about-bg about-bg

Watch/Listen

Where Was God on September 11?

• Greg Boyd

This sermon reflected on the events of 9/11 nearly one year ago. To start us off Greg had us watch clips from the PBS documentary “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero.” The clips contained portrayals of people asking tough questions about God in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Some of the questions included: Where was God during these events? If God is the Creator, then why didn’t he stop these events? Is it because God is barbaric and approves if not causes events like this? Isn’t America “blessed”? What happened? One man used to think that God was “majestic” and “powerful,” but now he has concluded that the “majestic God” is dead. Greg reflected on the fact that many questions like this are asked of God in the Bible as well, and so there is no reason to think that God is offended by the asking. But there are biblical ways to respond to these questions.

Show Extended Summary Hide Extended Summary

This sermon reflected on the events of 9/11 nearly one year ago. To start us off Greg had us watch clips from the PBS documentary “Faith and doubt at ground zero.” The clips contained portrayals of people asking tough questions about God in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Some of the questions included: Where was God during these events? If God is the Creator, then why didn’t he stop these events? Is it because God is barbaric and approves if not causes events like this? Isn’t America “blessed”? What happened? One man used to think that God was “majestic” and “powerful”, but now he has concluded that the “majestic God” is dead. Greg reflected on the fact that many questions like this are asked of God in the Bible as well, and so there is no reason to think that God is offended by the asking. But there are biblical ways to respond to these questions.

Greg offered some preliminary comments about wrestling with the issues raised by the PBS show. Radical atrocities and tragedies happen every day. It is just that we don’t find ourselves personally involved in them that often, especially here in America. So when we do, it stands out to us as unusual and against the fabric of our experience. It is important that we recognize how prevalent atrocities really are in the world. We need to develop two things: 1. A global awareness of the suffering of human beings—this should encourage empathy for those who suffer, and 2. We need to develop the worldview that Jesus had—that we are truly in a war zone and in that war zone, terrible things happen on a regular basis.

Today’s sermon was directed with compassion toward those who have a heart to believe but the unanswered questions in their mind won’t let them make the commitment. Some claim to be atheists, but for many its not that they disbelieve God exists but they are deeply disappointed in what seems to be the result of God’s work. How can we respond? Greg offered three counter questions to reframe the issue:

1. Why ask the question: “Why God?”

This challenges the assumption that God is directly responsible for the tragic event. The fuller version of the question is, “Why assume that God did this?” Do you assume that God either “does” or “endorses” everything that happens in the world? If so, then this question is directed to you. It is an uncomfortable thing to realize, but the Bible repeatedly teaches that the power of God can be resisted and opposed. This means that responsibility is often traceable to creatures and their evil intentions.

2. What is your picture of God?

This question follows naturally from the first. If God is directly behind everything that happens, or at least endorses it, then our picture of God will be derived from our assessment of the character of this world. After all, this is God’s world and God’s work—we can know the artist by the artist’s work, right? Here is where the warfare worldview is so critical. If we know that this world is in the midst of a spiritual battle zone, we can see that God is on the side of peace, transformation, healing and reconciliation. How can we know this? We fix our eyes on Jesus Christ as the fullest revelation of God and see that in him divine power is revealed in self-sacrificial servant-hood, we begin to see the world quite differently. Jesus reveals the power of God on the cross by defeating sin, death and the powers of darkness. If we don’t realize this, it may look like tragedies and atrocities we witness are a part of God’s mysterious will.

3. What is your hope?

Greg described hope as a confident expectation or anticipation. Our hope is in the Cross of Christ, not our own image of the power of God. The power of God is revealed in God’s willingness to come here and reconcile us in Christ. This may mean that you have some assumptions about what assurances there are for this life that actually are meant to be fulfilled in the next life. Everything in this life is temporary. Hebrews chapter 11 is a powerful testimony to this effect (see esp. vs. 39-40). The promise is that, in the end, God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28, Eph. 1:21-23).

Hide Extended Summary

Downloads & Resources

Audio File


Focus Scripture:

Subscribe to Podcast Buy Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

 

testimonial-icon

"For so many years, I have been blessed by your music ministry. It takes me to a place that evokes so many emotions and feelings: gratefulness; honor; love; joy; hope; peace; strength. My heart feels connected to the heart of God over and over again as we worship together."

– WH Attender