When Tropical Storm turned Hurricane Isaac came careening toward the Gulf and toward Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, many of the same statements from religious groups said what was said around Hurricane Katrina in 2005: “New Orleans is an inherently wicked city. God sent a devastating category five hurricane. So God sent that due to their wickedness.”
This is the argumentation of cause and effect. Someone on the other side of this argument reminded us of this thinking in 2005, and noted that (at the time) the tropical storm was headed for Tampa where the Republican National Convention was. So he concluded that God must have it in for the Republicans.
We can see how this rolls:
When the rooster crows, the sun rises. Therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise.
When the fuel light goes on in my car, I soon run out of gas. Therefore, the fuel light causes my car to run out of gas. [Source]
An example we see in the Calvinism/Arminianism debate in Christian circles. :
1. Either God is sovereign or man has free will.
2. God is sovereign.
Therefore, free will doesn’t exist.
No Calvinist of any reputable sort would ever say this, but this is the type of rhetoric thrown about. We saw it in another circle:
The young man came to Christ because he prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer,’ therefore praying the sinner’s prayer is the only way someone can come to Christ.
That doesn’t necessarily follow, as I pray we can see, but we can see how easy it is to come to this conclusion and feel that having a man pray a prescribed prayer such as this is an undeniable formula in people coming to Christ (not just a tool, but the tool).
We should be careful in submitting to such argumentation, or using such argumentation. While God may be bringing judgment on New Orleans, we do not know for certain that this is the instrument God used for such a thing. When the tornados went through Tuscaloosa, was this God’s instrument? Maybe. We do know that this is God getting our attention (something those of us who live near the Aurora theatre shootings know—for they didn’t turn to science or literature, but sought after the spiritual side of their lives).
And besides, we all deserve that same judgment. Sin is so pervasive in our hearts and in our various areas of our culture can always make a case for why something like this happens—because sin is universal.
And what is sin? Anything that does not glorify Jesus Christ in love and obedience. And don’t all of us fall into that category? Not all, even in religious circles believe this. Here the words of Jesus:
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Pharisee comparing himself to the tax collector who felt justified because he was ‘better’ than this ‘sinner.’ He was faithful in keeping the rules, so the effect would be his justification. No—he started his thinking wrongly. We are justified by repenting from our sin and submitting to the Lordship of Christ.
Beware of the arguments you make. Are they substantial? Do they follow? Make we as followers of Christ, may we be prepared to make a defense for the reason for the hope that is in you (see 1 Peter 3:15). May we reasonable in giving our reason for what we believe and why we believe it!