How to lose friends and alienate people

Catch the Fire Ministries have a knack for getting in trouble. The Christian orthodoxy, myself included, were right behind them in their muslim bashing court case. Religious groups must be free to criticise other religious beliefs – provided we afford those other beliefs the same right to criticise us. That’s true freedom of religious expression.

Perhaps in a most appalling case of nominal determinism “Catch the Fire Ministries” have inflamed the Victorian bush fire situation with the most ideologically inappropriate piece of third party commentary ever released. From the SMH. And here’s their own media release.

“The Catch the Fire Ministries has tried to blame the bushfires disaster on laws decriminalising abortion in Victoria.”

But that’s just editorial from a left of centre anti Christian rag you argue. No. That’s pretty much the sentiment of what Pastor Danny Nalliah had to say.

“Pastor Danny Nalliah, claimed he had a dream about raging fires on October 21 last year and that he woke with “a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb”.”

I’ve mentioned before that I’m anti-abortion. I think God is anti-abortion too. But I don’t think the fires are his judgment on the state for its abortion stance. I think that judgment will come later.

I think the fires are an example of the pain and suffering we’re told we’ll all experience in a world frustrated by sin. Biblically we should expect natural disasters. We certainly shouldn’t run around ascribing God’s judgment to situations like this where everybody, Christian and non-Christian, has been hit.

Here’s some more from Mr Nalliah:

“Asked by the Herald if he did not believe most Australians would regard his remarks as being in appallingly bad taste, he said today: “I must tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

He said it was no use “molly-coddling” Australians.

Asked if he believed in a God who would take vengeance by killing so many people indiscriminately – even those who opposed abortion, Mr Nalliah referred to 2 Chronicles 7:14 to vouch for his assertion that God could withdraw his protection from a nation.

“The Bible is very clear,” he said. “If you walk out of God’s protection and turn your back on Him, you are an open target for the devil to destroy.”

In the New King James version of the Bible, 2 Chronicles 7:14 states that: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

He quoted a headline describing the fires as “The Darkest hour for Victoria”. “A few months ago the news media should have reported `the darkest hour for the unborn’, but unfortunately the `Decriminalisation of Abortion bill’ went through parliament and was passed, thus making many people call Victoria `the baby killing state of Australia,’ ” Mr Nalliah said.

Pastor Nalliah said there may be criticism. But he said he did not send out his media statement thoughtlessly. “We spend two days working on it.”

He had previously said drought and the world financial crisis could be partly blamed on human sin.”

I’m sorry Danny Nalliah, you’ve lost my vote. This is terrible PR and it’s terrible theology. It’s just bad. The Herald does mention that Nalliah is putting a large whack of resources in to fighting the fires and helping those affected. And lest you think my problem is purely that it’s bad PR and he should be out there calling a spade a spade and a bushfire the “judgment of God”… here’s what Jesus had to say about natural disasters and loss of life (in Luke 13:1-5)

“1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Death hits us all. We all need to be ready. But those who are hit by disaster are no more deserving of it than the rest of us. Nalliah is making a leap of logic that Jesus himself rejected. Funnily enough, just before this bit, in Luke 12, Jesus has a dig at people who use the obvious situations around them to justify particular arguments or beliefs, like say picking an economic crisis or fires to say something profound about God’s judgment…

54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

One thought on “How to lose friends and alienate people”

  1. The Herald has updated its site – where it once described Nalliah as “evangelical” it now describes him as pentecostal. Beautiful.

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