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An Insufficient Answer to the Shooting in Connecticut

Today, we were shocked with the news that a troubled twenty-year-old boy shot his mom in the head at their home and then went to the elementary school where she used to teach and killed kindergarteners trapped in two classrooms. Twenty kids and eight adults lost their lives. The gunman is dead. Suicide.

Selah . . .

Like many of you, I don’t know how to process this. I don’t think it is possible to process this. While the parents and other school children need counseling to help them deal with this tragedy, I think just about everyone in the country (maybe the world) needs counseling. Many pastors right now are adjusting their Sunday sermons, knowing that their congregation is going to be looking for answers from God. They want to know why. They want to know how God could allow such a thing. As the pastor digs deep, his emotions betray him as he would rather be sitting in the congregation while another pastor explains to him the whys and the hows.

The explanations around the world are going to be plenty as emotions run high. Already, the President has made a statement implying that gun control will be placed back on the table. I had lunch with someone who said that the moral decay of our country is at fault. Another said it was the breakdown of the family.

What is the explanation? Is it guns? Do we need to disarm the country? Is it TV shows? Is it movies? Is it public education? Is it divorce? Is it lack of discipline? Is it homosexual families? Is it video games? Is it pornography? Is it the Internet? What is the explanation for all these shooting tragedies? The answer is both more simple and more terrifying than we think. The answer is this: evil. Evil is the reality about which we often forget. Evil. . . People are evil. We are all evil. We don’t need any external influence to explain these tragedies.  We need theological revelation. Listen to what Christ says:

Matt. 15:17-19
Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Notice, this is the search for explanation as to why good people do bad things. But people do bad things due to the fact that we are not really good. It is not what goes into a man that causes him to act evilly, it is ultimately a problem of nature. Furthermore, notice the problem is nothing new to our age. Long before guns, movies, video games, and the Internet, the question as to the source of evil has been on the table. It is out of our heart that murder originates. The world is fallen, broken, and depraved. The world is evil.

So, what is the answer? Obama said in his speech, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” How do we do this? What “meaningful action” will remove evil from the earth? Truthfully, there is no adequate human answer. Evil will exist until the restoration of all things in Christ. Evil will not be eradicated until Jesus comes in judgement. The only question I have is, “Why does He tarry?”  I don’t know. I wish I knew, but I don’t.

However, I am compelled to remind every one of you of something: evil is not worse today than it was at any other time in history. On April 19, 1995, in my hometown (Oklahoma City), the Murrah Building was bombed. I actually felt the blast that killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6. Yet I do think today’s tragedy in Connecticut may be even worse. The intentionality involved baffles me. But evil is not greater today than it was then. It is not greater today than it was one hundred or one thousand years ago. What makes it seem like the world is a worse place than before is the availability of information. Before the internet, before Twitter and Facebook, before twenty-four-hour world news (that lives or dies by the existence of tragedy), we would not have known about tragic happenings such as these outside of our communities. We would not have known about the children who died today. However, in our age, we are expected to shoulder the pains of twenty sets of parents who just lost their five-year-old boy or girl. And you know what? We were not meant to. God did not create us with enough emotional stamina to bear this much evil. Let me try to add to the spirit of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:

Matt. 6:34
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow (i.e., troubles outside your immediate context), for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day (i.e., the troubles in your own family and community) is its own evil.

Christ knows better than anyone what we can bear. And he says we cannot bear that much. I cannot bear the evil that happened in Connecticut. I am sorry. I don’t ignore it, I just have sufficient evils in my own life and family.

The evil proceeding from the human heart will not cease in its intensity until He comes again. That is why the evil of the cross was allowed:  to begin the restoration process. One day, we will be free from these anxieties. One day we will be free from getting calls from people who say, “Are you watching the news?” as fear makes our hearts drop. One day, we will no longer be expected to prepare sermons which we ourselves need to hear. No longer will we be crying out to God, “Why?” And no longer will we be expected to bear the anxieties, evils, and depressions of parents whom we have never met. I look forward to that day.

Is this answer sufficient to salve the pain we all feel? No. No answers ever will be.

60 Responses to “An Insufficient Answer to the Shooting in Connecticut”

  1. my prayers goes to them…its not what you want to wake up in the morning even here in the philippines

  2. Thank you for coming outside of your emotion about this to help the rest of us so quickly. It’s hard for me to think logically about this yet.

  3. There is one thing Christians, as Christians, are in a unique position to do in order to have at least some good come from this tragedy.

    The next time an apologist like Alvin Plantinga comes to speak at your church and says that this monster’s “libertarian free will” is more morally important than the lives of those children, you can boo him off the stage.

  4. Father God in Heaven, we come to Your Throne of Grace to give thanks for Your everyday provisions. Father we struggle to understand how Your Sovereignty fits into such horrendous acts of violence, especially knowing that some of the victims and families are also Christians. Father send Ministering Angles to bring comfort to the victims, their families, and all who are effected. We put our faith in You and the redemptive work of the Cross of Jesus Christ. AMEN

    The Scriptures tells us that a Spiritual Warfare goes on in the realm of the unseen. The battle is not amongst flesh and blood, rather amongst the Powers, Dominions, and Thrones of evil forces; Satan and his demonic angles. Our fallen sin filled lives are influenced by this battle against God and the establishment of His Kingdom to Come. If we are to give blame for these senseless acts, blame the Devil who is the father of all lies. Seek out the truth in the Word of God, found in Scripture.

  5. We will never know why this happen to these angels. But we do know God is in control and the answer is with him.so let us pray to our Savior for comfort. And healing for all those who are suffering from this tragic lost.also let this world continue to pray and believe God is in control. and he alone can fix what is broken If we ask with faith and love. May the spirit of the Lord dwell within us all.

  6. <>

    Right, because it’s morally superior to believe that a god of love and justice orchestrated that outcome.

  7. (that was in response to the quip about Plantinga’s libertarian free will)

  8. Evil is not worse, yet Paul warned that the last days would become “hard, difficult times to live in” because “evil and perverse men will go from bad to worse”.

    Good news? Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound …

  9. Someone asked in a post on FaceBook “How in God’s name did this happen?” My response was that it didn’t happen in God’s name, but in the name of the enemy. We have a tendency to forget that. Thank you for writing this piece.

  10. “Right, because it’s morally superior to believe that a god of love and justice orchestrated that outcome.”

    No, that is the most morally despicable position to take. Only people like William Lane Craig are capable of sinking so low as to praise the orchestration of the mass murder of children as an act of justice.

    He doesn’t seem to get many boos from Christians, though.

    One can be a believer and say, wisely, “I just don’t understand how this could be part of any plan of love and light, and don’t claim to understand.”

    But the next time an apologist claims to know that it would have been morally worse to temporarily remove this monster’s free will than it would to save those children, I hope Christians won’t wait for him to sink all the way to the bottom before saying, “how dare you, sir?”

  11. This is just pure evil! But GOD alone In Christ, has overcome evil with good…(Matt. 27: 22-54) And Christ is always that “good” in Himself!

    “I have often wondered whether we might not say that the Christian doctrine of the Atonement just meant that in Christ God took the responsibility of evil upon Himself, and somehow subsumed evil under good.” (James Denney)

    “Love is a grave and ruthless passion, unlimited in selfgiving and unlimited in demand.” (Evelyn Underhill)

    At times like this, we must see the Christ of Calvary! This is our only solicitude!

  12. I see it odd to start pointing fingers at God in time like this. I have to catch myself from doing it to, but if we really think it out. instead of reacting, it doesn’t make sense. It just shows how we are bent toward blaming instead of taking on responsibility. I know I am completely corrupted by evil and only overcome it with Christs strength as Michael pointed out. This points to the main issue (evil) and violence like this is a symptom of that issue.
    I have to back up a few steps to see that a young person would only do something of this nature if he believed he was truly accountable to no one. A following though would be that the glory we receive in life is only that which we create for ourselves and finally that life is painful and minimizing this pain is the pursuit of life. These ideals are what we a philosophically taught when when God does not exist. Most people don’t go that far and only deny deity and go on living life. But those who think and dig will find the above statements to be the end answers.
    We have to learn form this and teach our young people that there is purpose in life and we are accountable to God who created us and that we are completely corrupted by evil and our only hope is faith in Christ who saves us. Otherwise, all of this pain is meaningless and we might as well minimize the pain………
    Nick D in AK

  13. Mr. Patton,

    I believe your thoughts on this topic are myopic and I agree that you gave an insufficient answer.

    According to the most recent reports, the shooter was afflicted with a mental illness, some sort of personality disorder, likely an autism spectrum disorder such as asperbergers syndrome.

    Last weeks attack in Casper Wyoming was also carried out by a young man afflicted with this particular mental illness.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57556778-504083/wyo-bow-and-arrow-attack-christopher-krumm-said-father-gave-him-aspergers-and-should-be-castrated-report-says/

    Mr. Patton, If your kid isn’t suffering with an ASD, or OCD, or tics, or ADD, or ADHD, or some sort of debilitating auto-immune disorder, then your neighbor’s kid is.

    There is a mental health epidemic in our nation and complete lack of helpful support. We keep arming police officers and posting them at schools when we should be listening to the desperate mamas who are *begging* for help for their mentally ill children.

    What’s causing this mental health epidemic?

    Well many, if not most, scientists are linking it to the proliferation of petrochemicals in our daily lives.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=autism-rise-driven-by-environment

    Young human bodies simply can’t develop normally when constantly bathed in petrochemicals which are present in scented laundry detergents, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, plug in air fresheners, perfumes, cosmetics, household cleaners, and even in fast food. An excellent book written on the topic is “Amputated Lives: Coping with Chemical Sensitivity”
    http://www.amazon.com/Amputated-Lives-Coping-Chemical-Sensitivity/dp/0967561914

    To chalk this horrific indecent up to “the existence of evil” is to totally ignore the fact that the young man had a mental illness, and in my less-than-humble opinion is pure horse poo and frankly irrational. It would be far more accurate to chalk it up to “the existence of sickness”.

    When a humans brain, neurotransmitters and neurons, are not functioning properly, they are not “evil”, they are sick and in need of medical help. Mental illness is not a sin, and no amount of a “new life in Christ” will make a wrongly formed brain produce neurotransmitters.

    Now, if you want an actual example of evil, then you need look no further than the life of the (not mentally ill?) Protestant church father, John Calvin, who had his longtime friend Michael Servetus, burned at the stake. “Servetus, angered Calvin by returning a copy of Calvin’s writings, (The Institutes), with critical comments in the margins. Calvin had Servetus arrested and charged with heresy. Servetus pleaded to be beheaded instead of the more brutal method of burning at the stake, but Calvin and the city council refused the quicker death method. Servetus was burned at the stake on October 27, 1553. Calvin insisted that his men use green wood for the fire because it burned slower. ”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/mourdockakenlegitimate-ra_b_2022123.html

    So, what should the Christian response be to the mental health crisis in our country? Well according to the actual facts at hand, one thing we as Christians must immediately do, is abandon the use of petrochemicals. This will, according to the actual data, save entire future generations from the burden of many illnesses and as a consequence save them from horrible tragedies like we have experienced so recently. God didn’t create scented laundry detergent nor has he ever used a petrochemical derived air freshener, we have though.

    If we ignore the actual data and choose to not understand the real and actual cause, but instead to live in an alternate reality and chalk tragedies up to some generic “evil”, so that we don’t actually have to do anything to affect positive change, well then I fear that would be worse than irrational, it would surely be real evil.

    • Well, I have ja plenty of mental illness in my family. I do know about this “epidemic” as you call it. Mental illness is also a very subjective diagnosis in just about every category. I am very careful about how I use it.

      But in the then, how does this affect my post? If mental illness is the cause, is the presence of such not evil? Or is it good? Will there be such in heaven?

  14. The Apostle Paul said “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). We have insufficient moral resolve in our fallen nature to solve the riddle of evil. Only Christ has the power to deal with it effectively. But in the meantime, we will persevere and suffer hardship because we have not yet been liberated from the violent, evil cockpit of history.

  15. Thank you for writing this piece.

  16. Hate to say this, but I personally think this maybe God’s wrath.

    And I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more things like this in the future.

    I think God restrains evil, and whenever he allows evil events to take place like this, it’s his anger. And I think he is using less and less restraint and allowing us to self destruct. Demonstrating the depravity of man.

  17. This has nothing to do with god!

    This is another example of a messed up society and a generation that lives with a world we did not grow up in.

    First, the high divorce rate, fathers being guilty and chastised by the courts regardless of fault, this generation is a fatherless society. Fathers love thier kids, hurt the same as mothers do and the laws find them guilty ripping the children away from a stablizing force.

    Assualt rifles, and the the right to bear arms, when the declaration was signed I am certain non of the signing parties envisioned assualt rifles being used on children or the innocent.

    The internet facebook, chastised kids such as Amanda Todd of BC who took her own life, internet games, bloodspilling is routine and parents let kids play..all of them. We were sent out side to play without this global internet crap poisening the minds of so many.

    Everyone is to blame, society is to blame for letting this generation get where they are. It is the point one percent of the population that can snap, and end up sick and evil commiting an act such as this.

    Perhaps rather than asking god how he could let this happen, how can he stop it from happening again. I am truly sorry to say this, and god I hope I am wrong, but its only a matter of time.

  18. I reside in India.I fail to understand why the enlightened theologians in the U.S. have not pressed for gun control.In countries where use of guns has been restricted and can be used only by properly screened license holders, tragedies of such mass dimensions initiated singlehanded are not likely to occur.Crime is universal ,but ignoring preventive measures by the government only facilitates quick execution of criminal intentions.

    • George,

      Your confusion makes sense. But it has to do with the constitution. I don’t think any serious gun bans will ever pass. Your st understand though, while we can site times when these type of things occur, there is no way to measure the times that killings on a smaller scale have been averted because the fear that someone knows I have a gun. And I have quite a few.

  19. Thanks Michael, a difficult article to write no doubt.
    I know that it is in our nature to try to understand or to reason out why things happen. In this case I’m not sure anyone can ever know objectively, why this happened. As you wrote, was it this? or that? or maybe something else, it still could not explain such an horrific act. I will go with evil, that plain,simple antiquated notion because I can recognize it when I see it.
    I hope we do not try to shift responsibility away from this terrible person to some object or mental instability as there are just too many with the same problems that do not resort to murder. I will pray for the victims and their families. I will pray for the country for healing and I will pray we are able to recognize evil more quickly when we see it.

  20. @Scott:

    You are wrong about Calvin and Servetus. Read a credible biography. The Catholic church was out to execute him. Calvin did not sentence him, the city magistrates did. Calvin begged the man to recant his heresy (denial of the Trinity, I believe) and pleaded with the city magistrates to behead him instead of burning him, believing (rightly, IMO) that being beheaded was preferable to burning at the stake. Lots of people lost their lives over religion during that time, both Catholic and Protestant, “heretic” or not.
    Mass murder has been around a lot longer than petrochemicals; think slaughter of the innocents, Nero, Antiochus Epiphanes, Hitler, etc…At the crux of the matter, this is a sin problem.

    Just sayin’

  21. “No, that is the most morally despicable position to take” was exactly my point (just in case the sarcasm didn’t come through for anyone).

    I used to blame God for these types of things. Now I just throw up my hands.

    Blaming God for the problem of evil is a little like poking yourself in the eye with a fork; repeatedly. It hasn’t been working for me, anyway. Trying a new strategy…

  22. Btw, a few of those good and “credible” bio’s on Calvin, would be: Calvin A Biography, by Bernard Cottret, (he is French), the American translation would be the Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000. And perhaps my favorite, (though I really like Cottret’s!), is…simply ‘Calvin’, by Bruce Gordon, (Yale University Press, 2009).

    Right on the money there Leslie!

  23. C Michael Patton @20 “I do know about this “epidemic” as you call it. Mental illness is also a very subjective diagnosis in just about every category. I am very careful about how I use it.”

    You are uncomfortable with my use of the term Mental illness, so let me phrase it differently and less subjectively. The CT young man (and the WY and Virginia Tech young men) had malformed brains. They all 3 had a medical condition, where part of the wiring in their brain did not form, in the most objective sense their brains were physically damaged and they were rendered biologically incapable of accessing the upper portions of their brain were behavior regulation occurs, but instead their bodies could only access the lower portions were aggression has been scientifically proven to come from.

    “But in the then, how does this affect my post? If mental illness is the cause, is the presence of such not evil? Or is it good?

    Mental illness is AN evil just like polio was AN evil, both are an “evil” in the sense that they are a sickness that mankind is not suppose to be afflicted with, but people who have these are not evil, or at the very least you would agree that they are not evil as a consequence of having a mental illness or polio. Your original post stated that “people are evil” and that this was the “simple and more terrifying” explanation for the CT shooting.

    Your initial post basically can be summarized as such: What is the explanation? Is it guns? No. Do we need to disarm the country? No. Is it T.V. shows? No. Is it movies? No. Is it public education? No. Is it divorce? No. Is it the lack of discipline? No. Is it homosexual families? No. Is it video games? No. Is it pornography? No. Is it the internet? No. Is is petrochemicals causing precious brains to be malformed and damaged in the womb, thus rendering these young people physically incapable of utilizing the upper portions of their brain where behavior regulation and control mechanisms are located in a typical brain, thus only leaving them with the ability to utilize the lower portion of their brain were aggression has been scientifically proven to come from? No. No. and No. So what is the explanation for all these shooting tragedies? Well little flock, let me me illuminate your minds with wisdom from my Tradition’s interpretation of the Holy Scriptures… “People are evil” and there is nothing that anyone could have done to stop these tragedies because “The evil proceeding from the human heart will not cease in its intensity until He comes again.” but be of good cheer because “evil is not worse today than it was at any other time in history.”

    But your post, your thoughts, your theology behind your thoughts, all deny the facts of the case.
    Fact#1: the young men in CT, (and in WY, and Virginia Tech) would not have done what they did if they were not afflicted with a very particular medical condition.
    Fact#2 current scientific study says that this very particular medical condition is caused by the large amount of petrochemicals in our daily life. In other words “it was what went into” these young men (petrochemicals) that created the medical condition that rendered them incapable of accessing the upper portions of their brain forcing them to involuntarily access the lower portions of their brain were aggression is located and thus causing them to act in the way that they did.
    Fact#3 if we stop using petrochemicals then petrochemicals will not go into young men, their brains will develop normally, they will not have the medical condition and thus they will not act as a result of being broken in this particular way.

    Is mental illness good you ask me. My answer is, No, it is not good and when we can do something about it, then we must. And this is precisely where your initial post was myopic.

    You say that nothing can or could have been done about these tragedies, it’s just wicked ol’ man and his evil nature at work, but take comfort people knowing that horrible things have been happening throughout history.

    But you are wrong. Something can be done about it and the facts prove it.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are people who are completely sane and healthy from a medical standpoint that do evil things. Again, I would point to John Calvin’s (or the city magistrates?) brutal murder of, Michael Servetus as an example from history.

    At this point let me thank Leslie and Fr. Robert for making my point, which is, facts matter! It obviously makes a difference to Leslie and Fr. Robert that I have my facts straight concerning John Calvin and the murder of Servetus. Did John Calvin sentence Servetus to death or did he “plead with the city magistrates to behead him instead of burning him”? Facts are facts. Facts are reality. And the facts are that three horrific acts recently were committed by 3 people with the same medical condition and the facts are that this medical condition is caused by petrochemicals. Yet, for some reason, these facts suddenly don’t matter to Leslie or to Bud@24 either.

    Bud says “I hope we do not try to shift responsibility away from this terrible person to mental instability as there are just too many with the same problems that do not resort to murder.” And Leslie says “Mass murder has been around a lot longer than petrochemicals” thus petrochemicals could not possibly have caused these young men’s brains to be malformed rendering them incapable of accessing the upper portions of the brain were behavior regulation is located.

    Do you see the apathy that the thoughts in your post produce? Or more precisely the theology behind the thoughts in your post? Leslie and Bud both caught the drift of your post perfectly and their reactions to my presentation of the facts is predictable, they must reject the facts. Why? Well, according to your way of thinking, that is according to your Tradition’s interpretation of the Bible, the reason for the horrific act in CT is something that no one can do anything about. So when you and your followers are presented with reality (the facts) you must reject reality (the facts), and substitute an alternate reality (your Traditions interpretation of the Bible) because otherwise you feel you would be rejecting the word of God, which again according to your Traditions interpretation says that nothing can or could have been done about these recent tragedies.

    Let’s apply Bud and Leslie’s logic to a couple of other historical events.

    First Bud says “I hope we do not try to shift responsibility away from this terrible person to mental instability as there are just too many with the same problems that do not resort to murder.”

    So Bud’s reasoning goes like this…..it can’t be mental illness because other people have the same mental illness and don’t murder. You see, like the pastor says, it has to be nature because we all have the same evil nature and everyone goes around murdering. Oops! Wait a second, we all have the same nature and yet 99.99% of people don’t murder. Well forget that fact, it still has to be nature cause the pastor and the Bible tells me so.

    Leslie now, says “Mass murder has been around a lot longer than petrochemicals; think slaughter of the innocents, Nero, Antiochus Epiphanes, Hitler, etc…At the crux of the matter, this is a sin problem.”

    So Leslie’s reasoning goes like this….since mass murder existed before petrochemicals, petrochemicals cannot cause peoples brains to be malformed to the extent that they are rendered biologically incapable of accessing the upper portions of their brains were behavior regulation occurs, and thus murdering lots of people. No no no…it’s just a nature problem that we can’t do anything about, and I know this because the pastor and the Bible tells me so.

    One last comment. You said “Yet I do think today’s tragedy in Connecticut may be even worse. The intentionality involved baffles me.”

    Science says that this young man was biologically incapable of accessing the behavior regulating regions of his brain, because he was damaged in and out of the womb by the presence of petrochemicals in our environment. So, physiologically speaking, there never could have been any back and forth in his mind about should or shouldn’t I, as he biologically couldn’t access the shouldn’t regions. Thus, it was not an intentional act. It is only perceived to be an intentional act by onlookers, but once you know the facts, you must let reality inform your perceptions and realize that there was no intentionality and then you can stop being baffled.

  24. My mother does not have access to these portions of her brain either. So I do know about this. Her inhibition is nearly all gone. But I am not not too quick to call her mentally ill. Once you have someone close to you with such, you realize how subjective this can be.

    However, you are right. All the qualifier “Evil is present in our world” after “People are evil.” Good show. Evil is the problem. In my hometown OKC timothy mcveigh was not brain damaged, but heart damaged. Even in people’s mental illness they can become “heart damaged”. This does not make them less evil, only less culpable. We will let God sort that out, eh? He is the only one who can judge the intensions of the heart.

  25. two last things:
    1- it appears that I grossly violated blog rule #3, so PM me and I will give you my address for the free T-shirt :)

    2- To be very clear, I do not agree with you that people are evil. It is your Tradition that says that people are evil. Neither the testimony of the Saints nor the Fathers of the Church nor the Holy Scriptures even hint that people are evil. Quiet the opposite. Even medically healthy people however are born into a broken environment and do sometimes give into the passions.

  26. A good article from a Mom whose child has a similar mental illness (or broken brain syndrome for those uncomfortable with the term mental illness)

    http://thebluereview.org/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother/

  27. If this were my child who was killed I would be yelling God where were you that you would allow innocent children to die today?

  28. “The next time an apologist like Alvin Plantinga comes to speak at your church and says that this monster’s “libertarian free will” is more morally important than the lives of those children, you can boo him off the stage.”

    So you prefer everything being causally determined?? That we all be robots? I’m not sure such creatures would really be worth mourning the loss of anymore than my computer’s processor frying. Everything about them, including their death, is just a computer program playing out. Along the same lines how could one really be morally outraged at the acts of people who commit these types of crimes when they were simply doing what they had been determined by fate to do from the beginning of the universe? If you throw out free will you also throw out love, justice, mercy, morality, and everything else. It is all just determined by the fates, none of it is chosen, nothing is of any real value or worth. It is all just a computer program – hardly anything to be broken up about……and yet we are.

  29. While the evil in the world may the the same as it always has been, there are more people in the world today. If the same percentage of people do horrifically evil things, there will be more horrifically evil things done today.

  30. Tragic events like the slaying in CT put the problematic aspects of Calvinism in stark relief. Why did the children die? Because God intended them to die at that time in that manner. Calvinism holds that all events and all decisions were predestined / foreordained by God.

    Calvinists, however, get God off the hook morally by believing that God’s use of intermediary causes releives him of moral responsibility. So, God foreordained before the creation of the universe that Lanza would have the desire and opportunity to kill those kids with multiple, painful rifle shots and that those kids would die a fear-filled painful death. However, because Lanza is deemed by God to be a morally responsible creature, God is not morally responsible for the predetermined outcome.

    How many of those kids went to heaven? According to Calvinists beliefs only God knows and it is not necessarily all of them. John Piper himself has admitted that since God has predetermined whom he has elected to heaven, it could be the case that one or more of his children are not elect and will never be in heaven or the new earth.

    That sort of reasoning is why nonCalvinists call this portrayal of God a “moral monster” and why they find that Calvinism has no good answers in this sort of situation.

  31. People seem to be losing it more these days and becoming violent, I think we are becoming worse.. evil has always been here but people are becoming less human and prone to this influence. Forgive me but I think the rapid sharing of information is also spreading our sinfulness and depravity rapidly.

  32. Amen Ruben! I think of 1 Peter 5: 8-9, and this text was written to Christians…just think where this puts the non-Christians! Frightful really! Evil really is the god of this wordl or age, 2 Cor. 4: 4!

    “In whom the god of this world (age) has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

    See too, Gal. 1: 4.

  33. “So you prefer everything being causally determined??”

    I am of that peculiar cast of mind that says what is true is under no obligation to conform to what we prefer.

    Of course, determinism is not the negation of free will, but suppose it were. One wouldn’t necessarily want “everything” to be causally determined, only those occasional little peccadilloes that pop up from time to time where, say, dozens of children are killed.

    Any of us would have been justified in using lethal force to stop this atrocity in progress. But we are told by apologists that, while killing someone may be justified, temporarily suspending their “free will” would not.

    If any of you had the one-time ability to change this monster’s mind that morning to “I need to check myself into a facility because things are not going right in my life and I might hurt someone” you would not only be permitted to use that power, you would be obligated to use that power. Therefore, please boo off the stage any and all apologists who employ the free will defense.

    I’m not sure such creatures would really be worth mourning the loss of anymore than my computer’s processor frying. Everything about them, including their death, is just a computer program playing out.”

    You know what? Forget I brought it up. If you want to remain agnostic about whether the brutal murder of children is awful, pending the outcome of some abstruse metaphysical interpretation of neuroscience, then by all means, continue to believe your metaphysical thesis. While the rest of us back away slowly in fear as we mourn the brutal murder of children.

  34. Thanks, Michael! That was a very thoughtful and well-written post. Evil is indeed at large in the world. To pretend that it is merely mental illness is foolishness. May our Lord and Savior return soon!

    • Gerald @40 who says “To pretend that it is merely mental illness is foolishness”

      No one, certainly not I said that it was “merely” mental illness. As if someone’s brain being malformed in the womb was the same as having a cold virus.

      This young man and the WY and Virginia Tech young men, were all 3 missing actual physical wiring that allows you, the typical person to regulate your behavior. In other words, if you had the same physical deformity in your brain, you would be thousands of times more likely to do something similar than the “normal” person.

      St. Paul did not have this particular physical brain deformity. We know this pretty much for certain, because the the autism spectrum disorders did not begin showing up until after World War II which coincided with the development and proliferation of household petrochemicals.

      If you would like to experience first hand the effect of modern household petrochemicals on real human beings, you should spend a couple days meeting the patients at the Environmental Health Center in Dallas TX
      http://www.ehcd.com/
      You will be shocked, horrified, enlightened and I believe think me less foolish than you do currently.

      Evangelical/fundamentalists seem to have great difficulty in admitting or allowing mental illness to be anything but a “spiritual problem”, or they relegate it to something akin to a character flaw. Wiring missing from someone’s brain is no different than a person’s arm being deformed from polio. You wouldn’t expect someone with a polio deformed arm to use that arm in some way that is impossible for them. Likewise you cannot expect someone to be able to use their brain in a way that is physically impossible.

      Take a read of this Mama’s experience and tell how “merely” you think mental illness is:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html

  35. Truth Unites... and Divides December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    “I am of that peculiar cast of mind that says what is true is under no obligation to conform to what we prefer.”

    I have the same peculiar cast too.

    Wha…?! God doesn’t have to conform to what we prefer…???

  36. In response to Scott, although I may not be able to express my thoughts as eloquently as you did in your response to Michaels blog, I am reminded of the many in past history that have committed many upon many heinous crimes of murder and annialiation of people groups, Hitler, King HErod who wanted to ahve all of the male babies 2 and under murdered when he found out about the birth of the New born King, the Apostle Paul who had his hand in the murder of Early Christians. I’m not sure if these individuals were exposed to petrochemicals or not but I do know that Saul did get a NEW LIFE IN CHRIST, and we see how the Lord used this man to help turn the world upside down for the Kng of Kings. This is a very difficult time for many but I do know we do have so much more to look forward to as we await the return of our Saviour. Blessings upon you and all that are attempting to make sense of this wretched act.

  37. When we first immigrated to the US in the 80’s my mother told me that people in this country are more prone to being crazy, it was because the people here are more isolated socially and tend to keep to themselves. I think the information age has pushed this much further. Community is replaced by anonymous comments on blogs and tweets and facebook posts, it just is not the same. We need other people to have normalcy, to foster love, to be human, to feel secure in ourselves.

  38. Re Staircaseghost’s comments

    He/she does not appear to understand either what freewill is / or can be, nor understand what the freewill defense is. Depending on how the concept of “free will” is defined, it is the opposite of determinism, and freewill provides a very viable explanation for gratuitous evils such as the killings in Newtown. Such killings can never be justified in terms of a “greater good”, but only in the sense of what worlds are actually possible and in relation to a god who himself suffers.

  39. I think you are mischaracterizing and building a straw man cancerning Evangelical thought as read by you and Evangelical thought as it truly is. The best of Evangelicals fail to make a distinction between the effects of the body and the effects of the spirit. The majority of Evangelical philosophers and theologians would not see it as an either/but a both/and. So much so that even the traditional language such a trichotomy and dichotomy are being replaced by terms such as conditional unity and conditional monism in order to make sure that people do not “cut” the constitution of man in two. Just some standard Evangelical theologies and philosophies will correct your misrepresentation and misunderstanding. A good place to start is a basic Christian Theology such as Millard Erickson (been out for quite a while). As well, JP Moreland and Gary Habermas are doing some great stuff in this area as well.

    So, one cannot really be at fault without the other as they work in an with each other. Where and how to find fault are much more complex than you seem to realize. God much be left to work things out as he assesses the evil that has made this entire world broken and in need of a savior.

  40. C Michael Patton @46

    I have failed miserably to get my point across. My fault.
    My point is this….Something can be done to prevent future evils of a similar nature from occurring. That’s it. That is my whole point.

    Let me re-frame it this way.

    Should a pregnant mother make her best effort to avoid ingesting or absorbing or inhaling items that are known to cause horrific birth defects, spontaneous abortions, and brain damage?

    Should you and your people make your best effort to avoid inadvertently forcing a pregnant mother to ingest or absorb or inhale items that are known to cause horrific birth defects, spontaneous abortions, and brain damage on a mass scale (currently 1 out of every 54 children, increased 80% in the past 10 years)

  41. How is god going to keep gun tragedies out of schools when he can’t even keep child rape out of churches?

    According to the bible, I am going to hell for not believing in god. On the other hand, your run-of-the-mill serial killer in America, who spent his life raping and torturing children, need only come to god, come to jesus, on Death Row, and after a final meal, he’s going to spend an eternity in Heaven after death. One thing should be crystal clear to you: This vision of life has absolutely nothing to do with moral accountability.

    That ridiculous book (the Bible) also says were going to hell for eating pig and shellfish, it condones stoning to death disobedient children, and selling daughters into slavery….you are also obliged to kill anyone working on saterday…I actually read the thing cover to cover….its a terrible book in pretty much every sense of the word terrible.

    As to moral accountability, having the belief that your deeds will be rewarded and punished accordingly by an omnipotent thing after death is really the opposite of personal moral accountability, its getting rid of your moral accountability and pawning it off on a hypothetical life judge.

  42. Scott, I agree. As well, I have failed as my post impied that we should sit on our hands as evil takes its course. By no means was I meaning to imply such. Thank you for being so patient and bringing to light much of what is often lacking in my posts.

  43. Moral @48

    I am a devout Christian and I can say with certainty that the Church agrees with you that the Bible is ridiculous, and beyond that it is also nonsensical, mean and stupid in many, if not most parts, and beyond that the Church also agrees with you that many treat the Bible as a magic book and think of “god” as a fairy-god-mother or a genie or a mechanic.

    I can also say that the Church does NOT believe that you will go to Hell because you do not believe in God, nor does the Bible even remotely indicate such a thing.

    As a matter of fact the Church (and its book) state that death has been defeated and you too will live forever in the presence of God. You may or may not like His presence but that is for another conversation.

    I might suggest that if you are interested, you might grab a beer or six and read some of Frank Schaeffer, as he can say this stuff better than I.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/if-jesus-hates-anything-i_b_2121569.html

  44. “I can say with certainty that the Church agrees with you that the Bible is ridiculous, and beyond that it is also nonsensical, mean and stupid in many, if not most parts”

    vs.

    “As a matter of fact the Church (and its book) state that death has been defeated and you too will live forever in the presence of God.”

    I guess except for that part?

  45. @ John Lollard

    The two statements are in no way contradictory, both are true, and the fact that God the Human defeated death for me and you and the CT shooter, is quite ridiculous and very much nonsensical. The angelic powers and even nature were astonished at the Incarnation and the Cross.

  46. Are you referencing this bit?

    1 Corinthians 1:
    20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

    Pardon me if I merely misunderstood you (you seem to be suffering from that problem a lot), but your comments implied something else.

  47. John Lollard, I pardon thee. Scott

  48. The Mommy Potamus gets it.

    “… at least 11 recent school shootings were committed by kids documented to be on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.”

    http://www.mommypotamus.com/medications-and-mass-shootings/

  49. Pardon accepted :P

  50. @ John Lollard, seriously though, I was not referencing that scripture passage or any other specifically. What my post implied is exactly what I meant. The Bible is ridiculous, and nonsensical in the sense that I described to you the Incarnation and Cross, but it is also ridiculous, and nonsensical, mean and stupid in the most plain and worst sense of those words, in the sense that the atheist gentleman used those words. He is correct.

    Again I would direct you here as Frankie is more eloquent and entertaining and credible than me and more importantly I am going to bed :)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/if-jesus-hates-anything-i_b_2121569.html

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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