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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Southern Baptist Leader Blames Virginia Tech Students

His name is Paige Patterson. He is the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Patterson is also a former President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Here is what Patterson said (in a chapel sermon) regarding the Virginia Tech massacre and the possibility that such a mass killing could happen at Southwestern.

“Now if you’re a male student, will you just lift your hand for a moment so I can see you? Thank you for that commitment. God forbid that anything happen like this here, but each of you that just raised your hand said, ‘Never be more than two or three shots before I’m on him. Doesn’t matter how many of us he takes out. ‘ See, all you had to do was have six or eight rush him right at that time, and thirty-two people wouldn’t have died. Now folks, let’s make up our minds. I know we live in America where nobody gets involved in anybody else’s situation. That shall not be the rule here. Does everybody understand? You say, well I may be shot. Well, yeah, you may. Are you saved? You’re going to heaven. You know, it’s better than earth . . . Now one more time, how many male students are there? I’m counting on you.”

And the invaluable commentary from Rev. Ben Cole of Baptist Blog

Excuse me? Did he just say that Virginia Tech students are to blame for the deaths of all their fellow classmates because they didn’t “rush him?”

Interspersed with the president’s comments was laughter from the student body. I’m sorry, folks, but I just fail to comprehend how appealing to masculine bravado and insinuating that Virginia Tech students are wimps serves much of a pastoral purpose. Because that’s what happened. Students who were afraid, faculty members who blocked doors to protect their students and took bullets themselves, dozens of innocent dead all serve as a homespun lesson in the value of the Second Amendment at Southern Baptist seminaries. This is beyond bizarre. It’s beyond callous. It’s just plain freakish. I can’t imagine how parents of the victims are comforted knowing that a gunslinging seminary president is making sure that the next generation of Southern Baptist pastors will be much more courageous than their children were.

What pastor would ask men in his church to raise their hands and volunteer to tackle a gunman? I’m sorry if I fail to hear the tender mercies of Christ in this odd macho mix of guns and God. I apologize if I find other valuable topics of pastoral instruction from the Virginia Tech massacre. But perhaps I’m the only person who feels this way. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks a seminary that is teaching etiquette to women and tactical terrorist intervention to men has lost its focus.

Imagine if Jesus’ teaching followed this line of reasoning:

Luke 13:1-5: “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! They weren’t worse sinners, but they were pretty lousy men. Total wimps, those Galileans. I mean, c’mon fellas. If Pilate had tried that stuff around here, I’d have pulled out my .357 and sent him to Hell in God’s name.’”

Not much more to be said. An idiot and a fool - that's Paige Patterson in five words or less.

Southern Baptists should be embarassed. This is the man who supposedly saved "God's Last And Only Hope" for the world - the Southern Baptist Convention. You followed his lead as he gave a group of like-minded fundamentalists control of the world's largest Protestant denomination.

Pound your chest and hug it out, Paige.

Your words have embarassed many who proudly claim the name Baptist - including myself.

Shame on you.

UPDATE: Others covering Patterson's remarks...

Martin Tiller: Paige Patterson Insults VA Tech Men

The Wittenburg Blog: Tactical Terrorist Intervention 101

Rev Gil Gullick: Baptists Respond to VA Tech Tragedy

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Blogger Streak said...

Truly unbelievable. I have never been a fan of Patterson's, but this is truly low. Sounds a lot like John Derbyshire's rant on the same subject.

4:46 AM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Big Daddy Weave,

Sorry, my Brother. Why don't you guys give this up? This perpetual tarbaby tactic toward Dr. Patterson must surely be boring by now.

And to describe Cole's commentary as "invaluable." Invaluable? Invaluable? Cole's summary: "An idiot and a fool - that's Paige Patterson in five words or less." That's invaluable?

Unhappily for me, I commented to my wife as we with tears watched this horror from hell on TV: "You know. If somehow they could have rushed him when he lined them up and shot the first one. They knew they were dead as well..."

Poor, poor fools and idiots my wife and I are. And to think we called those kids cowards and pissed in their parents' face.

With that, I am...


5:29 AM

Anonymous selahV said...

Big Daddy: that's not at all how I read Dr. Patterson's words. I see him saying (as I did at first thought) if we could all have the presence of mind to act instead of reacting should this ever happen to us. If only we could be like that Jewish professor and save some. If only...if only. In hindsight we can all say what we might have done. In hindsight we can sit and condemn the faculty of Va. Tech. We can sit and point fingers at the legal system, the medical system or even Cho's family. We can question why and still come up with why for an answer.

But to condemn Paige Patterson for trying to instill a courage and bravery which may not even occur to the students in a future moment of horrendous tragedy and assault, is nothing short of ludicrous and juvenile.

I haven't read Ben Cole's take on this, because I don't like Ben Cole's take on anything. That's because Ben Cole's only goal and purpose in life seems to be to eliminate Dr. Paige Patterson from service to the Lord in whatever place he offers himself to serve the Lord. I am not saying that Dr. Patterson is a perfect human being. But no brother in Christ deserves the attacks Ben Cole has repeatedly leveled against a fellow Christian.

Ben Cole needs to get a life beyond Paige Patterson. He needs to go down to the local kindergarten class and learn some of the things he failed to learn years ago. He needs to learn how to be nice, have good manners and enjoy the various colors in the Crayola box. He needs to discover what an eraser is. And if he doesn't learn to say something nice or nothing at all, then someone needs to wash his mouth and mind out with soap. Lava is preferable to Ivory, in my estimation. SelahV

7:01 AM

Blogger Streak said...

Of course, had someone attacked him, things would have been different. Had a security guard been close by...

But that is different than what Patterson said, isn't it? Didn't he turn to his chapel and say "that won't happen here" because we are braver somehow? Doesn't that in fact, impugn those kids and teachers who actually experienced this horror? Isn't it the height of arrogance to assume that faced with this threat we would act differently?

7:12 AM

Blogger Tony said...

I don't understand this.

These were kids that were attacked. They didn't wake up Monday morning ready for a crazed lunatic (though I do have a lump in my throat for Cho) to go ballistic. They were expecting to go to class, plain and simple.

Why should we expect a group of kids to have presence of mind to attack? Hence my horror over comparing this whole incident to the heroes of Flight 93.

Cho was wrong. But it is awfully opportunistic of Dr. Patterson to use this tragedy to promote testosterone and bravado.

Selahv, I don't understand this "blame the victim" mentality. I had Dr. P for classes and was at SEBTS during his tenure as president. I always felt he had a "man's man" demeanor that I found quite irritating.

I also was good friends with his bodyguard. He carried a concealed sidearm as well as a piece in his boot.

So knowing that he has the same at SWBTS empowers him to make such a bold statement. He will not be the one looking down the barrel.

I rarely agree with Big Daddy or Ben Cole, but they are spot on this time, though I do not consider Dr. P an idiot or a fool.

I am always prone to give the benefit of the doubt and even will in this case, but timing is everything, and now is not the time to grandstand or posture one way or the other. These families need ministry, not hand wringing, shuffling feet, and the entertainment of ridiculous what-ifs.

8:04 AM

Blogger Tony said...

The irony is that Falwell has kept his big, gaping maw closed and has scheduled a memorial service at Thomas Road Sunday evening at 5:30.

Unless I have missed something.

8:07 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...


Who are "you guys" ?

Do you think I'm part of some group?

I'm not SBC. You know that.

But thanks for coming to the rescue of Patterson. At least your post makes sense - so many don't. What group are you part of? The, I like to argue for the sake of arguing, group?

8:44 AM

Blogger Tricia said...

None of us were in Norris Hall: we can't know how brave those students and professors were or were not. Even if they charged Cho, physics says a bullet from a semiautomatic handgun wins that battle.

Paige Patterson's comments were cold and heartless.

10:53 AM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Dear Big Daddy Weave,

The "you guys" was, well...you guys. Did not YOU GUYS--Cole and BDW--plaster Dr. Patterson to the wall for his meager attempt--as weak as it may have been--to prepare SWBTS students for a similar tragedy? I suppose schools all over America attempted to deal with this horror. And, schools all over America may have done better than Dr. Patterson or botched it even worse. Who really knows how to prepare for something so vile and wicked as this?

But to skew the logic to not only make Dr. Patterson a fool and idiot but also to accuse these poor VT students of cowardice and hurting the parents is beyond my skill to comprehend, Big Daddy Weave. Sorry.

As for my arguing just to argue, so be it. I will encourage you as I do others: Think as you so wish. I am who I am and who, by God's grace, He hopefully keeps making me.

Grace always, Big Daddy Weave. With that, I am...


p.s. Of course, I knew you were not SBC. For me, that makes no difference, and surely have no quarrel with you about that, anymore than I think you have a quarrel with me because I am SBC. It's our relationship with our Lord--and ideas obviously--that matter to me and, I trust, to you as well.

11:55 AM

Blogger Streak said...

so Patterson was creating a emergency response plan? This wasn't some macho bs response?

I would have to respectfully disagree.

12:49 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...


I passed around the excerpt from Patterson's sermon to several of my non-Baptist friends. They were all offended.

Language used to describe Patterson's words included: insensitive, offensive, and well - quite a few that I'll refrain from repeating.

If you can't see that his words were at the minimum insensitive - then well, what can I say?

My family is from Virginia. My mom went to Tech and my cousin, a freshmen at VT, was in class during the massacre only a short distance away. Patterson's words made me sick.

Made others sick as well.

1:24 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Tony makes a good point: I've been intrigued by Falwell's silence as well. It's amazing how, when a tragedy hits really close to home, sometimes what seem like simple explanations for faraway tragedies aren't so satisfying anymore.

As for PP, is it really surprising? Even if we take the compassionate view that he is just trying to find a way to deal with this (like we all are), who cares? I'm much more appalled by the slanderous, unfounded accusations I'm told Patterson and his cronies made against moderates back in the day.

I will add that I'm marginally insulted that he doesn't think women might come to the defense of their classmates as well. But maybe that's just because I've thought a lot this week about whether I would have the courage to throw my body across a classroom door in order to save my students' lives if we found ourselves in such a horrible situation...

1:40 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

BTW, why the link to the official bio rather than paigepatterson.info? The latter features MUCH more entertaining pictures! :)

1:42 PM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Dear Big Daddy Weave,

Then why not say they are insensitive, my Brother? You did not ask me if they were insensitive. I called his words a "meager attempt--as weak as it may have been."

And further, I am perfectly comfortable in using "insensitive" to describe not only Dr. Patterson's words but a host of others on the media including the talking heads who already are preparing for the "massive litigation" lawsuits. For me, the latter is the most sickening.

As for asking around from your Baptist buds, their response to Dr. Patterson's words, I do not doubt your survey response, though I am unsure the relevance of it. If you wanted to show me out-of-step with many others, I think we both already knew the answer to that.

Grace this weekend. With that, I am...


4:36 PM

Blogger Streak said...

personally, I would have to say that "insensitive" is still too generous.

4:44 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I passed it along to my non-Baptist friends.

Insensitive is too generous.

But nobody was overly surprised. After every tragedy, there is always a religious bafoon willing to make an utterly ridiculous remark.

If the final report is unfavorable towards the President and Administration, I'd say that massive litigation you speak of is justified. I went to law school. I know some lawyers are ethically challenged (same as any profession). But I'll never understand why so many in the SBC Blogosphere feel lawsuits are never acceptable. Some situations call for civil action. I'll likely be filing papers against an insurance company in the upcoming weeks. There are consequences for negligence...


In those entertaining pictures you speak of - are those animals dead or alive? I don't think I saw a body that went along with that Zebra head.

5:56 PM

Blogger Martin Tiller said...

As an actual Virginia Tech Hokie, I can safely say that Patterson has no idea of the type of male he insulted.

He also has not actually read the accounts of what happened, which both teachers and students forced doors closed keeping the killer out. Thus actually saving lives.

But I feel sorry for Patterson. He has single handily insulted Michael Vick, Bruce Smith, dozens of other giant football players, and the ROTC at Tech.

He seems to have forgotten that Tech has a strong military section.

When this gets out...

May God have mercy on his soul.

6:00 PM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Dear Big Daddy Weave,

How you assume, my brother, the concern I raised about litigation being presently spoken about is apparently an indictment I must hold against litigation itself stands incredible. Perhaps a lawsuit will be in order. I neither implied nor suggested it was not.

The difficulty I cannot overcome--and never will--is the need to speak of litigation, in situations like VT, SO SOON AFTER the act takes place. Please.

Laying aside the fact that a full investigation is not even close to being complete, both the grieving parents & community still are in hellish shock. To presently bring up lawsuits, in my view, is exploitation on steroids.

As for my last description of Dr. Patterson's words, I find it odd that it is now unacceptable--and that, AFTER I agreed with at least some of those in your survey.

You wrote: "Language used to describe Patterson's words included: insensitive...If you can't see that his words were at the minimum insensitive - then well, what can I say?"

Well, I said I was comfortable using "insensitive." Must I now agree with your description that Dr. Patterson's words made me sick? Or, even more, must I parrot Cole's "invaluable commentary": "An idiot and a fool - that's Paige Patterson in five words or less."

For me, there is a huge difference between making insensitive comments--which I've qualified for many times over in the Pastorate--and the vitriolic judgement of a Christian brother/sister, as insensitive as he/she may be, as being a "fool and an idiot."

I'm tired. I'm going to bed. The best to you. With that, I am...


8:27 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

My comment concerning litigation stems from the countless remarks you made at various blogs in the past. From what you've written in the past, I assumed that was your position.

Obviously my assumption was wrong?

And insensitive was a poor word choice on my part.

You need not agree with me.

Fortunately, I'm not the only person truly offended by Patterson.

Paige Patterson is not held in high-esteem on my side of the tracks. Nothing he does could surprise me.

11:41 PM

Blogger peter lumpkins said...

Big Daddy Weave,

That is fair enough. I have made other remarks pertaining to litigation, though as I recall, they were neither countless nor on various blogs.

Perhaps I am wrong since I do comment often and widely (enough to earn the award for "arguing just to argue";^) Nonetheless, it was Wade Burleson's post with which I chiefly contended concerning litigation. There, however, it was not so much litigation proper I had in my sights but what I felt--and still do--a bit of scriptural gymnastics, skewing Paul's words to make them fit the occassion.

Ultimately, for me, all public analysis should, in a time like the VT tragedy, pull to the side of the road, and just sit in silence, as we do in the south when meeting a funeral procession. This is a time to mourn, not think...A time to cry, not condemn.

Saying that, I've the scorching words of Scripture searing my own conscience to a crisp: "thou art the man." I myself have just been had by my own words about this.

I shall speak no more of this till mourning pass. Grace, BDW. I trust your Lord's Day tomorrow well. With that, I am...


5:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The words of Patterson sound like excellent words of instruction to men who might find themselves in the same situation some day. Any responcible president of any university in American would be irresponcible for not giving his own student the same instructions.

Sounds like Patterson loves his students and and wants them to be prepared.

This is in no way sounds similar to the rants of Neal Boortz.


7:17 AM

Blogger Streak said...

Peter, I agree with that statement that we should just pull to the side of the road and allow the grieving process to occur. There will be time for analysis.

John, I would humbly submit that what patterson did was not that. He has an armed body guard and can easily be flip about others losing their lives.

7:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments such as Dr. Patterson’s–besides being insensitive–overlook human nature altogether. Anyone who has ever been in a combat situation, whether in the military or in police work, understands the element of surprize (BTW, I am the son of a career police officer, and served 7 1/2 years ias an officer in a city of 150,000 before being called into the ministry). It is what often allows a smaller force or even a single person to overwhelm a larger force. Such attacks do not succeed because of a lack of “manhood,” but rather because of the presence of humanity, and a chapel address will not change that. Plus, depending on circumstances and situations, overwhelming an assailant requires planning and time, as well as courage, strength, and maturity. The passengers on Flight 93 had that AND a scenario where the terrorists were contained in a small area, but in my understanding of the situation at VT, some of those crucial elements were lacking. Look at Simon Peter for goodness sake! He vowed to defend Jesus or die with him–yet before the rooster crowed, he had denied him. Dr. Patterson may know his way around a hunting rifle, but even that does not necessarily translate into knowing how to handle combat situations.

John Fariss

5:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I owe Dr. Patterson a partial appology. What he said was still insensitive and has bad timing, and more; but as I was going over my message for Sunday, it suddenly hit me (i.e., maybe God speoke to me) that his comments were akin to "bargaining." And bargaining (as with God) is part of the grieving process, it is an event of grief. I don't know how you CR fellows approach grief, but those of us who are pre-CR generally take our cues from pastoral care, especially as research into grief was pioneered by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. (It has an entirely Biblical basis, by the way, even though not presented that way in her book.) And another element of grief is anger; and perhaps that explains some of the anger I detect in some of the comments. So now, I echo Peter Lumpkins's words: let's all pull to the side of the road and let the grief work through.

John Fariss

6:39 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Re: the animals - for their sakes, I hope they were dead by the time the pictures were taken! I'm just waiting to run into the man himself in Africa one of these days...

1:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just sounds like an effort to stir up harshness at Dr. Patterson to me. Why would someone want to carry around a message to others if the intent was not to try to get sympathy for the victims? Then to post this article just to rally those who also do not like Dr. Patterson is akin to stirring up strife, as it appears to me. mom2

12:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not hear to offer a defense of Dr. Patterson. That one sentence in his monologue could be construed as insensitive and even a false presentation of bravado. I wouldn't have included the "all they had to do ..." statement.

But I would like to know if you views change any by watching the entire series of comments about Virginia Tech? I watched them online after you posted this. His comments about "rushing" the gunman make his SECOND point. Perhaps watching the first point, about concern for the loners in society and the BLAME being upon this young man, Cho Sung Hei, and the comment following the "rushing" comment, about the grieving VT families, might change things -- and even the minds of those who seem bent on making what was perhaps a simple mistake into a conspiracy of pride.

Patterson seems pretty sensitive in those two points. Perhaps it wasn't some attempt to gain glory for his own seminary or himself -- or to bring disrepute on the guys at Virginia Tech.

And I can also tell you from experience, no one knows how they will respond if shot at, unless highly trained. Perhaps it is time to start training our school children in how to respond once the shooting starts.

I suspect that you guys will probably dismiss this inquiry as overly optimistic about Patterson's nature. Perhaps you will even say it is naive given his track record. But I'm just curious what the leftosphere has to say when the full context is known. Does it change anything?

Also, for someone who seems so clearly to claim that they truly behave in a Christlike manner, let me remind you that Jesus said, "He who calls his brother a fool is in danger of the fires of hell."

Like him or not, you and Patterson worship the same Christ, making him your brother. Perhaps you think you don't, and if so, I'd like you to go ahead and publicly denounce him as a false prophet.

I suspect that your comment about him being an idiot and a fool was motivated by your deeply held desire for revenge against fundamentalists, more so than out of your love for a brother.

7:11 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I have no desire for revenge (or whatever) against anyone.

Shows exactly how much you know me...

You wasted your time with such a long comment.

10:19 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

If you're going to attack my character, at least sign your name.

10:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you and Ben Cole and others are going to attack Dr. Patterson, why don't you go talk to him to his face.
This is the Christian way.
If you are stirring up discord, woe to you. mom2

1:34 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Apparently, it's off limits to voice my feelings concerning prominent religious leaders who happen to be public figures - since that is the Christian Way...

I found his words offensive. Others have too. And the story has spread to those in the media and many in the blogosphere who share my view.

I could care less about the plight of Southwestern Seminary under Paige Patterson. That's not my issue.

Fundamentalist Christian leaders who make such offensive statements do much harm in the name of Christianity. So, we speak out.

Let Patterson's words speak for themselves.

My commentary was filled with honest emotion and I make no apologies. I was offended.

6:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m taking Dr. Patterson’s advice and accepting his challenge—thank God for men like him!

But I can’t be honest by telling you that before reading Dr. Patterson's comments that in a situation like what happened at Virginia Tech that I'd be thinking more about the others than I would myself. I mean, if I'm in a lineup of folks being shot and the shooter is getting closer to me, I've got to be thinking, I'm gonna die anyway, so charge the guy and take my chances! I hope now though, because of Dr. Patterson's great wisdom and challenge, that I, and others, would make a move before the first victim fell.

I didn't hear (read) in Dr. Patterson's statements any condemnation of the victims.

I heard a man who is trying to motivate the masculine gender to be “real men” (1st Corinthians 16:13) and know the times (1st Chronicles 12:32) by making prior decisions and then taking present and practical actions to protect others while putting their lives at risk. You know, kind of like what The Man Christ Jesus did when He gave His life for us on Calvary. Ever hear of that story of "bravado?"

I also heard a man challenge others to be concerned and reach out to folks like Cho by sharing the Gospel (done that lately, one-on-one?) and bringing them to "The Friend that sticks closer than a brother."

I'm in my 50's, been pastoring for over 20 years, and from what I've observed, there has definitely been a "softening of the needed male toughness" in our society and congregations. I mean no harm or disrespect, but some of you guys "have no clue."

A dad, a dog, and a gun sounds very convincing to me—almost brings a tear to the ol' eyes—especially when you compare it to the average alternative of some of today’s young men: too much time indoors at the computer; mind numbing and time wasting video games; and another blog to get out, or respond to, as we pool our ignorance for all the world to read.

Now, something we all need to be doing: To "get out amongst them” and try to win someone to Jesus this week.

You’re Welcome,
James Cook
Dallas (nw metro Atlanta area), GA

1:39 PM

Blogger D.R. said...

I personally have had several conversations with people who have basically said the same thing as Patterson instructed to his students. Some were Christians, some were not, but all were agreed that these students at VT were not prepared for such an attack, but that we should take this opportunity to make up our minds and helps others do the same as to what we would personally do if such an attack were to occur before our eyes.

To talk about what "should" have been done is not an offense to the victims of the crime, but rather a chance to actually learn from what happened. In that regard I don't think Dr. Patterson was out of bounds in his comments.

And it is interesting to note that Bruce Prescott actually agrees with me and comes to Patterson's defense. His blog post over at his site can be accessed here:


7:17 PM

Anonymous MK in CO said...

Interesting blog. I found it by accident,as a friend sent me an e-mail today asking if I (being the only former Southern Baptist he knew) knew a Paige Patterson, and when I googled PP and VT, the link here was offered. Unfortunately, I was not at all surprised at Dr. Patterson's remarks--I cannot recall a time when many of his expressed opinions and beliefs did not offend me as a thinking woman, and as a Christian.

Back in the day when Russell Dilday was President of SWBTS, many would've scoffed at the idea of Patterson ever leading a seminary that valued academic integrity and education over indoctrination. Those days are long gone.

The level of insensitivity to the feelings of individuals who are suffering the tragic loss of loved ones is telling. Further, I found it interesting that Dr. Patterson only called upon the men unfortunate enough to be in chapel that day to be willing to throw themselves in front of a deranged gunman in order to save the lives of others and receive a heavenly reward. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my understanding that women don't get a pass from heeding the Biblical injunction to be willing to lay down one's life for a friend. Why didn't he challenge the women as well? This is really a rhetorical question, but I would be curious to read a response that would offer something more beyond the typical patriarchal party-line.

Again, thanks for the post. I'll have to check back now and again.


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9:40 AM

Blogger Samuel Zamora said...

BLACKSBURG, Va. (ABP) Christian leaders have begun to respond to the April 16 tragedy at Virginia Tech with words of solace while a few blame the tragedy on America's 'godlessness.Most haven't attempted to explain the massacre, saying simply that God is greatly grieved by the killings. But at least one conservative Christian group says the massacre happened because America kicked God out of public schools and permitted abortion, leading to the ruination of American culture.Meanwhile, Baptist seminary president Paige Patterson suggested an attack of that magnitude wouldn't happen at his school because the male students would overwhelm an attacker after the first shots were fired even if they died trying.A more typical response came from T.D. Jakes, pastor of Dallas megachurch the Potter's House, who participated in an April 18 Internet panel discussion that appeared on the Washington Post website. In his comments, Jakes said that in his 30 years of ministry, he has learned that he is simply not able to explain such tragedies."Jesus doesn't attempt to explain death even when Lazarus, his friend, died," Jakes said. "He simply weeps with those who weep. It is not so important that we have answers as it is that we have compassion."Jakes said he can't answer why such tragedies as the Virginia Tech shooting occur, but he suggested that people denounce "the bickering and pettiness, loathing and hatred, that opens the way for such activities by learning how to agree and, yes, how to disagree and yet maintain some core values and respect for each other."Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work against racial injustice in South Africa, attributed the tragedy to God-given freedom.Tutu, who likewise posted his comments on the Post website, said humans inhabit a universe that has order and laws, including the gift of freedom. "Our God, who is omnipotent, is also weak in that God has imposed limitations on God's omnipotence to give us the space to have a real autonomy," Tutu said."We have the freedom to choose, and some of our choices as such lead to incidents such as this tragedy. God could not intervene without nullifying the freedom of the perpetrator."Along with that freedom, Tutu continued, God is very present in the world, with an intense concern for human suffering."God does not give advice from a safe distance but enters the fiery furnace of our anguish, and God wipes away our tears this God who knows us by name, from whom nothing, not even death, can separate us," he said.

1:40 PM


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