Last week, we received news of two striking cases of senseless murder. Like you, we listened in horror to the dull, rhythmic shots that systematically quenched the lives of 32 college students and professors in quiet Blacksburg, VA. Then we received news from a Turkish graduate of Westminster Seminary California. Three Christian friends were tied to chairs at a Bible study, eviscerated alive, tortured for several hours, then murdered-throats slit-by a group of young men pretending interest in the gospel.(Full report -warning, graphic material).
Meanwhile, in America our politicians were decrying the Supreme Court's ban on our daily brand of senseless murder: partial birth abortion. Nancy Pelosi impugned the decision as "a significant step backwards"; Hillary Clinton as "a dramatic...erosion of our constitutional rights." With similar words, Barack Obama and John Edwards agreed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dismissed the majority opinion as an "alarming" return of the "discredited thinking about the unique bond between mother and child."
Ask the mothers of the Virginia Tech students if the "unique bond between mother and child" is now "discredited thinking." Ask the mothers of the Turkish Christians.
Yet there is little outcry at the sheer wickedness of such acts. It was a series of mistakes-by the administration, the police, college counselors, Cho's family who failed to see it coming. Cho is excused because he felt lonely and was mentally disturbed. Mothers who abort are in financial or psychological distress. The local officials in "secular" Turkey shrugged off the vicious killings-Christians will be murdered if they insist on holding Bible studies and printing Christian literature.
At the Convocation ceremony after the Virginia Tech massacre, speeches proposing Islamic and Jewish fatalism, and generic (liberal) Christianity failed to lift the sense of loss and despair...until the poet Nikki Giovanni spoke.This professor of literature's words brought great comfort: "We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it...but neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory...We are strong, and brave, and innocent and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be...we are the Hokie Nation, Virginia Tech." Her speech brought shouts of approbation. One student observed: "I am confident that the family of VT will get through this with spiritual guides like Nikki to point the path."
One of Giovanni's poems states: "I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal I cannot be comprehended except by my permission." Cho Sueng-Hui might have written a similar poem. He gave us permission to comprehend him on his video message. His delusional "divine" power gave him permission to take the lives of 32 people.
Giovanni's false spiritual answer succeeded because no one on the podium was willing to name the real problem-human evil. The "spirituality" that Nikki Giovanni represents ultimately states, in the words of the equally divine Neal Donald Walsch: "Hitler went to heaven. His deeds were mistakes not crimes."
Genuine evil is buried in the heart of every one of us, whether we go on shooting rampages or sit smugly in our self-sufficient "perfection and divinity." Ultimately, there is only one way out of the twisted dungeons of human evil.
The torture and death of the only perfect man, who was also God incarnate, allows Christians hope and gives them a way to cope with the horror of senseless murders. The wives of the Turkish martyrs and the Christian families of their murdered students can forgive not because they are "strong, brave, innocent and unafraid," but because in their weakness they depend on the power of a real savior, because in their fear they hold the hand of the Lord of the universe, because in their guilt they have come to him in repentance. The blood of the one truly innocent victim gushes out to cover the evil of any who come in faith to make an exchange: Jesus' perfect and divine life for our immorality; his death for our life.
Christians must denounce evil. Mr. Cho was wicked to slaughter those students. The Turkish Muslims were wicked to kill those three Christians. The woman who tells a doctor to pierce the brain of her child is wicked, as is the doctor who holds the scissors. But in naming evil, we must name the evil in our own hearts. Whenever we fail to acknowledge God and obey him, we exhibit the same wickedness. We can look evil in the face and name it for what it is because Jesus' death was not senseless. He gave us an infinitely costly solution to our guilt. Had he not, we would have to go on deceiving ourselves that we are "divine, ethereal and surreal."
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