Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti and Wohlberg et al and their God

Adventist Today Website has a good article on one of the problems that haunt many traditional Adventists. Some excerpts from the article:

Television producer, radio host and author Steve Wohlberg directs White Horse Media—an independent Adventist media ministry based in Newport, Washington. In his most recent newsletter sent by e-mail, Wohlberg made comments that has drawn comparisons to Pat Robertson's now infamous quote, in which he blames the recent earthquake on a pact Haiti made with the devil centuries ago.

[After quoting Ellen White]

Evidence indicates that Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, fits the category of a city "full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme." On January 12, at 4:53 pm, it was virtually "destroyed" by an earthquake. On the morning of August 29, 2005, New Orleans experienced its own disaster from the sky. Now notice how Jesus Christ puts both earthquakes and sky events together as clear "signs" of His approaching return. …

Yes, God is speaking to His world through these disasters. Whether He directly causes them, or merely allows them, nevertheless, they can be biblically classified as divine "judgments" to be taken seriously. No one knows how much longer God will continue to tolerate sin on planet Earth. Soon, "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night" (2 Peter 3:10), and Jesus Christ will come suddenly to rescue those who have repented of their sins, have accepted His gospel, and become loyal to their Maker.

It does seem that Wohlberg and Robertson have a similar view of God. Robertson believes that Haiti made a pact with the Devil and has been cursed ever since and the earthquake is another manifestation of the curses. Wohlberg that the earthquake is biblically classified divine judgment. The difference it appears to be only in the semantics divine judgment vs. curse. But of course it is not only the fundamentalist Christians who seem to hold such ideas. Famed actor Danny Glover said of the Haiti earthquake:

“And I hope we seize this particular moment because the threat of what happens in Haiti is the threat that can happen anywhere in the Caribbean to these island nations, you know?

They're all in peril because of global warming; they're all in peril because of climate change. When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I'm saying?”

I am not sure if the climate summit results which caused the response of the earthquake is from God or from Gia or Mother Nature apparently the concept is still the same. A powerful knowledgeable force punishing people for their actions through an earthquake.

That leads us to the problem of why this powerful force…this deity, would use such indiscriminant force to cause such destruction. Rather haphazardly destroying the bad people and the good people; the servants of voodoo and the servants of God, the voodoo priest and the Christian missionary. What about all those Traditionalists who use (actually misuse) this quote from Amos: Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7 KJV) Wouldn’t it be nice if God was to inform somebody about such a judgment as an earthquake, maybe like a location and a date or maybe just a specific reason announced so that maybe like Nineveh some could repent? Wohlberg of course seems to think that if Ellen White said a hundred years ago that “…cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood, that is all we need to know. That pretty well covers them all however, so the question is when and where and what size makes a city. Not particularly helpful in any way without some real specifics, it is rather like the false prophets that Jeremiah had to deal with: The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. (Jer 28:8 KJV) Because so far on this world if you predict there will be a war, or evil, or pestilence you will always be right. It always happens at some time and if you don’t have to say when or where or what type of evil or what type of pestilence or who will be at war with whom your prophecy is useless but always correct. But to attribute that prophecy to God is the error.

The good news is that we don’t have to listen to the foolishness of the Pat Robertson’s, Danny Glover’s and Steve Wohlberg’s of this world. There are far more sensible voices such as these people who spoke on the subject of the Haiti earthquake, they may be wrong in other things but at least here they have it right:

. . . if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts -- there would be no hope. . . .

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ's people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded and comfort the grieving. If Christ's people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

-- R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

I am a believer in God, and that God exists independent of the natural world. I do not believe in a petty god who chooses random moments to selectively lash out at individuals or groups who have transgressed. . . .

-- Jack Moline, director of public policy for the Rabbinical Assembly

Dispensationalists believe that God favors some countries and people over others and that he rewards and punishes those who please or displease Him. That false belief is the source of the outrageous Pat Robertson statement. . . . God sent His Son to die for us. If God could commit such a gracious act for our redemption when we had no concern for Him, why would he rain down judgment on Haitians and not on Saudi Arabians, whose extreme religion supports terrorism around the world?

-- Cal Thomas, syndicated political columnist

[Quotes taken from the Washington Post “On the Panel”]


Anonymous said...

Kind of makes me regret my contribution to ADRA to assist the people of Haiti! I hope God forgives me my attempt to reverse His judgments.

Kelvinj said...

First read of anonymous lead me down a reactionary path. and I wrote this: I do not regret my contribution to ADRA as I know their poeple are there caring for everyone who needs help. ADRA does not discriminate in their efforts to help.

Ron Corson said...

I think Anonymous' comment was being sarcastic.

After all there are 110,000 deaths and a contribution won't help that at all. But if there is a segment of Adventism that agrees with Wohlberg they really are an affront to Christianity and indeed there is a segment that does believe that, you can read some of their comments on the Atoday website.

Anonymous said...

Ron, of course, is correct. I was being sarcastic. It appalls me to think that one could blame such a disaster on God's judgments on any group of people. Poverty is often accompanied by voodoo or shamanism; education and increased standards of living do more to change that than earthquakes and judgments. Surely by now God has figured this out? (Yes, being sarcastic again!). If one really believed these were judgments from God, though, then it would be logical that one should not participate in any attempts to ameliorate the suffering God is intentionally imposing. That would be obstruction of justice.