Why the Tragedy in Aurora?
By: Pastor John Collins
Here we go again. Another senseless tragedy. Another crazed gunman heartlessly taking the lives of people he didn’t even know. Another round of frenzied media speculation. Another round of politicians and social commentators positing ideas as to what happened and why. Does it feel like we’ve been down this road before?
I’m always struck by the shock and dismay voiced by people who said they knew the perpetrator, whether it be the assailant at Fort Hood or the mass murderer in Norway, or the killer in Aurora. The descriptions are usually eerily the same: “he seemed normal,” he was “smart,” no one would ever “expect” him capable of such an atrocity.
But they were capable. And that is the answer to the question “why.” People are capable of horrendous behavior and unspeakable harm. That is an answer that has been lost in our post-Christian world. But the simple truth is Adolf Hitler wasn’t born a murderer; he was born a sinner.
One of the most compelling reasons for Christianity is that the Bible clearly teaches that the nature of man is, at its core, rotten! Most every other religion or philosophy teaches that there is an innate goodness to man that he simply needs to uncover. Christianity starts with a different set of assumptions. Man is flawed inherently, a victim of Adam’s fall, from which all mankind has since suffered corruption.
It is this foundational truth which is the basis for the life of Christ. A Savior, sent into this corrupt world to redeem mankind from the death spiral he is born into, shedding His own blood as a ransom to free man from the prison of sin.
So how does that answer “why” people to horrendous things? Because it’s in their nature! We sin because we are sinners. There is no grading by the curve in God’s economy. Sins, great and small, are a sign of man’s condition and rebellion against his Creator. It is in the nature of every human that has ever walked this earth. All men, even seemingly “good” men, have the capacity to do horrendous things. If you doubt it, a quick look back to the prison guards of Auschwitz will reveal men who surprised even themselves at the atrocities they entertained and allowed.
The Bible says that all men “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “there is none righteous, no, not one…” The further we, as a nation, leave our Christian heritage, the muddier the waters of life’s great questions become. Without a theological grid to sort through these “why” questions we are left in a spiritual vacuum, left with the puzzle of how men can perpetrate these types of crimes.
Disasters, tragedies, civil unrest, and all the discord that attend society can be answered through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That’s the beauty of the Christian faith. Jesus came to live the perfect life—the only person to ever walk this life without sin—and then He offered that life willingly as a ransom for our souls. In the end, that is the real “why” question. Why would He do that?
The Bible gives us that answer, too: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.