On the Murders in Charleston

by Brian Watson

Regarding Charleston: I saw someone pose the question, “How can there be so much hate?” Evil in the world is a reality, one that will always cause pain and confusion. Part of what makes evil so evil is that it isn’t rational or reasonable. It simply doesn’t make sense. But the question, “How can people be so evil or hateful?” can be answered by the Christian worldview. Christianity teaches that humans can do great and amazing things. They are intelligent and creative and capable of good and noble deeds. But Christianity also teaches that we are all fallen. We all have the capacity for evil. Our hearts are disordered, so we don’t want what is good and true. Our thinking becomes futile. And we all act out of this disorder. Most of us act out in small ways. Occasionally, someone commits an almost unimaginable act of evil. That’s what happened last night.

Christianity offers a realistic view of the world. It avoids equal and opposite errors: on the one hand, viewing the world as an irredeemable cesspool and viewing humanity; on the other, naively viewing humanity as fundamentally good with a utopia just a few policy changes away. In other words, things are not as bad as they could be, but they are far worse than some imagine.

Christianity also offers hope. Part of that hope comes through the promise of judgment. God will punish all evil. And the hope of judgment entails the hope of redemption. There are two ways that God will punish evil. One way is through the cross: for all who find refuge in Jesus, their own evil has been punished there. For those who reject Jesus, they will bear the punishment of their own evil. The serial killers, the genocidal maniacs, and the everyday sinner will be judged according to their works. That’s a harsh truth, but I must make this clear: we all deserve condemnation, because we all have, at one point, rejected the one, true, living God. We were made to reflect God’s glory and live in a right relationship with him, a relationship marked by love, trust, obedience, and service. Yet we tend to live for ourselves, not God.

God could have let us go our own way. He could have condemned us all. But he did not. God entered into this sometimes harsh world. He subjected himself to violence. Jesus was mocked, betrayed, rejected, beaten, and killed. Therefore, God knows firsthand what evil is like. He has endured it. But still there is hope.

Death is not the final word. After Jesus died, he rose from the grave in a body that can never be destroyed. He soon ascended to heaven, but one day he will return to judge the living and the dead. He will also return to make all things new. The universe will have its own resurrection. It will be reborn into a paradise of unimaginable beauty and peace. If those nine people murdered in Charleston were truly Christians, transformed by God into new creations, then that is where they will be forever. There is hope for them.

And there is hope for us. We still have time to turn to Jesus and trust in him. We still have time to stop living for ourselves, turn away from our selfish and disordered ways, and start living for God.

Christianity offers a realistic view of humankind and the world, and it offers hope. Best of all, it’s true.

For more information on the resurrection of Jesus, see here.

For more on the “problem of evil,” see here.

Finally, let’s pray for those who are hurting. Pray for those who lost loved ones. Pray for those who are scared. Pray for the young man who shot these people. Even he’s not beyond redemption.

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