Monday, April 23, 2007

The Reality of Evil - A Follow-up on the Virgina Tech Tragedy

How could he do it? Why would he do it? What would drive a college senior to arm himself, casually walk into a dorm and classroom facilities and kill 32 people then himself? As all of us search for answers, we stay tuned to TV news reports and special editions, turn to newspaper articles, log onto blogs and chat rooms hoping to find some explanation that will unlock the secret of exactly what went so horribly wrong.

Chuck Colson, the well-known Christian worker, author and social analyst, has spanned the globe reaching out to the individuals considered the most "untouchable" by virtually every society of humanity - encarcerated criminals. In his travels, Colson often asks the correctional staffs what they believe causes inmates to commit their crimes. Generally, especially in Europe, the answer is "Mental Illness". While it is true that mental illness is a factor in many cases of the crimes committed throughout the world, there is a strong sense that there is something more foundationally causal that fules the fires of mental illness, aberrant behavior and destructive violence that we see in the world around us. The Bible says, that something is evil. Colson explains:

As we seek to understand what happened and why... it is vital that we not exclude an important part of the equation: evil.

Faced with this kind of horror, we automatically assume that we are dealing with a madman—a word the media has already used to describe the killer. That's because we can't imagine ourselves or anyone we know doing anything remotely like this. Therefore, we conclude that something must have been "wrong" with the perpetrator.

And, since our culture is defined by what sociologist Philip Rieff called the "therapeutic ethos," the "something" that's "wrong" must be a psychological defect. Mental illness, not human evil, is our preferred explanation for what happened in places like Blacksburg or Columbine.

I would add this - the types of mental illness that might contribute to a Blacksburg or a Columbine are not adequately explained without the consideration of evil. Scripture warns us that our life struggle is not merely a war of flesh and blood, neurons and synapses, the visible and the measureable, but our struggle is ultimately a Spritual battle against powerful and authoritative forces of wickedness, darkness and evil. Of course, this assertion is troubling and disarming because we are severely limited in and of ourselves to wage war with these unseen spiritual forces. The freedom to bear arms has no effect in deterring the power of Satan. Arm yourself to the teeth with firearms, and there is still no guarantee that some form of evil will not find it's way to vex you.

For this reason, we MUST remember a few truths that will prepare us to effectively fight this battle.

First, remember the nature of the battle:
Ephesians 6 reminds us that,
"...[W]e are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms."
We call these beings, demons. They are not fantasy characters from horror films, but sinister beings aligned with God's archenemy, Satan, who seek to thwart God's plan of redemtion and to bring the lives of all people to ruin and misery.

Second, remember the nature of the weapons:
The Ephesians 6 passage continues to address the "Spritual War by listing and explaining the essential spiritual weapons,
"Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere."
This spiritual battle is one that requires us to have a personal relationship with the Lord that we continually cultivate through Bible study, prayer, and sharing the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Lastly, remember who our commander is:
1 Samuel 17:47 reminds us that we are not to fight our own battles in this realm, but must remember that, "the LORD does not save with sword and spear - for the battle is the LORD’S"! Our Life Commander can strengthen us, encourage us, deliver us and fight for us in every battle with evil. He is able to be all that we need in the most heated part of the battle with evil.

Evil is real and a part of the fallen world in which we live. It is an aspect of life for which the Bible warns us to be prepared at all times. Ignoring the reality of evil in favor of solely "naturalistic and rational" explanations for the inexplicable dangers and tragdies of life is dangerous. Nevertheless, we don't have to live in fear of evil. Let's be confident in the Lord and the spiritual weapons Jesus has given us to fight the good fight and to be prepared no matter what situation may come our way. Until next time,


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