Monday, August 29, 2011

Michele Bachmann Jokes, is GOD listening?

First, a disclaimer. This is not a political blog; it never has been. To be honest, I see very little worth my time within the political quagmire of either side.

So, I ask you to believe me when I say this is not a post against Michele Bachmann. 

Having said that, apparently, if the Washington Post can be trusted, Michele Bachmann said that God sent the recent hurricane and earthquake to get Washington's attention, but they are not listening. Someone on her team said this was a joke and I think we should take her at her word.

Enough said? Perhaps not...

Underneath this statement is a theology that betrays a troubling view of GOD. Again, not that Ms. Bachmann holds this view at all, she is merely espousing a perspective that troubles me. It is the same view that some voiced on the day after September 11, that GOD was judging American for her sins. 

So, here's the question: Does GOD judge nations because of their sins?

This question has added weight for me because I made the mistake of announcing a preaching series through the book of the Revelation as our Bible study for this summer, which means I am hip-deep in the blood and guts of St. John's visions. I am mostly taking a partial preterist perspective of interpretation, which means I believe much of what is written predicts the end of the Roman Empire through the regular ebb and flow of history. 

Thus, we're back to our question: Does GOD judge nations (the Roman Empire, for example) because of their sins?

First, let me say that the thought that GOD sends earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis to punish the sins of nations, all the while gleefully snuffing out innocents (re: children) is beyond the pale. I come down much more on the side of science than fundamentalist theology here, but that is me. And, as for acts of terror, they are on the terrorists and not on the Almighty.

But, assuming there is a GOD (and since I am a theist this is my assumption) we must ask what kind of GOD allows governments (any government) to mistreat its citizens or its neighbors? What kind of GOD allows governments to practice holocausts, premeditated starvation, unprovoked war, purges and genocide without them facing ultimate justice? 

Here we are in the presence of evil and we are looking for the presence of GOD.

Still, we must be very careful here. We must alert ourselves that, in our surety of who GOD is, we do not trample GOD's mystery. We must be sure that we hold our view of GOD in tension and not in completion. Simply put, we do not know how to square this circle; we do not know how GOD's providence works.

Perhaps the best way to think about this, or more accurately how I think about it, is to say that GOD judges nations by ceasing the restraint of evil.  Should a nation decide that the path away from GOD is the path to take, presumably the Almighty allows that nation to walk down that disastrous path, the end of which is death in the necropolis, death in the city, death of the planet.

Here, the choice is ours...
Do right and live.