Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Evil is not good in disguise

April 1, 2011

Here is Brian McLaren’s kind and patient response to John Piper’s recent assertion (which he asserts often in the face of natural and human disasters) that God willed the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan. Needless to say, I strongly disagree with Piper. I’ve written and preached elsewhere on the subject of theodicy (re: Haiti, here, here, and here—my sermon on the topic is here), and I have little to add to McLaren’s article except to say a hearty Amen.

Piper writes that in the face of such tragedies, beyond empathy and aid, people need answers. Maybe they do, although it’s not evident to me that “answers” should be as high as third on that list. (I question the wisdom of volunteering answers so quickly and glibly, especially considering that Jesus, when asked to provide “answers” to a similar tragedy in his day, was far more circumspect.)

Regardless, if people want answers, Piper happily obliges them. Everything that happens in the universe, he says, God permits. (I think the hyper-Calvinists among us talk about God’s active will and God’s permissive will—something like that.) I wholeheartedly agree that God permits everything that happens. But Piper goes further: What God permits, God also obviously wills—even if it’s evil. This has Piper saying things like this: “God has a good and all-wise purpose for the heart-rending calamity in Japan on March 11, 2011, that appears to have cost tens of thousands of lives [. . . .] Indeed, he has hundreds of thousands of purposes, most of which will remain hidden to us until we are able to grasp them at the end of the age.”

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Prayer for Japan

March 14, 2011

As the news seemingly gets worse, let’s lift up our hearts to the Lord. The following prayer comes from the Church of England.

O loving Creator, bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them. We pray for those who may be affected as the tsunami spread across the Pacific. May we all be aware of your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls. May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth. May we dare to hope that through the generosity of the privileged, the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again. Through our Savior Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us. Amen.