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After Another Mass Shooting: A Spiritual Examination of America

06-03-2019

ANALYSIS

When mass shootings occur in America, be it at a school or in a workplace, one immediate trend for public conversation is to call on lawmakers to pass more laws regulating the sale of firearms. 

In last Friday's horrific attack on a city government building in Virginia Beach, Va., it was discovered the alleged gunman had legally purchased the .45 handguns he used to take 12 innocent lives, and he had legal access to the building. So how would laws have helped? 

The next question we always ask is: "Why did this happen?" More often than not, there are no solid answers. The recent attack in Virginia Beach is a good example. Authorities are still baffled as to why the suspect carried out his murderous rampage. He was a longtime public works employee. His job performance, according to City Manager Dave Hansen was "satisfactory." He had not faced any disciplinary proceedings before he submitted his resignation. He had not been fired.

In an interview with USA Today, Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera said the gunman's motive is a mystery to authorities – a glaring question that may never be answered.

The suspect died later in a hospital after an intense gun battle with police officers, so he cannot be questioned. 

"Right now, we're open to everything on his motive. We haven't focused in on any one thing," Cervera explained. "You have a professional life, you have a personal life. Is it something that happened in his personal life? Is it something long-term that happened in his personal life?"

Are we looking for answers in the wrong place? Last year, after a former student at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. killed 17 students and staff members and wounded 17 others, a popular saying often found on social media by preachers and others was, "It's not a gun problem, but a heart problem."

A few months after that shooting, Wave Nunnally, a professor of early Judaism and Christian origins at Evangel University, an Assemblies of God school in Springfield, Missouri, told The Christian Post that we need to remember there's a real spiritual battle going on. CP Reporter Brandon Showalter described Nunnaly's explanation this way: "many Christians have in some ways failed to understand the spiritual dimension of evil, particularly grasping the interplay between the natural world and the spirit realm. This is more than relevant when thinking about mass shootings."

"The enemy (Satan) is real and he has not declared any kind of truce," Nunnally added. 

"In the West, we are all too quick to dismiss the supernatural or to explain away the supernatural by referencing areas of mental illness. And while that is probably true of some, there are dots that connect," he told the CP.

A few days after the Stoneman Douglas attack, Dr. Lance Wallnau also addressed what he sees as a part of the problem -- a divided and desensitized American society. 

"If you've got a culture that feeds on lawlessness and violence.... to divide Americans from Americans for the purposes of creating political power, you've created a culture that is going to be increasingly violent and desensitized," he said in a video posted on his website

Wallnau said there's demonic activity behind some of the shooters, like the Parkland, Florida shooter. "This kid clearly needed deliverance," he said in the video. "There was enough indication that he was out of control."

But maybe the problem is that we in the 21st century do not really understand evil. As Christians, we are constantly reminded about evil from a spiritual standpoint. The Apostle Peter cautioned churches in the Asia Minor in the first century of this fact writing in 1 Peter 5:8:  

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Evangelist Don Stewart notes on his website Blue Letter Bible that the Bible has a number of things to say about the problem of evil. We do live in a fallen world where evil exists.  And one of the eight points Stewart makes in his article is that evil is not logical.  

"Evil, by definition, is not logical. It is random," he writes. "Therefore we should not expect it to operate in a righteous way."

Bethel Church Senior Pastor Bill Johnson believes there is a need for revival across the US, cautioning that Satan has released a "spirit of insanity" that wants to silence the Gospel message. 

"Today in the place of the spirit of revelation stands a spirit of insanity that is now being embraced as the message of truth. And it grows in the absence of a 'yes' from a sold-out people," Johnson told the audience at Bethel Music's recent "Heaven Come" conference held in Los Angeles, according to the CP.  

"I'm so thankful that Jesus is returning. I don't want anyone to misunderstand me, but the hope of the world is not the return of Christ. It's the power of the Gospel, unadulterated, declared by (Christian believers)," Johnson said.

Stewart also notes on his website that the Bible reminds us the devil will one day be defeated. 

"The Bible says that God is able to overrule evil for good. It must be understood that evil does not work in a logical or rational way – it touches everyone both good and bad," he wrote.

"A person cannot commit evil acts without paying some penalty – breaking God's laws has its consequences. God is involved in solving the problem of evil He sent his Son to die on Calvary's cross. There will come a day when evil will no longer exist," Stewart concluded. 

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