Time for Round Two of Patriot Week, as I’ve dubbed it here on the blog.
You remember when the earthquake hit Haiti, Pat Robertson said that the natural disaster was God’s curse on those people.
Now, claiming that God is punishing people is nothing new or original. Just recently, John MacArthur declared that America is under God’s curse and that, “if God doesn’t destroy America soon, He’s going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
You probably remember Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s sermon, “God damn America!” that was blasted over every airwave for weeks a few years ago. And Fred Phelps, of course, says that God pretty much hates everyone before breakfast every day.
Of course, Rev. Wright, Robertson, and Phelps are certifiably kooky. And after being force fed several of his books in seminary I’m no fan of MacArthur (and his love of anointing himself a “Biblicist”). But I’m going to brace myself, take the unpopular view and run with it.
What if they’re right? Maybe America really is under God’s curse…
I’ll Take Pat Robertson Any Day
Like I said, telling people that God is cursing them is nothing new.
The job description of an Old Testament prophet pretty much had one bullet point: to say over and over, “God’s pissed off at you, and there’s going to be hell to pay if you don’t cut it out.”
What do guys like Robertson, Wright, and Phelps all have in common? They’re not exactly socially acceptable. And like our modern prophets of doom, most of the old prophets weren’t exactly popular or “normal.” They were eccentric, provocative. Ezekiel, for crying out loud, laid on the street for a year, sprinkled his beard hair on people, and cooked his food over a poop fire, just to make a point. Isaiah stripped nude to preach in the streets. Say what you will about Pat Robertson, at least he keeps his clothes on.
At Least We Don’t Throw Preachers Into Toilets
And like our prophets, we haven’t changed much either.
It’s hard to blame people for thinking that crazy sounding people are, well, crazy. But time and again in the Bible, no one listened to the prophets when they said, “God’s gonna get you!” People scoffed and told them to cram it. They chased them out of town, ostracized them, threw them into toilets. People demanded that unless the prophets had something nice to say about them, then they shouldn’t say anything at all.
The reaction we have today is usually the same. People react to pronouncements of judgement with shock and ridicule. After all, God is love, and He doesn’t destroy people out of wrath like our ancient, superstitious ancestors believed. I have never heard anyone say, “Yep, those crazy preachers are right. God is planning to destroy us.”
God Bless America!
We love saying, “God bless America.”
That song will probably be sung in thousands of churches on Sunday. We love to acknowledge that God has certainly blessed America (if you believed with Monday’s post that America is “under God” with a divine destiny.) We are a land of plenty and freedom that upholds our God given rights.
Why is it that no one denies that God has blessed America, but anyone who says God will curse America is crazy? Is God not in the butt whooping business anymore? When something good happens, our default response is to say that God has divinely intervened to “bless” us, but when the feces hits the fan, no one wants to believe we’re being punished.
I’m not saying that God definitely is cursing America. I think God’s a big fan of “natural consequences,” which is handy, since doing bad things always results in natural consequences, saving God a lot of smiting that He’d have to do otherwise. Even if it’s not by God’s hand, America will be destroyed by our own actions, given enough time, unless we change course, or as the fundies might say, repent.
But is there any reason, other than we think that Pat Robertson is crazy, that he must be wrong?
Several weeks ago, I participated in the “Rally to Restore Unity,” in which the goal was to say farewell to “flippant dismissals” of other Christians. Well, maybe we need to add this to our list of flippant dismissals we’re guilty of, and actually take a hard look at ourselves when some crazy person suggests that God is mad at us. (Except for Fred Phelps. We can flippantly dismiss him all we want…)
What say you? Should the suggestion of God’s wrath give us pause, or are we justifying in dismissing crazy preachers? Does God curse nations and people, or does He just leave us to reap what we sow?