22 April 2020, The Tablet

God does not send plagues to teach us things, though we can learn from them

God does not send plagues to teach us things, though we can learn from them

Some Christians seem to have a very limited image of the Holy Trinity: nasty God the Father in heaven; sweet, lovely Jesus … and the bird! While the creeds teach that there is one God in three persons, they act as one in creating, saving and inspiring. In John’s Gospel Jesus says he does nothing on his own (5:30); “the Father and I are one” (10:30); and “to have seen me is to have seen the Father” (14:9). Christians believe that Jesus came to fulfil the Old Testament; they believe, too, that everything in the Old Testament should be interpreted through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

This matters when we come to understand the meaning of plagues and other natural disasters. For the peoples of the ancient world, if there was a flood, plague or pestilence then God was saying something through it. But in the Gospels Jesus never sends a plague, a natural disaster or turns anyone into a pillar of salt. If Jesus isn’t into murderous retribution, nor, if we take him at his repeated word, is God the Father. Jesus is the incarnate correction to false views of how God works in the world.

So, even though Covid-19’s origins are yet to be finally established, they have a natural explanation, and the way the virus has spread has been in measure the result of poor human decisions. God has not sent the pandemic upon us.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login

User Comments (1)

Comment by: D Adams
Posted: 24/04/2020 00:36:17
Very good writing as always, Richard, thank you.