Theodicy: The Next Tidal Wave?

Wade Hodges posts a link to an article by England’s Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, about the Indian Ocean disaster.

His source, pomomusings, posts another which places the responsibility for the disaster and deaths on God because He “could have stopped the waves.”

I guess I’m in the ignorant minority, but I believe that there are things that God allows to happen that we perceive as evil … maybe to remind us that Death is always waiting in the wings, and Christ is always dying to intercept Death and claim His own.

Maybe there are some things that God permits to remind us that sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath SINLEADSTODEATH.

Maybe things like earthquakes and tsunamis (earthquakes, at least, are going to happen until the end – Jesus says – but aren’t particularly a sign of it) just happen. Maybe God wound up the clockwork globe and, instead of walking away disinterestedly, waits on the edge of His throne to see what we do with it.

Maybe how we react to disaster is what’s important: with compassion and generosity to the surviving victims, or by trying to blame God or Satan or offshore drilling for them.

Is it even possible that the earthquake/tsunamis that wiped out tens of thousands might have been acts of God’s mercy? That had He not rescued some by water (as He did for Noah) or shortened the days of the tribulation (as is also promised in another context), the disaster might have been many, many times worse?

The only clear message I get from scripture is that, like Job, we can ask all the questions we want to about such things. But that doesn’t mean we can understand the answers.

Claiming to have them seems dangerously arrogant.

One thing is certain: the disaster has already stirred the murky waters of mankind’s innate need to know how good and evil fit into our world.

If we as Christians can’t claim to have all the answers, the least we can do is offer to share in the struggle … ask questions of our own … assist in rescuing the physically and spiritually perishing … pray without ceasing … weep with those who weep; mourn with those who mourn.

And, yes, rejoice with those who survive.

We of all people should know what it is like to be rescued from utter disaster.

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5 thoughts on “Theodicy: The Next Tidal Wave?

  1. Good comments. Here are my random and disjointed thoughts:

    This tsunami is as mystifying as the book of Job. God is sovereign, but it does not mean He is in direct control of everything.

    Does God really deal with people’s lives like in Job? Are we dice to be thrown in a game of chance? Or does he deal with the reality of love and freedom, “wrecklessy” trusting people whom He made in his image to prove love and freedom without controlling it?

    If Job is a real guy and all that is recorded in Job really happened, then is that how God loves His people? I can see it both ways. On the one hand, Job is a pawn in a cosmic battle, used by both God and Satan as a weapon to see who wins. I do not like this view. Or, God loves Job so much and respects him so much that he knows Job can take it. He knows something about Job that Job does not even know about himself. Perhaps God saw Satan as a tool to tease out the depths of Job’s devotion, thereby ultimately blessing Job and thwarting Satan. I like this idea better, but it still feels lacking.

    Anyway, is that what God is doing (allowing) on a global scale with the tsunami? I have no idea. What I do know is that people are responding generously and will likely continue to do so. The cause is painful, but the response is beautiful.

  2. < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fcarsonreed.blogspot.com%2F2005%2F01%2Ftsunami-theodicy.html">Carson Reed<> posts a link provided by a friend to an insightful <>Wall Street Journal<> opinion piece by David B. Hart titled < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.opinionjournal.com%2Ftaste%2F%3Fid%3D110006097">Tremors of Doubt – What kind of God would allow a deadly tsunami?<>.

  3. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fgregtaylor.blogspot.com%2F2005%2F01%2Ftsunami-religious-outlook-in-southeast.html">Greg Taylor<>‘s discovery of the <>Newsweek<> article < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.msnbc.msn.com%2Fid%2F6777635%2Fsite%2Fnewsweek%2F">Countless Souls Cry Out to God<>.

  4. Here’s another quarter heard from: a column by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Joan Ryan who asked representatives of many religious faiths about < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sfgate.com%2Fcgi-bin%2Farticle.cgi%3Ffile%3D%2Fchronicle%2Farchive%2F2005%2F01%2F06%2FBAGF6ALB071.DTL">The tsunami and God’s role in it<>.

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