Friday, January 15, 2010

A Christian Understanding of Earthquakes

In all their anger directed toward Pat Robertson’s comments about the earthquake in Haiti, what many fellow Christians have missed is that he is not simply wrong, but has distorted a truth:

Sin is the cause of death.

What Robertson has done, in declaring a particular sin the cause of a particular disaster, is neglect the communal nature of this causality. What he should realize is that the sin that brings about all the suffering and death in the world is his sin - and it is my sin - and it is your sin. It is Adam’s sin.

“…Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned...” (Romans 5:12).

Robertson will die too, and his death will not be different from the deaths taking place in Haiti – it too will be the result of sin – his sin, my sin, your sin.

Just as all us sinners bear together the guilt of our Lord’s suffering and death upon the Cross, so do we share the blame for all suffering and death. God did not want us to suffer and die. We humans, as a people, have brought it upon ourselves – the natural consequence of acting against our created nature – a nature created in the image and likeness of God and ultimately directed toward union with Him.

We should not think that their greater misfortune indicates their greater sin. Indeed, the opposite is often the case - it is often the saints who suffer more greatly.

Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ Himself suffered a torturous death. “And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold… the earth shook, and the rocks were split…” (Matthew 27: 50-51). Those who witnessed this earthquake did not take it as a sign that Jesus was a great sinner. Rather, those who “saw the earthquake and what took place… were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this is the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27: 54)

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