(The following is an excerpt from IN THE ARENA, a radio show that aired on September 11th, 2011)
Zephaniah (1:16): “A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities and against the high towers…
(3:18): I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who belong to you, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.”
Where was God on September 11th? I’m sure that question is familiar to you all, but are all questions legitimate? For that matter, are all questions even questions? I have read and listened to many answers to that question – most by professing Christians, most come to the same conclusions; but I would like to offer a variant take.
What if God answered that question, not some youth Pastor or radio personality, or grief counselor but God himself? Before you declare blasphemy and walk out, hear me out because God has actually answered that question. You may not have heard his answer but I guarantee you, it is vastly different than the answer that you may be used to.
Now Socrates taught that only a fool would begin a dialogue without defining one’s terms so the first question we must settle is WHICH GOD? If you’re talking about Allah, the god of Islam, then the question, all assumptions considered kind of falls apart.
I know there are those who have condemned the violence and the majority of Muslims say that they themselves would never do what those hi-jackers did, but it’s also a majority of Muslims that say a suicide bomber is justified in taking innocent human life if it is in the cause of Allah, and the Holy Quran that says Slay the infidel where you find him, lie in wait for him and don’t take Christians or Jews as friends.
The answer to where Allah was on 9/11 lies somewhere between bursting with pride at justice enacted or preparing 19 harems of 72 perpetual virgins.
Or are we talking about the god of Oprah, the god of forces, the law of intention? This is even darker because this god says that people who suffer bring the suffering on themselves by ‘stinking thinking’, the fat person obsesses about not eating and the universe brings him a desire for food, the person drowning in debt can only think of his finances and sinks further into the mire; so somehow, on the same day all those people in the Pentagon, the Trade Center buildings, on those planes must have been obsessing about terror … and the universe obliged them. In the east there’s a slightly older variation to this, the Hindu calls it Karma.
The truth is that the vast majority of the time that the question “Where was God” is asked, it’s posed of the God of the Bible, not L. Ron Hubbard, Buddha, Shiva or Zeus. It’s one of the curious things about the atheist as well, that the greater part of his time and money is spent debunking the God of the Bible and not the “lesser” gods but that is a subject for another time.
So, “Where was God on 9/11?” Before I share God’s answer with you; let’s actually ask the question: “Is the question ‘Where was God on 9/11’ a legitimate question?” First of all, is it really a question of where, I mean it’s not like someone is waiting for you to answer with a latitude and longitude as to the whereabouts of the Most High with a GPS coordinate. Nor really is the date important; because if you didn’t know where God was on 9/10 or on 9/12 then 9/11 becomes irrelevant.
Somewhere everyday a monstrous event occurs and people ask the question where was God. Where was God when my 3 year old was run over by a truck, where was he when a village in the Sudan was burned to the ground, the men killed for rejecting Islam, the women raped, and the children sold into slavery. You see the question really isn’t a Where or a When question …Is it possible that it’s a why question?
Jim Denison in his column this week writes:
For some, 9/11 proves that the God of Scripture is a myth. Sam Harris, the atheist and bestselling author, claims that the existence of a single suffering child anywhere in the universe calls into question the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God. How much more the murder of 2,977 innocent civilians — more than died at Pearl Harbor or D-Day. Where was God while 19 jihadists committed the worst act of terrorism in our nation’s history?
Isn’t it really asking why didn’t God do something on 9/11; why didn’t he stop evil? How could he allow that to take place? If God is all loving and if He is all-powerful then he would have motive to act and capacity to act … so then, where was he? Now we’re getting somewhere.
You see, it’s not a where question at all, and when, is a technicality but the more you dig the more you realize that it’s not a question at all; it’s an indictment. God was AWOL. Absent without Leave. “If I were God I would have stopped 9/11 from happening, I would have scooped the 3 year old out of the street, I would have saved those innocent Sudanese, I would … I would … I would be more compassionate than God.”
If you peel back the onion then you see the real nature of the question and we’ve all heard it in a lesser degree and a slightly different form but every child that has been late to Saturday chores has been the recipient of the icy parental stare and the “Well, where have you been, young man? Nice that you can finally make it, Mr. Helper.” Or maybe it’s the, “Well, what do you have to say for yourself?”
I have a question for you, “Is that any way to talk to the Almighty God?’
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contends with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproves God, let him answer it. (Job 40:1-2)
The truth is that not every question is a legitimate question and God is not your effeminate Humanities teacher doing his best Stuart Smalley imitation and saying “now there really are no dumb questions.”
There are dumb questions and irreverent, illegitimate, illogical questions. There are questions that God does not like and he’s not shy about saying so, so why do we Christians feel compelled to insert our own defensive, ambiguous apology for God? And why do we offer it like the excuse we gave to our neighbor when the husband didn’t show up to their barbeque; we didn’t want to say that the husband really doesn’t like them and he’s watching Notre Dame at Michigan so we offer up some half-hearted, half-believed, white-lie to save face. Why do we presume that God needs an alibi?
LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION HERE: http://gracebeliever.com/arena/ITA_2011_0918.mp3