Monday, September 05, 2011
9/11--A series of reflections I
“How I have changed since 9/11?” is the question Christianity Today asked ten distinguished evangelical Christians, and their answers—in short essays—create a scrapbook in the latest issue, a scrapbook that, page by page, is vastly more hopeful than not.
Harry R. Jackson, Jr., of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, says 9/11 gave him strong, new inspiration for outside-of-the-box ministry projects. Wes Stafford, Compassion International, is confident that the horrifying Al Qaida attack on NYC changed him to become “even more passionate about my mission to fight the evil that grinds good, hardworking, and even godly people into poverty and its desperate consequence.”
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Samuel Rodriguez says 9/11 teaches all Christians where and how to live with respect to the cross of Christ—“Not in the extremes or ourskirts but in the nexus where the vertical and horizontal intersect: the center.”
All claim new commitments.
As does Richard Stearns of World Vision, who says he sees a new level of world consciousness among the American populace.
“September 11 has been a profound wakeup call to love Jesus and others more,” says Margaret Feinberg, author of Hungry for God. Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, ID, analyzes in the fashion a good Calvinist should and asserts he’s now more sure than ever that the implementation of a new worldview, something he calls “mere Christendom,” is “the only genuine alternative to secular American exceptionalism on the one hand, and radical Islam on the other.”
United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon claims that September 11 made more clear to him that there is even greater horror in history—the greatest horror of all by far being Good Friday.
Don’t know why exactly, but I like Philip Yancey’s assessment best. Perhaps it’s because I know him. Perhaps it’s because he quotes Lew Smedes on forgiveness. Perhaps it’s because the virtue that resonates deeply beneath his explanations is abject humility before the throne of God.
And then there’s Anne Graham Lotz, whose apocalyptic reaction is as full of fear as it is, seemingly, of hate. “It is five minutes to midnight on the clock of human history,” she says. “Judgment is at the door. Jesus is coming! It’s time to wake up and get right with God! Are you listening? [All emphases hers.]
Nine of the ten brim with hope and consolation. Billy Graham’s daughter sounds like Harold Camping.
No believer I know is anti-repentance—that’s not the point. The point is that, to her, the sky is falling. The trumpet is soon to sound because her epistemological clock reads clearly that things are just plain that bad. Look out! He’s coming. Are you listening?
I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that even in this time of declining readership, Christianity Today has more subscribers than any other evangelical magazine in America. Yet, 9/10 of those leaders the magazine asked to assess the events of September 11, 2001, see that tragic day as the beginning of new commitments or opportunities to humble ourselves before God.
One, however, slaps on a sandwich board, sackcloth and ashes, and proclaims “the end is near.”
Why is it that so many of us choose fear instead of hope and follow her?
Even more to the point, I suppose—as she might say—is why don’t I?