Disease as evidence of the cosmic war

  • Dr. Rendle Short comes tentatively to the conclusion that ‘the happenings in this world, in fact, and its moral disasters, its wars and wickedness, its physical catastrophes, and its sicknesses, may be part of a great warfare due to the interplay of forces such as we see in the book of Job, the malice of the devil in one hand and the restraints imposed by God on the other.’  
  • Paul Tournier in A Doctor’s Casebook writes, ‘Doubtless there are many doctors who in their struggle against disease have had, like me, the feeling that they were confronting, not something passive, but a clever and resourceful enemy.’   
Quoted from The Gospel of Mark: The New Daily Study Bible, edited by William Barclay 

John Piper's thoughts related to the purposes of the RWI

Wartime at the Microbiological Level 

In recent years Ralph Winter has waved another wartime flag. It’s worth waving here. God may use it to send some of you in a direction of ministry you never thought was ministry. Winter has been calling our attention to the effects of sin and Satan at the microbiological level where some of the most horrific devastation of God’s good creation happens. Satan has, horrifyingly, employed his rebellious freedom in the development of destructive germs and viruses at the microbial level, which today account for one third of all deaths on the planet. What the Bible calls simply “pestilence,” is a scourge to animals and humans alike. Yet our popular theology does not clearly recognize this as a work of Satan which God expects us to combat as part of His mission. But, if missionaries do not preach about a God who is interested in all suffering, all distortions of His creative handiwork, on all these levels we are simply misrepresenting the full scope of His pervasive love and concern—His very nature. . . .

In Vietnam ten Americans died every day on the average during the entire ten years of that war. And, our government poured uncalculated billions into that conflict to extricate our people from it. However, right now not ten but 1,500 Americans die every day of cancer. Yet our government truly puts only pennies in that direction: 80% of it diverted to HIV/AIDS research, the 20% that ends up in cancer research going almost entirely to evaluating treatments not working toward prevention.

Living to Prove He is More Precious than Life

I understand that all 40 funded projects of the federal National Cancer Institute are focused on chemo and radiation treatment, not prevention. It’s like getting caught up in 150 Vietnam wars at the same time—as far as battle deaths are concerned. And yet we act as though no war exists! How can the consciousness of America be aroused to the fact that one third of all women and half of all men will contract cancer before they die? It fully accords with the intention of this book that thousands of Christians would hear this challenge from Dr. Winter and give their lives in science and research, as well as medical missions, to wage war against disease and suffering, and thus display the beauty and power of Christ. What kinds of sacrifices should we make for such combat with the enemy? 

Quoted from Don’t Waste Your Life (pg 115), by John Piper.


The Island

A fictional narrative to illustrate the motivation behind the RWI

By Brian Lowther

Imagine an island about the size of Cuba, with a population of about 3 million people, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the early 1950’s. It is a lush, green, tropical paradise with fertile farmland and many natural resources. It is a fairly modernized nation, with a very wise and just president who is universally adored by the people. 

On the island, justice is swift and therefore there is a very low crime rate, very little corruption, and the murder rate is astoundingly zero. By all accounts, it is one of the best and safest places to live in the entire world. 

One day, the president leaves on a fourteen-day diplomatic journey to negotiate trade agreements with some countries in Europe. The day after he leaves, in the early hours of the morning, a fire breaks out at the communications towers on the highest mountain of the island. All of the communications equipment is damaged or destroyed. Cutting off the island from the outside.

On the second day in the early hours of the morning a bomb hits a house in one of the villages and everyone inside is killed. Rescue workers, police officers and villagers gather round the scene to search through the wreckage. As they sift through debris, they find evidence that the bomb was sent from the president. On every piece of bomb shrapnel, they find the official presidential insignia. Every islander knows that only the president has access to this emblem, so the only explanation is that the president sent the bomb. By nightfall the island leaders determine that the people who lived in the house were spies. On the island, justice is swift and espionage is considered treason punishable by immediate death. This explains why the president bombed this home. All the islanders go to sleep that night with a sense of shock, but also comfort in the fact that crime does not go unpunished on their idyllic little island. 

On the third day, in the early hours of the morning another bomb hits the island, and the next day, and again the next day, and each and every day for the next 10 days. 

The official explanation changes from “These people deserved this,” to “Though we don’t know what reasons the president may have for this bombing, his record shows that he always works for the best interest of our island nation and its people. Because the communications towers have been destroyed, there is no way to contact him so it is likely that we will not know for sure until he returns. But we know that he is good, wise and just leader, and thus he must have a good reason.”

As the bombings get more arbitrary and kill so many seemingly innocent people, the islanders begin to question the motives of the president. Each day the leaders attempt to explain away his reasons, but eventually they too begin to question. 

Some of the islanders become so angry about the bombings and so full of sorrow for their friends and family members that have been killed, that they turn on the president. These rebels decide that when the president returns, they will immediately arrest him and put him on trial.

For reasons unknown to the islanders, the president’s return is delayed. As the hours tick by—awaiting the president’s return—a skirmish breaks out between the rebels and the loyalists.

It isn’t long before the entire nation becomes embroiled in a civil war. As the fighting and chaos reaches a feverish pitch those that have boats flee the island as hastily as they can, running for their lives.

They race out into the open sea and when they have traveled just beyond the edge of island’s visibility, they come upon a huge enemy armada of battle ships.

In that moment of stark clarity they all realize that it wasn’t the president who was bombing their island. It was the enemy armada. Somehow this enemy force stole the presidential insignia and used it to engineer a brilliant sneak attack.


As John Eldredge points out his book Epic, "Most people live as though the story has no villain. And that makes life very confusing."


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