On Dylann Roof, the Charleston Shooting, and the Death Penalty

when the subject comes up, people know i’m very much against the death penalty.

which puts me in a precarious place: the default line for people of faith is overwhelmingly FOR death.

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i used to be there too, but then i read this book. it’s brought me to a complete 180. it gave me a total knockout-to-the-face, as the hypocrisy and double standards of my beliefs were showcased before my very eyes.

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to those of us in the Church, i’m convinced this is front-and-center to an arena we’ve chosen to not think well about, to our own detriment. we have lost our humanity along the way, using the bible to defend a position we’ve known deep down inside is just wrong.

we often look at the crimes that have been committed and in our understandable desire for “justice”, the words of the victims’ families are often silenced. the media will seldom pick them up, and there’s usually an attorney general or prosecutor on the other end wanting to be voted back into office.

which is why i’m so excited for this piece ran by the NY Times 3 days ago.

seriously, read it!

the families of the victims in the Charleston Shooting have been vocally AGAINST the death penalty for Dylann Roof, and it’s profound to see. i wish i could get to know these beautiful people… i wish their spirituality could rub off on me more.

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hearing their words – not just their extensions of forgiveness shortly after that horrific night – but now 17 months later, pleading for mercy… there’s just something very Jesus-like about their actions.

i think we’re witnessing here a version of Christianity profoundly close to the heart of God.

 

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Lead With Grace Before Articulating Truth

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

I heard a talk this morning that so resonated with a lot of my thinking and feeling lately on many issues facing our culture. You can check it out here.
In the talk, Michael Lindsay quoted Timothy George (Dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University), as follows:

“John is such a careful writer that the order of those words [grace and truth] really mattered. I believe that Jesus’ ministry was one in which people came to encounter the GRACE of Christ before they could appreciate the TRUTH he had to offer.”

Wow.

One of the things that burns me up inside is this idea that we in the Christian community have to run towards the brokenness in our culture and shout the truth that we have personally come to realize, without first adequately communicating grace. We have burned many bridges in this process over the years. Bridges of ministry that no longer exist with many individuals, people, families, and entire communities.

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If we want to make a difference in this world, we need to learn to lead with grace before articulating truth.