2009-02-10

Abortion laws caused the Victorian fires

Well this is a novel concept:
“Yesterday (Monday 9th February 2009), the front page of the Herald Sun newspaper reported “The Darkest hour for Victoria”. A few months ago the news media should have reported “The darkest hour for the unborn” but unfortunately the “Decriminalization of Abortion bill” went through parliament and was passed, thus making many people call Victoria ‘the baby killing state of Australia,’” Mr (Danny) Nalliah said.

He said on November 7 last year we had sent out an email to our national network and a posting on our website (www.catchthefire.com.au) carried an urgent post titled, ‘STOP PRESS. URGENT PRAYER NEEDED REGARDING AUSTRALIA, ESPECIALLY THE STATE OF VICTORIA’ following a dream he had on the 21st of October 2008, which he shared with his team on 22nd October.

Following is an excerpt from the dream which was published in the article.

“In my dream I saw fire everywhere with flames burning very high and uncontrollably. With this I woke up from my dream with the interpretation as the following words came to me in 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.”

“We at CTFM have spent the last few days in prayer and weeping, watching the news and learning that more than 170 people have perished and more than 750 houses have gone up in flames with much property and personal belongings of people all wiped out within hours,” he said.

”Australia is based on Judeo-Christian values. How far have we as a nation moved from these principles instilled in our nation’s inception. How much does it take for a nation to return to God? The Bible is very clear, if you walk out of God’s protection and turn your back on Him, you are an open target for the devil to destroy.

“Can we stop the fires? Yes we can! But it will take God’s children to rally together and repent and cry unto Him as in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (The Holy Bible). We at CTFM have seen this happen several times in the past in Australia, which was also covered by many mainstream media outlets.”
*Sigh*. What can I say? This is exactly the sort of thing that gets my goat up.

You see, the reason is that I am an evangelical Christian. It's there in the blog title. To read how I became a Christian, click here. For a detailed explanation of my opinion on abortion (I am generally pro-life but with important differences to most pro-lifers), click here.

I've included those links in the previous paragraphs to point out to you all the substance of what I believe because I am about to give Nalliah a real serve about what he has done.

Many of you, I am sure, can remember back to the dim dark days following 9/11. One thing you might remember is when evangelical leader Jerry Falwell said this:
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Of course, such a statement was made during a time of great grief and anger and Falwell later apologised for it, though it was one of those "I'm sorry you feel this way" apologies.

Danny Nalliah's recent comments are similar in tone. They blame a disaster upon the presence of moral evil within society. So, in Falwell's case, it was Paganism + Abortion + Homosexuality = God removing His protection = Terrorists destory the World Trade Center. In Nalliah's case, it is Victorian Abortion Laws = God removes His protection = Fires that kill nearly 200 people.

I'm not going to approach this from the typical perspective (ie the guy's statement is insensitive and shows how horrible he is) because that is a given in this case. No, I'm going to approach this from a Christian and Biblical perspective, to show from that perspective how wrong he is.

Central to Nalliah's belief is his interpretation of 2 Chronicles 7.14, which says:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name 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. (ESV)
I've included verse 13 in that quote to show you exactly what is going on. This is a statement by God made to King Solomon after the temple has finally been dedicated. What we see here are two very important things:
  1. God is speaking to King Solomon.
  2. God is speaking about the nation of Israel.
Now the thing about interpreting the Bible is to ensure that you don't misinterpret words or commands. The Bible is not a magical quote machine. You don't open the Bible up and point at a random verse looking for direct guidance. When the Bible is being read, it needs to be read according to its literary genre, which is often quite plain.

There's the great story of someone who opens the Bible and plunks his finger down to find the verse "Judas hung himself". Confused, he then opens it again and plunks his finger down again. This time the verse says "Go and do likewise". Is God ordering him to commit suicide? Or is the man being stupid?

So when Danny Nalliah comes to this passage what does he assume?
  1. God is speaking to Australians.
  2. God is speaking about Australia.
Now that is a really long bow to draw. When Nalliah says that abortion causes deadly bushfires he is saying that the "land" in 2 Chronicles 7.13-14 is Australia. But it isn't. The land is Israel. Moreover, you can't make the association without doing violence to the text. Ancient Israel was, according to the Bible, God's special people who lived in the land God gave them under the rules that God gives in the Old Testament. But when we read the Old Testament we discover that God has chosen to create a "New Covenant" because Israel has broken the old one. This "New Covenant" is explained by the Apostles of Jesus as faith in Christ. In other words, Israel as God's special people has been replaced by the Church. This idea is called supersessionism and is found in places like Galatians 3.29, which says:
if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
"If you are Christ's" = being a Christian.
"Abraham's Offspring" = the nation of Israel.
"heirs of the promise" = the promise God made to Abraham and Israel also applies to Christians.

Therefore, the concept of "Israel" post-Christ is no longer a political and geographical entity, but a "spiritual nation" that is the universal church.

When it comes to reading 2 Chronicles, therefore, we can interpret it to mean that Israel's relative safety has a lot to do with their covenant keeping. If Israel does not keep the covenant, God will take away his protection from them. That is very clear from the passage. Yet what we see in the Old Testament is God's covenant people NOT keeping the covenant, and disaster befalling them as a result (including political division, invasion and eventual exile by the Assyrian and Babylonian empires).

But does the passage mean the same today? If Australia were to, for example, outlaw abortion, homosexuality and paganism, would God bless us with prosperity and happiness and spiritual utopia? But what if Australia did not do this? Are we going to be visited by more fires and earthquakes and terrorists attacks if we don't outlaw abortion, homosexuality and so on? No. Of course not. For the passage to be applicable today, the "Israel" ("land") spoken to in 2 Chronicles 7 is replaced not by the nation of Australia, but by the church. It is the church who will suffer if they do not keep the covenant, not Australia, not Britain, not America.

Of course, supersessionism (and, by implication, Covenant Theology and Biblical Theology) is not always held by Christians, meaning that Nalliah is probably one of those who still place some level of emphasis upon Israel.

Yet there remains a real problem with Nalliah's understanding of how God blesses people. Western Europe is one of the most secular places in the world, with liberal abortion laws and societal acceptance of them. What disaster has befallen Europe? Even considering the latest financial distress, Western Europe is one of the safest and most prosperous places in the world, and they do that without honouring God. You can say the same thing about Japan, which is full of non-Christians and non-Christian thinking. Conversely, Ireland, where abortion is illegal, is collapsing economically. Moreover, nations with very conservative abortion laws are often developing nations whose economy and society have not necessarily been improving because of their "godly" abortion laws. In other words, there is no actual empirical evidence which suggests that nations who have outlawed abortion are socially and materially superior than those who allow abortion.

There is in eastern philosophy the concept of Karma. This idea has been appropriated and distorted by Western culture and has also infiltrated the church including, I might add, the thinking of evangelical leaders like Danny Nalliah. This Westernised bastardisation of Karma can be best described as "what goes around comes around". In other words, a person who does bad things will experience bad things in return. So when Nalliah says "the state of Victoria allows Abortion, so God takes away His protection and Victoria suffers bushfires" (my paraphrase), he is merely repeating the bastardised, western idea of Karma and applying it to Christianity (syncretism).

The reality is that rain falls on the good and bad alike (Matthew 5.45). Moreover, Jesus points this out in Luke 13.1-5:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (ESV)
What Jesus is saying here is that those who suffered particular horrible deaths did not suffer so because of some particular sin in their lives. He also points out that judgement is universal and that everyone should repent - from the worst sinner to the least sinner. In conjunction with my critique of Nalliah's beliefs, Jesus' words here completely negate Nalliah's understanding of 2 Chronicles 7 while reinforcing my argument that the 2 Chronicles passage can only be applied today in reference to the church (eg 1 Corinthians 11.30).

One thing which I have not addressed here is Nalliah's "vision of fire" which he believed was a message from God reinforcing this idea that Victorian abortion laws = God removing His protection = deadly bushfires. All I can say is that even the Prophet Jeremiah heard this from God:
"The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.
Ironically, this quote (from Jeremiah 14.13-16), is one of those passages in which God portends suffering and judgement for Israel for not keeping his covenant. In the context of what I have been arguing, such a passage speaks volumes for today's church who follow dreamers like Danny Nalliah rather than following the Word of God. Nalliah may be rightly concerned about abortion, but his dreams and his erroneous interpretation of the Bible have led him to say things which have hurt the families of the dead and injured while simultaneously bringing disrepute to the church and to God. I call on Danny Nalliah to repent.

4 comments:

Coffee Bean said...

Excellent post OSO!!!

I'm glad that you and your family are safe from the fires.

Andy said...

Nalliah was loose with the truth in this week's statement.

When he first announced his "prophetic" dream last year, he said:

“I saw a man firing randomly with a weapon at people on the streets and many were falling dead. I was very disturbed and was crying. Then the scene changed and I saw fire everywhere with flames burning very high and uncontrollably."

I wonder why he'd fail to mention the shootings this time? Could it be because it makes the dream completely irrelevant?

apodeictic said...

Thanks for this. It's something that needs to be said again and again. I'm astounded when pastors, who are supposedly theologically educated, come out with idiotic statements like this.

Before I read your post I was also thinking of blogging on this (but don't have much time at the moment). I may still do so as there's been a post on this brewing in my mind for some time now (before Nalliah said something about the recent tragedy in Victoria).

I think the problem runs very deep indeed. You mentioned a bastardised version of karma. I don't doubt that, but I think that kind of thinking is merely symptomatic of a much wider problem -- the problem of moral *dualism* -- which is NOT orthodox Christianity. Many evangelicals have lost touch with orthodox, historical Christianity in this and many other areas. The Pentecostal movement is particularly prone to this, but not exclusively so (and there's no reason why Pentecostalism couldn't reform itself). Unorthodox thinking has crept into large chunks of the evangelical world. And it's only going to get much worse, I'm afraid.

I have no idea about the origin of Nalliah's dream. But the problem is not with what he *saw* in his dream, but the *interpretation* he gave it. Someone grounded in the Scriptures and historical, orthodox Christian theology would never have given such an interpretation to that kind of dream, let alone spout off in public about it. My advice to Nalliah: Read Augustine's "On Free Choice of the Will". Tolle, lege!

Noni Mausa said...

I ran into this in a smaller incident, way back when I was still doing radio interviews on my religion (Wicca.) One lady phoned in to talk about an acquaintance of hers who had practiced Wicca, "and then her house burned down, and I wasn't surprised."

I asked, "Does that mean that everyone whose house burns down has the wrong religion?"

She was flustered. "That's not what I meant."

"Well then, what did you mean?"

She said she didn't know. I hope she went away and thought about her assumptions of cause and effect. But I suppose she just thought I was being obtuse.

Noni