jesus encountered. Lazarus, “the one [Jesus] cared for” was sick. Jesus didn’t go immediately, when he was told, and when he later went to Lazarus’ house he was met by Martha who was beside her self and angry Jesus had not come sooner. And when he left her and entered the village, Jesus was met by Mary. John writes, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

    And then he wept.

    When Jesus encountered the scene of emotional chaos, saw the emotionally fragile state of Mary and felt the lament of Lazarus’ friends over his death, Jesus’ soul was overcome by the moment and in a very authentically human response Jesus cried. He had no words when he stepped into the confusion of the moment. Instead he simply sat with Mary and the Jews and joined in their weeping.

    And I can’t help to think Jesus would have responded in the same way, not with a lecture or scroll full of words about sin and instructions on Minnesotans eternal destiny, but rather with the raw human response of tears and embrace.

    May we Christians simply join in with the Minnesota community and grieve. May we express gritty, earthy, human emotion and weep. May we simply be present, as a human, and leave the bumper sticker theology for another day.

    -jeremy

  • inheritorofheaven

    I do find it interesting that you did not quote the scripture he was teaching from (though you did provide the link…thanks for that) and also did not mention his thoughts from the rest of the post. I do not necessarily agree with all of Piper’s comments but from a Christian perspective, death is not a problem for God. Our eternal separation from him is what he is concerned about. As Christians we believe that God wants all to be saved (in other words have an eternal relationship with him) we do say the same thing Jesus first preached. Repent (turn to God and away from your idolatry, and selfishness), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. My wife prayed that only Christians died (she first prayed that no one had died but this was after reports that some had perished) during that collapse because they would finally be with Jesus and that others would still have time to come to know him as a result of being saved from this disaster. My perspective (and Jesus’ perspective from Piper’s quoted scripture) is that we are all terminal. So once our time is up, then were will we be? I know I will be eternally with God, given a new imperishable body, and allowed to reign with him in a renewed earth. My job until that time is to love God and love people in the best way I can.

  • http://www.myspace.com/timandjeffrey Tim D.

    Not to bash anyone else’s faith here (as you have, I am simply stating my beliefs), but I believe only one thing about the afterlife: I believe that I don’t know what awaits me in the afterlife. Therefore, I follow my “gut” instinct about things that happen in this life. I don’t allow that belief to get in the way of my relationships with other people (the singer in my band is a Christian, and he really believes in his faith, yet we get along very well). The only time religion really offends me is when someone uses it as a reason to distance themselves from me, or sets it as a “condition” for my interaction with them. I treat others with respect, and while I don’t really expect the same back from them (if I did, I’d be disappointed a lot, for obvious reasons), I am a bit taken back when people use this talk of “being damned” to distance themselves from me.

    For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll use a more specific example; I was watching TBN the other day (that’s Trinity Broadcast Network), and Kirk Cameron was talking about religion. He was pleading–desperately, I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, but he seemed desperate–with viewers to be more aggressive in converting family members. He actually said one thing that struck me in a very negative way; he said (and this is not an exact quote, but it’s close), “We can’t use the excuse that, ‘well, I’m going to love them anyway.’ How can we love someone, if we’re not trying to save them from eternal damnation? How can we say we love someone if we’re not trying to save them from hell?”

    That offended me, because it says my beliefs are an “excuse.” My belief is that religion is a personal choice, and that everyone should be able to believe whatever they want, no matter how offensive (in this case, I respect Kirk Cameron’s ability to believe what he does, as offensive as it is–I don’t expect anyone to take him off the air for saying it, is what I mean). I believe he should be able to have his faith and speak it. However, I disagree with the way he uses Christianity as a wedge between people; he teaches the ideology that, if you can’t convert someone peacefully, you need to find other ways to do it. He creates conflict with his faith, and he does it knowingly; and other people do the same, whether it’s under his influence or on their own altogether. THAT offends me.

    Now, I understand that someone else will probably say, “Your ability to believe the way you do offends HIS beliefs,” because Christians are interested in “saving” everybody. To that I say this: Your right as an American is to believe whatever you want to believe, free of government intervention. Your right is NOT to have to government ENFORCE your faith; if one person uses faith to encroach on another’s peaceful enjoyment of life, then I believe that person is wrong.

  • Pingback: novus•lumen | living in the tension of an emerging faith and postmodern America » Blog Archive » A Christian Response To Tragedy & Evil

  • AnonyMouse

    Praise God! In His infinite mercies He has shown unto John Piper the error of his ways… by killing thirteen innocents! I hope He made sure they were saved first.


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