Is God Judging the United States? Three Lakes Evangelical Free Church in Wisconsin Responds to the Sandy Hook Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

When the Sandy Hook massacre happened in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012 Three Lakes Evangelical Free posed a question. Is God judging America? This post came about due to the comments made by people like James Dobson and Mike Huckabee. I offer some feedback and respond to what is stated by this EFCA church in Northern Wisconsin. 

“Unintelligent people always look for a scapegoat.”  

Ernest Bevin   

“The biggest cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid people are so sure about things and the intelligent folks are so full of doubts.”

Bertrand Russell

Then Jesus wept.

John 11:35 NLT

Adam Lanza

The problem of evil and the way some Christians view God punishing the United States I find to be warped. I recall when Jerry Falwell blamed September 11, 2001 on atheists, feminists and gays and claimed that God was punishing the country. That was upsetting to me, and I am quite sure that if you asked anyone who survived the Al Qaeda attack on the Pentagon or the World Trade Center that it would bother them. Before I get into today’s post lets look at a community and an Evangelical Free Church in Wisconsin. 

Three Lakes is a small town in northern Wisconsin. In the 2000 census the population was listed at 2,339. When the Great Chicago Fire happened in 1871 it was this small Wisconsin town in the north woods that supplied the wood that helped rebuild the city. During the Great Depression President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal which consisted of alphabet soup politics. One of the programs to emerge is the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In the area the CCC began to replant the forest after heavy logging. Logging is an important industry but tourism is also probably most key to the area. Three Lakes Evangelical Free began in June of 1984 when 40 people started to meet in the Three Lakes Elementary School. The first pastor of this church was Dan Grell who also pastored nearby Conover Evangelical Free Church which is also in the EFCA denomination. The first full time dedicated pastor to Three Lakes was David Addington who came on-board in January 1985. I am wondering if he is related to T.J. Addington who is well known in the EFCA denomination. The sanctuary at Three Lakes Evangelical Free came about in January of 1986. 

Today this EFCA church is led by Niall Philyaw who is the senior pastor and Ian Stewart who is the youth and family pastor. Here is the background on both individuals. Niall grew up in Chillicothe, Illinois which is near Peoria. According to Linkedin he attended Moody Bible Institute from 1998 to 2002 where he picked up a B.A. in Youth Ministry. While attending college he worked as a law clerk for Condon & Cook in Chicago. His first ministry job out of Moody appears to be at Waushara Community Church in Wautoma, Wisconsin. While a Youth Pastor he decided to go back to school and pick up his M.A which he did at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He eventually served for over 10 years at Waushara. He is married and has four children and is involved in the other official religion of Wisconsin. That of worshiping the Green Bay Packers.  Ian Stewart started serving at Three Lakes in September of 2017. Ian met his wife Cami in high school where he ran track. They both are from Port Edwards, Wisconsin and married in 2015. Ian attended Moody Bible Institute.  His wife attended North Central in Minneapolis for three semesters. They both are into hiking and kayaking and rumor has it they are addicted to Settlers of Catan and this is the best location for it in the North Woods. 

So let’s look at the issue at hand and then I will explore the article on the Three Lakes Church blog. For the record this is not the first time I have written about the Sandy Hook and theology. I wrote another article that took what John Piper said about Sandy Hook and used that to illustrate how Neo-Calvinism makes the problem of evil worse. Why? It basically teaches a sovereignty that is nothing but determinism. You can read that in, “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Make the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut.” When Sandy Hook happened there were some evangelical Christians who said some things that were deeply disturbing. Mike Huckabee claimed that the shooting in Connecticut happened because God has been removed from schools. This is how Mike phrased it on Fox News. “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” Huckabee said something similar after the Aurura, Colorado movie theater shooting as well. James Dobson who is known for his role in Focus on the Family for years also weighed in. Sandy Hook happened Dobson claims because America has turned is back on God and is in sin. Specifically he referenced abortion and the fact that marriage is being redefined by gay marriage. You can read more about what James Dobson said here. Next week I plan on doing a post about the history of Focus on the Family and lay out some questions that this blog hopes to answer in time. While Dobson is out of the role of leadership he still carries influence today. What is also particularly disturbing is that when it comes to James Dobson I remember when he was vocal against Bill Clinton and called for his impeachment and removal from office because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Compare and contrast that with Dobson defending Donald Trump and praying that the Lord would protect him from impeachment. As the details of an alleged affair with a porn star continue to emerge just the other day I was reading that the next phase of the discussion by Stormy Daniels appears to be on what Donald Trump’s penis looks like. You can read about that in political reporting here. It will be interesting to see how James Dobson explains away and spins the information. So to sum this all up there were some evangelical Christians who proclaimed that the Sandy Hook massacre happened due to sin or the United States turning its back on God. Against all that, Three Lakes Evangelical Free wrote the following post below. The name of the post is called, “Is God Judging America?”  I am going to comment on it, and my comments will be in red


I presume many have heard comments from famous evangelical leaders that the tragedy at Sandy Hook was directly related to the immorality of our country.  I do not disagree that we need revival in America for the darkness is great.  I do not disagree that our morals are in disarray.

But…

Are we really using spiritual discernment in expressing these opinions?  Do we know the mind of God so completely that we can claim to understand why He allowed this tragedy?  Is the Bible even being used to defend such opinions?  If Job saw the need to remain silent on the tragedy that was his life (Job 40:4), then why not us?  God has a purpose in all things, but we do not always understand it.

I honestly wish many Christians would stop and actually listen to what James Dobson, Mike Huckabee and so many like minded individuals actually say. Have they really listened and contemplated what is actually said? What they often say is so profoundly cruel and more about advancing a political cause through tragedy than anything else. James Dobson and Mike Huckabee can be deeply cruel and their behavior after Sandy Hook illustrates that fact. God is a God of justice and love and to use such a situation for such gain is twisted. Whoever wrote this second paragraph I deeply appreciate them doing so. Does James Dobson know the mind of God? Can he actually speak specifically why? How did James Dobson hear that? Did he get a phone call, text message or an email that said,

“Hey James, God here…here is why Sandy Hook happened. I am pissed off that gays are getting married in Chicago and New York. In return since you rejected me I decided to send Adam Lanza as my prophet to do my will in an elementary school.

Sincerely, God”

Did James get an email like that? In times of pain and mourning there are times to speak and times to be silent. The reference to Job 40:4 is well done in this section. But does God have a purpose in this? That last sentence I find troubling. It would be better if that were left out.  

To suggest that God allowed this for the purpose of judgment assumes we know God’s motives.  What those leaders are saying is that God is mad about abortion (He is) and homosexuality (He is), SO in response, He will indirectly cause the deaths of kindergarteners and teachers, some of whom may have been believers.  What?  Let me be sarcastic for a moment.  If these pronouncements are true, then God must not be as mad about pornography, abuse, human trafficking, pride, adultery, and other evils in this country.  Let’s not choose our top two sins.  Depravity is rampant.  God’s wrath is real!  Jesus is our only hope!

I appreciate that the writer thinks about this in the context of other issues. The fact that the writer compares and contrasts that God is angry about one sin and not the other is part of the issue. People like James Dobson cling to one sin and one sin only and most likely that is all they care about. Adultery destroys marriages and causes pain. So does theft, embezzlement, alcoholism, drug addiction, and so many other issues. I would suggest that James Dobson really doesn’t know what sin is when you think of how he responds. 

Let’s consider a biblical example of catastrophe.  This is Christmas season, so let’s remind ourselves of King Herod’s murder of all those Jewish baby boys in Matthew 2:16.  Do we read that story and say that God is judging Israel?  Maybe He is, but it reads to me as if Herod was furious that he missed his chance to kill baby Jesus.  Herod, who was full of darkness, was trying to extinguish the “Light of the World.”  That darkness resulted in the deaths of many.

This tragedy is, in some ways, self-explanatory.  On the face of it, we can see that evil is alive and well in America.  We want to blame video games, parenting, horror movies, mental illness, gun availability, and who knows what else.  But evil is at the root of this (James 1:13-15).  And evil does pervade many movies, video games, parenting choices, and how we use firearms.  Evil has frequently resulted in death (Cain and Abel for example).  And God does not always intervene to stop this evil, but one day, He will! 

I appreciate what is being communicated about King Herod. Its a good question to ask and it shows the problem in James Dobson’s theology. Was God judging Israel? I have not heard of that situation in that context. I have never taken that story in that frame of mind. I have always viewed the story of King Herod as a man who is angry, tyrannical and who wanted to preserve his power and that he missed his opportunity to kill Jesus. After all the Three Wise Men did not comply and not notify Herod where Jesus was at if my memory serves me correct. Evil in many ways is everywhere. Its my claim that the single best reason to reject Christianity is due to the problem of evil. That said I will also differ from the author in that I also believe mental illness was an issue in Sandy Hook as well as gun availability. The mental illness contributed to the disaster. Not all mentally ill people commit crimes, actually if you familiarize yourself with NAMI they have good stats and information on mental illness. Gun availability is also an issue here, specifically assault weapons. 28 people were killed in this tragedy. I don’t think Adam Lanza cold have killed as many with a knife. He certainly could not have shot through doors if he was armed with a knife. But I also want to acknowledge that yes, evil was involved here. 

Let’s consider one more example.  When Jesus foresees the destruction of Jerusalem in 70A.D. that occurs as judgment from God, He…weeps (Luke19:42).  It breaks His heart!  He longs that the circumstances were different.  The church’s love and compassion ought to be on full display in light of this tragedy.  Most Americans already know the evangelical church’s stance on abortion and homosexuality.  We do not need to drive those points home at a time like this.  These dear families need our love, prayers, and support.  Americans need to know that this shooting grieves the heart of God.  Jesus was born to save us from the evil we see every day on the news and in our own lives.

I believe it honors God and the victims’ families to declare that there is great darkness in the world, but Jesus has come to bring light and life to all humanity.  Let’s declare with the angels…

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I appreciate the writer closing out the post by calling on people to offer support, prayers and love. Reminding people that this mass shooting grieves God is the proper and correct thing to say. To speak of a time to mourn, support and love needs to happen more.  Many parts of Christianity today are devoid of empathy and love. Too many people act like Job’s friends and cause pain by ridiculous things they say in difficult or painful times. Now here is the other problem that needs to be addressed in this post. Evangelical Christians are terrible at this. People like James Dobson need to be called out and challenged. When Dobson spoke people should have contested and pushed back. Since Dobson is one of the anointed for many evangelicals they often give him a pass when they should be calling him out. Here is the problem that exists, when Christians stay silent many people assume that people like James Dobson speak for the evangelical faith. They think that what he says is what many evangelical Christians believe. When Christians stay silent they continue to give James Dobson a platform. I sincerely hope both Niall Philyaw and Ian Stewert watch that atheist video that starts out this post. It also spends time talking about what Dobson and Huckabee have said during Sandy Hook. And it also reminds people that individuals like Dobson are creating atheists in many ways. That is something that many people aren’t considering and that needs to be discussed. Three Lakes Evangelical Free I enjoyed reading your post and giving you feedback. For the most part this was a good post in pushing back against some toxic thinking. I will be writing more about you guys in the course of time. Know that I love you guys! 

 

40 thoughts on “Is God Judging the United States? Three Lakes Evangelical Free Church in Wisconsin Responds to the Sandy Hook Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

  1. A few things…

    When Huckabee states things like God was taken away from schools, HE HAS A POINT, for which you MOCK.

    The point…MORALITY was taught in school when God was in school with us, and that morality was from the Bible. This is what our founding fathers wanted, and had, up until about 50 or so years ago.

    Take God out of schools, you have MAYHEM, and a lack of morality, and we have that today.

    As my ex-wife loves to say:

    “YOU GET WHAT YOU SETTLE FOR”

    I have no idea why people mock the religious like you do. It’s kinda disgusting. Speaking of which, how would our founding fathers, who laid the foundation for this nation, think of gay marriage? A civil rights issue? Was that their vision for this new nation of freedom? I think not. They were religious folks who believed that morality was from the Bible.

    Is judgment on a nation NOT biblical?

    Genesis 15:13-16 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
    13 Then the Lord said to him, “You can be sure of what I am about to tell you. For 400 years, your family who comes after you will be strangers in another country. They will become slaves there and will be treated badly. 14 But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves. After that, they will leave with many possessions. 15 But you will die in peace. You will join the members of your family who have already died. And you will be buried when you are very old. 16 Your children’s grandchildren will come back here. That’s because the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached the point where I must punish them.”

    It’s in Genesis, and other places in the Bible, too. Notice, if you will, the last sentence:

    “…the sin of the [AMERICANS] has not yet reached the point where I must punish them.”

    This shows that God will only tolerate sin to a POINT. Then comes the spanking!

    Thomas Jefferson, the dude that wrote the Declaration of Independence, and something about a wall of separation, who attended Christian church services in all branches of the Federal Government Buildings, stated the following:

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/

    “can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when
    we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the
    people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are
    not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country
    when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever:
    that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of
    the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events:
    that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty
    has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.”

    So…in the MINDS OF THE PEOPLE, freedom only comes from God, A FIRM BASIS. God is JUST. Freedom can be violated with God’s wrath. And…SUPERNATURAL INTERFERENCE. God is mightier than man in such a contest of NATURAL WILL vs. SUPERNATURAL interference.

    SUPERNATURAL INTERFERENCE. Jefferson TREMBLES about the judgment of God on the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    But I suppose that Jefferson would be considered a whack job, too, like Huckabee and Dobson, et al.

    Ed Chapman

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    • “GOD’S JUDGMENT FOR AMERICA’S SINS SITS READY AND WAITING IN THE NUCLEAR MISSILE SILOS OF THE SOVIET UNION!!!!!”
      — Radio preacher on Christianese AM radio back during the Cold War. Lather, Rinse Repeat.

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    • “And stop screaming. Nobody likes a religion with people screaming.”
      — the original Internet Monk

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  2. I believe it is a theological truth that evil and suffering in this world are the result of this being a fallen and sinful world. That seems like something on which Christians should basically be in agreement, and is supported by a variety of Scriptural references.

    I think where things become problematic is when we claim to know that sin X led directly to evil Y. That may work in some limited situations (I was driving recklessly and as a result I crashed my car; I developed cancer after chain smoking for 30 years, etc.). But on a larger scale, connecting those dots is not so clear, and attempts to connect those dots usually reveal more about the particular sins focused on by the person connecting the dots. This is called out by the Three Lakes posting, where it asks why we say that such-and-such happened specifically because of sins A and B, and have nothing to say about sins C through Z. And it pridefully presumes that we can know the mind of God and that we are equipped to definitively explain why things have happened in the way they have happened.

    Also, the speculative “connecting the dots” with specific sins can lead one to the questionable conclusion that we can alleviate evil and suffering simply by “cleaning up our act.” We can try to do so, and there would still be evil and suffering. Don’t get me wrong . . . Is it a good thing to try to sin less? Absolutely. But it should be because we want to honor and please a holy God and love our neighbor as He commanded, not out of the expectation that if we do so then God is obligated to make our lives easier and suffering-free.

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    • Also, the speculative “connecting the dots” with specific sins can lead one to the questionable conclusion that we can alleviate evil and suffering simply by “cleaning up our act.”

      If not a Final Solution against specific types of Evildoer du Jour.
      THAT’s happened often enough in history; the Republique of Perfect Virtue always beckons seductively from the other side of the Regrettable but Necessary Reign of Terror.

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      • ” . . . the Republique of Perfect Virtue always beckons seductively from the other side of the Regrettable but Necessary Reign of Terror ”

        well said, Headless

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  3. I remember something Mike Huckabee said that defined him in my eyes.

    The situation was that a Church found out that a mosque was being built across the street and the pastors of the Church reached out to the Muslim community and welcomed them and gave them friendship and sanctuary until their own place of worship was completely built.

    But Mike Huckabee said he didn’t understand what they were doing. He didn’t ‘get it’. For too long Huckabee had been poisoned with Islamophobia and couldn’t understand the simple gospel teachings that reached out to the ‘stranger among us’ . . . .with love . . . the kind of love that doesn’t want anything in return but only to care for the ‘other’ for the sake of the other . . . that they should live and be well.

    Huckabee didn\t understand this. And so I have this image of him as someone who has been poisoned by fear and hatred and is not (yet) able to climb out of his own hiding place to see what IS possible when Christian people actually live out the teachings of Christ . . . the same Christ Who Himself was cared for among strangers in Egypt when He was a helpless child . . .

    All I know is that there is big money, and political power in hating and fostering fear in this country. It doesn’t matter what form that hatred takes: misogyny, Islamophobia, racism, Homophobia . . . does it matter what that hate formed itself into when the end result is that it poisons those who harbor it within themselves . . . . and for those ‘christians’ who seek to be entertained and have their own hatred of ‘the others’ reinforced, the fear-mongers have found a ‘base’ of loyal followers and, in time, in our time, these ‘loyal followers’ came to be handed over to the Trump . . . . . a political force so filled with fear and hatred that they no longer ‘get it’ that in a little Church in this country, a group of Christians and their pastors took in and cared for and made welcome ‘the strangers in their midst’ because they LOVED them in the Name of the Lord.

    Hatred poisons the hearts of men.

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    • Getting in a reply before Chapman Ed chimes in as Defender of the Faith/Witchfinder-General.

      1) Isn’t a Huckabee one of the White House/Trump Tower press spokesholes?

      2) If Islam has any hope of surviving and adapting to the future, it will be American Muslims.

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      • Hello Headless,

        yes, Huckabee’s daughter is Sarah Sanders, the W.H. press person and she is, well, you have to listen to her to believe it

        I feel a bit sorry for her. I wonder if she is AWARE of how many lies she has told . . . . I don’t WANT to judge, but OMG, at times she embarrasses herself and I think she knows it.

        As far as Islam surviving, I think it will and yes, in Western countries, it has a chance, more-so in Europe and Scandinavia than in the US . . . . let’s face it, the US which is the richest country in the world is NOT exactly now a place where people in general can thrive. Many Americans are ‘targeted’ and although I believe with all my heart in the goodness of our people, I KNOW that life is better in Europe for people who are ‘different’ (although it is said that the French suffer from ‘chauvinism’ and are rude to incomers).

        Scandinavia has my vote for the most progressive and practical area of Western Europe, and the proof is in the healthy birth-rate, the great schools, and the cradle to grave system of care given to citizens (and it’s GOOD care, although it is stretched thin at times) . . . . children have it great in Scandinavian countries, so that area gets MY vote for progressive enough to foster incomers who will be helped to ‘live and be well’.

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    • Christiane,

      Now that HUG has chimed in, Who Wins In the End? The Children of Ismael, or the Children of Isaac?

      Why should we not be Islamophobic? I’m scared to death of Islam. And I have been to Islamic countries.

      Ed Chapman

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      • Hello Ed,
        It’s ‘okay’ not be ‘afraid’ because you are a Christian man who lives now ‘in Christ’ and that means that Our Lord takes away the spirit of fear and replaces it with the grace to overcome that which before enslaved us.

        I was looking at those pictures of Adam who murdered the Sandy Hook children and at the little daughter Grace, so precious to her family, slaughtered by bullets that tore the children’s bodies apart by exploding their organs . . . some of the children were shot as many as eleven times and may God have mercy that we know this and have to remember the sadness and horror of it.

        I look at ‘Adam’ so appropriately named, and I see a photo of someone who is troubled, likely very sick emotionally, someone who since childhood has been hurting . . .

        and I look at sweet ‘Grace’ also so appropriately named who was in her mother’s words, the ‘light’ of their family and we know why when we look at Grace’s smile in the photo.

        Two photos. I am filled with compassion for each of the images they reveal, but for such very different reasons.

        And I know this:
        those in our country who stir up ‘fear’ are the same people who say ‘don’t do anything to make changes’ when innocents were killed and the events of shooting of children continued and continued and continued . . . . them who stirred up the fear did not want to see even reasonable gun laws enacted so they took control politically over our law-makers and the slaughtering of children continued

        Ed, it is not ‘fear’ that overcomes evil. No.
        Search your heart and know that it is Our Lord Who is able to cast out the spirit of fear:

        “We now know that we have been taken up and borne in the humanity of Jesus, and therefore that new nature we now enjoy means that we too must bear the sins and sorrows of others. The Incarnate Lord makes His followers the brothers and sisters of all humanity. The “philanthropy” of God (Titus 3:4) revealed in the Incarnation is the ground of Christian love toward ALL on earth that bear the name of human. ” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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      • Christiane,

        As far as eternal life goes, ya, I agree with your synopsis.

        However, who wants to die now? Given a choice, would you choose to live now, or die now? Would you want children to live now, or die now?

        If you believe in the safety of children, and I know you do, you would want them to live now. And you would INDEED be FEARFUL of someone harming them. Wouldn’t you? What kinda PHOBIA is that?

        It is not a sin to be ISLAMOPHOBIC, for the sake of your children’s lives…is it?

        It is not a sin to be fearful of the NEXT mass shooter in school, is it?

        I’m not a generally a fan of the left’s use of the word FEAR MONGERING, because that fear is REAL, and they pretend that it’s just a figment of our imagination. Well, it’s not. It’s already been proven by their actions. And I disagree with BOTH LEFT AND RIGHT when they say that Islam is a peaceful religion. It’s not a peaceful religion. Ismael vs. Isaac. Ismael was the bully. Sarah told Abraham to get rid of him. God told Abraham to LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE.

        Ed Chapman

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  4. Sandy Hook happened Dobson claims because America has turned is back on God and is in sin. Specifically he referenced abortion and the fact that marriage is being redefined by gay marriage.

    Abortion and Homosexuality.
    Just add Evolution (h/t Ken Ham) and you have the whole New Trinity right there.

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    • There is some new extremist who is advocating the hanging of women who have abortions, because he says that for them, lethal injections are not ‘violent’ enough . . . .

      (sigh)

      I suppose I ought to have been shocked by this, but something worse occurred to me:
      that such men are using ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ as a play-book for the time when they finally have complete ‘religious freedom’ to abuse as many people as they want to . . . . .

      ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was written in order to wake people up, but no, some are seeing in this strange and frightening story, a scene of male-dominance that actually empowers their misogyny to new heights . . . .

      It seems that if extremist right-wing ‘Christians’ ever do gain their ‘religious freedom’ in some future (or not-so-future) country that used to be our homeland;
      then there will be many violent executions, as these ‘Christians’ will ‘punish’ evil-doers who have offended them . . . with the advent of Trump, that whole era seems now to be coming possible . . . . the new ‘religious freedom’ of the extremists right-wingers is even now being envisioned and it is going to be a brutal and cruel world.

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  5. Gosh, too much to process in one sitting, Eagle.

    But this jumped out at me:
    “What they often say is so profoundly cruel and more about advancing a political cause through tragedy than anything else.”

    Please, both sides (or *all* sides, there’s more than two) do this.
    The “don’t let a tragedy go to waste” political left are masters at this kind of exploitation.

    Eagle, please don’t be one-sided; it’s not becoming.

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    • The “don’t let a tragedy go to waste” political left are masters at this kind of exploitation.

      But does this mean Christians have to act Just Like Them?
      “Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”?

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      • P.S. Because then you’ve bought into the rules of Power Struggle; Win or Lose, Top or Bottom, Hold the Whip or Feel the Whip, Kill or Be Killed:
        “A crown based on lies,
        YOU WIN OR YOU DIE,
        Game of Thrones…”

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      • No HUG. I agree.
        Christians should do better.
        They ought to be better than “teachable moment” libs, who exploit and leverage tragedies for political gain.

        To add to what I said, I believe that any time someone presumes to speak for God “judging a nation”, they’re being beyond stupid presumptuous, and are on very shaky ground, especially when making tenuous (at best, and I’m being generous) “connections” between events and general sins that have zero to do with the event.

        There are far too many examples in the bible of God judging nations, and God judging individuals to make any such presumptions, unless one is professing to be a “prophet”, and we all know how God judges self-proclaimed “prophets” if such a prophet is wrong even *once*. The bible says they’re to be regarded as false prophets in perpetuity.

        But God makes it clear in Ezekiel that He will no longer judge generations, as in the past in the Old Testament, or entire nations, or judge “sons for the sins of the father” or vice-versa, but will judge individuals, each of whom will be responsible for one’s own sin.

        So for these so-called biblical experts to ignore what was stated clearly in Ezekiel is simply unbiblical, in addition to being presumptuous, and even callous to a great degree.

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      • Sin is defined as “transgression of the law”. That’s in 1 John 3:4, I believe. The law is the knowledge of sin.

        Notice in the Genesis example that I provided in my first comment. The land of Canaan had no knowledge of sin…there was not a list of do’s and don’t’s that was given to them.

        Yet God would punish that nation for it’s sins anyway, even tho they had no knowledge of good and evil.

        When you mention Ezekiel, the Jews…yes, they had a list of do’s and don’ts. They had knowledge of good and evil. They transgressed the law, and knew it.

        My conclusion about Ezekiel is that it was to the Jews regarding them already knowing the law that they transgress. No other nation had the law of Moses, but for the Jews. None. Yet God would judge nations that didn’t even know anything about a law of Moses.

        As far as I am concerned, Christians in this country are secularizing this nation, telling God that we don’t need his divine protection anymore.

        So, God gave us up to what we requested…which is for him to just LEAVE US ALONE, and BE GONE, to LET US HANDLE IT.

        So, we get what we settle for. We wanted God out of school, he’s gone.

        So God say’s:
        “FINE. Go for it. See what happens, and when enough is enough, you will BEG ME to come back to school…but it will be too late by then. By then, you will have mass shootings at schools, you will have drug addicts, and other nations will walk all over you as if you were a bug. The descendants of Ishmael I will send to get your attention. But will you listen? No…you wont…you get what you settle for, so don’t blame me when all HELL breaks loose on ya.”

        Do you see what I am getting at?

        I believe that God indeed judges THIS nation, so that we will all get on our knees and beg him to come back for his divine protection for this whole nation. And that God will use any means necessary to get our attention, and get serious, instead of mocking the religious right or left or in between, or up or down, or sideways.

        Ed Chapman

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  6. Every time something like this happens, there’s always a Pat Robertson, John Piper, Ken Ham, James Dobson, et al who has to shoot his mouth off in public all over whatever media.

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    • Same thing on the left.
      Neither side has a monopoly on such abhorrent behavior.

      BTW, I don’t get my logic from “Game of Thrones” or any TV show.
      I prefer whenever possible to go to the bible for such wisdom.
      Just sayin’. 🙂

      Go well, sir.

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  7. Eagle,

    You cited a great post from 3 Lakes, and wrote a lot of good things.
    Perhaps your best bit was this one:

    “Here is the problem that exists, when Christians stay silent many people assume that people like James Dobson speak for the evangelical faith. They think that what he says is what many evangelical Christians believe. When Christians stay silent they continue to give James Dobson a platform.”

    Full disclosure:
    As someone who is wary of nearly all “famous Christian people”, I have held Mr. Dobson in high regard for a long time, as a consistent voice for families and biblical morality. However, some of his most recent inconsistencies as it relates to politics have been troubling to me. But for a long time, he was kind of my personal “exception to the rule” that made me disdain most “famous Christian people”.

    Having said that…

    What you say Eagle is true. Many friends do in fact assume that “famous Christian people” speak for me, and that I must think as they do. And that’s a real problem. And if you really think about it, the same issue exists in the muslim community. The terrorists & jihadists wreak havoc, and there sure appears to be silence coming from the muslim community about such havoc, which leads others to believe that the terrorists speak for them all, which we know isn’t true. Food for thought.

    I have grown weary of the inconsistent ways that people from both sides of the aisle have dealt with Bill Clinton’s & Donald Trump’s personal failings. Each side defends their guy with talking points, and disparages the other. Both are wildly inconsistent.

    But yes, we need to do a better job of distancing ourselves from “famous Christian people” when they fail to accurately represent our views, and more importantly, call them out when they don’t accurately even follow the bible, or presume to “speak for God”.

    I also loved what 3 Lakes said here:

    “To suggest that God allowed this for the purpose of judgment assumes we know God’s motives. What those leaders are saying is that God is mad about abortion (He is) and homosexuality (He is), SO in response, He will indirectly cause the deaths of kindergarteners and teachers, some of whom may have been believers. What? Let me be sarcastic for a moment. If these pronouncements are true, then God must not be as mad about pornography, abuse, human trafficking, pride, adultery, and other evils in this country. Let’s not choose our top two sins. Depravity is rampant. God’s wrath is real! Jesus is our only hope!”

    Not to mention gluttony. 😉
    Spot on.

    The selective outrage about certain sins needs to stop. But of course, it’s so easy to “other” certain sins that most of us aren’t tempted by, isn’t it? Kudos to 3 Lakes for this post.

    Like

    • I agree. “Othering” certain sins is very easy and very prevalent. We focus on the sins that we don’t struggle with (or, alternately, are simply blind to in ourselves) and minimize the ones which hit closer to home.

      At the risk of “ranking” sins, which I am leery to do, it is an interesting and revealing thought experiment to look at the amount of ink God gives to certain sins through Scripture, and how that compares to where we put our focus today. Huge, huge amounts of admonition given to pride, to the strong taking advantage of the weak, to not caring for the widow and the orphan, to elevating self and selfish desires above God, to bearing false testimony for personal gain, to (as you observe) gluttony, to enriching oneself at the expense of others. Some, but often far, far less, given to those areas most commonly seen as the areas the church leaders focus on today.

      But in this ridiculously polarized “either-or” political environment in which we live today, you can’t even point this out without an angry response of, “Oh, so I guess you don’t think sin X, or Y, is any big deal, huh? And you call yourself a Christian!!”

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      • @Dave H: Spot on observations.

        As to your last paragraph, I’ve recently tried to do my best to change the entire focus from “what is sin?” to “what is the church’s proper response and behavior?” And as such, consider these thoughts I’ve come up with as a possible answer to those who pose the questions you cite:

        Peter 1:5-9
        “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

        The progression seems deliberate.
        Faith (when one first believes)
        Goodness (immediate response is often to clean up a bit)
        Knowledge (one then studies the bible in response)
        Self-control (the result of the knowledge & “sanctification” as some say)
        Perseverance (that inevitably comes as trials come)
        Godliness (heady stuff!)
        Brotherly Kindness (whoa, wait.. this is *after* godliness!!!)
        Love (well then ahem…)

        It’s interesting that the end game isn’t even godliness!!
        The end game is *love*, lest we become…
        ineffective, unproductive in our knowledge, nearsighted, or blind.
        And forgotten we’ve been cleansed from past sins.

        Oops.
        Have we missed that?

        1 Corinthians 13, Matthew 9:12-13, and Luke 10:25-28 speak to this also.

        I think of the cake maker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Now, don’t get me wrong. As a Constitutional conservative, I believe that the govt should *not* be punishing someone for holding to their religious beliefs and convictions and trying their best to be obedient to them. That’s the politics of it from my point of view. I’m for religious freedom.

        But consider…

        If one’s “convictions” and “obedience” to those convictions cause one to be less loving, perhaps one might wish to consider doing a little introspection, and see if there might be something wrong with one’s understanding of those convictions, and if there might be a better or more faithful way to be obedient to those convictions.

        Proverbs 17:5, and 22:2.

        If the church is looking to be Christ to people,and help them to be followers of Christ, it is doing a lousy job. Perhaps this kind of prayer may be in order:

        “Lord, forgive me. With all of my study in Greek,
        Hebrew, and theology, I missed the whole point
        of love. Please give me an attitude of Christ
        toward that person. Let me see them as one
        whom You love, and let me be Your agent
        for loving them.”

        A friend asked me, “So how do I love my gay friend?”

        My response was:

        “How about just try loving your friend?”

        Like

      • @ejj, very nice on the progression. That is thought-provoking. And, it makes perfect sense that the “end game” is love. After all, “the greatest of these is . . . love.”

        I think that what disturbs me most about Christians immersing themselves in today’s polarized political climate and “culture war” mentality is that it causes us to view people as either “us” or “the enemy.” You’re either fully on board with me, or you’re my enemy straight from the pit of hell. And the object of politics and war is to destroy the enemy for your own benefit. That is not in line with the gospel message of love. And I think if we understand the gospel rightly, it is clear that other people are not the true enemy. They are fellow creations of God who we are called upon to love and to do unto as we would have done unto us. They are people for whom we should be trying to represent the nature of God and God’s love.

        And instead, we see too much of the church demonizing and belittling and bashing people as the enemy, and trying to pound them into submission in an attempt to acquire political and social power, all in order that . . . well, exactly what? What was the end game? So that we could exert our dominance and, like a scolding parent, force them to eat their vegetables whether they like it or not? And how exactly would that have furthered God’s kingdom? Seems like it would have only furthered our own.

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      • sometimes I think that there are people who view themselves as Christians BECAUSE they become so angry and filled with contempt TOWARDS ‘those other sinners’

        that, at least, might explain why these people judge others on whether they hate the same people and groups . . . . and if the others will declare their hatred of those ‘sinful people’, then they are ‘in’ in the eyes of the angry ones.

        Since when did ‘anger’ and ‘contempt’ get elevated to a ‘fruit of the Spirit’???
        I look for those who are calm-centered and filled with the peace of Christ. . . . . they are ‘out there’ and they aren’t hate-filled or angry folk, no.

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      • Since when did ‘anger’ and ‘contempt’ get elevated to a ‘fruit of the Spirit’???

        When Take-Back-America Culture War became Salvation-level Dogma.
        Complete with a Devil and his Witches everywhere (Teh Fags, the Clintons, and Teh Fags) and since last year a new Savior/Messiah/LORD who WILL Take Back America (and Make It Great Again)!

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      • sometimes I think that there are people who view themselves as Christians BECAUSE they become so angry and filled with contempt TOWARDS ‘those other sinners’

        Which has been around for a LOOOOOOONG time.
        It’s just got a new and more intense focus.

        Like

      • “This thought should keep us humble:
        We are sinners, but we do not know how great.
        He alone knows who died for our sins.”

        (John Henry Newman)

        Like

      • And instead, we see too much of the church demonizing and belittling and bashing people as the enemy, and trying to pound them into submission in an attempt to acquire political and social power, all in order that . . . well, exactly what?

        “The only goal of Power is POWER. And POWER consists of inflicting maximum suffering upon the Powerless.”
        — Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, Nineteen Eighty-Four

        “There is no Right, there is no Wrong. There is only POWER.”
        — Lord Voldemort

        Like

    • “To suggest that God allowed this for the purpose of judgment assumes we know God’s motives. What those leaders are saying is that God is mad about abortion (He is) and homosexuality (He is), SO in response, He will indirectly cause the deaths of kindergarteners and teachers, some of whom may have been believers. What?”

      They’re thinking too small.
      During the Cold War, God’s Wrath(TM) always expressed itself as a Thermonuclear Depopulation Strike by the ICBMs of the Soviet Union, fireballs touching all the way from Atlantic to Pacific.

      Like

  8. Hello ejj

    I loved your comment, this:

    “”A friend asked me, “So how do I love my gay friend?”
    My response was:
    “How about just try loving your friend?””

    The only label we need is ‘human person’ . . . . . all the other labels don’t work any more . . . . too much hate-baggage on them . . . . . we need to return to ‘respect for the dignity of the human person’ regardless of ‘labels’ because there IS no lower denominator than that . . . . we are children of God, first and last. Nothing is more important than that.

    Like

  9. @chapmaned24 God has not been in the business of judging entire nations for the sins of some since Ezekiel 18. All biblical examples of God doing so are before that time, Israel or otherwise. In addition, the U.S. is clearly not a theocracy anyway.

    Believe what you want, but the bible seems quite clear that the Lord — and certainly since Jesus has come — will be judging individuals.

    I also fail to see what gay or trans-gender people had to do with events such as 9/11. There isn’t even a remotely tenuous connection, and to make one and connect non-existent dots is not only folly, it’s nothing but raw hatred and bigotry. How can I say that? Well…

    Even if one is going to “speak for God” and purport that sin is causing such events, and even if a nation’s collective sin is indeed causing such events, I still fail to see why only certain sins are singled out for such cause-and-effect “logic” (and I yes, I put “logic” in quotes). To single out only certain sins is nothing but hatred and bigotry.

    And even if one goes back to Sodom, Ezekiel also speaks to what Sodom’s sins were:

    “”‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

    Oops.

    Perhaps arrogance, gluttony (overfed), and failing to help the poor and needy should be moved up the list of sins that cause nations to be judged in such a way. But since many of us have a difficult time with some of these, it’s not so easy to “other” them. It much easier to just blame it on the “deviants” and sins that few of us particularly struggle with. Hold on a sec; there’s a plank in my eye…

    Understandable… tis human nature…
    But not laudable.

    Go well, sir.

    Like

    • Ya, i heard you say that about 3 times now. I disagree. I’m not saying that tornado’s is God’s judgment.

      I’m not saying that a school shooting is God’s judgment.

      What I am saying is that that shooting is OUR OWN FAULT for not MAINTAINING child discipline thru the means of morality, and that morality is from the Bible.

      However 9/11 happened. For more of a reason than just “They don’t like that Americans are in the Middle East”.

      I do not think that you have properly interpreted Ezekiel. God states numerous times that the LAND gets polluted by sin. So, it’s not the PEOPLE that are being judged regarding DESTINATION OF SOUL AFTER YOU DIE.

      It’s a CLEANSING of the land.

      Again, let’s go back to my ORIGINAL comment…no list of do’s and don’t’s.

      What happens to PEOPLE that do NOT have that list? Romans 2:14-16, and most importantly, ROMANS 5:13. Let me say that one again, ROMANS 5:13.

      We seem to be talking about 2 different things. You are talking about sins of people regarding final judgment. I am talking JUDGEMENT OF THE LAND due to the sins of people. Two different things. Those sins must reach a certain mathematical level, then God cleanses the land, i.e. judges that land.

      So, this is not about The Soul That Sinneth, It Shall Die.

      Ed Chapman

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    • Christiane,

      Luke 11:50 (KJV)
      That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

      4 ways land can be defiled: idolatry, immorality/fornication; bloodshed, broken covenants

      Leviticus 18:25 KJV
      25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.

      Numbers 35:33 New International Version
      “‘Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

      Genesis 4:10
      He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.

      Christiane,

      Do you know what we have these days? Innocent blood of unborn babies. Murderers are getting LIFE in Prison, or short sentences instead of death penalty, when God said to Noah that the man who murders people are to be killed. And that was before the Law of Moses.

      Ed Chapman

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