Of Bachman, Beck, Irene, and Earthquakes

First, let me say I am not wading into presidential politics with this post.  Although I have political opinions, it is my fervent desire not to do what is so easily and frequently done by ministers, and that is mix together theology about our eternal God and political talk with is temporary, fleeting, and never so important as we so often think it is.  I have good friends and am associated with devout members of the church from both major political parties, as well as independents, and smaller party members.  Being a Christian does not automatically identify one’s political identification (although hopefully all of us view our faith as more important than our political identifications).

This past couple of weeks we have had a major politician for the presidency speak up on the natural disasters that have occurred.  We also had a media commentator do so.  Glenn Beck said that the earthquake was God trying to tell people how important it is to stockpile food for at least three months.  Yesterday, Michelle Bachman said that Hurricane Irene was God’s signal that he was unhappy with the way things are going in Washington D.C.  While I cannot speak for God with 100% assurance,  all I can say is that this seems very uncharacteristic of the God I know through Jesus Christ.

God did create this earth, a very unique place in our universe.  According to the Bible (primarily in the Hebrew Bible) there were times in the course of human history where God did influence the weather to draw human attention (primarily of his people or their adversaries).  But this was done primarily in the age of prophecy, before Jesus came, and usually was reserved to send a specific message that one of his prophets would relate.  Finding God influencing the weather perpetually decreases throughout the Bible chronologically.

The problem with attributing the weather or natural disasters to God’s divine wrath today is that if God was going to speak to us in the manner, shouldn’t have Jesus, whom Christians believe to be God on earth, have forewarned us to lookout for this?  Jesus is largely silent on the weather other than by saying that if we study it, we sometimes can tell what is to come (meteorology 101).  The second problem with attributing natural disasters to God “sending us a message” is that is we are assuming God views our nation in the same way he did the nation of Israel ages ago (which is a major jump theologically that few of us make on most days). The third major problem would be for us to answer why God would use such a atmospheric sledge hammer (which does physical harm to so many) to get the attention of a relative few.  Hurricanes, for example, usually damage the Caribbean nations before they ever get to the U.S.  Would God let all those people (usually with far less resources) suffer to throw in his opinion about the current state of U.S. politics?

I always think back of when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and a few fringe preachers came out and said it was God’s divine wrath against what went on in the French Quarter.  Why God then spared the French Quarter but would flood homes of working class people who rarely, if ever, went to the French Quarter went unanswered.  And what of all the people outside of New Orleans that suffered?  As for Hurricane Irene, if God is “sending a message to Washington” then why are the folks in Vermont suffering from so much flooding?  How about the tornadoes this past spring?  Is God particularly mad at people who live in Tuscaloosa (particularly those south of the river)?  Or what did the folks in Joplin, MO do to get God so angry?

For a politician or a pundit to say he or she believes God does not approve of their opponent’s policies is totally fair game.  I certainly am not one who feels faith and politics should be divorced (except by pastors who too often try to wade in where they should not).  Nevertheless, every Christian should say no whenever anyone purports to speak for God when it sounds different from the God we know and worship.  And in these two cases, it hit that criteria.

What do you think?

Until next time,

Tom

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