Chaplain Mike at The Internet Monk has a marvelous rant against recent John Piper comments on the tornadoes that hit the US. This isn’t Piper’s first foray into tornado theology, or OTD - Obsessed with Tornadoes Disorders as Chaplain Mike calls his post.
We expect this foolishness from Pat Robertson, but increasingly in the fringe neo-Calvinist fringe (maybe not so fringe anymore) we see the need and desire for leaders to be all authoritative, all knowing, all insensitive.
- Why do some preachers think everyone has this obsessive need for explanation and answers at times like this? There may come a time (usually much later) for gentle instruction and discussion about the theological issues, but a wise pastor understands that when people ask “Why?” in a time of trauma and grief, they are not crying out for intellectual satisfaction. They are expressing pain. They are lamenting. They are not asking someone wiser and more spiritual to unlock mysteries of meaning for them. They don’t need someone to “put it in perspective for them.” They need someone who will “weep with those who weep.”
- Why do some preachers take opportunities like this to pile on? Instead of expressing sadness, extending condolences, or passionately urging love for one’s suffering brethren and neighbors (in his post Piper writes one brief line encouraging people to help), he says (1) just praise God, (2) be warned and repent, and (3) watch out, don’t think it can’t happen to you. Talk about a miserable comforter!
John Piper: Fierce Toronadoes and the Finger of God
I don’t want to leave anyone in the dark here about what I think regarding Dr. Piper’s cogitations. This will be a full-blown rant, straightforward and to the point.
- This is inappropriate.
- This is not helpful, pastoral, or loving.
- The timing is worse than awful; it’s inexcusable.
- This disrespects God and the people whose lives were devastated by the storms.
- This reinforces the false conception that it is the pastor’s job to be the all-wise interpreter of life’s mysteries, using his Bible as the Divine Answer Book. And so Pastor Piper affirms, if the Bible says “God sent a mighty wind,” then this means God is in immediate and direct control of all mighty winds — “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.” Take it all literally: no room for nuance, no poetic license, no metaphorical language, no mystery.