The Health Club Killer

Last week, Nick Norelli had a post, Michael Brown on ‘Once Saved Always Saved’, which links to an episode of Michael Brown’s radio show. Michael Brown talks about a man who killed women at a health club. Prior to the murder, the man wrote in his diary that he expected to be with Jesus in heaven, for he was saved by God’s grace and people can’t lose their salvation.

Michael Brown was outraged. He cited Scriptures that murderers will not enter the kingdom of God. Callers seemed to assume that a truly born again person wouldn’t even think of murder, so this man obviously wasn’t saved. After all, a truly born again person would feel conviction of sin, not plot a murder.

I found myself getting frustrated with Michael Brown and his callers. It’s not that I think they’re abusing the Scriptures. Far from it. I actually agree with their interpretation. But I wonder what exactly they expect false professors of Christianity to do? Okay, we have a person who doesn’t think, feel, and act as a real Christian should think, feel, and act. What’s the solution? Did he say the sinner’s prayer wrong the first time around? If he said it without sincerity or genuine feeling, then how can he get those things? By waving a magic wand?

I guess I’d phrase things a little differently from what I heard on this show, or I’d emphasize different things. As I read the killer’s diary, I could identify with his pain. He couldn’t find a girlfriend. People ignored him. He was lonely, and his feelings of despair turned into hate.

Look, we don’t always feel and think the right way. Even Christians get discouraged. Great saints in the Bible despaired, sometimes to the point of wanting to die. Rather than giving people the message of “Oh, you must not be truly born again because you have certain thoughts” (which, to be fair, isn’t a quote from Brown or his callers), why not help them overcome or cope with their discouragement, their hopelessness, or their rage? How about giving them inspiration, or showing them compassion, or praying for them?

For me, Christianity is not about me knowing I’m a Christian because I lack certain thoughts and feelings. I have bad thoughts and feelings! That’s why I depend on God and ask him to keep me from temptation. I wasn’t automatically oriented in the right direction once I became a Christian! Avoiding evil is a daily battle. I depend on God to give me some spiritual support to keep me from falling into despair. And it’s nice when there are others who care about me as well.

Maybe this man will go to hell. Sure, he felt despair, but he didn’t have to act on it. But I wish church could truly be a hospital for sinners, rather than a place where people are expected to be perfect and are judged because they are not. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I wish church were more like AA.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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