In April 2011, soul artist Anthony David put out the above music video for his song "God Said." Watch a few minutes of it and you'll start to get the idea behind the lyrics. On his own blog, David outlined his reasons for writing this song and making the video. Here's an excerpt:

"I wrote a song called GOD SAID after watching Pat Robertson declare that the earthquake in Haiti was because of a curse from God. After hearing a man named Rev. Wiley say that he was praying for President Obama's death during the election (the prayer didn't work BTW). After hearing people fiddle around with the idea of a curse on Japan after their recent disaster. After hearing about Koran burnings and battles that seem to have peoples' interpretations of religious texts at the foundation of them all. 

I'm not one of those who claims that religion is the ONLY thing that causes all of the wars and bloodshed, but it has caused many. But not necessarily even the religion but the interpretation of a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence.  I figured it was time to have a conversation with extremists like this, and put that kind of thinking in its proper perspective.

It's just my opinion, but I suspect peace-loving people from all walks of life will agree with me on SOME level." 

Let me first say that I have a huge amount of respect for David just for writing and releasing this song. He shows that he cares about this world, about his fellow man, and about truth. He cares about making a difference through his music, not just selling records. And he cares about people, not just winning an argument. For these reasons alone, he is automatically a better artist to me than the vast majority of them out there. 

He has a lot of good things to say too. He rightly criticizes Rev. Wiley Drake for praying for Obama's death and calling it God's will (should we really be giving people like that the title of Reverend?). He demonstrates his heart for the people of Haiti and Japan by speaking out against those who would call them cursed. And there is no question that he is right about the atrocities caused by "a few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence."  

BUT there are some clarifications that need to be made...
The main one is that God getting angry shouldn't surprise anyone. One of the verses in David's song says "He can pretend at the slightest of His whims He has the power to suspend all rules of morality. And when He gets angry, He can make the lightning strike, He can help me win the fight with His power." In the sense that these lines are satirical and meant to be spoken from the mouths of those "few dangerous minds put into the wrong position of power or influence," fair enough. The whole point is that these guys can't do evil and then claim they're innocent because God told them to do it. "So you can put the blame on me, I'm doing what God said" goes the chorus. However, the suggestion that anybody who claims God may use natural disasters as a form of punishment is automatically "extremist" isn't quite fair. In fact, the suggestion that a good, all-loving, holy God should not get angry at his creation at all and that he could not punish us through such things as earthquakes and tsunamis is actually illogical in the highest degree. 

Seriously, think about it. Is anger wrong? No. It's a lot easier to do wrong things when you're angry. That's for sure. But is being angry in and of itself a crime? Absolutely not. There are many good reasons to be angry. A father or mother gets rightfully angry when their children are repeatedly disobedient or defiant. A teenager gets rightfully angry when his dad hits his mom, or when a friend stabs him in the back. When I get angry, it's usually because of the absolute arrogance of some people about their beliefs (Christians, atheists, it doesn't matter). And I believe that kind of anger is justified. That's why the Bible says "Be angry and yet do not sin" rather than "Just don't get angry, ever." So is it wrong for God to get angry? No, not if it's for the right reasons. Wouldn't you be angry with a front row seat to what the people you created are doing to each other? Now, is it wrong for God to act on that anger? That depends. If it's an impulsive, divine temper tantrum as some people seem to want to make it out to be, then sure. We don't give a lot of credit to our three-year olds when they don't get what they want and throw a fit. However, if it's a righteous punishment for evil, then no, of course it's not wrong. That's just good parenting. And maybe that's the difference: we're the kids who think we know it all and he's the parent, not the other way around. How many of you would let your kid tell a lie or steal a toy or outright disobey you and get away with it? Or how many of you would expect a judge to just overlook a crime and let the perpetrator go free? No, there's nothing wrong with God administering justice to his creation.  We do the same thing every day. We just don't like to think we deserve it. As if we're perfect. As if the God who gave us the gift of life doesn't have the right to teach us or correct us, or to take that gift away again altogether. It's not like we did something to deserve it. If anything, we've abused it over and over and over again.

Now, to be clear, I'm not saying that the tragedies that have struck places like Haiti and Japan and Joplin, Missouri recently are definitively punishments or curses from God. I don't know. What I am saying is that it's not necessarily "extremist" to make that suggestion and it wouldn't necessarily be malevolent of God, nor would he be "suspending all rules of morality," if he were to do such a thing. I think we're just incredibly self-righteous.

Ironically enough, I've met very few people in the world who deny that they're not perfect on an individual level, but many of us still don't seem to think we deserve any kind of consequences. We admit we're criminals and yet don't believe we should be punished for our crimes. We either want to believe in a morally corrupt God who hands out forgiveness without consequence while closing his eyes to justice (that'd go over well in our legal system) or we don't want to believe in a morally just God and use this "God is evil if he punishes people" mentality as an argument against his existence (which, again, is illogical). 

However, even if we come to terms with the fact that a good God would actually be completely right to administer justice to his creation and that we are indeed rebellious and imperfect people deserving of such justice, many of us seem to think that death is way too extreme of a punishment. Is it? I don't know about you, but if I entrusted somebody close to me with something of mine and they kept abusing it over and over and over again, I might ask for it back at some point. Again, I'm not saying that recent events are such punishments, but if the Bible is to be believed, there are certainly examples of it in history (see flood). So is it really that we don't deserve death? Or is it that we don't take our crimes seriously enough? Is it that the God so many of us believe in is a criminal? Or is it that we live in a culture which has come to hate and always question authority? Is it that a God who would inflict any kind of suffering upon his creation is evil? Or is it that we have a "holier-than-thou" mentality toward the one who gave us the ability to think? Is such a God intolerant toward us? Or are we intolerant toward him?

Author Francis Chan puts it this way: "When we begin an argument with 'Well, I wouldn't believe in a God who would...' Who would what? Do something that you wouldn't do? Or think in a way that's different from the way you think? Do you ever even consider the possibility that maybe the Creator's sense of justice is actually more developed than yours? And that maybe his love and his mercy are perfect, and that you could be the one that is flawed? See, when we make statements like 'Well God wouldn't do this, would he?' do you understand that in that moment you're actually putting God's actions in submission to your reasoning? You're in essence saying 'Well God wouldn't think that way or act that way because I wouldn't act that way or think that way'...Does it even enter your mind that maybe he knows something that you don't? Or is it always 'I have this ability to reason, and I have this level of morality, and so something in him must be off here or I won't believe in him'?"

I think Chan makes a good point. With some of the decisions I've made in my life, and some of the ideas I've had, I would sure hope that the God of the universe wouldn't think like me. In fact, quite the opposite. I sure hope that I would begin to learn to think like him. That he would know some things that I don't. It's understandable in some ways that many of us don't want to believe in God or that we want to create our own moulds for him because we don't like or fully understand his ways. But at the same time, it's to be expected that we wouldn't always like or fully understand all of God's ways. At least not all at once. It would be kind of strange if we did. Our perspective is extremely limited. We have the gift of reason for a purpose to be sure, but we also know that our reason can be flawed and can be easily persuaded by our emotions, desires and fears.

All that being said, David's point still stands and is actually in perfect harmony with Chan's. Arrogance is evil. We shouldn't act like we're God, no matter our worldview (i.e. even if we don't believe in him). We should not think of ourselves as "better" than other people. We should not think ourselves smarter than God, or think ourselves to be God, or that we speak for God. Men should not say things like "I'm not saying anything, I'm just repeating what God is saying" (see quote in David's music video). You're saying quite a lot when you say God is saying anything, Rev. Wiley. Take some responsibility for your actions. If God exists, he's going to hold you accountable for them someday.

Whether the recent earthquakes and tsunamis in Haiti and Japan are acts of divine justice or not, the idea of divine justice is not extremist or malevolent. It's exactly that: justice administered to us by the hand of the one who instilled in us a sense of what it is.

So what do you think?

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