Some Thoughts On Yesterday’s Shooting

What can we learn from discussion on this matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, a tragedy occurred with a shooting in a Texas church. I am sure it was at least 20 who were killed as there are different reports out now and I know one of them was the pastor’s 14 year-old daughter. Either way, we have a tragedy right now, but what happens when we go to Facebook and the comments section to see what’s going on?

There’s immediately charges about who did it and why. Now in some sense, I can understand people not mourning. After all, there are several people who will die today and you and I will go through our lives for the most part and not even blink and in fact be happy about it. There’s nothing abnormal about this. When July 24th comes every year, for most of you out there, it’s likely another day of the year. For Allie and I, it’s a very happy time as that’s our anniversary. I don’t expect someone who doesn’t know us to be happy or to have zero sadness on that day. Every day is day of tragedy for someone and a day of joy for someone else.

I have no problem actually then with people discussing this problem and what to do about it. What I have a problem with is people who don’t know the facts acting like they do. In fact, many of them hope that the facts are on their side. That is, the fact that the killer was a member of a certain religion or political persuasion.

One report I have heard is that the gunman was an atheist who wanted to strike out at a church and I think it was his mother-in-law’s church. What would that show? It would not show that you need to be living in fear of the atheist that you meet. It would not show that all atheists are bloodthirsty killers. In fact, many atheists can lead moral lives that could put many Christians to shame.

What if it was a Christian? Again, you would not be able to extrapolate to all other Christians out there. In fact, you will find some crazies in every group out there. It saddens me greatly to know Christians do some terrible things.

For if it was a Muslim, which I haven’t heard this but I’m just tossing it out there. Sadly, I can understand this one some. Most of the acts of terrorism we’ve seen committed here in this country I think have had the battle cry of “Allahu Akbar!” Again, that doesn’t mean that I need to live in terror of the Muslim down the street.

We could go on with if this was a conservative or a liberal. One of the problems is what we do with conspiracy theories. Someone comes with a presupposition of what they think the conclusion was and then tries to find the evidence to support it. In fact, I remember P.Z. Myers did this with the shooting of the Congresswoman in Arizona where he was insistent it would be a right-wing tea party member. Even when evidence he shared was shown to be fake, he was still insistent he was right. (It does look like the posts have been taken down now.)

Now we could discuss the ideologies instead and where they lead to. These are better questions because we’re discussing worldviews and not persons. For instance, if atheism is true, this person does not have to represent all atheists, and he doesn’t if he is one, but we could ask how atheism explains this. If the person was an atheist, did that person live in contradiction to his worldview or not?

What if they were a Christian? Again, we ask the same questions. We also ask that if they were a Muslim. Every worldview has to explain evil and every worldview has to explain morality, even if as is the case with some atheists, they want to say that morality is an illusion of sorts and there is no objective right or wrong.

There’s another thing to not say here. It is foolish I think for us to try to divine the will of God from what happens. Sometimes things just happen because people are evil. I have a problem with people reading the will of God or trying to figure it out from dreams, experiences, events, circumstances, etc. which we don’t know to be directly from God and messages for us, and ignoring the place where we are sure we get the will of God, Scripture. Spend more time exegeting Scripture than you do your own life.

Also, I am on guard now for people saying statements about mental illness. Unfortunately, mental illness becomes a catch-all term that people use and automatically everyone with a mental illness is suspect. Technically, my wife and I both have at least one, namely Aspergers. Could someone with a particular mental condition be more prone to doing this? Sure, but let’s make sure that we don’t impugn all people with mental conditions with that.

When this happened in Las Vegas, I saw someone saying it was the case of mental illness. It always amazes me that people say that someone had to be mentally ill to do something like this. Not necessarily. Could some people just simply be evil and do this? We so often want to say that the person is just a poor thinker and did something stupid than to say the person is an evil soul who did something evil. Sometimes, things happen because people are sinners. Chesterton years ago said the most empirically verifiable doctrine of Christianity is original sin. We are now losing sight of that. It could be we want to say mental illness because those who are supposedly “sane” can then be free to not worry and we don’t have to bother examining ourselves and that pesky little sin problem.

For a while, you’re going to hear people make several claims about what happened. Always be ready to ask what the source is for the claim and how it has been verified. I’m also sure we will hear several crazy conspiracy theory claims. There will be no doubt people saying that this didn’t happen at all. Who knows what else they will come up with? Please especially ignore these.

Pray for the people involved and let’s try to not jump onto any bandwagons of suspicion. Wait until the facts are in, and these are facts that are agreed to by the majority, and then discuss. Until then, worldviews are always available to be discussed and it could never hurt us to have more discussions about the truth on ultimate reality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

A Response To “Jesus Was A Liberal”

Does the Bible show a liberal Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t often go into political ideas here, but when it comes to Scripture, I’m more likely to make an exception. I am a conservative up front, yet I found this page I saw through Facebook recently quite troubling. It was a lot of the bad reading of Scripture that I’ve expected to see and the sad part is I’m sure the authors think it’s totally convincing as do many of the readers.

So let’s get into it. Will I as a Christian right-winger hate these twenty verses? Let’s find out.

“Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16.

What we are told is that Christian right-wingers like to have class distinctions. After all, we favor stealing from the poor and giving to the rich and forget the middle class. Well, no. Jesus is not saying anything about a classless society. In fact, in the very passage, he says it is right that his disciples call Him Lord and Master. In the same way that He is their Lord and Master, they ought also to serve one another.

Something people on the left regularly seem to get incorrect is the idea of intent. They think that if they have good intentions, then the results will be good. Conservatives don’t see that. We realize that the road to hell can be paved with good intentions. We’re not interested in where someone’s heart is when they come up with a plan to help the poor. We’re interested in if it works.

LBJ’s war on poverty has been going on for fifty years. It has not been working. We need something different.

As for government programs, my wife and I have to rely on some of those right now due to her disability. I don’t like that. Neither does she. I’m one of the poor spoken of, and I’m a conservative because policies of the left only make it harder for us. The right doesn’t want to give me the same outcome as everyone else. They want to give me the same opportunity. I’d rather have that.

Next one is this passage.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

We all knew this one would show up. Of course, the writer of the piece then goes on to complain about the attitudes of Christians towards anyone who isn’t a rich white male. Naturally, the author can’t help but make a judgment about those she disagrees with. Jesus is making a statement about judging without evidence. Hypocritical judging is the problem.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Luke 6:41.

Of course, the anti-judgmental writer wants us to realize that we talk about the sanctity of marriage, but go on to cheat on our spouses and seek gay sex and other such things. Well to be fair, yes. There are hypocrites out there. How does that prove the idea is wrong? It doesn’t. As for myself, the writer can rest assured by listening to those who know me that I am a man who honors my wife and does not cheat on her or anything like that. In fact, I have said that if the world does not honor the sanctity of marriage, it’s because the church helped lead the way.

So no. Once again, this is not a verse I hate.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

The writer uses this to show how conservatives are the first to go to war. Well sometimes, we think war is a necessary evil. The Old Testament that Jesus believed in and affirmed contained many examples of righteous warriors. No one should like war. No one should delight in war, but unfortunately not every evil person out there responds to peace and love. Sometimes restoring the peace means eliminating those who war against it.

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

This is supposed to make Jesus look like a hippie, but conservatives oppose government aid. Well not necessarily. Even a number of conservatives have no problem with a safety net. I don’t. We should be able to help those who through tragedy have fallen on hard times. Of course, I do think that larger responsibility should go to the church.

What Jesus is talking about is living in a society where you lived from day to day. There weren’t grocery stores where you could buy food in bulk and refrigerators where it could be hold. You also didn’t have safety-deposit boxes at your bank to make sure nothing happened to your wealth. In this case, a person was to trust on God, but at the same time there is no call to stop working.

Many people on the left look at how many people are being cared for and consider that a success. I don’t. I consider it a success when we take someone who has fallen and empower them so that they no longer need our support. More people needing support indicates more of a problem.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

Somehow, this is meant to show we have a war on women. Actually, I think people who are pro-abortion are really engaging in a war on women. Something that makes women unique is their ability to give birth. Destroying the baby in the womb (Which could about 50% of the time be a woman being killed by the way) is a way of going against the femininity of the woman. I really think the author is making a major stretch with this one.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:17

The writer asks us how we can see the verse and not support programs that give government aid and support tax cuts for the rich. It’s really simple. We don’t think many of these programs work and they in fact only enable what we don’t want to see. We think the war on poverty has been a failure and just throwing money at a problem won’t solve it. We believe the rich are the ones who can invest the most in society and when we enable them to do that, the economy is built up. Note also that this is about individuals giving to those in need. It’s not about having the government do it.

Suppose you are a rich person and I come and rob you at gunpoint, take all your money, and give it all to a homeless shelter. Have I committed a crime? Yes. You can say I did something good with the money, but I still did something wrong. I didn’t give my money. I gave yours. It’s just as wrong when the government does it as when we do it.

What is noble is if you’re that rich person and you give that money to the homeless shelter. It is not noble to take money from others and give it away and claim you’re a person of charity. That is a way of saying you can do whatever you want as long as you have good intentions.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Matthew 9:35

How does this one work? Well since Jesus healed diseases, we should support government health-care. Yeah. It’s a major stretch. Jesus gave freely of himself. Government health care is not doing that. We freely admit we have a problem, but the solution is not to look to the government to be our savior. I favor other options such as allowing states to compete with one another for health care. Let people compete with one another.

In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:28

This is said to describe conservatives to a T. Let me just remind the writer that she earlier pointed to Matthew 7:1-2. Apparently, she’s allowed to do it but no one else is.

14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves,and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” John 2:14-16.

Ah. Now we see what makes Jesus really angry. Capitalism! Yes. It wasn’t seeing people living in oppression under Rome. It wasn’t seeing sin all around him. It wasn’t knowing that people were sick and demon-possessed. It was that capitalism! Nothing gets Jesus angry like capitalism! (You know, the Jesus that according to Luke 8:1-3 was supported by wealthy women)

No. Jesus’s anger here was quite likely because this area of the temple was a holy spot meant for worship and it was instead being used a marketplace. Jesus didn’t oppose a marketplace. He instead opposed having a place for worship become a place for making money. There are better places for that.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:24

Why is it this way? Because the rich often think they don’t need anything more and think they already have the favor of God. The ministry of Jesus changed this. The early church did consist of people who were wealthy and they were never told to sell all they have and give it all away. They would often use their wealth for the good of the community still, such as allowing their houses to serve as churches. We should all be wary of the love of money and watch ourselves from it, but having money is not a sin. It is a sin when the money has you.

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40.

Yes. We are to love our neighbor, therefore we should support redefining marriage and anti-poverty programs. I’ve already said why we don’t support the latter. The former we don’t support because we don’t think there’s any behavior there we should celebrate and affirm. We in fact think we’re in line with Jesus who upheld the moral standards of the Old Testament and in Matthew 19, said that God made us male and female and then said the two shall become one flesh. Note which two he spoke of. He spoke of male and female.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:5.

Of course, the writer wants to compare us to the Pharisees again. Note this is the same writer who emphasized Matthew 7:1-2. No further reply is needed.

If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. Matthew 12:7

Jesus did preach mercy, but the writer wants us to ask why we ban abortion and seek the death penalty and want to charge children as adults in crimes. The writer apparently didn’t notice the last part. Let’s look at it.

“Condemned the innocent.”

What crime did the baby in the womb commit to deserve death, other than existing at the wrong place and time? For the death penalty, that is for people who are guilty. It would need to be someone beyond a shadow of a doubt. For children as adults, it’s because many times they are old enough to know what they’re doing and committing crimes of a far more serious nature.

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16

We’re told that because of this, we should not seek to cut programs that give food to the poor. It would probably blow this author’s mind that a researcher like Arthur Brooks found that conservatives actually give more of their income away to charity than do liberals. We have no problem with helping the poor. We have a problem with helping them in ways that don’t work.

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Luke 11:46

The writer wants to thank the GOP for cutting programs that help the poor. As someone who is among the poor, I do not support these programs designed to help. Usually, they come with so many conditions that it’s hard to get away. I also do not support a minimum wage increase at all. That only makes things more expensive for me. I understand the left likely has their heart in the right place, but good intentions are not enough. If the program doesn’t work, scrap it.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

Yes, and we agree with this. We don’t force the rich to give to the poor, but we think it would be wonderful if they did. If they don’t, then God will give take them to account. It is not right for us to commit theft in the name of a good. Those who are conservative and have wealth should indeed lead by example.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.

The writer points to how we don’t raise the minimum wage to help with cost of living. Unfortunately, the minimum wage does not help. If it worked, it would have already done so. We have to keep raising it. Why? Because it creates more expenses. Suppose you are an employer. You can hire one of two people. One is an entry-level guy with no experience. The other is a guy with experience. Odds are you go with the one with experience.

If you had more resources, you could hire both, but you can’t because the government has forced you to do it this way. Therefore, people who need those jobs, entry level people, cannot get those jobs. They require then more often government aid. That means higher taxes. Higher taxes in turn leads to things being more expensive which in turn leads to a demand that the minimum wage go up.

Let the economy do its own thing. Stay out of it. It will work.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:34-40

Once again we have the same mistake. Since the poor should be helped, the way to do it is through the government. No. The way to do it is to have people give of themselves. Theft is theft regardless of who does it or why.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ Matthew 25:41-43

Finally, we end with this as a reminder about how we should find religion for the above. I would instead suggest the writer finds some good material on Biblical exegesis. This is all a fine example of how not to read the Bible and it’s like she thinks we’ve never read the Bible before. We have. Perhaps the writer should start by really reading it herself.

In Christ,
Nick Peters