Pastor Bill Elliff of the Arkansas-based The Summit Church and the Religious Right group OneCry appeared on AFA Today with host Buster Wilson this week where he explained that the September 11 attacks and the elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut were “gracious” acts of divine punishment. He said that God allowed the two tragedies to occur because of “our humanistic pride” and secular government in order to “bring us to our senses and bring us back to him.”
Wilson was positively dumbfounded as to why people would be offended by such rhetoric and similar language by AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, who said that God refused to stop the school shooting because he’s a “gentleman,” and Elliff worried the U.S. is going the way of the Roman and British empires.
Wilson: I have never seen the vitriol that has been unleashed against us, some of us here at this ministry, since we’ve been publicly saying: you know what one of the problems is for the last fifty years we’ve been saying to God we don’t want you, there’s a wall of separation between us, and the place you’ve seen that amplified most has been in the public schools. We have received just unbelievable vitriol for saying that, seeing it as too simplistic, one person wrote ‘this is 2013, are we still wrestling over Creationism?’ We are in a changing, almost post-Christian America is what it seems like at time, what’s gonna happen if we don’t turn back to the Lord and see great revival brought about?
Elliff: I think what’s going to happen is what’s happened to every society before us who has not turned back. I was thinking the other day probably in Rome they thought ‘this could never happen to us’ and England in its prime they said ‘this could never happen to us.’ There is something about our humanistic pride that causes us to think, we could never go down as a nation.
Elliff: I’ve often thought about 9/11 and what happened there. God doesn’t cause evil, he didn’t cause the shooting the other day. But when we say, ‘Lord we can live life without you,’ then he says, ‘okay, I’ll let you feel that.’
Wilson: Let you get a taste of it.
Elliff: I thought at 9/11 what happened was God’s protective hand was removed and we felt what pure evil is like. We felt that this last week. That was pure evil, it’s the devil who has come to steal, kill and destroy. He’d just as soon kill a baby or a child in the womb as anything else. God allows that moment, we’re pressing the issue by turning from him, but he allows that moment to bring us to our senses and say, ‘God we desperately need you.’ So really it’s gracious. The pain that comes, the judgment that has really come by our turning away from the Lord is a merciful thing that God does to bring us to our senses and bring us back to him.
Elliff explained that the shooting was a sign of God’s discipline as “judgment comes to a nation it is God saying, wake up, you have walked away from me and I have loved you and I have so much desire to protect you but when you walk away you forfeit that.”
Elliff: We look at what has happened recently here in the school shooting and the so many things that have happened in the past few years. If we put all of those in biblical context and surround it with the Scripture we would come to different conclusions about what was happening. I was thinking the other day that God has instituted pain in our body, you know when you get a rusty nail that goes up to the sole of your foot that’s a real good thing that you feel pain because it causes you to make an adjustment. God’s judgment is like that. It’s a loving God saying to us when judgment comes to a nation it is God saying, wake up, you have walked away from me and I have loved you and I have so much desire to protect you but when you walk away you forfeit that.