Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ordinary Questions about the Bridge

iMonk posted a great blog today about the bridge collapse. There is time for theological questions in regards to the tragedy but now is A Time for Ordinary Questions.

A few tidbits:
It leaves me wondering if we are sometimes too God-centered?

One of the things that bothers me about religion in general and evangelical Christianity in particular is a tendency to change the focus of ordinary things to religious things. “So heavenly minded, they are of no earthly good” is a valid criticism.

What should happen with a God-centered mind is a redemption and elevation of the ordinary. God is pleased when engineers, politicians and road inspectors have a Christian testimony. He’s also pleased- just as pleased, but in a different way- when the engineer designs a safe bridge, when the politician funds a sufficient infrastructure and when the inspector is thorough and rigorous.

iMonk even wrote something that will (most likely) catch a nod from my friend Nehring:
There’s a time to judge a movie by the faith statements of the creators, and a time to judge a movie by the standards of good movie making.


Nehring said...

That thundering noise you're hearing is me applauding that last quote.

smm said...

I am a bit confused. You have both John Piper's response and Albert Molher's response to this bridge tradgedy, and their theological musings as well as this blog criticizing those who have responded with a theological point of view.

Amazingly I have heard news reporters and people being interviewed on the television ask questions like "why (how) can let this happen" and the such. Just yesterday we recieved two calls in the office one from a builder and one from a former employee. Both were wondering why God let's tradgedy like this happen.
One of the callers was there when this bridge fell.

Sadly I have heard very few people with Biblically solid, hope giving in the midst of tradgedy, God centered answers.

I agree that we should be the ones there on the ground helping, careing for the wounded, careing for the rescue workers, giving blood and not the ones being like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson giving our two cents on tv with their heads in the clouds. With that said I feel that we must be ready to have an answer.

Especially us in the Twin Cities who are so close to this tradgedy and where so many are shaken and asking spiritual questions like never before.

As for Imonks question/statement..."It leaves me wondering if we are sometimes too God-centered?

One of the things that bothers me about religion in general and evangelical Christianity in particular is a tendency to change the focus of ordinary things to religious things. “So heavenly minded, they are of no earthly good” is a valid criticism"

To me it seems to be the compartmentalization of spiritual vs. ordinary things. Something we in America are so good at doing.

How do you do this a a true believer? Are we to strip the ordinary world of anything spiritual?
If all my thoughts are about ordinary things like how this bridge structurally failed how does that do me any good?

So now I am fearful of driving over bridges? Now I trust the NTSB?

My prayer is that if I find myself ever in the midst of a tradgedy like this that my hope would not be in MDOT or inspectors and bridges or airplanes, or skyscrapers or the NTSB but so grounded in Christ that I can have a capacity to trust Christ in the midst of my circumstances, especailly the bad ones.

That doesn't happen by just taking about surface questions.

Most likely people aren't going to come ask you engeneering questions about this disaster, but as I have found they may want to know how God fits into this equasion in the midst of pain and suffering.

I hope many will not take imonks advice but be ready to give hopefilled answers that are solid Biblically grounded, hope giving even when airplanes crash into buildings, tsunami's hit the shore, hurricanes break the levies and bridges crash into the river.

We should be weeping alongside those who weep now, caring for the hurting and injured, and when asked how God's fits into this be able to lovingly respond like Pastor John writes...

All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This is a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

That's the way I see it!

PS said...

Yes there is a contrast between the posts and that is why I posted them.

Both sets of questions need to be answered because people are asking both. The truth is I am not equipped to answer adequately from either perspective but I must.

iMonk's post serves to pull some people (with all the quick theological answers) back to the reality of the ordinary.

I also posted the contrasting articles because I wanted to show the irony that in the end all ordinary questions are theological and they all have an answer. If I acknowledge and try to deal with this tension then I believe it mirrors the real gospel hope all people need.

smm said...

I agree.

ron said...

IMonk wrote:

"It’s OK to have fewer theological questions and more ordinary ones. In fact, the ordinary ones are often the ones we need to hear. There’s a time for theological and Biblical questions, but it’s not all the time. "

When is the time? I don't find much help in his post. He clarifies that there are theological and ordinary questions, but he doesn't provide guidance on how to separate or intertwine them. It's like saying we should pray more, and leaving it at that.

smm said...

Thinking about this post today and driving past the site of this collapse I found it interesting that on both KSTP talk radio and WCCO for at least an hour between the two hosts and were trying to answer theological questions, end of life & Why God questions.

On KSTP things like a story about Jessie Ventura talking about how nearly drowned himself made him have peace with death since he believe's everthing is predetermined and when it's your time it's your time. I heard this all day. I kept thinking...The media is talking so much about this and seems to be honestly searching for some sort of answer. Yet this post is seemingly saying we as Christians should just shut up and ask about the welds on this bridge.
So while I agree that it is OK to ask ordinary questions and we should be asking them it seems like everywhere I turn on tv and radio and in the media they are asking spiritual/theological questions.
The people I've heard respond in these media circuits thus far is from a liberal or new age-ish prespective.

Wouldn't it be a telling if we didn't give a answer for the Hope we have beyond & in tradgedy in Christ when it seems everyone else is asking these questions.

PS said...

I don't see that the theological questions (and answers) and the ordinary questions (and answers) are mutually exclusive. When someone asks a question why does God allow this tragedy to happen, I want to have a comforting and non-superficial answer. Christians better not shut up and they better not compartmentalize life into the ordinary and theological.