Monday, July 23, 2007

God and Natural Disasters

Many are aware of the controversy caused by the comments of Rev. Graham Dow (Anglican Bishop of Carlisle) regarding the recent flooding in England. He asserted that (gasp!) the natural disaster could be a punishment from God for the immorality of the British people as of late. (Click here for the Bishop of Carlisle's comments)

He said, "People no longer see natural disasters as an act of God...However, we are now reaping what we have sown. If we live in a profligate way then there are going to be consequences," said the bishop, who has previously been seen as a future Archbishop of Canterbury or York. "We have a responsibility in this and God is exposing us to the truth of what we have done." Liberal theologians of all denominations - and even some conservative ones - quickly pounced on him and said that the floods were due to global warming or some other cause. They retorted that God does not act the way that the Bishop asserted; they argued that God would not use natural disasters as punishment for sin.

I say, "Why not?" Let's look at the facts here: God destroyed the world with a flood once because of men's sins. He destroyed the Five Cities of the Plain by fire and brimstone because of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. He sent plagues upon Egypt (and upon the Philistines when they had captured the Ark), overthrew Nineveh and Babylon and finally overthrew Jerusalem in the year 70 AD because of sin.

Everybody acknowledges these things. But God forbid somebody today assert that God is responsible for a natural disaster, or that this disaster could be a punishment for sin! Then people start shouting that God "does not work that way" and that it is a "simplistic" understanding of God. Why? All events are caused, directly or indirectly, by God. Natural disasters have always been seen as God's judgment; and this crosses denominational lines.

Well, guess what? The floods have gotten dramatically worse since the Bishop's statements, as if to confirm them (in my opinion). A UK official reported that these are the "worst floods in modern histoy" and they have already blown away the previous record set in 1947. Over 350,000 are without homes or power and there has been a humanitarian crisis declared; looting and panic and spreading as the Thames and Severn continue to rise. And there is no end in site. The UK news reported that "Forecasters have said there will be no let-up in rainfall in the week ahead."

Well, what are the scoffers saying about the bishop's statements now? It may be a judgment of God, it may not be; there is simply no way to tell. And just to keep it balanced, we must note obviously that just because God can make a natural disaster into a judgment does not mean all natural disasters are judgments. But we know for a fact that God has once in the past punished sin by flooding. Why on earth is it not feasible that He would do it again? God can still smite people if he wants to; and why not for moral degeneracy?


Mara Joy said...

"why on earth is it not feasible that He would ever do it again?"

...umm...because He said He wouldn't?

(Genesis 9:11...)

Anonymous said...

Duh! Stop wasting your lives fools, there is no god...