Whenever some particular natural disaster occurs – e.g. an earthquake, hurricane, Tsunami, etc. – a segment of Christians vocalize their opinion that the particular disaster was God’s specific judgment on a specific people for a specifically egregious sin. As soon as these opinions air they are jettisoned by a floodwater of retaliatory and equally impetuous statements of antipathy and contempt towards those who have spoken them. As opinions are brandished, indecisive bystanders feel compelled to choose between one of two polarized options–namely, that they must either (1) conclude that God sends every catastrophic natural disaster as a judgment on men and women for their wickedness, or (2) conclude that God would never does any such thing. There is a more theologically nuanced answer to this issue. We must acknowledge that the Scripture speaks to this issue, and that it does so in a multi-variegated manner. So what exactly does the Scripture teach about natural catastrophes and their relation to personal or communal sin?
From Where Do Disasters Come?
It’s interesting to note that even many of those who reject the Bible’s authority–and who sneer at those who appeal to it’s teaching on this subject–nevertheless tend to personify nature when natural disasters strike. This is, no doubt, due to the sensus divinitatis. There is, in every fallen image bearer, a remnant of a principle of justice–or of personal governance–at work in their conscience. All men know that there is a Creator – even though they constantly seek to suppress the truth about Him (Rom. 1:18-32). Instead of acknowledging God the Father as the ultimate efficient cause of all things – guiding all things for His own purposes – they attribute the efficient cause to “Mother Nature.” Secular commentators frequently employ such personification phraseology as, “Mother Nature is really upset” or “Mother Nature protects.” While unbelievers attribute the cause of natural disasters to “Mother Nature,” Scripture everywhere tells us that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is sovereignly exercising His eternal will and power over all things.
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