The Christians of Columbine

Here is an interesting read about the shootings, in 1999, at a school in Littleton, Colorado. Note especially the last two paragraphs:

At Leawood, even the resilient families were faltering. Nothing had changed: no buses, no word, for hours on end. District Attorney Dave Thomas tried to comfort the families. He knew which ones would need it. He had thirteen names in his breast pocket. Ten students had been identified in the library, and two more outside, based on their clothing and appearance. One teacher lay in Science Room 3. All deceased. It was a solid list, but not definitive. Thomas kept it to himself. He told the parents not to worry.

At eight o’clock, they were moved to another room. Sheriff Stone introduced the coroner. She handed out forms asking for descriptions of their kids’ clothing and other physical details. That’s when John Tomlin realized the truth. The coroner asked them to retrieve their kids’ dental records. That went over unevenly. Many took it gravely; others perked up. They had a task, finally, and hope for resolution.

A women leapt up. “Where is that other bus!” she demanded.

There was no bus. “There was never another bus,” Doreen Tomlin said later. “It was like a false hope they gave you.” Many parents felt betrayed. Brian Rohrbough later accused the school officials of lying; Misty Bernall also felt deceived. “Not intentionally, perhaps, but deceived nonetheless,” she wrote. “And so bitterly that it almost choked me.”

Sheriff Stone told them that most of the dead kids had been in the library. “John always went to the library,” Doreen said. “I felt like I was going to pass out. I felt sick.”

She felt sadness but not surprise. Doreen was an Evangelical Christian, and believed the Lord had been preparing her for the news all afternoon. Most of the Evangelicals reacted differently than the other parents. The press had been cleared from the area, but Lynn Duff was assisting the families as a Red Cross volunteer. A liberal Jew from San Francisco, she was taken aback by what she saw.

“The way that those families reacted was markedly different,” she said. “It was like a hundred and eighty degrees from where everybody else was. They were singing; they were praying; they were comforting the other parents, especially the parents of Isaiah Shoels [the only African American killed]. They were thinking a lot about the other parents, the other families, and responding a lot to other people’s needs. They were definitely in pain, and you could see the pain in their eyes, but they were very confident of where their kids were. They were at peace with it. It was like they were a living example of their faith.”

(Taken from Columbine, Dave Cullen. Borrowed from Tim Challies, A Living Example)

Why would it be that the Christian parents would react so differently? I think the reason is along the lines of what Thomas Brooks tried to convey in his book, Heaven on Earth (1667), concerning God showing Himself to those in difficult times:

“The moon will run her course, though dogs bark at it. Just so, will all those choice souls who have found warmth under Christ’s wings, run their Christian race in spite of all difficulties and dangers.”

Pieter @ Soma Communities

LIG.punt’s Pieter Wessels just returned from a couple of months at Soma Communities in the US. What did he do there? Have a look…

Prayer Is…

…the practice of the presence of God.

Borrowed (and slightly adapted) from a book by the title of Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life by Brother Lawrence (1605-1691).

The Cool Of Dawn

The death of the world and birth of a new one passed without anyone noticing. Since that day God is showing his children that they are, as a matter of fact, walking with Him in a new creation.

“On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”

-G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

The Bible in 221 Words

D.A. Carson’s summary of the Bible in 221 words:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel. (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:81 Peter 4:17)

For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

Contrast =

Have you ever thought about the meaning of (your) life and, before long, ended up feeling insignificant? A feeling that forms when considering yourself with shortcomings, with limited abilities and a short-lived mundane existence leading to nothing more than remains scattered in the wind. Fantastic! 

Consider God in contrast to this and then consider that He invites us to be His children, to be brothers and sisters of His son. We are all of the dreary things mentioned above – we have little meaning, but.. God stooped down and gave us identity, He gave us meaning and holds us in His hand giving us rest from this fleeting reality.

Next time you are awakened to the bleak reality of our existence, be thankful! Then seek to find solace in the contrast of now with the identity found in a holy loving God!

“In Otto’s study of the human experience of the holy, he discovered that the clearest sensation that human beings have when they experience the holy is an overpowering and overwhelming sense of creatureliness. That is,

    • when we are aware of the presence of God, we become most aware of ourselves as creatures.
    • When we meet the Absolute, we know immediately that we are not absolute.
    • When we meet the Infinite, we become acutely conscious that we are finite.
    • When we meet the Eternal, we know we are temporal.

To meet God is a powerful study in contrasts.”

-The Holiness of God, RC Sproul. (formatting added)

The Bible Has Errors

Ever been confronted with the question: “How can you believe the Bible when it has so many errors?”

In a post by Jonathan Dodson, What to say when someone says the Bible has errors?, he addresses the perception of the Bible being littered with errors. So what do you say when someone claims that the Bible is full of errors? Here follows a summary of the blog post:

Don’t avoid the topic, talk about the errors, there are four types of errors in the Bible:

  1. Spelling & Nonsense Errors: This is when a word does not make sense in the context, the example given is one that occurred in a late Greek manuscript: replacing “ēpioi” with “hippoi” thus making 1 Thess 2:7 read “..we were horses among you..”. These are obvious errors and easily corrected.
  2. Minor Changes: When word order changes or a word is omitted. This does not make a difference seeing that Greek grammar allows the same sentence to be written something like 18 times without changing the meaning.
  3. Meaningful But Not Plausible: An example of this is when the “..the gospel of God” – as appearing in nearly all the manuscripts is found to be “..the gospel of Christ.” in a late medieval manuscript. It does indeed imply a difference in meaning but the overall evidence is irrefutably pointing towards the first mentioned.
  4. Meaningful and Plausible: Errors that may influence the actual meaning. These account for less that 1% of the variants and mostly involves a word or phrase. At the end of Mark’s gospel appears the biggest questionable errors. Note that we are not being “misled” as our Bibles even footnote this!

So is the Bible reliable?

As the accuracy is dependant on the manuscripts that our Bibles are translated from, consider this:

  • We have 43% of the New Testament that was translated before 200AD.  Very fresh copies indeed!
  • 99 manuscripts that date before 400AD means that the gap between the original inerrant manuscripts and these are pretty slim. (see comparison of the number of NT manuscripts with other notable historical documents here)
  • In all that means we shoul be hugely (thousand+ times) more sceptical about accounts of the Greco-Roman history than the NT.

So what should you say to the Bible having errors?

Yes, our Bible translations do have errors—let me tell you about them. But as you can see, less than 1% of them are meaningful and those errors don’t affect the major teachings of the Christian faith. In fact, there are a thousand times more manuscripts of the Bible than the most documented Greco-Roman historian by Suetonius. So, if we’re going to be skeptical about ancient books, we should be a thousand times more skeptical of the Greco-Roman histories. The Bible is, in fact, incredibly reliable.
The common perception that as time passes we loose accuracy of the Bible is, in fact, incorrect. The truth is that as time passes the accuracy of the Bible is increasing and we can already be confident that the translations available to us are already 99% true to the original manuscripts.