/*----- Show and Hide ------------------------- */ /*----- Show and Hide ------------------------- */
Saturday, February 26, 2005

A refreshing relook at 'theologizing' the Asian Tsunami and tragedies in general

I say "refreshing" here mainly because there does not seem to be many sound Christian/Biblical perspectives on the tsunami (and large-scale tragedies in general) in the media, compared to the slew of views and articles that are either completely secular (which is okay, even possibly good) or worst of all, of wrong-headed, sloppy theology. Here are the views of two Scottish ministers, one in the form of a sermon you can listen to, and another an article that's surely worth a read.

The heavy Scottish accent of Rev. David Murray* is also refreshing to me, sort of like listening to Peregrin Took (a.k.a. Pippin) preaching. His sermon may be entitled "Tsunami: teaching from tragedies", and his concern is mainly to put forward the argument that we can see a sovereign God in the tsunami (Some things to think about: "Why tragedies? Why? Must we say that God does not exist, and that such tragedies are merely the workings of a blind and indifferent nature?") and that one must not presume that the victims were greater sinners than we (Luke 13:5). "Extraordinary disasters are not necessarily the results of extraordinary sins... These extraordinary tragedies should lead us to extraordinary repentance."

Some snippets:

Either He's God of the good and the bad, or He's not God at all. ... God is in these events. His judgements are not as easy to figure out as you might think. ... The Christian says there is a God, that there is a meaning, a purpose, a plan. What is it we as yet do not know all the details of...

If God were to judge every sin in this world, then people would see no need for a final judgement. But if God were to punish no sin in this world, people would say there is no divine providence. ... and so, God allows, permits, God arranges temporal, periodic judgements in order to teach people that there is a God that judges in the earth but that his judgements are to us unfathomable and unsearchable. They did not perish, He says, because they were extraordinary sinners. If God dealt with everyone like that, as the psalmist said, who could stand? ... the whole world would become a vast cemetary and there wouldn't be one left standing to comment upon.

Read David Robertson's 17 January 2005 article on the Asian Tsunami, which contains some very sensible, interesting and thoughtful arguments and more specifically Scottish examples (such as the "extraordinary giving" in light of the less than 0.25% of the money the average woman in Edinburgh spends on clothes, half of which she does not actually wear-). The article begins:

There have been millions of words written about the Asian Tsunami. Little wonder. The scale of the disaster is overwhelming - over 150,000 dead, millions homeless and some of the most beautiful and poorest areas of the world lying devastated. Just this week for example I was reading a report from Tear Fund stating that in Sri Lanka there are 25,000 plus dead, over one million displaced and 250,000 homeless. Here in Scotland we have witnessed the awful tragedy of the Uist family who were swept away to sea as they tried to escape the storm that blew over much of Scotland on Tuesday night. The Asian Tsunami was that magnified many times.

I do not wish to lessen or cheapen this catastrophe, nor do I have a particular desire to add to the volumes already being written. However there is one aspect of the whole affair which I would like to comment on. Despite the fact that we are supposed to be a secular society it remains the case that at times of great disaster the press do turn to religious leaders for their comments and perspectives. And generally our religious leaders had nothing to say. Sorry, they had plenty to say but most of it was pretty bland truisms repeating what every one knew anyway. The standard ‘religious’ response was along the lines of – it’s a terrible disaster, we feel for the people involved, we must do all we can to help and it raises lots of questions. (To be fair I should point out that Bishop Holloway who usually manages to put across his almost atheistic views, wrote an excellent and generally fair article in the Scotsman). In this respect I was disappointed to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury stating that it caused him to question his faith and to read the Scotman’s headline “Queens Prayers as clergy admit faith rocked by death toll” (Scotsman 3rd January). Some of the clergy were all too quick to praise humanity and question God.
Read on...

* Rev. Murray is currently pastor of the Stornoway Free Church of Scotland, and Robertson is of the Free Church of Scotland. My reference to them here does not necessarily represent a complete endorsement of the all the views expressed by them or by the organisation of which they are a part.


Blogger Olorin said...

Billy Boyd's Scottish, Pippin isn't. :)

8:31 PM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

Since I'm the one who suggested the comparison: you've got me there... :)

10:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home