Keep in mind the blogs are posted in reverse chronological order.
Were we punished on 9/11?
Evangelical Christians and political conservatives have been linked for quite some time. However, the events of 9/11 made it clear to me the alliance is one of convenience only. There are deep (and growing) differences between evangelicals and political conservatives, especially as the latter take steps to achieve the dreaded goal of “broadening their base”. This usually means pro-abortion Republicans are placated, because (alas, with a certain amount of truth) evangelicals have no place else to go.
Most evangelicals I have talked to about 9/11 believe that we were indeed punished. After all, God is sovereign, so if not ordaining them outright he could surely have prevented the attacks. By divine edict he could have struck all the terrorists dead the night before the attacks. So the attacks proceeded, at the very least, with His permission. He wasn’t sleeping, and there is no uncontrollable evil running amok in the universe and outside of His province.
That, in and of itself, does not prove God’s intent was to punish. All sorts of terrible things happen in people’s lives that are not (necessarily) punishment. All that we can be sure of is, like in the case of Joseph, what ever happens is ultimately for good:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. (Gen 50:20, NASB)
The terrorists attacks on New York and the Pentagon, however, were so huge – so national in scope – that to many of us it “smelled” like national punishment. The thinking was:
- This is a reprobate nation
- God, although longsuffering, has had enough
- He used his “servants”, the terrorists, to send a message.
That in no way diminished our support for the war on terrorism. God may use the wicked for His purposes but he still holds them accountable (which must really annoy them).
There is a semi-infinite amount of precedence for this in the Old Testament, including referring to the wicked as God’s servants. Consider the Babylonian exile:
behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' declares the LORD, 'and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. (Jer 25:9, NASB).
Secular political conservatives would have none of this. They joined liberals in their absolute derision of the notion that God may have been acting in righteous anger against this nation. A week after the attack, William F. Buckley wrote in the National Review that “Christian teaching is not irrelevant, simply because we dismiss as preposterous the notion that, on September 11, God was the hijackers' co-pilot” (emphasis added). Here is the link.
It is manifest that secular political conservatives would agree with liberals that God was not the “co-pilot”. What is surprising, and telling, is that they (conservatives) also heaped scorn upon anyone who dared show support for the notion of divine retribution
Falwell and Robertson
Buckley’s article was, I have been told, in response to statements made by Christian celebrities (Falwell and Robertson) on The 700 Club. I did not hear what they said, but apparently they placed a great deal of the blame on rampant homosexuality in this country. They dared to tread upon the third rail of modern American diversity sensitivities.
I think they made a big mistake, if indeed they singled out homosexuals.
The degradations in America are so pervasive that if one wants to point fingers at particular sins, one should be more inclusive – which will have the added benefit of reducing the impression that you are picking on gays. They could have said (maybe they did) that God was punishing a nation that murders children by the thousands (abortion) preaches and celebrates adultery (divorce) is grossly sexually immoral (pornography, premarital sex and homosexuality) ignores its responsibilities to children (divorce again, and latch key kids) etc. To finish it off they could have added that ours is a nation mired in the forgotten sin of covetousness.
In short, they could have done a much better job in making a valid point.
God Bless America
Another difference between evangelicals and political conservatives developed over the incessant use of God Bless America, both the song and the salutation. To many of us it was an irreverent use of the word “God” by people who would just as soon take His name in vain. We prefer to pray for the country, its leaders, and its military, rather than command God to bless an undeserving people.