Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Response to the Virginia Tech Massacre dealing with the Christian response to things like this

Text: Romans 9:14-21, Title: God on Trial, Subject: Theodicy, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/22/07, AM

A. Opening illustration: “Our God who is omnipotent is also weak in that God has imposed limitations on God’s omnipotence to give us the space to have a real autonomy” – Bishop Tutu, “The only answer Christianity has is that God is a sadist” –Blogger, “God had nothing to do with the shootings.” "Why did God let this happen? That is the wrong question. Here’s a better one. Why do people still believe in supernatural nonsense? The Bible was written by primitive men approximately 1700 years before the invention of the flush toilet. It is internally inconsistent and does not comport with reality. Yet millions still believe it and many will say their all-powerful god could have stopped the Virginia Tech massacre but did not because he has granted men free will. In other words, god did not want to interfere with the free will of the gun-wielding maniac. But what about the free will of the 32 students who were massacred and what about the free will of their decimated friends and family members? Would a loving and merciful god place the free will of a mad man above the free will of all these innocent people? Of course not. So theologians will once again fall back on the inane “God’s mysterious ways” explanation. And as the bloody bodies are removed from the campus our faith-based president goes on national TV to urge us to fall on our knees and pray to our loving and merciful god. It is absolutely surreal." "I was stunned yesterday when I heard President Bush ask a "loving God" to comfort the family and friends of the victims. I wanted to ask him if this was the same "loving God" who had just allowed the massacre of 32 innocent college students. His speech was so surreal it could easily have been part of a "Twilight Zone Episode!" "You have got to be nuttier than the VT shooter, and more out of touch with reality rhan he was, if you believe that what happened had anything at all to do with sin, God, or your theology." "Maria, do you really "believe if each person claiming to be "Christian" would pratice the teachings of scripture, God would move and demonic acts like this and other ungoldly acts would be minimized?" I sure hope you’re wrong. A God who will only stop violence if people read and practice teachings from 1,000’s of years ago sounds terribly petty and vindictive - much worse that the ineffective but kindhearted God described elsewhere in these discussions who can’t stop the violence, but weeps with us or provides comfort after the violence has occurred." "Then one writer hit it right on when he said that either God is sovereign or He is not, either He could have stopped this or he couldn’t. You can’t have it both ways."

B. Background to passage: Just wanted to take some time to work through the theology of what took place this weekend at VT. This is one of the places in scripture where God is potentially accused of injustice and wrongdoing. But it is high time that in our country, we stop using God as a whipping boy every time tragedy strikes, and never thanking Him for 10,000 days of mercy. And at the same time fall back to scripture to answer questions of responsibility and God’s ability, fearlessly affirming a sovereign, all-wise, and absolutely benevolent God. Now, I don’t stand here today with all the answers, but with the book with all the answers we need in my hand. My aim is to put a rock under your feet for the next time that your personal shooter comes into your life and kills and destroys those around you senselessly.

C. Main thought: This is our foundation for handling tragedy biblically.

A. Biblical Affirmations -- What does the Bible say?

1. God is good – Nah 1:7, Ps 100:5, 145:9, Becca’s funeral

2. God is all-wise – Job 11:7, Col 2:3, Rom 8:33,

3. God is completely holy and just – Isa 6:3, Ex 15:11, Deut 32:4,

4. God is purposeful – Jer 29:11, Isa 55:11, 46:10-11, Ps 33:11, Ex 9:16, Eph 1:11, Rom 8:28,

5. God is absolutely in sovereign – Pro 16:4, 9, 33, 115:3, 135:6, Amos 3:6, 2 Sam 12:10, Lam 3:37-38, Matt 10:29; This includes over the will of men. Can’t explain it, but I affirm it.

6. God is inscrutable and mysterious – Pro 30:2-3, Ps 139:6, 40:5, Job 42:3

7. Man is fallen, sinful, and responsible – Rom 5:12, 3:10-12, 14:12, 1:21-24, 2 Cor 5:10, Ecc 11:9, Ezek 18:30, Rev 20:12,

B. Theological Formulations -- How could this God all these things?

1. Talk about the text. The creature has no right to ask of a completely free and sovereign God why He does these things. Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid!

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