May 1, 2007
The horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech has given new impetus to a number of ongoing debates across America: gun control, security on school campuses, therapy and the responsibility of the state, to name just a few. However, there is one topic that has had relatively little discussion—the topic of evil. Yes, this was a tragedy. And yet “tragic” seems like too weak of a word to describe the awful events of April 16 in the small college town of Blacksburg, Virginia. The senseless massacre of 32 students was a horrific event that brings into clear focus the gruesome face of evil.
Both political and theological liberals would have us believe that evil really doesn't exist. Moreover, the world at large seems to live in a deluded state that “wishes” for a utopia brought to our earth by good people being taught by even better people to simply unleash the inner good within all of us. It sounds wonderful, plays well and there is no doubt that this philosophy sells millions of books. But, tragically, this philosophy is built on a lie.
When it comes to the moral state of human nature the Bible is clear. As the prophet Jeremiah declared: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” (17:9). Mankind did live in a utopia once, but that all ended when our distant parents ate of the forbidden fruit. Since that fateful day the human race has lived in a fallen world with a corrupt nature warring within each of us. Theologians call this monster “indwelling sin” and each of us—if we’re honest—is all too familiar with its residency within our hearts. It is true that we are not as wicked as we could be: God, in His mercy, has showered on the earth common grace—graces that are common to the righteous and wicked alike (cf. Matt. 5:45). In addition, God has given us a conscience to restrain the evil within. However, God has increasingly been moved to the periphery of our lives—both our lives as individuals and our culture at large. What we are left with, in the words of author David Wells, is “God in the Wasteland”—and we should only expect seared consciences and the increase of moral evil.
We live in a world where God is largely expelled from our governments, our schools, our culture and, in some cases, our churches. With God driven away, the conscience of many becomes desensitized to evil and the monster is unleashed. While we are deeply saddened and horrified at the bloodshed in Blacksburg, we should not be surprised.
Until God is invited back to the public square and given a more elevated place in our own hearts, we can expect more evil not less. Christians ought to be the most realistic about the prevalence of evil, but also the most hopeful. Believers know that there is coming a day when every wrong will be made right—a time of perfect justice when death will be swallowed up in victory and evil will be no more. With that ultimate day of righteousness in view Christians must continue the good work of bringing God back into a prominent place, including the public square. In the horrific events at Virginia Tech the gruesome face of evil is undeniable. What a watching world needs now is renewed faith in a God who sufficient for the day.
Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio. Contact Bob at [email protected]