UKIP and Weather


The UK Independence Party, or UKIP for short, have today suspended a Councillor, David Silvester, because he has suggested that the recent floods are a result of the country abandoning the Gospel (see story here). Specifically he cites gay marriage legislation as a cause for the recent spate of bad weather which has beset the country. He is quoted as saying:
"The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war."
His position has been met with howls of derision and no small amount of gaffawing. The BBC can barely conceal their derision and are suggesting the Councillor's remarks are evidence that David Cameron's dismissal of UKIP as a "party of fruitcakes" was accurate after all. Today on BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine could not conceal his contempt for David Silvester's comments and seemed surprised that some people phoned in to his show to support Silvester's position.

Initially, it seemed that Silvester had said that the floods were a result of the flooding. This seemed a bit far fetched to me as well. But look at what he actually said. He said that a nation that abandons God will find itself abandoned.

It hit me that this is exactly what the Bible does teach. The Old Testament is a long story about the Jewish people and their covenantal relationship with God. Through many trials and tribulations, the story is basically that when the people are true to the covenant, everything goes well. When they grow over-confident in their own power, when everything is going well and they forget about God, then disaster inevitably strikes. The message is plain; keep your faith in God and honour His covenant, or don't moan when bad stuff happens.

More shocking then than David Silvester's comments to me, are Christian people like Jeremy Vine, and the Rev Colin Coward, from Anglican group Changing Attitude, who said:
"I don't know where David worships, but clearly it's in a sect, a church which is not mainstream in its Christian practice and teaching. It's just prejudice that he is justifying on the grounds of his particular brand of Christianity."
I don't know that David Silvester's comments were politically wise, and I'm wouldn't suggest anything as specific as that recent flooding has been caused by gay marriage legislation, but haven't we had enough of bland politics and people who hide what they truly think in order to gain our vote?
Watch the (pretty poor) interview here and see what you make of him. I have to say that I admire his sand, and have to say he is being true to his beliefs, which is more than a lot of people are today.

I'm sticking up for him, for freedom of religious thought, and in honour of the fact that at least he has some idea what Scripture is about. I think our country is in moral decline and I think it is being damaged by moving away from a morality informed by Gospel values. I think the attempted normalisation of homosexuality in our society through gay adoption and "marriage" is a part of that process. David Silvester is calling for us to return to a position of humility before God?

When the media reports something like this, sometimes I have to wonder if we Christians are too quick to jump on the band wagon of condemnation. Shouldn't we be backing the Bible?

I mean, I think it is easy to join in everyone laughing at him. Much harder to see that there is some value to what he is saying. I always admire Baptists for their courage in this regard.


Comments

  1. Doesn't the bible as a whole teach us the opposite messag? That despite the infidelity of Israel and Judah that the almighty was always faithful and never abandoned them. Yes there were consequences to the actions but even then the punishment was an act of love and part of God's plan.

    And doesn't the book of Job tell us that bad things happen to good people (and presumably good nations too).

    It also seems odd to me that Almighty God would wait for SSM to be legalised before exacting punishment rather than reacting to the 1967 Abortion Act which was surely worse.

    Finally doesn't Our Lord warn against this sort of thinking when refering to the Tower of Siloam (Luke 13:1-5)?

    By all means stick up for him and his right to Freedom of Religion but surely you don't think his biblical analysis is correct.

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    1. Would I be correct to recognise Ratzinger's theology of the vineyard from Jesus of Nazareth in your first comment here? I would suggest that is the theology of the New Covenant; through the Incarnation, Jesus has bound God to man. Following Ratzinger, I would assert that the constant warnings about the destruction of the vineyard are mitigated by Jesus' Incarnation precisely because the Jews could not stick to the covenant. The Torah was a tool to teach them that they could not manage without God. It is a matter of history that the northern kingdom was lost, that Jerusalem was sacked and the Ark of the Covenant carried off, that the Jews were exiled and, ultimately, the Temple was destroyed and the cult of sacrifice abrogated.
      Jesus teaches us that we need God in our hearts, just paying lip service to Him is not enough. The quintessential point is about sin. Sin separates us from God and puts a distance between us and Him removing us from His beneficence. We see this in our own individual lives.
      I am not suggesting that SSM legislation has indeed caused flooding, but I don't know that that is the point Silvester is making. I think he is saying that we are moving further away from God's moral plan for us and unless we stop, there will be increasingly dire consequences for us all.
      The Lucan passage is great: Hahn explains that God permits only grievous sinners to suffer violent deaths, to reject or even neglect Christ's call for repentance is to gamble with disaster. This seems to agree with my hypothesis here rather than reject it. In Jesus' time this atrocity may have raised nationalistic questions as well. Did Jesus think Rome was right? Was this a judgment for sin? So Jesus asks, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?" Such a question would be natural to a Jewish mind. Often in the Old Testament a tragic event is seen as the product of sin—this was the interpretation of Job's friends.
      But before the philosopher-theologians in the crowd can get lost in the various possibilities raised by the question, Jesus personalises it. "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." There is a more fundamental issue than "them" and "their sin." Mortality is evidence of the presence of sin in our world (Gen 3). More important than the timing or cause of death is this: only repentance can change death from a tragic end into a bridge to a new kind of life (Lk 3:8; 6:24-26; 10:13; 12:58-59; 15:7). The event shows life's fragility. Disaster looms for the unresponsive.
      Now some see Jesus' remarks as national in character, in light of verses 6-9; in other words, Jesus is calling for national repentance. But this seems unlikely, for it requires a very indirect allusion to corporate needs. It is better to see the individual call in verses 1-5 and the national one in verses 6-9. The individual reading has continuity with the debtor imagery of 12:58-59, the general call to repentance through the gospel and the Jewish view that repentance is a part of the eschaton (1 Enoch 98:3, 16; 99:9; 103).
      Jesus cites a second event to make the same point. Rather than a political tragedy, this is a natural catastrophe, something akin to a hurricane or tornado: a tower at Siloam collapsed and eighteen died. Siloam was the location of a water reservoir for Jerusalem on the south and east walls of the city (Josephus Antiquities 18.3.2 60; Jewish Wars 2.9.4 175). Here was an event apparently beyond anyone's control. Perhaps the persons who died were worse sinners, or, as the Greek text puts it, "worse debtors" (NIV more guilty). Maybe natural disasters are different. (cont...)

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    2. (cont...)
      Jesus' interpretation is exactly as before. Without repentance all die similarly. What is imperative is that each person repent.
      The passage is significant because Jesus constantly avoids letting the question get off-track; he keeps people considering their own sinful state.
      Jesus is again stressing that the real fact of life we must face is mortality, not the timing of death. More important than determining death's cause or timing is dealing with the fact of death and subsequent judgment. This quickly levels the playing field and calls on each person to consider where God stands in the equation—or better, where one stands before Him.
      Now a parable expands Jesus' point by raising a national dimension. The fig tree is a common scriptural image. Israel is often compared to some botanical plant, especially a vine; vines were plentiful, and their destruction was a sign of judgment (1 Kings 4:25; Ps 80:9-18; Is 5:1-7; Jer 5:17; Hos 2:12; Mic 7:1). The problem is what to do with a tree that uses up scarce nutrients but yields no fruit. Jesus' words are a clear rebuke to Israel. If the nation is at risk of judgment, then so are its individuals. The owner desires to chop the tree down because it has had the necessary time to bear fruit and has failed to do so. The vineyard keeper asks for one more year to fertilize—just a little more time. Perhaps extra care, a little loosening of the soil and fresh nutrients will do the trick. If after a year the tree still hasn't produced fruit, then . . . The conclusion is obvious: judgment draws near unless there is a change. Unless repentance comes to the nation, the national tree will be judged. But God's willingness to hold off shows his patience (2 Pet 3:9).
      Jesus tells both individuals and the nation that the clock is ticking. God is watching over his vineyard. If his plant does not bear fruit, he can find other ways to get fruit. The commentary on this passage is Romans 11, where Paul speaks of grafting in new branches. In this passage it is clear that God did not cut away the vine; instead he did radical botanical surgery on it. Romans 11 also makes it clear that God is not yet done with that surgery. One day Israelite branches will be grafted in again (Rom 11:26).

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  2. There are surely far worse things in store for our country on account of the absurd folly of SSM than a bit of slightly worse weather than usual.

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    1. Of course, but what I am asking here is whether the story is being spun to make it look like biblical literalism gone mad, or whether Silvester is actually making a very valid point about sin and morality which separates us in a very real way from God's protection and makes life harder for us all.

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  3. And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever. 1 Chron 28:9

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    1. In the New York Times Bestseller " Heaven is for real " the true story of Colton Burpo a little boy who whilst undergoing an emergency appendectomy has a remarkable visit to heaven. The testimony of the book is that Jesus, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, angels, saints in heaven and even Satan - are all real. The point I wish to make here is that yes God is real - and yes God is love. But that love is about the cross & the resurrection. I also believe that God can at various times actually with draw Himself from us - both personally & nationally. At a time when church attendance is at an all time low and even Christian thinking politicians are embarrassed to even discuss God - why would God then turn around and bless us. We only need to look at some of the social statistics of this country regarding things like teenage suicides & pregnancies etc.

      The last sentence of the above verse is " If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever. " That's a warning for us all - both personally & nationally.

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