As most of you know I am a Christian and a pastor, so I have plenty of thoughts about the shootings in Newtown, CT, but wanted to take a few days to fully process everything.
After listening to many soundbites from both sides, there is one well known Christian organization that deeply concerned me and angered me from some of the things they were saying. This organization is called the American Family Association, that according to their Mission Statement exists “to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture, and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission.”
I do not personally know anyone that works at the AFA and I am sure there are some wonderful people there, but I was deeply concerned about some of the comments coming out of the AFA and Mr. Bryan Fischer after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, CT. I am sure Mr. Fischer means well, I am sure he is a wonderful man and I have nothing against him. We have the same big thing in common, is that events were horrific and terrible and we want kids to be safe. What we disagree with is how that actually comes about.
I tried to go the Matthew 18 route and I tweeted Mr. Bryan Fischer two times to try and contact him privately. He, as best I can tell, works for the AFA and hosts one of their radio shows. I tried to talk to him personally about my thoughts on his comments to which he never responded. I also tried to contact the AFA on their website, but when I put in the “captcha” code multiple times, it just wasn’t working. I could not contact them via their website, so I wanted to share my thoughts online.
I am going to share a few quotes from Mr. Bryan Fischer on his radio show in the context of his thoughts on the shootings.
- “God is not gonna go, where He is not wanted.”
- “We have spent 50 years telling God to get lost, telling God we do not want you in our schools.”
- “We’ve kicked God out of our public school system.”
- (God’s perspective according to Mr. Fischer) “Hey I’ll be glad to protect your children but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first, I’m not gonna go where I’m not wanted, I am a gentlemen.”
These quotes are incorrect to me on many levels and ultimately offensive to the integrity of what I believe is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mr. Fischer said “God is not gonna go, where He is not wanted.” This is contrary to the nature of the gospel. The story of the gospel message is that Jesus came to a people who did not want Him, who did not desire Him. His very birth was met with King Herod trying to murder him. If what Mr. Fischer said was true, the incarnation, the story of Christmas doesn’t exist. This quote is completely contrary to the very nature of the gospel. God did not come here because we wanted Him, He came here because He wanted us.
The one that actually angered me is when He said, “Hey I’ll be glad to protect your children but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first, I’m not gonna go where I’m not wanted, I am a gentlemen.”
First, on a philosophical level, this is complete nonsense. What then do you say to the people that were gunned down at New Life Church in 2007 in Colorado Springs, CO? What do you say to the Amish School Children murdered in their “Christian” school in 2006 in Nickel Mines, PA. What do you say to the kids murdered in 1999 at the See You At The Pole Rally in Fort Worth, TX at Wedgewood Baptist Church?
If prayer alone would fix this problem don’t you think it would not have happened at churches and Christian schools.
Secondly, we come back to the very nature of the gospel, God has never and will never treat us as we deserve. He treats us as we do not deserve, with love, mercy, grace and kindness. He treats us with compassion and care when we rebel and live contrary to how He calls us too. If you think Mr. Fischer, that God will only take care of our children if we “invite Him back into our world” than you have a deep, deep misunderstanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christianity, in this worldview, is nothing more than a transaction, its nothing more than a, “if I do this, than God does this for me,” transaction. This type of theology breeds legalism, it breeds self-righteousness. I sure hope for the safety of my child, who attends a public school, where “God is not present,” that God will still protect him. I sure hope that the basis of God’s protection is not on the governments stance on prayer in schools, but on the love and compassion of the God that I serve.
Thirdly, how can you presume to know that the deceased principal was not a believer who everyday asked God into the school and to protect the children? You, by your very own logic are saying that just because prayer is legal in some places than that is the only type of prayer that is effectual. How do you know that people are not praying for safety in schools? I pray that my boys would be safe in their schools every single day. Jesus trumps laws 100% of the time. I don’t care if people say I can’t pray in schools. When I go into my sons public school to visit him, I walk up and down the hallways of that school praying for my kid, praying for the other kids. I may not be allowed to pray in public, in his public school, but that doesn’t stop me and I don’t think my prayers are any less powerful. I also don’t think if we let “God back in schools through prayer” it would make these problems magically go away.
The problem ultimately, is not, God in or out of schools to the conservatives. The problem ultimately, is not, gun control to the liberals. The problem is that we as human beings are sinful and depraved. We, as human beings, need God to intervene in our nation, in our culture.
A little persecution sure hasn’t hurt the Chinese church. It is growing at unprecedented rates. Most missiologists say it is the greatest revival in the history of the world, where 25,000-35,000 people per day give their lives to Christ in a nation extremely hostile to the gospel. The point I’m trying to make is not to wish persecution on the American church, what I’m trying to say is that sometimes our Biblical values get too intermingled with American values of freedom, liberty and the “right” to pray or do Christian things publicly.
We as the church do not need to be on a culture crusade for every issue under the sun. Some things do need to be outlawed in my opinion, but thats not what I’m taking about right now. I’m trying to talk on a more macro level. We need to be loving people, preaching the gospel and making disciples. Thats how these problems are ultimately fixed, not cheap sound bites on both sides. One on one, in the hearts of men and women around the world. Will this fix every problem? Of course not, as long as people are alive we will be sinful and we as humans will do other hurtful things towards other humans.
People still break the law even though we have them in place. We will still have public shootings even if God was “allowed back in school.” You can’t stop it. Its not as simple as changing one law. “God being out of school” is just a reflection of the culture we live in.
Let’s love Jesus, love people and do what God commanded us, which is to reach the lost and make disciples, not legislate our way into morality and change. When the hearts of men and women change, we won’t have to fight for legislation, it will happen naturally because its a reflection of the culture.
Please, Mr. Fischer, be more cautious about what you say on the radio, I believe the type of theology you are espousing is dangerous to Christians and non-Christians and it doesn’t help the way we look as followers of Christ to people who are not believers.
I would also like to apologize on behalf of Christian leaders and pastors to the people that we lead and influence for the many Christian responses that are a misrepresentation of the gospel. My prayer is that this shooting motivates us even more to love the unlovable, to care for the people who are going through tough times, and focus on what really matters.