Chris Hohnholz’s Reductionist View of the World: The Nevada School Shooting

chris hohnholz

Chris Hohnholz, a Fundamentalist Calvinist,  is one of the featured writers at the Defending Contending blog. In a blog post today, Hohnholz shares his heartache over the school shooting in Nevada:

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.

Comments (11)

  1. Paula

    We have become so sick of the unnecessary violence on TV that we simply refuse to watch any program that involves a “murder of the week” or gratuitous gore. Good writers of the past could tell a story quite well without showing so much gruesome detail.

    Just tonight we were agreeing that we had no interest in watching a new show where a doctor is told if she doesn’t murder the president, her family will be killed. We quit watching “The Mentalist” because it became more and more graphic in it’s violence.

    It is no mystery where people get the ideas for the crimes they commit.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      While I have no problem with adults watching violence on TV, I do think we need to keep children and impressionable teens from watching it. Of greater concern is violent video games. I do not buy the argument that violent video games have no negative effect on youth and I certainly don’t buy the argument they reduce violent behavior. Children and many teenagers have immature reasoning skills and they often have no understanding of the danger of guns and violence.

      Reply
      1. bill wald

        That’s my big problem with my Church denomination. The world seems to be closely balanced between good and evil, leaning towards evil.

        We can’t know the meaning of “good” unless “evil” exists. A perfectly evil universe would be chaotic because chaos opposes order. A perfectly good universe would be frozen with zero entropy.

        Reply
  2. Becky Rogers Wiren

    I saw a stat that stated that over 70% of these shooters had been BULLIED. It was the biggest contributing factor. However, having access to guns easily was the second or third factor… :(

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks for mentioning this, Becky. when the history of school shootings is written, bullying will play a prominent part. Kids can be brutal towards those who don’t fit, those who are outliers. To some degree this has always happened but it seems kids have a much easier time getting their hands on weapons.

      Reply
  3. Alice

    If God is sovereign then he caused (allowed) this to happen. I don’t know how we’re supposed to be okay with that and then say He is good.

    Reply
  4. bill wald

    Bruce.

    “Hohnholz denies that humans are basically good.”

    SO DO I! There is no historical evidence that humans are more civilized/less evil than we were 10,000 years ago. We have only become more efficient and sanitary at killing and controlling each other. The basic fallacy of Social Darwinism and humanism is that we are born with a clean slate and basically good.

    The point of being civilized is that we have learned to suppress our evil nature and cooperate for our mutual benefit. The “Christian Republican” evil is not reductionism but Dominionism/ Christian Reconstructionism. See google.

    You were on charis when I told Randy he was a reconstructionist but didn’t know it?

    bill

    Reply
  5. Kat

    Hohnholz’s post here is beyond offensive. Prick.

    “Good” and “evil” are just useful social constructs. No act or thought, and certainly no person in their entirety, is inherently one or the other: there are only actions that, in any given situation, lead to benefit and those that lead to harm, for either ourselves or those around us or both. I believe that humans, as social animals, tend towards actions that provide mutual benefit (i.e., most people are mostly “good”), because that’s how we all get along and how each of us lives a life that is comfortable, with a minimum of suffering. Unfortunately, our survival instincts and our tendency to take a short view of things lead us to worry about that comfort and suffering, which can cause us to do “evil” things to protect ourselves, and this is where environmental factors really make the difference. Was this boy bullied? Did he have adequate support at home? Did he have a mental illness? To say that he killed that teacher and himself because he was inherently evil and unsaved, ignoring any outside influence, is grotesque at best and dangerous at worst, and Hohnholz should be ashamed of himself. That kind of dismissal of humanity, and the reduction of complex circumstances to the good and evil binary, is, for me, strongly on the “harmful” arm of the balance, and Hohnholz’s attitude, if widespread, has more potential for lasting evil than one boy’s admittedly horrific, destructive act.

    Reply
  6. Dale

    Very good point, Becky.

    Reply
  7. Dale

    How many times I’ve heard, “that poor child needed Jesus!” I’ve always wanted to know exactly how that would have made any difference?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yep. There is is faulty and fanciful idea that if they just know Jesus they wouldn’t do __________________. Jesus becomes a talisman that keeps a person from doing evil.

      Reply

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