He Asked About the Killings… and God

This past Friday, after the tragic deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School in imgresNewtown, Conn., I received the following inquiry from a friend. It has been abridged to respect his anonymity.

 

Good afternoon friend.

 

Like most people in America right now, I’m staring at the news right now and just shaking my head trying to figure out how/why something like that shooting could have happened.  Most likely no one will truly know, but that doesn’t make it easier to process. …

 

I have never actively disrespected Christianity, as some people i know have.  Whatever works for you is what works.  A little liberal i realize, but I respect religion for what it is, and what it is (to me) is a method of ways to process what happens in the world into some form of useable information that one can use to find a meaning and purpose in all things.

 

So, as I read the news today about the CT shooting, I just keep asking myself the question, why would I want to place my trust in something or someone that would be ok with this happening.  I know all the tropes, ie, God’s plan, or something good will come from this, always darkest before the dawn, you name it. 

 

it seems like an overwhelmingly selfish thing to ask, in that something like this happens and I can only think “HOW DOES THIS IMPACT ME” but, please, no this isn’t from a selfish place. 

 

I realize that if there is a God there are multiple miracles he could be responsible for. …

 

But for all of those, how does this fit in?  How is this ok? How is this part of a plan?  And if it IS part of an omnipotent being’s plan, how can I possibly trust in it/Him explicitly when he signs off on things like this happening.  Does he say ‘well lots of people got home safely yesterday, I suppose today is a good day for this one’? I’m not trying to be disrespectful, I just don’t understand it.  I hadn’t really asked myself these questions in about a decade, and I can’t shake it.  Perhaps there are no answers for these questions, and such is the strict definition of faith.  And it’s not that I set metrics for God and if He can’t hit them, then i’m out, no thank you, ask me again later.  I just can’t answer the fundamental question of why would I place my trust and faith in someone that allows this to happen.  Am I asking the wrong questions?  Are my inquiries too selfishly motivated to have proper answers?

 

Again, I ask you these things because …  I couldn’t ask my parents bc I’d get written out of the will, and I could ask my wife, but I don’t really want to sleep on the couch for a week. 

 

 

Here is my reply:

 

These are great questions which warrant more discussion than this space comfortably allows. However, I’ll be glad to continue beyond this, either here or over a beer.

So… let me, for now, offer four points for consideration:

1. You’re asking what I’m convinced is THE most difficult question for any religion – or any belief system – to deal with: the reality of evil.

If you, personally, are entertaining atheism, let me suggest the challenge will be greatest for you. How does someone determine that something is in fact evil and speak out against it when they’ve removed any transcendent standard of measure against which a conclusion must be reached?

2. Of all the possible belief systems, you won’t find any that take the problem of evil more seriously than Christianity. (Of course, I think the reason behind this is because it’s TRUE.)  The entire purpose behind God’s work in and through Christ is to confront, defeat and rectify evil and its consequences. I John 3:8 says, “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.”

3. Given that, I would not dismiss some of the explanations you listed that you’ve heard from Christian believers.

4. Finally, if I look solely at the tragedy in CT, I see no sign of God’s love and goodness. I have to go beyond such events – even beyond events that suggest there may be a loving and gracious God – and look at Jesus – His life, death and resurrection – to see most clearly the demonstration of a God who loves you and me.

Would love to keep in touch.

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4 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Evil, Jesus, Johnny Price Mindfield, Religion

4 responses to “He Asked About the Killings… and God

  1. Stephen Price

    Johnny, I would add that I believe God weeps at the deaths of these children; and at all the violence that we do to one another. Our freedom, our free will, means that we can act contrary to what God wills for creation. So God, in vulnerablity, suffers with us. God was with each of those children as they died. Jesus, indeed, reflected/reflects what the Kingdom of God is supposed to look like; and it is to imitating Jesus in helping to bring that Kingdom here and now (“on earth as it is in heaven”) that we need to turn now in looking at issues around mental health and the restriction of assault weapons.

  2. Some solid thoughts, Stephen. Thanks you!

  3. Meg

    This is a tough one Johnny. I almost quit Divinity School and said adios to God. I am in the journey to Ordination and I am terrified of what people will ask of me regarding suffering, angst, affliction, evil. I answered God’s call which I don’t understand because I would be the least likely person to accept Ministry as Vocation. I am accepting the request, which is obedience. It isn’t a choice for me, it really is something God asked of me, and I comply after years of refusing. Yet I now face being in God’s employ knowing that people raise legitimate challenges to the notion of God’s Omnibenevolence. Is my Boss an uncaring jerk? Is there a lesson? It is hard to be where I am at right now. It’s hard for people to trust God, the Creator, when God doesn’t seem to give a damn about God’s own Creation. I feel like I am on the front lines of the attack on God and part of me agrees with the attackers. Where is God in all this? I don’t know.

    • Meg- This IS a tough one. One of the toughest. And what I’m getting ready to say is by no means comprehensive: As Christians, seeking to discern whether or not God is a God of love, our starting point has to be the life death and resurrection of Jesus. “But God DEMONSTRATES his love toward us in that while we were still [hateful, murdering, destructive] sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (emphasis and parenthetics mine) There are then some solid, helpful speculations we can pursue to help us reconcile some of this that seems irreconcilable.

      Hey! Miss seeing you.

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