Oklahoma’s devastating tornado stirred up a theological debate that was set off from a series of deleted tweets referencing the Book of Job.
Popular evangelical author and speaker John Piper regularly tweets Bible verses, but two verses tweeted after the tornado struck some as at best insensitive and at worst bad theology:
“Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead” (Job 1:19).
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20).
In the Book of Job, God allows Satan to afflict “blameless” Job, killing his 10 children, livestock and servants. While Piper’s tweets didn’t mention the tornado by name, critics said it was too close, and inappropriate.
Piper, who recently retired from the pulpit of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, is a leading theologian of the neo-Calvinist movement that’s sweeping many evangelical churches. In essence, Desiring God staffer Tony Reinke wrote, Piper was highlighting God’s sovereignty and that he is still worthy of worship in the midst of suffering and tragedy.
In response, popular evangelical writer Rachel Held Evans blasted Piper’s “abusive theology of ‘deserved’ tragedy,” and said Christians have to stop the idea of responding to tragedy by suggesting God is inflicting his judgment.
“The only thing we need to tell them is, ‘I don’t know why this happened but God is good and God loves us,’” she said in an interview.
Sign up to receive weekly WorshipIdeas every Tuesday morning in your email: