Posts tagged ‘sin’

February 1, 2010

[843 Acres] Does God Cause Earthquakes?

by Mattie

James Wood’s op-ed is shallow and insulting; invoking statements by Robertson and Obama on Haiti, the author of The Book Against God insists

… either God is punitive and interventionist (the Robertson view), or as capricious as nature and so absent as to be effectively nonexistent (the Obama view). Unfortunately, the Bible, which frequently uses God’s power over earth and seas as the sign of his majesty and intervening power, supports the first view; and the history of humanity’s lonely suffering decisively suggests the second [Between God and a Hard PlaceNew York Times].

Wood is wrong; the Bible’s theodicy is much more nuanced. When Jesus’ disciples encounter a blind man, they assume he (or his parents) must have done something evil to deserve this fate. Jesus refutes this:

Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. [John 9:3-4, NAB]

The Greek is the aorist passive – Jesus says the blindness is, but does not ascribe agency. In the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom explained that Jesus is not saying the man is sinless, but that his sin did not cause his illness [Homily 56]. I believe that God does not cause natural disasters or diseases, they are the sad reality of an imperfect world. Fortunately, God’s love and mercy can transform tragedy into triumph.

October 13, 2009

[843 acres] The Little Hits

by Mattie

Even if you aren’t a football fan, you’ve probably seen the video: two burly Kentucky linemen sacking Florida QB Tim Tebow, knocking him out for several minutes.  After being cleared by team docs, Tebow seemed back in Heisman form on Saturday night to lead the top-ranked Gators to victory over 4th-ranked SEC foes, the LSU Tigers.  Tebow’s concussion coincides with a recent flurry of media coverage (see here, here, and here) on some new research on brain trauma in athletes. 

The most fascinating take on the issue is over at the New Yorker.  While Malcolm Gladwell (of Tipping Point fame) takes it a bit far in asking if football and dog fighting are essentially the same (they are not), he does point out something that the other stories miss: What matters, Gladwell writes, is the “repetitive subconcussive trauma. It’s not just the handful of big hits that matter. It’s lots of little hits, too.”  Football players and boxers don’t end up with sky-high rates of dementia and mental illness because they get knocked out every once in a while – it’s because they get knocked down scores of times.  [New Yorker, Football, dog fighting, and brain damage].

It reminded me of Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment … You have heard that it was said, “‘Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. NIV.

Jesus recognizes our own subconcussive traumas; when it comes to sin, it isn’t the “handful of big hits” that destroy us, it is all those “little hits” that we barely notice that end up crippling our minds and hardening our hearts.

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