Saturday, April 18, 2020

Rationalization Of Death

This can be complicated.. Erick Erickson, blogger, columnist, Red State founder, and former (Macon, Georgia) city councilman also is an evangelical/believing/ reformed Christian Protestant who at the outset of Holy Week this month wrote

In the Book of Amos, God declared that “I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me.” Amos 4:10 (ESV). That God is the same God who, through his providence, sent the second person of the trinity to his death in Jerusalem this week 1,987 years ago.

Some will say that makes God malevolent. But those who live by faith must trust that God is on his throne. He has plan for you, for me, and for human history. We may not know what role this pandemic plays in that plan. We may not know what role we play in that plan. But we can be assured all of this will glorify him and will work for the good of those called according to his purposes. 

It was not only the people of Israel who would suffer the mighty hand of divine justice. In Isaiah 37:36 we read of the once-occupants of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea "And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies." That was not a pretty picture.

Erickson concluded that God "sits on his throne in control of all things. So do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. God's got this and he's got you, too." Nonetheless, he recognizes that things can sometimes go awry- or seem to:

When Erickson went there again later that day

That couldn't last. And it didn't, because

One of the possible explanations for this apparent flip-flop is that awkward ideological flexibility is in character.  Erickson was for candidate Trump, then anti-candidate Trump, and then reversed himself again to support the President.

That would, admittedly, be consistent with the Law of Parsimony. However, that may not have been the motive.

The first two tweets are merely observational and/or informative. It is nearly inarguable that a coronavirus is not similar to a car wreck and therefore if the nation had not taken it seriously, the number of dead probably would have reached the six figures already. Erickson then gave his opinion, that the best course is now to open the country for business.

This may not be as much a contradiction as it seems. Erickson believes that relaxing restrictions nationwide will likely lead to significantly more deaths but is advisable nonetheless. It is advisable because the Almighty "sits on his throne in control of all things. So do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. God’s got this and he’s got you too."

Nonetheless, "control" is not meant in the generic sense as "the power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events." It is interpreted  as God determining the course of all events, however clearly that denies God's autonomy. Therefore, if hundreds of thousands, rather than tens of thousands, are killed by SARS-CoV-2, that is as God planned it. That does not, and should not, conflict with praying to God to intervene mercifully with health professionals and others who can reduce the death and destruction from a plague and its impact on everyone whose life it affects.

Even if Erick Erickson does not hold to this view- and there is a good chance he does- it is highly likely that in an Administration which includes the likes of Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, this perspective is not unknown. So among the many questions asked of President Donald Trump, who touts the support of the vast majority of white evangelicals, should be one probing whether he believes that tens of thousands of American deaths may be God's will. However Trump responds probably would be revealing of at least something.

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