Rev. Eric Redmond has posted a well-written analysis on the significance of Luke 13:1-9 for understanding tragedies such as the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. In it he interacts with John Piper, Ben Witherington, Gregory Boyd, and Roger Olson. Redmond does a good job of showing how, following Hirsch and Johnson’s application of Hirsch, one can have a textually-reasoned approach to application and significance (concepts between which Hirsch distinguished, as application is a discipline constricted by the confines of the textual meaning, while significance is based on the judgments of the reader on the relevance of the meaning to a particular area not necessarily related to the textual meaning). I’ll give you a taste to whet your appetite:

The Scriptures depict a completely good God who rules absolutely over all of his creation. The Scriptures also depict a God who brings about death and tragedy. The God of Scripture sent his Son to die for the whole world, but chooses to save only the elect. Reconciling such points does not demand a logical process of linear reasoning that solves (or resolves) the paradoxical portrayal of God in the Scriptures. Instead, reconciling such points awaits seeing him face to face. In this life there is mystery when we come to the end of human understanding of what is taught in tension in Scripture. In the next life there will be clarity when we come to the beginning of eternal understanding of what we only see in glimpses in the Scriptures. As Job says in one of my favorite Scriptures, Job 26:14, “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” We have only begun to rub up against God when a thunderstorm floods the earth, when a Tower falls, or when a bridge collapses. He is only whispering! We will spend eternity enjoying him roaring…

As a pastor who loves his people, I can only preach of a God who is free to do all things as the Eternally Good God. I cannot promote a God who is limited by anything or who grants unrestrained freedom to creatures that are sinful. To do so would make for a worse calamity than the collapse of a bridge. We would instead collapse upon ourselves the very right of God to be God.