In the news recently is the story of a church that was almost bowled over by a large rock that was blasted loose and rolled down a hill toward the building. Apparently, construction workers on an adjacent site sent the rock tumbling straight toward the church. Incredibly, the 20-ton rock stopped a mere foot away from the wall of the church, preventing certain destruction of the building.
The minister of the church, of course, credits God with saving his building – and with it, the church’s mission as a food pantry for hundreds in the local Saugus, Massachusetts, community. Reading the comments added to the article online, the trolls would have us believe that it was mere physics that stopped the rock. Which one is it?
Nevermind the attestations of faith from those on the video (“Holy sh!t” and “Oh my Lord!”), the theological answer puts the debate to rest immediately. Whether from the hand of God or not, He is always in control. Our God is sovereign, He made the universe and everything in it. He also dictated the rules by which the universe operates, including gravity, momentum and conservation of energy. He is omniscient, which means he’s all-knowing, all the time. He’s omnipotent, which means he’s all powerful – to cause things, or in this case, to prevent things, according to His will.
Is ours a capricious god who deals with our fate and fortunes in a haphazard, willy-nilly fashion? Does He prey upon people and cause them injury according to his whims, as the skeptics would suggest? Not at all! Rather, in the beginning God created a perfect, peaceful world, free of sin but with the potential for it because of the free will He endowed each of us with. We all know how Adam regarded that gift (and lest any of us feign self-righteousness, not one among us would have acted differently!). Fast forward a few millenia, and in today’s chaos-choked, fallen world, bad things happen too often, and often to the most innocent among us.
God didn’t make sin nor it’s consequences — his culpability stops at creating the conditions that allowed us to first choose to bring sin into His creation (the same conditions necessary to allow us to freely choose to worship Him as our Lord and Savior, as opposed to being helplessly compelled to do so).
“Sometimes rocks befall churches; sometimes they don’t.”
Nonetheless, we understand that God can derive the benefit of all things that happen, both good and bad, for his purposes, and can use them to bring Him glory. There was a larger rock slide in Oso, Washington, that swallowed up dozens of homes and buried an unknown large number of people in its muddy, mucky mess. God didn’t cause this, but in His omnipotence, He let it happen. Any of us with mortal consciousness will struggle to understand why, beyond simple physics of the situation: a cause (fallen world) and its effect (pain, suffering and strife). Sometimes God intercedes, and sometimes he doesn’t.
On this side of eternity, we will rarely understand why sometimes bad befalls the good and why sometimes good befalls the bad. Sometimes rocks befall churches; sometimes they don’t. In all things, God is sovereign and God is good!
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” — Matthew 5:45, New International Version
The Faith Deconstructed category offers an occasionally thoughtful, sometimes glib, always faithful look at today’s Christianity, from the perspective of a reformed skeptic.