Monday, January 03, 2005

Whom Shall We Blame?

It's almost impossible to get my mind around the death and destruction left in the wake of the tsunami. More than 150,000 are confirmed dead -- a number that will continue to rise over the coming weeks and months. If you'd like to make a contribution to the relief efforts, you might want to consider Samaritan's Purse (

In light of disasters like this, it is our natural inclination to look around for someone to blame. In a society that still has traces of a biblical heritage, the most natural response is to blame God. This happened in the aftermath of 9/11, so it's not surprising that people are now asking if God had something to do with this.

Oddly, it seems some Christians are more than eager to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of God. Defending his sovereignty (what is known as a theodicy) has become all the rage among our Calvinist brethren. But I don't buy it. I do not believe that God was "up there" and said, "Well, this is going to kill a bunch of people -- probably consigning most of them to hell -- but they weren't elect anyway, so here goes."

That doesn't sound like the God I read about in the Bible. I know the passages in Job. I know what the psalmist said. I even believe those ideas are divinely inspired. But I can't square the idea of a God who arbitrarily kills hundreds of thousands (many of whom are innocent children -- original sin notwithstanding) with the biblical portrait of a compassionate, merciful God who is determined to set things right-side up.

What about you? Do you think God's to blame? If not, then who? Whom shall we blame? Is that even an appropriate question?