A Meditation for 9/11

If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

– Amos 3:6

God caused 9/11.

God was not caught by surprise, as though the events of that day were something unexpected by him.

God’s intentions were not frustrated, as though he wanted  to do one thing but the terrorists forced him to come up with plan B.

God did not permit the destruction in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C and New York, as though he were some cosmic bystander who could have stopped the loss of life but for some reason chose not to.


The sovereign Lord of the universe, the judge of all the earth, caused 9/11.

From all eternity he decreed that awful calamity, for God, “works all things
according to the counsel of his will.” (Eph.1:11)

And he deliberately, for his own glory foreordained the destruction of the twin towers.

Nevertheless, he is not responsible for the evil deeds of that sunny September morning.

For to be responsible means to be “liable to give an answer.”

And to whom does God answer?

No one.

For the Scripture says, “No one can restrain his hand or say to him, ‘What
have you done?'” (Dan.4:35)

This is a hard saying.  Who can hear it?

God’s people.  That’s who.

They praise him for his sovereign mercy and glorify him for his righteous judgment.

This day, may the sovereign Lord of all creation comfort his people who mourn and by his grace call many to repentance.


Steve Matthews is the author of Imagining a Vain Thing: The Decline and Fall of Knox Seminary.

Explore posts in the same categories: Theology

41 Comments on “A Meditation for 9/11”

  1. gigi Says:

    amen !

  2. Hugh McCann Says:

    Not only was it ultimately by the hand of God, but as Abraham asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25.)

    Given his perfection, God did not err, much less sin, on September 11th, 2001.

  3. Hugh McCann Says:

    Those who were his children by faith in Jesus Christ died to await the last day, wherein they will be raised to eternal glory.

    Those not trusting in Christ’s righteousness alone
    died to await the wrath to come,
    will be raised to eternal shame and contempt (Daniel 12:2),
    and face everlasting punishment (Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, 25:46).

  4. Hugh McCann Says:

    Steve & Sean,

    Thank you for clarity and truth.

    I’m angering pastor friends sending along this piece to them. 🙂

    We must, as Luther said, let God be God.

  5. Steve M Says:

    Job 13:15
    Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…

  6. LJ Says:

    I put it on Facebook. So far no calls to burn me at the stake. But there’s still time.

  7. Steve Matthews Says:

    Few seem to have paid any heed to Clark’s essay Determinism and Responsibility. That’s too bad, because it’s easily one the most profound things he ever wrote, and it speaks directly to events like 9/11.

    Clark’s simple insight about the meaning of the word “responsible” serves as intellectual ammunition for Scripturalists, letting them speak coherently about the appalling evil of 9/11 while others talk nonsense.

  8. Denson Dube Says:

    Will we be getting from you, a “Meditation”, with those “green” videos of Navy Seals taking out the wicked low life and evil scum bag, bin Laden?

  9. Steve Matthews Says:

    I hadn’t planned on it, Denson. But bin Laden’s a good example of of those who take the sword perishing by it.

  10. Hugh McCann Says:

    Of course, in our cases, we who ‘perished’ by the sword (Heb. 4:12) now find that we live by it.

  11. Steve Matthews Says:

    Well said, Hugh. It’s amazing to me how few seem to see the danger in that.

  12. justbybelief Says:

    I think Hugh is saying that Christians have been slain by the law and live by the gospel…correct me if I’m wrong, Hugh.

  13. Hugh McCann Says:

    Steve & j2b,

    Sorry for the confusion. I was too clever by far!

    I meant what j2b said. We were slain by God’s sword (Eph 6:17b) and renewed therewith as well.

    But Steve’s point is well-taken (if I’m taking hiim correctly): We can become uncaring wielders of Christ’s claymore!

    As the medieval ad campaign no doubt went:
    ‘You can slay more with a Claymore!’

  14. justbybelief Says:

    In G. Clarks book, ‘Logic,’ this would be called amphiboly or amphibology. 😉

  15. justbybelief Says:

    Of course, the scripture reference gave the ‘real’ meaning away.

    Anyway, I have no problem with 911 happening according to God’s predetermined plan; however, the consecrated version, or the official story of the events–who’s responsible–is what is false.

    Let me continue in my sacrilege by quoting the Nazi Propaganda minister:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    It is no accident that the ‘War on Terror’ has been used to justify robbing Americans of their rights and turning us into the terrorists. This ought to give us pause when parroting the ‘consecrated’ version of the events.

  16. NeoNicene Says:

    One way to resolve the problem of evil is to deny that God is omnibenevolent. Is that what is going on here?

  17. Hugh McCann Says:


    Uh, yeah…

    Unless you want to assert that God’s “good to all” ON HIS TERMS. That is, to the wicked his goodness (read: righteousness, holiness) is pretty darned “evil.”

  18. Hugh McCann Says:

    But that God loves all men and wants all to be happy, free & healthy, w/no one flying planes into buildings? No.

  19. Steve Matthews Says:

    Hugh, I was thinking in terms of foreign policy. It seems Americans, especially conservative Americans, have adopted a live-by-the-sword mentality. John Robbins wrote about the danger of empire building 20 years ago, and the problems he identified in his essay The Messianic Character of American Foreign Policy have only grown worse since his writing.

  20. NeoNicene Says:


    So God does love all men? Or does he love them and yet not want them to be happy, free and healthy? Your sentence is unclear.

  21. NeoNicene Says:

    Because, again, the problem is solved if God doesn’t love us.

  22. Hugh Says:


    God loves his elect in Christ, the rest he hates.

    I first replied to the omnibenevolent idea.

  23. Hugh Says:


    Ah! Now I get it. “We” being the USA. Good point.

    I was referring to “we” as the regenerate: first slain, then living by the sword (of the Spirit).

  24. NeoNicene Says:


    So God loves the elect and hates those who are preterite. But what makes the elect those who are elected are the fact that God’s loves them. Nothing they do, will do or have done play any part in them being elect. So God loves whom he loves. So did he hate or love those people he killed in the 9/11 attacks?

    Forgive my confusion and offense, but this entire idea that God kills people simply for his glory seems quite bewildering to some from the Orthodox Christian tradition.

    In XC,


  25. justbybelief Says:

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
    Romans 8:35

    One little word shall fell him.

  26. Hugh McCann Says:

    Dear Neo,

    I believe you mean reprobate, not preterite, above?

    The elect believers in Christ who died on 9/11 were taken to be with the Lord until the resurrection to glory @ the last day; the reprobate to await judgment and final damnation.

    Pretty easy, following Romans 9.


  27. justbybelief Says:

    Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. Job 13:15

  28. justbybelief Says:

    None are more hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free….

  29. NeoNicene Says:

    What is the distinction between preterite and reprobate?

  30. Hugh McCann Says:

    ‘Preterite’ means perfect past tense in language studies, so I did not know what you meant by it.

    Now I find someone using it to mean the ‘passed over,’ as in preterition: ‘the act of passing by, disregarding, or omitting.’

    A rather flaccid term for God’s sovereign reprobation of certain men.

    But unless I’m missing something it means the reprobate.

  31. NeoNicene Says:

    I know of its meaning in language studies, but also find it used in Calvinist terminology both as identical to the reprobate and, occasionally, as a distinct, third class of men.

    I would ask next, if I may, if the standard of Christian morality as revealed by XC in the Gospels gives any revelation of the nature of God? If so, and the standards of justice and righteous as demonstrated by the incarnate Logos are some indication of the goodness of God, then it seems that a god who kills those whom he loves (or even those whom he made and never loved) simply for his glory is quite different from the God made manifest by Christ. For example, like a god who causes rape or the Holocaust. Sounds more like an oriental despot or Moloch.

    In XC,


  32. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hi Neo,

    You ask if ‘the standard of Christian morality as revealed by XC in the Gospels gives any revelation of the nature of God?’
    ~ Of course it does, as does the whole of Scripture. I note Mr Matthews’ use of 2 OT texts & a Pauline verse. We mustn’t merely hunt & peck for passages that make us feel good. We’re not Thomas Jefferson, after all!

    And, ‘the standards of justice and righteous as demonstrated by the incarnate Logos are some indication of the goodness of God’
    ~ A god with universal love for all mankind is indeed at variance with many Scriptures.

    And, ‘it seems that a god who kills those whom he loves (or even those whom he made and never loved) simply for his glory is quite different from the God made manifest by Christ.’
    ~ True, IF we restricted ourselves to a narrow reading of some of Christ’s sayings. For his elect/ sheep/ bride/ saints/ church, he certainly has nothing but abundant, salvific, sure love & compassion, mercy & grace. For the reprobate, he has nothing but destruction in view for them.

    The Psalms & Paul & Jesus too give us a fuller picture of God’s character and eschatological design for creation.

    Finally, ‘a god who causes rape or the Holocaust. Sounds more like an oriental despot or Moloch.’
    ~ Dear Neo, Jehovah Jesus is infinitely worse in bringing calamitous ‘evil’ disaster to his enemies, than any of these weak comparisons. He predestines human beings such as Cain, Esau, Pharaoh, Saul & Judas for cursing, everlasting burning, eternal torment. Read and receive the whole of Scripture with growing faith; read ‘the fathers’ (if you must) with increasing skepticism!

  33. NeoNicene Says:

    I’ll write more later, but for now: ‘Jehovah Jesus’?

  34. Hugh McCann Says:

    Yeah, maybe a redundancy…

    What’s “XC”?

  35. Steve M Says:

    Xavier Cugat?

  36. Hugh McCann Says:

    Steve M, Thou art king of the obscure.
    Or better, rumba king of the obscure!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    First I thought it was X (for Christos) C (for Christ), but that’d be a redundant “Christos Christ.”

  37. NeoNicene Says:

    Nah, you’re close. X is a Chi and the C is a form of Sigma. First and last letters of ‘Christos’ in Greek. An early abbreviation of the title. You often see in early iconography: IC (Iesus) XC (Xristos), NIKA: Jesus Christ conquers.

  38. Hugh McCann Says:

    Thanks, Neo.

  39. Hugh McCann Says:

    MikeD posted this gem from Calvin on Psalm 115:3 ~

    “This, too, must also be borne in mind, that all events are the result of God’s appointment alone, and that nothing happens by chance. This much it was proper to premise respecting the use of this doctrine, that we may be prevented from forming unworthy conceptions of the glory of God, as men of wild imaginations are wont to do. Adopting this principle, we ought not to be ashamed frankly to acknowledge that God, by his eternal counsel, manages all things in such a manner, that nothing can be done but by his will and appointment. From this passage Augustine very properly and ingeniously shows, that those events which appear to us unreasonable not only occur simply by the permission of God, but also by his will and decree. For if our God doeth whatsoever pleaseth him, why should he permit that to be done which he does not wish? Why does he not restrain the devil and all the wicked who set themselves in opposition to him? If he be regarded as occupying an intermediate position between doing and suffering, so as to tolerate what he does not wish, then, according to the fancy of the Epicureans, he will remain unconcerned in the heavens. But if we admit that God is invested with prescience, that he superintends and governs the world which he has made, and that he does not overlook any part of it, it must follow that every thing which takes place is done according to his will.”

    Death to the bogus Janus-god!

  40. Hugh McCann Says:

    What’s up with the Mickey D’s ad?

  41. Sean Gerety Says:

    Word Press making some money. To get rid of the ads I would have to go “pro.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: