A lengthy discussion arose today during and after Sunday School regarding how much the pastor is a type of prophet and/or preaches prophetically. The specifics were regarding the judgments of God, particularly in declaring or mentioning God’s specific judgments for specific sins.
Before I lay my cards on the table, here are a few clusters of questions.
When death occurs in the world via storm, calamity, or otherwise “natural” means, should the pastor declare these to be judgments? Is the tornado a judgment? Is it a judgment on a particular town when it strikes? How much should we consider the question when it happens? Is it proper for someone to say that our town was judged by God, for reasons likely unknown, when that tornado hit? What about when something like a tornado hits the steeple of a church that just voted to ordains homosexuals? (see here: https://www1.cbn.com/ChurchWatch/archive/2009/08/24/tornado-hits-lutheran-convention-voting-on-homosexuality-again)
When things like 9/11 happen are we right to call them God’s judgment? His wrath? How specific can we be about why they happened? Is Pat Robertson right to say it happened specifically because of homosexuality? Are we ever given enough ground to say that? Are we allowed to prod the consciences of men to consider whether God is judging generations, countries, towns, for particular sins?
As we age and die, to what extent is our death the result of Adam or our own sin? Is it more or less clear if the death was caused by explicit sin (AIDS, drunken wreck, etc.)? Is it right to say that every death, not just in general but in the specific, is a direct judgment of God?
To what extent does the wrath of God play into this? Is the wrath of God every displayed against believers? Does Romans 13 imply that a believer, being judged by the civil magistrate, is but to death by the wrath of God? If David had been tried, found guilty, and stoned would that be the wrath of God? A judgment of God? Discipline of God?
Should we ask these sorts of questions when we experience calamity? The death of a child? The sudden illness? Cancer? Is the threat of mis-taking the Lord’s Supper a current threat to our health and life?
How did the apostles and church know that Ananias and Sapphira were put to death for their lying to the Holy Spirit? Did He reveal it directly to them or were they simply, by the Spirit’s help, discerning the truth of motives of God? Can we ever say something similar has happened?
That’s probably too long of a list to get started - but now you have the bulk of the arguments this morning. Those of you who know me might hazard a guess on which side of things I fall!