Thursday, August 02, 2007

John Piper: on the Collapsing Bridge in MN

Putting My Daughter to Bed Two Hours After the Bridge Collapsed
Talitha prayed “Please don’t let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.” When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.”

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

Speechless.

17 comments:

Sandie said...

I clicked over and read the whole thing and my reaction is still the same.... yuck. I work with kids all the time on theological issues and 'the fear of God' rarely if ever comes up. Kids have to be taught to fear, and I always mourn the moment that idea is introduced.

thechurchgeek said...

OMG!

Bill Kinnon said...

Ahh, yes. The God of the Truly Reformed. The one who allows millions of kids to die in East Africa (to name but one kid-deadly place on our fair planet) as part of his master plan.

Neither the god I serve or understand.

We built the bridge over the river that God made. We allowed it to decay. Driving heavier and heavier vehicles over it daily in its 40 year life.

But God was the one who allowed it to collapse. Give Me a Break!

Cheryl said...

Oy.

carrie said...
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julieunplugged said...

I read the whole thing and missed the compassion entirely.

Ampersand said...

I read the entire link earlier today. But, I'm too pained to form words fit for public consumption.

Chuck said...

I don't see any compassion there either, especially with statements like:

"That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This is a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world."

mariam said...

I read the whole article - twice, and thought it must be something like Landover Baptist. Swiftian in its cruelly satiric wit. But, apparently not. As a straight piece, I have to say that the compassion in the article wasn't of a variety I personally recognized (and neither was his God), but I am relatively new to Christianity. I think I'll proceed very cautiously.

Dave said...

Piper's theology is based on three principles:

1. God is sovereign, which to him means that God actively and intentionally directs every single event that happens, down to the sub-atomic level.

2. God is good, which means that even though an event may seem bad to us fallen humans, it all happens necessarily according to a plan that ultimately has meaning, purpose and value.

3. God is to be feared, which means that only some of us will wind up on the positive side of the cosmic ledger and there's not much we can do about it, but it's that dreadful uncertainty that grabs our psyche, and compels us to submit in order to improve our chances.

So in this, Piper is merely being consistent. This column is a remarkably candid and revealing exposition of how the Reformed mind rationalizes such events, especially when they hit closer to home than the proverbial "starving child in Africa."

It is a pretty bizarre point of view if one is looking at it from the outside, I agree.

Rick said...

I'll interject behind Dave that Piper's being consistent. This is a conversation that has no upside for God, asking whether He made it happen or if He let it happen. There's a both/and in the middle of it all, somewhere, isn't there? I trust we'll find some gracious answers when we are able to ask some of these questions face-to-face.

musing said...

My four children (now young adults) have all been scarred by the "fear God" mentality. I regret ever having taught it to them.

Kansas Bob said...

I am speechless as well and also missed the compassion in his post.

Tuesday I spoke to some inmates at our city jail about how easy it is to be offended by God ... after reading Piper I can better understand why so many people are offended by God.

Steve said...
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SusansPlace said...

I don't believe in Piper's God.

Susan

MaryD said...

I wonder if you had been able to "smell the garlic" that Pastor Piper was smelling, would your response to him being consistent with his own moment/place in history have been less heated?

julieunplugged said...

Actually, I don't think "smelling tyhe garlic" is the same thing as approving or accepting. It might mean understanding to a level of depth that horror ensues. Think about Hitler and his regime. Bonhoeffer got inside that world as deeply as you could go and it drove him to a kind of action few of us would ever justify in ourselves.

So smelling the garlic doesn't necessarily diminish horror. What it does is enable you to grapple with the ideas for the "other" from their point of reference better than only thinking about how they apply or don't apply to me.