From a quite different perspective. . . .
news comes to you once again, whether from the evening newscast or the morning
paper, to a friend who asks, Did you hear...? Another act of
random, vicious violence has taken place, and this act was again committed
by a teenager or child.
And once again the amazement
Two boys in Arkansas, ages
twelve and fourteen, initiate a flawlessly executed and planned military
style ambush that would impress any Marine Corps infantry platoon commander,
by activating a fire alarm at their school and then opening fire on their
evacuating classmates with stolen high caliber weapons. Cunningly placing
themselves on a ridge that overlooked the schoolyard, they kill four classmates
and one teacher, and wound ten others.
The shock numbs your
year old boy attacks his school cafeteria with a .22 caliber rifle and two
handguns, and kills two, while wounding twenty more, before being tackled
when the ammunition runs out. He was expelled the day before for bringing
a firearm on campus. Police investigators later find the dead bodies of his
parents at the family home. The community is shocked because of how involved
the parents were in the childrens lives, always being the model parents,
and very involved with their kids.
The incomprehensible brutality
of the incident inundates your understanding....
In a Chicago housing project,
two boys, ages ten and eleven, drop a five year old boy to his death from
the fourteenth floor of the building. He had refused to steal something for
Colorado, two young men in fatigues and black trench coats opened fire with
heavy caliber weapons and homemade explosives at a suburban Denver high school
in what police called a suicide mission, and at last count, fifteen have
been killed. Two of the suspects were found dead in the library, after the
area SWAT teams had tediously swept and cleared the beseiged building.
And the list goes on and
on, growing with every passing day.
shocked and at a loss for
reasons as to why such macabre and violent actions can be perpetrated
by such young, and what we perceive to be, naive and innocent children.
Whats going on in American society? We can barely fathom the day to
day violence that takes place on our streets by the adult population, but
how can mere children commit such horrific crimes?
Secular social pundits
and psychologists are all ready to put forth their own particular thesis
for the violent phenomenon, with well worded justifications that are simply
inadequate in their reasoning, yet gobbled up by a confused and alarmed
readership. Most come from the Jungian/Freud philosophy that man is nothing
more than an animal, nothing more than an organism that is a product of his
environment and upbringing, and easily "fixed" by a little skillful "social
engineering." Statements such as they were influenced by the Hollywood
glorification of violence and that television has a great hand
in presenting unrealistic realistic situations, of war being a romp in the
park and you dont get as dirty, with notable characters being the villain
one time, the hero the next, and occasionally dead, only to reappear in the
next blockbuster show. Then there is the blame put on violent video
games, and the ever popular lack of parenting, or the always
faithful panacea of gun control, that there are too many guns in
Of course the offenders
attorneys put forth the standard defense, saying, My client is not
mentally competent and does not understand the nature of these proceedings
and this was just a childish prank that went horribly wrong.
Horribly wrong indeed.
These events are so outrageous,
the reasons put forth so absolutely trivial and frivolous, they in no way
even scratch the surface of the true impetus behind these tragic events.
How many of us as children ever watched a violent movie and had not been
incited to then go out and mimic the activity? How many of us were raised
in less then perfect childhood homes, yet grew up into responsible adults
with not even a traffic ticket to our record? More and more as the days go
by and the morning news brings another shocking account of random, senseless
violence; the New Age belief that man is on the edge of a quantum leap
into the next stage of his evolution demonstrates itself as the ludicrous
theory it really is. So, lets venture below the shallow and superficial
discourse put forth by the secular, and even the religious world, for these
events and explore some other alternatives. Things from the Word of God.
I remember one time in
the past when I wrote Mr. Conner, a respected personal spiritual advisor
and Bible researcher, and asked him if he had seen the 1992 Los Angeles riots
on television. He said,
Yes, I did see
the riots, but the spiritual energy level of the people in Los Angeles caused
it. When people allow a vacuum of God's Power, then guess who takes over?
You know, of course. But they never learn and especially the younger generation
who haven't been taught Christian Principles.
So whos fault is
that? Jesus said in the Bible:
Ye are the salt of
the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?
it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden
under foot of men. Matthew 5:13
From the earliest of times,
salt has been used as a preservative, before the modern conveniences of
refrigeration, and before that, commercial production of ice. It was applied
to meat as a way to retard the natural decay that took place and was an easy
to understand comparison in the minds of the people present when Jesus spoke
it. Jesus in this verse is making the comparison between salt as a preservative,
and as is inferred, His followers, the Born Again, Spirit-filled Christian,
as the preservative in the society around them.
A good modern day comparison
would be the way a lot of people react when a uniformed police officer comes
on the scene. Whether you are a law-abiding citizen or a criminal, a certain
tension and unease is suddenly evident, as what the individual police officer
represents is symbolized in their wearing of that badge. The law, the standard,
the representative and enforcer of the law of the land. How about when you
are driving down the freeway and you inadvertantly look up in the rearview
mirror to see a black and white patrol car coming up behind you? The deterrant
influence of the presense of that patrol unit usually compels you to quickly
check your speedometer.
Even so, when an individual
Christian comes on the scene, if the people in the area recognize them as
so, and even if they dont, the same tension is evident if they are
unbelievers. This person is a representative of God and His Son, Jesus Christ,
and symbolizes the Law of God. The Holy Spirit present in them is a light
in the darkness, as Jesus said, Ye are the light of the world. A city
that is set on an hill cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14), and that light
is evident if they are truly walking in the Power of God. Most people with
any sense of respect for the things of God will modify their behavior when
a true Christian is present. It might be good, it might be bad, it might
be no outward response at all but there is a response none the less.
Now for the rest of what
Jesus said in this verse, . . .but if the salt have lost his savour,
wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to
be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. When the retarding
and preservative influence of that salt has degraded, its
effectiveness begins to wane, and thus follows the inevitable result. Things
start to rot!
But wait! How can this
be in America? We are a Christian nation! We have churches on
every corner in every town and city in the nation, religious programming
on television to no end, and access to spiritually related resources incomparable
in human history. Christianity in America should be impacting, not only the
nation, but the whole world in the most phenomenal way. Yet now, even our
kids are butchering each other out on the streets. Gosh, it sure cant be
our fault! Or can it?
Ive been a Christian
for almost twenty years now, yet even after that time I dont feel myself
to be any type of scholar or more insightful than the next guy. But elementary
observation is an ability available to even the most simplest among us. Having
observed pretty much every type church service, studied every sort and stripe
of particular theological position, and heard sermons from across the whole
spectrum of Christendom in America, I have noticed quite a few ongoing blunders
in our tactics, how we conduct our public affairs, how we present the Gospel
to the community.
How about the
Saturday/Sunday Night Revival Service? We have all been to one
of those. Where the minister gets up, after a lot of loud and energetic praise
music, and through a very blustery sermon almost devoid of the Word of God,
seeks to whip up the congregation into an emotional frenzy, and then after
a lot of strange and bizarre behavior on the part of a few, the event is
hailed as a success and a witness that the "Holy Spirit is indeed falling
from the heavens." Yet the good feelings from the previous night,
as if revival was anything about mans subjective feelings, quickly
evaporate under the fiery and crushing pressures of the following Monday
as the congregate stumbles spiritually feeble through another week.
Or how about the holy
laughter phenomenon that seems to have swept the Church? You know,
where in the midst of an otherwise orderly service (Let all things
be done decently and in order.... I Corinthians 14:40), a member of
the congregation will get zapped (in the vernacular of one
participant I interviewed) and start to laugh out loud and chortle and then
others join in. The world is looking for stability, strength, and soundness
in the Church, so Im sure this will be really effective in impacting
them. The minister will dutifully stop, as he has heard previously this is
another sign of the revival that is taking place, and a
moving of God and the Holy Spirit. Of course, his being a student of
the current church growth marketing strategies, he has to give
his customers what they want or risk losing them. Meanwhile the
calm, systematic, professional teaching of the Word of God has been disrupted
and put on hold.
Or how about the
Conservative Movement that is taking place, which in a nutshell,
seeks to influence the nation and world through secular means, that is,
mans government and institutions. Even though the things of the spiritual
realm are dealt with in a spiritual manner, the belief we can change and
modify behavior through the legislative process, whether conservative or
liberal, never seems to lose its appeal. Forget about converting
people to Christ! Well FORCE them to comply with our particular
brand of acceptable behavior! Yet this particular tactic forgets the
basis of a lot of societal problems, the unregenerate heart of man, and in
so doing, "puts the cart before the horse" in seeking to regenerate man and
An associate of mine, Tom
Pardue Sr. once said this,
"The American culture
is obsessed with salvation by politics. We as a corporate body cannot comprehend
any other way of changing the culture. They do not understand that God changes
cultures by the preaching of the Word. Nineveh's culture was not changed
by Jonah getting elected king or arguing that Nineveh stop socialism or stop
stealing from her citizens. It was changed when God ordered him to
What about prayer, repentance,
the Word of God, and an unleashed Holy Spirit revival? Yet we continue to
insist on doing it "our way." We continue to insist on "doing something."
So the Church, detoured
from her True Power Source and distracted by so many things, starts losing
ground. And the frustration, corruption and despair spirals ever upward as
violence, the final product, sweeps the land, even affecting the very young.
Galations 5: 16-21 says, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall
not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other:
so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit,
ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which
are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such
like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past,
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
The Holy Spirit working
through the freely wielded Word of God is our only effective "sin deterrent"
in American society, the only "violence suppressant." The Born Again Church,
in seeking to be a credible and effective counter-force to this madness and
leaning on anything else, is pure folly! Yet, in our not complying with these
basic principles of warfare, we see the Holy Spirits influence through
the Church is weakened and dulled, as the forces of darkness continue to
gain ground in our society. Because the control dimension is the spiritual
dimension. And we know all this.
So now what?
For if we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged. I Corinthians 11:31
Lets judge ourselves
by the Standard of the Word of God. The American Christian, by and large,
has become pre-occupied with many things in her quest to serve the Lord with
effectiveness. We could probably list quite a few more trends, but these
few things we mentioned are the most outrageous. The freedom we live with
in this nation makes it easy to get lazy and careless in our daily walk with
Him. The thing is, a lot of people are beginning to realize a lot of this
behavior we listed is not in line with the Word of God and are starting to
Most people are steeped
in religious systems which emanate from wrong doctrine, at least to some
degree, and even trying to learn anything new is often a threat to them or
their belief system. They simply prefer their system to the acknowledgment
of the truths of the Word of God. That is good in one way, in that it protects
them from wrong doctrine, but it also shields them from learning more. Still,
people are starting to judge themselves and their lives in the
light of His Word, and are once again learning to walk in true faith in His
The Christian leadership
of all types are starting to judge themselves; what they are
teaching and the way they conduct their services. They are reevaluating their
priorities and judging themselves against the standards and directions laid
out for them as they minister to the flock from the Word of God and realizing
how close they have come to having a form of godliness, but denying
the power thereof. (II Timothy 3:5)
As I was writing this piece,
one of Mr. Conners statements came to mind,
"Consider any nation
today and scrutinize their prosperity level. Most have sick economies and
governments due to no other reason than the lack of Power from the Word of
God! In every nation, there is a "core" of people who store divine energy
from God's Word. Beyond this "core" of keepers of the Sacred Trust are other,
weaker Christians who have some respect for God's Word, but also love the
things of this world. Together, these Christians are responsible for the whole
nation's prosperity and freedom from natural disaster, war, internal turmoil,
plagues and so on. If not for these, the nation would soon collapse, because
the spiritual realm controls the physical...."
I agree. And in light of
the turmoil and violence that has plagued this nation recently, and in light
of the conduct of the Church in recent years, it is clear that the power
vacuum left by the absence of Gods Word having precedence in
the Church mentioned at the beginning is by and large one group of peoples
fault. The Born-again Churches fault. Our fault.
For the time is come
that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us,
what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? I Peter
So where do we go from
here? First, reevaluating our priorities, all of us need to make our relationship
with God in Heaven a top priority above everything else, whether family,
social, business, or governmental. Everything in our lives revolves around
that. Individual spiritual self development and Bible study. Individual pursuit
towards spiritual excellence and understanding of the inherent Power in the
Revealed Word of God. Our weaknesses are always, without exception, due to
departing from the plain teaching of the Word of God. The Bible is so easy
and simple if wholly believed, but sometimes, that is the most difficult
thing in the world to do. The Churchs preserving influence on society
is strengthened by exercise in the Word of God, prayer, good deeds and Christian
Pastors and Ministers,
most definitely, need to abandon the secular influences that are polluting
the ministry and commit their ministries, and yes, their very callings, back
into the hands of the living God, trusting wholly in Him to provide for His
Church. Their followers are not customers that are to be
targeted in some marketing strategy like some demographic group.
They are the children of God and looking for courageous and strong leadership,
centered in the Bible and nothing else, against the hostile spiritual forces
that are attacking us all. Make pursuit of excellence in all things spiritual
and Godly a primary theme as you lead them along the way. A minister, bending
to the will of his denomination or the influential in his particular flock
instead of the revealed Will of God will find some momentary relief, but
inevitably stand before the Throne of the Great Shepherd as he answers for
his lack of spiritual backbone in denying the Mystery of Christ,
. . .The eyes of
your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of
his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,
according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in
Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand
in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might,
and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also
in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave
him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the
fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:18-22
In summary, we find that
some basic detours to being effective within our sphere of influence, trying
to do things ourselves instead of allowing the Word of God free reign, are:
1. We don't understand
or believe God's Word has the power to do it.
2. We think our modern methods can do it better. (The Conservative Movement)
3. We don't understand the spiritual realms and their power.
4. We fail to acknowledge the Mystery of Christ.
5. We simply reject the Word of God.
In closing, I hope I did
not come off sounding too critical concerning the Church and her actions
in this world, but the current trends sweeping the Church are wrong and the
short and long term repercussions quite serious. People are dying, both
physically and spiritually, and this is due to the forces of darkness that
have had their way, unopposed, in American life. Yet trying to combat them
outside of the forum of the spiritual realm, first of all, is futile and
a great waste of time and resources. Until the Church, corporately and, more
importantly, as individuals, realign themselves back with the Word of God
and give Him preeminence in all things, the current spiritual crisis in American
life will continue.
This is unfortunate because
there is quite a hunger and thirst for knowledge as people are seeking the
Truth after being through the spiritual wilderness of the last thirty and
forty years. Bookstores are being flooded with manuscripts of every sort
to cater to this new trend and demand. Will it be a good trend?
Today there are many
opportunities and an open door to reach people with the Truth of the Gospel.
God help us to fall in line and not lose it, especially to the enemy!
Until then, keep
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"Violence in America" Copyright © 1998 Michael A.
My thanks and acknowledgements to R. David Conner for
his invaluable insight in the crafting of this article!