Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Natural Disasters

Whenever catastrophes occur, like the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, we often ask why an Almighty God would allow such disasters to happen. I have read some thought-provoking articles from other authors. Perhaps I take a slightly different view.

The Bible talks about creation groaning and travailing in pain [Ro 8] - very literal, if anthropomorphic, language to describe plate tectonics. We live in a fragile world, a fractured universe, a fallen creation. Why?

Jesus' plaintive words, "From the beginning, these things were not so," apply contextually to ruptures in society, but they ring true for the sad state of the cosmos. Originally, God deemed His creation to be "very good." [Gen 1]. However a perfectly innocent creation has been spoiled by mankind's rebellion against God - initiated by Adam's disobedience.

Here is my main thesis - just as God did not intervene directly to prevent Adam's choice of evil, so He does not intervene today to curtail its consequences. Our world is a dangerous place, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Does God operate on a passive, non-interfering basis? Not at all! God has moved to rescue humanity from sin. This rescue-mission was effected by the Lord Jesus Christ, when he gave his life "as a ransom for all, to be testified in due time". [1 Tim 2]. However, salvation requires an opt-in - God's grace and our faith are both necessary salvific ingredients [Eph 2]. Once we receive "the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" [Ro 6], we become part of God's "new creation." [2 Cor 5].

Ultimately, God will re-create the physical world we inhabit. There will be "no more sea" on the new earth [Rev 22], which symbolises the end of restlessness, transience, groaning and travailing. I don't see any cause for plate tectonics in the new creation...