Question: Mark Dinsmore went to great lengths [Mar 2011] to negate the possibility of God's intervention in happenings around the world, using adjectives such as "immature," "mystical," "false prophets," etc., toward those who would contemplate such a thing....To say dogmatically that God did not send the earthquake to Japan, Haiti, and elsewhere, or the Katrina event, is to be a false prophet himself....Is [he] saying that God is doing nothing such as chastenings, wake-up calls [etc.] in any way in men's lives to bless or to call them to repentance?
Response: We invite you to examine the March 2011 TBC Extra more carefully. You'll find that it does not mention earthquakes in Japan or Haiti, nor Hurricane Katrina; neither does the article state "dogmatically" that God does not intervene in such affairs. To say this is to misquote and misrepresent the author, who wrote, "As even the limited evidence we've presented suggests, this winter's extreme weather, animal deaths, and even earthquakes are not the beginnings of divine judgment...but rather these events appear to be the consequences of entropy, in conjunction with the wickedness of men" and Satan's power.
When responding to calamity and catastrophe, one must be very careful before automatically attributing such deadly, destructive force to "God's voice," or "God's hand." Can He individually, and collectively, gain our attention through such events? Yes, indeed--but to say that He causes them is an entirely different matter and is a key distinction between a false prophet, who "declares," and a Berean, who seeks to rightly divide the Word.
It isn't a sin to simply ask the question, "Why is there evil in the world?" It is wrong, however, to attribute such activity to the Lord. There is no question that the nations of the world are deserving of judgment. But if the Lord is indeed the One doing the "shaking," one should ask, "Why are the most wicked cities and nations of the world not being devastated first?"
You mention God's chastenings in men's lives, to either bless them or call them to repentance. It is true that the Lord chastens those whom He loves (Heb:12:6). This principle applies to God's children--those who have been made joint heirs through faith in Christ (Rom:8:17). Scripture tells us that it is not God's wrath but His kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom:2:4). Even in the case of wicked Sodom, the Lord was willing to spare that city if there had been as few as ten righteous individuals within its boundary.
With the professing church, it's important to note that in the New Testament we see God's judgment of unrepentant believers: "deliver[ing] such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh" (1 Cor:5:5). This may occur in a sudden, catastrophic manner, or perhaps in a slow but obvious deterioration of health. God simply allows Satan to do what comes naturally as the thief and destroyer and sworn enemy of God's people. This method of justice seems consistent with what we see in regard to peoples and nations today.
Of course, God is sovereign in all the affairs of men and His creation--and nothing occurs that doesn't first pass by his "desk" for approval. That God is able to use disastrous events to draw men, women, and children to Himself is also without question. And we should, indeed, pray that when calamity strikes, not only will men's hearts be turned toward God but that also believers are prepared to minister to those in need, both with the gospel and with material aid. After all, "God sent not his Son...to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (Jn:3:17).
There is no scriptural or physical evidence to suggest that our Creator is presently doing the "thundering" or "shaking" that results in catastrophic death and devastation. Instead of a biblical view of love, grace, and mercy, this paints the Lord as a spiteful, vengeful being, who indiscriminately hurls lightning and waves upon the continents. Such a picture is largely indistinguishable from that of a mythological or pagan perspective.
In the book of Job, the Lord gave Satan permission to destroy all of Job's material wealth and family, in part by using the forces of nature--including fire "from heaven" (Job:1:16) and "a great wind from the wilderness" (1:19). Some believers today attempt to interpret earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornados as signs of God's judgment upon mankind. But is not this faulty reasoning identical to the flawed "logic" of Job's friends, whom God soundly rebuked? Clearly, Job's calamity was not the result of his sin--God's Word declares that Job was "perfect and upright" (Job:1:1). Although Job's suffering was allowed by God, it was clearly not executed by Him.
There is absolutely no doubt that the professing church today is deserving of God's cleansing fire. In fact, considering the Laodicean nature of the American church, which is filled with biblically illiterate milk-drinkers--and observing the abysmal behavior and antichrist attitudes of those who reject sound doctrine altogether--we should expect it to come (1 Pet:4:12). While noting that the context here primarily applies to spiritual persecution, it is also true that God allows physical trials, personal loss, political unrest, and even environmental upheaval, which can--and should--cause us to draw near to him (Jas 1:2-4, Rom:8:28). However, this season's catastrophic events are hardly selective and so are clearly not signs of divine "justice." Rather, God "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mt 5:45)--not for judgment, but for blessing. Indeed, what a strange way for God to demonstrate His love if the Scriptures said, "For he maketh his fury to fall on the evil and on the good, and sendeth earthquakes and floods, tornados and wildfires upon the just and on the unjust."
Again, is the world--and the church--deserving of God's judgment? Absolutely! But it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not" (Lam:3:22). Meanwhile, our mission is to redeem the time (Eph:5:16)--warning both the world and the church that "the Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of his future earthly return and fiery judgment]" (2 Pt 3:9).