Firefighters are still working to contain and extinguish the deadly wildfires that ravished, among other places, Colorado Springs, and I have still yet to hear anything from Robertson (or anyone else of similar ilk) about these fires being the judgment of God on the city of Colorado Springs. This is a problem. Or at least, it brings up a problem in the kind of Natural-Disasters-Equal-Judgment theology Robertson espouses.
Why would Katrina and her aftermath be judgment and the Colorado fires not be? And if the fires aren’t judgment, what are they? A test? A trial? And if so, why is no one talking about that? If the fires were arson related, why hasn’t God stopped them, or at least made the weather cooperate better so the firefighters could stop them? Is it really that the Evangelical Mecca of Colorado Springs is under judgment and no one wants to talk about it? Has Focus on the Family angered God? Or maybe the numerous prosperous Christian ministries in Colorado Springs just aren’t enough to compensate for the Earth-loving hippies? Someone please explain how exactly this works. When is it judgment and when is it not? And how can we know?
I am rather disinclined to believe any natural disaster is the physical manifestation of God’s wrath being poured out on a particular people (though I realize that disinclination probably derives at least in part from my cultural (generational) biases), but are rather a side affect, if you will, of the Fall, part of what Scripture calls the Earth’s “groanings” that resulted from humankind’s break of fellowship with God, and which will at long last be alleviated when Christ returns to heal all wounds.
What I do know is that the overarching narrative of the Bible affirms God is characteristically in the habit of using anything, no matter how tragic, no matter how opposite from his original/creational orientations, to bring redemption and reconciliation… if we’re open to it.
I have close family in Colorado Springs; my throat catches when I think of how they have been in danger and easily could have been in worse danger. I’m not simply writing this post to take a cheap shot at Pat Robertson (because let’s face it, he’s a pretty easy target). I’m writing because this kind of mini-doomsday theology is problematic and, for many like me, profoundly personal.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)