The timeless to the timely: Applying Scriptural Truths to Today
8/20/12 at 07:10 AM 0 Comments

Is Aurora a Community that Could Generate a Killer?

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Is Aurora a Community that Could Generate a Killer?

Reading about the mass killing and wounding in Aurora, Colorado, one wonders about the kind of community that could generate such a killer. However, coming to visit Denver and its neighboring city Aurora 12 days after the shooting, I saw how very different reality is from one’s imagination. Aurora and Denver are organized communities where one sees a society that for many is the American dream. Many houses appear to be middle and upper middle and lower upper class (though, as any city, it has its depressed area, too). The streets are wide, the traffic is persistent but calm (compared to some other cities I have visited). Drivers are polite, pausing to let pedestrians cross. No one begged for food in my brief visit. (Routinely I keep food to give away, so I saved some French fries for my trip home from downtown Denver to Aurora. But Aurorans were too well-to-do for anyone to want some fries. I also noted change on the sidewalks, which would have caused a minor pedestrian jam in some places to which I have traveled. But no one shoved in front of me to scoop it up.) Aurora appears to be a normal somewhat affluent community going about its normal business. At least the city is not renowned for its great poverty! Instead, it is the eighth safest city of its size in the United States![1]

Nevertheless, over the last several months within this community one intelligent child of privilege was planning great evil. In one local newspaper (the Aurora Sentinel) some residents have asked the questions all of us are asking: why did God allow such great evil to occur? Shouldn’t God have stopped it?[2] In response, many have reiterated that God allows free will to choose. Genuine love is not possible without free choice. For example, when the Bible’s first recorded murder took place, when Cain plotted to kill Abel, why didn’t God stop Cain just before the act of murder? Instead, God warned Cain ahead and confronted him afterwards (Genesis 4:6-15): “Sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (v. 7)….

“Listen: your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (v. 10 NRSV).

For that matter, why didn’t God stop Cain’s parents, Adam and Eve, before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so they would not die nor bring death to earth and begin this generational curse of tendency to sin and murder? (Gen 2:15-3:19).

What would happen if God were to stop all people just before they did some evil act? Would humans really be free and happy then? How much evil is sufficient for God to stop it? A large evil is in reality made up of smaller evil choices. For instance, should God have stopped James Holmes from buying any guns? Should God have stopped Holmes from dropping out of school? Should God have made sure AMC hired a security guard for this midweek showing? Etc. etc.

What does Jesus say when there is a disaster, the killing of innocent people inadvertently? In Luke 13, Jesus talks about those accidentally killed by the Tower of Siloam and those killed by Pilate in Galilee. Jesus places responsibility on humans not on God. Jesus focuses not on Pilate, for example, but on the people who were killed, what is in humans’ power to do. Were they ready to be judged by God when they suddenly die? In Jesus’ view, none of those who were killed were more sinful than his own followers. But Jesus’ concern was: are any of us ready to die? As Jesus said: Those who were killed were not worse sinners, but unless all of us repent, we will all perish before God’s judgment seat, if we are not prepared to face God (Luke 13:5). This question does not eliminate the responsibility of the builder of the tower or Pilate’s killing or James Holmes horrendous act. It does not eliminate the responsibility of any killer.

However, as we look around today at peaceful Aurora, where everyone continues in their daily pursuits, who would guess that someone had ever planned such great evil? The same can be said for all our own neighborhoods. But, the question we must ask is, are each of us ready to face the just judge, God? Have we availed ourselves of God’s Son’s means of forgiveness and transformation?

Is Aurora so unique a community only it would generate a killer? No.

Aida

[1] https://www.auroragov.org/cs/groups/public/documents/document/005515.pdf (accessed 19 August 2012).

[2] Sara Castellanos, “Faithful see light in dark days,” Aurora Sentinel August 2-8, 2012:10.

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