“Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew. “ George W. Bush
Pentagon after the attacks
I am startled by the hubris of Christians who purport to know the mind of God when disaster strikes. Some Christians claim to believe in grace but revert back to Old Testament covenants with its rules and regulations at the drop of a hat. As soon as a disaster strikes, well-known Christians take over the media, announcing God's judgment on a nation, a group of people or even a state. I remember Anne Graham Lotz declaring that 9/11 was God's judgment on America for not following Him. I remember thinking, is this God's judgment on America? Why not the Netherlands, Sweden or even Afghanistan? Talk about countries which have drifted from God!
We seem to be locked into an old covenant that goes something like this. If you follow God's commandments, He will send rain for your crops. If you don't, you will get rings through your noses and be marched off to captivity in a pagan land. But, weren't these covenants to demonstrate that we couldn't keep God's commandments perfectly? And isn't that why Jesus came? Aren't we forgiven?
Yet, confronted with sin in the world, we revert right back to God in punishment mode. Yep, Jesus forgave you but God is still really mad at you and He is going to get you. Christianity Today, 9/2011, features Christian leaders who shared how they have changed since 9/11. On page 29, we find some thoughts of Anne Graham Lotz. Her assessment has not changed. 9/11 is God's judgment on us.
- "All I knew that God was attempting to get the attention of his people, including me."
- "I also saw a humiliating vision of my own sin."
- "I spent days on my face before God, confessing my sin and receiving his cleansing.
- "From Hurricane Katrina to the record breaking floods, forest fires, tornadoes, droughts,and snow storms; to the collapse of major financial institutions,to the economic recession, to the inability to win the war in Afghanistan. The alarm keeps resounding because so many people have not heeded, or even heard, the warning."
So God destroyed the Twin Towers and killed thousands of people to get Anne's attention? Then why hasn't He done something about the countries that turn their backs on sex slaves or other countries that practice genocide. How about the secularization of the vast population of Europe?
Did it ever occur to folks that bad things happen because we live in a fallen world and we suffer the consequences? Sometimes that is the reason that bad things happen. For example, back in the early part of the last century, the Dust Bowl devastated America's crops while the Great Depression flung people into poverty. Yet, there were fewer secularists back then.
There is great danger to tying bad things to God's punishment. Was God punishing my 3 year old daughter by giving her a brain tumor? Maybe He was trying to let her know that she is a sinner? Are we to live in fear that, when we forget our quiet time and get impatient with our kids, God is going to send down a snow storm or an earthquake or a fatal illness? Are America's sins truly worse than those of other countries? Is America supposed to be viewed as today's "Promised Land," complete with covenants, etc.?
One other thought. before we get to the main story. Why is it that we "know" we are living in the End times? Ever since Hal Lindsey's The Late, Great Planet Earth, everyone has become an expert on the "signs" of the End times. Few stop to examine the theology of eschatology. It's far more fun to play "name the AntiChrist du jour."
In my lifetime, there have been a number of Christian leaders who have stated that we are living in the end times. I have heard people claim that the following people were the AntiChrist: The Pope (all of them since the 1960s), Henry Kissinger, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kofi Annan, Fidel Castor, Mao Tse Tung, Saddam Hussain, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and on and on. And just about every Christian claims to "know" we are in the "Last Days." As Eagle's thoughts will demonstrate, this can lead to very bad theology.
In an online post at Christianity Today, here, Lotz is quoted as saying:
"Lotz told The Christian Post in an interview this week that she wants Americans to realise how far they have pushed Jesus out of their government, schools, and personal lives.“It is time to repent and invite God back into our lives,” Lotz said.
“The signs that Jesus gave us in the Bible and the headlines in the news are coming together in a dramatically sobering way.”
Lotz, now 63, says she profoundly believes that if she lives out her natural life, she will live to see the physical return of Jesus to earth."
With this introduction in mind, TWW presents to you a post written by Eagle, a commenter on this blog. He came to us by way of the wonderful The Internet Monk, which beat us to the punch and published this a couple of days ago. However, both Eagle and Chaplain Mike were gracious and gave us permission to reprint this here. Eagle is currently an agnostic, after having spent some time in evangelical circles. He is a deeply thoughtful man who honestly explores his questions about faith. He is deeply empathetic and is the type of man you would want to have as your friend. His view of some Christians on 9/11 is both illuminating and painful. I suspect it will garner quite a few comments.
I want to make you aware of a neat and limited exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History that is worth your visit if you live in the area or will be visiting it in the next week. The exhibit is about September 11, showing some personal artifacts from the disaster in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Centers.
As a heads up, the exhibit is popular and the line was long today. I wanted this to be a morning event; instead it turned into a day-long event. I waited about an hour and a half to get in. So if you want to see it, get there early. It’s open from 11:00 to 3:00 from now until September 11, 2011. The other part of the show dealt with how the news media covered the event and how historians are preserving it. It’s a good exhibit, albeit heavy.
The final part is an interactive where you are asked to record what you were doing on September 11, 2001 — How did you hear the news? What does September 11 mean to you? I sat there at a table and decided to write down the story an acquaintance who worked at the Pentagon told me about how he had the day off from the part of the building that was hit. I also wrote how my grandmother told me that September 11 was similar to Pearl Harbor for her. When my grandmother passed away in October 2009 at 100 she was almost like a history book. She remembered being a kid, 8 or 9 and people celebrating the end of World War I. I loved talking with her because of this….
I put down those memories of 9/11….
What I didn’t put down was my experience as an evangelical/fundamentalist on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and seeing how some evangelicals responded to the event, in comparison to the Catholics and non-evangelicals that I knew. I elected not to put that down because in all honesty I wish I could just forget about some of it.
But here is the other part of how I remember September 11:
I had that Tuesday morning off, as I had grad classes at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Everything had happened by the time I had heard. Up late the previous night, I slept in and was getting ready when my Mom called. “We’ve been attacked!” she screamed. I didn’t know what she was referring to and turned on the TV. I was shocked, just shocked, by the replay of images on the television screen. I couldn’t believe I was watching a plane fly into a skyscraper.
I left my apartment and looked at how things were on Marquette. I saw that the line to give blood was lengthy at the Blood Bank and winding down Wisconsin Ave, the main avenue in downtown Milwaukee. Marquette had counselors available in the student section with people glued to the TVs and I saw that they were going to have a special mass due to the occasion at the Church of the Gesu on Wisconsin Ave.
I came back to my apartment and had a flier at my door saying that due to the days events Marquette University was closing for the day. Due to my frame of mind I wouldn’t have gone to a Catholic service but due to the events I just felt like I should go to church. I did so that afternoon. A couple of Marquette students were protesting outside the church “No Blood For Oil” as I remember one person holding up a sign. The church was packed. Many people there were in shock, upset or disbelief. As I recall I could tell that some had been crying. The mass started and the priest went through the Catholic service. I don’t remember fully what he said, what I do recall was that he started out by talking about how our generation had their “JFK assassination” event, and that the terrorist attacks were of the same size and scope of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The atmosphere was one of grief, sadness and mourning.
Next I buzzed off to Family Christian Stores in Mayfair to pick up the Michael W Smith CD on Worship which was released on September 11, 2001. Crazy I know….
The experience in the Jesuit Catholic Church service contrasted with my experience in Campus Crusade for Christ that Tuesday evening of September 11, 2001. I remember walking into the Student Union and then into the room where Crusade was. My staff director was almost giddy and talked about how his wife was watching TV when the other plane flew into the other World Trade Center Tower. Another student leader for Campus Crusade told me, “Dave, the End Times are here….and the rapture is going to happen soon! When it does happen I want to be in a skyscraper so I can fly into the air and be with Jesus!”
The atmosphere in that room within Campus Crusade was starkly different than the atmosphere in the Gesu Jesuit Church I was in several hours earlier. (Dare I say this….?) But it seemed that some evangelicals were almost elated that September 11 occurred as they thought it would “hasten” the End Times Prophecy. And sadly I have to confess that due to my state of mind I went along and it didn’t bother me at the time like it does greatly today. I don’t remember a lot of mourning or ability to empathize. Instead it seemed is if there was this subtle “joy” from many people caught up in placing End Times events in a historical and Biblical perspective.
I didn’t want to write that down and leave that on the Smithsonian record. Truth be told I wish I could forget being involved in fundamentalist theology and seeing their reaction that day.
I was thinking about this earlier at the Smithsonian exhibit and I called my dad to ask him this afternoon about how he heard the news about JFK being assassinated and what he was doing. He told me the story of what it was like to be on his Surgical Internship at Duke University on November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. My dad’s internship was with the Urology Department and he worked with a number of Baptists. When the news came in about Kennedy being killed in Dallas dad, who was Irish Catholic, was shocked. What distressed and discouraged him more was watching his Baptist co-workers be happy that a Catholic was killed because they didn’t want one in the White House. One person told dad it was “about time” that someone took him out. As a Catholic, my dad still struggles with Baptists and other evangelicals because he can’t comprehend why anyone would be happy about the death of another person.
Isn’t Christianity just lovely?
This following song is sent out to all of you who have been hurt and wonder if it is all worth it. This is also for those who lost loved ones in 9/11. May God's peace be with you always.