My heart is heavy today. As I got up and started my day, I began to see posts on Facebook that things were not well in a town near me. Sadly, a school I once attended many years ago was rocked by violence this morning. As of time I am sitting to write this, four casualties have resulted from a shooting in the school. Current reports state there have been two deaths – one being the suspect from a possible self inflicted gun shot, the other a school staff member – and two children in critical condition. The news of these events grieves my heart terribly. Partly because I once attended this school in my youth. I have many fond memories of friends and teachers there. To see it rocked by such violence, to imagine what it might have been like had my father gotten such a call as many parents did today, to think on those kids who will be emotionally and physically scarred by the tragedy, causes me to weep. But also, as I look at this I cannot but help but weep for the one who stepped out of this world in his sinful state.
While many political pundits and news agency talking heads will spend days and weeks debating the events of today, and many will ultimately blame lack of school security, others claiming gun control needs to be more strict, none will truly acknowledge the root cause of this tragedy. None will recognize that it was the sinful heart of a young man that caused the loss of life and critical injuries that happened today. From the secular worldview, our children are either blank slates or inherently good. This worldview believes that all we need are the right conditions for our children to blossom into the greatest and brightest examples of humanity. However, that is not what God’s word teaches.
…We do not learn to sin later, we are not influenced to sin by environment. We are sinful from birth, as David writes in Psalm 51: 5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Because we are born sinners, we sin naturally. It is part of our character and nature to rebel against the very Creator who gives us life. It is that rebellion, that willful disobedience against God that will one day be brought into judgment. We will stand before God, with every disobedient thought, word and deed laid bare before Him. No claim that we were innocents let down by society will stand. Our utter sinfulness will send us straight to Hell.
There may be those who read this now who are very upset with me that I would choose this incident to claim the shooter was a wicked sinner deserving of Hell. Some may feel I am dishonoring his parents, trying to capitalize on their loss to promote my faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. I weep for this child. I am heartbroken that, despite the wickedness and harm he committed, he is now standing before the Judge of the universe and the evil that he did will be judged eternally. I weep because it is a child like this that we as Christians are commanded to share the truth of the gospel with. The truth that God forgives sins. That all the anger and hatred inside his heart, no matter the motivations, would be forgiven through the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take the punishment for his sins. That if he repented – that if he turned from the anger and hatred in his heart, that if he viewed himself not as a good person, but as one who was in rebellion against God – and turned to Christ as the only source of his salvation, he could be made righteous in the eyes of God. I weep because today, many in our churches are not sharing this gospel message. Perhaps it is fear that motivates them, fear of rejection, fear of being hated for the word’s sake. Or maybe it is a lack of biblical understanding, that the sharing of the gospel is not a gift given to some, but a command to all because we are in a spiritual war for souls. I weep, because many people like this young shooter, and those he affected, will step off into eternity today, and tomorrow and next week, with no knowledge that God has made a way of salvation for them…
Hohnholz denies that humans are basically good. Every person born into the world is a sinner in need of redemption. The child who killed and wounded a teacher, his classmates, and committed suicide, did not do what he did because of easy access to guns, insensitivity to gun violence, or any other societal pressure than may be revealed in the coming days. He was a murderer because he had a wicked evil heart. Implicit in Hohnholz’s claim is the notion that IF this child was a follower of Jesus Christ he would not have done what he did. I am sure Hohnholz, the good Bible literalist he is, believes, according to the Bible:
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:8)
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
I wonder how Hohnholz squares his heartache with his Calvinistic beliefs? If God is sovereign, decrees all things, only saves the elect, and nothing happens apart from his purpose and plan, isn’t what unfolded in Sparks, Nevada just God doing what God does?
In a moment of preaching frenzy, Hohnholz, like many Fundamentalists who use tragedies like the school shooting to trumpet their religion and the need for everyone to believe like they do, leaves the moorings of orthodoxy to appeal to heart of his fellow Christians. He writes:
I weep for this child. I am heartbroken that, despite the wickedness and harm he committed, he is now standing before the Judge of the universe and the evil that he did will be judged eternally.
According to orthodox Christian theology, when a person dies they go to the grave to await the judgment. This judgment has not yet occurred, so the child who committed these shootings will not be judged by God today. Instead, he lies in the grave, awaiting the resurrection of the just and unjust. Surely, Hohnholz knows this, and I suspect he just got carried away with his evangelistic fervor.
This reductionist view of the world, reduces the complexities of human behavior and things like good and evil to a transaction between the crucified, risen Savior Jesus, the Christ and fallen, sinful, wicked humans. According to Hohnholz, Jesus is the answer for every problem. He never reconcile his reductionist view of the world with the reality that almost 2 billion people claim to be Christians, yet, for a world that has plenty of Christians do go round, evil still exists, and study after study shows that Christians commit crimes and live “sinful” lives at the same level as non-Christians. As I have stated before, I suspect most of the men and women locked up in American prisons believe that Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life.
This is why we can not spend one moment considering Hohnholz’s empty solution for school shootings. Instead, we must focus on guns, their availability, and the continued romancing on violence on TV and in video games. When do we plan to take a serious look at WHY children are willing to pick up a gun, take it to school, and kill their classmates, their teachers, and themselves? Perhaps Hohnholz’s Jesus could clue us in to the why of school shooting? That is, if Jesus can spare the time to do so since he is so busy helping teams and players in the NFL win their games and helping the NRA elect pro-gun politicians to office.