Are the Destructive Germs that Cause Disease the Work of Satan?

By Brian Lowther

One thing Ralph Winter liked to point out was, “Our current theological literature, to my knowledge, does not seriously consider disease pathogens from a theological point of view—that is, are they the work of God or Satan?” Frontiers in Mission, pg 179.

This particular question sparked a long and thoughtful debate in the comments of a blog entry from June 2011. These comments illustrate the wide-ranging opinions about this topic.

I think I can boil down the whole argument into five basic perspectives.

  1. No, I think Satan is only responsible for tempting us to sin.
  2. No, harmful germs were created by God for his sovereign purposes. God created bacteria, parasites, viruses and all the other things we don’t like for a purpose. I don’t know the purpose but he does. 
  3. Maybe, but there is no way to prove it Biblically.
  4. Maybe, but not ALL harmful germs are of the devil. I think disease is often just a result of our fallen nature.
  5. Yes, I do think Satan is behind destructive germs. 

If you were to ask a few dozen people at church this Sunday if the destructive germs that cause disease are the work of Satan, in each case I think you’d get one of these five answers. Matter of fact, just a few weeks ago someone said perspective #2 to me—almost verbatim—except for this additional thought at the end, “Therefore, it is wrong to eradicate any of his creations, even harmful ones.”

Posted on March 26, 2012 and filed under First 30.