Posted by: eliseanne | August 25, 2009

God and destruction

Today was my day to catch up on my blog reading, after working mostly out of the office every week this month, and busy with stress and life at home as well (hence me not writing much here either).  Ariah Fine’s blog has an article and a comment up that I cant get outa my brain. He starts with:

If you haven’t heard, John Piper’s god sent a tornado through downtown Minneapolis last week to tell Lutheran’s not to let gay people become pastors.

Wow.  My in-laws referrenced this event to me over the weekend, and I just laughed at the irony they wanted to convey. Ariah (and Piper) pause me to think longer, and question my laughing response.  Read John Piper’s own words on it – they are the most troubling (in the link from the quote).

I’m working out my salvation with fear and trembling [read: courage] these days and examining the Jewish Scriptures / OT from the eyes of a pacifist. I’ve been reading, learning, and thinking a lot about the principles Jesus espoused in his life and how they are lived out today. As my mom would say,  thanks to her new favorite book, I am trying to get Jesus out of the Christian box ( I even am trying to see Jesus without the canonized Bible box).

So according to the Jewish Scriptures, pre-Jesus-on-earth,  Yahweh did mighty acts and miracles.  Most I can think of were to save/preserve the Jews (God’s chosen example to the world of the need for Jesus). You know, the Red Sea crossing, etc. Those make sense to me with the life of Jesus, too.

But I read Jeremiah recently,  about Yahweh saying that one nation would conquer the Jews to punish them (some could argue that is part of preserving) for their sins, but then Yahweh would send the Jews or someone else to conquer that first group, because how dare they fight against the Jews (huh??).  Now that I still cannot reconcile. But moving on.

Let’s say Yahweh uses miracles/physical destruction to punish Israel for their sins. Ok, fine. Maybe then a tornado would hit the Jews for ordaining people who identify as gay.  Maybe. I mean, Yahweh did things like striking people dead for lying, or having the earth swallow whole families for things. Maybe.

But we are in an era now where Jesus has enabled us to reconcile to holy Yahweh. No more straight-from-God punishment for sin.  Natural consequences, yes, but maybe not miraculous involvement for this purpose. Jesus certainly performed miracles for redeeming people (spiritually/mentally/physically/etc), and miracles still occur today in those realms.

People said similar things about the vast destruction of Hurricane Katrina. That will make me swear. There were/are so many  systemic issues of classism, racism, oppression, etc that I would strongly suggest it was not God punishing the people there.

So what do you think? What difference does it make that Jesus has taken the punishment now for sins?

Any why is it accepted by christiandom for Piper to say that a tornado came to punish the ELCA church for considering ordaining people who identify as homosexual? (Note: He didn’t suggest, he actually acts as if he speaks for the Almighty) Why do we not see tornados hitting church workers who lie or embezzle money? Why did a tornado not fall on a church that preaches that women’s worth is in their abiltiy to bear children and cook?

And insight on Yahweh pre-Jesus on earth and war would be appreciated too.

 

Peace.

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Responses

  1. Lots of hard questions.

    I have a bunch of thoughts on covenants and the like, but I think that this question is actually really important.

    But I read Jeremiah recently, about Yahweh saying that one nation would conquer the Jews to punish them (some could argue that is part of preserving) for their sins, but then Yahweh would send the Jews or someone else to conquer that first group, because how dare they fight against the Jews (huh??). Now that I still cannot reconcile.

    The way I see it, God’s treatment of the Babylonians (for, if I recall correctly, prior sins as well as for the sin against Israel) is that even if someone has done something that merits God’s direct punishment, it does not give me license to act towards them in a way that is inconsistent with loving my neighbor.

    I think this is part of what happens with Cain as well. Even though Cain is punished for the murder of Abel, God marks him so as to prevent others from sinning against him.

    Could God have been warning/punishing the ECLA with a tornado? I don’t know, I doubt it, but I’m not going to presume to speak for God. What I do know is that even this is a smiting, I am not called to rejoice in their suffering, but to mourn with my brothers and sisters who mourn.


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