As I thought about what happened last week, I thought one of my friends, who doesn’t know God, might ask me some questions regarding the events of the World Trade Center. So, I sent these questions to a friend of mine who is a pastor to get his views on the questions that a non believer might ask and his responses to them:
Keith – you’re thinking through good questions. Here’s my short responses:
1. If God is so good, how could he let this happen? The real question here is how God deals with evil in general. He either allows a level of freedom among people that makes possible the evil we observe. Or he doesn’t allow such freedom. He has chosen to allow that freedom and I think we generally understand that the alternative of humans who acted as puppets would not
be a preferred alternative. In allowing that evil, we have to ask whether God acts to limit that freedom. I believe he does largely in the form of governments who hold one another in check. I do not in any way believe that America is somehow the chosen ambassador of righteousness. However in this case, I believe God is using the US as an evil restricting force in the world.
2. If the person or persons responsible for killing these thousands of people repents of his sins and accepts Christ, will he too go to heaven? I won’t address this one – you know the answer. I think you’re using this one to set up the next one.
3. Why would you want to be in a place full of people who kill others and then repent? My response would not be too theological – first, I don’t expect heaven to be a place FULL of people who kill others and then repent. There will for sure be some of those, but for the most part, people like those who killed so many last week were well on their way down a path leading to an eternity separate from God. And few will turn back once that far down that path. However, given the fact that God holds open the door for those who will repent – even after horrendous sins, I have to ask myself this question. If I have the choice of being in a place full of people who kill others and then repent or being in a place full of people who kill others and don’t repent, I’m going with
4. How can someone be forgiving of a crime such as this? How can we as Christians not immediately say things like we should destroy these people? We have to constantly hold in balance the two values of justice and mercy. And we have to deal with the tension of personal ethics and social ethics. On a personal level, I am called to forgiveness, mercy, loving my enemies and praying for them and leaving vengeance to God. On a social level, I am a part of a country that has a biblical (Rom 13) responsibility to God to use force to restrain justice – force applied within the country in the form of justice toward those who break laws and force applied outside the country in the form of military attack toward those who perpetrate evil.
That’s the short version – I’ve left issues unaddressed and questions unanswered I realize but that’s my basic approach. Keep thinking!
A different way of thinking, but still the best answers that I have heard, to probably some of the most difficult questions a Christian might face, considering the events that have transpired, and the mindset of many people in this country right now.