gospel of retribution

In the face of inexplicable tragedy, some zealous religious folk readily preach a message of divine retribution.  The burden of blame is placed on the sinfulness of society as a whole, or on a specific group within society. This does nothing but promote an unearned self-righteousness for the finger-pointers, and undeserved hatred for those singled out.

Much of what is evil in the world can be explained by cause and effect. If we abuse our bodies or partake in dangerous behaviour, we increase the odds of suffering physical consequences. If we take up arms against a neighbour, chances are that we will start a war. If we hoard the bounty of the earth, then others will suffer from deprivation. Many causes of evil are due to the misuse of that awful gift of free will.

But who or what can be blamed for horrific natural disasters or widespread epidemics? Is God to be blamed? Is God a vengeful deity with a limited amount of patience, ready to teach us a lesson at any time? If so, whose side is God on when so many of us claim to be the favoured ones?

It is theological presumption to cling to a God of one’s own liking. But I have to believe in a loving God, not a God of retribution. I cannot believe that God would bring suffering merely to get even with a specific population group. The core of the Christian message is that God became one of us in order to save us. Jesus preached a gospel of love not of anger and destruction.

3 thoughts on “gospel of retribution

  1. Have you been following the Supreme Court hearing of the Westboro Baptist Church members picketing military funerals? They preach a gospel of retribution and hide behind Freedom of Speech to do it. Old Testament perspective and freewill collide in this drama.

    Many people have tried to silence them but none have been successful. Outraged & aggressive responses only escalate their notariety & attention. Topeka has stopped the public battle. People all over the community (even those who disagree about policies of sexual orientation) agree that their message is wrong about God. Topeka has cut media attention from their picketing actions and citizens treat their efforts as un-impactful & irrelevant. That is has denied WBC the attention they crave.

  2. Marceta, regarding the Westboro Baptist Church, I would like to add that as citizens of the USA we do have a legal right to freedom of speech, even to speech as vile as used in their demonstrations. However, as Christians we have no right to hurt, demean or destroy people with our speech. From the gospel prospective, “Truth that is not charity is not truth”. Listening to the WBC, on several levels, we are hearing what is not truth.

  3. Yes, I heard of the picketing of military funerals – and was both saddened and disgusted. More so, I think, because it is being done in the name of Christianity. It`s a challenge for all mainstream religions to distance themselves from members who warp and distort their faith message. Cutting media attention is a great start. It always annoys me when voices of madness get so much air-time.

    I encourage you to check out a great post on the absurdity of media head-lines at one of my favorite blogs, `communicating.across.boundaries`

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