Greg Boyd on John Piper on Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

Greg Boyd responded to John Piper’s response to the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. You can read it here. I would land in Piper’s camp myself. What about you?

Perhaps we should be asking and answering the question {for we must all come to terms with the answer to this question, whatever theological camp we fall into}, “If God is sovereign and could have stopped the bridge from collapsing, why didn’t He?”
To that I would say, “I don’t know. I don’t know why He didn’t keep the bridge up. But I do know that He does all things for His glory and our good {Romans 8:28}. But when I appear before Him, I will bow down and magnify His wisdom and say that He did all things well.”

{HT: Denny}



  1. I lean on Greg’s side. People surely are grown up enough to realize God allows the world to operate toward his ultimate goal but what we do has effects….cause = crappy builders, maintenance, and overload, effect = Bridge goes boom. Pretty simple and not divine.

    Ever wonder why there are billions of people not mentioned in the Bible, killed, slaughtered, and living normal existence…well humans multiplied and had a lot of kids; God used a few to shape the world into what we have today but millions more existed and died and didn’t influence the outcome at all.

    He puts his hand in when the world must go to His ultimate end but to think he determines which route you take to work….come on ya’ll you are functioning humans not lifeless droids.

  2. Wouldn’t an eternal, “wider” perspective allow that God’s omnipotence is -as His omniscience is- sufficient to govern even the most minute details of creation? Do not the Scriptures say that he knows the number of hairs on our head? If we say that we trust that God is omnipotent and omnicient and omnipresent, why not trust it practically?
    Tuesday of this week Paul Harvey mentioned a recent New York Times article describing how astronomists have been filled with reverential incredulity as they have analyzed the most recent, scientifically sophisticated, spectrographic photos of the universe. In summary, they have recognized that the panorama, “pattern” of the seemingly limitless dimensions of an ever-expanding Universe actually resembles the “pattern” of a single cell of the human brain! Such awesome wonder as our universe displays is incomprehensible to most of us; up until now it has appeared irregular, random or patternless. But, given a perspective that is more informed- “wider”- than any before, an undeniable pattern emerges. Patterns signify Order and Order signifies Purpose. Just so with Creation: given that there certainly exists a wide enough perspective (though not accessible to us at this time), it is wise-not foolish- to believe that every part-no matter how small, random, or insignificant in our eyes- contributes to the overall purpose of our Creator. There have been billions of people who have lived and died, and billiions of stars and even universes, whose purpose may have been indistinguishable to mortals, but whose existence and destiny were certainly purposeful in our Father’s eyes. Just so, there are billions -nay, infinite- numbers of things and ways about God that we are incapable of comprehending, yet our ignorance does not preclude their existence.

  3. I don’t know why God ALLOWED the bridge to collapse. But I don’t believe He caused it. I don’t know why God ALLOWS babies to be aborted. But I don’t believe He causes that either. I don’t know why God ALLOWS marriages to end in divorce. I don’t believe He causes that either. I believe God is sovereign and omniscient. I don’t know why He ALLOWS bad things to happen. I have a lot of respect for “son of the right hand” but I CANNOT agree with Piper on this.

  4. I agree Shelly that everything has a purpose, where we disagree is that God makes every minor decision in the world. He made us for his pleasure, there is no pleasure in controlling every decision; at least not to normal beings. He created us to see “what” would happen.

    I don’t have the answers, nor do you. Life, Earth, humanity is all an experient…a divine experient that can be ended at anytime by the Creator. Enjoy life, love God, and be open to all points of view.

    Ben, you know I love ya but I just don’t see the Piper rationale on this one. Good discussion though and I am glad to see more people on the blog!

  5. I am sorry but does anyone else see the irony in preaching about a God who loves us and indeed created us, but yet says we ALL deserve to die, then proceeds to produce random tragedies to bully us into “submitting” to his authority???? How can anyone listen to or read the words that eminate from this man and think “Wow how deep and true.”

  6. I see only beauty in the fact that –although we ALL deserve to die because we have ALL sinned against our Creator– He loves us so much that He has provided a Way for us to live eternally with Him. The circumstances He brings about in order to help us understand our need for Him (what men may see as “random tragedies”), are actually demonstrative of His great love and patience. Being an omnipotent God Who could justly destroy every living being, He nevertheless has taken the time and made the effort to reveal Himself to us.

    Sometimes it takes suffering to make a man submit to the superior abilities of Someone besides himself, to admit his weakness and need for another. Consider this simple example: when does a man go to the hospital or visit his doctor or submits to a pharmacist’s advice and prescription? Is it when he is perfectly healthy? Or is it when he has been injured or ill?

    God does not NEED anyone to submit to Him or His will. Man NEEDS to submit to God, and God graciously gives him plenty of opportunities to do so.

  7. “Scripture teaches that Jesus died “not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world” (I Jn 2:2). If so, then why is God still in the business of physically punishing people for their sins by sending catastrophes? Wasn’t Jesus’ sacrifice enough?”

    With this Boyd is forced (in order to be consistent) to ask “Why is not every person saved? Wasn’t Christ’s sacrifice enough?” This would make him lean toward universalism, which is not a Biblical view of salvation. The distinction could be between common grace (for all), and special grace (toward God’s children) that Christ payed for [Romans 1] but his argument has no force here.

    Another point that he made about God allowing the bridge to fall as an act of causation is something that I agree with. In a sense God did cause the bridge to fall. However we have no place to apply our measure or sense of what is “moral” to God.

    This is the objection that Paul addresses in his letter to the Romans (9:15-23). On a scriptural level, Boyd has no right to expect God to live up to what he would call good or right for God to do in that situation.

    In the end we can know that all things work out for good for those who know an love God. I pray for those who do not know him– that they would learn of God’s mercy and repent to everlasting life and satisfaction in Christ.

  8. I agree with Greg Boyd on this one. Piper gives the traditional knee jerk response, instead of saying, “I don’t know.” Piper needs to answer the following:
    why did god cause the twin towers disaster?
    abortions are done every day, why does god allow them?
    why did god allow flight 800 to be shot down?, etc, etc.
    The point is that Piper gives the standard Western/Calvinstic response clouded with so-called biblical verses. His response is intellectual erudition.
    His world view has no room for the demonic/satanic activities that takes place in the world.
    I come from a culture where spritual satanic influence is acknowledged. Boyd emphasizes this, while Piper denies this warfare.

  9. Following is still more food for thought on the issue of the 35-W Bridge Collapse.

    Reuben and Mary Lou Doran, of ‘One New Man Call,’ wrote a challenging article entitled, ‘The Comatose Church- Let Us Awake from Our Slumber.’ It links it to the 40-year period from 1967-2007. Let me quote a portion. The whole article can be read on the Elijah List.

    ’40 Years- The Prophetic Clock is Ticking

    While construction of the 1-35 Bridge went on for a number of years, it was opened to traffic and public transportation only in 1967. This bridge was exactly 40 years old at the time of its collapse! Significantly, this is the same prophetically loaded season of 40 years that also accompanies the anniversary of the legendary Israeli Six-Day War and the liberation of Jerusalem, which occurred in 1967. According to many, this 40 year span of time is neither accidental nor insignificant in God’s timeline, and those that are called to stand guard upon the walls of our cities and nations will do well to listen to the prophets, increase their diligence and pay attention to the signs of our times.’


    The following is a report from Christine P. of Minneapolis, which give food for thought.

    1967 – Forty years ago the bridge carrying Hwy I-35 across the Mississippi River was completed.

    2007 – Forty years later, at 6:05 p.m., during the weekday evening rush hour on August 1, 2007, the main spans of the bridge collapsed, falling into the river and onto its banks.

    2006 – Rep. Keith Ellison, is elected to represent Minneapolis in Congress in Washington.

    2007 – At his inauguration, Keith Ellison swears on the Koran (not the Bible). Keith Ellison is the first Muslim Congressman. The I-35 Bridge is in Ellison’s district. It is the NW border of the Minneapolis neighborhood called Cedar Riverside, locally known as the ‘West Bank.” Note: The West Bank of Minneapolis is approximately 75% Muslim.

    1967 – On the same date (August 1, 1967), Israel officially claimed the WEST BANK and annexed East Jerusalem (40 years to the day!), previously in Jordan’s control. Israel claims the WEST BANK area of Jerusalem as its own.

    2007 – August 1 (40 years to the day!), Keith Ellison made an announcement in an interview, which is released at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August, 2007, posted by the Associated Press on the Internet. See the following site for the article: or google AIPAC Ellison. Article name: Ellison returning to Israel. Note: This is second trip in 3 months.

    Ellison announced that he is traveling to Israel this mid August 2007, taking with him 19 US Democratic Congressman to Israel to meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Omert and Palestinian leader Abbas, concerning the WEST BANK boundaries and a fact finding mission concerning setting up a Palestinian state in Israel. Ellison states that he is trying to be a voice for dialogue between the two parties.

    SIDE NOTE: Do you know that there is a Higway 35 that crosses the WEST BANK (Judea and Samaria) in Israel? Did you know that the [I-35 MN] bridge fell 35 minutes after the Associated Press release of Ellison’s announcement?

    Pray for wisdom for President Bush, as he is seeming to be a supporter of this [Land for Peace] as well. Pray for Godly counsel for him as he is making decisions. I personally believe we are not to mess with God’s appointed boundaries for Israel. We just have to look at history to see that.

    Christine P/Minneapolis, MN


    Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals International, was already heading up an initiative called ‘The I-35 Highway of Holiness Initiative,’ that extends from Laredo, TX to Duluth, MN along I-35. She had this prophetic word responding to the I-35 Bridge collapse.

    ‘We are crossing over into a new season, and we must make sure that we understand the perfect timing to cross the path. It is also important not to be daunted, in the season of crossing over, by [the] shaking in your midst. God will see that you establish the way you need to go.

    What Satan meant for evil in Minnesota will be turned against him [and will foil] his plans for the state. There will be a new release of an awakening across the entire region in the midst of shaking.

    Rise up, Minnesotans! God loves you, and He is there for you as the God of all comfort! Old structures are passing away, and new [structures] will be built that cannot be shaken, for the old structures will fall into the river of God and the move of the Holy Spirit will sweep away tears and sorrow.’

  10. Just one question for those in Piper’s camp on this one: Why do you ascribe the definition, “meticulous control” to the word “sovereign”?

    I have often wondered why Calvinists think that non-Calvinists are attacking the Sovereignty of God if they see in Scripture the fact that God does, in fact, allow libertarian freedom among humans. It is as if we are worshiping some less-than omnipotent god if we dare believe that he leaves some things up to human decision/consequence! This doesn’t make any sense at all. God is all-powerful, and He can make or allow anything to happen! That is not the question!!! The question is, why MUST the Sovereignty of God include meticulous control of everything in the Calvinist system?

    Could He not have Sovereignly “decreed” that He does not meticulously control everything and remain Sovereign?

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