I have been watching the uproar of the crazy respone of Pat Robertson to the Haiti disaster. I have been asked by several for my response for a pretty insensitive non-Christain like statement. I get a daily newsletter called God Issues from Dr. Jim Denison, President of The Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas, and pastor of the Park Cities Baptist Church. And I think he wrote a great and Biblical Response…..So I am passing it on to you…. Here is part three
Haiti and the devil (part three)
“Think of our new village here as the home of Jesus Christ, not the scene of a disaster. Life is not a disaster. Life is joy! You don’t have food? Nourish yourself with the Lord. You don’t have water? Drink in the Spirit.”
This was the message of Rev. Joseph Lejeune in Port-au-Prince, shouted over a loudspeaker to the grieving Haitians who gathered around him yesterday for worship. This morning’s New York Times tells the story of the vibrant evangelical community on the island, rallying their people in prayer and commitment to Christ. Caught in one of the worst natural disasters in human history, they are seeking ways to glorify God and spread his grace.
Why did God allow this tragedy? As we noted last week, it has been alleged by Pat Robertson and others that the slaves who rebelled against the French in 1791 made a pact with the devil–they would worship the spirits of the island for 200 years if he would free them from their oppressors. The nation has suffered ever since from crippling poverty and natural disasters. What are the facts?
Examine the allegedly Satanic prayer made by Boukman at the Bois Caiman Ceremony:
“The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that speaks in all our hearts.”
White Europeans saw Boukman’s rejection of “the white man’s god” as a rejection of the God of the Bible. When he prayed to a different god, they alleged that he prayed to the devil. Here apparently originated the claim that their slaves made a pact with Satan. In fighting their slaves’ rebellion, such an interpretation obviously served their cause.
But Boukman never prayed specifically to the devil, or pledged himself and his followers to spirits for 200 years. And there is good reason to doubt whether Boukman even prayed the “prayer” attributed to him. His chant is considered inauthentic by some historians; there is no eyewitness account of it.
So what do we know for sure? There was a ceremony on August 14, 1791 which began the rebellion in Haiti. It probably involved the ritual slaughter of a pig and used voodoo traditions. Nothing more can be known with certainty.
What about voodoo on the island? A Christian should have definite concern here. Ninian Smart, an expert on world religions, describes Haitian voodoo as an amalgamation of Roman Catholicism and African religion. The Christian God presides over the earth, sending his angels, the spirits, to us. These spirits, drawn from African tradition, are invited to possess the worshiper. Rituals range from lighting candles to sacrificing animals (including pigs, symbolic of freedom and strength).
Missionaries in Haiti report that voodoo remains a real obstacle to biblical faith. Several readers with personal knowledge of Haitian culture have responded to my essays last week with descriptions of a very dark spiritual climate among some on the island. But if we blame the January 12 earthquake on voodoo, we must blame the January 13 earthquakes in Indonesia and the Philippines on Islam and Christianity, respectively.
Is the tragedy on Haiti an expression of divine judgment and wrath? Why did God allow this disaster? Let’s continue tomorrow.