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7 years ago  ::  Feb 09, 2008 - 6:51PM #1
MDW
Posts: 13
As I have said before, I grew up Pentecostal, but have found the UMC. However, currently I am still attending church with my parents. Because of this a question has arisen. There are some in my parents' congregation that believe God actively sends earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. to show His wrath. Some believe that God sent Hurricane Katarine on New Orleans because He was angry with America. That  He caused the deaths and destruction because of His wrath. Since coming to the UMC I can not believe this. So, my question is, what would the UMC say to someone who believed this? Does the UMC believe God would kill innocents and actively destroy communities because He was angry? Or would God only allow bad things to happen? I personally believe that He allows things to happen, but He would not actively do something like this; that it goes against His nature because God is love--that Christ's death and blood stands between us and the wrath.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2008 - 3:31PM #2
mfdinbr
Posts: 19
[QUOTE=MDW;277043]As I have said before, I grew up Pentecostal, but have found the UMC. However, currently I am still attending church with my parents. Because of this a question has arisen. There are some in my parents' congregation that believe God actively sends earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. to show His wrath. Some believe that God sent Hurricane Katarine on New Orleans because He was angry with America. That  He caused the deaths and destruction because of His wrath. Since coming to the UMC I can not believe this. So, my question is, what would the UMC say to someone who believed this? Does the UMC believe God would kill innocents and actively destroy communities because He was angry? Or would God only allow bad things to happen? I personally believe that He allows things to happen, but He would not actively do something like this; that it goes against His nature because God is love--that Christ's death and blood stands between us and the wrath.[/QUOTE]

First of all, you'll find Methodists who believe everything along the spectrum; each of us is responsible for discerning truth for ourselves. You'll find members and congregations that are almost fundamentalist, and others that are almost High Church. But we realize that all of us have imperfect understanding, so there is no one "right" answer from the church.

Having said that, I believe the UMC would say that tragedies happen for reasons we cannot understand, but that we can believe that God grieves with us when we suffer a loss. The comparison I like to make is when my child is hurt. If I could prevent her from ever being hurt, I would, but I know that growing involves a bit of pain. I don't want to protect her from growth, so I don't protect her from pain. At the same time, when she hurts herself, it breaks my heart. She can't understand why I couldn't protect her from the pain, but she can understand that when she hurts, I fix her booboos and give her lots of cuddles until she feels better.

And if God was punishing New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, how come Bourbon Street survived nearly unscathed, and so many religious families lost everything?

Just my thoughts. I don't claim to speak for God.

Marty
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2008 - 10:45PM #3
MDW
Posts: 13
Marty,
Thanks so much for the answer. I already knew that there was a wide spectrum of beliefs and attitudes in the UMC, that was part of what drew me to the UMC. Your answer was very helpful. I see God in the same the way you explained Him. I think I was mainly looking for confirmation of my belief. Thanks so much for the answer.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2008 - 1:32AM #4
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=MDW;277043]As I have said before, I grew up Pentecostal, but have found the UMC. However, currently I am still attending church with my parents. Because of this a question has arisen. There are some in my parents' congregation that believe God actively sends earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. to show His wrath. Some believe that God sent Hurricane Katarine on New Orleans because He was angry with America. That  He caused the deaths and destruction because of His wrath. Since coming to the UMC I can not believe this. So, my question is, what would the UMC say to someone who believed this? Does the UMC believe God would kill innocents and actively destroy communities because He was angry? Or would God only allow bad things to happen? I personally believe that He allows things to happen, but He would not actively do something like this; that it goes against His nature because God is love--that Christ's death and blood stands between us and the wrath.[/QUOTE]

Forrest Gump addressed this... hmmm... 'nicely':  "shit happens."

Rabbi Harold S. Kushner addressed this too, in 1981, in his best seller (I reckon):  When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

The ancient couldn't conceive of God not being basically responsible for whatever came down the pike.  If it was good, God gave it; if it was bad... why didn't God give this as well!  Even some recorded words of Jesus seem to echo this to a degree:

["You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for]

he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

[For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.]

Too much sun (or too little, from 'God') ain't good... and too much rain (or too little, from 'God'!) ain't good either.  (Matthew 5.43-48)

The question remains:  How do we separate, fairly, God the Creator from God's creation, nature?

If God is so handy with things like Hurricane Katrina... why couldn't God have placed a twister in the Oval office several years ago?  That would have short-circuited quite a few of the problems we face now, will face tomorrow and which will be faced by my grandchildren years and years from now!  :-(

No.  God surely lets things happen.  Nature will continue to take out hundreds of thousands per month.  We cannot immediately stop that in its tracks.  And we add to the problems.  Clear cutting the Amazon rain forest does have an effect on the Sahara's growth, so they say.  And unfit political leaders will wreak havoc... just look as Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.  :-(


On the other hand, Jesus doesn't seem like a fatalist:

Luke 13

1 There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? 3 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo'am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

Repentance seems more important than speculating about whether God sends 'wrath.'  Life is full enough of not-so-nice stuff.  This is the nature of life. 

[But look at Union University in Tenn!  Not a one perished.  God must be smiling on the (Southern) Baptists.  (wink, wink)]

God bless you as you do what I would consider, as a student of Jim Fowler (Stages of Faith), maturing in your faith.  bless,  s
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6 years ago  ::  May 24, 2008 - 6:08PM #5
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=MDW;277043]As I have said before, I grew up Pentecostal, but have found the UMC. However, currently I am still attending church with my parents. Because of this a question has arisen. There are some in my parents' congregation that believe God actively sends earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. to show His wrath. Some believe that God sent Hurricane Katarine on New Orleans because He was angry with America. That  He caused the deaths and destruction because of His wrath. Since coming to the UMC I can not believe this. So, my question is, what would the UMC say to someone who believed this? Does the UMC believe God would kill innocents and actively destroy communities because He was angry? Or would God only allow bad things to happen? I personally believe that He allows things to happen, but He would not actively do something like this; that it goes against His nature because God is love--that Christ's death and blood stands between us and the wrath.[/QUOTE]


The planet, not God, gives us natural disasters like the ones in Myanmar and China.  God bless all those who are suffering there and all those who are assisting in any way.  bless,  s
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6 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 10:03AM #6
eklectic
Posts: 40
My short answer: No, God is not directly responsible for hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, droughts, or other weather-related/geological events. Weather is caused by complex interactions of our planet’s environmental nature -- high and low pressure systems, the earth’s magnetic field, effects from the sun, plate shifts, etc. 

My explanation: As Marty said, there are a wide range of beliefs among United Methodists. Being a more progressive Methodist, my belief in God and desire to follow Jesus doesn’t prevent me from incorporating advances in science and medicine into my religious worldview.

For the ancients, this was not so. Science was almost non-existent. Superstition reigned. Things that were unexplainable phenomena were attributed to the actions (or inactions) of gods that controlled certain territories. Gods controlled the weather and nature directly. It was a manifestation of their power and, often, a way to demonstrate which god was greater.

We now know better. Or most of us do. We know that the weather is a part of our planet’s ecosystem that, despite it’s ability to cause tragedies, still allows life to thrive here in a relatively safe environment. Think of a day on Mars or Venus or the storms on Jupiter. Is all of that heat, cold, or 600 mile/hour winds attributable to “acts of God”? Is God punishing Mars, Venus, or Jupiter for something by causing inhospitable weather/living conditions? 

Side note: Why is it that only the bad things that happen in the weather attributed to “acts of God”?

As has been previous noted, if we attribute bad weather and environmental mishaps to “the finger of God”, they simply make no sense. Tornadoes don’t miss Christians’ houses. Neither does cancer, death, or other tragedies. Earthquakes don’t spare churches. Yes, life happens. It’s easy to become like the Pharisees and ask, “Who sinned to cause this?” But Jesus said that God, the Father he believed in, didn’t work that way. 

In Jesus, we see a God who suffers with humanity instead of causing it to suffer. This God would rather work through human beings (like he did through Jesus) to help alleviate human suffering than to supernaturally intervene with a “zap” from the outside to set things right. Despite the way some Christians use certain verses from the Bible, God doesn’t promise to protect us from tragedies in life. And I know this from personal experience. What he does promise to do is to never leave us or forsake us in these tragedies and to help us grow through them into the kind of people that we should be. In Jesus, we see a shift in thinking about God from a deity that goes “zap” (whether good or bad) to a deity who works through people. And when “natural disasters” happen in our world, we can blame people or we can blame God…or we can do what we can as the people of God to help alleviate human suffering.

Hope this helps in some small way.
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