‘Catch the Fire’ Comments on FIRE TRAGEDY!

The potential of being misunderstood as i write this blog is huge but i feel i need to voice my perspective briefly about the comments made by Catch the Fire ministries regarding the recent tragedy of loss of property, and more importantly, people’s lives because of the fires.

I have met and heard the leader of Catch the Fire ministries in the past and believe that his motivation for ministering comes from a pure and well intentioned heart. He appears to model integrity and commitment to the cause of Jesus Christ and is passionately focused on seeing transformation touch all 4 corners of Australia and for that vision I would hope and pray the entire Australian church is committed to as well. 

However, i am of the opinion that the methodology sometimes used to accomplish this goal (recent Catch the Fire comments) can in fact polarise the very people we’re called to be Christ’s hands and feet too. There is no doubt that Christ followers everywhere would be appalled with the recent abortion bill and it’s impact on society spiritually, physically and emotionally (i know i am) but to make public comment (even if this is what you feel God spoke to you) on the judgment of God through the fires upon the general populace is neither wise nor very effective in reaching people with the Gospel.

It will stir controversy (I will give you that) but how fruitful is it to return to an old testament model of prophetic ministry  that speaks of God’s judgment on the earth in the public arena? 1 Corinthian 14 points out that prophecy is for encouragement, upbuilding and consolation. It only reinforces the view that much of society has of God as a judge with a big stick ready to hit us when we do something wrong. I am not excusing or agreeing with the moral erosion connected to the abortion bill but i and some members of my congregation are seeking to tackle the abortion issue in what we feel is a far more constructive way by seeking other alternatives to abortion for women (re-creating adoption, working with organisations who are committed to prayerfully building relationships and opportunities to lead the change with law reformers) and teaching people the value that God has for every single life.

When Jesus came to earth and dwelt among us, he said, “I have not come to condemn the world but to save the world.” Justice and judgment are apart of the nature of God but “Vengeance is mine say’s the Lord”. Yes we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ one day…but on God’s terms, not ours.

We don’t have to point out to people how wrong they are, they’re conscience already tells them that (unless it’s seared, and if so, then only the Holy Spirit working through our Christ-likeness can bring about the change in people’s hearts…have we forgotten that God is already at work in the world long before we showed up).

I am a preacher of God’s Word and i believe in the passionate proclamation of God’s word but i also am committed to modelling Jesus style of ministry who demonstrated love, grace and power to the unbelieving as well as rebuke to the Pharisees and scribes (religious establishment) who sought to inflict “God’s judgment” on the excluded being the gentile, tax collector, immoral woman and the sick.

Thinking through how we communicate God’s heart and intentions to the world is important because we can very easily polarise and exclude the very people Jesus came and died for, rather than draw and include people in God’s great redemptive story for all humanity.

Regarding the fires, we were told by Jesus that in this world we would have tribulations but take heart for he has overcome the world. We live in a fallen world with the curse of sinful disobedience marked upon every aspect of creation and apart from believing in Jesus we will spend eternity separated from relationship with our Creator but how we communicate the gospel is just as important as what gospel we preach. To be committed to only a ‘black and white’ gospel is to miss the kilometers of grayness we read in the scritpures which we have to wrestle with and seek Spirit-inspired answers for.

We are each called to our own ministry and I believe that Catch the Fire ministries are seeking to express their ministry as they feel they are led to but i personally wouldn’t communicate the love of Jesus this way and i don’t feel that it is rather effective in drawing people to the feet of Jesus. in such a tragic time. Judgment is not our responsibility, even though alot of what I’m sharing, i know could be deemed judgmental…we’re all hypocrites in some way.

At the end of the day whatever i say about the recent spate of comments from catch the fire ministries could be potentially seen as divisive in the Body but that is not my heart in the slightest. I am just offering, hopefully, a fresh perspective to the discussion. I am open for people’s rebuke as well as encouragement however I would say I’m damned if I do comment and damned if I don’t. 

Lead the Change!

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10 Responses to “‘Catch the Fire’ Comments on FIRE TRAGEDY!”

  1. your tone here can in no way be considered offensive. Shalom

  2. Hey Corey,
    Thanks for your well written response to Danny’s comments. I think you’ve achieved expressing your perspective without admonishing your brother in Christ. There’s has been a few other articles on the issue that you may/may not have seen.
    http://au.christiantoday.com/article/uniting-church-says-now-is-not-the-time-to-blame/5404.htm
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25038142-5006785,00.html
    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/failing-to-understand-the-nature-of-an-understanding-god-20090211-84of.html?page=-1
    Thansks Corey, appreciate you responding to my comments.
    Blessings
    Ben

  3. i read with interest the recent comments made by Pastor Danny Nalliah of Catch the Fire Ministries concerning his dream of God exacting retribution on the abortionist lobby by bringing down fire this week on thousands of innocent victims in Victoria. i’m forced to ask whether this was the kind of ‘fire’ he had in mind in choosing the name for his ministry ? i thought it was meant to be about the ‘fire’ of the spirit, which in my understanding brings life, not death, to those it touches !

    while i share Ps Danny’s obhorence of abortion, i’d hazard a guess that if his recent campaign had been about pro-environment, then he wouldn’t have been so quick to point the finger at God. i’m reminded of a lyric in a song by the christian rock-band Casting Crowns – While You Were Sleeping (2005), which goes:

    “As we’re sung to sleep by philosophies
    That save the trees and kill the children”

    that the world is in the grip of a complete reversal of God’s intentions and that so many people are totally mis-guided about these things. but to point God’s finger at the abortion lobby misses a fairly obvious reality that the responsibility here lies more with the ‘save the trees’ lobby than with the ‘kill the children’ lobby.

    to paraphrase a secular journalist, Robert Gottliebsen, Business Spectator, 10th Feb 2009: ‘Over more than a decade, a mixing of so-called ‘environmentalism’ and fire protection policy led to fundamental state government errors which, multiplied by local government decisions, created an enormous and catastrophic build-up of fuel which stoked these fires.’ some of these fires were man-made by arsonists, and in time God will certainly hold the individuals concerned accountable for their actions, but some are started by natural events such as lightning.

    200 years ago the aboriginal owners knew all about controlled burning to manage the forests through the intense conditions of the australian summer, but in the last 10 years the green lobby has made it appear ‘un-australian’ to manage the build-up of fuel to help control the inevitable fires that will occur here. so if i’d had Ps Danny’s premonition, maybe God would have told me something different.

    either way, a christian pastor blaming God (for whatever reason) for the fires does nothing but further alienate the 90% of aussies who already think that we’re wierd and totally irrelevant. i don’t like Ps Danny’s chances of getting much traction with the unbelievers in Kinglake right now.

    personally, i think he might need to consider changing the name of his ministry after his recent ‘prophetic’ outburst. rather than him ‘Catching the Fire’ i think the fire’s caught him.

  4. Ben Wallis Says:

    Hey Corey, just a small update on my last comment, other that to point out Mark Conner’s post on the same topic.
    http://markconner.typepad.com/catch_the_wind/2009/02/are-the-bush-fires-the-judgment-of-god.html#more

    cheers mate – catch you soon.

  5. Corey-
    Great post. Graeme and I were talking about this very issue last night.
    When things like that are spoken, it’s some what embarassing for the body of Christ. Like we’re being mis-represented.
    If i let myself, i can get all frustrated and mad about the injustice of such comments, but in the end I have to trust God that he is bigger than this potential damage to the “Christian” reputation. He’s in control!! (Thank goodness) 🙂

    We miss you SO much and MUST catch up with you and Sim soon 🙂 !!
    How crazy has 2009 been so far?!
    See you Fri/Sat….

    Jac

  6. That’s one small step for “Catch the Fire” using a tragedy to promote their presence, once giant leap backwards for fundamentalist Christianity. Would have be interesting to hear the cretan who heads that organisation’s viewpoint if he had lost close family members in that tragedy. No doubt it would have been a vastly different reason for intervention. Poor sods, you’ve got your work cut out with idiots like this on your side.

  7. Rach Wallace Says:

    Thanks Corey, for an insightful and thoughtful blog. I had been having trouble processing these comments that had hit the media and it is great to be able to connect to your thoughts on the matter. Thank you for bringing clarity, grace and what I believe to be a relevent response. xox

  8. I reckon it is easy to say “wow, he is such a hypocrite” and “he gives Christianity a bad name”, and I understand why this is the knee-jerk response, because they are the first words that spring to my head when I read what he said (along with a string of profanity).

    Unfortunately, as much as I HATE to admit it, Realistically, I am just as bad as him. I preach love, freedom and mercy, but yet I don’t take the time to understand who is exactly meeting my materialistic needs. I inadvertently support slave labour when I buy products made by corporations that allow those kinds of practices. I proclaim the Gospel with my mouth and contradict it with my ignorance.

    It’s hard to feel righteous anger when you acknowledge the log sticking out of your own eye. Which is a little inconvenient to be honest, cause it’s easier to be angry, then to evaluate and change behavior.

  9. It’s actually taken a few days for me to stop seething about the comments made. Probably too long. And it’s not even so much about the Christian reputation as much as it is about how one person going through hell right now might actually think that God feels that way about them.

    It’s not the majority I was angry about but the individual. The one woman who just lost her children and voted for the party that introduced the abortion bill. That one woman who thinks that God is punishing her for voting for someone she didn’t really think about but has always voted for because she couldn’t be bothered about the policies behind the party…like most people (which is typical because I’m virtually the same).

    It was this one woman and the many other potential prodigals that I was angry about. The Body of Christ has survived much worse in history and it will come through this just fine. Handy thing about being a Body is that even if the mouth stuffs up a bit, the hands and feet are working well enough to compensate.

    So anyway, there’s my two cents. I am no longer angry about this because as per usual, we are all hypocrites. I’ve pushed people away from the Gospel more than once and I’ve had to trust that God will bring them back. That one woman will encounter one other Christian and see the love of God. He is much greater, after all.

  10. Well said Corey. I can’t help wondering, especially after reading the comment by Graham R, whether Pastor Danny mis-interpreted his dream, i.e. it was more about the fire of the Holy Spirit, which does bring an outpouring of grace and love, instead of seeing it as God’s judgement. I believe we are in a New Covenant time when God is pouring out His grace, not judgement, and Ps Danny has not used any wisdom in making such heavy public announcements, even if he sincerely believes them to be true.

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