Charleston and the Age to Come

The actions of the murderer cannot be adequately described in anything less that theological language.

God’s answer to that evil so long ago is still the answer to man’s evil today: Jesus Christ and him crucified. And it is here where we continue to need theological language and categories. Our brothers and sisters in Charleston have been pouring out their lament in prayer and song just as God’s people have done for thousands of years. Their sorrow is the sorrow of those who long for “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb 11:10). 

 
So much can and should be said in response to the horrific murders that occurred in Charleston, SC at Emanuel AME Church. But one thing is for certain, the actions of the murderer cannot be adequately described in anything less that theological language. What the murderer did was evil. Yes, it was sick and criminal and revolting. But above all it was evil. It was sin. It was an affront to a holy and good God. It was an evil act committed against men and women who were gathered to pray. And adding to the wickedness of the killer’s actions is the fact that these brothers and sisters in Christ welcomed him into their midst and by his own admission showed him kindness.

One is tempted to apply the word “incomprehensible” to the event. But we must recognize that the murder of those nine souls is not altogether incomprehensible. Indeed it is all too comprehensible. Man has been murdering man since he has lived east of Eden. As Jesus taught us, murder is in our hearts. It is the sinful engine of our anger. There may well be a complex of issues that motivated the murderer in Charleston. Certainly racist hate was a glaring factor. There may also be links to psychotropic drugs, alienation, and a steady diet of violent images. But above all what drove the murderer’s evil acts was his willful dismissal that he was accountable to God. On the evening of June 17 in a prayer meeting in Charleston, SC he declared himself to be his own sovereign; his own god.

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