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The number of school shootings has been on the rise in recent years—now you can add churches to that list. What’s causing the rise?
When a man walks into a church and guns down the pastor, perhaps the question we should ask isn’t “Why did this happen?” but “Should we really be surprised?” In a society where people live by their own whims and ignore God’s rules (even those in the church), such as not to murder, we continue to reap the bitter fruit of such a philosophy.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Christ is King and sits above any authority on earth (of course, some reject this, but Christ still reigns—whether they want to admit it or not.) The King says not to murder. But people are taught that they are their own authority. Hence, the King’s rules are often neglected as people raise their own beliefs to be greater than God.
If people set their own rules—and many in today’s humanistic culture have been taught to do this from an early age—then be prepared. School shootings, church shootings, and other acts of violence, sadly, will increase. For a listing of some of school shootings in the U.S. please visit this off-site website, Keys to Safer Schools This website used to keep a map of the U.S. school shootings, but it was forced to stop updating it in 2006 because there were so many. The site claims, “We are unable to keep up with a graphic view of school violence.”
Many of you may recall the shooting in Columbine and other high schools, but even universities have suffered such tragedy, such as Northern Illinois University on February 14, 2008, and Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
Now even churches are becoming targets of violence. In late 2007, a shooter, who had a Christian background, went into a mission and a church and became a murderer. And when someone claims to be a Christian, but defies God’s Word and murders, then they have raised their own beliefs above God’s Word, showing humanistic influence.
But shootings are not limited to the U.S. Perhaps the most famous international school shooting was a student in Finland who, due to evolutionary beliefs, decided to put “natural selection and survival of the fittest back on tracks!”
On Sunday March 8, 2009, violence erupted in Marysville, Illinois, in a Baptist church. A shooter opened fire on pastor Fred Winters, who was standing in the pulpit. Our hearts and prayers go out to the pastor’s family and others in the church, specifically those who were injured trying to subdue the shooter.1
When such tragedies strike, people often want to assign blame. Sometimes there are other pertinent factors, but ultimately the root cause is sin. We are in a sin-cursed world because our ancestor, Adam, sinned against God. Because Adam sinned, we all have sinned and continually choose to sin.
We were all in Adam when he sinned, just as Levi (Abraham’s great-grandson) was in Abraham when he tithed to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:9–10). But we can’t simply blame Adam for all the problems because we sin too. It may seem like a difficult situation with no escape, but through repentance and faith in Christ, one can be saved. But being saved does not mean that there will be no hardships as long as we remain in a sin-cursed world; however, the sting of death, which is the ultimate punishment for sin, will be thwarted (1 Corinthians 15:51–58).
In today’s society, Christians are letting the philosophy of “people setting their own rules” go too far. It is time for Christians to challenge humanistic ideas on all fronts to “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) The humanistic philosophy that has taken over society, particularly in the past 50 years, is bearing ugly fruit. If this fruit continues to grow unabated, it will bring our society crashing down around us.
The first way to counter this is to begin with ourselves—then our families, then our churches, and then our culture. We need to have answers about why the Bible is true, why it is the authority, and about the God to whom we are accountable.
Fred Winters, the pastor who was shot, is now with the Lord: he died a martyr’s death like most of Jesus’s disciples. Like Jesus’s disciples, Pastor Winters devoted his life to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. For those who may be reading this and are unsure of their salvation, we invite you to consider the claims of Christ and the good news that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. For more, please see:
And I would encourage you to find a local church and speak to the pastor concerning salvation. For a good biblical overview, I suggest reading Genesis 1–11, the Gospel of John, the book of Romans, and then Revelation 21–22. This will give you a good overview.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.