Things get awkward when Wolf Blitzer gets just a little bit too patronizing.
OK tornado hit 1 mile from OK Baptist Children’s Home yesterday. Praise God kids & staff are safe. (via @alabamachildorg)
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) May 21, 2013
The good intention is in plain sight — but so is the witlessness. After all, if He is to be praised because some people didn’t die, then He has responsibility for those who did.
I am reminded of all those tedious “Thank God”s when those three women in Cleveland were released from 10-years of imprisonment a few weeks ago. The all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God didn’t lend a hand when they were abducted, didn’t help when they were chained to the basement walls, turned a blind eye when they were raped tens of dozens of times, and stood idle when they were beaten till they aborted. Why would any sane adult thank and praise Him, instead of that incoherent jailbird who dropped his lunch and ran to offer help the minute he saw they needed it?
So: In Oklahoma they’re searching through rubble to find the injured and dead, and a whole nation is sick with worry about some 75 kindergartners through 3-graders whose school fell in on them, and John Piper, famous Calvinist Holy Man, tweets this:
The tweet has since been removed; this screen grab is from here.
Apparently inspired by the awful events in Oklahoma, Albert Mohler reprises this morning a long, years old riff about the so-called Problem of Evil.
Every thoughtful person must deal with the problem of evil. Evil acts and tragic events come to us all in this vale of tears known as human life. The problem of evil and suffering is undoubtedly the greatest theological challenge we face.
He then quotes a variation of Epicurus’ famous argument, which holds that omniscience, omnipotence, goodness and tolerance of evil are mutually incompatible, and offers some watered-down beer.
As a character in Archibald MacLeish’s play, J.B. asserts, “If God is God He is not good, if God is good He is not God; take the even, take the odd . . . .” As he sees it, God can be good, or He can be powerful, but He cannot be both.
We will either take our stand with God’s self-revelation in the Bible, or we are left to invent a deity of our own imagination.
The second great error is to ascribe evil to God. But the Bible does not allow this argument. God is absolute righteousness, love, goodness, and justice. Most errors related to this issue occur because of our human tendency to impose an external standard –- a human construction of goodness –- upon God. But good does not so much define God as God defines good.
How then do we speak of God’s rule and reconcile this with the reality of evil? Between these two errors the Bible points us to the radical affirmation of God’s sovereignty as the ground of our salvation and the assurance of our own good. We cannot explain why God has allowed sin, but we understand that God’s glory is more perfectly demonstrated through the victory of Christ over sin. We cannot understand why God would allow sickness and suffering, but we must affirm that even these realities are rooted in sin and its cosmic effects.
This is all assertion, without a shred of reasoning from objective facts; it is, at the last, just more crooning that “you just have to have faith.” It’s better than the finger-pointing loonies who are even now shrieking about “God’s judgment” and gays and abortion, et cetera, et cetera — but it is no more than theology, and theology is nothing but cotton candy fairy-castles in the sky.
What else could it be? When you can’t even prove that God exists, there is no intellectual right to ascribe properties to Him. Theology is, innately, an intellectually dishonest enterprise.
Very soon, if not already, engineers will be all over the rubble. They will examine every shorn and twisted nail, every stripped bolt, every connection, every piece of reinforcing steel, every wooden truss they can find. A year or so from now there will be a conference examining the connection failures in exhausting detail, and when a consensus from objective data has been reached there will be new design standards. Those will be field-tested by yet another storm, and the process will begin again. The day will come when such storms are survivable, and at a tolerable economic cost — thanks to the steady application of reason to facts.
This is not faith — at least not in the sense in which Holy Men use the word; this is the reasonable, educated expectation, the way that science and engineering work, and the reason that well-maintained bridges, and dams, and tall structures are safe.
When that hallowed day comes, such as Mohler will summon the Pious to thank God and suggest that a small donation to His good works might be in order. It would be better to thank the thinking men and women with sense and self-respect enough to ignore such as Mohler and fight evil rather than passively submit to it.