The God-tornado storm

church_tornado.jpg A Baptist preacher in Minneapolis is causing a stir today by claiming the tornado that took part of a steeple off a Lutheran church near the Minneapolis Convention Center (near where the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was holdings its Assembly) was God’s message to the Lutherans who were about to take up the issue of gays in the pulpit.

Said John Piper:

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.

As part of his proof, Piper noted the significance of the occurrence…

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts–most saying they’ve never seen anything like it.

True, perhaps, that there was no expectation that a tornado — a pretty darned small one — would hit Minneapolis, but severe weather was not surprising. Here’s Paul Huttner’s note from his Updraft blog on Wednesday morning:

The overnight rain was just round one of a slow-moving weather system that will bring waves of showers and thunderstorms through Thursday. The system will set up shop over the state, bringing more rainfall to some of the drought parched areas. It will not rain all the time, but expect periods of rain into Friday morning before the system pulls out.

That said, I’m not qualified to say what God’s message is based on the weather provided on the day such an issue is discussed. When the Northwest Minnesota Synod discussed this last spring, the weather was clear and seasonable, high of 68. Low of 34.

Pastor Piper pointed out that the tornado struck as the Assembly began discussions on the issue, according to its published agenda. But, technically, they hadn’t started yet and one attendee “tweeted” that the biggest groan at the Convention Center came when it was announced the tornado had forced the closure of the pub.

But Piper wasn’t the first to tie the two events together. Lutherans were.

“We trust that the weather is not a commentary on our work,” said Steven Loy, chairman of the committee overseeing the pastoral statement being considered.

Some thought it was, according to Christianity Today:

But WordAlone, a renewal group within the ELCA, reported that both sides sought to find commentary in the weather: “A supporter of the social statement typified the storm as a mighty wind of the Holy Spirit and as a positive message. Some WordAlone Network members heard a different message, a warning of God’s anger at the ELCA in the wind.”

Far above my pay grade is the answer to another question: Why do we think God speaks only through the weather?