Wednesday, while Lutherans were meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center to discuss the issue of homosexuality within their denomination, a tornado struck and “severely damaged the convention center roof, shredded the tents, broke off the steeple of Central Lutheran, split what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifted.”
A pastor in the Minneapolis/St Paul area has “ventured an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant” suggesting…
The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.
Can God use a tornado for however he sees fit? Sure. I’m not about to limit him.
Did he use one Wednesday to punish or warn a church denomination? I don’t believe we have any way of knowing for sure — but personally I have a lot of trouble believing that.
Sure, it’s easy to interpret this tornado as God’s warning to the Lutherans. Just like it was easy for folks to say Hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath on a country that supports abortion (because radar pictures looked like an unborn fetus). And 9/11 was God’s wrath against a country that’s turned its back on him.
But what if we’re interpreting the warning incorrectly?
What if instead of this tornado being God’s wrath against the Lutherans for embracing homosexuality, it was actually God sending a warning to quit wasting your time debating someone’s sexuality and coming up with articulate statements of faith to accept or not accept certain acts of behavior.
What if it was God saying, “Wake up and BE the Church of Jesus Christ. Start acting like the Body of Christ and get outside your doors and actually heal the mentally, physically and spiritually broken among you. Don’t let the government come in and do what you as a Community of Faith should already be doing.”
As Trucker Frank tweeted, “Tornado hit Williamsville, IL. last night. Nobody asking who’s God punishing. Folks just helping each other.”
Maybe God does want to use terrorist attacks, hurricanes and a tornado — and hopefully we’ll be surprised by how.
UPDATE: Blake Huggins rightly says that the burden of proof is on the pastor to explain every other natural disaster. Tony Jones suggests that folks need to call the pastor out on this — especially influential evangelicals. And Jenell Paris does what all of us should do, apply the faith/theology to her own life (in a very funny sarcastic manner).