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« What Orthodox Christians do about the earthquake in Port au Prince | Main | To those who think we've paid too much to the poor on Hispaniola, the death toll is almost 144,000 »

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Fr. Jonathan,

Thank you, I will respect your time and satiate my desire to learn by striving to be as concise and as clear as I possibly can.

Although we read the same words, the ideas which come to our minds may differ. I am taking this seriously, understanding that this is not about words or theories, but reality.

Something happens, I thank God for it, by this act I implicate God as the Giver, he does not become so through my affirmation, rather I am *recognizing* Him as such. To say God is "liable" for X is to say that God must regarded as the Giver as X if X is an actuality. Thus, if God is the Giver of X, God is "liable" for X, be it an earthquake, disease, storm, etc.

Scripture in many places implicates God as the source of the Noahic Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and other death-dealing events. I quoted St. Peter doing so, to cite one example. I already know that you do not do so, but the question is on what *grounds* do you do this, other than personal preference.

"I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

Unless God permits or grants the good, you deny God's involvement if such action or inaction results in evil, but for what reason? Please show me.

Dear Socratic Stoic,

Thank you for your courtesy.

I do not agree with your contention to thank God for something, one must be willing to accuse Him of evil.

"Every good and perfect gift" means precisely thanking God for the good, and the good only.

"Thanking" and "crediting" are not the same. I thank God for gifts. I do not "credit" Him -- that requires a judgment of worth that must transcend God in a larger court of adjudication -- a concept with which Job flirted, and was censured for.

"He is equally liable" is a construction that has no meaning in my experience. Perhaps you can explain this, in hypostatic language.

I never attribute death to God, as this is the "natural consequence" of sin.

The disasters of the Noahic Flood and the conflagration of Sodom and Gomorrah were the natural revulsion of the cosmos on evil.

God as Trinity seeks to save. Who the hell are we to judge Him, when all He wants to give is mercy, if we would only ask with penitential humility, swallow our tendentious Socratacies, and ask "What must I do to be saved?

or to save Haitians?"

I am going to revise and extend my comments above. Beyond what Rush did or did not say about giving money to help in Haiti, for him to suggest that this is nothing but politics for Obama and company is the height of irresponsibility in and of itself:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20100115/pl_politico/31539

Jay:

Apparently the initial reports about what exactly Rush said were somewhat incorrect. However, he apparently did say something about not contributing to the relief effort via the U.S. government. Since the government is not directly soliciting funds, it is not clear exactly what he is referring to.

One wonders how much U.S. tax money has been spent on Haiti over the years vs. oh, I don't know, a certain war in Iraq and other similar things favored by Mr. Limbaugh.

Part of the problem here is that Rush apparently was trying to get people to believe/report that he said something more outrageous than he did. This in and of itself reeks of playing "gotcha" and is not responsible behavior. Also, because of his scroogelike, social darwinist approach to life in general, he makes it all too easy for such things to be believed. (when you're on on the wrong side of the fence in general, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you have moved temporarily. Obviously, this may not be true in a court of law, but this is not a courtroom.)

What did RUSH say that was outrageous? didn't he say the US has thrown millions or tens of millions in aid to Haiti for decades to no avail? This is a true statement/observation is it not? So that's not outrageous at all.

And he did not say in the slightest that aid should not be sent short term to help the in the tragedy did he? No.

The big picture of Haiti is well captured here in the NYT of all places....

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/opinion/15brooks.html?ref=opinion

Great observations though in your blog about the inherent fallibility in linking natural disasters to God's judgement.

Thanks Fr. Jonathan for the call to repentance and prayer!

This whole tragedy recalls to mind my seminary days. I was taking a class on the Minor Prophets during the period surrounding the 9/11 attacks. I will never forget the chilling words from Amos(?)"if there is destruction in the city, did not I do it?" Clearly, God is active in judgement, both positively and negatively. This is not to say that every calamity is an act of God, but rather that God has told us he does actively judge. The problem for us begins when we try to divine the mind of God. Without a direct Revelation from God (which none of us is ever likely to receive), we simply cannot know what God is up to, or whether He's up to anything at all in terms of judgement. Our job is to "act justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with our God." In this case that would mean to offer prayers, and assistance where possible.

mdj

You also assert that the Gospel precludes a God who would send "earthquakes or hurricanes or disease" for some evangelistic aim or greater good; however, this is not the testimony of Scipture. Both Jesus and St. Peter believed in a global flood and other natural disasters sent by God in response to human wickedness:

"...he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; [...] he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.." [2nd Peter 2:5-6]

Fr. Jonathan,

I read your post carefully and commented very quickly so there would be a response when I returned. I would like to be more transparent regarding my motive. My goal is only to see things from your perspective so that I may understand it. You may be entirely correct, that is not a possibility I am attempting to negate at this point.

For me the tension exists between gratitude and responsibility. It seems that to thank God for something I must attribute credit to Him, but if He receives credit for what is good, seemingly by default, why not the evil? It seems He is equally liable for both. I am not saying He is, but it looks that way. If you had family in Haiti, in the middle of the trouble zone, some who lived and some who died, would you not thank God for those who had survived, giving Him credit? If so, then why are not the deaths attributed to Him? How do you see it?

Indeed, Fr. Jonathan. Given his background and roots in a prominent Virginia family (or, perhaps, even apart from that), the immediate sub-text of his comments relates to the idea that God has no sympathy with slave revolts, something that Moses, Aaron, et. al, would find quite surprising.

Personally, I tend to ignore Pat. We've come to expect this kind of thing from him. I am pretty outraged with Rush (although we've come to expect this kind of thing from HIM as well).

I neglected to mention, Fr. Greg, in the article that there are a number of strong parallels between voodoo (i.e., voudon) and freemasonry. There is the same vague notion of a Supreme Being, and, I would suggest, the same evocation of daemona (loa for voodoo, oath-enforcers for the masons). Toussaint himself was a high-up Freemason, while, with little difficulty it seems, being a devout Roman Catholic. Go figure.

In any case, Robertson should look to the presence of pagan cultic practices stateside, rather than trying to scry out disaster antecedents in less whitebread areas.

Excellent, excellent post, Fr. Jonathan.

A Roman Catholic man of my acquaintance suggested, not entirely tongue in cheek, that the U.S. is perhaps being punished by the presence of the likes of Robertson and Limbaugh due to its own Masonic heritage.

The syllogism itself is false. It forces a false dichotomy.

Our Lord, in speaking to the Righteous Job and His Apostles, said that there is only one response to tragedy.

Not to ask why or to opine on justice or the nature and actions of divinity, but to repent.

Job never learned why he suffered. The victims of Pilate's massacre and of the falling of the Tower of Siloam never were told, by Jesus, why they became victims. The blind man who was born blind only knew that his blindness was turned to glory: but that is not the explanation for the disciples question, "Why was this man born blind?"

God has refused to explain tragedy in this world, and His Gospel also testifies to His love without shadow -- a testimony which precludes any possibility of sending earthquakes or hurricanes or disease for some evangelistic aim, or for some greater glory as the calvinists might say. God creates, but God does not create evil.

I cannot understand God before I believe in Him and love Him. I can never understand Him. He first loved me, and that itself is beyond my understanding and my poor estimation of justice. My understanding of justice is predicated on God loving me and Creation.

In fact, my consciousness is predicated on the Presence of God. That fact alone is the only valid apologetic: it is the crux upon which belief or non-belief, repentance or reprobation, forgiveness or unpardonable sin, life or death turns.

"It's all His fault of course, since, if He exists, He could have stopped this tragedy."

True or False?

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