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Tsunami Disaster and the Christian Zionists

Dr Jaafar Hadi Hassan

Many countries and humanitarian agencies helped, or announced that they would help, the people and the countries affected by the dreadful Tsunami disaster which caused so much destruction. There were many Christian agencies among these, such as the Red Cross and Christian Aid etc. However, it was noticed by some observers that none of these were Christian Zionist organisations of which there are many large ones, such as the Christian Coalition and others.

In an article entitled “Christian Compassion Deficit” by Bill Berkowitz and dated 4th January 2000, the writer lashes out at these organisations for their ‘business as usual’ on their web sites. He says “None of their web sites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. In fact, there is no mention of the giant earthquake and tsunami that devastated Southern Asia. There are no headlines about the dead, injured or the tremendous damage. There are no urgent appeals for donations. There are no phone numbers to call. There are no links to organisations collecting money and providing aid for the victims.”

The writer ends his article by saying “While many Christian evangelical organisations have rushed to help the victims, why are not the national major religious right political groups – quick to claim the world high ground at every opportunity - putting their organisational muscle to good use? Why has devastation from the earthquake/tsunami not been on the radar screen of these groups? Are they all on values vacation?”

These questions of the writer are legitimate questions indeed. But the inaction of these people is not surprising when we know that this falls within the framework of their thought – Christian Zionist beliefs revolve around the idea of Jesus reappearing at the end of time and the tsunami and similar disasters are, from their point of view, considered to be signs of the Second Appearance which they are eagerly awaiting. Therefore, they welcome these events and, in fact, they rejoice at them as, according to their views, they indicate the approach of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.

They believe that signs like the tsunami are mentioned, though not by name, in the Bible. One of the texts they quote is in Luke Ch 21 Vs 25-32 which says “And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth, distress of nations and perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming to the world; for the power of the Heavens (planet) will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”. There are other Biblical passages which they quote such as Matthew Ch 24. V 7 “There shall be famine, and pestilence and earthquakes in divers places”.

Because of these beliefs, people look positively at these disasters, they are indifferent to environmental problems, the greenhouse effect and global warming and the depletion of natural resources. James Inhofe the congressman believes that global warming is the biggest hoax which has deceived the American. Similarly, the late well known Christian Zionist Jarry Falwell denied that there is such a thing as global warming and said the activities of the environmentalists are to distract attention from the Church. Also, the priest John Shelly Spong states in his book Sins of Scriptures “Christianity encourages people to expect life in Heaven and not to concentrate on earth and should not have any responsibility in taking care for the earth and its nature and change .Redemption is also portrayed as escape from earth which is considered evil and environmental disasters are bound to happen”

In fact, they say, “Why care about the earth when droughts, floods, and pestilence brought about by ecological collapse are signs of the Apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture”. According to these people’s theology, during the Battle of Armageddon, which is supposed to occur before the Second Reappearance of Jesus, believers will be snatched up to Heaven by Jesus Christ and they will accompany him with angels when he comes down to earth. This event they call the Rapture.

The idea of Rapture is mainly based on 1st Thessalonians (Ch.4: Vs 16-18) which reads:

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in the Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words”.

They also say “Why care about converting from oil to solar power when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?” The miracle mentioned here is recorded in Matthew Ch.14 Vs 17-21 where a crowd of five thousand men, women and children were fed, with the blessing of Jesus, with five loaves and two fishes.

The overpopulated earth is also not a concern for these people, because they say that until Jesus returns, the Lord will provide. They add that “While many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that the Lord has made the earth sufficiently large enough with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people”. Their view in this is shaped by the book of Genesis where it says in Ch 1, V 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him male and female he created them. And God blessed them and God said to them “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”.

Christian Zionists say that this passage proves that ‘man’ is superior to nature and gives the go ahead to unchecked population growth and the unrestrained use of the earth. However, such beliefs fly in the face of ecology, which shows humankind to be an equal and interdependent participant in the natural web. But Christian Zionists as we have said above, do not give any real consideration to ecology as such. This is particularly dangerous taking into account the millions of followers who believe very strongly in such ideas. In addition, they are indifferent to wars and do not encourage peace initiatives. This is anchored in the belief that these will be signs of the second coming of Jesus. It is important to emphasize at the end of this short article that the Christian Zionist interpretation of the Scriptures of which we have given examples above is not accepted by many Christian sects and is considered by them to be heretical.