Archive for Saturday, August 6, 2011

Faith Forum: What should faithful people make of this summer’s natural disasters — floods, tornadoes, heat deaths, etc.?

August 6, 2011


The Rev. Matt Cox, pastor, EastLake Community Church, 2734 La. (South Junior High):

Although I think there can be great discussion over the “Why does God allow these events to happen?” angle, I think as people of faith, we need to be more concerned with the “What now?” than the “Why?” Among the worst circumstances we need to be the very hands and feet of Jesus when it’s certainly a temptation for us just to be the mouthpiece.

I believe the church is specifically called and designed for open-handed living with our time, talent and treasure (yes, money.) Wherever we are, those who are there should be better off because Christians are there, found ready to serve and give.

For example, during the Joplin disaster (and continuing recovery) we encouraged our smaller groups to be involved, whether donating items, money or taking their talents or time down to volunteer.

This leads to the bigger question: Is service merely a project? Should we just wait around for the next global or national disaster to spur into action? With that mentality, we unfortunately treat serving others as a project to do once in awhile rather than a lifestyle to live. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with creating a specific service project or program, they should be looked upon as opportunities that fit into our lifestyle of serving versus something to do once a year — before a holiday, if we have time, if we remember.

Responding to disasters should be part of our DNA no doubt, but the local church’s heart of service should be consistently active in the local community. How are we taking steps forward with the poor, the homeless and the abused in Lawrence? If we claim Jesus is life and hope, we need to be active in being that very thing for the Lawrence that we say we love.

— Send e-mail to Matt Cox at

The Rev. Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:

Some people have said that God causes natural disasters as a form of punishment, as a Christian I am careful about making these kinds of judgments. I certainly believe in a Creator, who might be responsible at times and Who has the ability to cause such events but I also believe in “natural evil.” Natural evil is a partial explanation for why bad things like natural disasters happen.

Natural disasters are a result of what the Bible calls sin. When sin first took place with Adam and Eve, every aspect of the natural world was affected. The Bible says in Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time,” NIV. This is the impact of sin on the world we live in, because of sin creation no longer operates as designed.

There is another form of evil, “moral evil.” Moral evil occurs when a person does an action that we know is wrong, murder, lying and stealing are some examples of moral evil, sometimes times disasters are caused by our choices. An example of this might be the Gulf of Mexico oil rig that spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf. It is believed that negligence was a real possibility as a cause, if so, whoever was in charge of the safety practices would have the cause, making this not a natural evil but a moral one. Either way, we live in a world where evil exists.

As a Christian, I believe we are all personally responsible for our own choices and actions. And while natural disasters occur I don’t blame God for them and I believe that God will reveal his sovereign control and make all things right in this world. Psalm 119:91 “Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you,” NIV.

— Send e-mail to Gary O’Flannagan at


Abdu Omar 6 years, 9 months ago

We, Muslims, believe that God has power over all things. That means that it is God who creates the storms and the good weather and for reasons we humans don't know. Why question God? His are all things in the heaven and earth and we are here for a moment to prove we believe in Him. Why question Him? If there is meaning in the tragedy that we endure, it is ours to figure out and respond by increasing faith. God, through the Angel Gabriel, has revealed to us all we should know. There is more, of course, so we should use our God-given intellect to figure out the rest.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Global Warming and the repercussions are quite real not to mention will be getting into our wallets as food becomes evermore expensive.

Grow Local and Buy Local!

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

Hypocrite. When we have a blizzard you left wingers tell us weather is not climate. Then when the weather changes you scream global warming.

jayhawxrok 6 years, 9 months ago

LOL, these religious nuts crack me up.

Cover your eyes, right wingers, science is coming.........natural disasters - WEATHER, oh my there it is.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Reverend Cox...

Excellent writing!! Reminds me quite a bit of a little book I read many years ago which changed my perspective regarding today's topic. It was written by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner..."When Bad Things Happen To Good People"...I promise with all my heart that it will make a difference (for the better!) in anyone's life who reads it!! (Doesn't matter what religious preference you are...I am not Jewish...I am a Christian, but the book is truly remarkable.)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

“Why does God allow these events to happen?” - Rev. Matt Cox

A few months ago, I heard a very fine sermon that addressed something related to that subject. The title was, "Did the miracles described in the Bible really occur?"

The conclusion of the sermon that I heard, and I also believed, was: "No, they did not. But, you are free to believe they did if you want."

At that very moment, there were thousands of other sermons delivered that came to the conclusion that perhaps they did.

And, there were thousands more sermons right then that came to the conclusion that there is absolutely no doubt that they did.

So, millions of people were hearing, and at least some of them were believing, that what they were hearing was true.

Of course, any possible answer to the question of miracles is a statement of belief and not knowledge, because we don't have a time machine to go back for confirmation on the subject. It is strictly only my opinion that a time machine would no doubt be a miracle. I certainly would consider it to be one.

So then, if a time machine indeed did exist, miracles would be very easy things to perform. Just jump into your time machine, change a few things in the past, and that's all it would take to do one.

That's what I believe. Of course, some will claim that my belief is only an opinion, and obviously a very uneducated one. I can count on this: They will be very happy to educate me upon the matter.

I am not going to argue about the subject. Why should I have a problem with what you believe about the topic of miracles that may or may not have occurred in antiquity?

But, maybe I'm a bit excessive in my tolerance of other people. I've recently been told that's the case, maybe it is. It sure does take an awful lot for me to cut off a friend once I've made one, and it's terribly easy to get me to help someone that has a problem. I've been told that I should change some of that, and consider myself to be my number one charity case. I had to think about that one, I'll withhold my thoughts on that matter.

But there is no way anyone will change what I am sure that I know beyond belief is true, and this is it:

To berate anyone's intelligence, character, sanity, or worth based upon their thoughts on the subject of miracles does nothing other than to openly and clearly display the very low level of your own intelligence, character, sanity, or worth.

That is a very personal attack on their perception of the world around them, and while you are doing it, their opinion of you will be sinking to a incredibly low level at an astonishing rate.

And this is true also: That is an excellent way to NOT make friends. Success is guaranteed.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

"Natural disasters are a result of what the Bible calls sin." - Rev. Gary O’Flannagan

It doesn't bother me that Rev. Gary O’Flannagan's beliefs are possibly different than mine. I have to say "possibly" because I have known an awful lot of people that claim to believe something when I know they are not being honest. I'm at least that smart. Well, I think so anyway.

I do firmly agree with his statement that "I believe we are all personally responsible for our own choices and actions." But I don't believe that you have to be a Christian in order to believe that. Many other schools of thought have also came to that same conclusion.

If you believe that you are not responsible for your own choices and actions, I think that you are either very immature or there is something wrong with your personality. Maybe it really isn't your fault, and you really are not responsible for your own choices and actions, because you might be a schizophrenic, psychopath, or have some other personality disorder. I think that a psychiatrist would consider it to be something like that.

So, it's your choice. Only you can make this decision:

Do you want to be a person who is highly thought of by others?

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Hi Ron...

Just from what I know of you, I believe you to be a person very highly thought of by others.

You are always a voice of calm, reasoning, and kindness no matter what issue you are addressing here on LJW. And I especially enjoy it when you make your personal jokes about some subject everyone else is up in arms about. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Ron. I can't think of anything I have not respected you for saying. I think you are a gem of rare quality. We who read LJW are better for having "listened" to your thoughts.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey Ron...

Evidently you and tange know each other...what in the world is he talking about...rattlesnakes?? tange...I don't know of anyone who IS fond of rattlesnakes...Of course, I have heard of people eating rattlesnake meat, but that just grosses me out completely. never knows where you're going to show up!! ha!

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

And exactly how does one become fond of rattlesnakes? What do they have to offer that you would become fond of them?

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Hmmm...yes, I saw that...indirectly about rattlesnakes indeed.

I'm still wondering why you made the assumption that Ron isn't fond of rattlesnakes since you and he know each other no more than you and I know each other.....

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

FloridaSunshine, I think tange has a very good memory and is referring to comments I have posted here on the LJWorld website in the past .

It is true that I have a phobia of rattlesnakes and share the opinion with many others that they should be replaced with harmless bullsnakes that occupy the same niche in the ecology.

Where I came from, in one area there will be only rattlesnakes, and less than four miles away there will be only bullsnakes. Rattlesnakes and bullsnakes can't stand each other, and fight each other to the death whenever they meet. And surprisingly, the bullsnake always wins if they are anywhere near the same size. That's what I've been told, anyway.

They don't share the same lairs in the winter, and there are very few lairs in some areas in western Kansas.

I don't think I would feel the same way about them if no one from my home town had been hurt by one. Today, it's not serious, get to a hospital right away, it will be very painful, but you can go home in at most three days. But in the old days, rattlesnake bites were in some cases fatal.

I know you won't believe this, but it's true. I am the only person I have ever heard of that a rattlesnake has struck at, and then, the rattlesnake missed. I felt something brush against my pants leg as I was walking along, and when I turned to see what that could have been, a rattlesnake was in a very big hurry to leave.

I just now tried to clip and paste my postings here, but quickly went over the 3,000 character limit. So, you'll have to use and search for: RonHolzwarth rattlesnake

For results you will get seven different articles, all from this forum. After you open the page, you'll need to use a word search for RonHolzwarth to find my earlier comments.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, maybe I went to far. OK, all rattlesnakes shouldn't be extinct. There are a few species that are endangered and may become extinct soon, because there are very few specimens left in the wild. None of them are being bred in captivity.

And this is strange: Some species of rattlesnakes don't have any rattles!

But none of those species that may become extinct soon have made the official list of endangered species. Because, rattlesnakes are not popular at all.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Ron...I went to Google and I love what your great grandmother told you and your cousins!! My beloved Grandma told me (and my siblings...and my North Carolina cousins) the exact same thing...except it wasn't about was about bees. I knew without a doubt that my grandma was THE wisest woman in the whole world, so I tried my best to "leave the bees alone" as they would buzz about our heads. I tried my best to stand still while my cousins and siblings were running around swatting and screaming. I never got stung...but some of my siblings and our cousins did. I still tell them today it's because they didn't listen to Grandma. I only hope I never come within a GREAT distance to a rattlesnake!! That's when I would be running and screaming! HA!!

kernal 6 years, 9 months ago

Well said, Ron. I think you speak for a lot of thinking people about this week's Faith Forum.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

tange...Are you truly indeed a cynic?? I am shocked!!

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Gosh, I didn't mean to offend you, tange. I was actually joking. I enjoy your unique style of communication. :~)

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

Just the least understood...I get it.

I miss Ophiuchus.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

tange, you admitted to me in your very own words the difference between you and Ophiuchus. And, believe me, it's true.
So, evidently, a lot is in a name...

I don't think we should carry this at any greater length here on Faith Forum...I'm sure it's not being appreciated by anyone.

FloridaSunshine 6 years, 9 months ago

"Each understands in his/her own way"....

Exactly!! This pertains to everyone about everything. (In my opinion...) S-M-I-L-E

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

They are tragedies. You don't need a god for tragedies, and you don't need one to get through them.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

In my postings above, I left out exactly how the rabbi's sermon pertained to "Faith Forum: What should faithful people make of this summer’s natural disasters — floods, tornadoes, heat deaths, etc.?"

I could expound at some length, but I'm going to keep this one rather short.

The rabbi made a very careful explanation that miracles do not regularly occur to save us from our own actions and the natural actions of the cosmos because we would then be living in a world of chaos. Nothing would be predictable because miracles would be constantly occuring.

I'm not sure if the rabbi made this claim: If that were the case we would learn nothing from this life on earth.

On June 3, 2011, I posted this on LJWorld:

Most of all this appears to be very silly to me because I have very radical beliefs concerning what reality really is in its totality.

I believe that the entire three dimensional time-space continuum that we exist in is only a small part of the total reality, and a rather unimportant one at that.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Global warming is here and in our backyards....

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

I believe we have free will and are responsible for our actions and their consequences. Therefore, to a certain extent, I believe in karma (with a small k). If we make bad decisions and treat people badly we will suffer the consequences. I do not under any circumstances believe that natural disasters are punishment for "sinning". "Sin" is an artificial construct whose meaning is a moving target and changes with the wind. I am not a Wiccan but I do believe in the Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none (emphasis mine), do what you will shall be the whole of the law." I do not believe in "miracles". I believe in science. Miracles are simply events that science hasn't figured out yet. Natural disasters are not "disasters" to nature, only to human beings. To nature they are simply a part of nature. They occur when human beings either ignore nature or attempt to change it. Because (here's the kicker) human beings are not greater than nature, as much as they would like to think so.

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