Why Mass Shootings?
The following is from a Trumpet Brief sent out yesterday. These daily e-mails contain personal messages from the Trumpet staff. Click here to join the nearly 20,000 members of our mailing list, so you don’t miss another message.
Yesterday there was another awful mass shooting in America. This one occurred at a Baptist church, of all places, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty-six people were murdered during the religious service, bringing America’s total number of mass shooting victims this year to an unimaginable 112!
Why do these horrendous atrocities keep happening? One California pastor attempted to answer that question at Fox News earlier today. “I can give the pat answers that weary all of us,” he wrote, “or I can admit my struggle, confront evil, and seek to extend the love of God in both good and bad times.”
In other words, in his mind, there are no answers.
But in God’s mind, there is! In His inspired Word, God reveals in clear and plain terms just why the world is as unimaginably evil as it is, and why He is allowing this evil to continue.
A lot of people think that our world is a battlefield of good and evil where God is fighting against Satan—and losing. But the Bible reveals something different.
Our present world is an evil world (Galatians 1:4). In fact, the god of this world is not God; it’s Satan the devil! (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan actually “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Why can unarmed, peaceful people attending a service be murdered en masse by a maniac? Because this is Satan’s world.
Few people realize the true significance of Adam and Eve’s decision in the Garden of Eden. It was not a decision between two fruit trees—it was a decision between two ways of life. The tree of life represented living God’s way as led by His Holy Spirit. By obeying God’s commands, Adam could have partaken of the tree of life and received God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). This would have given Adam the power to think like God—to have a godly relationship with his Creator and with his fellow man.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represented Satan’s way of selfishness. In taking from this symbolic tree, Adam and his offspring would “free” themselves from obeying God—and willingly subject themselves to the deceitful spirit influence of the god of this world—Satan the devil (Ephesians 2:2).
Adam and Eve chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God cut them off from the tree of life, and every generation of human beings since has been cut off from God and His Spirit.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages that God sentenced Adam and his descendants, saying, in effect:
You have rejected me as the basic source of knowledge—you have rejected power from me through my Spirit to live the righteous way—you have rebelled against my command and my government—you have chosen the “getting,” “taking” way of Satan. Therefore I sentence you and the world you shall beget to 6,000 years of being cut off from access to me and my Spirit—except for the exceedingly few I shall specially call. And that few shall be called for special service preparatory for the Kingdom of God. …
Go, therefore, Adam, and all your progeny that shall form the world, produce your own fund of knowledge. Decide for yourself what is good and what is evil. Produce your own educational systems and means of disseminating knowledge, as your god Satan shall mislead you. Form your own concepts of what is god, your own religions, your own governments, your own lifestyles and forms of society and civilization. In all this Satan will deceive your world with his attitude of self-centeredness—with vanity, lust and greed, jealousy and envy, competition and strife and violence and wars, rebellion against me and my law of love.
After the world of your descendants has written the lesson in 6,000 years of human suffering, anguish, frustration, defeat and death—after the world that shall spring from you shall have been brought to confess the utter hopelessness of the way of life you have chosen—I will supernaturally intervene. By supernatural divine power I shall then take over the government of the whole world. With reeducation, I will produce a happy world of peace. And on repentance, I shall then offer eternal salvation to all (emphasis added).
Mr. Armstrong referred to this 6,000-year “lesson” man is recording by his own experience as aversion therapy. Some clinics still employ this method of therapy to help people overcome addictions. If a person is an alcoholic, for instance, he would be forced to drink alcohol until it made him so sick that he would never want another drink!
In a sense, that is what God is doing with this world. He is not forcing us to go the way of Satan, but He is certainly allowing us to do exactly what we have chosen to do all the way back to Adam: to fill our minds full of Satan’s way of self-love. God is allowing it to bring us to the point where we will absolutely loathe and abhor this “present evil world.” He is allowing man to go his own way so that we will see the fruits of rejecting His way and living “our” way.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, we have chosen our own knowledge, our own educational systems, our own religions, our own governments, our own civilizations. And 6,000 years later, this is what we are left with: a world full of knowledge—some of it good, much of it agonizingly and fatally evil.
And the heartbreaking deaths of 26 unsuspecting people in southeast Texas are not the end of it. Our present evil world is about to explode in violence and death. The Bible is full of prophecies warning about this, and our headlines are full of evidence that we are plunging into just such a catastrophe. That will be the result of our 6,000-year experiment testing whether or not we need God.
You can’t explain what happened in Sutherland Springs with the traditional religious teachings. But if you believe what the Bible says, you know exactly why such abominable horror has happened and will happen. And you have hope. Because you know that this is a lesson in aversion therapy that teaches us to turn to God. Because you know that those 26 people, including that 17-month-old baby boy, will be resurrected in the future. Because he will be resurrected into a world where people won’t choose the “freedom” of living the way of the knowledge of good and evil under Satan the devil. It will have been a very painful lesson, but we will have finally learned it.