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Austin Cline

Weekly Poll: How Would You Characterize the Belief that God Punishes Nations?

By October 20, 2011

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What do you think about the Christian belief that God punishes nations for the sins or misdeeds of some citizens? Nearly a third of Americans believe that God does this. The belief is especially popular among conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists. What does such a belief tell you about the believers and their religion? Feel free to elaborate in the comments.

The idea that God would punish entire nations for the sins of some is standard biblical fare and a part of orthodox Christian theology. Every time there is a disaster somewhere, preachers appear in the media to denounce the victims and proclaim that they aren't innocent. Instead, they are justly punished by God for the sins of neighbors.

October 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm
(1) I'm a Christian says:

I don’t necessarily believe that God Himself punishes a nation when it strays too far from His rules. God might instead removes His protection from it. God may sometimes cause misfortune, or sometimes, just not prevent what’s already coming.
Pain is weakness exiting the body.
Sorrow is weakness exiting the soul.
Stress is weakness exiting the mind.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Sometimes, hard times are a punishment, sometimes a test, sometimes a preparation.
When bad stuff happens, take it and use it to become stronger, then, get your act together.
If things are always coming your way, you’re about to get run over.

October 21, 2011 at 5:29 am
(2) Austin Cline says:

I don’t necessarily believe that God Himself punishes a nation when it strays too far from His rules. God might instead removes His protection from it.

What’s the difference, when anything we might be “protected” from is ultimately under this god’s control as well.

God may sometimes cause misfortune, or sometimes, just not prevent what’s already coming.

And “what’s coming” is under this god’s control, so there’s no real difference.

If things are always coming your way, you’re about to get run over.

And the blame lies with whoever or whatever is in control of what’s coming.

October 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm
(3) Larry says:

First, how does one determine when God is punishing a nation? This is a guess at best, does the nation as a whole deserve punishment? I think one has to understand first that God is a God of grace, in the Old Testament He punished because His nation Israel had violated His covenant, in addition Israel had received warnings of coming judgments. Secondly, would one classify natural disasters as an act of God, perhaps, but again it is mere guess work. One fact is certain, God will eventually judge every person and nation and then justice will be dealt out by an all knowing and almighty God.

October 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm
(4) Tim Lister says:

So you’re saying that there are things God can’t control? Is that what you mean by “guesswork”? As far as the justice God is planning to met out, doesn’t God already know what everyone has done, is doing, and will do for the rest of their lives? Why the need to judge? I’m almost certain that you can’t answer those questions rationally because there’s no way to rectify the concept of free will with God’s supposed omnipotence & omnipresence because it t would mean he’s the biggest psychopath anyone could possibly imagine instead of the loving creator most Christians make him out to be.

The Westboro Baptist Church has a much more accurate analysis of the Christian God than mainstream Christianity. As vile and disgusting as they are in their hateful actions they do have an honest and consistent interpretation of the Bible and live their lives according to its true principles. Most Christians in the last millennium shared their views and caused quite a lot of suffering as a result. Of course a lot has changed in the last couple of centuries and there are good things in modern Christianity, but those new more liberal concepts exist despite true Christian principles not because of them.

At best Christianity is useless. At worst it has the latent potential to drag us back to the Dark Ages just like every other theistic religion. It’s happened before and it could happen again.

November 2, 2011 at 10:01 am
(5) Seriadh says:

Seems to me like God’s pretty selective about what parts of a nation He punishes. I don’t see the elite of any sphere (social, military, governmental, business) catching much, if any, of this punishment your god doles out. Seems to me like the average to lower classes are the ones that are catching your god’s wrath. You know, the ones that meekly suck up the platitudes and empty promises of their governments as well as their clergy (in most cases). In either case, the ones promising grace, salvation, justice…

Your delusion strikes me as a real selective prick.

October 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm
(6) Borsia says:

So this god of their’s, the same god who says that he has a personal relationship with all of his followers, punishes them for the actions of others, thousands of miles removed, whom they have no control or influence over?
Well that makes perfect sense. And he punishes those who have the least say in how a nation behaves, the poor, on a hugely disproportionate scale. Well; again that makes perfect sense.
So it also makes perfect sense that he rewards the elite powerful who actually make the decisions that dictate the evil things done by the nation with power and wealth. We all know what a bummer it is to have power and wealth.
Yes It all makes sense… Go God, Go God, Yeahhhh God!

Humm maybe I could sell my oceanfront property in Baghdad in churches? I mean if they will buy this they really will buy anything.

October 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm
(7) OZAtheist says:

Very well put Borsia.

Yes it all makes perfect sense to the Christians. There minds are so muddled, because of the mental gyrations they must perform to believe all the conflicting, contradictory, and confusing nonsense in the Bible. Believing their wonderful and loving god is punishing a lot of innocent people, because of the actions of others, is perfectly understandable to them.

Christians come in many shapes and sizes as illustrated by the 40,000 or so different denominations of Christianity that exist today. They find many things to disagree about but there is one item of faith that they all believe – God made man imperfect and then sent the boy down to be punished for that imperfection, so that man (well a few), could be forgiven – I think that about sums it up.

If you can believe the above then your mind is sufficiently softened up so that belief in all manner of other rediculous stuff is a snap.

October 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

People who believe God punishes nations for sins don’t pay very close attention. Obviously God loathes Southern Baptists. Witness his many floods and hurricanes visited upon them. Still, they continue to practice that faith. And let’s not even get into heterosexual anal sex, which obviously is the cause of
enormous snow storms in New York and probably new Jersey.

October 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm
(9) Mario Saenz says:

I should not explain it better than Robert Wright’s book on ” The evolution of god”.
Just one absurdity of many from the bible…Mario

October 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm
(10) fahmida Riaz says:

I was extremely depressed today. Surfing the net,I came upon these comments and they made me laugh so much! you guys are a God-sent to me.ha ha ha!
O but many Muslims believe God punishes people through earthquakes and floods. The Chief Minister of Panjab said that. No joking !(Panjab is a province of Pakistan)p Religiouseople here also believe that God is on their side only and hates Hindus, Jews Christians and the rest.
Well, thank you all…

October 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm
(11) Tim Lister says:

Yep, Islam is just as crazy as Christianity. All of the theistic religions are cuckoo in their own special ways.

October 31, 2011 at 12:44 am
(12) Michael Rudas says:

Why is suffering necessary, anyway? If God really is omnipotent and all-good, the same lessons could be imparted without the need for misery and destruction. Just one of the many problems with theodicy and God-belief in general.

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