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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Outstanding reply to John Piper's comments concerning the Tornadoes


Earlier this week, Pastor and Blogger John Piper wrote the following in response to the deadly tornadoes which struck several rural southern towns:

"We do not ascribe such independent power to Mother Nature or to the devil. God alone has the last say in where and how the wind blows. If a tornado twists at 175 miles an hour and stays on the ground like a massive lawnmower for 50 miles, God gave the command."


So Pastor Piper, our answer to people who weep over the 18 month old baby found in the middle of a cornfield after the storm is simply, "God willed it?" If a child is raped and tortured, God is somehow responsible? Is God like a twisted kid pulling the wings off flies just because he can? Is this the God of scripture? Do Christians REALLY believe that God's sovereignty dictates that He is responsible for such tragedy?

With Calvinistic "superstars" like Piper ruling the airwaves, is it any wonder the world runs from Christianity and says in effect, "We don't want YOUR God!??"

Folks, make no mistake, Mill Pond Church does NOT believe in John Piper's version of God. We don't worship a random, fickle, sadistic being who for no other reason than to "demonstrate His glory," wipes out innocent people. At the same time, we DO believe in a God who is sovereign.

So how is it possible to have a God who is "large and in charge," yet not the proponent or genesis of evil?

I was talking to a friend this week about this subject and he shared a helpful analogy. In most earthly monarchies, the King is sovereign. That is, he has rule and responsibility for the entire nation. He has laws and judicial support to run the country as He sees fit. Still, does everyone do what the King desires? No! Are there consequences when they disobey? Sure. Do other innocent people often suffer when
someone breaks the law? Yep! But the mere fact that someone breaks the law and consequences result, clearly does NOT mean that the King supports those actions or desires those consequences.

It would thus be silly to say,
*"Charlie stole a horse."
* "King John is sovereign."
* "Therefore, it was King John's will that Charlie stole the horse."

Nobody would embrace that logic...nor should they embrace John Piper's Theology.

The truth is that God is in charge and often graciously takes responsibility for all that happens in his universe. Still, he has created and maintained free moral agency for his children. So much so, that he had to go to the cross BECAUSE of the sin that resulted from our choices. Furthermore, scripture says the whole creation moans and groans in anticipation of the restoration of paradise because creation itself, not just man, suffers as a result of the fall/sin of mankind. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and droughts are the result of that "groaning."

But when natural disasters occur, such as tornadoes wiping out rural, predominantly Christian towns, should we point at God and say, "God gave the command?"


Does God use evil? Yes. Can he "work all things to the good (Rom. 8:28)?" Of course! But does he command that innocent children suffer so that in some sick way, he might demonstrate his power or control? God is not Adolph Hitler--He's a loving, powerful, perfect being who doesn't use random acts of violence to make his point. Does He punish the wicked? Yes. Does He even take responsibility for what happens in the sense that He could have stopped it? Sometimes.

But understand that evil produces evil--God does not.

There is a distinct difference between using evil and producing it. God uses evil. Thus, he used Satan in the process of Jesus being crucified (a la Judas). But the fact that God uses evil NEVER gives people like Pastor Piper the right to ascribe to God, the production or creation of evil.

Notice these passages:

James 1:13
Let no one say when he is tempted, “ I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

3 John 1:11
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

Mark 10:18
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

Acts 10:34
[ Gentiles Hear Good News ] Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,

Ecclesiastes 9:11
I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.

So when tragedies like this strike, how do we respond?

1. We refrain from assigning blame to God and thus push people away from a "god" who commanded that they randomly suffer.
2. We refrain from judging the people who suffer and assuming that they brought it on themselves.
3. We acknowledge that we live in a fallen world, that creation groans (Rom. 8:22) and suffers due to sin, and that "time and chance happens to them all (Eccl. 9:11)."
4. We love, pray for, and financially support those who have been hit--using this as an opportunity to lead others to Christ.

This is our faith--this is our calling--this Good and Loving Being, is our great, awesome, and Sovereign God!

In Jesus,
Pastor Joel