Two popular theological titans are battling it out over how to make sense of Japan. I’m referring of course to John Piper and Brian McLaren.
Last week, John Piper posted briefly on his Desiring God blog about the need for Christians to move beyond empathy and aid in responding to the ongoing catastrophe in Japan.
Piper strongly affirms the priority of empathy and aid. He then urges us to to take the next step: “When love has wept and worked, it must have something to say about God.”
For Piper, it seems that what this ‘something’ will consist in is primarily answers about the kind of purposes God might have in permitting what’s happening in Japan. (Here he is no doubt sensitive to the big question many will be asking — ‘Why didn’t God prevent such massive suffering?’)
This week, Brian McLaren weighed in with a very substantial reply at The Other Journal.
Against what seem to him to be Piper’s too-easy answers, McLaren pleads:
Evil and suffering, I suspect, aren’t properly responded to by simple explanations. They instead demand — certainly our empathy and our aid — but much more: our ongoing presence in shared agony and our passionate self-giving to our neighbors in pain.
I don’t want to be detained right now by where my theological sympathies lie — although, it shouldn’t be that hard to work out in light of some things I’ve said before on this blog (e.g., THIS, THIS or THIS).
What I do want to say is simply this:
Let’s be careful that Japan — its people and its very real need and suffering — isn’t eclipsed by a theological dispute we want (and maybe even need) to have…