[ by Charles Cameron — regretting the ways people trample on Christianity if they think they can squeeze political advantage out of it ]
Here is Rep. Michele Bachmann, speaking recently:
I’m certainly not a “biblical inerrantist” — but I do have a considerable affection for both Christianity and theology, and I appreciate that someone who reads the book of Amos in the New International Version will find the prophet declares at chapter 3 verse 6:
When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?
Of course, this was immediately preceded by a comment in the same verse, “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble?” which might give pause to one Richard Waddell next time he’s thinking of playing a trumpet solo at a wedding or funeral in Boston — but as I say, I don’t take scriptures that literally, and I hope the man plays on…
Look — if you are a person of influence, and are going to take a theological stand on an issue as grave as whether an entire nation is under divine judgment on the basis of your reading of acts of terror in the skies and riots in the Middle East, you might first want to ponder this advice from Douglas Sukhia in the Journal of the Western Reformed Seminary [WRS Journal 9/1 (February 2002) 1-5]:
Caution Against Rushing to a Conclusion
Although there are negative events that are clearly identified as acts of God’s judgment in Scripture, there are times when “bad things” happen as part of the general consequences of the fall and not due to specific sins. The book of Job, which many consider the oldest book in the Bible, deals with theodicy, i.e., the justice of God’s actions in the world. The book shows that Job’s counselors were wrong in their opinion that Job must have sinned to have experienced such a terrible disaster — i.e., the sudden loss of loved ones, property and health (Job 8:20; 18:5ff; 22:4-11, 21-25, etc.). Jesus corrected that same kind of thinking on the part of the disciples in John 9:1-2. He tells them the man was not blind as a result of his sins. Jesus also makes clear that the tragic deaths of several in a tower collapse and others at the hands of Pilate were not because the victims were especially evil (Luke 13:1-5). Paul and the faithful saints of Hebrews 11 experienced unjust, cruel treatment due to their obedience and faithfulness to God not because they were being judged by God. God often lets the wicked prosper in this world (Ps. 73:2-12; Job 24) and He assigns special trouble to the righteous (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:19-20). Without special revelation from God I think it is presumptuous to dogmatically conclude that any temporal tragedy is a judgment of God for specific sins. We should humbly admit with the “wise man” that “No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun” (Eccl. 8:17; Dt. 29:29).
It’s a little bit subtler than claiming you know at all times whom God is punishing right now — and always somehow in line with your own set of political beliefs and preferences.