Responding to Charleston


Emmanuel AMEYesterday, today, and for the days and weeks to come television, social media, and the internet in general will be filled with analysis of the events which took place on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The day a young man went into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, took out a weapon, and then killed at least nine people gathered for mid-week services. Pundits will pontificate, politicians will call for more or less restrictions on the citizenry at large, thousands or more will ask ‘why,’ and families will grieve over loved ones lost from this mortal realm.

Christian, I want to encourage you to be in one of those groups – I want you to grieve with the grieving! These dear people made in the image of God are coming away from what has possibly been the worst day of their lives and they need you as their brothers and sisters in Christ to remember them with tears as you entreat our loving Saviour and God on their behalf. I know that you probably don’t know any of these families and maybe won’t even meet any of them this side of glory; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love them! And it is likely the only means you or I have available to demonstrate this love is to pray for them.

But Christian, I don’t want to stop there. People everywhere will be asking, “How could this happen?” and looking for answers for the problems of the world. Beloved in Christ, we have the answer! So when you encounter those folks I am begging you, DO NOT PUT YOUR LIGHT UNDER A BASKET! Pray for wisdom and then open your mouth and boldly proclaim the Gospel of or great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus!

Admit to them that we do indeed live in a messed up world, then explain to them why it is so. Point them to the Holy God who created them but will not tolerate their rebellion. Explain to them they are incapable of mending this broken relationship. And then magnify Christ who has done for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. Call upon them to repent, place their faith in Jesus Christ and be reconciled to God it’s the least you can do considering all that Christ has done for you.


  • Pastor Darren Paulson

    Yesterday I listened to Pastor MacArthur’s brief message/statement re: what happened in South Carolina. Now I’ve just finished reading this post. Both statements were and are sensitive and kind and, I would say, consistent with Scripture.

    But, in my opinion, both are incomplete. Not one mention — not one — in either Dr. MacArthur’s statement or Pastor Lynch’s above of the elephant in the room. A white man entered a church that is primarily African-American in membership and gunned 9 of them down simply because he hated black people.

    One cannot deny that this was an act of terrorism carried out in our own country by one of our own citizens. One cannot deny it was a hate crime perpetuated by a white person against people of color. To completely ignore these things — whether intentional or not — is irresponsible, in my opinion. Had the killer been a Muslim, I would certainly think that MacArthur or Lynch would’ve seen fit to mention that in their statements. (There is absolutely no question in my mind that the religion/color of the shooter would’ve been a primary focus of the commentary.)

    Again, I think both Dr. MacArthur and Pastor Lynch were gentle and kind in their comments … but ignoring the primary reason behind the attacks and/or failing to address the racial divide that continues to widen not only in our country but in our Church, was a mistake.

    • Eric Dodson

      “There is absolutely no question in my mind that the religion/color of the shooter would’ve been a primary focus of the commentary.

      I hope this statement is hyperbole, because if not, it is extremely judgmental–the type of thing you roast “TMS/GCC people” for on a regular basis, and exposes you as a hypocrite. I was in the room when MacArthur recorded his response, and I have a deep love for Andy Lynch after being able to witness his character over the past years, and your insinuation that these men intentionally curbed their commentary based on the race of the victims and the shooter is judgmental, baseless, and far out of bounds.

      I’d suggest you rethink your statement, and see if it reflects the Christian love you claim to espouse.

      • Pastor Darren Paulson

        Don’t take this so personally, Eric. And let’s not turn this into some sort of attack on either MacArthur or Lynch. That’s not the point. I never meant to “insinuate that these men intentionally curbed their commentary based on the race of the victims …” In fact, I went out of my way in several places to compliment both men.
        I shouldn’t have used the word “ignore.” But they left it out, how ’bout that? I don’t think this makes them bad guys — I don’t think this makes them “racists” … all I’m saying is, they left it out. Did they not? The reason those people were shot and killed was because a white guy hated black people. It’s kind of a big deal. Racism is and was the driving force behind the tragedy. To not even mention it seemed to me irresponsible. Not heretical. Not salvation-questioning. Just irresponsible.
        I don’t have the patience to go back and see if either men made any comments regarding the recent violence overseas carried out by Muslim terrorists against Christians. But I would venture a guess that if, in fact, they had something to say about it, they at least mentioned the fact that it was Muslims killing Christians. Those details would not have been excluded. Am I right?
        Dialogue with me about the point I raised — disagree with it all you like. I assure you I won’t take it personally and act as if you’ve just questioned my salvation. But I would also ask you to not be too terribly sensitive when/if you hear some things you don’t particularly like. That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla … we don’t have the market cornered on truth.

    • Ginny Teague

      “…but ignoring the primary reason behind the attacks…”

      Well, now, that would be “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12, would it not, sir?

      If you are in any way saying that the primary reason why this shooting occurred is to be found in race, then you have been duped by the very powers “over this present darkness” Paul was speaking about in Ephesians.

      Dr. MacArthur and Mr. Lynch were both mentioning the “real elephant” in the room, rather than the small statuette on the mantelpiece that everyone is trying so hard to make the focal point of the room’s decor. We are facing a lost and dying world, slaves of sin, incapable of standing before a righteous and holy God, in danger of hellfire. The only solution is the Gospel. Improved race relations would be nice, but eternity is longer.

      Get your head in the game, brother.

      • Pastor Darren Paulson

        I certainly understand that the Enemy is the primary …well, enemy. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t address … what shall we call it …the “secondary” cause of evil when it occurs. When a man who repeatedly commits adultery enters our office for counseling, we don’t simply focus on Satan and his influence, while refusing to address the adulterous man’s motives and actions.
        Likewise, when something like Charleston happens — which is most clearly an attack based on race — we shouldn’t fail to mention this (the issue of race) when discussing the tragedy. Nobody fails to mention the Muslim and Christian angle when discussing ISIS’ recent execution/murder of people overseas, do we? We don’t say, “well, that is simply Satan using his influence to cause harm.” No. We call it like it is — a Muslim attack against Christians.
        You seem to think that the “small statuette on the mantelpiece” (I’m assuming you mean the issue of racism here) isn’t worth mentioning. I would disagree. And thousands and thousands of our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ would disagree as well.

        • Ginny Teague

          Making race the primary focus turns this tragedy into an “us/them” situation, whereas, in reality, as Christians in the unified Body of Christ, we are all affected. Ive heard it said, and I heartily agree, that we need fewer “conversations” on race, and more true “conversions “. People who are genuinely converted in Christ will desire to live and serve the entire Body of Christ, regardless of skin color or socio-economic background. The Gospel itself solves the problem permanently, without hypocrisy.

  • Pastor Darren Paulson

    Again, I was in no way, shape, or form attempting to question anybody’s character. But sometimes we make mistakes — even if unintentional. I think forgetting, or simply leaving it out, or however it was done — the clearly racial motive of the shooter, and the current condition of race relations in this country that the tragedy speaks to … I just thought the omission was glaring.