A burning tower of Siloam

Over here in Australia, ex-rugby player causes waves by linking severe bushfires to God’s judgment for Australia legalizing abortion and creating gay marriage.

People are outraged.

Personally, I disagree with drawing such a straight line between the sin and the disasters, but I find the backlash wanting. People really think God isn’t angry with them for these things. He is!

It’s a big, burning tower of Siloam.

Do you think Christians should talk to non-Christians about these kinds of disasters in this way?

I appreciate what Doug Wilson summarized here:

“Jesus [rebukes] the people for reading the sign of Siloam wrongly, telling them that they ought to have read that sign rightly, and we serenely assume that we are not supposed to read anything at all.”


It would have been well-received if he attributed the fires to global warming.


Funnily enough, that has been said by all the lefties. There’s a bit of a fight over all of that between the factions.

1 Like

Something of the point Charles Taylor made in A Secular Age was the present inability of folks to assign meaning to anything that happened. This was his central claim insofar as “disenchantment“ was concerned. What struck me, and has for most of my life, is the oddity of and the ease with which conservative Christians are willing to dismiss literally everything specific in modern times as being a sign of anything except maybe when it has to do with Israel and dispensational premillennialism.

Of course the wildfires are judgment. Of course Trump is judgment. If there is any truth to global warming then of course that would be judgment as well. Things don’t “just happen” in a universe that is continually maintained by the will and word of its God.


Especially in a world that is set up to have cause and reaction And natural consequences. And where God has explicitly laid out the consequences for many things.


Everything that occurs is according to God’s purpose, which includes judgement for sin, but what I find unconvincing is when people attribute Y judgement to X sin (absent special revelation) when there is no cause-and-effect relationship between X and Y.

When it comes to fires in California, global warming plays only a very minor role (by increasing evaporation and thereby likelihood of drought). The real reason for disastrous fires is human policy. Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem, and the native trees are adapted to resist fire and the native bushes quickly grow back from the roots. In past centuries fire would naturally happen (or be started by the native Americans), and it would burn out undergrowth and small trees and spare the big trees. But in the middle of the last century it was decided that all fires must be immediately suppressed, so there has been a huge buildup of fuel that now causes the big trees to burn, too. And since the policy is to suppress all fires, the only fires that do occur are those that cannot be suppressed because they happen under the worst weather conditions – bone-dry and windy. And then it’s a huge conflagration. It would be better to let small fires occur under more favorable weather and burn out undergrowth to reduce fuel. But that doesn’t happen because some houses in the backcountry and the edge of town would get burned, too, and people living there don’t want to accept that outcome.


Forest fires are a good metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. People ask if we can’t let Him burn, but somewhere else where He’s not ruining our own view and scaring us and taking out our comfy houses? Fire is purification.

Concerning natural disasters and judgment, never would any of our Christian fathers of past centuries have hesitated, let alone condemned, connecting them with their own and others’ sin. What’s telling is our squeamishness over drawing the line directly from natural disasters (earthquakes) to God’s wrath/judgment/punishment while endlessly drawing the line directly from natural blessings (good weather, rain, bountiful crops) to God’s love/kindness/mercy/goodness/blessing.

Scripture is absolutely filled with God Himself telling us warning us promising us that His actions in the present are directly tied to our sins/righteousness. And I suspect we all think this way concerning ourselves and our loved ones at home or church. We just don’t want to testify to God’s perfections and agency among pagans, I’m guessing. Do any of the rest of you live in dread of our land vomiting us out as God warned the sons of Israel the Promised land would do to them if they committed the same sins that had led to the land vomiting out the Canaanites right before? Love,


Where do we get vomited to, Tim? I don’t think Mexico will be as friendly to our refugees as we’ve been to theirs.

Boy, do we Reformed prefer the Holy Spirit to go burn somewhere where we don’t have to be responsible for the outcome. Why, they might get their doctrine wrong!

1 Like

I wouldn’t say I live in dread. But I fully expect a violent ending to this society unless there is widespread repentance. And famine. It may be selfish that I hope it’s after my time is passed.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to disrupt the transportation system. And then people would be without food pretty quickly. How long would it take for a bunch of entitled hungry Americans to get violent with our neighbors who we don’t even know.

What can I do but repent and trust the Lord?

1 Like

Seems like that’s the lesson Jesus would have us learn:

And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
— Luke 13:2-5

The point is not that those who suffered these things were worse sinners than the rest, but that they were not worse sinners than the rest. Yet what happened to them was perfectly just. Let us repent, lest we likewise perish.


Whether or not you agree with the straight line between the sin and disasters (and I would), that dude has some backbone. We need more men willing to draw such lines.


Some dozen years ago there was a major wildfire in our area – houses burned down, people evacuated. There was widespread smoke on the Lord’s Day, and some of our members couldn’t make it to church. Our pastor never preaches on current events, but he did so that day. The main message I remember was that the wildfire raging in our area was God’s warning to sinners of the coming judgment and that it should move all of us to repentance.

Lately my pastor has been quoting WCF 14.2 from time to time in his sermons to explain how believers should apply the Bible to their lives:

…yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come…

I agree that these days the first and especially the second in the list receive little attention in the church at large.


I don’t have a problem with drawing a line from sin to natural disasters (though I could be much bolder in doing so), but I do have a problem with drawing a line from specific sins to natural disasters unless there is specific revelation from God. Not to mention both Job and Israel faced hardship that God meant for purposes other than punishment.

One wife I was acquainted with would call her husband up if she was having a bad day with the kids and ask him what sin he had committed to cause her such problems. He is a sinful human, so they always found something. I don’t think that’s what God intends for us to do.

By the way, blessings come from God, but I don’t personally connect them with any specific acts of obedience, either. They’re all of grace as far as I can see.

Enjoying the thoughts shared, here.

1 Like

"You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.

“Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.” -Leviticus 18:21-25

Scripture is filled with explicit statements of sin and the resultant this-world judgments by God on that sin/those sinners. Then we are told to fear the next-world judgments even more. As I said before, we never hesitate to claim God’s blessings here and now and on whom. Why would we do otherwise with sickness, let alone earthquakes? If any man is sick, let him call for the doctor?

No, the elders. Love,


Perhaps I should have said “specific sins to specific disasters”.

You’ve certainly made me think, though, so think I shall until I have a better handle on this.

Might even pray.

1 Like

Yes, the specifics break down the smaller the circle

1 Like

Except for when it gets small enough that it’s easy again. The time the tornado hit the church during the meeting to approve homosexual pastors or some such comes to mind.


“Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.” – Acts 11:27-29

A related angle is that God gives the gift of prophets to the NT Church to warn His people of impending judgement and to prepare them to respond for the good of the brethren affected. Again the modern church is more comfortable with listening to government agencies to provide the severe weather forecast and planning accordingly than to men who have/are the genuine gift of prophecy.

1 Like

Nice way of putting it, dear brother. Love,

1 Like