A headline at the Washington Post makes a surprising observation: “Christianity may be declining in America, but presidents still turn to the Bible in moments of tragedy.”
Reporter Eugene Scott begins the article by mentioning President Trump’s use of Scripture in his speech to the nation on Monday. In response to the horrific Las Vegas shooting over the weekend, Trump referenced Psalm 34:18, saying, “Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.”
The fact that the U.S. President would turn to God’s Word in response to tragedy contrasts oddly with the reports of Christianity’s decline in America. Scott writes, “In 1990, the number of Christians in the United States was 86 percent, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. That number is now 70 percent. And since the early 1990s, the percentage of Americans identifying as ‘atheist,’ ‘agnostic’ or ‘nothing in particular’ has roughly tripled in size.”
Despite this decrease of Christian affiliations in the nation, the Bible remains a consistent source of comforting words. As Scott reports, not only President Trump but also the two recent presidents before him have all turned to the text of Scripture to comfort the nation in times of incredible violence. They do this, Scott says, “to offer some level of clarity.”
Scott’s observations in this article speak to the enduring nature of God’s Word and the reality of our constant need for it. Left to the relativistic perspective of our times, we have no vocabulary for evil and, therefore, no comfort for those suffering at the hands of evil. The Word of God alone offers an adequate explanation of the state of this world, and Christ alone gives us a complete image of life and hope. God’s Word deals with the world as it truly is, meets mankind in his suffering, and offers a crazy but true solution to the problem of evil.
This is why, even though many reject the guidance of Scriptures in the practical matters of life, Scripture becomes the fallback in times of sorrow. We become most aware of our need for something out of this world when terrors and atrocities shake our faith in the things of this world. In this world of death, we turn to God for comfort and clarity because he alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
Leah Hickman is a 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College’s English program. She has written pieces for multiple Hillsdale College campus publications as well as for BreakPoint.org, ChristianAnswers.net/Spotlight, and the Discover Laura Blog. Read more by Leah at aworldofgrasspeople.blogspot.com.
Photo: President Donald Trump makes a statement on the Las Vegas mass shooting at the Diplomatic Room of the White House October 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 50 people dead and hundreds injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect is dead. The investigation is ongoing.
Photo courtesy: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Publication date: October 4, 2017