Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pompous Religious Leaders

In 2001, when the towers fell, Jerry Falwell, backed by Pat Robertson said, "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen." Since then, Falwell has apologized. But in the wake of Hurrican Katrina, we're seeing this happening still.


"There's been satanic worship. There's been sexual perversion," Graham said Monday in an appearance at Liberty University. "God is going to use that storm to bring revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose." This much gentler approach still has accusational implications. Implied in Graham's words is that New Orleans was more sinful than other places in the U.S. and is experiencing God's judgment. It may be possible that such is the case, but who are we to say that for sure? These leaders sit on their high horses and condemn places suffering from tragedy. What about the God-fearing, Christ-loving Christians in the New Orleans area that perished? What about New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary? Was God raining down judgment on them?

Job said it best:
I have heard many such things; sorry comforters are you all. Is there no limit to windy words? Or what plagues you that you answer? I, too, could speak like you, if I were in your place. I could compose words against you and shake my head at you. -Job 16:2-4


However, it is just as pompous and pretentious to deem yourself the authority on God's motives by giving an unauthorized promise that the disaster has nothing to do with God's judgment:"the Roman Catholic leader reassured the congregation that God did not cause the hurricane to punish evildoers." (see link above)


Everyone is going to such extremes! The hurricane is a result of the sinful nature of mankind. See the verse at the top of my blog: nature groans against itself in longing for restoration to God. However, the hurricane is not an indicator that New Orleans was the most sinful place or that God has some special purpose for New Orleans that He doesn't have for the rest of the United States, or more importantly, the rest of the WORLD.

Long ago, towers fell and killed some Galileans. Jesus said

Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish -Luke 13:2-3

The message: that we must all equally turn from our sins and to Christ, because judgment is coming, but applying the hurricane to an act of God's judgment on this city specifically is uncalled for. Any comments or divergent viewpoints are welcome, so long as they are mature, tasteful, and free of expletives. I reserve the right to censor comments, or remove inappropriate ones.


NOTE: Literally MINUTES after I posted this, CNN updated this article with new info that Graham part 2 has given the statment that he DOES NOT believe that this was an act of God's judgment. See how effective my blog is? The link will take you to the updated article. Thanks to Del Shaffer for catching that!

32 Comments:

Anonymous koopstacochran said...

Evangelicals need to learn how to strike a chord of balance between the two extremes you mention in your blog. The attitude in which we as Christians respond to those who suffer makes a world of difference in how receptive the people will be to our interpretation of it. The predictable fundamentalist answer to calamity "This is God's Judgment" is a half-truth--which is often said to therefor be a whole lie. It is a very misleading statement, though true. ALL SUFFERING AND DEATH is part of God's judgment against SIN IN GENERAL, but not all suffering and calamity is provoked by an unusual degree of sinful behavior. I could say to Franklin Graham that his father's failing heatlh is God's judgment and this would be just as true as his statement which implies that Katrina was God's judgment against New Orleans. True, but misleading. I could say that Katrina was the judement of God against the church in New Orleans and this would also be true and misleading. The truth is, I appreaciate Dr. Graham Jr.'s boldness about the reality of suffering and death being a part of God's curse against a sinful and rebellious humanity. I disappreaciate insensitive statements which are a bad stewardship of the truth. It matters how we say what we say, and when we say what we say. I don't think there is anything wrong with a woman in a bathing suit at the pool, but it would be inappropriate for her to wear a bathing suit to church on Sunday Morning. Context is everything, and while Christians need to be bold about the truth that God is the one who gives life and takes it away, and that He is still in control of all things and has ordained all blessings and all calamities (including Katrina), we also need to be sensitive to those who suffer. We shouldn't water down the truth, but because it is the truth, we should exhaust our wit to be tactful in expressing it winsomely to a world looking for an excuse to dismiss us and all we have to say. KNAMSAYINCUZIN?

Tue Oct 04, 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Falwell and Robertson are looney birds.

I think any implication by humans concerning God's will is ludicrous. I know people might say, "But the Bible!..." But I believe the Bible to be written by people, not God, so for me anyone who says that they know what God thinks/feels/believes/whatever makes me want to turn and run the other way.

I think it's terrible to bring morals or religious finger-pointing into a tragedy like Sept. 11th or Katrina. If certain Christians are truly following Christ's example, they would be finding ways to help and comfort the victims, not say (in essence) "they got what was coming to them." I hate to spout a cliche, but what would Jesus do? Would he spend his time on his radio or TV show condemning hurricane victims for being sinful and thus bringing down the natural disaster on themselves, or would he go there himself to take people food and clothing and pray with them and talk with them?

Tue Oct 04, 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

It's also ludicrous to ask "what would Jesus do?" because who's to say what Jesus would do? I mean, people have this romanticized view of Christ like all he ever did was go around healing people and washing their feet, but there were times (consider the Den of thieves) when he was displaying the wrath of God, or rebuking evil, all for the sake of righteousness and glory to God.

It's like life is a movie and Jesus has been typecasted into some Ghandi character. LUDA KRIS I tell ya.

Being "Christlike" involves seeking to glorify God in absolutely every way possible, sometimes this means defending His honor and standing up for His name against evildoers, and sometimes this means being gentle, but it always should be done out of love and a desire for glory to be given to the Creator of the world.

Tue Oct 04, 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jugador de Futbol said...

"Graham, the son and designated successor of the Rev. Billy Graham, said he doesn't believe the devastating storm was a punishment from God for what he sees as the city's ties to satanic worship and sexual perversion." CNN.com

Tue Oct 04, 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Thanks, Del... they updated this article within the past 2 hours! But this post still stands :)

Tue Oct 04, 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Austin Vane said...

Hmm I don't think that gays caused the hurricanes. I think God is mad at us all, for being so foolish to live in places that get hurricane's between late August until the end of November each and every year in the Gulf of Mexico. But if say he is mad at gays, then MAN to we EVER have alot of power. We can expand Southern decadence out to all four corners of the world and kill EVERYTHING BWHAHAHAHAHA....OK I'll stop now.


PS
Hurricanes begin as tropical storms over the warm moist waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans near the equator. As the moisture evaporates it rises until enormous amounts of heated moist air are twisted high in the atmosphere. The winds begin to circle counterclockwise north of the equator or clockwise south of the equator. The reatively peaceful center of the hurricane is called the eye. Around this center winds move at speeds between 74 and 200 miles per hour. As long as the hurricane remains over waters of 79F or warmer, it continues to pull moisture from the surface and grow in size and force. When a hurricane crosses land or cooler waters, it loses its source of power, and its wind gradually slow until they are no longer of hurricane force.

Just for your info... ;)

Tue Oct 04, 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

WHATEVER... everyone knows gay people make hurricanes and terrorists happen.

Tue Oct 04, 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

:) Just kidding. I didn't know that until today.

Tue Oct 04, 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger CanaGal said...

hmmm, Jonathan, I can see that you are trying to bridge some gaps here, p'raps extend the old olive branch. Which is good ;-)
This is your site, and I respect the fact that it is your place for your soap boxing, just like my blog is my place of random nothingness (AS such the title wacky world of nothing) - but, fer crying out loud, scooter was trying to agree with you!!

Tue Oct 04, 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Scooter's my one of my best friends (regardless of our political/religious differences), so he knows that wasn't an attack on him. Besides, I was more "expounding" on his point than disagreeing with him.

But thanks for being a peacemaker, Canagal :)

Scooter, I need to get a recipe from you.

Wed Oct 05, 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

A recipe for what? My famous mackeral cupcakes?

Anyway, yes, you and I are best friends (this is more for everyone else than you, J-Man), so despite everything we say/type to each other, we know that we still respect one another's ideas, no matter how me might agree or disagree. Although, in this case, I was agreeing, I think. I was simply saying that during a disaster there are more important things to do than stand around finger pointing or trying to figure out the complex ways of God.

Wed Oct 05, 07:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Carra said...

I feel katrina had nothing to do with the sinfulness of humankind and everything to do with the randomness of nature and weather. I think Scott is right in saying that I, as a Christian, should follow the example of Christ and offer clothes, food, shelter, love, etc. to the victims. For me, I recognize the Bible is written by man, but God-inspired. More importantly, The Word of God is Christ Himself... that's written within the pages of the new testament... the Word was made flesh, that flesh was Christ. If you want to seek the Word of God for answers or peace in the face of disaster... seek Christ. Be the hands, heart, and face of Christ to these people- listen to their stories, love them, embrace them, cry with them, etc. These disasters or other tragedys could occur to any of us, at any time- the fact that one lives a "good" or "Christian" life doesn't exempt them from tragedy or crisis. Crap happens to us all- so maybe we should spend less time blaming natural disasters or terrorist attacks on people's sinfullness, socio-economic conditions, race, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, starbucks use or disney supporting etc... and care for them, love them- not accepting sin, but following Christ,s example to "feed my sheep."

Like Scott, I agree God is far beyond our understanding. But the example of Christ was simple... love others, bare their burdens.

Wed Oct 05, 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Carra, you should read the posts before commenting. No one said that disney supporting was bad. I was telling people to invest in Disney.

Furthermore, you just said "God is far beyond our understanding" and then simplified the entire life of Christ who is God into 5 words. IN one single sentence you completely contradicted yourself.

Wed Oct 05, 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous c said...

i'm sorry you missed the point of what i said...

Wed Oct 05, 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

you can't apologize for my actions, or anyone's but your own for that matter.

I didn't miss your point. I've just heard it a thousand times.

Again, you should read the posts AND comments before commenting.

Wed Oct 05, 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous koopstacochran said...

People get the idea that Christ is "the Word" from "the Word" but if "the Word" (the Bible) is not "the Word," then Christ was not "the Word" (or at least we couldn't be sure he was unless the Bible is "the Word." Woooooooord.

Thu Oct 06, 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word up, Word up

Thu Oct 06, 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Austin Vane said...

Hey J-man!! Bradley looks a little scary in these pictures. WOW! That would totally freak me out. Hey do you guys live like on campus or something? I didn't know that Christian colleges were set up like other colleges and Universities. That is pretty neat. Do you guys have parties or anything?

Thu Oct 06, 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Austin Vane said...

oops, sorry I meant to post that on your latest entry. Please forgive me. ;)

Thu Oct 06, 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Carra wasn't talking about you, specifically, when she mentioned Disney. She was pointing out that Southern Baptists in general once had a huge problem with Disney and called for a boycott. Her point by bringing this up is (like what I said previously) that if Christians truly want to call themselves Christians, then I believe they should follow Christ's example, try to live as he lived, by loving and caring for others instead of spending wasted hours, days, and years of life by persecuting others or trying to find the next evil thing of the moment.

Fri Oct 07, 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Mr. Scoot...I'm puzzled as to what you mean when you say "persecuting" and "to find the next evil thing of the moment." Might you comment about what you mean and give a few examples of each? As a Christian, I would be upset to find that there are Christians who are "persecuting" in the proper sense of the term, or finding "evil thing"s to get into.

Fri Oct 07, 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Baconlover said...

Jonathan, how rude and hypocritical of you to point out what you consider a contradiction in Carra's post. As everyone who reads your blog knows, you always manage to contradict yourself in your posts. For instance, in this post alone, you write: "The hurricane is a result of the sinful nature of mankind."
You then later write, "but applying the hurricane to an act of God's judgment on the city is uncalled for." Do you actually feel that this is not contradictory? You know I love you, but please, give us all a break, get down from your soapbox, and admit that you like drinking Margaritas and smoking on the balcony like the rest of us.

Sun Oct 09, 01:17:00 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Dictionary.com defines "persecute" as follows: "1. To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.
2. To annoy persistently; bother."

I constantly hear my students (almost all of whom claim to be Christians, read the Bible, attend church regularly, etc.) badmouthing people of other races, saying that they hate niggers, and that only gay people vote Democrat, and other things that are so horrible that I don't want to write them down. Let's just say that they invovle people of different races and either violence or lude sexual acts.

Also, when I was in high school, I knew a group of so-called Christian guys who admitted to getting drunk on the weekends and riding around in the back of a truck, finding black people and beating them with baseball bats.

Even on this blog, several people have written about gays having an agenda (the implication was that this "agenda" is evil), and I suppose that agenda is to turn children or the whole world gay.

What I mean by "trying to find the next evil thing of the moment," is that Christians (especially Southern Baptists) seem to be in a constant search for something in the public's eye to bash, to say is evil or of the Devil, etc. Some examples of this: Disney, The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Marilyn Manson, TV, movies, and music (I believe you discussed these last three in your own blog, koopstacochran).

Sun Oct 09, 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

And by the way, what do you mean by "proper sense of the term" persecute?

Is there a proper way to persecute? Did I miss that day in Sunday school?

Sun Oct 09, 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sun Oct 09, 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Futhermore, i'd like for you, Sara, to point out where I "always manage to contradict myself in my posts". I think you may need to change your comment altogether. You have used a stereotype fallacy argument, by taking one example (which is a misunderstanding on your part) and applied as a generalization to every post on my whole entire blog.

Sun Oct 09, 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I apologize if that first response comes off harsh, sara. What I basically meant was, if you read the comment you yourself wrote (quoting me in what you deemed a contradiction), but put the emphasis on the word "nature", then maybe you will see what I'm trying to communicate. If not, read the verse on the front page of my blog, taken from Romans.

Sun Oct 09, 01:44:00 AM  
Blogger Baconlover said...

I'm not saying don't speak your mind; I'm saying don't contradict yourself. You claimed that Carra contradicted herself. Hypocrites are defined by contradicting themselves. Therefore, when you contradict yourself, you are a hypocrite. When you call someone a hypocrite, then get upset when someone calls you a hypocrite, aren't you proving yourself to be a hypocrite? I wasn't trying to act like God; I was just pointing out the obvious.

It was not clear in your post that you considered mankind and the city of New Orleans as two separate entities.

I interpreted your post to mean that since people live in New Orleans and you believe people's sin causes natural disasters, then by Socratic logic, you seemed to be saying that the sins of the people in New Orleans caused the hurricane.

And you also said in your post that any divergent viewpoints are welcome, so why do you attack people as soon as they offer a different view? Here's my different view: natural disasters are tragedies but they have scientific reasons for happening.

I love you. I don't want to argue. But I felt like I needed to clarify my point.

Sun Oct 09, 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I dont believe it is the sin of N.O. that brought the hurricane on. I believe it was the one single sin of Adam & Eve.

Divergent viewpoints are welcome. you said, "please give us all a break and get off your soapbox." that is more of a personal attack than an attack on my view.

Sun Oct 09, 01:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

By the way, Sara, part of avoiding hypocrisy is admitting when you're wrong. I'd like to take this opportunity to admit that I have been wrong in the past. I have made some unwise decisions and I hope for your forgiveness (and Scott's, Mike's, Amy's, and everyone else involved). Although I don't believe (as some southern baptists do) that alcohol as a substance is a SIN, I regret that I have conveyed that I don't take my faith seriously by participating in its consumption with you all in the past. Please forgive me for this. I will apologize in person if need be.

ALso, I never called Carra a hypocrite. I try not to use that word. It gets thrown around all over the place too often. Telling someone that they have contradicted themselves is not the same as calling them a hypocrite, which is pointing out that they live a life different than what they call for from others.

Sun Oct 09, 02:06:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Mr. Scoot.

In many places outside the world's Disney Land (America) Christians are tortured, beaten, shot, stoned to death, forced to live under inhumane circumstances, starved, etc. The last real missions trip I was on, I had to stay underground in my spreading of the gospel message of Christ, and smuggle gospel liturature to an oppressed people who weren't allowed to have Bibles or any Christian liturature. Just gathering to worship in that place was risky buisness. People are killed all the time there just for being Christians Amongst Christians who are devoting their lives to go oversea's and spread the gospel in hostile areas (like some of my close friends) this term "persecution" has a more proper meaning (It wouldn't surprise me if you never had a Sunday School class on how Christians in muslim nations are given acid showers).

In spite of dictionary.com's categories, something seems unfair about lumping this type of "persecution" with the type of persecution you have accused me and Jonathan of.

You lumped us in with your baseball bat buddies. That's a little misleading. It's one thing to beat someone up because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., it's quite another to have blog against a particular sexual behavior (not any particular person mind you--but a behavior).

By your definition, virtually anytime people express conflicting views of morality, this might be called persecution. Your telling us it's wrong to "point the finger" at homosexuality or "the next evil thing," but in doing so you point the finger at us as "the next evil thing." Your comments insinuate that it's "evil" to be preoccupied with calling other people's behavior "evil."

Well...I feel like I'm being persecuted here.

Sun Oct 09, 02:38:00 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Maybe now you know how it feels.

Sun Oct 09, 04:32:00 PM  

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