Today, we were shocked with the news that a troubled twenty-year-old boy shot his mom in the head at their home and then went to the elementary school where she used to teach and killed kindergarteners trapped in two classrooms. Twenty kids and eight adults lost their lives. The gunman is dead. Suicide.

Selah . . .

Like many of you, I don’t know how to process this. I don’t think it is possible to process this. While the parents and other school children need counseling to help them deal with this tragedy, I think just about everyone in the country (maybe the world) needs counseling. Many pastors right now are adjusting their Sunday sermons, knowing that their congregation is going to be looking for answers from God. They want to know why. They want to know how God could allow such a thing. As the pastor digs deep, his emotions betray him as he would rather be sitting in the congregation while another pastor explains to him the whys and the hows.

The explanations around the world are going to be plenty as emotions run high. Already, the President has made a statement implying that gun control will be placed back on the table. I had lunch with someone who said that the moral decay of our country is at fault. Another said it was the breakdown of the family.

What is the explanation? Is it guns? Do we need to disarm the country? Is it TV shows? Is it movies? Is it public education? Is it divorce? Is it lack of discipline? Is it homosexual families? Is it video games? Is it pornography? Is it the Internet? What is the explanation for all these shooting tragedies? The answer is both more simple and more terrifying than we think. The answer is this: evil. Evil is the reality about which we often forget. Evil. . . People are evil. We are all evil. We don’t need any external influence to explain these tragedies.  We need theological revelation. Listen to what Christ says:

Matt. 15:17-19
Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Notice, this is the search for explanation as to why good people do bad things. But people do bad things due to the fact that we are not really good. It is not what goes into a man that causes him to act evilly, it is ultimately a problem of nature. Furthermore, notice the problem is nothing new to our age. Long before guns, movies, video games, and the Internet, the question as to the source of evil has been on the table. It is out of our heart that murder originates. The world is fallen, broken, and depraved. The world is evil.

So, what is the answer? Obama said in his speech, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” How do we do this? What “meaningful action” will remove evil from the earth? Truthfully, there is no adequate human answer. Evil will exist until the restoration of all things in Christ. Evil will not be eradicated until Jesus comes in judgement. The only question I have is, “Why does He tarry?”  I don’t know. I wish I knew, but I don’t.

However, I am compelled to remind every one of you of something: evil is not worse today than it was at any other time in history. On April 19, 1995, in my hometown (Oklahoma City), the Murrah Building was bombed. I actually felt the blast that killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6. Yet I do think today’s tragedy in Connecticut may be even worse. The intentionality involved baffles me. But evil is not greater today than it was then. It is not greater today than it was one hundred or one thousand years ago. What makes it seem like the world is a worse place than before is the availability of information. Before the internet, before Twitter and Facebook, before twenty-four-hour world news (that lives or dies by the existence of tragedy), we would not have known about tragic happenings such as these outside of our communities. We would not have known about the children who died today. However, in our age, we are expected to shoulder the pains of twenty sets of parents who just lost their five-year-old boy or girl. And you know what? We were not meant to. God did not create us with enough emotional stamina to bear this much evil. Let me try to add to the spirit of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:

Matt. 6:34
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow (i.e., troubles outside your immediate context), for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day (i.e., the troubles in your own family and community) is its own evil.

Christ knows better than anyone what we can bear. And he says we cannot bear that much. I cannot bear the evil that happened in Connecticut. I am sorry. I don’t ignore it, I just have sufficient evils in my own life and family.

The evil proceeding from the human heart will not cease in its intensity until He comes again. That is why the evil of the cross was allowed:  to begin the restoration process. One day, we will be free from these anxieties. One day we will be free from getting calls from people who say, “Are you watching the news?” as fear makes our hearts drop. One day, we will no longer be expected to prepare sermons which we ourselves need to hear. No longer will we be crying out to God, “Why?” And no longer will we be expected to bear the anxieties, evils, and depressions of parents whom we have never met. I look forward to that day.

Is this answer sufficient to salve the pain we all feel? No. No answers ever will be.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    60 replies to "An Insufficient Answer to the Shooting in Connecticut"

    • Scott

      The Mommy Potamus gets it.

      “… at least 11 recent school shootings were committed by kids documented to be on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.”

    • John Lollard

      Pardon accepted 😛

    • Scott

      @ John Lollard, seriously though, I was not referencing that scripture passage or any other specifically. What my post implied is exactly what I meant. The Bible is ridiculous, and nonsensical in the sense that I described to you the Incarnation and Cross, but it is also ridiculous, and nonsensical, mean and stupid in the most plain and worst sense of those words, in the sense that the atheist gentleman used those words. He is correct.

      Again I would direct you here as Frankie is more eloquent and entertaining and credible than me and more importantly I am going to bed 🙂

    • Michael T.

      “Of course, determinism is not the negation of free will, but suppose it were. One wouldn’t necessarily want “everything” to be causally determined, only those occasional little peccadilloes that pop up from time to time where, say, dozens of children are killed.”

      “Any of us would have been justified in using lethal force to stop this atrocity in progress. But we are told by apologists that, while killing someone may be justified, temporarily suspending their “free will” would not.”

      If every time someone was going to use free will to do something “really bad” (which face it happens hundreds of times a day without even speaking of the greater atrocities of history whether something it be something like Sandy Hook or the something like the Rwandan genocide) free will is illusory. I’m not sure the relevance that someone shooting the killer has.

      “You know what? Forget I brought it up. If you want to remain agnostic about whether the brutal murder of children is awful, pending the outcome of some abstruse metaphysical interpretation of neuroscience, then by all means, continue to believe your metaphysical thesis. While the rest of us back away slowly in fear as we mourn the brutal murder of children.”

      You miss my point which is that we have already decided this issue. We believe that the children were of immeasurable worth and value. This is why it is such a tragedy. I believe free will is required for this to be the case in any meaningful way. If everything was simply causally determined they are like computer programs and I don’t see how one can be upset at the loss of such a thing. Likewise I believe that free will is required for us to have any real grounds for being morally outraged at the actions of the gunman. Without it he too is just a computer program doing what he was programmed to do. I can be no more morally outraged at such a thing then I can be at my computer malfunctioning.

    • Staircaseghost

      “I’m not sure the relevance that someone shooting the killer has.”

      You consider it morally permissible to kill the shooter, but not to temporarily interfere with his free will. Therefore, interfering with their free will is morally worse, not only than the monster’s death, but than the brutal murder of dozens of children.

      This is the kind of talk that should be booed off the stage. Fortunately, I think the overwhelming majority of Christians do not believe they should refrain from temporarily interfering in someone’s free will because that would literally be worse than the brutal murder of dozens of children. I think most Christians, placed in a position to choose between those “two” evils, would unhesitatingly choose to save the children. But this is because most Christians do not place such a high priority on affirming sectarian dogma as to completely short circuit their basic human moral decency.

      All of which returns to the original point. It is sadly very easy, in an internet argument or campus debate, where everyone is warm and dry and safe, to argue that free will is more morally important than the brutal murder of dozens of children as a dialectical move to “beat” one’s opponent. Like saying “Bishop to Q7” — it takes on the appearance of a game to be won.

      But one thing that is not a game is the brutal murder of dozens of children. Much more difficult, when face to face with a real world tragedy, to say to a grieving parent, not only that there is a greater good, but that you know which one it is.

    • Scott

      C Michael Patton @46
      “So much so that even the traditional language such a trichotomy and dichotomy are being replaced by terms such as conditional unity and conditional monism in order to make sure that people do not “cut” the constitution of man in two.”

      Well thank you. It is good to know that at least some Protestants are finally coming around to believing what the Church has been proclaiming for some 2,000 years now.

      C Michael Patton @49
      “Thank you for being so patient and bringing to light much of what is often lacking in my posts.”

      Nah, it is you who has been patient with me. You can always count on me to be a real blow hard, know it all, and an all around turd, in sort of a friendly way….sometimes.

      I am checking out of this blog now…shouldn’t see anymore posts from me….best of luck to everyone….and for goodness sakes give up petrochemicals in your homes.

      The first place to start is in your laundry room. The number one domestic air pollutant is laundry detergents/fabric softners/dry sheets.

      It doesn’t affect just you, but also affects your entire neighborhood as well as pregnant women and their babies, who come into contact with the petrochemical fumes coming from your dryer vent or even from the petrochemical based smells coming off of your clothing.

      If you need more reasons then look at C Michael Patton @46 concerning the constitution of man. Petrochemicals affect the whole person.

      Use All Free and Clear or a 7th generation brand of laundry detergent and just don’t use fabric softener period.

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