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Affluent Christian Investor | February 22, 2024

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Response to Those Who Wonder Whether Hurricane is Judgment of God

Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise, August 28.

Michael Brown, on the right, and the Daily Kos on the fringe left have been thinking out loud about the idea that the disaster in Texas is the judgement of God. Thankfully Brown pulls back from that conclusion:

Hurricanes, Solar Eclipses, and Divine Judgment.

I think these discussions really fall short of a Biblical understanding of God’s ‘judgment’. We think that ‘judgment’ means ‘punishment’, but it does not. Judgment is evaluation. When one goes before a judge in a court of law, one could get punishment or one could get a reward, depending on one’s deeds. When Jesus talks about ‘judgment’ in the Gospels, he uses the Greek word ‘crisis’. A crisis is a trial, not a rush to punishment.

Think of it this way: hurricanes will come. Wars will come. Hard times will come. Those things are part of the world. They are tests. Depending on who we are, we will either pass or fail those tests. Katrina came, and it revealed a corrupt system of levee construction and maintenance. It revealed a media which was so greedy for gain that it grossly overstated the levels of risk so that emergency workers hesitated to go into certain neighborhoods (then that same media turned against FEMA for its hesitation). It revealed a President who seemed out of touch with a crisis in his own country, who had to be goaded into paying attention to by his own staff who insisted that he watch footage of the disaster. All sorts of single issue groups grabbed onto some or another sin for which we were being punished: the warmies thought gaia was angry because of our carbon emissions. The fundies thought the gay pride parade was to blame for the disaster. But if we’re going to see these things as ‘judgments’ of Providence, why not take the obvious view: God judged us for not building a good system of levees. Infrastructure is moral. Treat a levee or bridge building or storm drainage fund as your own personal patronage piggie bank and you are taking human life.

Looked at from this point of view: one could see Harvey as a ‘judgment’ in the sense of a trial. but a trial that the people of Texas seem to be prevailing against. But as I think about it: it’s a trial for us too. What will we do? Will we show the world ‘how much they love one another’? Will we prevail in this trial? We will if we give to, volunteer and pray for the victims.


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