Prof. John Babler on Mass Shootings: What’s a Christian to Do?

John Babler, a professor of counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has been active in emergency services for 20 years and currently serves as a police chaplain and reserve police officer. He has responded as a chaplain to the mass shootings at Wedgwood Baptist Church, Virginia Tech and Santa Fe (Texas) High School.


When I heard the news about another mass shooting, this time at an El Paso Walmart, I was deeply saddened. When less than 13 hours later there was another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, I was stunned.

As an emergency services chaplain in such shootings in the past, I know how devastating and chaotic these traumatic events are. The emotional, spiritual and physical consequences dramatically impact victims, witnesses, family members, first responders and communities.

As the threat of these events becomes ever more common, many thoughts may surround one’s reflections. For example, they can invoke fear and cause people to think about day-to-day life differently.

On the night of the most recent shootings one person told me that she seriously considered calling off a trip to a Walmart. The next day another person told me she was contemplating having her groceries delivered instead of going to the store. People frequently look for immediate solutions to the problem of mass shootings, either not recognizing or minimizing the fact that evil does exist and that sinful, fallen humans will continue to act as sinful, fallen human beings.

While we should do everything possible to prevent such crises, there will be no quick fixes.

As Christians, it is vital to maintain a focus on the eternal, since God instructs us to be good stewards of all things — including evil events that happen around us.

I have been trained as an academic and as a police officer to reflect on — and learn from — what happens around me. While teaching through the book of Mark in my Sunday School class, I have been struck once again by how Mark presents Jesus’ life as one of urgent intensity and how He was frequently interrupted and often surrounded by chaos.

In Mark 5:21-43, we see this clearly as He was called to deal with the tragedy of a dying child (Jairus’ daughter) and was interrupted by a woman who touched His garment to be healed of a 12-year hemorrhage of blood. After the report came that Jairus’ daughter had died, Jesus ultimately raised her from the dead, revealing His power over not only illness, but death as well. Jesus ministered to both temporal and eternal needs in these situations.

In the midst of tragic interruptions and chaos today, we should follow Jesus’ example by appropriately responding to interruptions and ministering in both temporal and eternal matters.

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Source: Baptist Press