In-Sight: A Spirituality of “No More!”

We find ourselves in the aftermath and shock of the shootings in Newtown.  Last night, a reporter rightly said that this is tragedy that touches us all.  Our hearts are broken and our spirits are deeply troubled by what has happened.

It is not the first time our nation has been brought together by a senseless act of violence, and it will not be the last.  But it is a “moment” in our collective history when people of faith need to live by their faith.

Unfortunately, within a day of the Newtown shootings, Christians are debating the place of gun control in the reduction of an acknowledged escalating “culture of violence” in our nation and elsewhere in the world.  One well-meaning writer advocated gun control as part of the answer, only to receive a harsh rejoiner from a reader who accused the writer of abdicating the conviction that “Jesus is the answer.”

I have worked deliberately—and sometimes against my own inclinations—to be sure that the Oboedire blog is not a forum for political conversations.  And I want you to know that this post is not in any way “political” in my mind.  I trust you will receive it as nothing other than an attempt to figure out what spiritual formation looks like—this time in the face of tragedy.

In that context,  I have to say that a caricature of the phrase “Jesus is the answer” does nothing other than misrepresent Christianity’s fundamental and historic commitment to social holiness.  My own Wesleyan tradition (which is an expression of the larger Anglo, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions) contains “prudential means of grace”—the first of which is to vow to do no harm, and to stand against anything which causes it.

There must be a time when spirituality says, “No more!”  And I believe this is one of those times.  We may debate what Jesus would do, or not do, in such a time as this.  But surely we cannot imagine him telling us not to be involved in standing against forms of violence that leave children dead in their schoolrooms.

There must be a time when spirituality says, “No more!”  We stand on the soil of the day after an event when that is the only response that faithfully represents the Gospel.

Jesus is the answer, but He has commissioned his followers to be the means by which His answer gets into the world to actually make a difference.  To separate Jesus from the event of yesterday is a pseudo-spirituality.  To bring Him into the picture through witness and redemptive action is His call upon our lives.


About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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4 Responses to In-Sight: A Spirituality of “No More!”

  1. Olga Gutierrez Estrada says:

    I do not belong to your Church, not even to your country. But I love USA with a deep feeling that comes from the years I spent in Michigan as a student of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.
    I agree with your thioughts expressed in the blog and pray for all of You. In the entire world believers are praying for America.
    Olga Gutiérrez

  2. Christine Stuart says:

    In the past 35 or more years we have raised
    Our children in a culture of violence. We know that human behavior is imitated.
    Christian family values have been thought
    of as prudish. So we are now reaping seeds sown in the soil of minds who were
    searching for meaning and value; now troubled minds. Jesus points the way
    Towards love. In an increasingly isolated and insulated world we find fear, anger, and
    Self-centered behaviors. It almost appears
    as if we are losing the very things that separates us from animals which is our
    conscious and our critical thinking ability.
    There will be more violence in our society.
    We already programed it in. How do we
    reverse the tide? This is what needs discussion.

  3. Steve Adcock says:

    My hope and prayer is that our nation will someday be just as horrified by the thousands of children killed every year in the most dangerous “room” in our country- the womb! Peter Kreeft rightly calls this the 21st Century Holocost. May God have mercy on our nation!

  4. Thank you for your carefully thought out words. I sent it on to a pastor who will be in a parish pulpit tomorrow morning…a heavy place to be…..

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