By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
(CNN) – As he waited with parents who feared that their kids were among the 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Rabbi Shaul Praver said the main thing he could do for parents was to merely be present.
“It’s a terrible thing, families waiting to find out if their children made it out alive,” said Praver, who leads a synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut, and was among nine clergy gathered with parents at a firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shooting occurred.
“They’re going to need a lot of help,” Praver said of those who are close to the dead.
From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.
Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.
“Every single person who is watching the news today is asking ‘Where is God when this happens?’” says Max Lucado, a prominent Christian pastor and author based in San Antonio.
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Lucado says that pastors everywhere will be scrapping their scheduled Sunday sermons to address the massacre.
“You have to address it - you have to turn everything you had planned upside down on Friday because that’s where people’s hearts are,” Lucado says.
“The challenge here is to avoid the extremes – those who say there are easy answers and those who say there are no answers.”
Indeed, many religious leaders on Friday stressed that the important thing is for clergy to support those who are suffering, not to rush into theological questions. A University of Connecticut professor on Friday hung up the phone when asked to discuss religious responses to suffering, saying, “This is an immense tragedy, and you want an academic speculating on the problem of evil?”
“There is no good answer at that time that anyone can hear and comprehend and take in,” said Ian T. Douglas, the bishop for the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut, referring to counseling family and friends of the dead. “They’re crying out from a place of deep pain.”
Praver, the rabbi, will join a memorial service Friday night at Newtown’s St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church.
“We’re going to have a moment of prayer for the victims,” Praver said of the service. “We cannot let it crush our spirit and we march on.”
Some national religious groups are also sending staff to Newtown, with 10 chaplains dispatched from the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Friday.
Public officials including President Obama, meanwhile, turned to the Bible in responding to the shooting. “In the words of Scripture, 'heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,' ” Obama said from the White House, citing the book of Psalms.
On Twitter, #PrayForNewton became a trending topic.
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Some religious leaders argue that modern American life insulates much of the nation from the kind of senseless death and suffering that plagues much of the world every day.
“Most of the world, for most of the world’s history, has known tragedy and trauma in abundance,” wrote Rob Brendle, a Colorado pastor, in a commentary for CNN’s Belief Blog after this summer’s deadly shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which left 12 dead.
“You don’t get nearly the same consternation in Burundi or Burma, because suffering is normal to there,” wrote Brendle, who pastored congregants after a deadly shooting at his church five years ago. “For us, though, God has become anesthetist-in-chief. To believe in him is to be excused from bad things.”
My Take: This is where God was in Aurora
Lucado said there was an eerie irony for the Connecticut tragedy coming just before Christmas, noting the Bible says that Jesus Christ’s birth was followed by an order from King Herod to slay boys under 2 in the Roman city of Bethlehem.
“The Christmas story is that Jesus was born into a dark and impoverished world,” Lucado says. “His survival was surrounded by violence. The real Christmas story was pretty rough.”
Many religious leaders framed Friday’s shooting as evidence for evil in the world and for human free will in the face of a sovereign God.
“The Bible tells us the human heart is ‘wicked’ and ‘who can know it?’” the Rev. Franklin Graham said in a statement about the massacre. “My heart aches for the victims, their families and the entire community.”
Many religious leaders also said that such tragedies are a good time for lay people to express doubts about God – or anger.
“This is a time to go deep and pray,” says Lucado. “If you have a problem with God, shake a fist or two at him. If he’s God, he’s going to answer. And if he’s in control, he’ll find a way to let you know.
God is imaginary. And the god of the bible wouldn't know mercy if it bit him on the @ss.
Hey Tomtom the dumb atheist, did you make it to page 20 yet?
WE MUST FIND GOD WHO CAN DO THIS..... THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!
You realize, like the bible, this is fiction?
In the morning when Jehovah's Witnesses come to your door, or at any time, please just give them time to have a civil and serious discussion on this or any subject. you too can learn what the Bible really teaches and for free. or just go to jw.org and have all your questions answered from the Bible, again, free of charge.
We know what the bible teaches, and it isn't free. It costs one his soul, doesn't it? Not to mention the constant tithing and volunteering.
And deprive myself the pleasure of slamming the door in their face? No way!
Your leaders have claimed to know the date of the end of the world multiple times, and have been wrong each and every time. Why would anyone trust your cult?
be careful of who you slam the door on it may be publishers clearinghouse or the JWs with something worth even more. don't be foolish.
Having picked my way through some of your posts, sincere, polite, and otherwise, it was difficult to come to any conclusion other than that most of you are laboring under a couple of misunderstandings. This assertion includes A) the person/s who wrote the experience, and, B) you who responded to the posting.
The comment of the rabbi in Newtown, CT, to the effect that “there is no theological reason for what happened” at the school today, reminded me of earlier incidents involving two other major clergymen, 1. The Pope, and, 2. the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is all related to the question Why Does God Permit So Much Suffering in the World Today?
Cast your mind back a few years. Pope Benedict XVI went to visit the site of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. He explained that, while there, he was constantly praying, “Where were you, God?” Even the leader of the Catholic church has no clue as to the answer to this question.
For Protestants, ditto with an Archbishop of Canterbury, who, when asked this question at the time of his installation, replied, ‘I have spent much time agonizing over this.’ [Regret an inability to quote this exactly, since these words were reported in a newspaper I read on a plane about forty years ago.]
It seems rather obvious that most folks would like a response to that question. So let us try and explain the matter, because the answer is quickly found in the pages of the Bible.
If asked who is the ruler of the world, the vast majority would quickly respond, “God!”
1. GOD IS NOT THE RULER OF THIS WORLD. Sorry for shouting, but this statement runs counter to everything you likely have heard, some in church, or, others, in discussions with atheist friends. However, it agrees with 1 John 5:19 which, in the King James Version reads, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” To render this into modern English, a Greek-English interlinear translation renders the verse as, “We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in [the power of] the wicked one.” That ‘one’ is, of course, Satan. This was true in John’s day, just as it is today. Jesus readily acknowledged that fact.
Hopefully, you are reading carefully with brain in gear and mouth disengaged. Hold that pose.
2. HUMANS DO NOT HAVE AN IMMORTAL SOUL. (Apologies, again!) Each individual human IS a soul. This is in complete accord with the first mention of the word ‘soul,‘ with reference to a human, at Genesis 2:7. “The man became a living soul,” not, ‘the man came to have a living soul.’ (KJV) Earlier uses of the word ‘soul’ are referring to animals and birds.
The bottom line of all of this is that dying humans do not generally receive an invitation to life in heaven, no matter what the quality or righteousness of their life.. Death is the opposite of life and death, non-existence was what Adam was promised for his rebellion against our Creator in Eden.
Until about two hundred years before the time of Christ, the people of the Jewish heritage believed that their future hope after death was a resurrection to human life in paradise right here on the earth at some time in the distant future. Unfortunately, they were hijacked by Greek philosophers who came with a teaching of life after death and a transfer to life in heaven. The Bible, read with an unjaundiced eye, does not support such beliefs.
If our world is lying in the power of Satan and has been doing that for the past few thousand years, where is the Creator? Why has he not intervened in the affairs of humanity to prevent the tragedies of which this post on this blog speaks? Experience in speaking with many of the atheistic leaning is that the reason they have chosen the godless way of life is that they could not understand a third issue. So we’ll discuss that next.
3. Recently a friend had a rather fascinating experience. In talking to a Catholic person in the education field, he showed her Revelation/Apocalypse 21:3, 4. These verses promise to “mankind,” in the words of our Creator, that “he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning, nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” Her reply was, “That’s a beautiful hope,” and then, incredibly, she added, “but how can God promise such grand things when he cannot solve the problems that exist in the world today?”
The speaker had to commend her for her fantastic logic. She ultimately identified herself as the next best thing to being an atheist. Other atheists have responded in a similar manner.
It had been my friend’s experience too, that, in talking to many of the atheistic bent, their reason for taking a stance as an atheist, is the very question that e are discussing, and that the teacher raised.
So why does God not act to prevent wrongdoing in the world today?
Consider this illustration. Imagine that a teacher is telling his students how to solve a difficult problem. A clever but rebellious student claims that the teacher’s way of solving the problem is wrong. Implying that the teacher is not capable, this rebel insists that he knows a much better way to solve the problem. Some students think that he is right, and they also become rebellious. What should the teacher do? If he throws the rebels out of the class, what will be the effect on the other students? Will they not believe that their fellow student and those who joined him are right? All the other students in the class might lose respect for the teacher, thinking that he is afraid of being proved wrong. But suppose that the teacher allows the rebel to show the class how he would solve the problem.
Jehovah has done something similar to what the teacher does. Remember that the rebels in Eden were not the only ones involved. Millions of angels were watching. (Job 38:7; Daniel 7:10) How Jehovah handled the rebellion would greatly affect all those angels and eventually all intelligent creation. So, what has Jehovah done? He has allowed Satan to show how he would rule mankind. God has also allowed humans to govern themselves under Satan’s guidance.
The teacher in our illustration knows that the rebel and the students on his side are wrong. But he also knows that allowing them the opportunity to try to prove their point will benefit the whole class. When the rebels fail, all honest students will see that the teacher is the only one qualified to lead the class. They will understand why the teacher thereafter removes any rebels from the class. Similarly, Jehovah knows that all honesthearted humans and angels will benefit from seeing that Satan and his fellow rebels have failed and that humans cannot govern themselves. Like Jeremiah of old, they will learn this vital truth: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—Jeremiah 10:23.
Incredibly, this all goes back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and their unwillingness to follow the simple law or rule that God set before them. Their refusal to accept the Sovereignty of God was orchestrated by Satan, formerly an angel, who, by now, had made himself the archenemy of God. Satan raised the issue of universal sovereignty through this situation and, in essence, challenged God’s right to rule, claiming that He had lied to Adam and Eve.
Had God lied to our first parents? Jesus Christ, a heavenly creature at that moment in time, along with all the angels of heaven, would be interested to know whether or not Satan had a better way of ruling the universe.
Hence, rather than destroy Satan, and start over, God elected to permit him sufficient time to prove whether Satan did, or did not, have a way that was superior to the rulership of God. We are now, well over six thousand years into the time He has allowed, and, as you can easily see, we are rapidly running downhill to our own detriment, destruction, if you wish.
In principle, this is the issue that now stands before all intelligent creation. Whom will you serve, God, or Satan the Devil?
When our school lady heard this she said she had never seen things in this light before and asked the speaker and his wife to return when her husband was home, saying he, too, would be fascinated by the explanation of why God seems to be doing nothing to get rid of the wickedness in the world. Well, the speaker did return, finding him just as delighted with the information as she was.
So, if you have followed along, you can see that what happened in Newtown today was not the crazed act of a mad individual. It was an orchestrated endeavor to make you think these little ones have all gone to heaven. In fact, they are resting in the common grave of mankind awaiting the resurrection to human life on a paradise earth, as spoken of at Apocalypse 21:3, 4.
Satan is still standing at the worldwide blackboard holding the chalk, dear friends.
too long. I read the last sentence and you refer to Satan as if he's a real person. Pass.
"too long. I read the last sentence and you refer to Satan as if he's a real person. Pass."
There is no Satan. There is no god. That was way shorter and far more accurate than your post.
keep up the good work and I hope to see you here in the A.M. before going out.
#Marty; #adam. Too bad you missed the instruction that said to keep your brain in gear and your mouth disengaged. Wake up and read the mail!! If only we could get the atheists and trolls to go to bed for the night, we could keep this blog down to 100 posts.
#Marty. Hi M. Thanks for this. I appreciate your comment about Satan. I know what you mean and it's mighty confusing with all these folks telling us different things about God, Jesus, and Satan, life after death in heaven and where the souls of the kids killed at Newtown have gone; and how God must have needed more angels in heaven, etc.
There has to be a source of information on all these topics that is true and reliable.
I think I found that after forty-five years of looking. Since the late sixties I've been researching this theme, and have reached the conclusion that, because 97% of Bible prophecy has actually come true, while mankind is unable to discern accurately what the weather will be like tomorrow, the Bible must be from someone who knows with accuracy what the future holds. It must be the person who makes the sun rise every morning without fail, whether we can see it or not.
The Bible DOES NOT SAY THAT JESUS IS GOD. (Interestingly, even Satan acknowledged that when tempting JC.)
The Bible does not generally present humans with a prospect of life in heaven after their human death. Life is life, death is death, the opposite of life. Our future hope of life depends on our Creator at the time of the general resurrection.
The Bible's stand is that a human does not HAVE a soul, as according to Gen. 2:7, a man is a soul. Dogma to the contrary is man-made. (Sorry for shouting...)
I know you probably don't believe in God anyway,. That's OK, but it makes me remember the dark days of World War II, when it was often said that there are no atheists in the foxholes, or the lifeboats. When did you last pray? Who to? Who was listening?
Just for you, Marty, Satan was not created by God. The Bible presents Satan as an angel who deviated from the truth and went his own way. Remember how he asked Jesus to accept all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for one act of worship. It is obvious that Satan wanted to be like God, and steal some of the worship being rendered to God. Jesus' refusal of his offer shows that even Jesus understood that Satan was the "ruler of the world." (Please be patient with me and finish reading the rest of my thesis on page 21 of this CNN blog, filed at 10:03 p.m. on December 14.)
God hates this, of course! He created us to have freedom of choice. That is one of our greatest gifts. He's not going to intervene every time someone lifts a gun or makes a TV show or movie or video game that celebrates gun culture or shut down every weapon facility, etc, etc . He has told us to stop this. Over and over again in his Word. What he gave us is the Word and his Son who lived a life that we are to follow. He gives us all unconditional love and an ability to come to him in time of trouble. We create the problems! We are the spoiled, wining brats that blame him every time something bad happens… as if we didn't have any choice in the matter.
Your sure are in touch with how God feels about everything. Does he have a blog?
Mike, you seem to know a lot about something that doesn't even exist. Do you hear mysterious voices?
That's a silly question. Maybe some of these people will come to the conclusion that god is delusional creation that exists only in some delusional, brainwashed peoples minds.
I totally agree with this. no one should rely on something fake on something so real.
According to gospel this world was never the kingdom of God. Christ himself is said to have said so. We live out life doing whatever damn well we please to do! Where is the humanity of forsaking God's commandments? 10 of them! No more and no less but 10! We are all freed and in being free to do anything else we are found guilty in not following 10 simple commandments! I am as guilty as the next person so don't you dare cite me upon everyone's being judged and all are found guilty! We all reap what others have sown! We likewise sow for others to reap! God has damned us all and death is our only way out of this worlds bondage ways!
That's really deep. You should teach religious philosophy!
Perfect! Nobody can understand him anyway!
Here we go. Religion rears it's ugly head again. And again, and again, and again...
Here we go again, people who don't understand who God is and is not.
According to Atheists humans evolved from monkeys. So I guess we should blame the monkey. Or ask " Where was monkey? "
Evil is the absence of goodness and goodness is from God. You made God a myth and removed him. Now evil is rising because of the absence of goodness and you ask "Where is God ?" ????????
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
God said that. He owns it.
He could stop anything he wants to; he's GOD, right?
You're just a peddler of the bs.
Go and get educated.
Goodness comes from your god that orders the killing of children and condons slavery....?
Ummmm, I don't think so.
Created Woe not wicked. Free will can create goodness and wickedness. God created free will and you decide what you want to do with it. Don't blame God for wickedness. Blame you free will decisions...
Guest, Akira just showed you that god controls evil. Why are you chalking evil up to free will? Is free will mentioned in the bible, because Akira just showed you exactly where god has claimed creating all evil. Please show us where god says, "i don't create all evil, you humans choose to create it, overpowering my weak leadership ability."
What is free will ? An individuals power to choose between good and evil. God gave you that power knowing its consequences. God wants us to use it for goodness but some prefer wickedness. Written or not you can't deny it's existence, can you?
All of those people saying that children deserved to die because prayer was taken out of school are sick and disgusting. It's their fault is it? Also, none of you can explain why there are more murders in the US than any other developed nation, and yet the proportion of atheists is much higher in those other countries. They took god out of schools, and they are doing just fine (I'm sure there are some complete idiots that will say 'they're time is coming' – if you think that I guarantee your IQ is lower than 50).
I'm not a mean spirited person but I sincerely wish the people spouting this crap were the ones killed today, instead of the beautiful innocent children. People saying that this is payback are pure evil.
It's the psychological buffer at work there. You see they want to think that their god does exist. These kind of terrible acts by men means that the tools can go on with the justification in bringing their god out in the open and for them to promote their stupidity.
Well said, Jen. I totally agree.
Haha the religious tools are screaming out for their god. So funny. XD
Good evening Answer! Happy holidays.
May this holiday season treat you well. Cheers!
The question is where is God? God was taken out of the schools, remember? I say we take back our country. Bring God back into our lives, our schools, and every aspect of this planet. We put Him first. When we succeed, we praise God, if tragedy strikes, we still praise Him. This country was founded on Christian beliefs and lack of these beliefs has led us to the place we are at. We need to stand up for what is right, do the right thing, and bring God back to us.
There isn't a fact in anything you've written. Try some education. It might help.
Imagine your life if you actually studied hard and graduated college?
So God killed these kids because of separation of church and state? Vindictive.
What knd of God do you believe in. Is he that petty that he would punish innnocent children for some adults that don't believe in him. Is his ego that bruised.
Yes. God should be brought back into schools. Praise Allah.
What about the people who have gotten gunned down in church over the years. They believed in god obviously...so why weren't they protected?
Yeah – we should get one of our founding forefathers to help us take our country back. Let's see – which one – well the best one would be James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution who said to the Virginia General Assembly:
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
Mary, we need to get rid of god. Take responsibility for our own actions. God (since he doesn't exist) has nothing to do with it.
Are your gods (Yahweh & Jesus) worth praying to if they're unwilling or unable to protect innocent lives?
Yes, because he tried to save people who hate God and don't believe in him.
If you trust in science, you don't have to blame, defend, nor beg a god regarding this situation. Simply come to the rationalisation that this is man's and specifically, an individual's fault for the action and learn from it. You'll be surprised how liberating it is to acknowledge it.
Its people like you.....never mind you aren't worth it.
Sadly, humans can't just accept that "something bad happened." It has to mean something. There has to be some good that comes out of it! We have to learn something! And (even more sad) how can I make this about me in some way? Religion pretty much does all that. Hence the popularity in this country.
Logic, you're absolutely correct. Mary, you're in way over your head. Go play with the other children.
If a god was unable to stop this he isn't much of a god. If a god was able but unwilling to stop this he doesn't deserve worship. Of course the real answer is that if you really think there's an invisible man in the sky that controls these things then you are as crazy as the gunman.
God isn't a magic genie in the sky. He gives us free will. What we saw today is the result of choosing no God and embracing evil. Maybe this will TURN people to God.
Wow Greta. So if more people became religious because a bunch of children were killed, it might even be worth it?
If a nuclear war happened today – I'd bet Greta would think that it's a god sign, and she'll be telling everyone to convert. So it's no different from any other claims that the religious fvcktards have made already.
That question "where's God?" needs to be asked about our schools and families. He is where our hearts are open and welcome.
NOW they want to know where God was?!? This country has been fighting to get him OUT of the schools, then a shooting and "Where was God"? Hmmm.. This country needs to repent and get focused on what is important again.
If god was real, I would beat the holy living crap out of that piece of shit.
“The problem in the book of Job represents the problem of the whole world. No matter what a man's experiences may be, whether slight or terrific, there is something in this book which gives him an indication as to why the redemption was necessary, and also a line of explaining the otherwise inexplicable things of human experience” Oswald Chambers
you can paste all you want, but I don't think anyone really cares about Oswald Chambers' insights on Job.
Atheists may be at or below the level of apes. Let's pray that God helps and grants them to develop progress and evolve above the level of apes.
Yes, that but the complete opposite.
Is that really all you can come up with to support Gullible's Travels?
The magical invisible make believe faerie in the sky doesn't exist....and you are short on brain cells.
salero: still begging like a slave for salvation?
Humans are apes, you idiot.
God needs the motivation of our prayers. So let's all pray really really really hard on this one!
Yeah in fact that is just our modern kin. We are in kin dirt and even red algae if you want to go way back. Christians are brain washed weirdos. They are the very reason these kids were killed. They believe some fake fictional character will provide them eternal bliss.
You got that right Salero21.
You fundies are a hoot.
Yes, a hoot, much like pleasuring one's self with a rusty cheese grater would be a hoot.
EEEEWWWWW! and Hahahahhah, Dam.
This idiot is beyond redemption and I'm milking it for all it's worth.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.