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In The News
   
 
 

 

In The News

 

March 24 - Piper, McLaren Ponder God's Hand in Japan Quake

Article: Emerging Church
 
Did God cause the earthquake in Japan? Reformed theologian John Piper says yes. But emergent church pastor Brian McLaren isn't satisfied with the simple answer, especially as it paints God as heartless or inept.

All in all, McLaren says if his "only option for Christian faith required me to be satisfied with the explanations given by Piper, I would be driven away," he wrote in a commentary featured in The Other Journal.

Piper wrote in his blog: "No earthquakes in the Bible are attributed to Satan. ... Earthquakes are ultimately from God. Nature does not have a will of its own. And God owes Satan no freedom. What havoc demons wreak, they wreak with Godís permission. And God has reasons for what he permits. His permissions are purposes."

We don't know all ("hundreds of thousands") the purposes for the calamity in Japan and won't know until the end of age, Piper says. But there are possible purposes revealed in the Bible. Piper lists:

  • "The end-time earthquakes" are meant as calls to unbelievers to repentance and as a wake-up call to the world that Jesus Christ is coming and God's kingdom will soon be born;
  • "God's unilateral taking of thousands of lives is a loud declaration that 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away' (Job 1:21)" Ė in other words, life is a loan from God;
  • The powerful earthquake reveals the "fearful magnificence of God" Ė "most of the world does not fear the Lord and therefore lacks saving wisdom;"
  • When the earth shakes, there is a sense that there is no place to flee. Where do you turn? To God.

For those seeking "simple answers" and who are "of a certain theological bent," McLaren has no doubt that what Piper presented will satisfy them. But McLaren doesn't agree with such simplicity, particularly when it comes to the matter of evil and suffering.

"If one were to ask, 'What is Godís relationship with the universe?' the only answer from Piper and his colleagues would be 'Sovereignty,' and sovereignty would mean absolute, unilateral control," he points out. "That, I think, is not the only option for a faithful believer in God."  McLaren argues that "it is better to say" that God's sovereignty is not totalitarian.

"God isnít the kind of king interested in absolute control. God wouldnít create that kind of relationship with the universe because God isnít that kind of God," he contends. "Instead, God creates space and time for a universe to be, to become, to unfold in its own story, its own evolution.

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