Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Does God have a targeting system?

Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
(Genesis 18:23-26, NIV)
Joe Klein wrote an article (which appears in the Sept. 12 Time magazine and here on quoting a group called "Columbia Christians for Life," who looked at satellite images of hurricane Katrina and saw an unborn fetus in the image. Based on this revelation, they sent out a storm of emails proclaiming God's judgement on New Orleans for operating abortion clinics, and their website has two articles praising God for the destruction of the clinics. (Thanks to Eileen for the hat-tip about Joe Klein's article.)

On a lark, I went to, an online "yellow pages" site, and found that there were more than 1,200 churches in New Orleans, most of which (I would assume) suffered the same fate as the abortion clinics.

I only point this out because the passage I opened with, from Genesis, seems to indicate that God understood the concept of "collateral damage" a lot better than we do. The concept that hundreds, if not thousands, of people would die and hundreds of places of Christian worship would be destroyed so that five abortion centers would be shut down is an obscenity of massive proportions. Not only is it obscene, it's just not Biblical.

The idea of a God who knows us so intimately that God knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:6-8) having a Smiting-Target-Acquisition-System that has to take 1,200 churches with it in order to wipe out five dens of iniquity is beyond stupid. It's just a variation on the same crap which I wrote about in January that John Piper was preaching about the tsunami - that the deaths of thousands of believers was an "acceptable loss" to the Almighty for the privilege of sweeping infidels and pagans to their death.

The blog Eve's Apple has a good sample of the backlash from this nonsense.

If there were half as many people preaching God's love, forgiveness, and acceptance as there were people loudly proclaiming that they know who God is going to smite, there would be a whole lot more Christians around.

Just so you know: God does not have a targeting system. This, instead, is what God has for you:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
It's just so damn sad, because the message of Christ is so vastly different than what what these folks are hearing from morons like the so-called "Columbia Christians for Life."

Your actions speak so loud, I can't hear what you're saying. (anonymous)

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. (Brennan Manning)


Dave said...

hey Steve, I looked at that stelite image myself. I think I saw Elvis in it!
I'm so sick of these wacko's getting press time. They're the ones being heard and it makes me embarassed to call myslef a Christian.
I know they are just modern day pharrasies (sp) and saggisies(sp) and I know they'll get theirs in the end but it would be nice if the sane leadership would get some press time and speak some truth.

Kat said...

totally agree. i'm tired of these so-called "christians" raining down judgement and brimstone on everyone but their pious, righteous selves. what happened to the God of love and grace or did they just happen to misplace that part of the bible, too? it just irks me and really hits a sore spot....

Michael Dodd said...

My cynical side (who, me?) has been tempted to put up a post thanking all the courageous Christian leaders -- bishops of all traditions, elders, deacons, pastors, crusaders -- who spoke up denouncing this sort of foolishness as an offense to the God we worship.

Quick! Name three!

Talk about sad!

Anonymous said...

Images in hurricanes? Does the same apply to seeing pictures in clouds? Do I need to worry about the sky falling?

I remember a few years ago after one of the San Francisco area earthquakes that a Christian I know said very calmly that the earthquake was God's wrath on that area of the country because of so many there who have a sinful lifestyle (i.e., homosexual). This blew my mind. I asked her to please explain tornadoes in the Bible Belt, because if we're soooo much better than those "sinners" on the west coast, why do we have to be on the watch for destruction every spring?

That line of thought is just ridiculous. I am amazed at the self-righteousness of people who engage in that line of thinking; if God were destroying geographic areas based on the sinfulness of the inhabitants, we'd all be in danger.

Anonymous said...

You know the part I hate? It's that other part Jesus talked about. The part that goes on about loving our enemies, and praying for those who persecute us.

I hate that part. I mean, do we have to love them even if they're idiots? (Ahem, yes, well...) I mean, come on, this isn't the sort of stuff Jesus was talking about, was it?

Was it?

Steve F. said...

Ah, [rwk], therein lies the rub, eh?

My first AA sponsor said, "I am told I'm supposed to love you. And I do - even though there's only a few of you I really like, truth be told. And there's some o' you yo-yo's that I probably won't warm up to, even if we're cremated together."

Can I love 'em after I've boxed their ears a bit?

The fact is, it's just freakin' hard, sometimes, not to want to do just that. And then I become just like they do.

On the one hand, I'm supposed to be a light - which means that judging them is a no-no. And the whole "yeah, but..." thing is a cop-out too.

So I struggle in the balance between "I really want to tell them that there really CAN be a better way" and "shut up, live your own life right and 'live & let live,' Steve."

Dave said...

Wait just a minute. jesus is our example of how to treat others and he had no qualms about calling the Pharrasies (sp) hypocrites in a loud tone and volume. And then explaining exactly how and why they were full of shit.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I know exactly what you're saying, and you're right. He did.

I just figure that since He was their boss, He had a right to tell them how they were screwing up on the job. I on the other hand...

I know, I know...stuff burns me up to. When some self appointed czar of all things Christian goes off on a rant we automatically assume that fixing their outrageous B.S. is far more important than how we love our nieghbour, today, right here and now. I'm not sure it is.

And if one of those 'czars' is indeed our 'enemy', what would loving him/her look like? How would it change them? How might it change us? (Not a rhetorical question, btw...I'm really asking)

And you're also absolutely right when you say Jesus is our example of how to treat others. To that end He met his betrayer at midnight, in a garden of prayer, with a kiss and the name of 'friend'.

Like Steve said, that's the rub, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

God most definitely is not targeting areas or we would all be dead as Deanne pointed out. This kind of garbage makes Christians look bad. The people spouting this nonsense need to realize they are giving true Christianity a bad name. This also violates the "Judge not, that ye be not judged" rule. They have effectively judged that Louisiana and it's people are evil and deserved what happened.

However, God is their only judge. Not some pharasaic sanctimonious holier than thou psuedo-Christians spouting their messed up version of God's thoughts. As it says in the bible in the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.