Sunday, November 10, 2013

Let's help the people first and argue about the Biblical ramifications later

     As Typhoon Haiyan was setting records for intensity and devastation, my heart was rent for the poor, innocent people of this battered nation. The storm is estimated to be the worst cyclone on record. When it made landfall, it was estimated to have had sustained winds of nearly 200 miles per hour and a storm surge approaching 20 feet. This means that this storm rivaled, or even surpassed, Hurricane Camille- the horrific storm that hit the U.S. Gulf coast in 1969. Yet, let's be honest, the U.S. (even in 1969) was far more able to deal with the evacuation, rescue, assistance and rebuilding from a catastrophe like this than the Philippines. Even today, many in the Philippines live in corrugated tin shacks and huts that are no match for a storm like this. Further, they simply do not have the resources to evacuate people from such a dire threat.

     The Christian response to such a catastrophe like this should be to love thy neighbor. Yet, so often, what I see in response by so-called Christians is a knee-jerk reaction towards sensationalizing such a disaster and always trying to squeeze it into an eschatological context (as if the 10,000 dead serve no purpose but to aid in the tea leaf reading. The screenshot above is just such an example. It is from a rabid, anti-catholic who often feels free to slander all catholics as pedophiles and worshipers of dead people (two outrageous charges, to say the least).

     This particular miscreant does not do a very good job of fact checking, however. For example, he holds up Glenn Beck as one of his fundamentalist heroes, apparently unaware of the fact that Beck is a Mormon.

     This particular post is riddled with errors. First, he apparently just did a Google search for "Philippine Typhoon" and ran with the first result, unaware that the story he posted was about Typhoon Bopha, which hit the country last year. Typhoon Haiyan is far worse.

     Secondly, his Biblical citation has nothing to do with this (or any) latter time disaster. Jesus is talking specifically to the disciples about the trials they would face at the hands of the Jews (Synagogues, Governors) and the Romans (Kings). This prophecy is not about Jesus coming in glory in the last days (though that certainly will occur), it is about Him coming in judgement against the city of Jerusalem.

     This is something that Jesus makes quite clear that the people alive at that time would witness.

     There are countless other contexts that say the same. Matthew 24:34, Luke 21:32 and Matthew 16:28 are just a few. So, Evangelical Protestants, with an eye ever on the sensationalistic, simply have it wrong here. Yet, their error in interpretation is a little matter in comparison with their error in what it means to be a Christian. As the body count rises and millions of these good people will be without basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, thank God we have wonderful organizations like Catholic charities willing to step up and help, even as the radical protestants hibernate in their ivory towers of hate and hypocrisy.

Donate to Philippine disaster relief now. Give till it hurts. These people are in a bad way.


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