Recent Movie Theater Massacre Further Reveals Christian Sloth
I begin this post with the following illustration. It is a hypothetical conversation between Mary Mystic (a good Christian woman) and Perry Prosecutor (an unregenerate district attorney) at an auto repair waiting room:
Mary: while reading the discarded newspaper lying on the waiting room table; “Oh my, did you hear about that tragedy?”
Perry: “What tragedy?”
Mary: “The woman who drowned her three children by driving her car into a pond.”
Perry: “Yes, I heard about it, I am the one prosecuting the case.”
Mary: “Oh my! Such a tragedy!”
Mary: “Yes! The lives of those precious children are cut short, and of course, the poor mother has lost her mind!”
Perry: “Actually, her mind was well with her, and not lost. The scheme was well planned. The only thing that broke the case quickly was the fact that our seasoned detectives have seen the same well planned scheme before.”
Mary: “Oh, I see. But yet, you would have to be crazy to do something like that to your own children!”
Perry: “Why is it only crazy because it was ‘her own children’? Is killing the children of others less crazy?”
Mary: “Uh, well, I see your point, but why in the world would a mother do such a thing?”
Perry: “The answer is quite simple; her newly found boyfriend doesn’t like children, and the children were getting in the way of the relationship.”
Mary: “Oh come now! Surely it is not that simple! No mother is that selfish!”
Perry: “Well, you’re right, it is not entirely that simple; the mother somewhat resented the children because they reminded her of her ex-husband, who she hates.”
Mary: “How can you be so sure about that?”
Perry: “That’s what she told us when she confessed.”
Mary: “Uh, well, uh, really?”
Perry: “Yes, ‘really.’”
Mary: “Well, for the grace of God, there goes us.”
Perry: “Hmmm. So, you’re a Christian?”
Mary: “Oh yes, for sure!”
Perry: “Thanks for telling me that. I now know not to hire any Christians because we wouldn’t solve any cases.”
Such is the case when such “tragedies” surface in American culture from time to time and the recent movie theater massacre in Colorado is no exception. Nobody has answers, especially Christians. While waxing eloquent about how Christ came to save the world from such things, we don’t know why they happen and what can be done to prevent them. Certainly, making people Christians by faith in Christ alone is not the answer because Christians don’t act any different than unbelievers. Statistically, whether divorce, depression, suicide, sexual abuse—you name it—there is no significant difference.
Is this a surprise? If we don’t know why things happen, how can we prevent them? The world doesn’t know why, so stuff happens. Neither do Christians know, so just as much misery accompanies Christianity regardless of the fact that Christ said He came to give us life—and that more abundantly. Present tense. This hypothetical (in the minds of Chrsitians) result suggested by the God-Man should result in another hypothetical result suggested by the Apostle Peter: people see by our lives that we have hope, and come to us when no one is looking to get some answers. But they aren’t asking. Why would they? There is no less human carnage and decadence lying about the landscape in Christianville.
And the reason is Christian sloth, primarily in the area of THINKING. American Christianity has become a flock of lazy thinkers. We like our Christianity easy, and mindless, and are willing to endure the misery that comes with it. Sound bites, clichés, and truisms long ago replaced Christ’s exhortation to seek with all of our heart, soul, and mind. In the recent TANC conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny, John Immel got it right: “thinking is hard” and “ideas are hard” and Christians are up to neither. This is why we prefer things that are EASY. Thinking is hard. And the Colorado massacre reveals such.
I am not going to cite specific examples, but the Christian articles going viral on the internet are the ones offering the pat answers and borrowing sound bites from the world; for example, calling the massacre a “senseless act.” No it wasn’t. The act was masterfully planned. When the goal of the individual is considered, the act makes perfect sense and again, was very well planned. Like the world, Christians continue to call such well-planned actions “senseless”—because that’s easy and we don’t have to make sense of it—that’s hard.
As John Immel also discussed in the aforementioned conference, we home school our children and shelter them from the world. That is much easier than teaching them to think. Because Christians have lost their will to work hard in the arena of ideas and thinking, we are no match for the world or a cure for them. Therefore, we need to stay separate. Given the circumstances, that’s probably wise. But here is why the world will look to its psychologists for answers rather than us, even though the young man who committed the act was studying to be a psychologist: they at least work hard at trying to figure stuff out. Give them that. Christians don’t do that because it supposedly violates the principle of child-like faith. As Immel aptly pointed out in the same conference, faith is a license to be simpleminded. Figuring stuff out by studying what the Apostle Paul called “the mind of Christ” is pragmatic arrogance.
God is taking care of a mass of different kinds of business in the lives of people through these events. Even with me. Not but two days ago, my son Phillip walked past me with what is known as “alternative music” blaring on some kind of newfangled device. The lyrics of said music is known to espouse its ideas regarding, murder, rape, suicide, authority, virginity, knowledge, and host of other subjects. One such band named “Slipknot,” has hanging one’s self with this device (which strangles the victim slowly rather than the hangman’s noose that breaks the neck and brings a quick death) as their major theme. Has our family sat down to discuss this issue in regard to the mind of Christ? No, because that’s hard. It’s much easier to say, “Well, song lyrics are just words. Certainly, my well-bred child would not be persuaded by such things. Besides, teenagers are focused on the beat, not the words.” That’s easy. What the Scriptures say about thinking isn’t.
In the Great Commission, Christ said to make disciples, not saved people. But we disobey because making disciples is hard—believing in Jesus and signing a card is easy. “Praying about it” is very easy when compared to the very difficult business of CHANGE. And in regard to thinking, the Apostle Paul calls us to a shocking duty: to take EVERY THOUGHT captive and bring it into obedience to Christ. If we think about that, which we don’t, because of the ramifications, we must conclude that our disobedience in this regard can lead to nothing other than unhappiness and ill results. But that’s hard—we want merry mindlessness and a plea of ignorance when things happen that are “difficult questions” that we dare not answer lest we be deemed arrogant know-it-alls. Better that people suffer on the altar of child-like faith. Besides, the unpleasant challenge to vigorously pursue wisdom will be quickly whisked away by the pastor’s pat answers, the caretaker, or a chemical lobotomy if death is stubborn.
The movie was the midnight premier of the most recent Batman trilogy. Just a movie, right? Of course, to give pause and think about all of the craziness surrounding this movie, including its very dark character, would be taking the whole thing too seriously. When people wait in long lines dressed up like the characters to proclaim their “obsession” with everything Batman, such should not give us pause—it’s all just a bunch of fun. But again, the Apostle’s call to hard thinking upsets our merry mindlessness and challenges us to consider these things. In Philippians, chapter 4, Paul exhorts us to “dwell” on what is “true” with the result being “peace.” The Scriptures continually warn of living in a fantasy world and dwelling on untruth. A pastor once shared with me about a certain lady in a midweek Bible study who requested prayer for characters in a daily soap opera that she watched on TV. Her mind was so saturated with the show that the lines between fantasy and reality became blurred.
Hence, while Christians are clueless, I heard solid answers in regard to the massacre from a secular thinker on a morning program. He proposed that three primary elements led to the perpetration of the crime:
1. The individual was taken over by the fantasy and wanted to actually place himself in the narrative (apparently, he was dressed like the Joker and yelled, “I am the Joker” before he started shooting).
2. He may have been overly enamored with the power that the Joker had over other people’s lives and was willing to throw his whole life away, and the lives of others in order to experience that—if even for one hour.
3. He was recently experiencing personal failures and disappointments in his life.
Good points. And there is something for Christians to learn here: we are instructed in Scripture to watch our thinking very carefully, and the Bible addresses thinking in regard to disappointments, attitudes towards others, attitudes towards self, and a myriad of other headings under the topic of thinking. Thinking is hard work, and Christian sloth in regard to thinking is exactly why we are no different than the world.
Bless their hearts, the world works hard at thinking, but they don’t have the answers. We do, but don’t think—our faith is a license for mindlessness. Enough with the softball truisms on this thing. Christians should not be surprised about this event or perplexed about it: uncaptivated, sinful thinking leads us away from guarding the mind which the Bible calls the “wellspring of life.” Sin is powerful, and this event should cause Christians to take pause and reconsider how serious they are concerning the words of the Holy Spirit.
This is not an “isolated incident.” God has knowledge of every person on Earth who has fantasized about doing the same thing (which by the way is depicted in a Batman comic book to a “T”), but didn’t actually act on the fantasy. I seriously doubt that those incidents of sin in the mind are “isolated.” And “isolated” from what exactly? Reality? Good grief.