Talking Heads and Tennessee Murders

I spent much of last night entertaining an unwelcome guest—insomnia. Although I endeavored to ignore him, hoping that he would leave, he remained. Which is why I was watching the very early news at 4AM.

The very early news began with coverage of the recent murders in Chattanooga, TN. After briefly recapping the details of that tragedy, the talking head said, “Authorities are still attempting to determine the shooter’s motive.” To which I relied, “Are you daft?” The talking head then recounted that while federal law enforcement officials had poured over the murderer’s social media accounts and computers, they had yet to determine his motive.

This is simply more of the same. After Pearl Harbor, we declared war on Japan, not sneak attacks, but after 9/11 we declared war on “terror,” not radical Islamic fundamentalists. Terror is a concept; it is an emotion. It is many things, but an enemy it is not. The Air Force cannot bomb terror. The Marines cannot shoot terror. The Navy cannot sink terror. The Army cannot shell terror. We can fight radical Islamic fundamentalists, but only if we have the moral fiber to name them our enemies, which we do not.

Back to the present. Interview the average, reasonably intelligent, gainfully employed, hard working American. Ask him, “What motivated these murders?” He will tell you, “Radical Islam.” Bill Clinton famously ran a presidential campaign upon the internal slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” in case he forgot his focus during the long and arduous campaign. Our nation appears to be in need of such a refresher. “It’s radical Islam, stupid.” It’s Jihad. It’s an utter hatred for the West, a desire to see radical Islam dominate the globe, and the hope of imposing Sharia Law upon all mankind. It is a dream that dreams the death of human freedom.

When Jesus spoke with Jewish leaders who willfully refused the plain truth that stood before their eyes, He told them, “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father” (John 8:38). When they protested that Abraham was their father, Jesus replied that while Abraham had loved the truth, they did not, and that so far from being sons of Abraham, they were sons of a different father. “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8:43-45).

Bruce Jenner is a woman. Marriage is whatever we want it to be. And soon we will be told that this murderer of four Marines and a Sailor was a depressed boy who struggled with self-esteem. We will blame his childhood; we will blame his psychiatric medications; we will blame Tennessee’s lack of gun laws. And thus in the name of tolerance we will hate the truth as it stands plainly before us. We will deny it, twist it, distort it, and obfuscate it at every turn. We are of our father.

Not every Jew with whom Jesus spoke hated the truth. Some heard Him with joy. “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Civic freedom cannot be gained or maintained except by truth—but it can be lost in its absence; eternal freedom, however, comes to all those who abide in Christ by faith, and it stands unalterably secure.

Those who love Jesus therefore love truth. Christians must do our best to live it; we must do our best to speak it. The talking heads will not. After all, they have a different father.

Russell St. John is the Senior Pastor of Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church.  You can read more at Russ' Blog, TOPC TOPics.