Earthquakes and Sinners | The Salvation Army

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Earthquakes and Sinners

Posted November 18, 2016

The Salvation Army responds to Brian Tamaki’s comments about the link between sinning and earthquakes.

In a world of social media and sound bites, controversial views often get the air time. In recent days much attention has been given to the view expressed by Brian Tamaki that there is a causal link between certain sins, or certain sinful people, and the occurrence of natural disasters. This view is based on a particular interpretation of Leviticus 18 and especially verse 28. Mr Tamaki claims that this is not his message, but God’s message.

However, Christian understanding is shaped by the teaching of Jesus. Any interpretation of biblical passages that contradict the teaching of Jesus must be regarded as flawed.

The simplistic connection between specific cases of suffering or tragedy and the sinfulness of particular individuals (usually those who are suffering) was, in biblical times and, as Mr Tamaki gives evidence, still today, a commonplace idea.

For example, Jesus’ followers asked him about a man born blind and whether his blindness was caused by his own sin or that of his parents. In response, Jesus explicitly denied any connection between the man’s blindness and the sinfulness of any individuals (John 9:1-5). In another encounter, Jesus declared that those who suffered tragic fatalities (political assassination and a building collapse—see Luke 13:1-5) were no more sinful than any others.

In the latter case, Jesus does not ignore sin, but calls all people to turn away from wrongdoing and back to God. The explicit teaching of Jesus leaves no room for scapegoating particular individuals or groups in a time of tragedy.

The Salvation Army affirms that all human suffering grieves the heart of God. God is not aloof, but has experienced the full reality of human suffering in the person of Jesus Christ. Our response to the suffering of others mirrors God’s when we come alongside people to offer loving, pastoral and practical support. In doing so, we become partners with God, whose vision for all humanity, as seen in the person of Jesus Christ, is life and wholeness rather than condemnation (John 3:17).

As a church, The Salvation Army wants to be welcoming and open to all people, believing that everyone bears the image of God. This is not confined to the hetereosexual community. We want to be true followers of Jesus and welcome all - particularly anyone who is vulnerable and at risk of being marginalised.