We have read the horrific accounts from witness and school officials at Virginia Tech explaining in some detail of the morbid brutality that erupted on the Blacksburg, VA campus yesterday. We have now further learned that the assassin was a 23 year-old senior named Cho Seung-Hui.
The prevailing question that arises in all of this is: Why? Why did this happen? Why did Cho Seung-Hui do this?
As the reporting of the facts gives way to an attempt to understand, categorize and otherwise deal with what has happened, many suggestions have been offered. I have read that it was an argument with his eighteen-year-old girlfriend, Emily Jane Hilscher that was the cause of this. Emily was the first victim of his brutal rage. Others have blamed the prevalence of violence in culture, whether it be movies, music or video games. Still others have weighed in and placed blame upon his environment. Others blamed his upbringing. I have also read of folks blaming everyone from the NRA to Charlton Heston. And for each suggestion there are thousands of question marks.
So what is the answer? Can anyone give a reasonable answer as to why something like this happens?
Surely the humanism that prevails our culture is not equipped to answer such grim displays of evil through the actions of people as Seung-Hui. The psychologist, likewise, may attack outside influences in trying to nail down precisely what was troubling him, however, the answer as to “why” remains elusive. Many post-modern university professors may have a hard time even deciding whether or not this was evil or not. Regardless of who is asked we seem to get a similar response, something was wrong with him. For most assuredly, something has to be wrong in order to make someone do such unspeakable things.
This is a perfect time for the thinking Christian to raise his hand and offer clarity. Instead of trying to excuse God from any knowledge or involvement in such things, we would do well to speak with clarity as to the root that has produced such a vivid and painful disaster.
As Christians we understand the presence of evil is not limited to those things that merely unsettle us, but rather everything that undermines the will of God. Evil is not limited to the squeeze of a bullet or the rage of a murderous attack but in every act of self-exaltation that comes at the expense of the God’s preeminence. The essence of evil is seen through its relentless attack upon the goodness of God. From our vantage point there are levels of evil, however, from the holy eyes of omniscience there are not levels of evil, only God-attacking-evil.
This is why the Christian understands murder not just in terms of squeezing the trigger but also the mental homicide of hate. It is why Jesus threatened hell fire to those who would exalt themselves above others and speak with hatred towards them (cf. 1 Jn. 3.15; Matt. 5.21-22).
We understand this world to be plagued by the persistence and pervasiveness of the effects of sin. By the mercy of God the effects of such sin is restrained from being as devastating as it potentially could be, however, on days like today, its effects are no doubt horrifically gripping.
Additionally, it is a good time for the Christian to compassionately speak out against evil and to promote the God who alone has triumphed over it, will not turn a blind eye to it, and will one day completely eradicate the earth from it. We understand that history is moving in a linear direction, towards its pinnacle point, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule and reign with all evil firmly suppressed under his sovereign foot. There is a day coming when he will reign in righteousness and all who do not submit to him will be crushed.
In the meantime we have a message do we not? Our message is one of good defeating evil. It is a message of redemption. It is a message of victory. However, this message is not for those who believe that they are without evil but for those who see themselves as evil. Pride is the mother of evil; she has birthed every atrocity known to mankind. It was pride that flooded the heart of Adam in the garden, it was pride that requested a murderer to be released instead of the sinless Son of God, and it was pride in the heart of Cho Seung-Hui that put himself first and took the lives of thirty-three other people. Pride is indeed evil, for we are all pridefully evil people.
Further, it is pride that keeps people from even now submitting to the sovereign authority of Jesus Christ over them. It is an evil pride that rejects his Lordship in view of self-sovereignty. If you, even now, do not see yourself as evil, there is a good chance that you do not see God as good. And therefore, it would be impossible to love him through the sin-bearing Savior Jesus Christ. If this is you, I urge you to come and join the millions of evil men and woman like me who have found mercy, grace, love and forgiveness through our good and faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
If you are a Christian please speak-up with biblical clarity to your hurting neighbors, friends, and family. For we are a people who pray for opportunities to speak of our God. God in his providence has given us such an opportunity today.