Condemning Creation

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge - Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

If we were to ask the question, “Does God favor genocide?” the quick answer would be No. God must have shed many tears caused by the extermination of millions of Jews by the Nazis at the time of World War II. 78% of the Jews in Nazi-controlled Europe were killed. Ukraine, Cambodia, Armenia, Rwandan and other countries have had their own mass killings. While we like to think that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought World War II to an end that action nevertheless ranks as genocide with the deaths of 90,000-146,000 in Hiroshima and 39,000-80,000 in Nagasaki. Unfortunately, genocide continues with the killing of Muslims and Christians in the Middle East. With our history, how could a compassionate God be in favor of such horrors?

While God cries at our cruelty, we might also ask why God allows plagues and natural disasters to kill so many. The Great Plague in 1665-1666 in England was the last major

epidemic of the bubonic plague in England; but it is estimated that it took 100,000 lives. Smallpox later took many lives. Does God will this suffering or is it the result of the cycle of life which is life, death, and new life? Much of the loss of life by disease and natural disasters can’t answer the question “why”. We can describe what we see and feel and can make ever effort to cure illness and to avoid being in the area of earth’s uproars. Is God purposely responsible for these traumas, or are they part of earth’s way of renewing itself by turning things over before creating new life?

While we can’t find a satisfactory answer to the question of “why suffering” we need to be careful not to assign to God’s judgment the massive extermination of souls after our deaths. Some biblical literalists say that one has to be baptized to go to heaven, as if every word in the Bible was literally dictated by God in various languages and translations. If that be the case, no one mentioned in the Old Testament will achieve eternal life with God – including Abraham and Sarah, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, and all the prophets. None of Jesus’ ancestors will be saved because they weren’t baptized. Such a thought is horrific and slanders God’s mercy. It would mean that God didn’t begin to love the people of his creation until the beginning of the 1st century, and only those

who are baptized. According to this perverse view all others have gone to hell or will be assigned to eternal fire. To believe this would make God the greatest mass murdered of all time deserving the same praise as Hitler.

But quite to the contrary, the God of love created us in the mystery of God’s image. The Spirit of God is within each of us – part of our DNA. God loves his children regardless of our differences. God created a bouquet in the garden of creation, not just a single watered white flower. It seems absurd that God would create us for the fun of obliterating us for eternity.

A condemning heart does nothing to heal, but makes those of us who are baptized feel special and secure. If there be a condemning heart, it probably dwells within us, not in the heart of God. Our rules may limit God’s love, but God’s love is endless. Instead of condemning, let’s replace condemnation with compassion for all God’s children.

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge

Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

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