God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain. CS Lewis
I had been planning to do a followup to Eagle's post on Friday. In the meantime, Tom Rich, the intrepid editor of FBC Jax Watchdog, posted a most excellent article this weekend on 9/11 responses. Now granted, he quoted TWW, and that, in itself, makes it a superb article. However, besides Anne Graham Lotz, he also quotes Jerry Falwell and Mac Brunson.
Jerry Falwell said the following, for which he later apologized.
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Mac Brunson (FBC Jacksonville pastor)
In 2008, Brunson claimed, hold onto your knickers, that the United States was hit by terrorists and then, by hurricane Katrina, because Americans did not repent after the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair! Brunson then actually speaks in the first person for God!
“We end up in an oil crisis where families can't afford to put $4 a gallon gas in their cars and now in the past week we've had the largest drop on the Wall Street in its 112 year history…. …You think God hadn't been actively doing something? God says 'I've been active all this time. I've been active putting into place all these things. I've been actively seeing how high I can get gasoline for you Americans. I've been actively seeing how I can cause the economy to crash, because if you will not turn to me in my blessings on you, I will take them away, as Hosea took away the blessings of Gomer. And nobody, the bible says, will be deliver you out of My hands."
Media Matters (yes, yes I know) reports on statements by three other famous Christians. Link
“On the September 12 broadcast of his BreakPoint radio program, former Nixon special counsel-turned-Christian radio commentator Charles Colson speculated that God allowed Hurricane Katrina as a reminder to the United States of the importance of winning the "war on terror":
(Colson speaking) ‘ [O]ne lesson I learned from Katrina is that we had better win the war on terror and resolve to prevent another 9-11. Katrina exposed how easy it would be to take a city out.
Katrina gave us a preview of what America would look like if we fail to fight the war on terror. "Did God have anything to do with Katrina?," people ask. My answer is, he allowed it and perhaps he allowed it to get our attention so that we don't delude ourselves into thinking that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and life will be normal again.’”
In the same media Matters article, Hal Lindsey is quoted. I was surprised to find out that he was still around. He is the author of The Late Great Planet Earth which upon it's publication in 1969, started the End Times frenzy.
In keeping with his “Jesus is coming any moment" vein, he stated that the "judgment of America has begun.” Apparently, God is going to take out America in the near future.
“It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun. I warn continually that the last days lineup of world powers does not include anything resembling the United States of America. Instead, a revived Roman Empire in Europe is to rule the West, and then the world.”
The Media Matters article reports that Pat Robertson linked Hurricane Katrina and terrorist attacks to legalized abortion.
“We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America. I was reading, yesterday, a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood. And he used the term that those who do this, "the land will vomit you out." That — you look at your — you look at the book of Leviticus and see what it says there. And this author of this said, "well 'vomit out' means you are not able to defend yourself." But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way?”
On John Piper's site, Desiring God, Link, we have a Calvinista's view of tragedy, and it is harsh, indeed.
In 2007, John Piper, whose ministry is based in the Minneapolis area, responded to the sudden collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis during rush hour killing 13 people and injuring 145.
He quoted from Luke 13:1-5. “People came to Jesus with heart-wrenching news about the slaughter of worshipers by Pilate.Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that those who didn’t die did not deserve to die. That is not what he said. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don’t repent, we too will perish. “
He goes onto say the following:
“The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape.”
“[His daughter] Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”
I can only shake my head in astonishment that Piper would say things in such a way that makes it seem as if the collapse of this bridge is all about him. I don't think that is what he wanted to convey but his rather self-centered statement could be easily misunderstood as hubris.
I found an excellent response to Piper’s thoughts written by Jeremy Bouma at the Novus Lumen blog here. I highly recommend that our readers examine his entire response. It is definitely worth the read.
“I find it very odd that Piper would think there was some special message for the Twin Cities through Luke 13:1-9. When I read this I thought, “This is what God wants to say to Minneapolis? If Jesus was walking around the twisted metal jutting from the ends of the bridge, wading into the Mississippi around the chunks of concrete, and moving through the throngs of injured THIS is what he would say in the midst of this gut wrenching scene? Are you kidding me?”
Jeremy then quotes from John 11 in which Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus.
“When Jesus encountered the scene of emotional chaos, saw the emotionally fragile state of Mary and felt the lament of Lazarus’ friends over his death, Jesus’ soul was overcome by the moment and in a very authentically human response Jesus cried. He had no words when he stepped into the confusion of the moment. Instead he simply sat with Mary and the Jews and joined in their weeping.”
He also questions Piper’s thoughts that the collapse of the bridge points us to the fact that we are sinners and need to repent. “I believe the story of Job has a similarly wretched encounter with people who wanted to label the reason for Jobs life tragedy. Several “friends” tried to blame Job by claiming he was living in sin and was being punished by God. Job responded by unmasking these idiots for who they were: miserable comforters!”
He effectively drives home his premise with the following. “Why must we preach to Minneapolis in this time? Why can’t we just sit with them in their grief, hold them, cry with them, and listen to their stories? Why must we insist on slapping The Passion all over this and insist that unless the Twin City repents God will keep sending more messages through more collapsing infrastructure until they get the hint that he’s ticked at their screwed-up-ness? “
Here are some insightful comments by Al Mohler, who gets it right in this particular instance. Link
“Why would God allow hurricanes? The fully satisfying answer to that question is known to God alone. But we do know this much – every atom and molecule of creation testifies of God’s glory, reveals His power and nature, and stands under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. God is not a divine spectator, watching planet Earth unwind and revolve. Hurricanes are a part of what He has created, along with sunsets, blizzards, waterspouts, and whirlwinds. God remains the sovereign over all His creation.
How should we pray? Well, we must not pray that the storm would avoid us, only to go elsewhere and harm others. I wonder if many Christians are listening to themselves when they pray storms upon others and claim an answer to prayer when the devastation moves elsewhere. This is unworthy of our Lord’s command that we are to love others even as we love ourselves. We must certainly pray for our loved ones, but we must also pray for those we do not know and will never meet on earth.
Perhaps we should pray as Jesus taught us, praying that the Father’s will would be done, that all persons would be spared harm, and that Christians would respond in the aftermath of disaster with a clear Christian witness of care, assistance, and witness. “
Finally, in 2005, Dr Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College and former Senior Minister of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church, addressed the issue of a Christian response to Hurricane Katrina here.
“We respond with indignation, seeing that the poor have suffered even more than the rich. Hurricanes are indiscriminate in their destruction, raining destruction on everyone in their path. Almost no one on the Gulf Coast has gone unscathed. But more of the poor were left behind, in many cases because they did not have a vehicle that could get them out of town, or the money to get a seat on a bus or an airplane. The righteous see the structure of injustice behind the disproportionate suffering of the poor.
We respond with trust, believing that God is working his purposes out for our nation and our world. But this is not to say that we know what those purposes are. Is Katrina God’s judgment on America, as some have said–his punishment for an unjust war on Iraq? Or is it perhaps his wrath against the casino towns of Mississippi and the wanton depravity of New Orleans, as others are saying? But if that is the reason for all this destruction, then what shall we say about all the other godless cities in this country, including our own? And what shall we say about all the godly people whose lives have also been lost, and all the faithful churches that have been destroyed? These questions are better left to God, who alone has the right to say what justice and what mercy he will show.”