Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Acts of God"

This is an additional thought to today's "Next!" post at Pyro.

We all know that insurance companies and others often refer to "natural" disasters as "acts of God." In the final sense, I don't know how we can argue with the phrase, as far as it goes. God is God; being God, God is ultimate. If something happens that is beyond His control, then that thing is God, and we should worship it instead of him. I speak as a fool.

But it does occur to me that a more "fair and balanced" news broadcast would include news such as...
"...in another act of God today, billions of people drew breath, put together coherent thoughts, found the law of gravity still works, found solid footing on which to walk, and looked out on a coherent universe instead of a shapeless chaos. Further acts of God were reported, including the vast majority having something to eat and something to drink, and sufficient health and strength to pursue them. The vast majority of planetary acreage was without significant seismic disturbance, and was untouched by hurricane, tornado, or fire, while being abundantly supplied with breathable air."

But of course man never starts with "I am owed nothing but fierce and merciless justice, how can I be so blessed?"

Since the snake's sales-line in the Garden, it's been "I am entitled to my own way in everything, how dare God withhold or interfere with it?"


Darren said...

Awesome! Reminds me of Piper always saying "When a plane crashes, people always blame God. Nobody ever thanks Him when the plane lands safely!"

Robert said...

Just goes to show how depraved we are even in our own thinking. Man sins and brings harm upon himself, then turns to God and asks "how can You allow such horrible disasters to happen?" Yet man doesn't see fit to ask God for mercy...just rail against Him. Yet, if we open our Bibles and read His revelation of Himself to us, we can get a true (although limited)understanding of how He works in everything.

This reminds me of a popular secular song out on the airwaves now where the singer asks God where He was when the singer needed Him. The first thing that popped into my mind was "He's in the Bible...go read and know Him!" How sad it is that so many people are lost in misconceptions about God because they are: 1) too lazy to go read the Bible (and I mean really read it, not just the nice parts) and/or 2) too busy to go read the Bible (which really to me is more like too lazy).

Hopefully when we present the Gospel we are pointing people to God in the Bible and encouraging them to know Him. It is so amazing to me that He even considers us enough to have revealed so much about Himself in His Word. I surely can not imagine anything in us that compels Him to do so...He is just so merciful and full of grace.

DJP said...


When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the LORD
(Proverbs 19:3)

Kay said...

The more I think about this topic, the more it cuts right to my heart. I pray that it would continue to do so, and do the work of making me humble eventually.

Becky Schell said...

"What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?" (Psalm 8:4).

Terry Rayburn said...

Man is that a true post, or what?!, Dan.

!Muy excellente!

Joey White said...

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radience of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Halcyon said...

This reminds me of what G.K. Chesterton called the "philosophy of gratitude," i.e., the mere fact of existence should be enough for us to fall on our knees in praise to God.

He got the idea from his Protestant (perhaps hyper-Calvinistic) grandfather who said, "I'd thank God for my existence even if I was a lost soul," i.e., mere life is a gift of mercy from the hand of God.

Stefan Ewing said...


Exactly! It's by God's grace that millions of people travel safely every day over long or short distances.

(I always pray and thank God for a safe journey. What a miracle that tin cans hurtling along the road or in the air can actually get us around the world, to work, or even to the moon and back successfully!)


Such a great post.

It's solely by God's grace that any of us—believer or non-believer—has anything at all: gainful employment; a roof over our heads; friends or family (no matter how dysfunctional!); bread on the table; public peace and order.

And yet there are days or weeks when I slog through each day grumbling and complaining about every little thing, forgetting that every morning I wake up in good health, in bed beside my wonderful wife, with a job to go to, commuting home safely—that it's all by God's sheer grace and good pleasure, through Jesus Christ, towards a totally undeserving sinner.

Rupert said...

I think what you say has a good premise to start with. There just simply aren't enough good news stories in the media. All the focus is on earthquakes and plane crashes. What about the safe landing? Or the abundant crops which are growing somewhere?

Given the underlying premise you are stating I really wonder how we approach a 'natural disaster' in an Islamic country? What are the causes and implications from your viewpoint?

Aaron said...

I think I've got my friend Robert addicted to this blog.

What about when man does something stupid and as a result, tragedy occurs? I hear a lot of complaints about disasters that have we have no business complaining about to God.

@Stefan I honestly catch myself as well. Sometimes I have to remind myself that whatever problems I think I have, they pale in comparisn to the problems I could have. Suddenly, I'm a little more grateful to God for my life.

The Navy Christian said...

Well, to be fair, the act of God that gives us breath each day was conducted several millennia (I know I spelled that wrong) ago. Ok, I digress. Of course we should praise him for what we have by our very existence, but I would trade that from the secular people if they just wouldn't blame him all the time. Funny how they will do that, but claim in the next sentence that he doesn't exist.

DJP said...

I think I've got my friend Robert addicted to this blog.

But it's a healthy addiction.

Robert said...

Yes, I admit I'm bouncing between here and Pyros daily. It helps me to laugh a bit and keeps my wordiness limited to words instead of speech. For that, I am sure many people are quite grateful!

Rupert said...

Surely secular people have no right to blame God for anything Dan?

If you start invoking God's name in regard to anything then you are not atheist. We can't have it both ways!

Rupert said...

The question I posed earlier was a serious one DJP. There was no facetiousness to it.

I really liked your line I am owed nothing but fierce and merciless justice, how can I be so blessed?

This is based on your faith, therefore it is God's acts which elicit a hurricane or save a plane from crashing.

Some of the Islamic faith adhere to their beliefs and scriptural behavior at least as strongly as you do yours (well, not so sure about the scriptural part with them).

So when there is a hurricane or saved plane in an Islamic nation, do you still fully apply your faith or is there some sort of 'tempering' in some sort of way, given the nature of their faith?

And the verification word is 'wreak', how serendipitous.

Robert said...


Not trying to speak for Dan, but God is God of all people. The Bible states that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:10-11) Also, God displayed His mighty works before Pharaoh and the people of Egypt in dismantling all of their false gods before them and delivering His people in the Exodus.

The Bible also states that God "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45) God is sovereign over everything...so, yes we should praise God for every good work that happens everywhere.

Rupert said...

I hear what you are saying Robert but I wouldn't want to stand in the middle of Tehran and say it out loud.

The believers of the Christian God are the ones who believe in a Christian God. No-one else does.

DJP said...

The believers of the Christian God are the ones who believe in a Christian God.



Rupert said...

But is it meaningful as well DJP?

My point is that there are many others who assert as much authority, claims of evidence, scriptural support and such in regard to their faith as you do in regard to yours.

You believe that yours is the only one which truly applies and that all other faiths as well as atheists have got it wrong. Yet all other faiths as well as atheists have the same response in regard to yours.

To you, yours is real, to them theirs is real, to me none of it is real.

I'm still not saying anything that comes across as 'deep' though am I. Maybe that's because it all really is that simple. Ah, who knows....

DJP said...

Oh, mercy.

And you felt this was crying out for Rupert to say because...?

DJP said...

Rupert, I largely haven't answered your earlier questions because I can't make any sense out of them. Sorry. If you want to re-word?

Rupert said...

I just find it incongruous to be surrounded (well, sort of) by various groups all claiming the same thing.

I mean you really, really believe that you have it right. So does everyone else, including me.

Don't worry about the question, I never did frame it clearly so it obviously doesn't carry much value.

Do you like coffee? Drink much of it? I have three cups every morning, and a bottle of red every night. I had my blood group tested, it came back shiraz! tish, boom.

I am seriously looking forward to this weeks H&T DJP, it's always entertaining.

DJP said...

Well, I'll launch a couple of scratches, and you see if they fit what your itch was.

I don't give final and exact interpretations of God's providence; that's a fool's errand, and Biblically unwarranted, as Job's friends discovered. I know that Muslims are under the wrath of God. Sincerity has nothing to do with it. Having Christ, or not having Christ, has everything to do with it (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12).

Yep, for any authority to compel belief, that source would have to be transcendent, in possession of all facts, able to see and understand every fact from every angle and in every possible relationship to every other fact.

Rupert said...

Your response DJP, is clear, concise and encompasses a lot of understanding for me. Thank you.

Robert said...


I'm not sure if you'll make it back to read this, but Thabiti Anyabwile wrote a book entitled "The Gospel for Muslims" that I think would address at least one false system of beliefs for you. Thabiti is a converted Muslim and wrotes how he converted to Christianity because the teachings of Islam were inconsistent and actually showed him that Christianity is the truth. I think it would be best to read the book because I'd do a major disservice trying to explain it all to you on here compared to his writing.

Rupert said...

Struth Robert, I just happened to scroll down the front page a bit further and when I saw '26 comments', I thought 'hang on, that's grown'!

While I find that interesting I don't think it has much impact.

There are many Christians who have converted to Islam and other religions. Just like others have converted to Christianity. The major faiths do all seem to have discrepancies, inconsistencies and interpretations on a number of levels.

Robert said...


I think that if you'll read the book, you will see why I recommend it to you. If not, then that is fine as well, but I didn't want to leave you with a false thought that Islam stands alone...it actually points to Christianity being the one true religion if you look at their beliefs regarding the Bible.

Rupert said...

Hi Robert, I won't be reading the book. I have done some research on it though and it sounds very much as you have described it.

The only problem I see is that this all applies only to the abrahamic faiths. Such a book would not be applicable to any other religions except as a reference text.

Of course that also means that the concept of Christianity being the one true religion is rather limited.

Robert said...


As for other religions, I don't see how any of them bridge the gap between our sinfulness and the righteousness of God. Man is not be perfect in thought and deed. Christianity is the only religion that shows that the perfect God came to earth in flesh and blood, lived a perfect life, paid the penalty for our sins, and thus claims a people of His own to be with Him in heaven.

Have you ever felt guilt over having done something wrong? That guilt is caused by the conscience that God built into every person. And the only way that you can truly be forgiven for doing wrong is to accept that Jesus Christ died for your sins and to follow Him as your Lord. If you reject that, then you will face the wrath of God in hell. There people experience eternal pain and suffering and total separation from God.

You may not realize this, but God sustains your very life. He shows all people common grace. If you are separated from God, all of the blessings that you receive here on earth are gone. And there is a resurrection for unbelievers to a body that will endure eternal punishment for sin...where the worm doesn't turn and there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I pray that God will turn your heart to Him and that you will repent of your sins and turn to Him. I certainly do not wish for any person to be subjected to that eternal punishment.

DJP said...

Robert, let me offer an "assist." I know exactly how Rupert will try to deflect what you're saying, because he has tried the same thing other times Christ is preached.

Rupert will point out — correctly — that other religions offer what they call cures for these same things.

It's a lazy dodge, I must say, and one we'd snort at in any other connection. I mean, I say I have a headache, you say "I've got Advil, it's just the thing" — and then Rupert leans in between us with the droll comment, "Oh yes, many cultures claim to cure headaches. Some shake chicken bones, some dance little dances. Very common. Don't bother."

Of course many (all?) cultures have headache cures because all cultures experience headaches. And many religions have something to say about sin and distance from God because it is a universal reality.

The difference is that the Christian Gospel is rooted in history, reality, and fundamentally in Jesus Christ.

That it addresses our most fundamental human need is hardly a disqualifier.

Robert said...


Thanks for your wisdom and insight. You and Rupert have obviuosly engaged in much more dialogue. Plus, I'm certainly no expert at putting the right words forth (not for lack of words, though!).

As I said before, I will be in prayer for you, Rupert. I hope that you see this as me reaching out to you in love. It is like if I see you about to step out on the road and a bus is coming full speed...you don't see the bus, but I do...so I am going to do all that I can from keeping you from getting hit by the bus. (Yes, I stole this analogy, but I think it is a great one)

DJP said...

NP Robert; I'm glad for what you said, and also care and pray for Rupert.

Rupert said...

Aw DJP! Now you've got me in a corner. Not fair!

I have to agree with what you said apart from one minor and one (maybe) major point.

I wouldn't only cite chicken bones etc., I would predominantly cite other brands of painkiller. Even a neck and shoulder massage would come out ahead of the other remedies.

For you the difference may be that the Christian Gospel is rooted in history, reality, and fundamentally in Jesus Christ. And at the risk of echoing your words, not for me, not for many others.

And when I see you attempting to walk on water Robert, I hold my breath for your safety.

Gentlemen, I care and hold best wishes for both of you.

DJP said...

Well, I'd never say "No" to the effects of a well-administered back rub.

But here's the difference. You don't deny the reality of headaches, nor the desirability for a cure.

But you have tried to argue that the fact that there are various religious remedies proposed for sin and distance from God indicates that we needn't bother with any of them.

See? There's a difference. As if the presence of counterfeit monies indicates that there is no such thing as genuine currency.

The truth is the precise opposite.

Rupert said...

Not quite what my argument is DJP. What I try to say is that every other religion takes theirs as seriously as you do yours. And that theirs is the 'one true way'. I do so in response to all those who say I am condemned because I do not recognize their particular deity.

Any argument I propose against the existence of any deities is a different matter.

An while I agree that a headache causes us all to seek a remedy, I fail to see the correlation between that and the need for God. I don't 'suffer' anything which makes me seek that 'remedy'.

We've drifted away a bit from Robert's original point. I'm happy to talk but don't let me distract you from prepping H&T!