Did God sink the Titanic? Thomas Hardy and John Piper

RMS TitanicArchdruid Eileen has posted an interesting poem by Thomas Hardy, The Convergence of the Twain. And it seems that this is a genuine poem, not a Beaker Folk satire. According to Wikipedia, it was published in 1915. And it is relevant today because it commemorates the sinking of the Titanic, 100 years ago today.

What is shocking to read is that Hardy, the 19th century novelist who became a 20th century poet (his last novel was published in 1895 and his first poetry in 1898), clearly blamed God for sinking the Titanic. The iceberg that sank the TitanicIt is “The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything” who prepared the iceberg, and when “the Spinner of the Years // Said ‘Now!'” the collision took place. And Hardy seems to imply that this is judgment on “the Pride of Life that planned her”. But we also note that the poem depersonalises the disaster by saying nothing about the horrific loss of life.

Now Hardy was well known for his religious scepticism, and leaned towards agnosticism and deism. So it is hardly surprising to see a somewhat jaded image of God in his poem.

But I can’t help wondering what John Piper would say about the Titanic disaster. Well, he has tweeted the following, an argument ably demolished by Alan Molineaux:

When the Titanic sank 20% of the men and 74% of the women survived. That profound virtue was not nurtured by egalitarianism.

But that doesn’t apportion blame for the tragedy. Quite possibly Piper is preaching or writing on the subject today. But in the absence of any record of that so far, I can only argue by analogy with what he recently wrote about tornadoes:

Why would God reach down his hand and drag his fierce fingers across rural America killing at least 38 people with 90 tornadoes in 12 states, and leaving some small towns with scarcely a building standing, including churches?

… God alone has the last say in where and how the wind blows. If a tornado twists at 175 miles an hour and stays on the ground like a massive lawnmower for 50 miles, God gave the command.

Tornado near Dallas, Texas, April 2012So Piper’s God commanded these tornadoes to devastate towns and kill many people. Presumably he would also say that God told the iceberg to cross the path of the Titanic. But where Piper disagrees with Hardy is that he doesn’t see such disasters as judgment of specific evil. Rather, they are a word to everyone, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

But is this God who chose, for no fault of their own, 38 people to kill with tornadoes and 1,514 to kill with an iceberg really the Christian God we learn of in the Bible? In his article about the tornadoes Piper quotes verses about God sending winds and others about people being killed by winds and other disasters, but none of these passages say explicitly that God sent the winds or other means which killed people. He quotes Matthew 8:27, but ignores the context in the previous verse: if God sent that particular wind, why did Jesus rebuke it? The language used in such passages hints at demonic activity in that storm on the Sea of Galilee. And if in that storm, why not also in destructive storms and other disasters today?

I don’t claim to know what caused these disasters. Perhaps we should put the blame mainly on humans, who took the risk of living in areas known to be prone to tornadoes and of steaming at full speed across a sea known to be studded with icebergs. For some the risk did not pay off.

But in the end what matters is not the anyway inevitable death of our mortal bodies, but that through Jesus Christ we have eternal life and the hope of new and glorious resurrection bodies.

7 thoughts on “Did God sink the Titanic? Thomas Hardy and John Piper

  1. 4~15~5993

    No, Yahweh did not sink the Titanic but there were people who wanted it underwater! J. P. Morgan owned the shipping line and wanted the Federal Reserve. John Jacob Astor and other wealthy men on board did not want it. With them dead, the Fed easily made it in. The ship was designed to sink. The wrong colored flags were used to signal the iceberg crash. Other errors were made.
    Our governments continue to keep the truth from us. (Other events that are lied about are World War II, The Moon Landings, JFK murder, 30 year Bush Senior White House, The British Dictatorship, H.A.A.R.P., and on and on!
    Believing on Yahshua the Son of Yahweh is The Truth and it will make you free! HalleluYah!
    (This ancient transliterated Hebrew word means “Praise ye Yah!”) And, by the way ~ Yahshua returns very SOON!

  2. Hi Peter,

    My take on this is that it points to the fact that “all creation groans as in the pains of childbirth” (Rom 8:22). I believe the Bible teaches that God is sovereign and that all things happen at his command. But I don’t think these things happen as a result of a specific sin; it’s just symptomatic of all creation being under the curse of sin.

    C.S. Lewis used the phrase “pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world”, which I rather like: disasters happen, but they should send us running to the creator and the hope of redemption, rather than away from him.

    Phill

  3. 5~16~5993

    No Peter, I did not make up any of it. I am not that clever or deceitful. Thankfully, people who ARE interested in the truth post the details on the The Web so that others can learn the truth. Search “H.A.A.R.P.” and learn how it causes terrible winds and earthquakes!

  4. It might sound vulgar to you, but the Bible teaches that God kills everyone. The wages of sin are death. Why does it matter if it happens in a tornado or in our sleep? We all deserve death. People killed in natural disasters are not innocent. God may not kill them for a specific sin, but sin in general. HOWEVER, any Christians caught up in natural disaster will be considered innocent of their sin when they come to be judged. They escape the second death. This is the gospel.

    Hope this helps :-)

  5. Joe, thank you for your comment. Yes, it is part of the divine order of the world, at least since the fall of Adam, that all people die, except for those who will remain until the coming of Christ. That is not the same as saying that God kills them, but I accept that the difference is a subtle one. And in the long term it makes little difference whether they die prematurely in a disaster or peacefully at a ripe old age, although of course the latter is less difficult for the family.

    However, if physical death is a punishment for sin, and the sins of Christians have been forgiven, why do Christians die? It is indeed the second death that they escape. Also of course animals die. These arguments make it difficult to maintain that physical death is a punishment for human sin, and so that people die because they deserve to.

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