Mass shootings and the Church’s influence

Since the Colorado shooting last week, arguments about what to do to stop the carnage have reached a fever pitch.

There are many opinions out there. That government should spend more money on treating mental disorders, and take guns off the streets is the most touted.

Please allow me my two cents.

Years ago, a cardiologist told me, “I want to know when things change. If you can climb up three flights of stairs before getting winded, I want to know when you get winded going up two flights of stairs.”

He explained that everyone has a “normal,” but something is wrong when that normal changes for the worse.

When it comes to guns, not that long ago in America, the thought of a mass killing was unthinkable. For example, Lizzy Borden is still famous for killing her parents in 1892. Why is she still well-known after nearly 130 years? People killing multiple numbers of people, especially their parents, were unheard of in 1892.

Today, not all mass killings make the national news. If you want an idea of how common someone killing more than one person is; turn on the Information Discovery Channel for 24 hours; you’ll get the idea.

So back to my doctor’s advice. If in time past we could go decades without mass murders in our nation and now they are far too frequent occurrences — what changed?

If I told my doc, “I used to be able to climb three flights of stairs, now I can only climb two before gasping for air.”

The first thing he will ask me is, “When did you start to notice the change?”

According to Wikipedia, there have been 29 mass shootings in the United States, resulting in at least 10 deaths.

The first came in 1949. It took nearly 20 years for the second occurrence (1966) — only one 10-plus death shooting during the entire decade of the 1970s. The 1980s saw the number jump to five; the 90s had three; the 00s had four. Then came the 2010s with a grand total of 13. The most recent shooting in Boulder, Colorado, is the first of the 2020s.

It was the 1980s when the change became noticeable and the 2010s when it skyrocketed.

As the heart doctor would say, “There is a change going on, and we need to find out what it is.” So what happened?

In the early 1960s, we took the Bible and prayer out of schools. By the 1980s, the children of the 60s are adults, and the increase in mass shootings began to rise. By the 2010s, we see the grandchildren of that first generation without prayer and the Bible in schools.

Before the blame is entirely laid on the schools and the Supreme Court, we should look at the church and Christians in general. During the 20th century, churches became more interested in the number of people in the pews instead of the salvation of sinners and Christians living a godly life. This philosophy caused more and more Christians to live like the world. Before long, other than Christians going to church a little more often, a person could not see much difference between Christians and non-Christians.

Churchgoers had itching ears, wanting to hear that God loves them but unwilling to hear that they are sinners. If people do not confront their sin, they will never seek a Saviour. Churches began to look more like high school pep rallies or musical concerts than places where Christ’s blood cleansed sin, and the Holy Spirit changed lives.

Churches morphed into happiness centers. Attend for an hour, be entertained, listen for 15 minutes about how God loves you, and walk out happy. However, come Monday morning, when life sets back in, there is no change in the heart, and life continues down its miserable road. Without the Holy Spirit working, there is no joy, there is no peace, there is no hope for joy and peace amid sorrow. An hour of happiness may give people a short respite, but it has no changing power.

So, where does that bring us? We are at a point where the church has lost a lot of spiritual power. When the church loses spiritual power, it also loses influence within society.

God is the creator of life and the giver of all authority. With the Holy Spirit’s influence dwindling because of the church’s ineffectiveness, the respect for God, authority, and life dissipates.

Back in Lizzy Borden’s day, the general populace, Christian or not, had a respect for life, goodness, authority, and God. That is why someone killing her parents was so unthinkable. It was so inconceivable that no one in 1892 thought, “How do we stop the next unhappy woman with an ax?”

Today, however, when a mass shooting occurs, everyone knows it is only a matter of time before it happens again.

So, what has changed? Why were mass shootings unheard of in 1949, and now we fearfully wait for news of the next one? We pushed God out of the schools, our churches, and our homes. God is the giver of life; when we take Him out of our society, the respect for life goes along with Him.

America does not need the guns taken away. Mental illness is not the root problem. We need the Christians to get right with God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

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By Timothy Johnson

Preacher’s Point

Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County, Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com; email: [email protected]; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872; all Bible references KJV. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.