Dec. 21, 2012 By Jon Storck, Pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Sunnyside
Dear Watching, Skeptical-of-all-organized-religion-but-especially-of-Christianity, world,
On behalf of all of us Christians who refuse to confuse our political agendas with our faith, I want to offer an apology for comments made after the Newtown shootings by those who claim to represent the rest of us.
Deplorably, pronouncements were made that that tragedy was due either to “a systematic removal of God from the public arena,” or to the legalization of abortion and/or state-recognized gay marriage. As a Christian pastor, I want to offer an alternative response that is consistent with historical Christianity and the clear teaching of the Bible which these men have apparently disregarded.
First of all, no one can speak on behalf of the will and mind of God and claim knowledge of culpable sources for such tragedies. Not only is this colossal arrogance but it completely ignores and even trivializes the sorrow experienced by our fellow human beings.
The most noted emotion experienced by Jesus in all the gospels is compassion. And almost without exception, his compassion was in response to some form of suffering by fellow human beings.
Secondly, the Bible denies anyone’s ability to make a direct correlation between moral failure and tragedy. In Luke 13, Jesus responds to a tragedy where a tower fell and killed 18 citizens. He insists that those killed were no worse morally than anyone else and that no moral failure of any kind had anything to do with it. In fact, he rebuked those that suggested such a thing! In John 9 when Jesus met a blind man he was asked if it was he or his parents who were at fault for his blindness. He made it clear that no one’s transgressions were the cause. In fact, not only did he repudiate the idea that someone’s misdeeds directly precipitated the man’s blindness, he also compassionately healed him.
Regardless of whether or not one accepts the supernatural claims of the Bible, the principle is clear that the comments made in the past few days by some Christians are completely lacking in Biblical support.
There are no easy answers in response to such tragedy. All of us, including we Christians, can’t help but respond with, “Why, God?” However we interpret God’s connection to the Newtown tragedy, at least one thing we can’t say is that he doesn’t understand the sorrow. As the late essayist and women’s rights advocate, Dorothy Sayers, says, “Since God became man, we can say that for whatever reason God made man—limited and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from trivial irritations to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, despair and death. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worth while.”
This message, which is the message of Christmas, would have been a much more timely and charitable response.
Sincerely, Pastor Jon Storck
Note: these are the opinions of Pastor Storck and not the Sunnyside Post.