Rev. John MacLeod (photo: Grampian TV)

A Christian minister claims the tsunami of Sunday, Dec. 26, killing at least 160,000 people, was direct result of “pleasure seekers” breaking God’s Sabbath.

In the February issue of his church magazine, Rev. John MacLeod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland writes: “Possibly … no event since Noah’s flood has caused such loss of life by drowning as the recent Asian tsunami. That so many of our fellow creatures should have perished in so short a time, and in so awful a fashion, was a divine visitation that ought to make men tremble the world over.”

He continued: “Some of the places most affected by the tsunami attracted pleasure-seekers from all over the world. It has to be noted that the wave arrived on the Lord’s day, the day God set apart to be observed the world over as a holy resting from all employments and recreations that are lawful on other days.”

The tsunami, a series of tidal waves sparked by a subsea earthquake off Sumatra, arrived on Sunday morning, the day after Christmas, in countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

MacLeod said: “To rule out the hand of God in this … is to forget that He is in sovereign control of all events. If the sparrow falling to the ground is an event noted, and ordered, by Him, how much is this the case when the souls of so many thousands are parted from their bodies?”

The 74-year-old minister, now living in the London area after spending 35 years in Stornoway, Scotland, concluded: “Do not worldliness, materialism, hedonism, uncleanness, and pleasure-seeking characterize our own generation to a great extent and does not this solemn visitation in providence reminds us that He remains the same God still? God is no idle spectator of what is happening here in time and treats men with the sharpness and severity in order that they may know their vices.”

As WorldNetDaily reported, the issue of the when the Sabbath actually is has itself been in dispute for centuries, as many Christians believe it to be the first day of the week – Sunday – while other Christians and Jews believe it to be the seventh day of the week – Saturday.

MacLeod’s comments are spawning a surge of reaction in the UK, including some harsh letters to the editor of the Herald newspaper.

  • “One wonders what sort of God this man worships and more, how he professes to know the mind of God. Are we to believe that in John MacLeod’s distorted world, a divine creator would wipe out 100,000 innocent children as some sort of heavenly sign that he was unhappy that a few thousand European vacationers had chosen to relax under the very sun that the creator made? (Bob Buntin, Bridge of Weir, Scotland)
  • “I am sometimes tempted to take the reality of the devil literally, and suspect that his best work in Scotland is from the pulpit. How sad of the Rev. John MacLeod to propagate his nihilistic heresy. It must leave some readers scoffing at all matters spiritual … .” (Alastair McIntosh, Glasgow)

Other churches are also responding to MacLeod’s suggestion.

“The view that the tsunami was some kind of divine retribution is utterly alien to the Catholic world view,” reads a statement from the Catholic Church. “Our belief is in a God of love, who suffers with us, not an avenging deity.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman dismissed the comments about not observing the fourth commandment, calling the event a natural disaster.

A survivor of the tsunami had a more vehement reaction.

Alasdair Stewart, 51, nearly lost his life while scuba diving off an island in Thailand.

“I feel Mr. Macleod’s comments should be treated with total contempt. He has no idea what we went through,” Stewart told the Scotsman. “The man is a disgrace and should be ashamed of himself.”

There have been news accounts about Muslims who believe the tsunami was divine retribution for sinning, but they have cited prostitution and heavy drinking instead of Sabbath observance.

Some have even gone so far as to claim God signed his name as Allah in the waves off the Sri Lankan town of Kalutara, as captured by satellite photography.

Waves off Kalutara, Sri Lanka, said to resemble name of Allah in Arabic, inset (photo: DigitalGlobe)

“This clearly spells out the name ‘Allah’ in Arabic,” Mohamed Faizeen, manager of the Centre for Islamic Studies in Colombo, told Agence France-Presse. “He sent it as punishment. This comes from ignoring His laws.”

“Allah first sends small punishments – like loss of business. If we ignore the warning, He sends bigger ones – loss of life. If we still ignore the warnings, the big punishments, like earthquakes and tsunamis will come.”

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