Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fundamentalist Hurricane Exploitation

On September 7, Jim Ellif published an article in the Worldview Times titled “Do Hurricanes Just Happen?” I’ve seen a few links to this little jewel of fundamentalist ghoulishness lately. Yes, it’s time for a fundamentalist to exploit natural disasters.
God is at work doing His perfect will, even during hurricane season. These spinning engines of destruction originate from Him as Ruler (first cause), through nature (second cause), all for His purposes. Though God owes us no explanation, one or all of the following possible objectives may help us understand "why" God decrees such fear-producing events:
The beauty of these “explanations”, of course, is that they provide an excuse for any horror visited upon anyone, meaning that they really explain nothing.
1. God is recognized as powerful and not to be trifled with. God often asserted that cataclysmic events were done to display His power to men. (Exodus 9:14-16; 14:31)
I’d like to see ministers try to use this explanation with a grieving family. “You shouldn’t feel bad about your family member’s death. They died so God could show off.”
2. Society is warned of the greatest calamity, eternal judgment. A physical disaster is nothing compared with eternal damnation. A hurricane is an announcement: "If you don't repent, worse than this is coming." (Luke 13:1-5)
Jim believes God uses hurricanes in much the same way that mundane tyrants use guns and artillery.
3. Some people are deservedly punished for their rebellion. The Bible states that "the wrath of God is revealed [lit. is being revealed] from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . ." (Romans 1:18). That means now. Hurricanes are just one of the ways that might happen. (Psalm 7:11-13)
When God smites a massive geographical area, there may be someone in there who actually deserves it. Maybe.
4. Some true believers are tested or disciplined and made stronger in their faith. The same storm that judges a non-believing man may be the crucible of testing and/or chastisement for a true Christian, and will toughen and purify him for the future. (James 1:2-3; Hebrews 12:5-11)
If God’s holy engine of destruction smashes through the homes of devout believers and crushes churches, it’s just a test of their faith.
5. Believers may be taken to heaven; and some enemies of God may be removed from the earth. This is a reality that is hard to accept, but nonetheless true. The Bible says that our days are ordained by God even before one of them is lived (Psalm 139:16). He also promises that many rebellious people will face a calamitous end. (Psalm 73:18-19)
It really doesn’t matter who God kills with his storms, anyway. He brought you into this world; he can take you out at his whim.
6. The godly are given an opportunity to love sacrificially. Because of the nature of the true believer, you will always find Christians among those on the scene helping to relieve the distress. (1 John 3:17; Galatians 6:10) Their love may point many to Christ.
And disasters always provide Christians an opportunity to look good. Pay no attention to those heathens and non-believers who are also doing their best to help out.

So I bet you’ve gathered by now that this attitude toward natural disasters aggravates me. I think the following quote from the Babylon 5 episode “A Late Delivery from Avalon” sums up my attitude toward natural disasters.
I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.


Nena said...

A friend of a friend on Facebook made a comment along the lines of the fundamentalist disaster attitude; something like "it would be so depressing to think this happened to me [her home was horribly flooded] because of random luck. It's so comforting to know it's part of God's perfect plan."

I said honestly, I don't understand at all how this concept makes them feel better. Thinking that a god sent the hurricane to destroy your home for some higher purpose that he deems you unworthy to understand is somehow better than being the unfortunate victim of natural weather patterns? Both suck; the first one implies intent. How is that better?

Gayle said...

Well-said my friend. All of those religious defenses (pseudo-defenses) are so common, no one ever stops to dissect them and really understand what they mean.

One of my favorite conversation starters (or stoppers) with believers is to ask whether God WAS or WAS NOT in charge of the tsunami...and then just remain silent. It's amazing to hear their progression of explanation.