Saturday, 1 March 2014

Everybody was killed - but why the children?


Genesis 19: 24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. 


Nathaniel Givens talks about a discussion of why presumably innocent children died when the city of Sodom was destroyed -

The assumption behind such discussions is that God could have destroyed the city while saving the children, if He had wanted to - but He chose not to.

Thus (it is being assumed) God chose to kill the children of Sodom when He did not need to.

And this was what the discussants were apparently trying either to justify or to critique - either to explain why God needed to kill the children, or else saying that God should not have killed the children.


However, I see a lot of scriptural evidence against the apparent background assumption that God can do anything He wants, so that things just become the way He wants. Like waving a magic wand and then - whoosh! everything is the way it should be...

In contrast, to me it looks as if - throughout the Bible - God usually accomplishes things in imperfect and roundabout ways, much as things are done in our mortal life. 


For example, just before the above passage from Genesis, two angels arrive to rescue Lot and his family, and they do so by a combination of good advice, persuasion and supernatural - but limited - power (making Lot's attackers blind so they couldn't find the door to where Lots family were hidden). It all sound very roundabout - not to say clunky and probabilistic.

Why not just wave that wand and in a trice Lot and Co. would instantly be somewhere safe?

The best example is, of course, the single greatest event of history:  the incarnation, life, teachings, joys and sufferings, atonement, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ - at a particular time and place of history; this is apparently an extraordinarily roundabout and seemingly contingent way of accomplishing the salvation of Man.


My point is that I find it conceivable that - given Sodom needed to be destroyed - the way it was destroyed was the best that could be managed. 

In any war, the same dilemma is found. If the war must be won, innocents will die. Even with perfect knowledge, even with steps taken to inflict the minimum of innocent death - there is necessarily a very heavy cost.

This kind of thing is a terrible tragedy - terrible for us, terrible for God. 

But - since neither we nor, apparently, God can 'wave a magic wand' and makes things just be the way we would want them to be - it seems unavoidable.