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Friday, December 21, 2012

Is Adam Lanza in Hell? Is Nancy Lanza Guilty? Is Nancy Lanza an Innocent Victim? How Does God Decide?

Adam Lanza. Would you send him to Hell? 
Matthew 25:32: "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

Is Adam Lanza in Hell?

Is Nancy Lanza in Hell?

Was Nancy Lanza the first innocent victim of the December 14th shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School?

Was Nancy Lanza a guilty perpetrator?

I googled "blaming Nancy Lanza" and "Nancy Lanza guilty" and found many debating the question.

One answer: those who assess Nancy Lanza as guilty give the December 14th death toll as twenty-six. Those who assess Nancy Lanza as a victim give the December 14th death toll as twenty-seven. President Obama gave the death toll as twenty-six.

Nancy Lanza gave her son guns and allowed him to play the ultra-violent video game "Call of Duty." Maybe she is guilty.

Is there any reason to give the death toll as twenty-eight? As including Adam Lanza?

Is Adam Lanza in Hell?

I asked on facebook. A devout Christian, a Jehovah's Witness, an atheist, and a New Ager each provided answers. Each answer was well thought out and well supported.

Atheists, of course, say that the question doesn't matter.

It does, though.

Do we, as a society, assess Adam Lanza as an innocent victim of mental illness? Or as an active agent who freely and consciously choose his horrific and cruel path?

One atheist on facebook insisted that "Adam Lanza was probably that way from birth."

I doubt it. American gun culture, the ultra-violent video game "Call of Duty," also beloved by other shooters, and Nancy Lanza all had an impact on Adam Lanza, impacts that contributed to his choices.

Atheists, in recent years, have been arguing hard for their being no such thing as choice, no such thing as free will. Adam Lanza, like the rest of us, was just a wind-up toy, a machine responding to physical stimuli.

In "Save Send Delete" I describe my debate / love affair with a prominent atheist. He would advance such ideas in our discussions. No such thing as free will. No such thing as a soul.

As a Christian, I believe in free will. I believe in a God who separates the sheep from the goats, as Jesus said in the book of Matthew. What separates us? The choices we make.

But I also believe in Universal Salvation, or Universal Reconciliation, an ancient Christian belief.

What I wonder about is choice. I wonder about the road Lanza took to his own personal Hell. Guess I'll never know.

Is Nancy Lanza guilty? Is she to be blamed? I do feel sorry for her. I also don't think giving guns to an obviously socially handicapped young man is a wise choice. Leviticus, 19:14, tells us not to put a stumbling block before the blind, nor to curse the deaf. You don't add to someone's handicap.

So I guess I'm one of those who give the toll of the innocent dead we mourn as twenty-six.

1 comment:

  1. I don't really understand the need to find someone or something "guilty." Its a tragedy for all involved. Its a tragedy for our nation. A father of one of the female victims said it best when he said:

    "I’d like to offer our deepest condolences to all the families who were directly affected. It’s a horrific tragedy, and our hearts go out to them," the physician's assistant said.

    "This includes the family of the shooter, and I want you to know that our love and support go out to you as well."

    With unimaginable grace, Parker explained why he was speaking out publicly. "I've been contacted by so many people wanting to know how we're doing that this might be the best way to share those feelings."


    Blame lacks grace. It does nothing, really, to heal wounds. Compassion, forgiveness and grace are sorely needed. I know several people who lost a loved one to gun violence in the past. Eventually, all of them related to me that what really derailed their lives was not the loss itself, but the anger, rage and unbridled grief that they allowed to consume them, sometimes for decades. They used the word "allowed" because a time did come where they realized that they had chosen a path that had not served them or those around them well. Even the death penalty did not bring them peace and serenity. What did was accepting what was, with compassion and grace. Once they allowed grace to trump anger and blame, they were literally "healed." Their loved one did not return, but their ability to love and to enjoy life returned.

    I honestly believe that neither Nancy or Adam Lanza were evil or bad. There are many ill people in our society and we do a very poor job of identifying them quickly and getting them the help they need. For that reason, we should all stop and take stock of what kind of country we want to create and steward for future generations. We can start right now by pulling together to seek solutions. Please find a way to join that effort.