I grew up in the Midwest and tornado season was terrifying. I have never been in one but when the conditions are right the air is ominous.

I was on my lunch break today and I went to the Weather Channel website to read a fascinating set of articles about the conditions that contributed to last week’s deadly swath of destruction.  I got a Tweet so I clicked over to Twitter to see what was going on. I scrolled down the stream and noticed that John Piper was getting a lot of pushback. After reading his blog on how God used the tornadoes to kill people  … I am left with some questions:

I have challenged Piper’s tornado theology (and suggested a better way to read the Bible) before and been told “You are mis-reading him. If you gave him the benefit of the doubt, you would see that he is really concerned about God’s glory.”

But in today’s post, he is saying exactly what I have been interpreting him as saying! Why do reformed folks think we are not getting his real message? Look, I get it – and I just don’t like it. Its not that I am misunderstanding him. I am understanding him and disagreeing. This is not semantics or rhetoric. We actually disagree on substance here.

It’s tough to be hard on somebody if they are consistent. But after reading Piper’s newest blog, I am a little bit turned around. He says:

Therefore, God’s will for America under his mighty hand, is that every Christian, every Jew, every Muslim, every person of every religion or non-religion, turn from sin and come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus rules the wind. The tornadoes were his.

He follows that up by saying “But before Jesus took any life in rural America, he gave his own on the rugged cross. Come to me, he says, to America.”

As I read Piper: Jesus sends tornadoes to punish the wicked. He also sends them to the righteous because they are righteous (to show this according to the blog). So here is my question: we are supposed to turn to Jesus because of the tornadoes, a turn to righteousness from wickedness … but then God causes tornadoes on the righteous too?

I am as turned around as a chickadee in a wind tunnel!  It seems to me that this is playing both sides of the chess board. The formula goes like this: Weather happens. You blame God. If you are wicked, it is a warning to you to turn from your wickedness that the weather may cease. If you are righteous, the weather was to demonstrate it as such and afford you the possibility of honoring God in the midst of the storm. Am I getting this right?
I said it was tough to blame Piper for holding this view. Tough, but not too tough.  It seems consistent … until you stop to consider it for more than 1 second.  I get a lot of heat in my circles for advocating for a New Kind of Christianity. I question Piper’s reading of the Bible on tornadoes and before I know it I am called to defend the Creeds as a litmus test to prove my orthodoxy (small o).
SO I will just go out on limb and say it. I find Piper’s tornado theology the stupidest thing I have ever heard – completely ignorant of any advances in meteorology let alone metaphysics – and the type of Christianity that makes the world a worse place in the 21st century. I have no need to disparage those who believed these thing in the 2nd century when the earth was flat and suspended in a 3 tiered universe but I’ll be damned if I am going to hold to this kind of pseudo pre-modern interpretation of the text and the world.

It is not just embarrassing, it is hurtful to lag this far behind and place this kind of condemnation on people who are really hurting and whose community is in ruin.

Our prayers are with the people in these towns – and I am sorry that Christian minister say those kinds of things at times like this.  Lord have mercy on us – we need it.