Whether you follow the news or not, you cannot have missed what happened in Haiti last week. A devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the western side of Hispaniola—the side which is home to the impoverished nation of Haiti. According to reports and photos, much of the poorly built nation has suffered catastrophic losses. Offices, hotels, shops, churches, and schools collapsed on their occupants and on other buildings. The death toll is expected to top 200,000.
In the aftermath, televangelist Pat Robertson makes a statement on his 700 Club broadcast that the nation is under judgment from God due to a centuries-old pact with the Devil made by Haitian slaves as they fought off their French owners and gained independence as a nation. In fairness, Mr Robertson also called for compassion and aid for the survivors. He has been taken out of context in some circles.
But was Pat Robertson right?
The only answer has to be “who knows?” I doubt that he has the inside scoop on this. It is difficult for me to believe or accept that Pat Robertson knows the mind of God that well. Yet a political cartoon in the Indianapolis Star suggested that the quake was an “Act of God”. According to Dictionary.com, and Act of God includes such natural (or nature-based) events such as an earthquake as it could not be foreseen or prevented. So there’s the rub. Culturally, we consider the quake an Act of God but morally, we dismiss the quake as a judgment from God on Haiti.
That could be because we use “God” so glibly these days:
- Act of God
- God bless you
- God willing
- God *#%@ it
and the list goes on. To say it’s an “Act of God” is no longer one of judgment, but essentially synonymous with “Act of Nature”. Society uses it without religious backing or conviction in the words.
But more to the point—does God judge nations and pour out destruction on them?
For those of us who actually believe what the Bible says, the answer is “yes”. Sodom and Gomorrah are the best-known examples but Nineveh is right up there on the list as well. To say that God does not destroy rebellious nations is to deny the Bible. To say that he does not pour out judgment on anyone is to deny the nature of God and his righteousness.
He will make the sun shine on the just and the unjust, and he will make it rain on both as well (*). To say that he has poured out judgment on Haiti is presumptuous. To say that he did not is just as presumptuous. The safest thing to say is that we don’t know. Which means that the safest thing in this case is to say nothing.
Pat Robertson should have built the case for aid to the nation without dredging up a story that lacks adequate validation historically or spiritually.