The events that took place in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church rocked the nation this week.
Mr. Dylann Roof a young Caucasian man of only 21 years of age murdered nine parishioners – all Black – shortly after the conclusion of their Wednesday Night Bible Study Service.
Our nation finds itself asking the question: If one cannot be safe in a “House of Worship” then is there any place that we are truly safe?
This is a questions that begs an answer.
Unfortunately, our country has witnessed carnage like this before – (1.) the shootings at Columbine, Colorado in 1999; (2.) the shootings at the Aurora Theater (Colorado); and (3.) the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
There is no place that is absolutely safe.
When we look at the violence that is engulfing our nation, we ask ourselves as Christians and Jews who believe in the Judeo-Christian value system or worldview, how do we truly restrain the evil in our midst?
There have been numerous books and commentaries – starting with the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) – and extending through the Christian Bible (what is referred to as the New Testament) that have attempted to address this subject.
Furthermore, a large litany of authors ranging from Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the Protestant Swiss Reformer John Calvin have all attempted to address the concept known as “gratuitous (gross) evil.”
In an incredible act of Biblically based mercy, some of the relatives of the victims who were murdered reached out to Dylann Roof and extended the hand of Christian forgiveness and reconciliation.
Please take a moment to view this wonderful blessing of forgiveness on display:
The existential question of the moment is this: While the families of the victims of this heinous act are reaching out to Mr. Roof, what should our Government do?
The Holy Bible in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Christian New Testament teach that one of the primary functions of government is to preserve and maintain Law & peaceful Order.
In Genesis 9.4-6, the prophet Moses was led by The Holy Spirit to write that –
4“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6“Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.”
We clearly see that “Capital Punishment” was instituted by GOD right after the events of The Flood (Genesis 6-8). GOD wiped out mankind because of the gross inhumanity of man killing man.
In Genesis 9.4-6, GOD tells Noah and his sons that they are to exact His vengeance against murderers.
Now in the case of full disclosure, I am not a proponent of “the death penalty”; however, my argument for this position is based on giving every human being a chance to “repent” and ask “JESUS CHRIST” for forgiveness.
My position is not based on the belief that the Holy Bible teaches pacifism.
I respect my Quaker, Amish, and Mennonite brethren – and in many cases my Roman Catholic brethren who are opposed to Capital punishment.
The Bible teaches us that the State or Human Government is an agent of GOD’s Wrath to stop evil doers in their path – and use FORCE WHEN NECESSARY to curtail malicious acts.
Let us look at this portion of Scared Scripture found in Romans 13.1-7:
Submission to Governing Authorities
1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Saint Paul has given us so much to contemplate and think upon.
We do not have time to visit what was written by Saint Peter, but I would encourage everyone to read what Saint Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2.11-17. The language that Saint Peter employs is remarkably similar to what is found in Romans 13:1-7.
Saint Augustine wrote that Christian believers are supposed to display the principles and values of THE CITY OF GOD in the midst of The City of Man.
How do we do this?
May I offer a few suggestions for our Prayerful contemplation and action…?
First, and foremost, WE MUST Pray that GOD sends His Mercy to the families that are going through this tremendous tragedy at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church.
JESUS told His disciples that “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” JOHN 13.34-35.
The Love of Christ in our hearts is a powerful witness to a Skeptical and unbelieving world.
Secondly, WE MUST Pray for the Salvation of Mr. Dylann Roof.
The LORD that we Love Serve is a Great and Compassionate and Merciful SAVIOR… AMEN!
I would ask us to pause to consider the implication of the following two verses of Sacred Scripture:
Ezekiel 33.11 – Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?‘
2 Peter 3.8-9 – But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Time and space do not allow me to address the Theological concept known as the “Total Depravity” of Mankind.
For those of you who would like to get a feel of what “Total Depravity” looks like from a Christian point of view, I would strongly urge you to read from the book of Romans chapters 1 through 3 (ROMANS 1-3).
Finally, WE MUST PRAY and ACT in ways that assist the city of Charleston, South Carolina and our nation to see that the solution to the violence in our land in NOT ULTIMATELY POLITICAL, BUT SPIRITUAL!
In 1965, two-thirds (66%) of all Americans believed that The Holy Bible was The WORD of GOD.
Today only 30 to 33% of the U.S. population believes that The Holy Bible is GOD’S Holy Word that is binding on all human actions and conduct.
Those of us who are Christian – Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or of the Protestant varieties – have a lot of work on our hands with regards to “Witnessing the Love & Compassion” of Our Holy Savior to an unbelieving world.
16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”