Sandy Hook Shooting – A Christian Response

Posted: December 15, 2012 in Christians & Culture, Politics

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The school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT has sent shock waves across the country. The massacre conjures up memories of Columbine and Virginia Tech, yet this attack was much worse, for little children were the victims. In the midst of the tragedy, many questions are raised and many assertions made. But as Christians claiming to know the truth about reality, we must do more than ask questions – we must respond to the questions and assertions made by others in light of our Christian worldview. We are obligated to separate truth from error and offer hope in the midst of despair, light in the midst of darkness.

Error #1 – Blaming God

When disaster strikes, many blame God, calling into question either his goodness or his power. They say, “If God were all-powerful, why did he not prevent this from happening? If God were all-good, surely he would not desire these evils to happen. Therefore, God must not be all-good or all-powerful.” This is basically the “if God, why evil” question. In times like this, we certainly feel the full weight of this question. A few things should be said in response.

The Bible affirms both God’s omnipotence (Gen. 1:1, Luke 1:37, Psa. 147:5, Rom. 1:20, etc.) and God’s omnibenevolence (Psa. 107:1, Psa. 21:19, Hos. 3:5, etc.). Therefore, God must have a sufficient reason for allowing evil to take place. Many may ask, “Why would he not stop the evil?” But how much evil would you want him to stop? If God eliminated ALL evil, he must eliminate ALL of humanity, for humanity is the very source of evil. But God in his sovereignty has created free creatures who may choose to love, obey, and enjoy him. Yet, we have all rejected God and turned to our own way, which is the root of all evils. So we cannot rightly blame God for this horrific evil, rather we blame 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza. He committed this crime – this evil. He chose to reject God and turn to his own perverted ways. God hates these actions (Prov. 6:17) and promises to judge rightly (Rom. 12:19, Gen. 18:25). So we must not blame God, for he is the only source of true hope; rather, we should run to him and trust in his sovereign purposes. What other choice do you have?

Error #2 – Blaming the Schools For Being Anti-God

Many professing Christians have been quick to respond to the “where was God” challenge by retorting that God has been banned from the public schools. “If God was allowed,” they say, “maybe this would not have happened.” This insensitive response is misguided for a few reasons and should be avoided altogether.

First, the public schools have never been Christian. Certainly there was some Christian content in the schools, but by no means were they ever Christian. John Dewey, the founder of the modern public school system was certainly no friend of Christianity. God may have been paid lip service for many years, but the schools were certainly never submitting to his lordship. So the idea that this has happened because prayer has been banned from schools seems ridiculous. The schools were godless long before prayer was stopped.

Second, think for a moment about the logic of this statement: “the shooting is due to God not being allowed.” What about the shootings at churches? Was God not allowed there? Certainly disaster may be a judgment from God – and in a real sense all disaster is a result of evil and sin – but we are in no position to claim this is God’s judgment. As Christians, we must condemn the evil actions perpetrated against the innocent lives, weep with the families who lost loved ones, and show compassion to those who are hurting. Using this as an opportunity to make a political statement is cold and insensitive.

The Answer Lies in the Christian Worldview

Atheists cannot account for evil since there is no objective standard of morality. An atheist cannot call this act wrong, since wrongness is merely a subjective social construction. Buddhists think evil is an illusion. Modern humanists think people are basically good. But this shooting makes one fact of reality crystal clear: evil exists. And when manifested to such a great extent, we see evil for the destructive atrocity it is. Christianity can account for this. God created man good, but man willingly chose to rebel against God and go his own way. As the source and standard of all good, any deviation from God is, by definition, evil. This awful crime is but one outworking of this rebellion against God.

Additionally, when evil strikes, we long for justice. We want the criminal to pay for his crimes. Christianity teaches that God is the judge of all humanity and one day he will judge the living and the dead for their own evils, both inward and outward. But this creates a problem for us all. Although you may have never murdered, you certainly have committed your share of wrongdoings. In fact, if we were honest, our whole life has been nothing but one of vice. Therefore, all of mankind rightly deserves to be judged by God.

But God, in his kindness, has not left us to die in our own transgressions. He sent his Son to pay the penalty for the sins of those who would trust in him. Jesus took the wrath of God for sins he did not commit so that sinners who repent and believe could spend eternity with their creator. This is called the Gospel, the good news. One thing is certain, justice will be carried out – Adam Lanza will be judged for his crimes. But for those who trust in Jesus, the judgment has already been carried out on the cross.

The longing for peace, joy, and love and the longing for justice against evil are met in one place: the cross of Jesus. This is the answer for the families in Newtown. This is the answer for the world.

Jordan Tong

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