Pastor Fred Winters Shot to Death, So Where’s God?

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Today Pastor Fred Winters of First Baptist Church of Maryville was shot to death by a single gunman during their worship service.  Once the gunman started shooting he was “arrested” by the congregation who surrounded him and detained him until the police arrived.  As soon as horrific and evil events like this happen it tends to bring out all the Atheists and Agnostics that scream and yell about how God lets bad things happen, in some sort of “I told you so” way.

One blogger I consider to be much more intelligent on the issues than some normal Atheistic or Agnostic rant who doesn’t really understand the issues of the Christian faith is Unreasonable Faith.  He wrote this post about the shooting, Illinois Pastor Shot to Death at Church, which brought up some very good questions.  Questions I couldn’t possibly address in one blog post, but I love reading Daniel’s blog, it keeps me on my toes and sharpens me more than many Christians I know, even if his ultimate conclusions are wrong.

Why Does God Allow This to Happen?

They pose the typical questions like who would want a God that allows things like this to happen and they try to point out that God doesn’t exist or wasn’t involved because He let this happen (and one can quote scripture totally out of context to prove any point).  Asking these questions is not wrong, or even bad.  As I told a pastor Fred Winters today he reminded me that John Wesley once said, when you go to work, be prepared to preach, pray, and die [for the Truth].

God does listen, He does care, and He does answer all prayer, but the answer could be yes, no, or not right now.  Trying to say we know and understand the mind of God is dangerous, and saying that because evil exists in the world means God doesn’t is just not a good argument.  The Christian antagonist would have you believe that where evil exists, God does not, and therefore God was not with the people in Maryville.  Quite the opposite.

I can not offer intelligent reasons (because I do not have the mind of God) why things like this happen any more than I can really understand why there are those who are so antagonistic to the Christian faith that they themselves bring people away from faith in Christ.  It is one thing to not believe.  I have many friends and family members who do not believe.  They do not take the position of Paul before his conversion on the road to Damascus to purposely bring people away from their own faith in God, but according to scripture, Saul (Paul) did just that.

In the end, you either hold the scriptures to be the inspired Word of God with Jesus as the risen Messiah, or you don’t.  If you do, it doesn’t mean that we as Christians are supposed to sit around in a circle and hold hands and “pray” while we watch someone mow people down in a thunder of bullets and do nothing at all.  It doesn’t mean that we have to understand the ways of God either.

Luke 17:20 says:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

So does that mean that if I can’t move the Rocky Mountains I have no faith.  Not at all, but some will try to tell you that is certainly the case.  Arguments like these have gone on for thousands of years and I can’t even start to say I am smart enough to understand the why’s about it all.  I can see that I am very much like the flip side of Daniel when I say “Now I’m figuring out what it means to be a Believer and a person of faith.”.

Daniel credits himself as being a skeptic much like Pyrrho who is credited as being the first Skeptic philosopher, and the inspiration for the school known as Pyrrhonism in the 1st century BC.  As there will always be skeptics, there will always be people of faith in Christ.  One thing we can both agree on is that it was a terrible tragedy for Winters to be gunned down in his place of worship in front of his family.  My heart goes out to their family and their church.  God is with you, He loves you, and yes, His will (though we may not understand), will be done.

8 thoughts

  1. “God does listen, He does care, and He does answer all prayer, but the answer could be yes, no, or not right now.”

    Shouldn’t the answer to at least one of the millions of, “Lord, please allow my amputated arm/leg to grow back” prayers offered up throughout the ages been a “yes” then?

    Even Lucy lets Charlie Brown kick the football once…

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  2. What a dreadful tragedy, not only for the pastor and his family, but for all the innocent people who witnessed it and will surely be traumatized by what they saw.

    Just as atheists shouldn’t rush to use cases like this as “proof” that there isn’t a god, I wish Christians wouldn’t be so ready to declare any positive outcome a “miracle.” A good example is the recent plane rescue in the Hudson. Countless news stories described this as a “miracle,” even though it was clearly a case of a well-trained professional doing his job. God didn’t need to intervene because Capt. Sullenberger had it covered.

    I imagine Divine intervention as being like the old lifesaving slogan “reach, throw, row, go”; you do everything in your (human) power to get the job done and THEN you reach out for some extra help.

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  3. N.T Wright, the bishop of Durham in England has much needed material written on this subject. One of these books, “Surprised by Hope” tears apart ill thought out arguments such as “if God exists, then why does he allow bad things to happen”?

    Understanding the “Resurrection” as the early church understood it answers and gives much needed hope to those who suffer injustice such as this shooting. We western Christians have bought into a Gnostic of sorts, disembodied hope of Heaven. Death is the result of our fragmented and broken world. But scripture ends not with us going to Heaven but instead Jesus Christ again coming to earth to resurrect and redeem all of creation. Death does not get the final say. Bodily resurrection does. If I read this post I am writing six months ago, I would be hesitant as a christian wondering about this bodily resurrection. I encourage anyone to the book by NT Wright to further explain and defend what the early church clung to so tightly

    It is indeed a tragedy what happened to Pastor Winters. But the question, “where is God now”? would be that He is here right now. Waiting for creation to wake up. To look forward to his victory when Pastor Winters death is defeated and redeemed. Faith is saying bodily death is temporary because of Jesus. He rose again in bodily form as the first fruit and foreshadowing our own bodily resurrection.. This book indeed had me, “Surprised by Hope”.

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  4. God gave us free will. We have the ability to use it for good or bad. Sometimes, even often, good christians get hurt by those using free will to do bad things. God has NOT told us to never get angry or to defend our brothers from attack, quite the opposite. Those who use common biblical sayings to justify their athiestic beliefs should really try to read the Bible “in context” not purposely yaking things “out of context” to suit their needs. God cares. Lets use this very sad event to bring us closer to Gods Truth.

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  5. @Nancy Hoey

    Nancy, I don’t think you’ll find an atheist anywhere that uses the Bible to justify their beliefs (or non beliefs, in this case). Our conclusions come from critical thinking.

    Moreover, I hope you’ll admit that most Christians, save for the most devout, literal followers of the Bible, have their own interpretations of the book (which passages to consider metaphorical, which to be God’s unyielding commands, which verses are dated Bronze Age storytelling, which are eternal moral truths, etc.), and that they are usually the ones using the Bible to support their beliefs.

    Shouldn’t God’s truth stand up to the most rigourous investigation and be plainly obvious to the most denying skeptics? One does one have to suspend rational thinking and asking questions to believe?

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