“There were some present at that very time who told Him of the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered then, ‘Do you think that these Galilaeans were worse sinners than all the other Galilaeans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13.1-5).

This Gospel tells us three things. First, those who suffer in disasters such as the recent South Asian tsunami are not necessarily worse people than those who escape them. Secondly, however, such disasters do come upon those who do not repent of their sins; they are the instruments of God’s wrath against sinners. And so, thirdly, we who remain among the living must fear lest we perish like they did because of our sins.

The western press, both atheist and Christian, will have none of this. God does not cause disasters like this, says the atheist: rather, the very presence of such disasters is proof that God does not exist. For if He did exist, and was able to stop them but did not, this proves that He is immoral. And if He was not able to stop them, this proves that He is impotent, or at any rate not omnipotent. But since religion says that God is both moral and omnipotent, this proves that God does not exist.

The arguments of Christian leaders to defend their faith against such attacks have been feeble in the extreme. Or rather, they have joined the atheists in attacking it. Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, shocked British listeners by declaring: “Every single random, accidental death is something that should upset a faith bound up with comfort and ready answers. Faced with the paralysing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel more deeply outraged.”

But there are no “random, accidental” deaths, and Orthodox Christian piety most definitely does not feel “outrage” before the judgements of God, but only reverence: “The judgements of God are a great abyss…” ~Dr. Vladimir Moss

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