"Human beings were to blame for earlier catastrophes, but the catastrophes themselves were brought about by God the Judge; here, however, [in modern ecological and nuclear threats] human beings are guilty of actually bringing about the end itself. Earlier, people expected the end to come from God, and hope that from God the new beginning would come. But today we have to do with self-made apocalypses, for which human beings have to take responsibility, not God. Consequently these are End-times without hope. [...] Modern exterminism with the methods of mass annihilation therefore does not deserve the name of apocalypse. The 'exterminator' in the science-fiction horror films has nothing in common with the Son of man and judge of the biblical apocalypses. The one comes to cut down, the other to raise up. [...]
"The biblical apocalypses are not pessimistic scenarios of a global catastrophe which merely disseminate fear and terror so that human beings are paralysed by the corresponding belief in their doom. These apocalypses are messages of hope in danger, an encouragement to see the danger clearly and to resist it. They keep alive hope in the faithfulness of God: 'But when all these terrors of the End-time begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' [...]
"The apocalypses inculcate a realistic awareness of the dangers that threaten: 'Be afraid!' Anyone who is incapable of fear becomes blind, blind to catastrophe. But they also depict what can be seen if we 'look through the horizon', as the Indonesian word for hope puts it. 'He who endures to the end will be saved.'"
- Jürgen Moltmann, In the End - The Beginning, 49-51.Can self-caused catastrophes also be seen as the judgement of God? In Romans 1, Paul speaks about God 'handing people over' to their destructive desires. Is this a way of saying that divine punishment sometimes (usually? for the moment?) takes the form of God stepping back and allowing us to experience the consequences of our own choices? Might not even this punishment then include mercy?
Father, save us from ourselves.