Tragedy and a Theological Loss For Words

Two tragedies have intertwined themselves in my mind as I worked today. One is a current news story not unlike the heart breaking incident with Addie Kubisiak that broke our hearts last winter. It appears that a women has kept the bodies of infants who she possibly miscarried wrapped in plastic in various parts of her home. Little else is known at this point. The other story was a reminder of the destruction of a young family on a downtown Denver street at the hands of a drunk driver who plowed through a red light running over the entire family as they crossed the street to get hot chocolate last November. This picture can still bring me to tears: Becca Bingham still keeping her children close as she escorts them into the arms of their savior.  

While the professional theologians can spend their time immersed in the Word in an effort to bolster certain theological positions or to identify certain Greek or Hebrew structures, the Pastors of this world must search the Scriptures to help provide answers to a world that asks of our God, why, why why? Why does He allow these things to happen? How does one answer the problem of Evil in a world that has little concept of what total depravity means. What can the pastor offer to the father who must now face life alone and broken?

How do you tell this father (sitting leftmost in the picture in the front pew) to go on despite this tragedy. Theologian Steve Camp insists that we give it to him straight: there is no way to know whether or not his children are in heaven being comforted by the Lord Jesus or condemned to an eternity in Hell. Camp looks sideways and says, c’mon, we all know that you Pastors just say that the children received a special mercy just to comfort the father, knowing all the while that it isn’t true.  Here is his post on this subject: Weekly Dose of the Gospel.

While Camp correctly asserts that even babies are inflicted with a sinful nature from before their birth, the theological positions on infant condemnation are not as clear cut as he likes to proclaim as he posts on a variety of subjects. It does not appear that the Lord viewed those unable to make a conscious decision to accept Him as under condemnation:

Matthew 18:3 – And he said: “I tellyou the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

These are the condemned? There are indications throughout Scripture that persons are held to a different moral standard of responsibility and we must consider them carefully before exclaiming that the Scriptures are silent. Deuteronomy 1:39 for example:

And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad –they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it.

All is not as cut and dried as some would like to make it. It may be nice to be insulated from tragedy and be able to speculate and make proclamations about the destinies of the men, women, and children who we all come into contact with on a daily basis, but it comes with a responsibility. As for me, I would rather walk among the wounded and help them to trust the same sovereign, merciful God that I trust. Lord Jesus, bring us peace.

One thought on “Tragedy and a Theological Loss For Words”

  1. Ministering to those experiencing the death of a child is no easy matter. Like you, I desire to “walk among the wounded and help them to trust the same sovereign, merciful God that I trust.”

    Like Spurgeon, I believe that young children are saved by grace – not because they are good or innocent or without sin – but because God is merciful, gracious and loving.

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