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Truths About Terrorism And Tragedy

I thought it would be helpful to revisit some truths about tragedy and suffering from a Christian perspective in light of the recent terror attack in Orlando, FL.


 
INTERVIEW: CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO 
This is an excellent 20-minute sound byte regarding "God And Suffering"/"Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?" from the Lutheran radio program Issues, Etc. that I first listened to years ago in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings, which is relevant whenever a tragedy of any kind occurs like the one our nation is facing in Orlando, FL right now. The words of hope and joy we have in Jesus Christ were beautifully confessed in Pastor Wolfmueller's interview with Pastor Todd Wilken. In times of suffering and tragedy, the only comfort we have is the cross of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. I hope you will take the time to listen to it and I pray that you find Pastor Wolfmueller's response both comforting and helpful (hopeful) to you regardless of your own unique circumstances right now. Just remember this wonderful promise: Revelation 21:4 (ESV) "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Until that day, please continue to pray for all those who are hopeless, hurting, and lost in their pain and sorrow.


Straight and to the point and most definitely Biblical.

Now, if you're looking for a more in-depth study that expands upon those truths, then please feel free to check out the podcast I did way back in June 2013 on the same subject (when I was still doing a weekly podcast).

All I ask is that you please keep in mind that I recorded it at a time when I was first transitioning to becoming a Confessional Lutheran myself, and so even though I shared a lot of material from distinctly Lutheran sources, I'm sure there will be some obvious traces of my old non-Lutheran and Evangelical beliefs sprinkled in there too so use discernment!


PODCAST: Hope For The Hurting And Jesus' Take On Mass Tragedies 
What do you say to a grieving mother following the death of her child? What do you say to someone who's endured any kind of devastating, personal loss? How can we Christians offer true counsel and comfort? We thought a podcast like this would be helpful to anyone who has just experienced a deep, personal loss regardless of the unique circumstances, and we also thought it would be helpful to share what the Bible has to say about mass tragedies. The full title of this message is "Hope For The Hurting, Jesus' Take On Mass Tragedies, And Asking The Right Question" and we hope you'll join us and share it with others in need. [SOURCES: All content is compiled from a collection of selected passages from the Holy Bible; selected excerpts from related sermons available online; and various blogs/ministries]


Again, I sincerely hope that such material is a blessing to you and your loved ones.

While that was my primary reason for writing this today, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't also take some time to offer a brief political commentary of sorts here as well. Specifically, I think we Christians need to be reminded about some truths regarding terrorism too.

Once again, the sins of hate and murder have been on full display these past couple of days thanks to a sinner who took Islam's satanically-inspired religious writings to heart.

Yet another Islamic terrorist took life into his own hands and believed his actions were demonstrative of his own love for his beloved prophet and god.

I know there are some non-Christians out there who think that we believers in Christ are somehow happy and thrilled that this happened given that it was homosexuals who were targeted and killed.

In fact, I guarantee that there are some who believe that all Christians are "Westboro Baptist" types, but that would be completely wrong and here's why. It also shatters the myth that "since all Christians are not Westboro Baptist types, then all Muslims surely are not Islamic terrorists!" More on that a little later.

Personally, I love how Rev. Jordan Cooper put it today...


It's possible to not agree with someone's decisions or lifestyle, and still love and care for that person. Many of the same people who believe that homosexual acts are sinful would have also jumped in front of a bullet for those who were killed without a second thought. It's been sad to see all of the politicizing that has happened already, and the assumption from certain people that any sane Christian would support, or had any part in, something like this. Christians are people of life. Jesus laid down his life for us, and we should be ready to do the same for others, including homosexuals.


Amen! For the record, what happened to those people in that nightclub in Orlando did not happen because they were somehow so-called "worse sinners" than the rest of us (see Luke 13).

This is very similar to something else I saw from other faithful Christians yesterday...


We as Christians should be willing to step in front of a gun that is pointed at someone because they're gay. Love is sacrificial. Let us as Christians step forward to defend those who are having violence done to them. ‪#‎OrlandoShooting‬ ‪#‎Christianity 
-- Michael Salinas

If we, as Christians, can not mourn for the loss of life in Orlando, I don't believe we understand Christianity at all. Lord have mercy. 
-- Dave Williams‬


Yes, those are the correct Biblical/Christian responses in light of what Scripture clearly says and so this is how we should hope to respond to this or any tragedy for that matter.

Even so, we need to be careful not to go too far to one extreme, which is why I also feel obligated to reiterate something I observed and criticized following the last terror attack that dominated the news headlines a few months ago.

As we pointed out in the aftermath of last November's terror attack in Paris, France (which itself was only weeks before another terror attack on U.S. soil in San Bernardino, CA!), when it comes to terrorism, the "All You Need Is Love!" type of Christian is wrong, because we should hate evil!

So, here are some thoughts today from God's Word following last night's barbaric murders in Paris for any Christians out there who believe in an "All You Need Is Love" Beatles brand of Christianity rather than "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3)...


Proverbs 8:13 (ESV) All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. 
Amos 5:15 (ESV) Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. 
Psalm 97:10 (ESV) O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 
Psalm 45:7 (ESV) you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 
Psalm 26:5 (ESV) I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 
Romans 12:9 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

But what about "love your enemies" (Luke 6:35)? What about it? We "love our enemies" when we first expose their evil deeds by being realistic about them, and by calling it what it truly is, and by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) against such enemies while also praying for God to lead them to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. 
So, yes, you can cite Luke 6:35 all you want, of course, as long as you also understand its proper context in the legitimate execution of justice in a world where the Lord also clearly says that there's "a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace" (Ecclesiastes 3.8). 
Dear "All You Need Is Love" Christian, I ultimately reply to you with this sobering word of caution from Isaiah 5:20 that plainly says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" 
My friends, we cannot cherry-pick the Bible verses we like and ignore the ones we don't like. We need to prayerfully consider the Word of God in its full and complete context and recognize that Scripture interprets Scripture and does not contradict itself. To do otherwise is to be a purveyor of false doctrine while paving a road to hell with good albeit politically correct intentions that betray the true Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves. 
Christians should most certainly HATE evil just as God hates it Himself. To suggest otherwise is absolutely absurd, dangerous, irresponsible, and dare I say quite un-Biblical too.


The reality? Reading through the Book of Concord for the first time in recent months, I'm amazed by how much time our church fathers spent writing against this very same notion of "Love Wins!" and how prevalent it was in the Catholic church back then (and still is today throughout contemporary Christianity).

Look, you are not being "pious" or "obedient" or "reverent" to God by publicly and proudly proclaiming that you do not hate evil in this world since you prefer to not hate anything at all while attempting to "love God more" instead (Works Righteousness anyone?), especially when we Christians are emphatically told repeatedly that we most certainly should hate evil whenever and wherever we find it in this life.


NEWSFLASH: 
Terrorism = Evil = Christians Hate Evil = Christians Hate Terrorists/Terrorism


My dear friends, this is what it means to take a truly honest look at any terrorist attacks let alone what our only response should ever be as Bible-believing Christians.

If you're curious to prayerfully consider some additional truths so that you can obtain the proper perspective in such times as these, then perhaps you should read our post on Martin Luther's "On The War Against The Turks" also published several months ago in the aftermath of another Islamic terror attack.

Actually, I just recalled that it was back in March 2016 (just 3 months ago!) when Brussels faced its own terror attack that caused me to write the following piece that's worth sharing again here today...


More Barbarism By Beasts In Brussels 
This is getting absolutely ridiculous. I've written this same post several times now. Deja vu. That's because each and every time there's a terrorist attack in some part of the world that arrests the public's undivided attention and grabs the international news headlines, these are the words I choose to share in an attempt to expose the truth and to offer hope in the Prince of Peace Himself.


Simply put, there is nothing "peaceful" about Islam. These are the A, B, C's of Islam I'm afraid, or the A, B, C's of the so-called "Religion of Peace" where the following is this harsh reality -- "A" for "Attacks," "B" for "Beheadings," and "C" for "Crucifixions" -- all in the name of "Allah" and the "Prophet Muhammad" we're told.

By now, it should be crystal clear if it wasn't already -- Islam is not the so-called "Religion of Peace" as is often asserted. 
Furthermore, those who are waging war with bombs and bullets against those they consider to be "infidels" (and they don't discriminate either!) are actually the more faithful Muslims, according the the Qur'an. Those Muslims who are not torturing, maiming, and killing non-Muslims are actually the apostates of their religion (or "Muslims-In-Name-Only"), because the passages of the text that instructs its believers to do such things is entirely prescriptive instead of descriptive
And yet, because the West continues to worship at the Altar of Political Correctness, we continue to see our elected leaders and government bodies (and even the presidential candidates and presumptive party nominees) that are supposed to protect us by enforcing law and order doing and saying such absurd and offensive things if they even say anything at all. I mean, get a clue already! 
The collective response is always the same time after time and it's so frustrating. Politicians are all dumbfounded and asking over and over ad nauseam, "How could this have happened undetected? Why did this even happen in the first place?" The answer's simple, really. As Political Columnist, Mark Steyn, once wrote, "The barbarians are inside, and there are no gates." Indeed. 
Folks, the terrorists tell us repeatedly what they're going to do to us and our allies over and over again, but we never seem to want to take them at their word or do anything about it either. 
The bizarre knee-jerk reaction by many Christians is to say that we are to simply "love your enemies" (Luke 6:35) and do nothing despite the fact that our enemies love everything that is evil in this world since their father is Satan. 
We should know that our common enemy "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Still we do absolutely nothing. 
Sure, we all fall in line and make sure we quickly tweet #PrayForBrussels though I wonder how many of us who typed that actually did stop and say a prayer for the people of Brussels. 
I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but only trying to point out that we need to start taking this threat much more seriously than we do at the present moment. 
No, we'll never entirely eradicate terrorism as evidenced by history, but that shouldn't mean we just throw up our hands and do nothing about it.


Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

I, for one, will not succumb to such vile actions in the name of "Political Correctness" or some twisted interpretation of Christianity, because there is hope to be found in Jesus Christ and in His Word and His Sacraments. 
Yes, it's even available to our Muslim enemies since "the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) and we now know that "the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31). 
Our own Augsburg Confession even says, "Islam is the most atrocious and ancient hereditary enemy of the Christian name and religion." 
With that in mind, please be sure to take a closer look at the links above that cite Martin Luther's own personal writings on this topic. Luther actually had quite a bit to say about the "Turks" (a.k.a. "Muslims") in his day-and-age that deserves our attention and prayerful consideration, in my humble opinion. 
Obviously, we don't treat all of Martin Luther's writings as though they were the gospel truth, but what it is about anything he wrote several hundred years ago about this very same scourge that isn't true or wouldn't apply today? 
You might also want to look through our Archive and read the series we did titled "9/11 Through Martin Luther's Eyes" for a more comprehensive view of what the good doctor had to say about the Christian perspective on fighting, revenge, terrorism, Turks, violence, and war and peace. 
At this point, what else can I say that I and others like me haven't already said? All we can do is continue to pray for our enemies and continue to pray for peace. At the same time, we also need to keep a close watch on our own hearts and minds too. 
What do I mean by that exactly? Just that we Christians need to make sure that whenever we trot out the whole "love your enemies" Biblical command, that we're doing so religiously and not politically. 
See, lately, whenever something horrific like this happens, I tend to encounter the more liberal and progressive Christians who are always the most vocal. They're the first to speak up and the first to speak out on this issue, but they invariably all parrot the same "love your enemies" phrase and nothing else (it certainly never includes any mention of the Gospel!), which completely ignores a ton of Scripture that also instructs us to hate evil whenever and wherever we find it. 
In a sense, their intentions with repeating the "love your enemies" phrase is not a noble attempt to foster a deeper understanding of God, His Word, His Church, and Christianity, or to open the door to a discussion of faith and use it as a springboard to sharing the Gospel with anyone, but it's usually to merely echo a political talking point that makes Islam and Muslims the victim rather than those who actually had their limbs blown off or who lost loved ones who were just going about their daily business. 
But what about "love your enemies" (Luke 6:35)? What about it? We "love our enemies" when we first expose their evil deeds by being realistic about them, and by calling those deeds what they truly are, and by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) against such enemies while also praying for God to lead them to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. 
So, yes, you can cite Luke 6:35 all you want, of course, as long as you also understand its proper context in the legitimate execution of justice in a world where the Lord also clearly says that there's "a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace" (Ecclesiastes 3.8). 
Remember, we are to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and it never contradicts itself. Where there seems to be a contradiction is precisely the place where we must put our own human reason aside and have faith and trust in the Lord and His ways and Word. 
The "All You Need Is Love Christian" needs to recall this sobering word of caution from Isaiah 5:20 that plainly says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" 
My dear friends, we cannot cherry-pick the Bible verses we like and ignore the ones we don't like. We need to prayerfully consider the Word of God in its full and complete context and recognize that Scripture interprets Scripture and does not contradict itself. To do otherwise is to be a purveyor of false doctrine while paving a road to hell with good (albeit politically correct) intentions that betray the true Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves.


We must be mindful of the spiritual realities present and operating behind the political realities too.

I'm reminded of a letter written by Franz Pieper in 1901 immediately following the assassination of U.S. President William McKinley with this powerful excerpt that condemns each and every one of us even if we're mere spectators of this past weekend's atrocity...


All people, but especially Christians, should recognize that the murderous spirit, which brought about this horrid murderous act, resides in every human heart and therefore must be acknowledged and fought. He who knows our heart described it this way (Mark 7:21-23): "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within." So it is with every heart, also with every American heart. And it does not merely remain a matter of thought. The murderous spirit is so evident in word and deed that it is hard to comprehend.


This is most certainly true.

Yet, thankfully, that's not where the story ends though. There are so many Bible verses I could mention, but I'm thinking of Romans 5:7-8 that plainly tells us that. "For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

So, what's the critical difference between Christians and non-Christians or between us and them? We belong to Jesus Christ through repentance and faith and they do not.


Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.


Praise the Lord that "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). This is why a murderer can repent and be forgiven and saved. This is the hope that belongs to each and every one of us, because we are all sinners -- me, you, them.

The truth of the matter couldn't be any plainer and simpler than this...


2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


To reiterate, this past weekend's tragedy isn't solely about terrorists or homosexuals. This past weekend's tragedy is a reminder to all of us that we are all sinners and we will all perish someday unless we repent of our sins and put our faith and trust in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of All Mankind.

So, while Martin Luther's words are just as relevant to us today as they were back then, while the views expressed by me and the numerous "Talking Heads" on TV may resonate with the national majority, let's all keep in mind that it's only God's Word that holds the cure for all sins whether it is the sin of hate, the sin of murder, the sin of false religion, the sin of terrorism, the sin of violence, or the sin of war.

Yes, there is hope to be found in Jesus Christ and in His Word and His Sacraments! God's free gift of salvation is available to all of mankind!

As previously mentioned, yes, it's even available to our Islamic/Muslim enemies since "the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) and we now know that "the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

Let's not ignore the fact that evil exists, that Satan is real, and that he has inflamed the sinful desires and passions of fallen man to the point where all the terrorists want to see is the red blood spilling from our non-Muslim bodies as opposed to the red blood that was shed and spilled for the forgiveness of sins for all men, women, and children upon the cross at Calvary thousands of years ago; blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sins for all mankind, which even includes them and their families too.

If nothing else, let's meditate on that this week as opposed to meditating on the fear, murder, and torture perpetrated by sinners.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, we are called to hate evil, but we are also called to confess Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind, even the sins of the terrorists, whenever we see "#PrayForBLANK" messages and signs in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Remember, what Christ did upon the cross is incredibly more powerful than any one ideology, any one terrorist, and any one weapon of mass destruction that he may use to inflict death and destruction in this life.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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