Dealing with the Shock of an Evangelical Terrorist

By DAVID FRENCH May 2, 2019

The Methodist church in Monowi, Nebraska stands abandoned

Christian parents and pastors must learn more about counteracting online hatred.

Whenever we hear news of a mass shooting, we expect the shooter’s life to follow a certain kind of biographical script. Perhaps he’s long suffered from mental instability. Perhaps he’s from a troubled home, with a long history of suspect behavior. Deprived of purpose and meaning, he’s drawn to dark thoughts and evil places. The pattern of radicalization is clear — evil actors are drawn to broken men, and broken men are prone to evil deeds.

But then I read about the Poway synagogue shooter. He attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church. His parents seem to be faithful believers. His father is an elder at the church. His pastor preaches the Gospel. Yet he was infected with vile and murderous anti-Semitism and white nationalism.

Wait. What?

This news hit home not just because the shooter is a Christian from a Christian family — and not just because he comes from an Evangelical church — but because he comes from my faith tradition. The OPC is a close cousin to my denomination, the much larger Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We’re both from the Protestant Reformed tradition, we’re both broadly Calvinist, and congregants often move from one to the other with ease. I have friends in the OPC.

So, what should Christians — specifically, Reformed Christians — do with this news?

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Categories: Christianity, Terrorism

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