Skip to main content

A Great Start to a Sermon

This is now old, but I have just come across it and wanted to share how John Piper started his first sermon after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001.
So how shall I strengthen your hope this morning?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope politically, and comfort you that America is durable and will come together in great bipartisan unity and prove that the democratic system is strong and unshakable?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope militarily, and comfort you that American military might is unsurpassed and can turn back any destructive force against the nation?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope financially, and comfort you that when the market opens on Monday there will be stability and long-term growth to preserve the value of all your investments?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope geographically, and comfort you that you live in the Upper-Midwest, far from the major political and military and financial targets that enemies might choose?
· Shall I try to strengthen your hope psychologically, and send you to the web page titled "Self-Care and Self-help Following Disasters" so that you can read there that "individuals with strong coping skills . . . maintain a view of self as competent . . . and avoid regretting past decisions"?
· Should I try to strengthen your hope eschatologically by comforting you that you won't be on the earth anyway when the blazing fireball comes near your town?

The answer to those six questions is very easy for me: NO. I will not try to strengthen your hope in those six ways. And the reason I won't is also very simple. None of them is true.
· The American political system is not imperishable.
· The American military cannot protect us from every destructive force.
· The financial future is not certain and you may lose your investments.
· The Midwest is not safe from the next kind of terrorism which may be more pervasive and more deadly.
· The psychological efforts to feel competent and avoid regret are not healing, but fatal.
· And eschatological scenarios that promise escape from suffering under God's end-time providence didn't work for the Christians in the World Trade Center last Tuesday, and they won't work for you either. 
Before you exalt Christ it is often necessary to pull down a few idols that are in his place first, and Piper does well to give them the contempt they deserve.  [HT to Darrell Johnson, p49]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…

Wars and Rumours of Wars

I write in the morning after the USA 2016 Elections, which featured the historic election of Donald Trump. Apart from my personal interested as a resident of planet Earth at this time, it is interesting to note some of the apocalyptic language emerging in discussions of what this means. Even archaeologists are turning to the medium of prophecy. Hear the word of Tobias Stone,
So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover and move on.  Stone suggests that future historians will be able to draw clear lines from Brexit to Trump to the 3rd World War, or something equally bad. Mind you, just because historians can draw those lines doesn't mean they are here.

Then there is the word of Thom Hartman who is more interested in the domestic fallout than the fallout shelter. 
The last …