Monday, April 16, 2007

At least 33 People Were Killed Today at Virginia Tech...Have You Mourned Over the State of Our Culture Yet?

I heard about it in my German class, as my warm and quirky German teacher lamented the blurring of right and wrong in our culture before we moved to the genitive case of German grammar. I had to hold back the tears. In my car ride to go help out at my church (we just got a building and were getting chairs so they needed grunts to haul stuff in, I fit the grunt description quite well it seems) I flipped through all the talk radio stations to hear what was being said about this horrible event. Rush was making fun of Hillary and Obama, another channel was seriously discussing the Milwaukee Bucks future and the 2008 season, another host was about to begin his show coming on with "The Electric Slide" as his intro...I found nothing talking about this issue.

At least 33 people died today one of whom was the gunmen who took his own life to avoid the only consequences for his actions he thought possible. In class as I listened to my classmates try to give answers as to "WHY" these things have been happening more and more all we were left with was frustration and confusion. Some suggested psychology as a solution, if only we could help people become more "stable" then these things wouldn't happen...that is the problem we are psychologically unstable psychology has the answers for our culture's moral vacuum.

I read on the Internet peoples reaction to this, many are calling for a banning on gun ownership. We need to get rid of all the guns then this stuff will stop happening. Others are suggesting having more guns as a solution, if more people had guns the less damage one guy on a rampage could accomplish. Nonetheless 33 people are dead today.

I don't have any societal plans for action, I don't think it matters what the investigation turns up about what kind of music this man listened to. Over the next few months we will hear numerous answers for "WHY?" some will say "The NRA! Get rid of Guns!" Others will say "Counseling! This young man needed some psychological counseling!" Others will say "It was the music he listened to! Ban Eminem!" Others will say, "Why wern't there metal detectors? Where were the cops?!" Others will say "It's that Grand Theft Auto game! He's just acting it out!" I think all of these are merely symptoms and surface, they are not the real issue.

What I know is that our culture is lost. That means individual people who make up the culture are lost. Honestly I want to put forward what I think is the real question we should be asking a lost culture. The question is not "Why do these things happen?" But rather "Why not?"

At least 33 people were murdered for seemingly no reason whatsoever, and the man turned the gun on himself to end the rampage. He did so acting on his worldview, there would be no consequence for his actions. BANG. And the rampage ended.

We need to honestly ask, will that man ever reckon for what he did today? If no, then the question "Why Not?" remains. Were the beings he killed anything other than animals, just evolved biological machines, if that is all that humans are, then "Why Not?"

The answer I have to this crisis is simple, Jesus Christ of the Bible and the Christian worldview. Based on this we know why those people who died today had value, they were not just biological machines, blobs of tissue with no value. These were people made in the likeness of God, they were valuable. That is why this is tragic.

Also, this man will reckon for what has done. Shooting himself was not an escape from consequences for his actions. He will stand before his Maker to give an account.

These simple reasons explain why this is tragic and why we should weep over the culture. People have by and large rejected these truths, and are left with blank surface replies to the moral dilemmas of our day. There is a complete moral crises in our day. It is nothing short of a crises when people will go on rampages and then take their own lives thinking not only that they have done nothing wrong, but also that they are escaping the consequences. This is the fruit of a society that is in moral decay.

Honestly ask people why this was wrong, you won't find any real answers. And it is men like the "rampaging nut" who are acting on this moral vacuum, he is the consistent one.

I want to be short, but this is the note I want to end on, one of sorrow. At least 33 people are dead, 33 people whose lives had value and meaning were snuffed out in a senseless rampage. Also sorrow over the lightness at which we deal with these things, sorrow over the coldness at which people can look at these events....I mean people are already criticizing the NRA for crying out loud! Also I would not leave us with just sorrow but the answers that Christianity gives to us. We know why this act was wrong, we know why the victims lives had value, and we know that this man has not escaped justice.

17 comments:

Ubersehen said...

What I know is that our culture is lost. That means individual people who make up the culture are lost.

Interesting. In what way is our culture, and the individuals therein, "lost"?

At least 33 people were murdered for seemingly no reason whatsoever, and the man turned the gun on himself to end the rampage. He did so acting on his worldview, there would be no consequence for his actions.

Have they identified the shooter yet? I was under the impression that they had only speculated that he was a 20-something student from Virginia Tech, and didn't know anything about his family, religion, or, certainly, his worldview. If I'm not mistaken, we have no idea what this fellow expected to face after killing himself, or if he'd even thought that far ahead.

Were the beings he killed anything other than animals, just evolved biological machines, if that is all that humans are, then "Why Not?"

If the oversimplified situation you describe is, in fact, the truth, there need not be any loss of meaning for humanity. The way you lay it out, referring to humans as "just biological machines", and implying that that being "all that humans are", ignores all that it really can entail. You would reduce the rich and detailed explanations of what humanity may very well be to a few insufficient sarcastic sentences in the hopes of making it sound ridiculous enough to ignore.

Then, you offer up your own belief system as the only way a person can reasonably attain comfort in the face of a tragedy like this one. Believe in Jesus Christ because you can pretend things suck a little less this way. There is nothing in any of what you say here that is compelling towards your "truth" other than the psychological placations it offers. Tempting as they are, that one might feel better as a result of believing is not an indicator of accuracy.

All of this really must lead me to protest your claims that there is no way to condemn what has happened in Virginia from the point of view of a non-believer. I disagree that this is the result of a society in the throws of "moral decay". I believe that people have been using that particular cry for many decades, potentially centuries, now, often as a call to return to the traditional values that they feel not enough people are heeding, and that it is no more a reflection of the state of society today than it was then. We would expect, in a society in the throws of moral decay, to see significant leaps in crime of all sorts. While there has, indeed, been a notable increase in these horrific mass shootings, there has not been an equivalent, or even notable, increase in other forms of criminal activity. To me, this would indicate that some single or few aspects of modern society are creating an atmosphere such that at-risk individuals are more likely to act on developed or inherent homicidal behaviour. As you mentioned, many people have theories about what this might be, be it access to guns, violence in the media or in video games, or whatever the perpetrators listened to on the radio. It may be that simple (although I doubt it), or it may not. Clearly we haven't sorted it out yet, but I certainly feel that it is important to note that no other criminal behaviour has increased in the manner that this, very visible and terrible, behaviour has.

My heart goes out with yours to the victims, alive and dead, of the shooting. Further, I firmly condemn what has happened and fully feel the value of the lives of those lost. I do all of these things comfortably and rationally within the boundaries of my own worldview.

Bob said...

"Interesting. In what way is our culture, and the individuals therein, "lost"?"

In that we have rejected God and relegated Him to a corner of "private experience". In doing so we have no answers to offer people in public school or university for that matter. It really is apalling how people really have no real reasons to believe X is wrong and Y is right morally. Most act morally but not rationally. The shooter is the consistent one in such a lost culture.

"Have they identified the shooter yet? I was under the impression that they had only speculated that he was a 20-something student from Virginia Tech, and didn't know anything about his family, religion, or, certainly, his worldview. If I'm not mistaken, we have no idea what this fellow expected to face after killing himself, or if he'd even thought that far ahead."

Well, you are right they don't know anything about his background. However, it doesn't take much dot connecting to realize that somebody who blows 32 people away and then turns the gun on himself probably doesn't believe that he is about to stand before God.

I will skip the lengthy paragraph, feeling I have even in this post alone already addressed your objections. Lastly you said:

"My heart goes out with yours to the victims, alive and dead, of the shooting. Further, I firmly condemn what has happened and fully feel the value of the lives of those lost. I do all of these things comfortably and rationally within the boundaries of my own worldview."

Well, sure, because you embrace relativism. But you could wake up tommorow and not give a rip and think the shooter did nothing wrong and be EQUALLY justified given your foundation for morality.

Daniel said...

I was so angry to know this news first time on EbonyFriends.com! But now i only feelmournful.

Bob said...

Daniel-
I hope you werent just using this event to plug your dating page...

Ubersehen said...

It really is apalling how people really have no real reasons to believe X is wrong and Y is right morally.

I'd like to ask, yet again, that you acknowledge the distinction between the subjective and the universal as it relates to morality. Whether you agree with it or not, it would be helpful to see that you actually understand what I'm talking about, instead of ignoring it.

Given this distinction, you are correct that people may have no reason to believe "X is wrong and Y is right" in a universal sense, given what we know (and don't know) about the universe, but they have plenty of reason to believe it in the subjective sense. To put this into the context of the massacre in Virginia, the section of the Earth's human society that has developed in such a way that it abhors the senseless murder of innocents (ie: most, if not the entirety, of the world) relies upon its nearly unanimously developed global consensus to deem those actions wrong.

it doesn't take much dot connecting to realize that somebody who blows 32 people away and then turns the gun on himself probably doesn't believe that he is about to stand before God.

That's one possible explanation, but it's hardly the only possible conclusion. Certainly from the ongoing reports surmising the details of his character from his writings and relationships with students, it sounds as though he was profoundly depressed and disturbed and was focusing these feelings, at the time of the shooting, on the "rich kids". It's quite possible (and very likely, I would posit) that thoughts of spiritual repercussions were pretty far from his mind. Clearly rejection of God as a factor in this shooting is not really a given.

you could wake up tommorow and not give a rip and think the shooter did nothing wrong and be EQUALLY justified given your foundation for morality.

Only if there is no objective meaning or moral system in place in the universe, which, given our fallible nature, we can't know absolutely one way or the other at this point. Within the context of the appropriate section of society (most of the world), however, that justification would conflict enormously with the overwhelming sentiments to the contrary.

I will skip the lengthy paragraph, feeling I have even in this post alone already addressed your objections.

Obviously I disagree that they have addressed the objections sufficiently, but I'm sure most of those points will be dealt with in other discussions. Instead, I'll only ask for an answer to a problem I have with one of the claims you made:

In what way have you determined that our culture is decaying? With crime, in general, definitely not skyrocketing, or even steadily increasing, with life in our society still being quite safe, what about the current state of our culture indicates to you that it is decaying?

Turretinfan said...

The shooter was a foreigner - a legally resident non-citizen.

His actions should not be viewed primarily as a reflection on our culture, but as a reflection on the depravity of mankind as a whole.

But for the grace of God, that could be any of us. Thanks be to the Lord that His restraining grace generally prevents this sort of behavior.

Let the college students among us, consistent with 1 Timothy 2, pray for the grace of God toward their disturbed classmates, so that they can live peaceful lives.

-Turretinfan

Bob said...

Turretinfan said:

"His actions should not be viewed primarily as a reflection on our culture, but as a reflection on the depravity of mankind as a whole.

But for the grace of God, that could be any of us. Thanks be to the Lord that His restraining grace generally prevents this sort of behavior."


I agree completely. The issue is not guns, poor police conduct, metal detectors, or the lack of psychologists. The issue is the fallen state of human beings.

I make the cultural connection mainly in how people have no answers for simply WHY this was even wrong. That is what grieves me most as we discussed this event in some of my college classes, people in or culture that has rejected a Christian worldview have no answers.

Bob said...

Uber,
Firstly I just want to say that I am sorry for my attitudes towards you lately. I honestly just have responded to what you write in a manner that really isn't the best. And I just want to apologize for any meanness in how I have replied. I want you to feel free to raise questions and objections without feeling like I am just going to write you off. So I apologize for my bad attitude.

That said you write:

"I'd like to ask, yet again, that you acknowledge the distinction between the subjective and the universal as it relates to morality. Whether you agree with it or not, it would be helpful to see that you actually understand what I'm talking about, instead of ignoring it."

I really don't know what you are getting at in emphasizing this. I would join you in heralding a subjective morality only to point out that it is a completely insufficient base on which to live, individually or sociatally. Given this you write:

"Given this distinction, you are correct that people may have no reason to believe "X is wrong and Y is right" in a universal sense, given what we know (and don't know) about the universe, but they have plenty of reason to believe it in the subjective sense. To put this into the context of the massacre in Virginia, the section of the Earth's human society that has developed in such a way that it abhors the senseless murder of innocents (ie: most, if not the entirety, of the world) relies upon its nearly unanimously developed global consensus to deem those actions wrong."

To that I agree (based upon your presuppositions). My hangup simply is that if that is our base for distinguishing right from wrong then this man did not REALLY do anything wrong, we just ACT and FEEL like he did. My point is that our subjective attitudes are meaningless without a universal base.

Next you write in regards to my statement that the shooter was acting on an Atheism when he shot himself:

"That's one possible explanation, but it's hardly the only possible conclusion. Certainly from the ongoing reports surmising the details of his character from his writings and relationships with students, it sounds as though he was profoundly depressed and disturbed and was focusing these feelings, at the time of the shooting, on the "rich kids". It's quite possible (and very likely, I would posit) that thoughts of spiritual repercussions were pretty far from his mind. Clearly rejection of God as a factor in this shooting is not really a given."

I agree, to a point. I honestly thought that this statement of mine was probably faulty, because there are numerous theistic cults that have commited suicide thinking they were about to meet a smiling God. Islam for instance considers slaying infidels noble. So that said I think it was wrong to single Atheism out entirely. However, I can just recall Columbine where those two young men were very intentionally about all they did, they were in no unambiguous manner acting on their Atheism.

This next statement I found odd as you write:

"you could wake up tommorow and not give a rip and think the shooter did nothing wrong and be EQUALLY justified given your foundation for morality.

Only if there is no objective meaning or moral system in place in the universe, which, given our fallible nature, we can't know absolutely one way or the other at this point. Within the context of the appropriate section of society (most of the world), however, that justification would conflict enormously with the overwhelming sentiments to the contrary."


So what you are saying is that because the vast majority of the people THINK and FEEL that this act is "wrong" that you therefore would be unjustified to THINK and FEEL otherwise? What if the sentiments were flipped around? Would you be justified to think that what this person did was wrong?

Lastly you ask:

"In what way have you determined that our culture is decaying? With crime, in general, definitely not skyrocketing, or even steadily increasing, with life in our society still being quite safe, what about the current state of our culture indicates to you that it is decaying?"

Great question. I think it is more than an increase of crime or even the barbarity of crimes commited (murder suicides have sky rocketed over the past few decades). It is not just crime, or lying politicians or bribery. What I think it is is that the west having been built on a Christian base for almost two millinea has cast off that base. It isn't just intellectuals who are wrestling with the issues of the reletivistic moral vacuum it is the everyday person. I really think the loss of a Christian base is the heart of the decay. The funny thing is is that Nietzsche said the exact same thing, that is what he was working to do fill the vacuum since God was now removed from the picture.

That is the heart of the cultural issues, the removal of a Biblical worldview. The outworking can be seen in several areas:

1)We no longer have a basis to know what it means to be human, life as human beings has lost its dignity. There are no real reasons once the Christian view of man is removed to think of human beings as having any intrinsic worth or value higher than any other material biological machine.

2)Human existance has lost it's meaning. This is the outworking of the above. What do we live for when God is removed? Self? Hedonism? Humanistic notions? Life has simply lost its meaning as man has lost his dignity and worth.

3)Morality. I have of course discussed this at length with you Uber.

I think these are three crucial areas we can see the decay. Everywhere we just see soft answers, I mean in the wake of this tragedy some were saying "We need to just love eachother!" Anybody seriously wrestling with the issues I laid out above would simply ask "Why?" And really why should we? So that 33 people don't die in a senseless manner?

Anyway this is a brief synopsis, but if you know anything about the fall of Rome you will know that it woasn't the Barbarians that defeated Rome. Rome defeated Rome. Internal rottenness and corruption ate Rome from the inside out until the Barbarian hordes could pour right into Rome without a fight.

Tim said...

Bob, it's been quite awhile since I've commented here. I figured I should give it another shot.

If you've been on my blog recently, you know that I've been reading Henri Nouwen's book Reaching Out. As I was reading last night and writing about it the chapter I read, I realized that Nouwen wrote this book 30 years ago, and all of the burning issues of then are just as true today. The state of our culture is really no different today. There are still wars, mass murders, terrorism, unethical means to gain political power. More importantly there are still people starving, diseased, homeless, and imprisoned. In short, people still need Jesus.

What bothers me is all the blame that is going around about this tragedy. Working for a university, I have a lot of sympathy for the officials at VT, but more importantly, no matter how much I desire to mourn and grieve for these people, I cannot seem to escape the blaming that is going on all around me. And that makes me grieve even more.

You know how much the Amish tragedy affected me, and the contrast of reactions of these tragedies is stunning. Even in your comments about the judgment of the shooter, I see a contrast. The very first thing the Amish community did was comfort the shooter's family, said "You are grieving just as we. We are here to help you heal." They grieved together. They came together because they have the solitude of Jesus in their hearts. No blame, no claim about the murderer's eternal judgment. Completely mercy and grace, forgiveness and a desire for healing.

That difference is what is wrong with our culture, our society. "There must be blame, there must be judgment." Jesus says differently: you need to forgive, you need to give mercy, you need to pray for healing.

Keep praying for healing...

Bob said...

Hey Tim it's really good to hear from you! You said:

"What bothers me is all the blame that is going around about this tragedy. Working for a university, I have a lot of sympathy for the officials at VT, but more importantly, no matter how much I desire to mourn and grieve for these people, I cannot seem to escape the blaming that is going on all around me. And that makes me grieve even more."

I couldn't agree more. I am really disappointed with how people always need some entity to blame their problems on, I won't be too surprised if somehow George Bush gets slammed for this tragedy. I am particularly grieved over how the media and people in general are yelling at the police for "Mishandeling" the events. What bothers me is that it was just hours after the event that people were already looking for some entity to blame. I say blame sinful man.

"The very first thing the Amish community did was comfort the shooter's family, said "You are grieving just as we. We are here to help you heal." They grieved together. They came together because they have the solitude of Jesus in their hearts. No blame, no claim about the murderer's eternal judgment. Completely mercy and grace, forgiveness and a desire for healing."

Well, I just take comfort to know that justice will not go unserved. Perish the thought that a man can kill 32 people for no reason whatsoever and kill himself and have no repricussions. I agree I think his family should be consolled, and yes we even need to forgive the shooter himself for what he did, realizing as Turretin said "Apart from the grace of God there go I". That said I take comfort to know that justice will be served, I do feel sorry for the young man that he in shooting himself thought he was escaping all consequences only to go into an eternity with an angry God looking at him.

"That difference is what is wrong with our culture, our society. "There must be blame, there must be judgment." Jesus says differently: you need to forgive, you need to give mercy, you need to pray for healing."

I agree Tim, but not at the expense of justice. I really do take comfort in the fact that God is just and we will give an account to Him, particularly sense we live in a world full of so much injustice.

THIRSTY said...

www.dougwils.com

check out his blog called something like this:

"virginia tech, richard dawkins, and sam harris"

it'll raise some eyebrows

Ubersehen said...

My hangup simply is that if that is our base for distinguishing right from wrong then this man did not REALLY do anything wrong, we just ACT and FEEL like he did.

Right, if there is no universal standard of right and wrong, this man did nothing wrong universally speaking.

He did, however, do something wrong according to the standards of the society in which he lives. I think that part of the problem lies in the perception that, simply because there may be no authority outside of what a given society prescribes, that authority would have no impact or potency to those who fall under its jurisdiction.

My point is that our subjective attitudes are meaningless without a universal base.

Not quite. Our subjective attitudes are meaningless from a universal perspective without a universal base. There is plenty of meaning within the respective societies that have developed a particular view.

I can just recall Columbine where those two young men were very intentionally about all they did, they were in no unambiguous manner acting on their Atheism.

Granted, the Columbine shooters were atheists. The question, then, is: Did atheism have anything to do with convincing them to commit this atrocity, or would they have done the same had they been Christians, Jews, Wiccans, or Zoroastrians? They were clearly highly disturbed individuals, and I have serious doubts that their particular choice of religious denomination played any kind of role in their choice to commit their crime. Might they have simply concocted a slightly modified rationale if they had had a different worldview?

So what you are saying is that because the vast majority of the people THINK and FEEL that this act is "wrong" that you therefore would be unjustified to THINK and FEEL otherwise?

Unjustified? That would depend heavily on my reasoning for feeling differently, not to mention the views my society held on challenging the status quo (for instance, some of the stricter Muslim countries do not allow people to question the values of Islam). It would be unlikely, however, given that the vast majority of the people thought and felt a particular thing, that I would feel much differently about it. The reason for this comes from why the vast majority of people think and feel a certain way, that is to say the factors in the development of the society that led them to react in this particular way to this particular act. If I, too, developed along those same lines, why would I feel much differently?

What if the sentiments were flipped around? Would you be justified to think that what this person did was wrong?

If the sentiments were flipped around, and society celebrated this massacre, we would need to know a few things about this hypothetical society before the question could be answered. Would this society allow people to question the status quo? If such a society existed that celebrated shooting massacres, would this particular shooting be anything out of the ordinary? Most importantly, if such a society could possibly develop through social natural selection, and I was raised and socialized in such an unlikely society, why would I be inclined to disagree with a celebrated practice like this one?

It sounds like a creepy, almost Orwellian, dystopia, and it's not particularly pleasant to talk about, but I believe that that's because the society we have now has developed to be much stronger as a result of shunning the kinds of behaviour that could ever lead to something that monstrous evolving.

Great question. I think it is more than an increase of crime or even the barbarity of crimes commited (murder suicides have sky rocketed over the past few decades).

Right, and it's only been murder suicides that have been on the increase to any notable degree. That needs to be stressed.

1)We no longer have a basis to know what it means to be human, life as human beings has lost its dignity. There are no real reasons once the Christian view of man is removed to think of human beings as having any intrinsic worth or value higher than any other material biological machine.

From my perspective, I believe that the "Christian view of man" is, in large part, developed from ways in which humans already viewed themselves pre-Christianity. Those views have developed from early times, as I have described before, as the result of thousands and thousands of years of social and biological development. Other areas of the world have been functioning on different "views of man" for at least as long as we have been going with the Christian variety and seem to be doing just fine, too.

2)Human existance has lost it's meaning. This is the outworking of the above. What do we live for when God is removed? Self? Hedonism? Humanistic notions? Life has simply lost its meaning as man has lost his dignity and worth.

We live for what I believe we have always lived for, even when a god was in the picture: Happiness. Serving a benevolent and fatherly god (or even an angry and vindictive one) and working towards an eternity spent in paradise would certainly provide anyone who truly believed in it with a measure of happiness. Further, it is easier to go along with what a large and influential portion of society wants, since fighting a group of people who might accuse one of immorality or heresy or whatever the case may be for disagreeing would be highly stressful and unpleasant.

I think these are three crucial areas we can see the decay.

All I can see in these three areas is a decay of Christianity, not of human morality, or of quality of life, or even in terms of people harming other people. I get the feeling from the rest of this paragraph that you'd like to find some sort of correlation or connection between our society's gradual move away from Christianity and the terrible violence with the number of shootings we've witnessed in the last decade, but I'm a little hard pressed to find where it is, precisely.

Further, if this were a problem with "godlessness" or atheism in general, wouldn't we expect to see all manner of people throwing accountability to the wind and committing horrible acts? Businessmen are atheists too, as are airline pilots and professional hockey players. The people who have perpetrated the violence we've seen have all been individuals from unusual family situations, or with unusual psychological problems. I'm very unclear on what one's choice of religious worldview has to do with this.

if you know anything about the fall of Rome you will know that it woasn't the Barbarians that defeated Rome. Rome defeated Rome. Internal rottenness and corruption ate Rome from the inside out until the Barbarian hordes could pour right into Rome without a fight.

Well, the cause of the fall of Rome is a very hotly disputed topic among historians. Theories include the moral decay and corruption that you mention; the over-reliance on mercenaries to fight Roman wars; the emergence of feudalism; that the empire never really fell, only transformed; that the empire was corrupt from its inception; unsound economic policies; the Antonine Plague depleting the population, leaving Rome with more army than it could support; over-taxation of the countryside implemented to deal with the emerging Sassanid Persian empire... and the list goes on. Most historians agree, however, that internal corruption alone is far too simplistic an answer for what was going on at the time, and that many factors other than moral decay were at play to cause it.

Ubersehen said...

A teensie bit of reading later, I found a bit about the fall of the Roman Empire that you might like:

The theory that Rome fell because of internal moral decay goes on to name Christianity as the cause of that decay. The theory states that the people of Rome became more concerned with the hereafter, and less with civic duty and the goings-on of the present day.

Still, as I mentioned earlier, that Rome fell solely as a result of internal moral decay is not generally an accepted theory.

Tim said...

Bob, you said That said I take comfort to know that justice will be served, I do feel sorry for the young man that he in shooting himself thought he was escaping all consequences only to go into an eternity with an angry God looking at him.

This particular issue makes me grieve even more about this whole tragedy, but I am also cognitively taking a step back from contemplating or verbalizing what is happening next. Please don't take that as a criticism of your statement, especially not to mean that I think you are wrong, but rather that I myself just cannot make that statement. And here's why.

For one, I don't know that God is angry. He may be, but I think He would be infinitely more saddened than us by this event and grieves over any judgment He must serve up. (I say must because I do agree with you that as being God, His actions must support His God-ness.) I believe these emotions (and I think God has similar emotions as we since we are created in His image) of sadness based solely on the love which He has for us all, shown perfectly in Jesus. I think John the Beloved would share this same viewpoint given his writings describing God simply as love.

But what grieves me more, and also what forces me back from making judgment statements, is that souls were lost that may or may not have known Jesus. The justice I think you are writing about, and maybe looking for in this case, for the shooter, may very well be the same justice as one or some of the victims receives in the eternal perspective. I step back because I wonder at the mystery of God's plan, desires, and actions, because God could certainly, if He wanted to, save anyone at any point from anything, and is not bounded by time, life, or death.

So I cannot feel "comfort" thinking that it is possible that the 70-something-year-old professor, who was Jewish, may not have known Jesus in faith, but laid down his life so that his students could live, might receive the same eternal judgment as the shooter. He lived out, in that moment, the same as Jesus called us all to live out. Did he know that? Does God recognize that? Therefore, I also cannot help but think that God is so much greater that our simple, binary explanation of eternal judgment.

There was a song that came on my iPod today as I was thinking of this response, and it models my discomfort with the eternal situation of all of these. In the same way, I seek God's mercy.


What of the children who have never felt a love
Tender as the morning
Nursing the bruises
And the scars that never seem to go away

What of the babies who have never left the womb
Breathing in the lifeline
Angels in waiting
Gone before they could be given wings to fly

Calling heaven
Seeking mercy
Tell me there's a place for these

What of the noble who are searching for the truth
With truest of intentions
And yet they're jaded by
Hypocrisies behind cathedral walls

What of the humble and the meek that knew despair
And never got their moment
But sacrificed a life of comfort
So that others knew no pain

Calling heaven
Seeking mercy
Tell me there's a place for these

What of the ones who call you Lord
But play the field
With faithless indecision
Forgive us Father for we truly
Do not know what we have done

Calling heaven
Seeking mercy
Tell me there's a place for these
(c. 1995 Michael W. Smith)

Bob said...

Hey Tim, I genuinely appreciate your comments. I base what I said on scripture alone.

"The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man."
(Ps 5:5-6)

In the KJV it reads "You hate all workers of iniquity". These are strong words but it reflects the justice of God. You metion the passage that God is love, I wholeheartedly embrace that with a disclaimer, because the word "love" is so abused in our day, to mean just kind of a gooey war fuzzy, where as Biblically it has form...Christ died.

Also I would say that "love" is not the primary word to describe God but "holy" we see this in Isaiah chapter 6 where God is thrice called holy. In hebrew tongue when you wanted to really emphasis something you said it twice...this is why we see Jesus saying "truly truly" or "verily verily" before He says something He wants to emphasize. But thrice is "holy" spoken of God's very nature. "Holy" is the single word that encompasses all that God is Biblically, love is an aspect just like justness.

Saying "God is just" just doesn't have as nice of a humanistic ring to it in our 21st century ears as "God is love". With the latter it sounds like God is there to affirm me and make me feel good about my self, in short He is there for me. With the former it sounds like I better be there to serve Him!

Now I just want to quote one thing you said and reply to it, because I think it is important:

"So I cannot feel "comfort" thinking that it is possible that the 70-something-year-old professor, who was Jewish, may not have known Jesus in faith, but laid down his life so that his students could live, might receive the same eternal judgment as the shooter. He lived out, in that moment, the same as Jesus called us all to live out. Did he know that? Does God recognize that? Therefore, I also cannot help but think that God is so much greater that our simple, binary explanation of eternal judgment."

I just think that this is bringing 21st century man-centered ideas of justice and holding them up to the God of the Bible and lopping off the concepts that aren't too groovy to us. For example, the "binary view" of judgement is simply what the Bible teaches. Sounds like you doubt that salvation is through faith in Christ alone.

Also, I don't want to mitigate the heroic deed this man did. But I just want to steer away from a humanism. People are sinners Tim, people aren't 9 parts good and 1 part bad. The Bible teaches that man is dead in sin outside of Christ. That's not too glamorous. I think the whole thing is tragic because it was senseless. But Biblically we know the people who died weren't innocent good people. They were sinners.

When you really stop making man the center and put God in the center you don't ask questions like "How can it be fair for God to allow X?" Or "How can God allow mr. so and so to go to hell just like Hitler, he wasn't as bad as Hitler?" When God is central we ask, "How can God be fair and not cast the whole lot of us in Hell?" or "How can God be just and let the sun rise on the god rejecting city of Milwaukee tommorrow?"

Bob said...

Oh and Uber, I will reply I just need to get the time. I am starting a book review of "The Secret" so I have been sort of busy with that.

Tim said...

Hi Bob,

I'm trying to think of the best way to sum up my response, but I'm having trouble coming up with the correct ways. But I'm going to give it a shot anyway.

I don't think we should shy away from the word love when we discuss God. In fact, I think we should do the opposite and reclaim the truth of love in describing God. And the love of God biblically is described more often than just in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God is love throughout the OT just as much as the NT. His mercy and forgiveness over and over and over and over and over again is nothing less than love for His creation.

That said, the purpose of Jesus' coming was not to save people from hell. That is the most misunderstood element of the gospel. Jesus came to permanently establish a relationship with God, a relationship that was broken over and over and over and over and over again by humans. For much of the OT, there was no concept of hell and even heaven as in an afterlife. There was sheol. But this isn't really the point of this comment.

The point is that just as in the OT when God had already forgiven sin and the sacrifices were a thanksgiving response of that forgiveness, God has still already forgiven sin and living in the faith of the sacrifice of Jesus is our response of that forgiveness. This is what I believe, that God is love, shown clearly by grace and mercy.

But I also believe that God can be merciful to whomever He wants whenever He wants. If He chooses, He can save those that have never heard the name of Jesus. (Notice that I'm not defining these categories of people.) I believe this because salvation in dependent on the mercy of God, not in the hands and actions of man. This is most certainly God-centered.

But I also think you missed my point of not being able to feel "comfort" that this murderer will receive his justice. I cannot feel comfort he quite possibly brought the same eternal judgment on his victims as he will have himself. That gives me no comfort whatsoever. I just don't know where these victims are so why should I find comfort in the killers judgment? What is man-centered about that? What is man-centered about recognizing that God can do whatever God wants to do, not limited to the box we have put Him in by our limited understanding of Him? Simply put, I am saying God is God and judgment is His and mercy is His. And it is because God is holy (which literally means "set apart"), and not bound by anything but Himself.

So again, I'm calling heaven and seeking mercy...