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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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9/11/2004

Cheap Shot to the Right 

Steve Gushee has a great article in the Palm Beach Post. He talks about Noah and the Flood, the covenant that God made with man after the flood, what caused the flood, etc. Unfortunately, he ruins the whole article (at least for me) in the second paragraph.
Some conservative Christians will insist that Hurricanes Frances and Charley were (and Ivan might be) the result of God's will to punish us for some litany of behavior of which they disapprove. They are not only mistaken about divine climate control, but they make a mockery of the very Scripture they believe is without error.
Is anyone else wondering who the heck he's talking about?

I'm a conservative Christian. I hang out with conservative Christians. Heck, I'm married to a conservative Christian. I read lots of things written by conservative Christians. I haven't heard this one. Nobody I've heard of has mentioned the whole punishment for sin thing -- mainly for the exact reason that Gushee mentions in his article. God promised not to punish us that way any more. That's how we know that the storms that have battered Florida are because of odd weather patterns, not divine justice.

Unfortunately, Gushee takes a wonderfully-written column, a piece rare in journalism in that it takes theological truth seriously, and turns it into a vicious and (from what I can tell) unfounded attack on a LOT of people.

Maybe, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, there's a preacher who is writing his sermon for tomorrow. He's got the only satelite dish in his little town, and he's been watching the events taking place in Florida. His flock is familiar with Florida -- they've heard about Baywatch, after all, and Doc Sanders went there for that convention, so they KNOW the immorality that goes on there. So he decides to tell them that God has decided to judge these evil Floridians for their fornication and perversion. As he writes this, he can hear the AMENs ringing out in the pews.

Maybe this is the guy that Steve Gushee has in mind. Maybe Steve Gushee even believes that this guy is representative of "conservative Christians". But I can assure him, and you all, that conservative Christians aren't this stupid. And we're getting pretty tired of people treating us as if we are.

Maybe if Gushee had started the column off with something like this:
I was listening to Preacher X the other day, and he said something that disturbed me. He said that the hurricanes in Florida were ...
I'd have had less of a problem with that. I'd have an idea that there was actually someone that he had in mind, who said this idiotic thing, and I could go off on them about their stupidity. Unfortunately, all we get is "some conservative Christians will" do this.

I wonder if he even heard anyone say this, or if he just decided that it sounded good, and would get him some praise from the people who read his column. If that's the case, he's no better than the hypothetical preacher in my story -- changing and shaping the facts to suit his audience, with no regard for the truth.


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