Tuesday, July 03, 2007

God's judgment

Christian converts in Asia grow up in a different environment than Christians in the West. People pray to ancestors, and consult mediums in temples. There is much more a belief in spirits. Every year, during the Hungry Ghosts Month, food and joss sticks (incense) are left out, and "hell money" is burnt, to appease the ghosts.

As such, the notions of prophecy resonate differently in Asia, and presumably Africa, than in the West. Here, I see prophecy as the denunciation of social injustice. We must turn from our exploitative ways, or face God's judgment. Back home, people are more likely to see prophecy as foretelling the future. Asian Christians, and I believe African Christians, are more likely to beliefve the signs and wonders stuff in the Bible. They are more likely to believe it when people like Pat Robertson say that God will send judgment on Orlando for flying gay pride flags, quoted here:

After Orlando … city officials voted in 1998 to fly rainbow flags from city lampposts during the annual Gay Days event at Disney World, Robertson issued the city a warning: “I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. … [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.”

Additionally, Pat Robertson prayed publicly in 1985 that Hurricane Bonnie would not hit his headquarters along Virginia Beach ... I believe that Bonnie didn't hit his headquarters, but the hurricanes caused millions of dollars of damage worth to the state. Could Pat not have prayed for the hurricane to dissipate completely?

How do we attribute the cause of natural disasters? Often we hear people claiming that they're God's judgment on gays, like Robertson and this British CoE bishop. Now, the latter also did say that global warming was God's judgment on the West for their exploitation of the poor in the Global South. I have to say, that claim does make me a bit happier.

The problem remains, though, how are we supposed to tell? There is much injustice going on in the world. When you think about it, how are we supposed to logically attribute the causes of natural disasters? Don't natural disasters harm the innocent, as well as the allegedly guilty? Some say that the use of cluster bombs should be outlawed because they cause indiscriminate destruction. Would we want to associate with a God who destroys indiscriminately? Global warming harms members of various Green parties in the West, who are committed to environmentalism. Shouldn't God look favorably on them?

Personally, I maintain that we will all be judged for our inequities. I don't make any claims on the nature of that judgment. It may occur in the life to come, in our own lifetimes, in those of our descendants. I don't know.

I do know what God said through Micah: Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with God.

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