Thank you for the responses to the post, Did God Cause the Connecticut Shootings. The responses came mostly through Facebook and other media. Some thought the article didn’t go far enough. Others thought it went too far. So, let’s consider the objections in these two directions. First we will consider the objection which says my view did not go far enough.
Basically, my argument is that the immediate cause of the deaths is rightly placed upon Adam Lanza, who alone was responsible for killing more than two dozen people in Newtown, Connecticut. He will be held accountable by God for his sinful, murderous actions. However, God was not absent from the horror. Ultimately, God—secretly and mysteriously—was (and is) causing it all to work together for a greater, eternal good.
Objection one says that this argument does not go far enough. Instead, the argument should state not only that God was present, but that He was also present specifically to enact His judgment. In other words, God caused the event to happen to exact His judgment against America and, especially, America’s schools.
So, the question becomes, was this an action of God’s judgment on American schools for rejecting Him and removing prayer? No, I don’t think it was.
Here’s why I say “no.” I have no hesitation stating that God exacts His perfect justice against sins. God punishes the wicked. He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (see Exodus 34:6-7). Every evil action, thought, and deed will face the bar of perfect justice, and our God is a consuming fire! He will, in fact, cast souls into Hell (Luke 12:5), and He will ultimately usher in a new heaven and a new earth for all who believe. Thus, it is always a fitting word to say,
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven” (Hebrews 12:25).
Nevertheless, God’s judgment is better directed than the bullets at Sandy Hook. God’s judgment is precise and exact—even down to the thoughts and intentions of the individual heart. So, what evidence is there which suggests these particular kids were guilty of the particular sins God supposedly judged on this occasion? The kids weren’t responsible for prayer being removed from their schools. They probably had no knowledge of any of the lawsuits which led to the excising of God from student classrooms. Yes, God judges—but not haphazardly!
Consider Christ’s teaching in this regard from Luke 13:1-5,
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Notice that there were people who wanted to ascribe a slaughter to the judgment of God. Jesus quickly corrected those justice-mongers who hoped to tie the tragic events of his day directly to the hand of God. No one knows for sure what event is being spoken of here in Luke 13, but the point is plainly stated. Jesus turns the situation into a rhetorical question of great significance: Do you really think these people died because of their particular sins? No, there was no way to tie their deaths to any immediate sin committed by them. Thus, the deaths could not be ascribed to the judgment of God in any particular sense.
The same is true for the tower of Siloam. A dozen and a half victims unexpectedly perished in an instant, when the tower fell upon them. Was that the hand of God’s judgment against them? Jesus says, no. Whether slaughter (the Galilean example) or accident (the Tower of Siloam incident)—the lesson from mass tragedies is NOT to point the finger and say, “Those people must be great sinners, for God has judged them.” Rather, the point is for every survivor to point to himself and say, “God have mercy on ME, a sinner.”
Tragedies–whether tsunamis or school shootings–are reminders of the fixed reality of God’s ultimate judgment over humanity. All are under the curse of sin and death. Thus, any could die at any given moment. And we all need to seek the remedy God gives us in Christ.
Objection Two moves in the opposite direction and says, “God had nothing to do with Connecticut, and it is unhelpful, if not downright hateful, to suggest that he did.” The answer to this objection is next… stay tuned.
- Did God Cause Kids to Die in Connecticut? (gregoryccochran.com)
- Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting (bpsfuelforthought.wordpress.com)
You misread Jesus v. Jerusalem. You are putting words in Jesus mouth. Jesus is clearly prophesying against Jerusalem in Luke. Luke 19:43-44: “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
You know what happens when God’s people break covenant with Him? He hurls refuse at them, lays siege to them, and both parents and children die. Sometimes the parents end up eating their children. Dt. 28:53; Jer. 13:14, 19:9; Ez. 5:10,17; 2 Kings 8:12; Hosea 10:14,13:16; Nahum 3:10; Ps. 137:9; Is. 13:18
Covenant breaking. Cultural apostasy.
Are you saying the prevailing situation in our geographical locale is not one of apostasy and covenant breaking?
Charles, I appreciate your thoughts. Even if one were to say this passage (Luke 13:1-5) is a prophecy against Jerusalem, the point of the passage appears the same to me. Jesus is saying to His hearers, “Repent!” It does little good to suppose that acts of slaughter or acts of tragic death are the result of those particular people being worse sinners than the rest of us. That simply is not so. We should all be sobered up and repent when tragedy strikes.
To your larger question, I would say both yes and no. Yes, we are apostate in very many ways in our geographical locale. But I might say No if you are arguing that America broke a covenant in the way Israel did. I don’t think God ever entered into covenant with America, or any other nation. God’s chosen are those in Christ, not those in America, right?
There is such a thing as covenant keeping– being blameless– in both the Old and the New Covenant. There are, in fact, ‘worse sinners’, and I suspect you are misreading Paul, in Romans and Galatians in particular.
The inhabitants of this geographical locale–who were among ‘My people called by My Name’– have broken covenant with God… which is not the same as saying ‘America’ the nation broke covenant with God.
Will you acknowledge that it is possible for the inhabitants of a geographical locale to either: a) keep covenant with God; or b) break covenant with God? Will you acknowledge that there are sanctions for keeping/ breaking covenant?
Thanks for the challenge. I hope I am not misreading Paul or Jesus or any of the New Testament writers (but I know it is a possibility, which is why I keep studying and writing). To your main point, I think God’s covenant is reserved for His people. Faith marks the boundaries of the true covenant both in the Old Testament and the New. I think Israel was guilty of thinking of covenant boundaries in terms of geography, which explains why she was confident of God’s favor, even while God’s wrath was being provoked.
How would you answer Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:12, in which it is clear that those outside of the people of Israel were “strangers” to the covenant and without hope?
Thanks so much for your reply.
Tim Gallant’s “These Are Two Covenants” speaks in large part to how I read Paul.
My point in all of this is that the Christians who happen to live in the geographical locale referred to as “America” have failed to carry out their priestly calling to be salt and light in a manner consistent with Jesus’ Commission. In fact, the geographical locale referred to as “America” is inhabited, in large part, by apostate Christians….faithless covenant breakers who invoke God’s wrath, whose sins are not atoned. Christians who inhabit “America” are not blameless.
I’m inclined to believe that unless Christians (which the majority of the inhabitants of America self identify as) repent, the inhabitants of this land will perish even as the apostate Jews did in AD 70. This is the pattern we repeatedly see in Scripture even before Moses.
Ah, I understand your position better now. We are not as far apart as I thought. Thanks so much for the explanation. Have a Merry Christmas.