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Evangelicals & Violence

The question of evil is one that has vexed civilization since the beginning of time. It is the question that is the source of serious inquiry for both theists and atheists. Atheists attempt to prove the absence of God because of evil’s ubiquitous presence. Atheists naively believe the presence of evil is the Achilles Hill for a positive case for theism. They purpose if a good God exists He would not allow the presence of evil or if an all-powerful God exists would not permit evil to take place.

Evangelicals, through the use of a discipline called “theodicy,” attempt to present a cogent argument why “evil” exists and why its presence does not provide evidence for the non-existence of God. The theist argument for the presence of God entails why and how eternity provides the final answer to evil. A satisfactory answer to evil is not available in our present dispensation. Because of Adam’s fall evil has entered the human experience, even with the atoning work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross.

Whereas the cross provides the ultimate death knell to evil the full manifestation of what has been wrought by Christ’s atoning work will not be realized until Christ returns and ushers in “Eternity Future.” Evangelicals posit what is called already, not yet eschatology. Christ is already ruling but He rules in the hearts of the citizens of His kingdom. One day He will rule in an absolute sense from His throne in Jerusalem.

While we lament about the ever increasing occurrences of evil that take place we need to realize there is so much evil that God is presenting constraining from taking place. Evangelicals understand when The Tribulation (The Tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Jesus Christ to Earth) takes place and God’s restraint in evil is removed humanity will experience 75% of the human population being killed within a seven-year period. Please note it is estimated world population is quickly approaching 8 billion people. So, using 8 billion as a number, imagine the death toll of 6 billion people in a seven year period.

So, on one hand we understand evil will be part and parcel of the human experience until Jesus Christ return and sets all things in order. But, on the other hand we are not expected to adopt a fatalistic worldview where we accept that is the way things are and we are supposed to passively accept it.

We are called to subdue the Earth to the best of our ability. Even as we live in a fallen world the expectation for the Church is still to be light and salt. Some will argue for gun control and others will argue just as passionately against stricter gun control measures. Evangelicals of all persuasions will come to different positions as to what should be proper response.

Personally, I am neutral on the issue of gun ownership. I personally do not own one and would never contemplate owning one. I am not so sure the Second Amendment was intended for individual gun ownership but that is not a hill I am willing to die on.

I have NO DESIRE to take the guns from any citizen who legally and lawfully posses one. I know more laws will never eradicate the massacres we are beginning to see on regular basis. I do not believe our society would be wise to adopt a police state whereby we relinquish our civil liberties for the sake of security.

There is always the dilemma between individual liberty and societal security. There is no easy answer because if it was it would have been implemented a long time ago. The issues are complex. There is the mental health issue, there is the racial and divisive rhetoric that inflames the toxicity many embrace, there is the economic oppression and exploitation issue. I am sure there are other variables you might add that contributes to the presence of evil.

But the real question is what is the elixir to evil? It will NEVER be getting the right president in office. We have seen evil taking place under Republican presidents and we have seen it take place under Democratic presidents. My pursuit is not naively believing getting NOR keeping a Republican president into office will have a significant impact on eradicating evil.

The only answer to the question of evil is the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Frankly, we will see MORE, not LESS, of what we saw take place over this past weekend. Yes, we are to do all within our power to push back against evil but we live in a world where Satan is the God of this Age, where He is the Prince of the Power of the Air. Satan is a formidable foe, he is not to be trifled with but He is as Martin Luther famously said, “Even the devil is God’s devil.” 

So, how does the Evangelical response to the news of another tragic massacre involving the loss of human life. He does not look to the government in any real ultimate sense. He does not embrace the position we just need to get the other party into office or we need to get the right person on the Supreme Court or any other such foolishness.

No, he prays ever increasingly, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” He prays, “Thy kingdom come on Earth as it already is in Heaven.” As my pastor texted me yesterday, “May we not look to the right or to the left but stay focused on Jesus.” Our hearts rightfully grieve for those families affected by the events of this past weekend. We even grieve for the individuals who committed these murderous acts because they are still individuals created in the image of God. I pray for the surviving gunman from the incident in El Paso.

I abhor his actions and his worldview but he is still someone who the Gospel is available to. I do not and would not wish hell on my worst enemy. That is the wondrous good news of the Gospel. No one is beyond its reach, not even this young man. That is the radical nature of the Gospel. Let us never forget and embrace this view of the Gospel.

Evangelicals and Evil. Evil has been here every since the Fall. It will even be here during the Millennium Kingdom. Yet, Christ promises an eternity where all forms of evil will be eradicated once and for all. This is the Christian hope, that is the proper Evangelical theology. Human conventions will fail. Christ is the only answer. Own a gun or don’t own a gun. Makes no difference to me. That is the not the issue. Guns are the symptoms, evil is the disease.

We need to quit attempting to dealing with the symptoms and deal with the disease. The disease is sin and the finished work of Jesus Christ is the only remedy. Because many in our culture reject this proposition things will continue to deteriorate and deteriorate rapidly. This is not pessimism, this is realism. I wish it were NOT true but I am resigned to believe what God reveals in His Holy Word.

I join with Evangelicals all over the globe praying for those affected by the horrors of this weekend. I can only point and export all to look to Christ. He alone is able to make sense out of the senseless.

Let me know what you think. Whether you agree or not. Until then keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One

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