Tsunamis are not the wrath of God

theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11842949%5E7583,00.html

  Paul Stenhouse: Tsunamis are not the wrath of God

  January 04, 2005

THE world is still reeling from the tsunami in the Indian Ocean that caused such loss of life and devastation on Boxing Day.

Numbness, disbelief and outrage at our powerlessness, our inability to warn the victims, or to save them, is a common reaction. As is, at times, a desire to blame someone, usually God; or at least to question his wisdom and knowledge in permitting such tragedies to occur, and to seek an explanation for what has happened.

Grief at the extent of the devastation caused by the earthquake and its tsunami, and the desire to come to grips with it in human terms have been overshadowed by comments by Sydney’s Anglican dean, Phillip Jensen, who reportedly said that “disasters are part of his warning that judgment is coming”, and the chief executive of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Amjad Mehboob, who reportedly said that it could not have happened unless it was God’s will.

Sydney’s Catholic dean, Neil Brown, differed from this view, as did Rabbi Apple of the Great Synagogue and the president of the Hindu Council of Australia, Appupillay Bala.

Christianity does not teach that God causes natural disasters; nor does it teach that God causes them in order to punish the wickedness of the victims. If Jensen meant this, he would be seriously at odds with Christian tradition.

The earthquake and tsunami do, nevertheless, raise important questions that deserve answers, as the Archbishop of Canterbury is reported as saying.

As someone who has seen more than his fair share of human suffering around the world, I can sympathise with the halting attempts people make to articulate their feelings at a moment like this: when we stand appalled and seemingly helpless before inexorable destruction and death.

Yet, for all its horror, the suffering caused by natural disasters is not comparable to the suffering that human beings inflict on one another.

Like many others I was shocked at the photo printed in British journals some years back of a 16-year-old boy from an unnamed country whose eyes had been burned out of his head with cigars and whose tongue had been ripped out with pliers. Amnesty International was much criticised for the advertisement, but it told the truth. The police had done nothing about the atrocity because they knew who did it. And apparently approved. Questions needed to be asked, and answers found.

The untold millions who died in the 20th century in wars deserve to have their deaths and their suffering taken seriously; and for the lessons to be learned.

 Woolly one-liners that implied that God was indifferent to human suffering were given eager media attention in the wake of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart tragedy "Where was God when the yachts were sinking?"] but, for all their facile topicality, they are smokescreens that lead to an ever deeper introversion and narrowness of mind. In shutting a transcendent God completely out of the picture, such pundits consign the human spirit to a hopelessness from which there is no escape.

The problem of suffering and evil is as old as mankind. Christians believe that God is all-loving and that his compassion and love reach out to all, especially to the most helpless and abandoned. As Isaiah the Hebrew prophet reminds us, God’s ways are not our ways; nor are his thoughts our thoughts. This is not a cop-out, but an admission that confronted by suffering we are in the realm of mystery.

THE French existentialist philosopher Gabriel Marcel noted that the mysteries of suffering and evil are often used as arguments against the existence of a loving God. However, more people, he says, are turned towards God by suffering than away from him.

He also comments for the benefit of those of us who live in the so-called First World, that if there is one single conclusion forced on us by the history of mankind, it is that the growth of faith in God is not hindered by misfortune and suffering, but by satisfaction.

Pope John Paul II comforted the victims of the tsunami by assuring them that God had not abandoned them and added: “I am close to you all with my love and prayers, especially to the injured and the homeless, while I entrust to the divine mercy of God the countless number of people who lost their lives.”

As I write this, world leaders are pledging almost $3 billion in aid for the survivors of the devastation caused by the tsunami; countries and regions are setting aside their differences and co-operating for the good of those who are suffering; the UN Secretary-General assures us that the UN is in there “for the long term”.

Am I deceiving myself when I see the hand of God in this long overdue rapprochement?

Paul Stenhouse is a Catholic priest and journalist who edits the Catholic journal Annals Australasia.

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I would say that cannot read the mind of God. There is however a connection between natural disasters and sin! There really is and Father Bob Levis talked about this several times already. God is not the cause of evil but he uses pain and suffering to draw us closer to him and I look at this as a call to repentance.

Padre Pio “Don’t worry, work and pray.”

Well,I seem to recall acouple of cities that were wiped out because of sin,noahs flood, and when Jesus was cricified there was a huge eathrquake and the curtain in the Temple was torn,ten plagues of Egypt. i will not speculate whether it was the wrath of God or the earth shaking the fleas off.But, I will say that God has been very merciful and to be honest I am surprised He hasn’t cleaned house all around the world.God Bless

Our God gave us Jesus Christ as our Savior.Jesus said that He would give us life and give it to us more abundantly.Now on the other hand you have SATAN :eek: and he has come to SEEK, KILL, and DESTROY. Who is telling the TRUTH here? :confused: God Bless.

[quote=SPOKENWORD]Our God gave us Jesus Christ as our Savior.Jesus said that He would give us life and give it to us more abundantly.Now on the other hand you have SATAN :eek: and he has come to SEEK, KILL, and DESTROY. Who is telling the TRUTH here? :confused: God Bless.
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Could you clarify your response,please.Are you denying that God has allowed and even caused chastisements?And what about Jesus saying we must take up our cross?The ultimate life IS Eternal Life:) God is all merciful and all just. I do not propose that the tsunami is God chastising,but I also do not propose that He could have allowed it to happen to bring people back to Him.God Bless

God allowed this to happen, to bring us closer to him. He uses pain and suffering to draw us closer to him. I said before and I’ll say it again, its partly because of our sinfulness, the sins of nature, the sins of mankind and original sin is the reason for this. Man brings punishment on himself and innocent people suffer as a result. We are actually no more innocent than they are, according to Father Benedict. This is God’s way of punishing us for sin. God is a God of mercy and kindness and He’s also a God of Justice.

Padre Pio “Don’t worry, work and pray.”

[quote=bones_IV]God allowed this to happen, to bring us closer to him. He uses pain and suffering to draw us closer to him. I said before and I’ll say it again, its partly because of our sinfulness, the sins of nature, the sins of mankind and original sin is the reason for this. Man brings punishment on himself and innocent people suffer as a result. We are actually no more innocent than they are, according to Father Benedict. This is God’s way of punishing us for sin. God is a God of mercy and kindness and He’s also a God of Justice.

Padre Pio “Don’t worry, work and pray.”

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I agree and I totally goofed up the last sentence of the last post. I get perplexed sometimes and type with out checking to make sure what I am trying to convey is understandable,and in this case it is the opposite of my intent:ehh: God Bless

Well,I seem to recall acouple of cities that were wiped out because of sin,noahs flood, and when Jesus was cricified there was a huge eathrquake and the curtain in the Temple was torn,ten plagues of Egypt. i will not speculate whether it was the wrath of God or the earth shaking the fleas off.But, I will say that God has been very merciful and to be honest I am surprised He hasn’t cleaned house all around the world.God Bless

I can assure you that Fr. Paul Stenhouse, M.S.C., Ph.D. is well aware of the contents of the Bible. Please refer to For for evidence of this claim.

As to whether the current tsunami is evidence or not for the warning or punishment of the sinful (?) inhabitants of Indonesia, Thailand, India, Somalia, etc. - I will not make a judgement on that. If THEY are deserving of God’s wrath in this natural disaster scenario - why didn’t America cop a dose?

The truth is, I suggest, that the events to which you refer (the flood, sodom’s destruction, etc.) are examples (not of God using "natural disasters) but God using His creations in a “supernatural” manner. He did, after all, convey His displeasure to the sinful people PRIOR to the flood and to the destruction of Sodom, did He not?

Tsunamis and earthquakes are “natural” to the fault lines on earth. God created the world - and thought that it was “good.” People take their chances, do they not, when they choose to live in, what may be called, dangerous regions.

Do you remember:

1884, 27 Aug. Krakatoa in the Sunda Straits erupted with extraordinary force in what is believed to be the most violent volcanic eruption since the bronze age eruption of Thera almost 3,500 years ago. 36,000 people lost their lives in the seismic wave generated by the eruption.

1903, A typhoid epidemic in New York is traced to Mary Mellon (“Typhoid Mary”), who carries the disease but is not a victim of it; she spreads the disease by taking jobs handling food and refuses to stop. She will be confined from 1915 until her death in 1938.

1906, 18 Apr. The san Francisco earthquake at 5.13 am: two-thirds of the city is destroyed and 2,500 are killed.

1908, 28 Dec. Sicily is shaken by the most severe earthquake known in historic times: 75,000 people are killed in and near the town of Messina.

  1. Mt. Katmai in Alaska erupts violently burying Kodiak Island 161 km/100 miles away in the Aleutians beneath 1 metre/3 feet of ash.

  2. The worst pandemic to afflict the human race, with the exception of the Black Death, sweeps across Asia, Europe and North America; the so-called Spanish Influenza originates in China and kills 21,640,000 people, over 1 per cent of the world’s population.

1923, 1 Sept. The Great Kanto earthquake in Japan. The earthquake and ensuing fires destroy Tokyo and Yokohama, killing 100,000, injuring 752,000 and destroying more than 80,000 houses.
Source: “The Concise Encyclopedia of World History.”

And:

30 June 1908, a comet fragment approximately 0.05 miles in diameter entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded in the air above the Tunguska Valley in Siberia, Russia. The force of the explosion (approximately 10-15 megatons of TNT) knocked down millions of trees within an area of 1000 square miles.15 This comet fragment was probably a remnant of the comet Encke.

On the basis that ALL “natural disasters” are “warnings” or “punishments” from God – are we to believe that “Ooops! God missed” the target in Tunguska: if it had hit 15 seconds earlier, it would have wiped-out Tokyo!

As for “natural disasters” - isn’t mankind the greatest “natural disaster” ever…? Wars, murders, crime, abortions (think of the numbers in America and China alone!)… the list goes on. Are we, ourselves, God’s warning and/or punishment?

I would agree that this Tsunamis was not directly caused by the wrath of God. Essentially, we do not know why this happened because we do not and are not capable of knowing the mind of God. What appears to us to be very cruel and inhuman treatment may not be viewed by God in the same way. I am reminded of the direction that God gave Joshua when the Jewish nation entered the Promised land. It was to kill every man, woman, and child in the region. We certainly cannot understand why God would punish the innocent (children) no more than we can understand why He allowed this Tsunamis to happen.

Blessings to all,

John

I believe the tsunamis in Asia were to be a warning to everyone living. This is just a warning. I believe that we are being given a chance to repent and change our ways. I sincerely hope that more people start to see it this way.

I think some people seem to be missing the point behind this all. I don’t believe it’s so much about this having happened to these people because they were in some way more deserving of punishment than us, or sinned more than us- as it is to be a message of what is to come if we don’t change what’s important in our lives.

Luke Ch 18:22-talks about what you must do to inherit eternal life and go to heaven. “Sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me.”

Most people in America (including myself) have sooo many things. Many of which we could easily go without, and not be that inconvenienced about. I am so happy that so many people in the U.S. have given to help with this tragedy. I hope we continue to give to charities in this same degree from here on out. This is one good thing that has come from this tragedy. And something that I believe will make God very happy in seeing.

I’m curious if anyone else remembers seeing on the news in late August of 2001: people saw an image of Mary’s face on a tree in New York. She was crying. She was seen crying, I believe, because she new what was about to happen shortly.

I believe that God is a forgiving God. If he sees change, perhaps he will give us another chance. I believe that us and the world as a whole have drifted so far from His Will however, that our change will need to be on a very wide scale.

I Posted this in a similar thread in In The News but that thread seems to have died. At the risk of killing this one, I am posting this here because I would be interested if folks think this is way off.

[quote=JamesD]Discloser: The following is my own ideas on the mater. None of it is from a theological source and I have little to no knowledge of the theology of this issue.

In most of the arguments back and forth it seems the paradigm is of a zero sum game. Or, at the very least that there are losers from this tsunami. Consider the possibility that God does not have finite power. To me this means that God has the ability to mold the world and all events for the benefit and good of ALL individuals personally.

This allows for the benefits to individuals that might include: Created new or improved relationships resulting from emergency, the experience of helping others for people who might otherwise not, the strengthening of individuals and/or there families thru disabling injury, the making of saints in heaven to intercede for us, the enlightenment to survivors of the fragility of life and the potential for death without warning, the witness of the love of Christ through his people, and yes, even the benevolent chastisement for purpose of correction.

It is very hard for us to see a newly orphaned child captured into the human sex slave market. We think what could possibly be good about this? But just because we see only the suffering and cruelty does not mean that there might not be some greater good happening for this orphan even though it is not perceptible or imaginable to us. It is very hard to imagine and yet I think that it is possible for an omnipotent God to allow free will and evil and yet provide the best for each and everyone of us.

OK, Let the shooting begin.
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I found this post interesting on a Tsunami Thread -In the News, if it is to be believed then this was a predicted Wrath of God at Christmas?

Who knows.

[quote=Olive Murphy]I gave an Urgent Christmas to the World on 16 Dec 2004 by Press Release to PR Newsire. This was ignored. I then e-mailed it to most of the News Press e…g. Reuters/Associated Press. This was ignored. I then posted it on this Discussion group and now that one of the predictions has occurred withing weeks e.g. An act of God affecting the whole world directly or indirectly, this message has been taken down.

I am simply a messenger. People can choose for themselves to accept or reject this message of Divine Love. Sadly the world press did not allow those affected by this disaster to have a choice about how they treated their Christmas Celebrations.

This message will probably also be censored. If you take it down without checking its validity, on your head be it. You can e-mail me to verify.

God loves us all and wants no one to perish.

Olive Murphy

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[quote=bones_IV]God allowed this to happen, to bring us closer to him. He uses pain and suffering to draw us closer to him. I said before and I’ll say it again, its partly because of our sinfulness, the sins of nature, the sins of mankind and original sin is the reason for this. Man brings punishment on himself and innocent people suffer as a result. We are actually no more innocent than they are, according to Father Benedict. This is God’s way of punishing us for sin. God is a God of mercy and kindness and He’s also a God of Justice.

Padre Pio “Don’t worry, work and pray.”

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I agree with what you are saying here. God did not cause the Tsunami disaster, neither did God stay His hand so that the disaster would not be so bad.

The following is a list of examples taken from the Old Testament:

  1. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their sin against hospitality (and everything that goes with that sin).

  2. The people were destroyed when God sent the flood, and only Noah and his family were saved.

  3. The worshippers of the Golden Calf were destroyed.

  4. Those who rebelled against God with Korah were swallowed up by a hole in the ground.

  5. The Assyrian king Sennacharib was allowed to attack the Northern Kingdom of Israel with the people being deported elsewhere.

These are only some of the natural and other disasters that have been recorded but there is a New Testament example that is cause for reflection. It is the story of Jesus calming the storm on the waters. Jesus was sleeping in the boat when the winds and the waves began to stir and the apostles became afraid. Two thing stand out in this story: (1) the fear that came about because the Apostles at that time were not secure in their knowledge of the Lord. (2) In order to be saved they had to call on the Lord and ask for help.

Just think, if all on this earth were worshipping God instead of turning their backs upon Him, would he have allowed this disaster to be of such a huge proportion. The required mop up operation is really huge. There is a need for every other nation to provide some form of support for the relief effort that is required to assist in the disaster areas, especially in Summatra and Sri Lanka. There are children who have been orphaned, and there are parents who have lost their children. We need to find a way for the parents who have lost their children to be united and care for the orphans. We also need to know that the orphans will remain safe and away from the predators that exist in SE Asia. The Australian Fr. Chris Riley has gone to Indonesia with the intention of setting up a tent orphanage for the children without parents. This is a very ambitious task for Fr. Riley, and I must add that the idea was instigated by an MP from the western suburbs of Sydney.

There is a lot of Good that can come from this natural disaster. Let us continue to find ways to help.

MaggieOH

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