Reader questions motive of response to tsunami disaster
14 January 2005
A reader, M.W. from the USA, attacked our motives in the first response to the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami disaster, and Dr Jonathan Sarfati, CMI–Australia responds. This is followed by a brief positive response by Kirk Reynolds, USA, then an addendum by B.S. of Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia, that positively comments on Dr Sarfati’s answer in the main section.
I just came across your site, and I am outraged that in the wake of the horrible disaster in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, etc., that the best you can do is to use this event to make capitol for your own agenda [referring only to the article Waves of Sadness: Tsunami terror raises age-old questions; the article ‘Lost’ without Genesis: Coping with the ‘Death Wave’ was written after M.W.’s letter].
No, it’s not about our agenda, but about encouraging people that there really is a God of love in control of the world, in the face of massive discouragement in the face of such a tragedy. Hence the title of the article (and the later one).
Bible proves Tsunami/Tsunami proves Bible.
You might wish to re-read our article, because we said nothing of the sort. Rather, we said that the Bible provides a big picture explanation of why there can be disasters in a world originally created by a God of love—because we live in a world justly cursed because of Adam’s sin.
Also, if you had followed our feedback rules and performed even a cursory search of our site before writing, you would know that we do not say that tsunami/science/archaeology ‘proves’ the Bible. This is because a proof logically moves from an authoritative premise to support a less authoritative conclusion; so this would make tsunami/science/archaeology the authority over God’s Word, which is folly. See also Creation: ‘where’s the proof?’
Just what kind of Christians are you?
The kind that believes what Christ actually said—the only (consistent) kind possible! Therefore we believe Jesus when He said ‘Scripture cannot be broken’ (John 10:35—see Jesus Christ on the infallibility of Scripture), that God made a literal Adam and Eve ‘from the beginning of creation’ not millions of years after a ‘big bang’ (Mark 10:5–9 citing Genesis 1:27 and 2:24), and a literal Flood and Ark (Luke 17:26–27). Why, what did you mean by ‘Christian’? Does it have any resemblance to Christ’s actual recorded teachings?
It seems to me that Jesus would want us to go to the aid of the victims rather than preaching dogma over them.
Not everything is as it seems. Instead of forming a fact-free opinion about what Jesus would want, it’s best to go to the historical record of what He actually said and did—the New Testament. Jesus’s teachings were never either-or (a common liberal fallacy) but both preach and help the needy. E.g., His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20):
‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’
However, if the only record of Christ, the New Testament, can’t be trusted, and Jesus was mistaken on the above things, why should we care what Jesus wants anyway? Indeed, Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:12): ‘I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?’ If Jesus was wrong about earthly things (such as the authority of the Old Testament, recent creation and a global Flood), why should we believe what He says about heavenly things (such as God’s commands to help people)? Note that Jesus’ second greatest command, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39) is a direct quote of the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18), and the latter passage ends ‘I am the Lord.’ So it is simply not possible to separate the Bible’s morality (social and personal) from the Bible’s theology, despite the gross mistake of the ‘social gospel’ of liberal theology.
Therefore, defending the Bible has a strong indirect effect in increasing charitable donations and work. Indeed, World Vision has found that conservative Christians (that is, those that actually believe the Bible) are the strongest donors. Indeed, we explained these principles long ago in reply to a similarly emotive and uninformed statement, ‘You should be feeding the hungry’.
What percentage of your bookstore sales, etc. are actually going to HELP these people?
This would be illegal—our constitution explicitly states what CMI is allowed to do with the money that comes in, much from donors. However, many of the staff have personally donated to the tragedy, and so have many of our supporters. In fact, my local newspaper ran an article about one lady who has long been a charitable donor since she was a girl, without mentioning that she is also a strong CMI supporter. She said a number of instructive things about the need for accountability of donors’ funds, so they are not swallowed up by bureaucrats (such as UN officials flocking to 5-star hotels or the UN Population Fund sending condoms to survivors) and overheads.
Indeed, the personal generosity encouraged by Christianity also provides donors with incentives to make sure the funds are used efficiently. By contrast, many government ‘foreign aid’ programs mean that poor people in rich countries are taxed to give to rich élites in poor countries—to spend on arms and palaces rather than the people themselves. Also, the noted economist Thomas Sowell argued that foreign ‘aid’ should be called ‘foreign hindrance’. [Update 6 January 2007: It turns out that only a small fraction of aid promised by governments has actually been delivered anyway — see A Tsunami of a Problem (off-site).]
For myself, I rejected one veteran international charity, founded on overt Christian principles and using a Christian symbol, because they have turned back on their Christian roots and thus the only rationale for charity by banning any reference to Christ on greeting cards and any Christmas decorations over Christmas. Instead, I found another Christian charity that is still overtly Christian but helps people of all faiths, and is accountable and efficient. After this, CMI has overtly promoted donations via Gospel Literature Services (GLS) which is involved in the tsunami relief effort in cooperation with mission agencies ABWE and BMM.
Why isn’t your headline ‘Please help us to help’ perhaps with a picture of a hungry child in one of the devastated areas? In your fanaticism over religion you have forgotten the teachings of the Man who inspired it.
Au contraire, as we pointed out, it is precisely because of the teachings of this Man that many biblical Christians show great personal generosity. Of course, this is the only kind of true generosity there is, as opposed to leftist politicians who are ‘generous’ with other people’s money and so claim to be compassionate. You should consider the old saying: give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, you feed him for life. By analogy, we can give aid ourselves and have a limited effect; but if we help defend the Christian worldview (as commanded in 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 3 and 2 Corinthians 10:4–5), presenting the Gospel to people, it can result in long-term aid from a large number of people (and once again, it’s both/and not either/or). But to you, defending this worldview that has had the most beneficial charitable effects throughout history is what you call ‘fanaticism’.
However, if evolution were true, as per the indoctrination in the media and state education systems, and as you apparently believe, why should we help our competitors? After all, evolution is supposed to proceed by survival of the fittest, which really means death of the unfit. The victims were evidently unfit, so what’s the big deal, from an evolutionary perspective?
And the evolutionary perspective claims that humans are just another life-form—one critic claimed:
‘What an arrogant assumption to think that humans are anymore important than a colony of bacteria.’
So how can we justify sending antibiotics to the tsunami survivors that might wipe out billions of innocent bacteria?
Also, so many evolutionists carry their anti-life philosophy even further and also push the discredited overpopulation bandwagon. So they should logically be glad of the population being thinned out. This is why some Greenie ecofascists lobbied to ban DDT—it destroyed malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes which thus allowed millions of people to live instead of being ‘culled’ by the disease. In undermining such an evil philosophy, our ministry is helping the suffering indirectly but most significantly.
Nor has Islam (aka ‘The Religion of Peace’) been much use—although many victims are Muslims, the four big oil states, which collect $15 billion in oil revenues every month, agreed to spend only $70 million to assist their co-religionists. And in Aceh, Indonesia, Islamofascist extremists have even threatened to attack Christian aid workers—those trying to help their Muslim brothers!
To summarize, Christian charity is firmly based on who Christ is, and can never be separated. And the Bible is the only record of who He is and what He commands. It follows that there is no hope for Christian charity unless people accept the Bible as an accurate record. CMI aims to encourage people to do just that.
Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.
My comment has to do with yesterday’s 9.0 earthquake and corresponding tsunami.
First of all, my prayers go out to everyone who has been affected, as well as all of the aid workers who are helping. But second, I’ve been reading the news accounts of how rapidly the waters rose and how powerful the waves were. The experts have been discussing plate tectonics, and the movement of the water. It seems clear to me that something of this magnitude is but a small reminder of how massive and earth changing Noah’s flood really was. How could one be so skeptical about Noah’s flood after witnessing this latest catastrophe.
My prayer is that through this event many people will have their eyes opened to the truth of God’s Word.
May God bless your ministry,
I think Jonathan’s reply to the outraged tsunami writer was quite to the point. I am disgusted with many so-called christians and others who will appear to be upset about the truth of Carl Wieland article, that truly stated the facts. We never hear these people write in about how the world and the church stood by and watched 10,000 Christians be murdered in the Maluku islands by Indonesian Muslims or the thousands murdered in East Timor by their military, it seems these people have their own agenda and don’t [care] about anyone else to speak up for their needs. Keep up the good work at [your ministry]; you are doing a God Job.