I was attending a conference in the US last week when a series of tornadoes wreaked havoc and killed around 40 people in the Midwest. These included an entire family in Indiana, including a 15-month old baby girl who was initially found alive having been blown several hundred yards from her destroyed home, but who has since died.
Unfortunately we've become used to Christians invoking God's name and declaring every such tragic event divine judgment, whether the 2004 Christmas tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 US tornadoes, or whatever. And true to form, last week's tornadoes have proved too much to resist for those convinced they know God's mind and dare speak on His behalf. Perhaps the greatest surprise this time round, though, is a noted figure like John Piper going down this route, to the surprise of various US Christian commentators. However softer the language might be compared with previous statements by Christian leaders, and while Piper notes several of the objections below (though fails to answer them), his view echoes similar declarations: the tornadoes were caused by God and the reason was divine judgment.
I've commented on this kind of thing several times and detailing the objections to such a view is getting somewhat repetitive. But let's rehearse them again anyway. 1) How do we know it was God who caused the tornadoes? 2) How do we know they were acts of God's judgment? 3) Who are we to speak on God's behalf and make such claims? 4) Why was judgment forthcoming, and how do we know? (It seems we could pluck anything from the air and say this is why God did it.) 5) If it is God's judgment upon the nation for some or other reason, why are people in rural backwaters being judged and punished rather than the nation's policymakers ? 6) Why, in so many cases, do followers of Jesus die in instances that are deemed God's judgment upon the wicked? 7) If such events are God's judgment upon America, why are much more wicked nations not suffering a similar fate? 8) How is it possible for people to claim it is God's judgment but for different (even opposing) reasons? It demonstrates just how hopelessly postmodern such arguments have become.
If you can think of any others I missed I'd be grateful to hear them.