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Summary: Answers the charge against a loving, powerful God allowing sufferign by asking can even God make a square circle? (a world with true human life and no possibility of pain) and then gives the answer to death that Hope for heaven offers.

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TSUNAMI sermon, December 30th 2004 • Chris Rowney

These messages are also available as audio podcasts at www.tcfnet.org.au/podcasts

Two days before Christmas I got a call from a friend during which they passed on some news about a couple we both knew from a church we used to attend in Canberra.

The husband in this couple was someone we had come to know and love and who felt a call to go to the NT and translate the Bible for Aboriginal languages. After he had been there a number of years he married another of the translation workers in the region.

We were very happy for them, they had married somewhat later and were both lovely people. They had two sons…

The news was that a few days earlier on a break in Alice Springs, the wife had woken and was unable to speak, they went for tests and were told she had previously undiscovered tumours, basically inoperable. They said they could operate and perhaps give her two months to live, or leave her and give her maybe only days.

I was sad and somewhat stunned.. and thought about the questions of why God allows such things, of how we still feel so keenly the sorrow and sting of death. As of this morning I don’t know any more news of that couple…

Then on Boxing Day we all became aware of personal tragedy and pain repeated on a vast scale, in numbers that continue to grow with each news report.

Every one of those now 125,000 is a you, or an I…

Do we simply despair and see no reason to life or death, or do we through our faith have something more?

WHAT DO WE FEEL? WHAT DO WE ASK? WHAT DO WE LEARN?

WHAT DO WE DO?

What do we ask?

Two different papers on Thursday this last week had editorials relating ‘God’ to these events.

In the SMH Edward Spence, a Philosopher states that “Waves of destruction wash away belief in God’s benevolence”

And in The Age Kenneth Nguyen, a staff writer for the paper asks “Is God to Blame for This?”

Why has God done this?

Or if you don’t want to make God sound quite so active as the CAUSE.

Why has God allowed this.. or even..

Where is God in this?

Perhaps you have asked yourself these things, or been asked them this past week..

In the SMH Edward Spence poses what he sees as ‘the problem’ like this.

“Traditionally, the … Christian God, considered the most supreme and perfect being in the

universe, has been ascribed the following necessary attributes: omniscience (all-knowing),

omnipresence (present everywhere at all times and at once), omnipotence (almighty and powerful) and benevolence (all good and caring).

How, then, did a God as powerful and benevolent as this allow such a thing to happen? If he is benevolent then he cannot also be omnipotent, for a God who has both these attributes would have wanted to, cared to…. and been able to …prevent such a catastrophe.”

In a different world, people like him would say, a loving caring and powerful God would not directly cause, or even allow other causes to bring about such pain and suffering.

What is the answer.. is there an answer?

If there is one, then I think that the answer to that is simply this..

There is no different world.. and perhaps there cannot be…

So am I saying that God COULD NOT,do anything about this earthquake? And the pain it has brought.

Well you know.. God HAS DONE SOMETHING ABOUT THAT PAIN!.. but I’ll come to that a little later..

Some people are able to face events like this by saying we just don’t understand and God allowed it because somehow something good will come of it, and he sees the big picture, we do not… to say GOD IS IN CONTROL.. so it must be all right..

I am not entirely comfortable with such an answer..

Even God cannot make a square circle. For it would no longer be a circle, but a square.

Perhaps it is true that God could also not make a world on which we could live, that did not include the possibility of volcanos, earthquakes, fires, droughts..

To live we need a world that rotates, that turns, a consequence of this is changing weather patters.. to live we need a world with a molten core and mantle, otherwise there would be no magnetism and if that was so there would be no atmosphere and we would not live.. but to have a molten core and mantle that is rotating generating magnetism the crust on the surface may shift and so earthquakes may occur. Just as God could not make a square circle, for it would then be a square, God also could not make a world on which we could live as real people, with the minds and wills that make us “us”.. that had no possibility of earthquake or flood.

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