When Payton Gendron walked into a Tops grocery store this week he had one goal in mind: killing people. Humans have a sinful nature, but we also have a conscience–the leftovers of having been created in the image of God. What had suppressed Peyton’s conscience and allowed him to commit this heinous crime? We call it “being radicalized”. It is the brain-washing that can be done with half-truths and lies that appeal to our sinful nature or stimulate our fears.
Payton seems to have been driven to murder by an idea called “replacement theory”. This idea suggests that white-majority America is being intentionally replaced by people of color through immigration somehow fueled by Jewish elites. It is further fueled by Social Darwinism which argues that evolution is slowly improving mankind and that certain races are superior to others.
For me, the ludicrous idea that Jewish elites are driving immigration is like a fingerprint.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.Revelation 12:17 (NIV 1984)
The woman in this quote are the Jews. The offspring of Judaism is Christianity. Satan hates them both, because God loves them. So Satan stirs the pot of antisemitism. It finds fertile ground in sinful minds, not just in white supremacism.
People offend accuse religion, specifically Christianity, for fueling hate. It is true that people have used Christian ideas or biblical quotes for this purpose. But nothing within Christianity endorses this. For instance, the book of Acts speaks about “the Jews”, here understood to be Jewish leaders, who persecuted Christianity early on. To use this as pretext to hate Jews is ignoring the fact that the early Christians were Jewish, Jesus was Jewish, God has a special love for the Jews, and God desires to save people from every people group.
Some justify antisemitism because “the Jews killed Jesus”. While Jewish leaders were definitely involved, the fact is that God had brought Jesus to be a sacrifice for sin and that everybody’s sin killed Jesus. Jesus’ death followed by His resurrection was the goal.
Satan will take God’s truth, twist it, and put in the minds of sinful and ignorant people to justify hate.
Payton Gendron referenced the Bible but stated he didn’t believe it or in the existence of God. The Bible is often used as is convenient for the hater because it conveys a type of authority. Payton would rest the majority of his logic for killing on evolutionary ideas.
One could argue that these are also misappropriated, but are they? Evolution only seeks to explain the creation of advanced life forms, but it has moral corollaries. Fighting to remain the predominate source of genetic information is one of them. When you are empty of all reasons to live except to survive and genetically compete, two actions remain for you: kill and procreate.
Why does God allow such things to happen? We expect God to keep the world safe and just. It does not work like that. God’s inaction is not because He approves nor is it because He is not there. Since the time that humans allowed sin to be a part of our world, the world has been under God’s curse. What that functionally means is that God will not normally intervene to keep things safe and just. Human’s sinful action is not normally stopped. The dysfunction of the physical world is not set in line. God still holds creation from going completely off the rails. He can and will intervene to give a sign of his presence or sometimes out of pity if asked. But sin and the curse will remain the norm until Jesus visibly comes again.
This is where we can come in. Jesus can work through people that are his. We won’t fix the world, but we can make it better. Speaking truth to those who marinate in lies is one thing that needs to be done. Having government take seriously those who post hate-filled manifestos online is another. He should have been red flagged.
Evaluations where you just ask a person if they are going to hurt themselves or others is not enough in the face of other evidence to the contrary. Agencies from schools to law enforcement have to be willing and able to communicate with each other from location to location. They also have to be willing to take action. This would help, but don’t expect it to fully stop hate crimes.
One man, interviewed by ABC, stated that he received the news that his brother had been killed while he had been on his couch praying for the city. Does this suggest that his prayers are in vain? Prayer is spiritual warfare, which is exactly what is going on. In a war, casualties still happen even though an army fights well. He should not stop praying. We should join him.