Two Master’s Seminary graduates pastor the Newtown Bible Church. One of them Joey Newton writes about the tragedy in “Weeping with Those Who Weep: A first-hand response from Newton”:
The church I pastor is three miles from the site of Friday’s slaughter, where 26 people were murdered. Certainly this event will in some way define and shape the spiritual life of the community for decades to come. I know it will profoundly affect my family; many of those killed were the same age as one of my three daughters.
I spent last Friday in the counseling center the town set up, where families had gathered waiting to hear the names of their child, or to see if any new information came out. At one point an official came in and let everyone know —as best he could—that if their children were still unaccounted for, than certainly they were among those who had been slain. All afternoon there was, understandably, weeping. All I could do was take any opportunity I had to minister grace to them.
Jeff Purswell offered these “Pastoral Words and Prayer on the Newtown Tragedy.” He reminds us that Scripture informs our response to this tragedy, informs our interpretation of this tragedy and opens our eyes to the opportunities that lie before us in light of this tragedy. A brief excerpt:
And as tragic as these killings were, Christ’s power is even greater than the tragedy, even greater than the evil, even greater than the anguish. Ultimately, that’s where our hope as Christians lies. We long for answers that will satisfy, but we long in vain. Because God doesn’t give us precise answers. But what he does do, just as he did to Job, he offers himself. He has revealed to us in Scripture, and preeminently in his Son, he has revealed to us his character. And so we don’t know why this happened, but we do know that he is here and that he is good and that he is wise and that the is powerful and he is at work in the most horrific circumstances. He’s at work to bring about his redeeming, restoring, saving purposes.
John MacArthur addressed the issue of “Why Does God Allow So Much Evil and Suffering” at a Regional Ligonier Conference a few years ago. You can watch it here. Reformation Theology provides a summary of that message here.
Trevin Wax interacts with some of the contributing factors to such a violent crime as this in “Are We a Violent People?”
While the tendency in the coming days will be to point our fingers in multiple directions, I recommend we point the finger right back at ourselves. Could it be that we are a violent people? Consider…
- We are horrified by the slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, but we are entertained by children killing children in The Hunger Games.
- We react with disbelief at the gruesomeness of the news reports, but then plug in our video game consoles so we can shoot, stab, and decapitate lifelike people on the screen.
- We weep and mourn the stolen innocence of our children, but the bestselling books in our country involve violent sexual fantasies and sadism/masochism.
- We sing carols and hymns in remembrance of the victims of violence, but our iPods are filled with explicit lyrics of rage that are particularly degrading to women.
Should we be surprised when reality eventually mirrors our fantasies?
Talk to Christian believers in other parts of the world and you will quickly discover that we have a reputation for consuming movies, music, and video games that promote a mindset of violence. Whenever I have brought up these concerns with my fellow American friends, I have gotten blank stares and then a quick denial that violence in any way represents us.
I remember when I took my son to see Wall-E, only to find kids in kindergarten going to see Hulk with their parents. I know church kids who sat in the front row of The Dark Knight.
Let me be clear. Even the Bible includes narratives of violence. I’m not opposed to violence as a means of representing evil in books and movies. My concern is that the proliferation of violent depictions has desensitized us to the point that the association of violence with evil is lost within violence itself.
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