Thursday, August 6, 2009

Religion and LA Fitness Shooter

I have been reading up on the shooting that happened the other day in PA (for those who have not seen the story--this man went into a gym and fired something like 65 bullets, injured many, and killed something like 3 people and himself) and one thing stuck out to me that I doubt anyone in the press would ever talk about. It comes as no surprise that a man capable of such an act has many twisted thoughts in his mind, but let's take a look at this one.

The shooter's last journal entry was this:

August 3, 2009: I took off today, Monday, and tomorrow to practice my routine and make sure it is well polished. I need to work out every detail, there is only one shot. Also I need to be completely immersed into something before I can be successful. I haven't had a drink since Friday at about 2:30. Total effort needed. Tomorrow is the big day.

Unfortunately I talked to my neighbor today, who is very positive and upbeat. I need to remain focused and absorbed COMPLETELY. Last time I tried this, in January, I chickened out. Lets see how this new approach works.

Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them.

I will try not to add anymore entries because this computer clicking distracts me.

It's a funny twist on the faith/works issue and shows a very fundamental misunderstanding of the atonement. What sticks out to me though, is how at least part of the rationalization and logic of this shooter is not a huge leap from what some people actually teach.

I wonder whether if this understanding of the atonement were corrected, would there have been a different path? I tend to doubt it. But did this man really believe that there were no consequences for his actions because he has faith in Christ? A belief like is immensely dangerous and could lead to a great deal of evil acts. Do you think this type of teaching is being taught, or rather, that it is being taught in a form that easily allows a minor twist to lead to the shooter's conclusion?


Jeremy said...

Unless you have a twisted view of God and his eternal nature, you cannot honestly believe that doing harm to another (and yourself for that matter) is within God's plan. This man was seriously disturbed, and I agree, it may have stemmed from a misunderstanding of the Atonement.

It's an interesting thought that the faith v. works controversy may have played a role in this tragedy. What is certain, however, is that this man had rejected the promptings of the Light of Truth for so long that he could not discern right from wrong. And that may have cost him his life, and the life of 3 others.

I'm surprised news outlets published his journals. It seems that his words may entice others to follow suit.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Calvin was right, and he has always been on a list to be consigned to Eternal Life or Eternal Misery. And there is nothing he can do do influence the decision of which.

Or, perhaps he was saved - and nothing he could do subsequently will negate his expected salvation.

Dead works - whether of the Law or otherwise - aren't universally thought to influence salvation. The LDS are almost unique in consideration of the influence on salvation of faith and works.

Evgenii said...

"Unless you have a twisted view of God and his eternal nature, you cannot honestly believe that doing harm to another (and yourself for that matter) is within God's plan."

Better throw out the Book of Joshua then!

Jeremy said...

Touche, Hans. You win this round.

Evgenii said...

Just to set the record straight, I think that Joshua may not be the most accurate book so you are probably still right Jer, I was just being obnoxious.

john f. said...

He was taking the very common Baptist or Evangelical understanding of the Atonement seriously: He accepted Christ in his heart and so he was saved when he did that and any works he did before or after that (except presumably becoming Mormon -- if he had done that, it is questionable if Baptists or Evangelicals would consider him saved) have no bearing whatsoever on whether he is saved or not. He became saved when he accepted the Trinitarian Jesus in his heart. Subsequent murders don't change that moment and the sins are paid for.

Thankfully, Latter-day Saints have a more balanced view of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the relationship between faith and works.

Scott Gordon said...

Hmmm...My computer clicking is bothering me too.

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