The Cross at Ground Zero

Although I did not want to dwell too much on the 9/11 ten year anniversary, the occasion brought out some fascinating stories that are worth our reflection, even though the anniversary is behind us.  Like this one, on the Cross at Ground Zero:

The shape was oddly identifiable in the blasted wreckage of the World Trade Center, standing upright amid beams bent like fork tines and jagged, pagan-seeming tridents. A grief-exhausted excavator named Frank Silecchia found it on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the terrorist attacks. A few days later, he spoke to a Franciscan priest named Father Brian Jordan, who was blessing remains at Ground Zero.

“Father, you want to see God’s House?” he asked. “Look over there.”

Father Brian peered through the fields of shredded metal. “What am I looking for?” he asked. Silecchia replied, “Just keep looking, Father, and see what you see.”

“Oh my God,” Father Brian said. “I see it.”

As Father Brian stared, other rescue workers gathered around him. There was a long moment of silence as he beheld what he considered to be a sign. Against seeming insuperable odds, a 17-foot-long crossbeam, weighing at least two tons, was thrust at a vertical angle in the hellish wasteland. Like a cross. . . .

Shortly after its discovery, Father Brian persuaded city officials to allow a crew of volunteer union laborers to lift it out of the wreckage by crane and mount it on a concrete pedestal. They placed it in a quiet part of the site, on Church Street, where on Oct. 3, 2001, Father Brian blessed it with the prayer of St. Bonaventure. “May it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee . . . ” When he finished, the crane operators sounded their horns, a choral blast.

Each week, Father Brian held services there. He became the chaplain of the hard hats. Whenever crews working to find the dead needed a blessing or a prayer or absolution, Father Brian would offer it. Sometimes victims’ families came to pray. The congregations grew from 25 or 35 to 200 and 300. . . .

In July, the nonprofit group American Atheists sued to remove it [from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum], calling it an unlawful and “repugnant” attempt to promote religion on public land. One group member told ABC News that it was “an ugly piece of wreckage” that connoted only “horror and death.”

via 9/11 memorials: The story of the cross at Ground Zero – The Washington Post.

It’s not necessary to accept this cross as a miraculous relic to appreciate what it means:  In the midst of the horrors of 9/11 and in the midst of all horrors, Christ–who took them all into Himself on His Cross–is there.

 

 

The Cross at Ground Zero

 

 

Cross at Ground Zero

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Booklover

    He dwelt among us. And he still does.

  • Booklover

    He dwelt among us. And he still does.

  • http://www.indicativelove.com David Rufner

    The following excerpt is from GK Chesterton’s ‘The Ball & The Cross’. It seems quite fitting:

    “As I was observing,” continued Michael, “this man also took the view that the symbol of Christianity was a symbol of savagery and all unreason. His history is rather amusing. It is also a perfect allegory of what happens to rationalists like yourself. He began, of course, by refusing to allow a crucifix in his house, or round his wife’s neck, or even in a picture. He said, as you say, that it was an arbitrary and fantastic shape, that it was a monstrosity, loved because it was paradoxical. Then he began to grow fiercer and more eccentric; he would batter the crosses by the roadside; for he lived in a Roman Catholic country. Finally in a height of frenzy he climbed the steeple of the Parish Church and tore down the cross, waving it in the air, and uttering wild soliloquies up there under the stars. Then one still summer evening as he was wending his way homewards, along a lane, the devil of his madness came upon him with a violence and transfiguration which changes the world. He was standing smoking, for a moment, in the front of an interminable line of palings, when his eyes were opened. Not a light shifted, not a leaf stirred, but he saw as if by a sudden change in the eyesight that this paling was an army of innumerable crosses linked together over hill and dale. And he whirled up his heavy stick and went at it as if at an army. Mile after mile along his homeward path he broke it down and tore it up. For he hated the cross and every paling is a wall of crosses. When he returned to his house he was a literal madman. He sat upon a chair and then started up from it for the cross-bars of the carpentry repeated the intolerable image. He flung himself upon a bed only to remember that this, too, like all workmanlike things, was constructed on the accursed plan. He broke his furniture because it was made of crosses. He burnt his house because it was made of crosses. He was found in the river.”

    Lucifer was looking at him with a bitten lip.

    “Is that story really true?” he asked.

    “Oh, no,” said Michael, airily. “It is a parable. It is a parable of you and all your rationalists. You begin by breaking up the Cross; but you end by breaking up the habitable world. We leave you saying that nobody ought to join the Church against his will. When we meet you again you are saying that no one has any will to join it with. We leave you saying that there is no such place as Eden. We find you saying that there is no such place as Ireland. You start by hating the irrational and you come to hate everything, for everything is irrational and so——”

  • http://www.indicativelove.com David Rufner

    The following excerpt is from GK Chesterton’s ‘The Ball & The Cross’. It seems quite fitting:

    “As I was observing,” continued Michael, “this man also took the view that the symbol of Christianity was a symbol of savagery and all unreason. His history is rather amusing. It is also a perfect allegory of what happens to rationalists like yourself. He began, of course, by refusing to allow a crucifix in his house, or round his wife’s neck, or even in a picture. He said, as you say, that it was an arbitrary and fantastic shape, that it was a monstrosity, loved because it was paradoxical. Then he began to grow fiercer and more eccentric; he would batter the crosses by the roadside; for he lived in a Roman Catholic country. Finally in a height of frenzy he climbed the steeple of the Parish Church and tore down the cross, waving it in the air, and uttering wild soliloquies up there under the stars. Then one still summer evening as he was wending his way homewards, along a lane, the devil of his madness came upon him with a violence and transfiguration which changes the world. He was standing smoking, for a moment, in the front of an interminable line of palings, when his eyes were opened. Not a light shifted, not a leaf stirred, but he saw as if by a sudden change in the eyesight that this paling was an army of innumerable crosses linked together over hill and dale. And he whirled up his heavy stick and went at it as if at an army. Mile after mile along his homeward path he broke it down and tore it up. For he hated the cross and every paling is a wall of crosses. When he returned to his house he was a literal madman. He sat upon a chair and then started up from it for the cross-bars of the carpentry repeated the intolerable image. He flung himself upon a bed only to remember that this, too, like all workmanlike things, was constructed on the accursed plan. He broke his furniture because it was made of crosses. He burnt his house because it was made of crosses. He was found in the river.”

    Lucifer was looking at him with a bitten lip.

    “Is that story really true?” he asked.

    “Oh, no,” said Michael, airily. “It is a parable. It is a parable of you and all your rationalists. You begin by breaking up the Cross; but you end by breaking up the habitable world. We leave you saying that nobody ought to join the Church against his will. When we meet you again you are saying that no one has any will to join it with. We leave you saying that there is no such place as Eden. We find you saying that there is no such place as Ireland. You start by hating the irrational and you come to hate everything, for everything is irrational and so——”

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Death and suffering. Fogiveness and new life.

    That’s the cross, all right.

    Our only hope.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Death and suffering. Fogiveness and new life.

    That’s the cross, all right.

    Our only hope.

  • Tom Hering

    As the Chesterton story makes clear, architecture is full of crossing elements. I would have been surprised if some piece of the 9/11 wreckage didn’t end up sticking out in the form of a cross. And I’m sorry, but finding significance in that particular piece of wreckage is tantamount to seeing an image of the Blessed Virgin on the surface of a grilled cheese sandwich.

    God’s care for His world was visible that day in the way neighbor served neighbor.

  • Tom Hering

    As the Chesterton story makes clear, architecture is full of crossing elements. I would have been surprised if some piece of the 9/11 wreckage didn’t end up sticking out in the form of a cross. And I’m sorry, but finding significance in that particular piece of wreckage is tantamount to seeing an image of the Blessed Virgin on the surface of a grilled cheese sandwich.

    God’s care for His world was visible that day in the way neighbor served neighbor.

  • #4 Kitty

    ” In the midst of the horrors of 9/11 and in the midst of all horrors, Christ–who took them all into Himself on His Cross–is there.”

    He’s a piece of iron scrap? And if he was truly there why did he allow this tragedy to happen? No, he’s not there. But it’s our job as Christians to make excuses for him. Difficult endeavor~ I mean this is a guy who sat watching with divine indifference while the events of the Jewish Holocaust unfolded.

  • #4 Kitty

    ” In the midst of the horrors of 9/11 and in the midst of all horrors, Christ–who took them all into Himself on His Cross–is there.”

    He’s a piece of iron scrap? And if he was truly there why did he allow this tragedy to happen? No, he’s not there. But it’s our job as Christians to make excuses for him. Difficult endeavor~ I mean this is a guy who sat watching with divine indifference while the events of the Jewish Holocaust unfolded.

  • Tom Hering

    Men committed the atrocities of 9/11 and the Holocaust. Would you like God to strike you dead in your tracks, #4 Kitty @ 5? Everything you do is sinful, after all. Like accusing God.

  • Tom Hering

    Men committed the atrocities of 9/11 and the Holocaust. Would you like God to strike you dead in your tracks, #4 Kitty @ 5? Everything you do is sinful, after all. Like accusing God.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#4 We should not engage in theodicy, that is the practice of speaking where God has not usually in the attempt to explain tragedy. It isn’t our jobs to make excuses for God. It isn’t even our job to proclaim hope in Christ. That is God’s work.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#4 We should not engage in theodicy, that is the practice of speaking where God has not usually in the attempt to explain tragedy. It isn’t our jobs to make excuses for God. It isn’t even our job to proclaim hope in Christ. That is God’s work.

  • Susan

    Well, if it takes a piece of scrap iron salvaged from an act of war to shine the Light of Truth in the midst of that awful darkness, so be it!

    No problem here, and no, I never thought of anything BUT Christ bringing His life into the midst of death when I was first made aware of the ‘cross’.

  • Susan

    Well, if it takes a piece of scrap iron salvaged from an act of war to shine the Light of Truth in the midst of that awful darkness, so be it!

    No problem here, and no, I never thought of anything BUT Christ bringing His life into the midst of death when I was first made aware of the ‘cross’.

  • Jonathan

    One group member told ABC News that it was “an ugly piece of wreckage” that connoted only “horror and death.”

    LOL! The reporter gets it!

  • Jonathan

    One group member told ABC News that it was “an ugly piece of wreckage” that connoted only “horror and death.”

    LOL! The reporter gets it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > “an ugly piece of wreckage” that connoted only “horror and death.”

    Indeed. That’s what makes the Cross so wonderful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    > “an ugly piece of wreckage” that connoted only “horror and death.”

    Indeed. That’s what makes the Cross so wonderful.

  • Kirk

    @10

    +1

  • Kirk

    @10

    +1

  • Stephen

    @10 + 2

    I saw that cross in 2003, sticking up from behind a chain-link fence that did not allow one to see much. It was postioned pretty close to the fence, really about the only to see besode the fence and the various notes and ribbons attached to the chain link. Everythign else was just blank and open. You got a sense of space, of emptiness. The day (Oct.) was much like what I imagine Sept. 11 to have been like – perfect weather, clear skies. There was a building next to the site about 30 or 40 sories high I’d say, and it was covered by a black cloth (ther entire thing!). The sun shone from behind it. I could not help but think it looked like the Kaaba at Mecca. The cross looked small and inconsequential in the face of this towering black cube.

    I don’t know what kind of significance to attach to what I saw, maybe baptism – a little bit of water and some words, a particular name. I also saw lots of crass street vendors acorss the street from where people clung to fence and prayed. Christ in the midst of it, sort of inconsequential like one more dead Jew crucified in some corner of the world.

    Not sure what to make either of aethists who would begrudge the people working there in that massive grave the opportunity to pray, and to feel the need to eliminate that. Sounds like echoes of Mao rather than Thomas Paine. Did they get theri way? The scriptures say that heaven and earht will pass away but my Word remains forever. So there’s that.

    People will still pray there.

  • Stephen

    @10 + 2

    I saw that cross in 2003, sticking up from behind a chain-link fence that did not allow one to see much. It was postioned pretty close to the fence, really about the only to see besode the fence and the various notes and ribbons attached to the chain link. Everythign else was just blank and open. You got a sense of space, of emptiness. The day (Oct.) was much like what I imagine Sept. 11 to have been like – perfect weather, clear skies. There was a building next to the site about 30 or 40 sories high I’d say, and it was covered by a black cloth (ther entire thing!). The sun shone from behind it. I could not help but think it looked like the Kaaba at Mecca. The cross looked small and inconsequential in the face of this towering black cube.

    I don’t know what kind of significance to attach to what I saw, maybe baptism – a little bit of water and some words, a particular name. I also saw lots of crass street vendors acorss the street from where people clung to fence and prayed. Christ in the midst of it, sort of inconsequential like one more dead Jew crucified in some corner of the world.

    Not sure what to make either of aethists who would begrudge the people working there in that massive grave the opportunity to pray, and to feel the need to eliminate that. Sounds like echoes of Mao rather than Thomas Paine. Did they get theri way? The scriptures say that heaven and earht will pass away but my Word remains forever. So there’s that.

    People will still pray there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom said (@4):

    Finding significance in that particular piece of wreckage is tantamount to seeing an image of the Blessed Virgin on the surface of a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Indeed. Since it’s fairly clear that there are people who find significance in this iron wreckage, but who don’t find significance in other seemingly random instances of Jesus-like faces or crosses (e.g. sandwiches, patches of moss, etc.), my question is: what’s your logic?

    God’s care for His world was visible that day in the way neighbor served neighbor.

    Amen, Tom! (And, if I may say so, did you just out-Veith Dr. Veith? ;) )

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom said (@4):

    Finding significance in that particular piece of wreckage is tantamount to seeing an image of the Blessed Virgin on the surface of a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Indeed. Since it’s fairly clear that there are people who find significance in this iron wreckage, but who don’t find significance in other seemingly random instances of Jesus-like faces or crosses (e.g. sandwiches, patches of moss, etc.), my question is: what’s your logic?

    God’s care for His world was visible that day in the way neighbor served neighbor.

    Amen, Tom! (And, if I may say so, did you just out-Veith Dr. Veith? ;) )

  • Jonathan

    A cross can be evocative, but it’s a crucifix that makes plain who died on the cross for us.

  • Jonathan

    A cross can be evocative, but it’s a crucifix that makes plain who died on the cross for us.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @14
    A naked white guy with long brown hair?

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @14
    A naked white guy with long brown hair?

  • DonS

    Mike @ 10: Amen. +3

    That piece of wreckage was a clear message to Mr. Silecchia and to Father Jordan, that in the midst of the most horrific circumstances, human suffering beyond imagining, God is still on the throne and in our midst. Was it miraculous, or was it happenstance? Who knows? No man can definitively opine on that question one way or the other.

    Interestingly, the American Atheists group apparently thinks that ugly wreckage sends a message, and wants it removed. That, in itself, makes me want it to stay.

  • DonS

    Mike @ 10: Amen. +3

    That piece of wreckage was a clear message to Mr. Silecchia and to Father Jordan, that in the midst of the most horrific circumstances, human suffering beyond imagining, God is still on the throne and in our midst. Was it miraculous, or was it happenstance? Who knows? No man can definitively opine on that question one way or the other.

    Interestingly, the American Atheists group apparently thinks that ugly wreckage sends a message, and wants it removed. That, in itself, makes me want it to stay.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 16, is there support in Scripture for the idea that God speaks to Man through wreckage? If not, I think a man can definitively opine one way.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 16, is there support in Scripture for the idea that God speaks to Man through wreckage? If not, I think a man can definitively opine one way.

  • DonS

    Hmm, Tom @ 17. I guess there is probably more support for the idea that He can, than for the idea that He cannot.

  • DonS

    Hmm, Tom @ 17. I guess there is probably more support for the idea that He can, than for the idea that He cannot.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@16) plays the Culture Warrior role perfectly:

    Interestingly, the American Atheists group apparently thinks that ugly wreckage sends a message, and wants it removed. That, in itself, makes me want it to stay.

    For reference, here is how I described Culture Warriors’ reactions just last week:

    But this is how the Culture War distorts things. If somebody suggested to a Culture Warrior that an action might not be the best choice, he’s likely to reply, with a sense of entitlement, “But it’s my right to do so! And so I now will, just because you told me I can’t!” And wisdom gets chucked out the window.

    Antithesis is rarely the best route to wisdom.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@16) plays the Culture Warrior role perfectly:

    Interestingly, the American Atheists group apparently thinks that ugly wreckage sends a message, and wants it removed. That, in itself, makes me want it to stay.

    For reference, here is how I described Culture Warriors’ reactions just last week:

    But this is how the Culture War distorts things. If somebody suggested to a Culture Warrior that an action might not be the best choice, he’s likely to reply, with a sense of entitlement, “But it’s my right to do so! And so I now will, just because you told me I can’t!” And wisdom gets chucked out the window.

    Antithesis is rarely the best route to wisdom.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 18, would you be so kind as to do more than guess? Would you show me? I’m willing to consider a good Scriptural argument.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 18, would you be so kind as to do more than guess? Would you show me? I’m willing to consider a good Scriptural argument.

  • DonS

    Why don’t you start, Tom, by showing how God CANNOT or won’t ever speak through wreckage, since you seem so sure of this principle? There are countless Scriptural examples of God speaking to a man at the darkest times of his life. Acts 27 and 28 is all about wreckage and how God spoke to sailors, guards, and natives through the circumstances of wreckage.

  • DonS

    Why don’t you start, Tom, by showing how God CANNOT or won’t ever speak through wreckage, since you seem so sure of this principle? There are countless Scriptural examples of God speaking to a man at the darkest times of his life. Acts 27 and 28 is all about wreckage and how God spoke to sailors, guards, and natives through the circumstances of wreckage.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: What, exactly, is unwise about opposing the efforts of the leftist Culture Warriors, the American Atheists, as they seek to purge a piece of history from the site of the WTC? Clearly, that symbol of hope to many, during the darkest hours immediately following the horror of 9/11, has historical significance and is in place, not as a governmental sponsorship of religion, but as an actual piece of wreckage which held great significance to many trying to rescue people in those early moments of clean-up. The lack of wisdom is all on the part of those leftist Culture Warriors who, though they claim to not believe in God, insist on tearing at the beliefs of those who do, and through their mad efforts reveal their hatred of the fact that, somewhere deep inside, they cannot entirely extinguish belief.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: What, exactly, is unwise about opposing the efforts of the leftist Culture Warriors, the American Atheists, as they seek to purge a piece of history from the site of the WTC? Clearly, that symbol of hope to many, during the darkest hours immediately following the horror of 9/11, has historical significance and is in place, not as a governmental sponsorship of religion, but as an actual piece of wreckage which held great significance to many trying to rescue people in those early moments of clean-up. The lack of wisdom is all on the part of those leftist Culture Warriors who, though they claim to not believe in God, insist on tearing at the beliefs of those who do, and through their mad efforts reveal their hatred of the fact that, somewhere deep inside, they cannot entirely extinguish belief.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, you ‘mind me of the Zwickau prophets.

    @15 I gave you occasion to blaspheme. I repent.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, you ‘mind me of the Zwickau prophets.

    @15 I gave you occasion to blaspheme. I repent.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 23: I’m not familiar with the cultural reference you are making, or how it applies to me. Be specific, please. Address the comments, not the person.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 23: I’m not familiar with the cultural reference you are making, or how it applies to me. Be specific, please. Address the comments, not the person.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, More an historical than cultural reference, but it addresses your comments directly, I submit. Bone up on a little church history, and check ‘em out.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, More an historical than cultural reference, but it addresses your comments directly, I submit. Bone up on a little church history, and check ‘em out.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @23 I couldn’t help the snark and take advantage of the traditional western image.

    As regards to the 9/11 cross or any symbol for that matter. Symbols by their nature are ambiguous and highly dependent on their context. The cross is a great example, depending on context the empty cross is a reminder of salvation in the conquering of sin and death by Jesus. In another context, it is just another piece of bling only meant to impress others with the rapper’s horrid taste and disposable income. Sometimes, a cross beam is just a cross beam.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @23 I couldn’t help the snark and take advantage of the traditional western image.

    As regards to the 9/11 cross or any symbol for that matter. Symbols by their nature are ambiguous and highly dependent on their context. The cross is a great example, depending on context the empty cross is a reminder of salvation in the conquering of sin and death by Jesus. In another context, it is just another piece of bling only meant to impress others with the rapper’s horrid taste and disposable income. Sometimes, a cross beam is just a cross beam.

  • DonS

    I’m sorry, Jonathan. Doesn’t apply.

  • DonS

    I’m sorry, Jonathan. Doesn’t apply.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 21, in Acts 27-28, God spoke to those men through the apostle Paul, not through a piece of the ship’s wreckage. In the same way, on 9/11, God spoke to men everywhere through the preached Gospel – not through a chunk of the Twin Towers. I mean, really, we’re into the whole world of Veronica’s Napkin, the Shroud of Turin, and the knuckle-bones of saints here. It doesn’t surprise me that Roman Catholics were the ones who began the veneration of the Ground Zero “cross.”

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 21, in Acts 27-28, God spoke to those men through the apostle Paul, not through a piece of the ship’s wreckage. In the same way, on 9/11, God spoke to men everywhere through the preached Gospel – not through a chunk of the Twin Towers. I mean, really, we’re into the whole world of Veronica’s Napkin, the Shroud of Turin, and the knuckle-bones of saints here. It doesn’t surprise me that Roman Catholics were the ones who began the veneration of the Ground Zero “cross.”

  • Jonathan

    @27, I beg to differ, DonS, but, to use your method of argumentation, tell me why it does NOT apply [see @21]. But you first might want to improve you exegesis of Acts 27; God did not speak through wreckage to all and sundry. An angel spoke verbally to Paul, who relayed the message to others. Actually, all those, including Paul, initially, who discerned a message from the circumstances, got the conclusion wrong.

  • Jonathan

    @27, I beg to differ, DonS, but, to use your method of argumentation, tell me why it does NOT apply [see @21]. But you first might want to improve you exegesis of Acts 27; God did not speak through wreckage to all and sundry. An angel spoke verbally to Paul, who relayed the message to others. Actually, all those, including Paul, initially, who discerned a message from the circumstances, got the conclusion wrong.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 28 & Jonathan @ 29:

    You’re both kind of saying the same thing, so I will address you together.

    I think you both read way too much into what I originally said. I get your concern about the Catholic obsession with relics and claims of extra-Scriptural messages from God. I’m not into that kind of spiritualism, and understand that the canon is complete, and God’s message to us is through His Holy Word.

    However, that principle does NOT mean that God no longer ever performs miracles or gives signs. When someone claims to have sees a sign or to have received some kind of signal from God, the first step is to compare that reported message with God’s Word. If it conflicts in any way with Scripture, then it is definitively false. If it accords with Scripture, then I have no definitive basis for disputing it. These things (miracles and signs) are reported fairly frequently from the mission field, where Scripture is not widely available, or not yet in existence in the native tongue. In the case of wreckage in the clear form of a cross on the site of the WTC catastrophe, there is no way in which that symbol conflicts with God’s Word. So who am I (or you) to dispute whether or not God arranged that as a sign of encouragement to a beaten-down Christian working on the site? Scripture confirms that God performs signs and wonders. I cannot think of any Scripture to support the notion that God definitively would not work in this way. Can you? Since it in no way contradicts, and in fact supports, the Gospel message, I will not deny God’s hand in it.

    Jonathan and Tom, I don’t think I provided an exegesis of Acts 27 and 28. But God clearly sent a message, to differing groups of people, through the difficult circumstances of wreckage. I was merely answering Tom’s question, not providing an “all fours” corollary to the WTC cross incident. Tom, I am still waiting for your Scriptural case that God could not have provided such a sign.

    And, Tom, how does this compare to the Shroud of Turin, Veronica’s napkin, and other such relics, where Catholics use those reported symbols for extra-Scriptural purposes, such as healings, etc.? If those things happen in connection with this cross, then we have a different issue. But, the article Dr. Veith posted makes no reference to such a misappropriation by the Catholic church of this particular symbol.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 28 & Jonathan @ 29:

    You’re both kind of saying the same thing, so I will address you together.

    I think you both read way too much into what I originally said. I get your concern about the Catholic obsession with relics and claims of extra-Scriptural messages from God. I’m not into that kind of spiritualism, and understand that the canon is complete, and God’s message to us is through His Holy Word.

    However, that principle does NOT mean that God no longer ever performs miracles or gives signs. When someone claims to have sees a sign or to have received some kind of signal from God, the first step is to compare that reported message with God’s Word. If it conflicts in any way with Scripture, then it is definitively false. If it accords with Scripture, then I have no definitive basis for disputing it. These things (miracles and signs) are reported fairly frequently from the mission field, where Scripture is not widely available, or not yet in existence in the native tongue. In the case of wreckage in the clear form of a cross on the site of the WTC catastrophe, there is no way in which that symbol conflicts with God’s Word. So who am I (or you) to dispute whether or not God arranged that as a sign of encouragement to a beaten-down Christian working on the site? Scripture confirms that God performs signs and wonders. I cannot think of any Scripture to support the notion that God definitively would not work in this way. Can you? Since it in no way contradicts, and in fact supports, the Gospel message, I will not deny God’s hand in it.

    Jonathan and Tom, I don’t think I provided an exegesis of Acts 27 and 28. But God clearly sent a message, to differing groups of people, through the difficult circumstances of wreckage. I was merely answering Tom’s question, not providing an “all fours” corollary to the WTC cross incident. Tom, I am still waiting for your Scriptural case that God could not have provided such a sign.

    And, Tom, how does this compare to the Shroud of Turin, Veronica’s napkin, and other such relics, where Catholics use those reported symbols for extra-Scriptural purposes, such as healings, etc.? If those things happen in connection with this cross, then we have a different issue. But, the article Dr. Veith posted makes no reference to such a misappropriation by the Catholic church of this particular symbol.

  • Stephen

    sorry about the typos of my last post.

    I think tODD is right. Everything does not have to turn into a battle over rights. And Don, if you really are trying to make the case that this is cultural artifact, I agree that it ought to be preserved – like in a museum or in some other way that attaches significance to it in that particular way. I have to say though I am dubious given you initial and subsequent posts. You seem to be saying that it “proves” there is a God when you combine:

    “Interestingly, the American Atheists group apparently thinks that ugly wreckage sends a message, and wants it removed. That, in itself, makes me want it to stay.” @16

    with

    “The lack of wisdom is all on the part of those leftist Culture Warriors who, though they claim to not believe in God, insist on tearing at the beliefs of those who do, and through their mad efforts reveal their hatred of the fact that, somewhere deep inside, they cannot entirely extinguish belief.”

    And I guess that might be what the atheists get out of it too – Christians are trying to impose upon us the idea that this ought to tell us something and we are fools for not seeing it. In other words, they are using religion (with aid of gov’t) to marginalize us. Not defending their beliefs as atheists of course, only their “right” not to have their views intentionally marginalized with the cooperation of the gov’t, exactly why Puritans came here, not to mention the Missouri Lutherans.

    I hope that makes sense. I am with Tom and Dr. Veith in not trying to place some kind of “miracle” upon it as a holy relic and thus it ought to be revered and preserved because, obviously, God had a hand in putting there. That would be an attempt to force others to accept the “truths” of one’s faith (in this case Catholicism!).

    And so no, it’s not a “miracle.” People saw it and attached significance to it when they most needed it. As an object, the cross (or any other religious symbol) consists of just the materials and the design “imposed” on them that signify some aspect of a particular faith. In the case of the cross, it preaches. But it is not the thing itself. It reminds me of Moses and the serpent on the staff. The reason God said all that stuff about graven images is because people began to worship the thing and not what it symbolized. Images are not bad in themselves. God used the “image” of the serpent, and Jesus used the same image to describe his own death.

    The point is, we don’t worship things. Defending that cross as if it contains some specific meaning beyond its place as an artifact of that historical moment is to make of it an idol.

  • Stephen

    sorry about the typos of my last post.

    I think tODD is right. Everything does not have to turn into a battle over rights. And Don, if you really are trying to make the case that this is cultural artifact, I agree that it ought to be preserved – like in a museum or in some other way that attaches significance to it in that particular way. I have to say though I am dubious given you initial and subsequent posts. You seem to be saying that it “proves” there is a God when you combine:

    “Interestingly, the American Atheists group apparently thinks that ugly wreckage sends a message, and wants it removed. That, in itself, makes me want it to stay.” @16

    with

    “The lack of wisdom is all on the part of those leftist Culture Warriors who, though they claim to not believe in God, insist on tearing at the beliefs of those who do, and through their mad efforts reveal their hatred of the fact that, somewhere deep inside, they cannot entirely extinguish belief.”

    And I guess that might be what the atheists get out of it too – Christians are trying to impose upon us the idea that this ought to tell us something and we are fools for not seeing it. In other words, they are using religion (with aid of gov’t) to marginalize us. Not defending their beliefs as atheists of course, only their “right” not to have their views intentionally marginalized with the cooperation of the gov’t, exactly why Puritans came here, not to mention the Missouri Lutherans.

    I hope that makes sense. I am with Tom and Dr. Veith in not trying to place some kind of “miracle” upon it as a holy relic and thus it ought to be revered and preserved because, obviously, God had a hand in putting there. That would be an attempt to force others to accept the “truths” of one’s faith (in this case Catholicism!).

    And so no, it’s not a “miracle.” People saw it and attached significance to it when they most needed it. As an object, the cross (or any other religious symbol) consists of just the materials and the design “imposed” on them that signify some aspect of a particular faith. In the case of the cross, it preaches. But it is not the thing itself. It reminds me of Moses and the serpent on the staff. The reason God said all that stuff about graven images is because people began to worship the thing and not what it symbolized. Images are not bad in themselves. God used the “image” of the serpent, and Jesus used the same image to describe his own death.

    The point is, we don’t worship things. Defending that cross as if it contains some specific meaning beyond its place as an artifact of that historical moment is to make of it an idol.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 31:

    And Don, if you really are trying to make the case that this is cultural artifact, I agree that it ought to be preserved – like in a museum or in some other way that attaches significance to it in that particular way.

    Um, it’s AT a museum! That’s my point. Thank you for making it. It deserves to stay there, because it is part of the history of that site and belongs at that museum, which records the history of that site.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 31:

    And Don, if you really are trying to make the case that this is cultural artifact, I agree that it ought to be preserved – like in a museum or in some other way that attaches significance to it in that particular way.

    Um, it’s AT a museum! That’s my point. Thank you for making it. It deserves to stay there, because it is part of the history of that site and belongs at that museum, which records the history of that site.

  • DonS

    Since there seems to be so much confusion here, let me summarize the two issues at play, based on the original post:

    1) Was the cross symbol happenstance, or a sign from God? — my view is that this question is unanswerable — there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that God could not perform such a work as an encouragement to His followers that He is at work in all circumstances and trials. However, of course, we never worship the symbol, but the Creator. Attaching godly attributes to a symbol or relic is idolatry. We can worship Christ at the foot of the cross, but not the cross itself.

    2) Should the cross remain at the WTC memorial & museum? Of course! This is a no-brainer. It clearly has an important place in the history of that site, as memorialized in the linked article, and because of the obvious comfort and encouragement it gave to so many early responders, and families of the victims. To acknowledge and report our history fully, regardless of its nature, is our obligation. To purge our history of all things religious, on the erroneous notion that reporting and documenting the religious activities of people is synonymous with the establishment of religion by the government is absurd, and a distortion of the historical record.

  • DonS

    Since there seems to be so much confusion here, let me summarize the two issues at play, based on the original post:

    1) Was the cross symbol happenstance, or a sign from God? — my view is that this question is unanswerable — there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that God could not perform such a work as an encouragement to His followers that He is at work in all circumstances and trials. However, of course, we never worship the symbol, but the Creator. Attaching godly attributes to a symbol or relic is idolatry. We can worship Christ at the foot of the cross, but not the cross itself.

    2) Should the cross remain at the WTC memorial & museum? Of course! This is a no-brainer. It clearly has an important place in the history of that site, as memorialized in the linked article, and because of the obvious comfort and encouragement it gave to so many early responders, and families of the victims. To acknowledge and report our history fully, regardless of its nature, is our obligation. To purge our history of all things religious, on the erroneous notion that reporting and documenting the religious activities of people is synonymous with the establishment of religion by the government is absurd, and a distortion of the historical record.

  • Stephen

    No Don, I wasn’t making your point. Your point about its significance as a historical artifact seemed to me to be a gloss for what you really think it indicates. I wanted to agree with you on that much, but like I said, I think there was something underneath based on what I quoted. Even the reaction of the atheists proves your point about God. They are unwise because they fail to see that God exists, and the real kicker is that they know it. They only claim not to believe in God.

    Of course it is a historical artifact that should be in a museum (as it is). What you are totally missing is how married you are to the culture war. It’s a bad marriage. That is why I quoted what you wrote.

    It seems to me that why you really want it to be there is not merely as a cultural artifact, but because it proves something. “Deep inside” you want it to preach to those leftist atheists who “interestingly” are in denial, which is exactly why you “want it to stay.” See there, God put a cross there (now you are equivocating on that one). That is what I heard in what you wrote.

    I think you are in denial about what your real intentions are, which is for you to be the good guy and them to be the bad guy. Maybe they are. Or maybe that is what you get for engaging in a culture war – militants on both sides.

    By the way, I think your logic is flawed in trying to see that piece of rubble as something God did is troublesome. Wouldn’t you have to then say that God knocked those buildings down? Wondering how you put that together, and I am not mocking you.

  • Stephen

    No Don, I wasn’t making your point. Your point about its significance as a historical artifact seemed to me to be a gloss for what you really think it indicates. I wanted to agree with you on that much, but like I said, I think there was something underneath based on what I quoted. Even the reaction of the atheists proves your point about God. They are unwise because they fail to see that God exists, and the real kicker is that they know it. They only claim not to believe in God.

    Of course it is a historical artifact that should be in a museum (as it is). What you are totally missing is how married you are to the culture war. It’s a bad marriage. That is why I quoted what you wrote.

    It seems to me that why you really want it to be there is not merely as a cultural artifact, but because it proves something. “Deep inside” you want it to preach to those leftist atheists who “interestingly” are in denial, which is exactly why you “want it to stay.” See there, God put a cross there (now you are equivocating on that one). That is what I heard in what you wrote.

    I think you are in denial about what your real intentions are, which is for you to be the good guy and them to be the bad guy. Maybe they are. Or maybe that is what you get for engaging in a culture war – militants on both sides.

    By the way, I think your logic is flawed in trying to see that piece of rubble as something God did is troublesome. Wouldn’t you have to then say that God knocked those buildings down? Wondering how you put that together, and I am not mocking you.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 30, my argument has never been that God couldn’t have provided a miraculous sign at Ground Zero. Maybe He did, but …

    “He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?’” (Mark 8:12.) “‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!’” (Matthew 12:39.)

    … So if He did provide a miraculous sign in that Ground Zero “cross,” it was akin to Him allowing divorce. Nothing to feel good about. Because it only addresses our lack of faith.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 30, my argument has never been that God couldn’t have provided a miraculous sign at Ground Zero. Maybe He did, but …

    “He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?’” (Mark 8:12.) “‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!’” (Matthew 12:39.)

    … So if He did provide a miraculous sign in that Ground Zero “cross,” it was akin to Him allowing divorce. Nothing to feel good about. Because it only addresses our lack of faith.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 34:

    What, exactly, is unwise about opposing the efforts of the leftist Culture Warriors, the American Atheists, as they seek to purge a piece of history from the site of the WTC? Clearly, that symbol of hope to many, during the darkest hours immediately following the horror of 9/11, has historical significance and is in place, not as a governmental sponsorship of religion, but as an actual piece of wreckage which held great significance to many trying to rescue people in those early moments of clean-up

    This was my precise statement to tODD @ 22. It was all about the history of the piece, regardless of its actual religious significance, and that, because of its history, it belongs as a part of the museum.

    Apparently, on that issue, we agree. The rest of your comment goes to what you think my heart’s intent is, which is meaningless as to whether or not the artifact should stay, and is also well beyond your purview as a human.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 34:

    What, exactly, is unwise about opposing the efforts of the leftist Culture Warriors, the American Atheists, as they seek to purge a piece of history from the site of the WTC? Clearly, that symbol of hope to many, during the darkest hours immediately following the horror of 9/11, has historical significance and is in place, not as a governmental sponsorship of religion, but as an actual piece of wreckage which held great significance to many trying to rescue people in those early moments of clean-up

    This was my precise statement to tODD @ 22. It was all about the history of the piece, regardless of its actual religious significance, and that, because of its history, it belongs as a part of the museum.

    Apparently, on that issue, we agree. The rest of your comment goes to what you think my heart’s intent is, which is meaningless as to whether or not the artifact should stay, and is also well beyond your purview as a human.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 35: If the sign is presented to assuage unbelief, as was the case with Doubting Thomas, then it is indeed disappointing that such a sign is necessary. If, on the other hand, it is a simple act of encouragement, to a weary follower of Christ, I don’t find that discouraging or negative in any way.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 35: If the sign is presented to assuage unbelief, as was the case with Doubting Thomas, then it is indeed disappointing that such a sign is necessary. If, on the other hand, it is a simple act of encouragement, to a weary follower of Christ, I don’t find that discouraging or negative in any way.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 34: Oops, missed this paragraph in my earlier response:

    By the way, I think your logic is flawed in trying to see that piece of rubble as something God did is troublesome. Wouldn’t you have to then say that God knocked those buildings down? Wondering how you put that together, and I am not mocking you.

    Again, you are reading way too much into what I said. I am not “trying to see that piece of rubble as something God did”. I merely said that the testimony of another follower of Christ is not something I am going to discredit or disbelieve unless it is unscriptural. Certainly, God didn’t cause the towers to fall, but God is in the world and acts in the midst of trial and tribulation. While He did not cause the buildings to be hit, or to fail, or the consequent hideous loss of life, it is within His purview to cause two beams to form the shape of a cross as they fall, for the purpose of encouraging a weary Christian. That is all.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 34: Oops, missed this paragraph in my earlier response:

    By the way, I think your logic is flawed in trying to see that piece of rubble as something God did is troublesome. Wouldn’t you have to then say that God knocked those buildings down? Wondering how you put that together, and I am not mocking you.

    Again, you are reading way too much into what I said. I am not “trying to see that piece of rubble as something God did”. I merely said that the testimony of another follower of Christ is not something I am going to discredit or disbelieve unless it is unscriptural. Certainly, God didn’t cause the towers to fall, but God is in the world and acts in the midst of trial and tribulation. While He did not cause the buildings to be hit, or to fail, or the consequent hideous loss of life, it is within His purview to cause two beams to form the shape of a cross as they fall, for the purpose of encouraging a weary Christian. That is all.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 38, if had been a weary Christian working on that site, I don’t think I would have been encouraged by that piece of wreckage, because I would have had no way of knowing whether it was a sign from God or not. (As you admit, no one can say definitively.) But I think I would have been encouraged by some Gospel verse of Scripture, because I know (and this is the work of the Holy Spirit) that all Scripture is God-breathed.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 38, if had been a weary Christian working on that site, I don’t think I would have been encouraged by that piece of wreckage, because I would have had no way of knowing whether it was a sign from God or not. (As you admit, no one can say definitively.) But I think I would have been encouraged by some Gospel verse of Scripture, because I know (and this is the work of the Holy Spirit) that all Scripture is God-breathed.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, if, on a particularly bad day, I dropped a box of wooden matches and two formed a perfect Latin cross on the floor, should I take that as a sign from God? (Thanks for giving up the Acts 27 argument)

  • Jonathan

    DonS, if, on a particularly bad day, I dropped a box of wooden matches and two formed a perfect Latin cross on the floor, should I take that as a sign from God? (Thanks for giving up the Acts 27 argument)

  • DonS

    Tom @ 39: OK, that’s fair. I agree with you — we have NO way of knowing whether it was a sign from God, so no basis for denying it.

    Scripture is comforting, for sure. But in that moment, what comforted that particular man was his vision of the cross in that horrendous place, as he tried to do a little good for his neighbors. I will not judge him in that.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 39: OK, that’s fair. I agree with you — we have NO way of knowing whether it was a sign from God, so no basis for denying it.

    Scripture is comforting, for sure. But in that moment, what comforted that particular man was his vision of the cross in that horrendous place, as he tried to do a little good for his neighbors. I will not judge him in that.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 40: I will not counsel you in how to interpret your dropping of a box of matches. If the crossed matches encourage you to remember God’s presence, and His redemptive sacrifice in the midst of the circumstances of your day, then that is a good thing.

    I did not “give up” the Acts 27 argument. I clarified that my reference to Acts 27 and 28 was not an “exegesis”, as you attempted to propose, but merely a response to Tom’s original broad query @ 17, asking whether there was support in Scripture for the notion that God can speak to man through wreckage. Clearly, that passage stands for that broad point.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 40: I will not counsel you in how to interpret your dropping of a box of matches. If the crossed matches encourage you to remember God’s presence, and His redemptive sacrifice in the midst of the circumstances of your day, then that is a good thing.

    I did not “give up” the Acts 27 argument. I clarified that my reference to Acts 27 and 28 was not an “exegesis”, as you attempted to propose, but merely a response to Tom’s original broad query @ 17, asking whether there was support in Scripture for the notion that God can speak to man through wreckage. Clearly, that passage stands for that broad point.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 41, nice try. But according to you, if I see a picture of a crucifix in a vampire slasher flick, I have no way of denying it’s a sign from God, so I can (if I so choose) feel encouraged to continue watching the movie.

  • Tom Hering

    Don @ 41, nice try. But according to you, if I see a picture of a crucifix in a vampire slasher flick, I have no way of denying it’s a sign from God, so I can (if I so choose) feel encouraged to continue watching the movie.

  • DonS

    Tom @43: No, that is according to you. Your hypothesis has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I have said anywhere on this thread. But, nice try.

  • DonS

    Tom @43: No, that is according to you. Your hypothesis has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I have said anywhere on this thread. But, nice try.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 43: You already admitted @ 39 (“As you admit, no one can say definitively”), that no one can deny, definitively, that the cross @ WTC was not God-given. So, are you now backtracking from that admission? Just curious.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 43: You already admitted @ 39 (“As you admit, no one can say definitively”), that no one can deny, definitively, that the cross @ WTC was not God-given. So, are you now backtracking from that admission? Just curious.

  • DonS

    @ 45, “not God-given” should be “God-given”.

  • DonS

    @ 45, “not God-given” should be “God-given”.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, I’ll assume you just don’t want to read Acts 27. But there’s a boat full of folks, a storm, lots of fear. A angel speaks to Paul, who relays the message that no lives will be lost.

    There is no sign. It’s a supernatural, verbal message from angel to human, who relays the message to those who knew nothing about the message or the messenger. Clearly, the passages stands for nothing that you say it does. Indeed, sir, you are a Zwickau prophet.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, I’ll assume you just don’t want to read Acts 27. But there’s a boat full of folks, a storm, lots of fear. A angel speaks to Paul, who relays the message that no lives will be lost.

    There is no sign. It’s a supernatural, verbal message from angel to human, who relays the message to those who knew nothing about the message or the messenger. Clearly, the passages stands for nothing that you say it does. Indeed, sir, you are a Zwickau prophet.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 47: I read it. I understand it. You simply wish to misrepresent the entire point I was making, for whatever undecipherable reasons you may have. I have adequately explained my point above. You, sir, indeed are a false Zwickau prophet accuser.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 47: I read it. I understand it. You simply wish to misrepresent the entire point I was making, for whatever undecipherable reasons you may have. I have adequately explained my point above. You, sir, indeed are a false Zwickau prophet accuser.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, I’m not a fan of how the CavChaps interpret Scripture, but I’m surprised to see one of their own handle basic historical facts so carelessly.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, I’m not a fan of how the CavChaps interpret Scripture, but I’m surprised to see one of their own handle basic historical facts so carelessly.

  • Tom Hering

    Don, how about the tower that fell in Siloam? Religious people wanted to find extraordinary meaning in that event, too. Though the meaning they wanted to find was that God showed his anger at some, rather than God showed His favor toward some – as you suppose about the WTC. But why would God show special favor to the Christians at the WTC site? Weren’t they just doing their duty? Wasn’t God equally pleased with everyone – Christian or not – who served their neighbor that day?

  • Tom Hering

    Don, how about the tower that fell in Siloam? Religious people wanted to find extraordinary meaning in that event, too. Though the meaning they wanted to find was that God showed his anger at some, rather than God showed His favor toward some – as you suppose about the WTC. But why would God show special favor to the Christians at the WTC site? Weren’t they just doing their duty? Wasn’t God equally pleased with everyone – Christian or not – who served their neighbor that day?

  • http://journeytoluther.blogspot.com/ moallen

    The pastoral care of the priest over the course of the clean-up came to be associated with the cross that was found. After it was used as a symbol of hope, rising out the ashes, and the people gathered to hear from Father Brian – it grew in it’s importance to those gathered there. I think it would be terrific if a Catholic Church in New York could get ahold of this artifact – perhaps wherever Father Brian preaches/teaches. If the museum gets rid of it the Church should definitely pursue this – it could be made part of a memorial. This cross be used to proclaim Christ more clearly in this setting, and tell a bit of the history of how this pastor served his neighbors by encouraging them during this dark traumatic time.
    I don’t worship the crucifix in our Church, but I do see it as a sign of God’s love – that’s what it was carved to do. This cross took on that same kind of resonance with those who were working in an incredible difficult situation. Reading through this thread, many are beginning to sound like devotees of iconoclasm. I love the art of the Church.

  • http://journeytoluther.blogspot.com/ moallen

    The pastoral care of the priest over the course of the clean-up came to be associated with the cross that was found. After it was used as a symbol of hope, rising out the ashes, and the people gathered to hear from Father Brian – it grew in it’s importance to those gathered there. I think it would be terrific if a Catholic Church in New York could get ahold of this artifact – perhaps wherever Father Brian preaches/teaches. If the museum gets rid of it the Church should definitely pursue this – it could be made part of a memorial. This cross be used to proclaim Christ more clearly in this setting, and tell a bit of the history of how this pastor served his neighbors by encouraging them during this dark traumatic time.
    I don’t worship the crucifix in our Church, but I do see it as a sign of God’s love – that’s what it was carved to do. This cross took on that same kind of resonance with those who were working in an incredible difficult situation. Reading through this thread, many are beginning to sound like devotees of iconoclasm. I love the art of the Church.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 49: Once again, I have no idea what you are talking about. If you wish to have an intelligent discussion, it pays to trade in complete and thoughtful ideas, rather than some kind of libelous shorthand, as you seem to prefer. And, by the way, I will continue to show respect for your faith, though you ooze disdain and loathing for mine.

    IF you are referring to the “prophets of Zwickau” and their penchant for elevating extra-biblical revelation over Scriptural teaching, I don’t do that. Every comment above has emphasized the pre-eminence of Scripture in all things, and the rejection of any claim of revelation or sign which in any way contradicts or claims to supersede Scriptural teaching.

    Deliberately distorting and misinterpreting the arguments of another, for whatever purpose or intention, including the purpose of falsely charging that other person as being heretical, is a very poor debating technique, and an even poorer representation of one’s character.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 49: Once again, I have no idea what you are talking about. If you wish to have an intelligent discussion, it pays to trade in complete and thoughtful ideas, rather than some kind of libelous shorthand, as you seem to prefer. And, by the way, I will continue to show respect for your faith, though you ooze disdain and loathing for mine.

    IF you are referring to the “prophets of Zwickau” and their penchant for elevating extra-biblical revelation over Scriptural teaching, I don’t do that. Every comment above has emphasized the pre-eminence of Scripture in all things, and the rejection of any claim of revelation or sign which in any way contradicts or claims to supersede Scriptural teaching.

    Deliberately distorting and misinterpreting the arguments of another, for whatever purpose or intention, including the purpose of falsely charging that other person as being heretical, is a very poor debating technique, and an even poorer representation of one’s character.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 50: You sound like a Calvinist ;-) !

    Seriously, is the cross only a special favor for Christians? Or is it for the whole world (John 3:16)? And was the symbol, if wrought by God, an “atta boy” for a job well done, as you are implying, or just an encouragement and reminder that God is present in all circumstances, for weary people at the end of their earthly ropes? God provides His free gift of grace, and it is up to us, the beholder, to accept or reject that gift.

    As for the tower that fell in Siloam (Luke 13), certain people were reading a message of judgment from God into that event. That was unwarranted, in the same day it was unwarranted for some to read the falling of the towers of the World Trade Center as a judgment from God on NYC, or the U.S. A message of hope, or encouragement, is far different than a message of judgement, don’t you think?

  • DonS

    Tom @ 50: You sound like a Calvinist ;-) !

    Seriously, is the cross only a special favor for Christians? Or is it for the whole world (John 3:16)? And was the symbol, if wrought by God, an “atta boy” for a job well done, as you are implying, or just an encouragement and reminder that God is present in all circumstances, for weary people at the end of their earthly ropes? God provides His free gift of grace, and it is up to us, the beholder, to accept or reject that gift.

    As for the tower that fell in Siloam (Luke 13), certain people were reading a message of judgment from God into that event. That was unwarranted, in the same day it was unwarranted for some to read the falling of the towers of the World Trade Center as a judgment from God on NYC, or the U.S. A message of hope, or encouragement, is far different than a message of judgement, don’t you think?

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    “In July, the nonprofit group American Atheists sued to remove it”…
    WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIAN “non-profit” groups suing to KEEP IT THERE—
    rhetorical question-I’ll give a brief answer-
    No spine-no guts–!!!!!
    Carol-CS
    founder / pres-
    LA LUTHERANS FOR LIFE

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    “In July, the nonprofit group American Atheists sued to remove it”…
    WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIAN “non-profit” groups suing to KEEP IT THERE—
    rhetorical question-I’ll give a brief answer-
    No spine-no guts–!!!!!
    Carol-CS
    founder / pres-
    LA LUTHERANS FOR LIFE

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @54 Christian non-profits have better things to spend money on than preserving a piece of rubble. You know like actually doing works of mercy for real people. Preserving the I-beams is little more than pseudo-religious pack-ratting.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @54 Christian non-profits have better things to spend money on than preserving a piece of rubble. You know like actually doing works of mercy for real people. Preserving the I-beams is little more than pseudo-religious pack-ratting.

  • Dust

    Tom at 39…..good point! Am sure soldiers on the battlefield would much prefer hearing a section of the constitution, or a few items off the bill of rights, and can imagine their rapture at the preamble for the declaration of independence, rather than see the stars and stripes held high on display? no, sometimes certain fundamental symbols are much more powerful and can say more than any one verse of scripture. perhaps the words of the wonderful hymn “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” says it best?

    But DonS has nailed you (no pun intended) in his comments and thrown light on the true error and spirit of your attitude. Perhaps you would like that the narthex should be scrubbed of the various “graven images” like crosses and scenes in the stain glass windows. We should be happy with just the “purity” of scripture and the confidence to know that’s where we will find the voice of God?

    One final comment re: the value of certain symbols and how it’s possible they may “transcend” and even embody an entire central theme or message from the scriptures. Isn’t that just part of the purpose of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Doesn’t our Lord know that sometimes we need something tangible and physical to sustain and strengthen our faith? Isn’t that another important benefit of our sacraments, in addition to being a means of grace?

  • Dust

    Tom at 39…..good point! Am sure soldiers on the battlefield would much prefer hearing a section of the constitution, or a few items off the bill of rights, and can imagine their rapture at the preamble for the declaration of independence, rather than see the stars and stripes held high on display? no, sometimes certain fundamental symbols are much more powerful and can say more than any one verse of scripture. perhaps the words of the wonderful hymn “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” says it best?

    But DonS has nailed you (no pun intended) in his comments and thrown light on the true error and spirit of your attitude. Perhaps you would like that the narthex should be scrubbed of the various “graven images” like crosses and scenes in the stain glass windows. We should be happy with just the “purity” of scripture and the confidence to know that’s where we will find the voice of God?

    One final comment re: the value of certain symbols and how it’s possible they may “transcend” and even embody an entire central theme or message from the scriptures. Isn’t that just part of the purpose of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Doesn’t our Lord know that sometimes we need something tangible and physical to sustain and strengthen our faith? Isn’t that another important benefit of our sacraments, in addition to being a means of grace?

  • Tom Hering

    Now, now, now, Don and Dust and moallen. No one is questioning the value of art or of symbols. The only thing being questioned is whether God placed a miraculous sign in the rubble of the Twin Towers. I have yet to hear a convincing Scriptural argument that He does such things. Just a lot of “It would be nice if it were so, so why not?”

  • Tom Hering

    Now, now, now, Don and Dust and moallen. No one is questioning the value of art or of symbols. The only thing being questioned is whether God placed a miraculous sign in the rubble of the Twin Towers. I have yet to hear a convincing Scriptural argument that He does such things. Just a lot of “It would be nice if it were so, so why not?”

  • Stephen

    DonS,

    Okay, maybe I wasn’t being fair. I can accept that. I was trying to peer into your heart, but I found some problems with what you were saying the issue was. I did notice in requoting what your wrote to tODD you left out the part I quoted, the part I found problematic. I sensed you collapsing your own piety with whether or not is should be there, and essentially accusing the atheists of doing the same thing. That is culture warrior stuff, as you also point out, but you are pointing at the other guy here and not seeing that you seem to be doing the very same thing. You feel just as put upon as they do, but they are the only ones turning it into a culture war according to you.

    I here you say you want it to stay there because it “sends a message.” Is that message that, hey, it’s a culural artifact, or is it all the other stuff you say they really believe deep down. You want it there so it can preach to them! Can you admit that? Is it really “all about the history?” O is it about feeling threatened by people who “insist on tearing at the beliefs of those who do, and through their mad efforts reveal their hatred of the fact that, somewhere deep inside, they cannot entirely extinguish belief.” Are they really trying to do that – tear down your beliefs? Now who is peering into people’s hearts. Maybe they are. Who knows? But adopting the opposite stance because you think it preserves your religious rights (which I interpret from what you initially wrote), then I can see why it would be a problem for some people to have it there.

    Well, anyway, I don’t think the atheists will get anywhere. It IS an important artifact, and I think a case can be made purely on those grounds. It’s all about the narrative around it. If it becomes a fight over beliefs we don’t share, we can’t talk about values we do share, like preserving American history. I don’t know what these atheists are up to. I can’t think of one atheist or agnostic that I know (I know quite a few) that would disagree on the terms of preserving history. But the minute it becomes a contest of rights, all the shared values go right out the window.

  • Stephen

    DonS,

    Okay, maybe I wasn’t being fair. I can accept that. I was trying to peer into your heart, but I found some problems with what you were saying the issue was. I did notice in requoting what your wrote to tODD you left out the part I quoted, the part I found problematic. I sensed you collapsing your own piety with whether or not is should be there, and essentially accusing the atheists of doing the same thing. That is culture warrior stuff, as you also point out, but you are pointing at the other guy here and not seeing that you seem to be doing the very same thing. You feel just as put upon as they do, but they are the only ones turning it into a culture war according to you.

    I here you say you want it to stay there because it “sends a message.” Is that message that, hey, it’s a culural artifact, or is it all the other stuff you say they really believe deep down. You want it there so it can preach to them! Can you admit that? Is it really “all about the history?” O is it about feeling threatened by people who “insist on tearing at the beliefs of those who do, and through their mad efforts reveal their hatred of the fact that, somewhere deep inside, they cannot entirely extinguish belief.” Are they really trying to do that – tear down your beliefs? Now who is peering into people’s hearts. Maybe they are. Who knows? But adopting the opposite stance because you think it preserves your religious rights (which I interpret from what you initially wrote), then I can see why it would be a problem for some people to have it there.

    Well, anyway, I don’t think the atheists will get anywhere. It IS an important artifact, and I think a case can be made purely on those grounds. It’s all about the narrative around it. If it becomes a fight over beliefs we don’t share, we can’t talk about values we do share, like preserving American history. I don’t know what these atheists are up to. I can’t think of one atheist or agnostic that I know (I know quite a few) that would disagree on the terms of preserving history. But the minute it becomes a contest of rights, all the shared values go right out the window.

  • http://journeytoluther.blogspot.com/ moallen

    Tom, I don’t think it was miraculous. I think this cross took on meaning to the responders and became a symbol of hope for them – especially as time went on and they began to use it as a gathering point for pastoral care. I don’t think the crosses at Church are miraculous either – but surely they have meaning for many who worship there, just as this cross – rising out of the ashes – had meaning for those dealing with this awful reality. This is now a part of history – should the history of what occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 be edited to exclude this because of it’s religious nature? If people decide it does need to be edited out of public life/remembrance, I hope it is preserved somewhere – particularly for the workers who gathered around it. They took it as a symbol or sign of God’s continuing love in Christ, despite the hell they were confronted with every day. I would imagine that some of the victims families who prayed there would also like to see it preserved as well.

  • http://journeytoluther.blogspot.com/ moallen

    Tom, I don’t think it was miraculous. I think this cross took on meaning to the responders and became a symbol of hope for them – especially as time went on and they began to use it as a gathering point for pastoral care. I don’t think the crosses at Church are miraculous either – but surely they have meaning for many who worship there, just as this cross – rising out of the ashes – had meaning for those dealing with this awful reality. This is now a part of history – should the history of what occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 be edited to exclude this because of it’s religious nature? If people decide it does need to be edited out of public life/remembrance, I hope it is preserved somewhere – particularly for the workers who gathered around it. They took it as a symbol or sign of God’s continuing love in Christ, despite the hell they were confronted with every day. I would imagine that some of the victims families who prayed there would also like to see it preserved as well.

  • Tom Hering

    Dust @ 56, I agree that soldiers on the battlefield would be more inspired seeing the Stars and Stripes than they would be hearing the Constitution read aloud. But I can’t imagine the sight of a cross moving a Christian more than the words of the Gospel. In the case of the Constitution, it’s the words of men. In the case of the Gospel, it’s the Word of God – and it has supernatural power. Plus, the Sacraments are nothing without the Word connected to them. Are you forgetting all that?

  • Tom Hering

    Dust @ 56, I agree that soldiers on the battlefield would be more inspired seeing the Stars and Stripes than they would be hearing the Constitution read aloud. But I can’t imagine the sight of a cross moving a Christian more than the words of the Gospel. In the case of the Constitution, it’s the words of men. In the case of the Gospel, it’s the Word of God – and it has supernatural power. Plus, the Sacraments are nothing without the Word connected to them. Are you forgetting all that?

  • Tom Hering

    moallen @ 59, I have no problem seeing the Ground Zero cross as a piece of wreckage that people invested with meaning. It’s certainly that. I only have a problem with Don’s argument that it may have been a miraculous sign from God, intended to encourage Christians, and no one can say it wasn’t. And somehow, the wreckage being in the form of a cross makes it more likely it was a miraculous sign. Though the towers were made up of thousands of cross-shaped elements. So I guess that leaves us with the way this particular cross-shaped element stuck out of the rubble. Which doesn’t strike me as miraculous at all. I kind of expect God’s miracles to be on the order of seas parting, and suns standing still, and people rising from the dead. Welded I-beams landing on end? I’m underwhelmed.

  • Tom Hering

    moallen @ 59, I have no problem seeing the Ground Zero cross as a piece of wreckage that people invested with meaning. It’s certainly that. I only have a problem with Don’s argument that it may have been a miraculous sign from God, intended to encourage Christians, and no one can say it wasn’t. And somehow, the wreckage being in the form of a cross makes it more likely it was a miraculous sign. Though the towers were made up of thousands of cross-shaped elements. So I guess that leaves us with the way this particular cross-shaped element stuck out of the rubble. Which doesn’t strike me as miraculous at all. I kind of expect God’s miracles to be on the order of seas parting, and suns standing still, and people rising from the dead. Welded I-beams landing on end? I’m underwhelmed.

  • Stephen

    Ha! that’ what I get for trying to be nuanced. Maybe it was Freudian slip. I just read my last post which should have read “I wasn’t trying to peer into your heart.”

    Anyway, making some metal land in a particular way is the best God can do, well he’s not much of a god then. Maybe he could have provisioned for those buildings to stay standing a little longer so people could be rescued. Nah, but he will bother to make a cross out of some rubble (intentionally!).

    This is exactly the problem with spiritualizing events by trying to rationalize them as God’s will. And of course there’s the caveat of “who can really say for sure?” thrown in. It’s all very mysterious.

    Well, it does conflict with scripture.

    Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

    What gets me is how something like this could be invested with the divine significance as miracle, one that God chose to perform for the benefit of those he loves, and yet deny the actual words of Christ in the sacrament of the altar, or deny that his baptism, the one he commanded us to do, can actually do anything. Instead, let’s opt for a fantasy and then try to defend it with some kind of rationalization such as “God can do whatever he wants” which is pretty much saying about nothing. He has spoken to us in his Son. That seems lost in this “miracle.”

    Is it wrong then for the people working their to attach significance to it as a way of dealing with the overwhelming situation? No, but it isn’t a miracle and the only hand God had in it was things like gravity and fire and physical properties of matter – the stuff he created. LAW. Placing it apart in some way, as if for a moment God poked his head in, and believing we can recognize it is as evidence of God’s providence (here for sure – there, not so much) is exactly the error of scholasticism – the belief that our reason can comprehend God and/or our works and piety will merit grace (a miracle). A reading of Job ought to put that one to bed.

    What is Gospel here is that in, with and under the horror is the faith that God gives as a gift. There doesn’t have to be a reason for suffering. Suffering is not reasonable. It has no meaning. There is no lesson being taught here specifically by God through the means of this crime. None. The world is a broken, sometimes horrifying place. We participate in that brokenness because we are sinners. The good news is that God himself has entered into all of our brokenness and suffering and taken it upon himself to end it eternally. That is the promise.

    God speaks through his Word and saves by his Name. They are one and the same – Jesus Christ. Faith does not require rational explanations, or signs and wonders (which always end up as explanations). He has spoken to us through his Son. He gives us his Son in baptism and the Supper – the same Name which saves and the same Word that forgives eternally. “This is . . .” says God. And yet we’d rather look for him elsewhere.

    Trying to explain it in terms of a miracle makes God fickle and cruel. He couldn’t stop that enormous catastrophe, but he did see fit to provide a cross for people to gaze upon and feel better. THAT is idolatry. I am not denying that finding that object was not important for those people. That is exactly why it should be preserved as an artifact – it is part of the narrative of that historic event. But there is nothing miraculous about its existence. It does seem clear, however, that God provided faith, faith that was awakened by the sight of a piece of wreckage. I’m not denying that. And I don’t think I am peering into anyone’s heart.

  • Stephen

    Ha! that’ what I get for trying to be nuanced. Maybe it was Freudian slip. I just read my last post which should have read “I wasn’t trying to peer into your heart.”

    Anyway, making some metal land in a particular way is the best God can do, well he’s not much of a god then. Maybe he could have provisioned for those buildings to stay standing a little longer so people could be rescued. Nah, but he will bother to make a cross out of some rubble (intentionally!).

    This is exactly the problem with spiritualizing events by trying to rationalize them as God’s will. And of course there’s the caveat of “who can really say for sure?” thrown in. It’s all very mysterious.

    Well, it does conflict with scripture.

    Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

    What gets me is how something like this could be invested with the divine significance as miracle, one that God chose to perform for the benefit of those he loves, and yet deny the actual words of Christ in the sacrament of the altar, or deny that his baptism, the one he commanded us to do, can actually do anything. Instead, let’s opt for a fantasy and then try to defend it with some kind of rationalization such as “God can do whatever he wants” which is pretty much saying about nothing. He has spoken to us in his Son. That seems lost in this “miracle.”

    Is it wrong then for the people working their to attach significance to it as a way of dealing with the overwhelming situation? No, but it isn’t a miracle and the only hand God had in it was things like gravity and fire and physical properties of matter – the stuff he created. LAW. Placing it apart in some way, as if for a moment God poked his head in, and believing we can recognize it is as evidence of God’s providence (here for sure – there, not so much) is exactly the error of scholasticism – the belief that our reason can comprehend God and/or our works and piety will merit grace (a miracle). A reading of Job ought to put that one to bed.

    What is Gospel here is that in, with and under the horror is the faith that God gives as a gift. There doesn’t have to be a reason for suffering. Suffering is not reasonable. It has no meaning. There is no lesson being taught here specifically by God through the means of this crime. None. The world is a broken, sometimes horrifying place. We participate in that brokenness because we are sinners. The good news is that God himself has entered into all of our brokenness and suffering and taken it upon himself to end it eternally. That is the promise.

    God speaks through his Word and saves by his Name. They are one and the same – Jesus Christ. Faith does not require rational explanations, or signs and wonders (which always end up as explanations). He has spoken to us through his Son. He gives us his Son in baptism and the Supper – the same Name which saves and the same Word that forgives eternally. “This is . . .” says God. And yet we’d rather look for him elsewhere.

    Trying to explain it in terms of a miracle makes God fickle and cruel. He couldn’t stop that enormous catastrophe, but he did see fit to provide a cross for people to gaze upon and feel better. THAT is idolatry. I am not denying that finding that object was not important for those people. That is exactly why it should be preserved as an artifact – it is part of the narrative of that historic event. But there is nothing miraculous about its existence. It does seem clear, however, that God provided faith, faith that was awakened by the sight of a piece of wreckage. I’m not denying that. And I don’t think I am peering into anyone’s heart.

  • DonS

    Stephen: So it seems we agree on the issue of whether the cross should be preserved in the museum. That is the main point. We won’t resolve the other one, as to whether God may have allowed the beams to form a cross, as a reminder of Christ. Why? It can’t be resolved by human reasoning, despite your valiant efforts to try. Which has been my sole point on that issue all along, as I’ve never been arguing for the case that it was a miracle. So, we’ll leave it at that.

  • DonS

    Stephen: So it seems we agree on the issue of whether the cross should be preserved in the museum. That is the main point. We won’t resolve the other one, as to whether God may have allowed the beams to form a cross, as a reminder of Christ. Why? It can’t be resolved by human reasoning, despite your valiant efforts to try. Which has been my sole point on that issue all along, as I’ve never been arguing for the case that it was a miracle. So, we’ll leave it at that.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 61: It’s nuance, but I have not actually been arguing that the cross may have been a miracle. More precisely, I have been arguing that we cannot know that it was NOT a miracle. Nor do I believe that every miracle has to be big, bold, amazing. The task of the Holy Spirit is to point men’s hearts to Christ, to glorify Him and His redemptive act of salvation. Who are we to say, with certainty that He will or will not use a method such as this to do that, in an hour of man’s great anguish?

    That is all I have ever been saying. Our limited and puny human minds should not limit God’s power, or His mysterious ways, based on what we think seems right to us.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 61: It’s nuance, but I have not actually been arguing that the cross may have been a miracle. More precisely, I have been arguing that we cannot know that it was NOT a miracle. Nor do I believe that every miracle has to be big, bold, amazing. The task of the Holy Spirit is to point men’s hearts to Christ, to glorify Him and His redemptive act of salvation. Who are we to say, with certainty that He will or will not use a method such as this to do that, in an hour of man’s great anguish?

    That is all I have ever been saying. Our limited and puny human minds should not limit God’s power, or His mysterious ways, based on what we think seems right to us.

  • Grace

    moallen @ 59

    ~~”I think this cross took on meaning to the responders and became a symbol of hope for them – especially as time went on and they began to use it as a gathering point for pastoral care. I don’t think the crosses at Church are miraculous either – but surely they have meaning for many who worship there, just as this cross – rising out of the ashes – had meaning for those dealing with this awful reality. This is now a part of history”~~

    Great point Moallen.

    Amen!

    DonS, you’ve done a splendid job.

    DonS @ 64 ~~”More precisely, I have been arguing that we cannot know that it was NOT a miracle. Nor do I believe that every miracle has to be big, bold, amazing. The task of the Holy Spirit is to point men’s hearts to Christ, to glorify Him and His redemptive act of salvation. Who are we to say, with certainty that He will or will not use a method such as this to do that, in an hour of man’s great anguish?” ~~

    Dust @56 ~~”But DonS has nailed you (no pun intended) in his comments and thrown light on the true error and spirit of your attitude. Perhaps you would like that the narthex should be scrubbed of the various “graven images” like crosses and scenes in the stain glass windows.” ~~

    Dust, God bless you my friend! I agree

  • Grace

    moallen @ 59

    ~~”I think this cross took on meaning to the responders and became a symbol of hope for them – especially as time went on and they began to use it as a gathering point for pastoral care. I don’t think the crosses at Church are miraculous either – but surely they have meaning for many who worship there, just as this cross – rising out of the ashes – had meaning for those dealing with this awful reality. This is now a part of history”~~

    Great point Moallen.

    Amen!

    DonS, you’ve done a splendid job.

    DonS @ 64 ~~”More precisely, I have been arguing that we cannot know that it was NOT a miracle. Nor do I believe that every miracle has to be big, bold, amazing. The task of the Holy Spirit is to point men’s hearts to Christ, to glorify Him and His redemptive act of salvation. Who are we to say, with certainty that He will or will not use a method such as this to do that, in an hour of man’s great anguish?” ~~

    Dust @56 ~~”But DonS has nailed you (no pun intended) in his comments and thrown light on the true error and spirit of your attitude. Perhaps you would like that the narthex should be scrubbed of the various “graven images” like crosses and scenes in the stain glass windows.” ~~

    Dust, God bless you my friend! I agree

  • Dust

    What about angels? Don’t good Lutherans believe in them? What’s to say they didn’t have something to do with the beams in the form of a cross? It certainly is possible? Do you have any proof to the contrary?

    To Tom above….of course am not forgetting the role of scripture in the power of the sacraments, without it they are nothing but symbols! But am just trying to say there are other “layers” of meaning and value in our sacred symbols, as am sure is amplified in the BOC and elsewhere, right FWS? So am not in any sense trying to minimize or disregard them!

    The few, fundamental Christian symbols are profoundly powerful, in and of themselves, as they not only represent the sum total of our faith, but additionally convey the very blessings, as we believe as Lutherans in both baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    In my opinion, the cross is the equivalent of the Stars and Stripes for all Christians and the hymn noted above says it best! Did you get a chance to read it and sing it? God the Father chose it to be so for His Son, to His glory and ours, amen!

    And others take great comfort in that most sacred and blessed symbol…so why would you deny them that comfort or question their motives under any circumstance, let alone the horror and tragedy of the WTC attacks? It just seems uncharitable and uncharacteristic of an otherwise loving and tolerant gentleman :)

  • Dust

    What about angels? Don’t good Lutherans believe in them? What’s to say they didn’t have something to do with the beams in the form of a cross? It certainly is possible? Do you have any proof to the contrary?

    To Tom above….of course am not forgetting the role of scripture in the power of the sacraments, without it they are nothing but symbols! But am just trying to say there are other “layers” of meaning and value in our sacred symbols, as am sure is amplified in the BOC and elsewhere, right FWS? So am not in any sense trying to minimize or disregard them!

    The few, fundamental Christian symbols are profoundly powerful, in and of themselves, as they not only represent the sum total of our faith, but additionally convey the very blessings, as we believe as Lutherans in both baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    In my opinion, the cross is the equivalent of the Stars and Stripes for all Christians and the hymn noted above says it best! Did you get a chance to read it and sing it? God the Father chose it to be so for His Son, to His glory and ours, amen!

    And others take great comfort in that most sacred and blessed symbol…so why would you deny them that comfort or question their motives under any circumstance, let alone the horror and tragedy of the WTC attacks? It just seems uncharitable and uncharacteristic of an otherwise loving and tolerant gentleman :)

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Two words – pointless speculation. Sans revelation we should remain silent and quit speculating. However, the crossbeams at wtc are decidedly different than Baptism and L.S. they aren’t symbols they are a means of grace. The crossbeams at wtc are merely a symbol with no attached promise. Please stop with the specious comparison.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Two words – pointless speculation. Sans revelation we should remain silent and quit speculating. However, the crossbeams at wtc are decidedly different than Baptism and L.S. they aren’t symbols they are a means of grace. The crossbeams at wtc are merely a symbol with no attached promise. Please stop with the specious comparison.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@36):

    The rest of your comment goes to what you think my heart’s intent is, which is … well beyond your purview as a human.

    Man, again, Don? Why is it every time you accuse others of wrongly judging motives, it’s only when you or Republicans are being criticized? And when you’re okay with it, it’s when Democrats are being criticized? It’s a remarkably strong pattern with you.

    Is it beyond Stephen’s “purview”, Don, or did he learn it by watching you?

    Judging someone’s heart regarding their relationship with God is a far different thing than judging someone’s political motivations based on their external actions.[0]

    We judge people’s motives every day. There is nothing wrong with that. It is necessary to operating a business, and it is necessary to being an informed and competent voter. I will not apologize for it, and there is nothing unscriptural about it.[1]

    We are entitled to judge people and their motives in the human world — it is necessary to effectively conduct business, discern the truth of the news being reported to us, or to effectively engage in politics.[2]

    We judge things and people every day. … To the extent that [someone] is a public figure, we all have the right to judge his motives and credibility.[3]

    I will, on the other hand, judge the motives, actions, and attitudes of someone sufficient to determine: whether I agree with them, their job performance, whether I want to work with them, or whether I want to support them.[4]

    However, I do judge peoples’ motives. At least their external ones. I don’t do it capriciously, but I do it to the extent to determine whether and how I want to associate with them, whether I want to hire them, and other such reasons.[5]

    Those external factors, for most people, are things like: a) statements, preferably over time, b) expression, c) actions, preferably over time, d) associations and alignments with others. These pieces of evidence allow one to make judgments as to the character, temperament, and belief system of the individual in question. … I cannot judge the inner man, so I have to settle for an assessment of the outer man.[6]

    I really don’t know how you could possibly accuse Stephen of doing what you so vociferously defend yourself … when you do it, that is.

    [0]geneveith.com/2011/08/12/rick-perry-is-running-for-president/#comment-124267
    [1]geneveith.com/2010/06/01/setting-public-policy-according-to-the-word/#comment-83404
    [2]geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109489
    [3]geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109495
    [4]www.geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109503
    [5]www.geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109655
    [6]geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109671

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@36):

    The rest of your comment goes to what you think my heart’s intent is, which is … well beyond your purview as a human.

    Man, again, Don? Why is it every time you accuse others of wrongly judging motives, it’s only when you or Republicans are being criticized? And when you’re okay with it, it’s when Democrats are being criticized? It’s a remarkably strong pattern with you.

    Is it beyond Stephen’s “purview”, Don, or did he learn it by watching you?

    Judging someone’s heart regarding their relationship with God is a far different thing than judging someone’s political motivations based on their external actions.[0]

    We judge people’s motives every day. There is nothing wrong with that. It is necessary to operating a business, and it is necessary to being an informed and competent voter. I will not apologize for it, and there is nothing unscriptural about it.[1]

    We are entitled to judge people and their motives in the human world — it is necessary to effectively conduct business, discern the truth of the news being reported to us, or to effectively engage in politics.[2]

    We judge things and people every day. … To the extent that [someone] is a public figure, we all have the right to judge his motives and credibility.[3]

    I will, on the other hand, judge the motives, actions, and attitudes of someone sufficient to determine: whether I agree with them, their job performance, whether I want to work with them, or whether I want to support them.[4]

    However, I do judge peoples’ motives. At least their external ones. I don’t do it capriciously, but I do it to the extent to determine whether and how I want to associate with them, whether I want to hire them, and other such reasons.[5]

    Those external factors, for most people, are things like: a) statements, preferably over time, b) expression, c) actions, preferably over time, d) associations and alignments with others. These pieces of evidence allow one to make judgments as to the character, temperament, and belief system of the individual in question. … I cannot judge the inner man, so I have to settle for an assessment of the outer man.[6]

    I really don’t know how you could possibly accuse Stephen of doing what you so vociferously defend yourself … when you do it, that is.

    [0]geneveith.com/2011/08/12/rick-perry-is-running-for-president/#comment-124267
    [1]geneveith.com/2010/06/01/setting-public-policy-according-to-the-word/#comment-83404
    [2]geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109489
    [3]geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109495
    [4]www.geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109503
    [5]www.geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109655
    [6]geneveith.com/2011/03/10/newt-explains-his-affair-to-christians/#comment-109671

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@64):

    Who are we to say, with certainty that He will or will not use a method such as this to do that, in an hour of man’s great anguish? Our limited and puny human minds should not limit God’s power, or His mysterious ways, based on what we think seems right to us.

    Good point, Don. Now apply that to the Sacraments. But do keep this in mind, regarding baptism and the Lord’s Supper (@63):

    It can’t be resolved by human reasoning, despite your valiant efforts to try.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@64):

    Who are we to say, with certainty that He will or will not use a method such as this to do that, in an hour of man’s great anguish? Our limited and puny human minds should not limit God’s power, or His mysterious ways, based on what we think seems right to us.

    Good point, Don. Now apply that to the Sacraments. But do keep this in mind, regarding baptism and the Lord’s Supper (@63):

    It can’t be resolved by human reasoning, despite your valiant efforts to try.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    I think I was directing the conversation to scripture, and to the fact that God has given us a sign – Jesus Christ. I wasn’t trying to “resolve” anything “mysterious.” I disagree that it is mysterious at all. And for that matter, how is it not limiting God’s power to suggest he would create a cross out of rubble and not perform a much larger miracle to stop the buildings from falling? If he could make a cross out of wreckage, well he could certainly do some other stuff too, no? Or is his power limited? A reminder? A REMINDER!?! Is that the best God can do? What the . . . Gee, thanks for cluing me in there “god.”

    Your reasoning is also fundamentally based on a fallacy – argumentum ad ignorantiam – asking others to disprove a negative assertion. That’s not how it works. It could just as well have been put there with by Thor, or maybe even Allah to throw us off for that matter. There is no way to know Allah DIDN’T do it just to mess with Christians. Do you see that? It’s the same thinking of conspiracy theorists. “We will never really know why those towers fell. Prove to me it wasn’t a gov’t conspiracy.” No. I don’t have to. You have to prove that it was.

    Saying God is mysterious and that we just can’t know what he did or didn’t do is silly. “God of the gaps” it’s called. We use him to fill in the things we don’t understand or to rationalize an outcome. Under that rubric, anything can be construed as a miracle and no one can say any different because of “our puny minds” and “well, that’s what they believe and who am I to say different?” Well then, God just gave me that parking spot. You can’t say he didn’t! It’s a miracle! Talk about puny minds trying to put their head around God.

    It boils down to this: you are picking and choosing what fits in the category of miracle. That is what Catholics do. Of course it has to go through a massive bureaucracy first before being officially classified as miracle, but it’s the same thing. What is so miraculous about it when so many other things that day were not? How many miracles were prayed for that day by people trapped on the upper floors?

    In moments of extreme emotion people cast about for something they can latch onto for comfort. That is no surprise. My daughter does it with her blanket. It’s not miraculous. It’s what kids do. Is that God? Well, yes, in a way. God provides for us through the means of this world of things, and we find comfort in those things that are provided.

    But if you want to cast about for miracles, why not the miracle of a man who goes back into the building to get just a few more people out and dies doing it? Or someone who crosses themselves before they leap to their death? What about resting on the promises of God? What about faith? That is the miracle.

    Appealing to mystery is all well and good, but it doesn’t get you very far in explaining why children get cancer or die of hunger in a world of plenty. It doesn’t explain why that day happened or anything about that day. “God is mysterious” is an attempt to spiritualize the existence of certain phenomenon while leaving all the other possibilities out. That is why the Catholic Church has a hierarchy through which a proposed miracle has to go through. All the other possibilities must be considered.

    It’s magical thinking Don. God does not speak to us that way, by planting signs in things that we pick up with our HS radar, like those sentimental Christmas sanddollars. But he does come to us bodily in the sacrament just like he said. And how can I know that for sure? Because he said it himself.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    I think I was directing the conversation to scripture, and to the fact that God has given us a sign – Jesus Christ. I wasn’t trying to “resolve” anything “mysterious.” I disagree that it is mysterious at all. And for that matter, how is it not limiting God’s power to suggest he would create a cross out of rubble and not perform a much larger miracle to stop the buildings from falling? If he could make a cross out of wreckage, well he could certainly do some other stuff too, no? Or is his power limited? A reminder? A REMINDER!?! Is that the best God can do? What the . . . Gee, thanks for cluing me in there “god.”

    Your reasoning is also fundamentally based on a fallacy – argumentum ad ignorantiam – asking others to disprove a negative assertion. That’s not how it works. It could just as well have been put there with by Thor, or maybe even Allah to throw us off for that matter. There is no way to know Allah DIDN’T do it just to mess with Christians. Do you see that? It’s the same thinking of conspiracy theorists. “We will never really know why those towers fell. Prove to me it wasn’t a gov’t conspiracy.” No. I don’t have to. You have to prove that it was.

    Saying God is mysterious and that we just can’t know what he did or didn’t do is silly. “God of the gaps” it’s called. We use him to fill in the things we don’t understand or to rationalize an outcome. Under that rubric, anything can be construed as a miracle and no one can say any different because of “our puny minds” and “well, that’s what they believe and who am I to say different?” Well then, God just gave me that parking spot. You can’t say he didn’t! It’s a miracle! Talk about puny minds trying to put their head around God.

    It boils down to this: you are picking and choosing what fits in the category of miracle. That is what Catholics do. Of course it has to go through a massive bureaucracy first before being officially classified as miracle, but it’s the same thing. What is so miraculous about it when so many other things that day were not? How many miracles were prayed for that day by people trapped on the upper floors?

    In moments of extreme emotion people cast about for something they can latch onto for comfort. That is no surprise. My daughter does it with her blanket. It’s not miraculous. It’s what kids do. Is that God? Well, yes, in a way. God provides for us through the means of this world of things, and we find comfort in those things that are provided.

    But if you want to cast about for miracles, why not the miracle of a man who goes back into the building to get just a few more people out and dies doing it? Or someone who crosses themselves before they leap to their death? What about resting on the promises of God? What about faith? That is the miracle.

    Appealing to mystery is all well and good, but it doesn’t get you very far in explaining why children get cancer or die of hunger in a world of plenty. It doesn’t explain why that day happened or anything about that day. “God is mysterious” is an attempt to spiritualize the existence of certain phenomenon while leaving all the other possibilities out. That is why the Catholic Church has a hierarchy through which a proposed miracle has to go through. All the other possibilities must be considered.

    It’s magical thinking Don. God does not speak to us that way, by planting signs in things that we pick up with our HS radar, like those sentimental Christmas sanddollars. But he does come to us bodily in the sacrament just like he said. And how can I know that for sure? Because he said it himself.

  • Dust

    Yes, MERE symbols, Dr. Luther…you’d better rid your altar and narthex of them and any other graven images! While you are at it, toss out those vulgar and sensual hymns. Who needs those except those weak and naive souls who find comfort and strength in these shallow, mere symbols of faith? They could be so much more nobly informed with just the purity of God’s holy word, the only thing needed by the true and real and pure Children of God. No mere cross, no hymns, no stained glass, no sermon, no pastor either…just scripture pure and simple, for the pure and perfect in heart and spirit. Dr. Luther meet plain old Mr. Luther….mere titles are just mere vanity in this brave new world void of mere symbols!

  • Dust

    Yes, MERE symbols, Dr. Luther…you’d better rid your altar and narthex of them and any other graven images! While you are at it, toss out those vulgar and sensual hymns. Who needs those except those weak and naive souls who find comfort and strength in these shallow, mere symbols of faith? They could be so much more nobly informed with just the purity of God’s holy word, the only thing needed by the true and real and pure Children of God. No mere cross, no hymns, no stained glass, no sermon, no pastor either…just scripture pure and simple, for the pure and perfect in heart and spirit. Dr. Luther meet plain old Mr. Luther….mere titles are just mere vanity in this brave new world void of mere symbols!

  • Joe

    Dust – no one is claiming that God Himself decorated our alters. There is nothing wrong with symbols unless you attempt to turn them into something they are not.

    But, the point is this. God tells us in scripture exactly where to find him on this earth. We look to His chosen Means of Grace – He puts Himself in, with and under the bread and the wine. He does this for our sake, so we don’t have to look at a random act of physics and wonder, “Is God at work in this?” May be He is, may be He isn’t but we can know for certain that He is at work where His Gospel is proclaimed and where His Sacraments are administered. Our God does not leave us wondering. Our God does not ask us to put out faith in things not promised. Instead, He gives us exactly what we need and tells us exactly where and how it will be given.

  • Joe

    Dust – no one is claiming that God Himself decorated our alters. There is nothing wrong with symbols unless you attempt to turn them into something they are not.

    But, the point is this. God tells us in scripture exactly where to find him on this earth. We look to His chosen Means of Grace – He puts Himself in, with and under the bread and the wine. He does this for our sake, so we don’t have to look at a random act of physics and wonder, “Is God at work in this?” May be He is, may be He isn’t but we can know for certain that He is at work where His Gospel is proclaimed and where His Sacraments are administered. Our God does not leave us wondering. Our God does not ask us to put out faith in things not promised. Instead, He gives us exactly what we need and tells us exactly where and how it will be given.

  • Tom Hering

    “… others take great comfort in that most sacred and blessed symbol…so why would you deny them that comfort or question their motives under any circumstance, let alone the horror and tragedy of the WTC attacks?” – Dust @ 66.

    Dust, that’s exactly why I chose not to say anything about it at the time.

    I’m aware of how most people deal with 9/11 therapeutically, and I’m more than aware there’s no closure for grief. But ten years down the road, it’s ridiculous to suggest that those of us who didn’t personally suffer a loss that day can’t discuss things like the Ground Zero “cross.” Publicly.

    Great points, Doc @ 67 and Joe @ 72.

  • Tom Hering

    “… others take great comfort in that most sacred and blessed symbol…so why would you deny them that comfort or question their motives under any circumstance, let alone the horror and tragedy of the WTC attacks?” – Dust @ 66.

    Dust, that’s exactly why I chose not to say anything about it at the time.

    I’m aware of how most people deal with 9/11 therapeutically, and I’m more than aware there’s no closure for grief. But ten years down the road, it’s ridiculous to suggest that those of us who didn’t personally suffer a loss that day can’t discuss things like the Ground Zero “cross.” Publicly.

    Great points, Doc @ 67 and Joe @ 72.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @71 You missed my point. I did not say symbols were useless. I said your comparison with the sacraments is a poor comparison, for with the sacraments there are objective statements that is using them to convey grace. There is no associated promise with symbols. That isn’t to say they are completely useless.

    I am also taking issue with the whole speculation is the presence of the cross beams a God thing, simply because we can’t know.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @71 You missed my point. I did not say symbols were useless. I said your comparison with the sacraments is a poor comparison, for with the sacraments there are objective statements that is using them to convey grace. There is no associated promise with symbols. That isn’t to say they are completely useless.

    I am also taking issue with the whole speculation is the presence of the cross beams a God thing, simply because we can’t know.


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