Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Kidding

In the USA, there was a strong earthquake that shook even Washing DC, and while I write this blog people on the East Coast of USA, including the Big Apple have been very adversely affected by Hurricane Irene (ironic name since Irene means peace). Really quite frightening stuff. In two weeks time, NYC and Washington DC and the nation as a whole will be commemorating the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Centre and damaged the Pentagon ten years ago and took in excess of 3000 lives on the day, to say nothing about the thousands of lives lost since in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most people, most decent people realise that cracking jokes about these things is not appropriate. However, you have some individuals, who steam right ahead and they make what they refer to as jokes that are in such bad taste. British Comedian Frankie Boyle is one such person. He somehow thinks that ridiculing people with Down Syndrome, AIDS, etc. 

Frankie Boyle is not the one to have got my blood boiling this but one of the Republican "Tea-party" would-be Presidential candidates, Michelle Bachmann. I do not actually believe that when she made her offensive comments she was of the mind that it was some kind of joke, and certainly at the time, she did not let on that she saw a funny side to earthquake and hurricane - she seemed very much in earnest, about her belief that God was sending a message, but when she realised just how unpopular her comments were - or maybe when her advisers told her that she was suffering from verbal diarrhoea that she issued a statement that she was only kidding.

She obviously has no clue how implausible that is, and even if that were the case, how in appropriate to be cracking jokes about things like this when people have lost lives and people's homes and businesses have been utterly destroyed. Is this something that we can all laugh about. Hardly! So why was she kidding? No, i watched the clip where whe was saying these things that she said she was just kidding about, and she clearly believes that these geological and meteorological events were God's megaphone telling the President that he is getting it all wrong. 

Being a student of theology, I am aware that when a person claims to speak for God they are taking on the role of a prophet. Now in the Bible and today their are two kinds of prophets spoken about. There are the true prophets, like Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, John the Baptist, and many others, but they were and sadly are vastly outnumbered by FALSE PROPHETS, who claim to speak the words of God, but are not. 

If you, in speaking try to represent what you are saying, as coming from the throne of God, and it turns out you are wrong whether you deliberately lied, or simply "got your wires crossed" you still fall into the category of False prophet. The Old Testament prescription for those found to be false prophets was severe - death by stoning. Now I would not advocate that Ms Bachmann get stoned (though with some of the far-fetched things she is said have uttered, it would not be to hard to believe that she is stoned (in the modern sense of the word.)

If, as I suspect, she genuinely believed what she was saying about these events being God's message to America, why was she so quick to retract this when she realised that it was not well received by her audience. The prophets of Old often had to speak out against corruption in high places, and in society in general, and it never was popularly received. Back then, as they do now, people only want to hear happy platitudes about everything being okay, and your behaviour no matter how vile and beneath contempt, being completely acceptable. Often speaking the Word of God into a situation will make you very unpopular as a prophets and can be very costly, and I mean it can even cost you your life. Just ask Jeremiah and John, the Baptist. Being a prophet is diametrically opposite to being a politician. In order to be a politician, you HAVE to seek popularity. That is the only way to get into office (unless of course you have a way of corrupting the voting system. The prophet on the other hand will speak out what he/dhe believes t be Go'd word in a situation, and will stand by what he was saying even when the highest authorities, including religious leaders, and society at large threaten dire consequences if one doe not retract the comment. Martin Luther, spoke vehemently against the abuses of the Church and it came down to the Pope at that time demanding that he disavow his statements on threat of being excommunicated (th most serious sanction a church could impose, his response was "here i stand, I can do no other" and he was summarily dismissed from his high office in the Catholic Church. 

I would not suggest that her words were malicious lies spoken to generate hate and resentment towards Mr. Obama, but a genuine conviction that the storms were God's messenger think that she genuinely believed what she was saying. However, I do not believe that that these sorts of catastrophic events are used by God in this way. They are just part of nature. I do believe, as the Bible says, the judgement day will come and every individual will face judgment. We are told in the Bible that ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD and the wage for sin is death. However we are talk that God so loved the World, that he GAVE his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes on him with not perish but will have eternal life,and that the GIFT of God is eternal life. We are told in Scripture that we are to go into all world and preach the GOOD NEWS. So, ultimately, every individual must give account and then repent of wrong doing. Thus even though she believed it to be true, Michelle Bachmann has been a false prophet by representing our God and bring His name into disrepute. 

The "I was just kidding" bit was an effort to withdraw her comments but it is still making God to be a liar. If she lacks the courage of her conviction, albeit weird convictions, how can she lead a country?

I'm sure there's more that could be said on this topic of misappropriated humour, and false prphesy, I shall end now and invite comments from my friends, whether you agree or vehemently oppose what I have said. I publish comments that are on topic, and deviod of unseemly language or personal attacks. 


Anonymous said...

I have read your blog, and I thoroughly agree with everything you say. It is well thought out, and well expressed. You have made several typos in your enthusiasm, but they do not prevent people from understanding your views. However, I will copy and paste your blog into an email with corrections as you asked, not that I want to put you down in any way but because I know you want to have it right. it is not easy to proof-read yor own work. I make typos all the time but don't always pick them up, especially if I am writing in a hurry or in enthusiasm for my subject!

As for Mme Bachmann, I think nothing of her as a polititian, and feel she is not someone whom I would want to represent me in any form or kind. Since I am not American, there is no fear of that. I think she has dug a hole deep enough to bury herself in and will soon tumble into it and never be seen again. You should hear the Democrats taking her to task over her "just Kidding" remarks.

Keep up the good work!

DaveW said...

We often get this, don't we? Every time there is a significant natural disaster, there are those who postulate "maybe God is trying to tell us something" or perhaps they even know quite distinctly what it is He is 'telling us'. Here's what I think:
1. God doesn't have to 'try'. He is quite capable of communicated needed and important truth without 'masking' it in indecipherable ways which are left to conjecture to understand. After all, He was communicating before we were, and He made us.
2. It is good that catastrophe makes us reflect on our mortality and our 'smallness'. We should be turning towards the eternal, omnipotent one as the source of our being, not towards our own paltry resources.
3. Jesus addresses this quite succinctly. He was asked about an accident (when the Tower of Siloam fell and killed a number of people). He also includes, for consideration, a man-made massacre (when Pilate mixed the blood of the sacrifices with that of the sacrifices in a particularly vicious put-down of a rebellion), Christ's comment is 'don't think for one minute that they - those who lost their lives - were any more wicked than anybody else. But, and here's the bottom line, BEWARE LEST YOU ALSO PERISH. What these events should do is to make us ask in our hearts, "Am I ready to meet my God, and stand before the judgment throne of Christ?"

So the final conclusion is - if you have to ask 'is God saying something', - He isn't. If He was, you'd hear it!

John Blog said...

Indeed Dave! Completely agree.

Fact is there is sometimes no explanation for the sad things that happen in life. A loved one passes away too early, due to illness or a tragic accident, or as happened recently in Norway, a person goes off their head and randomly kills hundreds of young people. Also in Norway, the young man who was killed by a polar bear. Whether the tragedy involves one or thousands, the effect for those affected is still the same. How should we as Christians respond in these circumstances?

Giving platitudes to people and trying to explain "why God let it happen" when clearly we cannot not know, is foolish at best, and downright cruel at worst. What is more these kinds of statements can often turn people against God, as I believe, Michelle Bachmann has done with her comments.

As you say, there should not need to be guess work as what God is saying to us. If God is speaking to YOU as a prophet, then say what he is telling you to say, otherwise, just be there and comfort one another.

I'm reminded of 'friends' of Job who felt compelled to give some explanation for something they clearly had no idea about.

I believe that we should reflect on our own position with God.

Dave Tastard said...

John - how do you see the tension between "natural events" and God's sovereignity? I would suggest that when we start to talk about nature as if it were a separate force from God then we are saying that there are things He isn't in control of and therefore His power is limited. This isn't consistent with Scripture. I recognise there is a whole can of worms here around why does God allow "good" people to suffer and are these events acts of vengeance but I don't believe that we can ever postulate a separate force such as chance or nature without reducing God to a god. As such he would be useless to us.

John Blog said...

Dave, thanks for your comments - however I believe you have completely misunderstood what I was saying in this blog. I was not at all suggesting that God is not sovereign over such events - indeed He most certainly is sovereign, however I was calling into question the practice of people using such catastrophes by invoking the name of God to suggest that it is God condemning something that their opponents are doing and thereby endorsing themselves.

AGAIN, it is not the actions of God that I am discussing here but the practice of those who would speak for God that I want to bring into focus.

The most recent example is the one I highlighted here of Michelle Bachmann saying that God was "sending a message" through the earthquake and then the hurricane. When she or her handlers realised that politically it was a disastrous move, they let it be known that she was "just joking".

John Blog said...

"Do not take the Lord's name in vain." We have usually understood this to mean that we should not use God's name as a swear word, but I believe that it has more far reaching implications than that. One such implication is claiming to speak for God when you are simply promoting your own agenda. In Michelle Bachmann's case, it is to win an election.

Yes, God is Sovereign, and He does allow these tumultuous and cataclysmic events to take place. I just realise that the whys and wherefores are sometimes beyond our ken. Postulating and pontificating, will not help those who were caught up in it, and will push people away from God, whereas going down to where the people are, and helping them in whatever way we can - practically - helping them rebuild their lives, will make a huge difference. [Interesting aside - one of the most famous and widely known missionaries in our world is Mother Theresa - not known for her theological views - but for how she was with the people she reached out to in Culcutta]. Comforting those bereaved at the saddest time in their lives, binding their wounds, building their homes -> That's a message I am confident God wants to send.

Interesting when we read the parable of the sheep and the Goats in matthew 25 that those who were sheep were the ones who were kind to the "least" in society were sheep, and the "goats" the ones condemned were those who evidently knew the right language - spoke fluent Christianese, but did NOT do anything for the so-called dregs of society that were condemned.

We look to the parable of the Good Samaritan and it was about being a neighbour. Being a neighbour is not about theological discussion about the Sovereignty of God, but of loving our neighbour. No doubt the priest and levite (or their modern equivalents) could well have provided a dissertation on the sovereignty of God to the man who was mugged by the robbers on the road to Jericho (if they had had the time of course) and I do not know what certificates of learning that Samaritan had, but (if it were in a modern setting) his most valuable qualification at that moment was fist First Aid certificate.

Commercially companies use trade marks to verify that a given product is genuinely their production, but, people, charlatans, go to great lengths to produce similar but fake products in order to get the value associated with the genuine product, but without the associated cost. In a similar way, people are desperate to prove that a well known and popular celebrity uses their product and will pay such celebrity vast amounts to state this, because they know that psychologically people think that if The Queen/David Beckham/Batman uses this product it must be good.

Sadly, I think some people try to invoke the name of God in a similar way - God endorses me as the presidential candidate. It is not for nothing that presidential candidates make a big thing of their Christian beliefs during a campaign. I think however that society is beginning to see through this jaunt and it is not the vote winner that it used to be - though I'm not sure.

As Dave W said, God does not need to TRY and communicate with us, he can make himself understood and does - he does not need an "interpreter".

We laugh at astrologers who use the position of celestial bodies to predict the future and indicate certain omens. Yes God is in control of nature, but that does not mean that every major meteorological event must portend a divine communication - sometimes it is just nature taking it's course.