Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Sandy Hook Schoolhouse Tragedy: A Gospel Perspective

There are a lot bloggers, pastors, theologians, counselors and others writing and talking about the events that unfolded in Connecticut yesterday. Some of these blogs are addressing the issue of gun control while others are attempting to make sense of a tragedy beyond anything most of us can remember in our lifetime. Still others seek to provide some sort of comfort to those whose loses yesterday are simply unimaginable. This massacre reminds us of the hopelessness that is the present depraved condition of all of humanity. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matt. 15:19) Paul reminds us of the human condition in Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…” The prophet Jeremiah, in ancient times informed us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else, And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

Human beings, all of us, are born desperately wicked, dead in trespasses and sins, filled with all sorts of unrighteousness. We are capable of deplorable acts, all of us! While the shooter obviously had reached a degree of wicked behavior that most of us never will; we must remind ourselves that we are all, having been cursed by sin, capable of reaching the same degree of wicked behavior. That is to say, all who remain under sin’s curse and held captive within its dark clutches have the same potential that this man had. Those of us who know Christ, when we walked in the ignorance of our foolish and darkened heart, also had the same capacity for this odious behavior. We do not have to look far to realize 1) man is indeed in the most pitiful of circumstances; 2) he is in desperate need of redemption; and finally, 3) it seems painfully obvious that he is completely incapable of curing himself.

This massacre reminds us of our desperate need for grace. We look at the tragedy in Connecticut and we realize that wickedness exists all around us. We understand that the human race is filled with all sorts of vile and corrupt humans. Then we realize that we are all, every one of us, the same. There is diversity in the human race to be sure. However, there is unity in humanity just as much as there is diversity. In a sense, we are one. The condition of the one is a reflection of the condition of the whole. Moreover, that condition is far less than what we know it should be. This “less than” condition continually reminds us that despite all the striving, all the advances in technology, in education, in the sciences, in psychology, that for some reason we are simply not curing ourselves. It reminds us that we have a condition that we are not capable of curing. It reminds us that we are intentionally less than what we should be. What one of us would ever claim to be as good as he or she could be? We all have a sense of “falling short” of the standard. What standard? The standard that we know is there, even though we spend much of our time ignoring it, denying it, and wishing it away. Hence, this tragedy reminds us that humanity is in need of grace. It is in need of help that it really does not deserve.

The massacre reminds us that human life has inherent value. It is the Christian worldview that provides the most rational of all explanations for why this tragedy was possible. It is Christianity that claims that human beings are created distinctly in the image of God. God created humans with intellect, will, and emotion. As creations of God, we have meaning, purpose, value. Life has dignity. There is justice and hence, injustice. The children and staff that lost their lives yesterday were and are valuable. Their life meant something. Christianity contends that this man shook his fist at God when he decided to destroy that which God created and called very good! The life he took from these people was life that God gave them. No man has the authority to take what God gives freely. Worldviews that deny God will have trouble condemning this act with any degree of conviction and consistency. The gospel has no difficulty assessing the tragedy of this massacre. It does so with the deepest conviction and with fluid consistency. Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mk. 10:14) Jesus loves the little children.

Science is impotent in its ability to provide a useful explanation or to help prescribe a cure. What can science say about yesterday’s event? Can science provide us with any comfort? Can science even condemn the event as evil and deplorable? From a scientific perspective, how could we establish that the event was actually tragic? From a purely scientific perspective, the event was an event like every other event. It was just something that happened. Perhaps science could tell us something about the brain activity of the deranged gunman. Perhaps not. However, we know almost intuitively that there is more to wicked behavior than biological processes in the brain. Science is helpless to even explain to us how it is we come to place such high value on our loved ones. Why is it that we would give our very lives so readily to protect people we love? Science attempts to explain these behaviors in purely biological terms and every explanation we read fails to capture the true essence of what is going on. Christianity can explain very well why we behave this way. Nobility and valor do not exist in science. How can they? However, they can and certainly do exist in the Christian worldview. No greater love can one have for their neighbor than to lay down their life for them!

Naturalism only makes the problem worse, providing no moral guardrails to give us reasonable safeguards against additional tragedies. From a naturalistic perspective, this whole event should not even be an event. The atheist will weep, and ache, and respond with the same emotion the rest of us do. However, the atheist’s naturalism will fail her/him. Naturalism will provide no answer for this tragedy. In fact, naturalism will not even justify the human response to such an event. Naturalism has no basis from which to condemn this tragedy. Hence, atheism really has no basis to condemn this tragedy. The only way atheism can lift a voice of condemnation is to briefly abandon its worldview, borrow from Christianity’s values, and act very inconsistently.

Victoria Soto was a 27 year-old beautiful young lady. She hid her kids from the gunman, telling him they were in the gym. She had hid them in closets and cabinets. He shot and killed her, but not one of her kids was harmed because of her bravery. Victoria was, in the Christian worldview’s opinion, a hero among heroes. This was one of the most noble and courageous acts any human could ever do. She valued the life of her children so much that she gave her own life in their place. Naturalism and it’s common cultural expression, atheism, has no basis to award or even recognize Victoria’s heroic deed. Christianity can stand up and salute her as one of the most noble and selfless humans known in modern times.

Modern, American educators spend their time removing God and prayer from the classroom. They do all they can to relativize morality in almost every area possible. They attack, time and again, the very notion of objective evil beginning at kindergarten, all the way to and through the university. They teach children that human beings evolved from monkeys, and that life is the product of time + chance + matter. Repeatedly kids are told that there is no God, not really, and that life is about them, their happiness, how they feel about themselves, and that more than anything else, they are to be the judge of all that is right and wrong for themselves. I remember having a discussion with my daughter about the difference between opinion and fact. She had learned in school that morality was not an objective fact but that it should be categorized within the area of opinion. Therefore, what is right and wrong is really just a matter of her opinion. When I asked her if that was a “fact,” or just her “opinion,” she had no idea what to say. I told her to ask her teacher that same question and see listen carefully to how she answered it. What I am saying is that the politicians and educators in secular America are responsible for creating the very environment they are now condemning.

You see, if human life is really time + chance + matter and we really are here without any design or purpose, then life really doesn’t have any value or meaning. There is no dignity inherently existing in the human being. Life just happened! At one point there was no life and then, boom, life became without cause, without reason, randomly. We are all part of the very same arbitrary accident. By that way of thinking, what is my basis for respecting the life of other humans? Why am I living? What is my purpose in life? Why should I or others, exist or not exist? What is the difference?

What happened in Connecticut yesterday was a tragedy of the worst sort. Again, I cannot remember an event outside of 9/11 that measures up to this one. Moreover, 9/11 does not feel as wicked as this event because this man walked around aiming a gun at little children and shooting them without regard for anything. I can’t say if this event was morally worse or not in an objective sense, but I can say that it feels that way to me.

The pain that people are experiencing right now must feel unbearable. I cannot say if I could bear losing a child. I feel like I would not be able to handle that kind of pain. However, I am certain that God would provide whatever grace necessary to that end. For the parents and loved ones in the Connecticut tragedy, God is there. He is involved. He knows exactly what they are going through. He watched His own Son die, having been abused, and mistreated by the worst sort of men. God knows what they are going through and He has not abandoned them. What good can come from this tragedy? I cannot say specifically what good can come from it. I can say that for those who love God, He is working all these things for their good and to the praise of His glory. Christians are urged to pray for the families and all involved in the Connecticut tragedy. Pray for healing and mercy and grace. Pray that the gospel of Christ would find a sinner and shine its glorious light into their life.




1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure that's all I will be praying?

    I see a Divine purpose in this senseless killing. Who knows best? The shooter might be discovered to have a position held that brought this about that some might not want made public? I believe that is the case.

    Having said that now my Scriptural perspective is found squarely in two places. One is direct. The other is indirect based on a knowledge understood and written about as a forewarning about what will be at the end of the ages.

    The first is the reality of Sovereign Grace uncovered in the book of Job.
    6 And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life."
    7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
    (Job 2)

    The second reality is what needs to be brightly burning from the hearts of true believers in every nation.

    The Apostle gave a forewarning in both 1&2 Timothy what we should expect from the world. See 1 Tim. 4 & 2 Tim. 3.

    Now here is the heart of the Church's mission spiritually that can be expressed by our down to earth life in Christ:

    Eph. 3:6-12:
    6 This mystery is[fn] that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
    7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
    8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[fn] God who created all things,
    10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

    The Church is not suppose to fight flesh and blood. Our focus must remain to that end as the Apostle wrote there in Ephesians. His word seem to capture the essence of Daniel's at Dan. 2:44-45.


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