White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

Judgment, Fate, or Providence in Haiti?

In a world which is so connected news spreads fast. I got an e-mail notifying me of a 7.0 earthquake very near Port-au-Prince, Haiti just moments after the event occurred. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake is large regardless of where it occurs on the globe, but in the Caribbean I knew it could have devastating effects–this is not an area that is prepared for such seismic events. Quickly reports began pouring in about the utter devastation of the capital city and the hundreds of thousands of people that officials fear have died.

It is hard to imagine as I sit behind my desk on a beautiful, sunny Southern California winter day that 3,000 miles away there is such horror, despair, and loss of life. But because of that interconnectedness via the Internet, I can see the photos and read the stories coming out of Haiti. My heart truly goes out to those people.

Many of you may be aware that shortly after this earthquake Pat Robertson reported that he knew the reason behind this earthquake: the people of Haiti made a pact with the devil to overthrow the French, and this earthquake is God punishing and bringing upon his judgment upon those people. Interesting. I am truly puzzled where this “pact with the devil” was recorded and where those treaty documents are! I did a word search in the Bible for “Haiti” and didn’t come up with anything. If God hasn’t revealed anything in his revealed Word, then we should immediately be suspect of somebody claiming, extra and special revelation. Robertson is famous for telling the world the underlying cause for natural disasters and even terrorist attacks as God’s judgment for this and that particular sin and here he is doing it again. (Dr. Horton has also reacted to Robertson’s video)

On the other side of the spectrum are people who are struggling with what happened, but yet don’t have answers. This essay is from a reporter who has spent many years in Haiti who laments, “And this? This is too much. How can nature or God or the fates or the universe do this to a country that has borne far too much sadness?”

This may sound strange, but in many ways this is a much more Biblical way of dealing with this situation! Obviously I am not praising Ms. Steber for her inclusion of naturalistic notions of “fate” and “the Universe”, but she did address her question to God–the Creator of the universe. It is pretty apparent that she is not a Christian or even a theist per se, but yet there is something that is drawing her to question God why this event happened. This, friends, is a Biblical response, even for believers. Throughout the Psalms the psalmists are asking God “Why?” Why are the wicked prospering? Why does it seem that you are so far from me? Why, why, why?

It is interesting that in Luke 13 there is a reference to something hauntingly similar to the events in Haiti (but on a much smaller scale).

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV).

Imagine that highlighted sentence as being “Or those hundreds of thousands on whom their homes in Haiti fell and killed them: do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in the United States?” How would Pat Robertson respond to this question? “Yes, they were worse offenders because they made a pact with the devil.” But how did Christ, the second person of the Trinity respond? “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Did you catch that? Christ said, “NO” where Robertson says “Yes.” Christ then uses this tragic event to remind his hearers that everybody is an offender against God and we will all perish one day; therefore, now is the day of salvation; repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!

You who are reading this right now may die today from a car accident on your way home. You might die of a heart-attack or in an earthquake in the middle of the night. But the fact remains that God has all the events under his providential care and that nothing escapes his control. However, we are not in the position to begin interpreting that providence. We can ask God “Why?”, but we may never hear that answer. Our pastors need to remind hearers of this and call unbelievers to repentance and faith in Christ alone because we have all made a pact with the devil because of the fall of our representative head Adam in the Garden. Our comfort in facing tragedies comes not from our self-confidence that we are better people than others, but that we have had our own sins paid for on the cross by the final sacrifice of Christ. We don’t look to our own righteousness, but we look to Christ’s perfect righteousness which has been imputed to us freely.

An event of the magnitude which happened in Haiti is yet another reminder to us that we live in a fallen world, and that every single person needs to be reconciled to the Creator God because, until Christ comes again, we will all perish in some way. But in Christ we have a comfort in life and in death that the world does not have, but a Gospel comfort that they need to hear. The Heidelberg Catechism starts with this beautiful expression of this comfort in its first question and answer:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
but belong –;
body and soul,
in life and in death –;
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

That is our comfort and the comfort that the people of Haiti and every person in the world needs to hear.

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Pat Robertson Speaks

If it were not so public (and doubtless, soon to be more so, as the secular media picks up on it), the latest inanity from TV evangelist Pat Robertson might be easily dismissed. However, once again the prosperity gospel’s strange brew has poured salt instead of salve into the wounds of the suffering.

In the clip, Pat Robertson attributes Haiti’s tragic poverty to “a pact with the devil.” This is no mere metaphor: Robertson believes that a Faustian bargain was struck with Satan, in exchange for the devil’s assistance in gaining independence from France.  Just look at the evidence!  Haiti shares the island with the Dominican Republic, yet one is poor and the other is prosperous (indeed, blessed with “many resorts”!)

What does this communicate to the wider world, especially to unbelievers who along with Christians are pouring out their hearts and financial support to these neighbors in need?  A passage from Jeremiah 23 comes to mind:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes.  They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD…For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened…I did not send these prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied…Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘Thus says the LORD.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them.”

Michael Horton

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Been to a Fun-eral lately?

In the current issue of Modern Reformation Craig Parton wrote a special piece entitled “Funerals from Hell: Where Have all the Graveyards Gone?”. We don’t usually include our departments in the on-line version of the magazine, but for this exceptional article we have made an exception. It is a brilliant piece reminding the Evangelical world of what a funeral should be. Not a celebration of life for there is nothing “fun” about even the death of a believer. These are times of stark reminders of the enemy death, but an enemy that Christ defeated on the cross.

Since Mr. Parton had recently been through a couple of fun-erals and also buried his mother, he gives five very helpful points of advice to steer clear of a “Gnostic Vaudeville Show” when planning a funeral (either yours or somebody else’s). Please take the few moments to read this article, and you will be glad that you did.

“Funerals from Hell: Where Have all the Graveyards gone?”
By Craig A. Parton

Not to take away from Mr. Parton’s article, but Rev. Mike Brown wrote a great piece about this subject on the Pilgrim People blog: The Enemy Death.

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Horton Turns the Tables

Recently Mike Horton was interviewed by his colleague R. Scott Clark on Westminster Seminary California’s podcast Office Hours. Today, Mike interviews Scott about his book Recovering the Reformed Confession, church history, and the federal vision controversy in Reformed churches.

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Work at the Inn!

White Horse Inn is looking for an assistant producer to join our team.  This part-time job is comprised mostly of editing the recording sessions into the various broadcasts, podcasts, and CD versions of the show that are made available every week to our listeners around the world.

If you’re passionate for Reformation Theology, can meet strict deadlines, and have strong audio editing ability, please send your resume to applyjob2010jan@whitehorseinn.org by January 15, 2010.

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Brit Hume on Buddhism, Forgiveness & Redemption

On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume discussed Tiger Woods’ recent difficulties, along with a brief mention of the golfer’s Buddhist faith.  But Hume went on to say, “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be…turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

http://tinyurl.com/ycq5hl8

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Mockingbird’s Favorite Videos

One of our favorite blogs, mockingbirdnyc, has a series of posts on their favorite songs, movies, and television shows of 2009. Jeff Hual, a contributor to the blog, also posted his top seven videos of the year. Here are a few teasers. You’ll want to visit the blog to see the whole thing.

Number 7: Rick Warren on the “Gospel of Doing”…

Pastor Warren explaining to his congregation all of the things they have to “do” if they want to get to heaven.

Number 6: Bill Hybels on “Holy Motivation”…

Pastor Hybels explains how getting angry and then using that anger to fuel a fervor for social justice issues is a biblical concept (who knew!).

Number 5: Megachurch Sermon Trailers–In Search of Relevance…

Ah…smell the moralistic therapeutic deism. Obviously, if getting into heaven is about all this doing that we have to do (as Pastors Warren and Hybels have asserted), then the preacher had better get busy with giving us some practical things to be doing.

Number 2: You Were Born For This? (From the Author of “The Prayer of Jabez”)…

Of course, if the Prayer of Jabez had actually worked for everyone, we wouldn’t need a follow-up book about how to “live a life of predictable miracles”:

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Divine Financial Advice

Do you know the difference between causation and correlation? It is sometimes difficult to tell the two concepts apart. It’s sort of chicken and the egg or chaos-theory butterfly stuff.  I’m wondering about all of this again after the Christmas Eve story on MSNBC: Is the Bible a Good Investment Tool?

Causation would say, yes, if you follow the principles laid down in the Bible you will be successful (in finance, parenting, politics, Super Mario Brothers, whatever).  Correlation says, no, while it shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible speaks truth to financial power, its effectiveness is limited by its purpose and the Bible’s purpose isn’t to set our financial house in order.

There’s no problem with asking how my new life in Christ should affect the way I make financial decisions, of course. But there is a significant problem with marketing the Bible as as part of an investor tool-kit.  The one approach remembers that redemption and new creation are central to the Bible’s themes and God’s purposes. The other approach reduces the Bible to the kind of advice many of us get in our inboxes everyday from other financial gurus. What happens if “taking the Bible literally” when it comes to finances doesn’t pay off? It’s easy to unsubscribe The Motley Fool. It’s a little harder to return to Scripture as a source of truth and life after you’ve weighed it and found it wanting for your bank account.

Of course, we wouldn’t have this problem if we didn’t ask the Bible to speak to issues it doesn’t really care about. The irony is that by making the Bible say more than it does, we rob it of its real authority over our lives.

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You’ve GOT to Hear These!

Have you given your $100 end of the year gift to White Horse Inn? If not, you haven’t yet heard the great bloopers and hilarious out-takes from long forgotten episodes of WHI! We’ve posted short clips from a few of them below. You’ll have to get our brand-new 20th Anniversary CD to hear them all!

WHI Dad Rod Christmas Special Introduction

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Special Listener – Billy Graham

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Celebrity voice impersonated

Special Listener – President Clinton

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Celebrity voice impersonated

Out-take – “You have 25 minutes to go.”

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Out-take – “It’s like a barrel full of suds…”

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Out-take – “If we were talking about that…”

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Spoof Commercial – “Dad Rod Cruise”

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This is just the tip of the iceberg! We’ve also put the full-length (2 hour version) of the Robert Schuller interview, classic WHI episodes, and pdfs of related MR articles. There’s more than enough to keep you thinking, praying, and laughing through the New Year.

Give your $100 gift by December 31st and we’ll send you a copy of our 20th Anniversary CD. Thanks for standing with us; thanks for laughing with us!

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Todd Billings on the New Calvinism

Todd Billings, professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary, recently wrote an article explaining the New Calvinism for Christian Century.  Prof. Billing, featured in the March/April 2009 issue of Modern Reformation, argues that a significant danger to the theological recovery sought by the New Calvinists is the less than accurate and inadequate way of equating Reformed theology (with its ecclesiology, especially) with the so-called Five Points of Calvinism.

Different authors in different places (including this place) have made this argument and Prof. Billings provides another compelling voice for this important conversation.

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