Thursday, 15 May 2008

Who gets comforted by judgement and wrath?

I read a blog post from The Pilgrim Penguin that links the judgement of God to the problem of evil.

In it she says

Most arguments for atheism, including one I heard recently from Peter Singer, revolve around unjust human suffering: if God cares about us, why does He allow so much suffering without intervening? Either God doesn't exist, or God is bad.

One facet of a response to this question is to consider the judgement of God.

This set me thinking about who will get comforted by the notion of God's judgement and wrath.

It is counter-intuitive to think of the judgement and wrath of God as a comforting idea. But those who suffer now cry out to God for his help and his justice. In Revelation 6, this call for justice continues even beyond death! In this passage, those who are martyred for the faith ask God to bring his judgement, and soon:

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Although Revelation 6 is written for all Christians, there will be a special group who should read it and draw particular comfort. They are the people mentioned in verse 11, the "fellow servants and their brothers" of those who have already suffered martyrdom, who are about to suffer in exactly the same way. If you were about to die for your faith, and to die in the most painful and excruciating way, the reminder of coming judgement would be the most wonderful comfort. All will be put right by our mighty avenging judge, the lamb on God's throne who is also the Lion of Judah.

If the thinking behind Revelation 6 is right (and how dare we suggest otherwise), the doctrine of coming judgement ought to be preached with greater severity to those who need comfort and feel abandoned by God. We must never, never, tone down the horror of God's wrath; in doing so we take away the comfort and encouragement of those who feel that God is a long way away.


Anonymous said...

What about animal suffering?

or even,

what about animal suffering caused by natural disasters?

Gordon Cheng said...

Hi anonymous, what is the link between your question and the post you are responding to?

Anonymous said...

The link is the following:

Peter Singer and others say:

That cannot be a god who is all good and all powerful because, as one can see, there is a lot of unjust suffering on earth.
An all good and all powerful god would not allow for any unjust suffering.

The bible (the word of god) mentions some sort of ultimate justice, which solves this problem. However, this ultimate justice is only for humans, nonetheless, non-human animals suffer unjustly as well - still, the bible does not account for the unjust suffering of animals. So, the argument of an all good and all powerful god is still defeated.

Let me know if something is still unclear.