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The Climbers

December 18, 2006

Update: I wrote the post below before reading a new story that just hit the wire, referring to the “intense religious faith” of the families of the lost Mt. Hood climbers. This may not be the first mention of any beliefs, but it is the first I’ve seen:

Family members had relied on intense religious faith along with confidence that the extensive mountaineering experience of the trio would save them from a week of blizzard storms and single-digit temperatures that kept search teams and helicopters at bay.–Yahoo! News, 12/18/06, 7:16 a.m.

I can tell from the automated ads and the clicks from my pop-up blocker when I’m reading a news story that advertisers think the whole world is reading. So I know I was keeping up with cnn.com coverage of the three lost Mt. Hood climbers along with many millions of other people. I wonder what all those people were thinking. I wonder what everyone involved with this episode has been thinking.

Pastor Lyon said Sunday that, since theology does discipline all of life, it is important to have the best theology. I certainly hope that for these suffering families, God, as revealed in his Word and interpreted by the best theology, is their mighty fortress.

What I’m seeing–and there could be much more on TV that I am not seeing–is that everyone close to the climbers thought their strength and ability could get them through anything. The individual who was quiet on the strength and ability line was actually the spokesman for the climbers’ families, Frank James, brother of climber Kelly James. Frank James is president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Florida.

Again, I could be missing much more not having a TV, or reading more extensive coverage in a newspaper. Everything I know about what’s going on in the world comes through a 12-inch laptop screen, and I don’t spend much time on the news.

I certainly do not wish to cast aspersions on anyone’s handling of anguish as immense as that which these climbers’ families are enduring. The families have appeared well adapted to the presence of the press and public scrutiny of their emotions. Their optimism has been unflagging; their confidence in their mens’ strength and ability has been unwavering, their conviction of the rescue effort’s success has been remarkable.

I’ve been reading accounts from various Internet news sources, and have yet to see God mentioned. I have seen Frank James lead the family in a prayer. I have heard no public proclamation of God’s sovereignty, or invocations of his mercy, or of the climbers’ need of Gods’ strength and mercy. There was the challenge of the mountain, the strength of the climbers; nothing of the glory of God.

Now, these climbers and their families could as easily have been men after God’s own heart. We know from the lesson of the Tower of Siloam that God’s will as to who dies and when and how is known unto God alone, and operates beyond the reckoning of man. I am certainly not implying that they perished for lack of faith or for want of public proclamation of faith by their families. I am just saying it is too bad there has been no public proclamation of the sovereignty of God, particularly given the position of the family spokesman. I have no doubt he has reasons for this; I just find it too bad that the strength and ability of the men are getting all the ink.

Rescuers recovered the body of Kelly James from a snow cave Sunday. The finality of death is settling in. Strength and ability are over.

God doesn’t need press agents. Christians are commanded to proclaim the gospel in and out of season because Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven by which a man may be saved. I know I’ve blown a lot of opportunities. If CNN were camped at my door, I’d probably throw up into the microphone. But this was a big deal. The Air Force and National Guard and scores of mountain rescue people were out. There were Blackhawks and unmanned heat-sensing planes. There has been a tremendous show of strength and ability versus the elements. And I haven’t seen the word, “God” once in any of the coverage.

This is just a thought. It may not apply to the climbers’ situation at all; I’m thinking it generally. Again, I have no idea as to the beliefs of these families because the subject hasn’t been on my screen. It is a political campaign tactic for a candidate not to mention the name of his opponent. To mention the opponent’s name is to recognize him and increase his strength by making him more publicly visible. Perhaps, when man worships his own strength, he considers God his opponent. To mention God would be to give him power and recognition that the strength worshipper so desperately wishes to deny…as if his recognition could give God anything.

(By the way, I’d like to thank Pastor Robert Anderson for encouraging Tom Lyon to hang up his climbing ropes.)

3 comments:

Mike Pitzler said…
Yes. There’s a strong argument that high angle mountain climbing is breaking the Sixth Commandment. I too am glad that Tom Lyon was persuaded to quit.
9:52 AM  
Victorbravo said…
It seems strange, but fitting for our day, that the only thing mentioned is their “intense religious faith”. That is the anesthetic phrase secular people use to deflect hard questions.I’m sure it is extaordinarily difficult to live out such a tragedy in front of cameras. May God give them strength, peace, and an ability to glorify God even still.

10:32 AM  
HZ said…
“It is a political campaign tactic for a candidate not to mention the name of his opponent. To mention the opponent’s name is to recognize him and increase his strength by making him more publicly visible. Perhaps, when man worships his own strength, he considers God his opponent. To mention God would be to give him power and recognition that the strength worshipper so desperately wishes to deny…as if his recognition could give God anything.”Wow.

Having seen media coverage of a tragedy of a family close to us, I wouldn’t be surprised of the media were only printing what they wanted to print, showing what they want to show. In this case perhaps they recognize that God is their enemy….

1:40 PM  
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