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.
- No, I think Satan is only responsible for tempting us to sin.
- 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.
- Maybe, but there is no way to prove it Biblically.
- Maybe, but not ALL harmful germs are of the devil. I think disease is often just a result of our fallen nature.
- 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.”