Christians react to Newtown, Connecticut, shooting

Christian in crisis(BNc) — Without judging the pronouncements that poured forth yesterday afternoon, silence seemed our best approach in the aftermath of the murders of 26 people, 20 of them small children, in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We have seen such horrors repeatedly, and news of them do not cease to revolt and distress us. On the contrary, with each one, the feelings deepen at seeing such human depravity. Only later will we find our voice.

But each one has his own way of dealing with such devastating news. In the hours following the shooting, several approaches and reactions to the massacre were noted. All of them, in their way, are valid, and many expressed several of these simultaneously.

The family approach. Was anyone from the church involved? Like parents who immediately wanted to know if their children were hurt, saints quickly turned to ask if anyone from the church was hurt or killed. This is a good thing. Family love in Christ is strong. Our desire is to see and do good to all, but “especially to those who belong to the family of faith” (Galatians 6.10 NET).

There have been reports that at least one person from the church taught at the school. Time will reveal if that is so and the person’s status. Meanwhile, the family of God waits and prays.

The compassion approach. How could this happen? Let’s pray for the parents and families involved. This approach had several manifestations: expressions of shock, calls for prayer, relief at the salvation of small children. Not a few said they would hug their own children more tightly at night, or suggested something similar. Distance prevents many from concrete actions of aid, but signs of solidarity appear constantly.

The apologetics approach. God was removed from the schools, and from society in general, so let’s not blame him for bad things that happen. To those who questioned the existence of God in the face of such an atrocity, some stated that the cruelty of man is not an indictment of the goodness of God. There seems to be an ongoing need for theodicy, the branch of theology that defends God’s goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil.

One preacher responded to a bitter Facebook poster by saying that if there is no God, then there is no good nor bad, and no reason to feel upset. He carried the poster’s position to its logical end.

In order to come to grips with, and help explain, yet another horrific slaughter, Christians are linking to a number of articles on the Internet, such as Wayne Jackson’s, “The Value of Human Suffering.” Others are finding aid in Forthright Magazine’s columnists: Paula Harrington’s “Fear and Faith,” Tim Hall’s “Is This Trouble from God?,” and Richard Mansel’s “Aurora: Why Society Has No Answers.” I confess to believing some of my articles pertinent, such as “Cruelty to God’s Creatures,” “When It Pours,” and “We Get Over Things.

The socio-political approach. We need solutions for mental-health problems and security against shooters. Liberals immediately called for gun control. Some conservatives refused to enter the conversation, believing such a discussion to be untimely, but others replied, correctly, that other policies are needed to be effective. Some showed photos of Israeli teachers wearing or bearing arms as a partial solution to terrorist attacks.

It does seem strange, after so many school shootings in the US, that more has not been done to insure the safety of children, teachers, and staff. Christians, as citizens of their respective countries, may call for better policies to ensure security for all, at the same time they recognize the complexities of the political process.

The eternal approach. This shooting underlines the need to preach the gospel. The best policy is not a government law, but a spiritual mandate, of evangelizing everyone. Such moments motivate Christians, or should motivate them, to renew their efforts to teach others the gospel. Even if government were not unresponsive, evangelism alone can save a soul for eternity. Death is not the end. Each soul whose life was ended yesterday entered into an irreversible state of everlasting peace or torment.

Pointing to God in such moments is not a bland reaction to events, but the vigorous hope that sustains people in times of crisis. Let the call to faith be heard.

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9 comments

  1. Harold Williams says:

    The Brady Bill that was passed after the assassination attempt on the life of Pres. Reagan required background checks and prevented the sale of 19 exotic, assault rifles. Research found that this law decreased some categories of gun violence. But a new Republican Congress, some of whom were bought by the NRA, repealed this law. So now these shooters can legally use AK-47′s, AR 15′s (used in the Aurora theater shooting), and the 223 Bushmaster used in the Sandy Hook school shooting. So Christians can’t say anything about such weapons used by private citizens against humanity? And the children keep on dying! What a shame that our marriage to conservative politics prevents us from daring to say anything that might hurt the party.

  2. Reuben Rog says:

    You know… Guns don’t kill. The people using them do. Outlawing guns does not keep the person wanting to kill from doing so. Just look at history, even before the inventing of guns. I definitely don’t agree with what goes on at capital hill, with either party for that matter, but this incident is a tragedy and using it as a political springboard for anything is even more tragic. Let us be concerned with those who have been affected and help in whatever way we can. They need compassion not finger-pointing, understanding not accusations, they need support, comfort, love, and knowing that you’ll listen. God’s love is for everyone, God’s gift is for all those who will take it, are we going to give or try to hoard it. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

  3. Harold Williams says:

    Reuben, people with guns kill people! When the Brady Law was in force, incidents of gun violence with assault rifles greatly decreased. But Republicans opposed the bill and eventually got it repealed. I thought we we were supposed to be pro-life, or does that only apply to the unborn? Indeed we could do something to help prevent much of this kind of violence. And in the the meanwhile, the children and other innocents keep dying, and many in the church feel obligated to protect the NRA and their political party above all else.

  4. Jo Byrd says:

    Brother Harold, America and our world was much different when the Brady Law was in force and when it was repealed. With “God” being taken out of the schools, abortion made legal, violent and immoral movies and tv programs rampant in our modern day, young people especially get the wrong “guidance”. Where are the parents (especially Mom’s at home) and grandparents today? As a retired school counselor, I Know that many children are latchkey kids and many of their single parents are bringing livein boyfriends and girlfriends into their homes where very bad things are happening! Harold, I don’t think many in the church feel obligated to protect the NRA or a political party above all else! I DO believe we want to protect “We the People”, our Constitution, the 2nd Ammendment, and our freedoms (which are being taken away). I submit these thoughts to you, respectfully.

  5. Reuben Rog says:

    I think the point is being missed. Guns are a small factor in the mess of it all. They are simply the tool used to exact the goal he had in mind. The fact that God and His will are vacant in our culture due to the church not knowing the scriptures and exhorting each other with them and reaching out to others with His gospel. We are as much at fault as any political party. However, there will always be people who are greedy, people who lust after the desires of the flesh and will do whatever they see fit to have that desire regardless of the consequences. We can do much if we focus on God and His will for us and acting upon it. How well do we know God’s word? Are we meditating on it daily? When someone asks us for the hope we have can we show it to them with God’s word? When someone needs cheering or comforting words can we bring God’s words to them? We often know sport’s stats better than we know God’s word and that is not the way God wants it. I personally feel no need to defend any political party, nor the NRA. The point I was trying to make was that politics are not what is needed right now. Compassion and care and a showing of God’s love are what is needed.

  6. Doug Bullington says:

    Thank you for your comments Reuben. Trying to defend the political system of men is like trying to put a puzzle together where the pieces keep changing. When the people of this country quit trying to throw God Almighty out of every thing from the home to the school to the workplace, then maybe the youth will be able to get their feet on a solid foundation of God’s principles on which to base their lives. We as God’s children, God’s people, need to realize we serve in the greatest Kingdom ever and dedicate ourselves to encouraging others to join us by submitting to our Lord and practicing a way of life that would eliminate the need of any law but the law of God…the law of love (agape). People will only be changed from the inside out. Outlawing any tool or instrument that men use to accomplish the dark or evil intents inside themselves will not solve the real problem and underlying cause of all violence….a life without Jesus…a life without hope.

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