John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Embracing Mystery

Recently, a theological kerfuffle has erupted with Dr. Peter Enns calling John Piper out over his comments from a few years ago. In those comments, Piper says that God is responsible for the death of millions of people and owes us no explanation because he is, after all, God. Actually, I’m softening what Piper said. Here are his own words:

“It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.”

He goes on:

“God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.... If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92. God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn’t owe us anything.”

You may agree or disagree. It’s your right. You’re entitled to an opinion. I would hope you make it an educated opinion. I would hope even more you would educate yourself theologically as you form your opinion. I happen to disagree strongly, but that is not my point right now.

My point right now is this: When we try to take something as mysterious as why seemingly innocent people die, why there is evil in our world or who is to blame for the suffering in our world and reduce these things to some airtight sound byte of an answer, we’re doing something terribly violent to Scripture. We’re attempting to dispel mystery.

And mystery is at the very heart of our attempts to understand the nature of God and especially God’s will for our lives.

I understand this desire, but it is futile to try and reduce God’s will to a math equation. Doing so makes God’s will a destination, and the longer I live the more convinced I am that God’s will is just as much about the process as it is about the destination.

We want to know our “calling” -- that is, where we should go and what we should do. God seems far more concerned with how we are going and what we’ll be like when we get there. He is taking us each through a process, shaping up, maturing us, making us more like Jesus.

God may not be calling you to a what or a where; he may simply be calling you to a who. And the means he’ll use...well, they’re mysterious.