God, according to the Bible, is omnipresent. This means, according to State Senate from Nebraska Ernie Chambers, God can be sued, since he resides in all the U.S. of A. Specifically Senator Chambers is suing God for what the insurance companies usually call 'acts of God'-- namely natural disasters, such as the tornadoes that recently struck Kansas and Nebraska. Here is the story link for you to mull over---
By all means launch the video attached to the story to hear what the Senator has to say. Lest you think that this is purely frivolous, actually it is not. Ernie Chambers is rather famous (or infamous) for his snide remarks about Christians, and presumably the Christian faith. Of course the Senator is going to have a difficult time getting God into court, one would think. In fact, God will have a much easier time getting Senator Chambers into court, in due course. But the story raises an important point. To what extent should God be blamed for what might be called random natural disasters? I am not talking about specifically targeted judgments like those depicted in Exodus or Revelation. I am simply talking about your average generic twister that causes mayhem for God's people and everyone else in its path. Think of hurricane Katrina and the mayhem on the Gulf coast, not just on sin city in New Orleans, but also on the First Baptist Church in Biloxi.
John Piper on his website of course recently had a post about the disastrous collapse of the bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis. His view was that however random it might seem to us, that actually this was the will of God, and in essence we should just suck it up. God is sovereign and he disposes things as he will, and according to his sovereign pre-ordained plan. If you just happened to be on the raw end of the deal, so much the worse for you. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, actually God has a right to judge the whole world now, if he so chooses. The fact that he spared some shows God's mercy, according to Piper, but he was under no obligation to spare anyone. 'There but for the grace of God go I", so to speak. This doesn't sound much like an attempt to mourn with those who are mourning. It is interesting that Senator Chambers and Rev. Piper would seem to agree on the source of this sort of mayhem.
My question for them would--- is God the author of sin as well? Is God responsible for all that goes wrong in the world? Do these folks really have no clear sense of secondary causes which, while we can say God allows them to happen, we certainly would not want to say God causes or ordains them to happen? Is there no such thing in their vocabulary as God's permissive will? And even if there is-- what good is it for them to talk about God's permissive will, if in fact they think that God pre-ordains both what he permits as well as what he does directly?
I would suggest that there are some significant theological flies (or gadflies) in this whole ointment. Let's start for a second with the book of Job. There is this little story about Satan being allowed to tempt or test Job using a whole slew of disasters, natural or otherwise. Now clearly enough God allows this to happen, but do you really want to claim that God predestined the Devil to do his work? Isn't Satan's work evil? Is God the author of evil? I think not.
Or think for a moment about the Beelzebul controversy in Mark 3. Jesus is accused of being in league with Satan. Now notice how Jesus responds to this charge. He doesn't say, "I couldn't do otherwise, because God foreordained me to do this, whether in league with Satan or on my own." No, Jesus calls it blasphemy! To attribute the work of God to the work of the Devil is 'blaspheming the Holy Spirit' who only does good always. Now the corollary of this is also true. To attribute the work of the Devil to the work of God is also blasphemy. Careful Rev. Piper, you might being falling under this warning Jesus gave here to his interlocuctors.
Who is it that really wants to wreak havoc in human lives? Who is it that really seeks to destroy and devour all that is good, and true and beautiful about human life? Does the Bible really lay these sorts of things at the doorstep of God or not? Why is it that Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly? Why does it say that God so loved the world (not the elect notice, but the world) that he sent his Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to redeem it? Is God chiefly life giving or death dealing? And while we are at it-- how did death come into the human equation in the first place? Was it God's will? If so, why does Paul call death the last enemy that must be overcome by God in Christ, the last result of human sin and the Fall to be overcome in 1 Cor. 15?
Oh yes and one more thing. Consider James 1 for a moment. Here James reminds us that when we are tempted, we should never say 'God is tempting me', because not only can God not be tempted to do anything wicked or evil, God himself tempts no one! Did you catch that? No one. But the Bible is clear enough that Satan does tempt people and yet it does not come from God. And here in James 1, James says that actually the ultimate source of the rot in this cases is the sinful desires of the human heart that lead humans to misbehave. This is interesting because it implies that James thinks there are other viable actors in the human drama besides God, and that God has not rigged the drama such that angels, demons and humans will inevitably dance to a pre-ordained divine script. Indeed, he thinks that some behavior of humans, and the Devil, and others, is antithetical to the will of God, whether revealed or hidden. Falleness and its effects was not a part of God's perfect plan for his relationship with human beings.
Doubtless Senator Chambers hasn't thought through all the theological ramifications of his lawsuit against God carefully enough. But this cannot be said of Rev. Piper, I am afraid. He's just guilty of having an unBiblical view of God, that ironically is closer to the fatalistic one found in the Koran, than the Biblical one found in the New Testament.
As Forrest Gump once said "well hush my mouth--that's all I have to say about that!"