Speaker, author, and former atheist Udo Middelmann, president of the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation, writes:
The assumption that God is behind all things happening, behind the earthquake in Haiti, Katrina’s destruction in New Orleans, and catastrophes as large as the Tsunami or as little as a household accident, is built on the view of a closed system universe.
There is an effect: therefore there must be a cause. True, but who or what is the cause?
If there is a single cause, there is no distinction between good and evil. If there are many possible causes, we do well to discern and oppose the destructive ones.
To blame historic Christianity’s God is not justified in light of Scripture and the person and life of Jesus. The Bible speaks of a world which now gives God grief, where people and nature are not "at peace," and where God interferes precisely because, as the Lord’s Prayer tells us, His will is not yet being done "on earth as it is in heaven." God sent prophets because what people did was in opposition to the will of God, not in concurrence with it.
Likewise, Jesus, who is God in the flesh and the exact image of the Father, does not walk about holding people’s hands in their misfortunes and accompany them through misery. Instead he aggressively opposes sickness, false teaching, vile government, and death itself.
Where other religions and secular philosophies start with the assumption of the normality of things and events, as sad as they are, God describes a sickening abnormality in his creation and acts, speaks, protests, and encourages us to do likewise.
There is no fatalism in Jewish and Christian teaching, though many times it seems to be in the language and explanations believers use to erroneously comfort themselves. There is the sound of false piety from what is in fact a total contradiction to what Jesus taught and did.
The faith and hope that God’s sovereignty is expressed in every event is something for the future.
For the time being, Haiti, Tsunami, Katrina, and your child falling out of a swing are things you should be upset about. We should not settle into acceptance, but rise for energetic and healing intervention to prevent each and recurrent tragedies.
For a more thorough development of these ideas you may want to consult my book The Innocence of God.
In addition to his work at the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation, Middelmann is also visiting professor of philosophy at The King's College in New York City. For more information, please contact Middelmann at The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation, CH – 1882 Gryon, Switzerland.