A baseball pitching star with the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system was stunned last week to learn that his wife, baby son, mother-in-law, and pet dog had all been killed by his 19-year-old brother-in-law. The sports star, Blake Bivens, was informed that the murders took place at the family’s home in southern Virginia. The alleged killer, Matthew Bernard, claimed to have experienced “bad” dreams. Another relative said that young Matthew was mentally ill. After the murders, Bernard was found running naked in the streets and attacking bystanders.
An uncle of Bernard reported that the teenager was a local community college student who attended church and taught youth groups. He also said of his nephew, “In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined it. Not him, of all people in the world. This boy is a Christian. He went to church every Sunday, every Wednesday, every Sunday night, an all-around perfect kid.”
Our blogs have mentioned several similar stories. For example:
- “Christian Killer” (12/03/18), the story of Thomas Bruce, founder of a Calvary Chapel church. Bruce walked into a religious supply store and ordered three women to strip nude and perform sex acts on him. Then he shot one dead. (To read whole story click here.)
- “Waffle House Christian Killer” (05/07/18), the account of Travis Reinking, a homeschooled Christian who walked into a Nashville, Tennessee Waffle House and shot four people dead. (To read whole story click here.)
- “Demons Make Christians Kill” (10/12/18), a blog about a homeschooled Christian kid (indirectly known by my own homeschooled children) who attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. The shooter, Steven Jones, just 18, took a handgun from his car and killed one and wounded three. (To read whole story click here.)
There are many other such accounts too numerous to mention. But they all have the same storyline: A Christian gone berserk, committing senseless acts of violence; friends and family in shock that the individual could have done such evil. This contradiction leads to one of several conclusions:
- The killer never was a Christian. That’s the convenient explanation of those who refuse to accept the concept of Christian demonization.
- The act of evil was the result of a deranged, mentally ill person, and demons had nothing to do with it. Obviously, the Christian killers cited above must have been emotionally unstable, but is that the only reason they murdered?
- Demons were the primary force behind the killings. Certainly, each case must be considered by its own unique circumstances, but is it possible some of these horrible acts were mostly demonic?
- In most occasions, the violence was a combination of demons and mental illness. This would be my conclusion.
Here’s the rub. To agree, even marginally with my assessment, is to acknowledge that demons can invade a believer and twist their minds into committing unthinkable acts. The devil can’t MAKE anyone do anything, but he can push a person to the edge of anger or insanity, so that they act in demonic ways. Even murder. Even Christians. In the case of Matthew Bernard, another Christian kills. How many more must die before the church declares REAL spiritual warfare against Satan and learns how to cast out killing demons from Christians?
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An encouraging word: GOD IS PATIENT
Today, comedians and pundits of all sorts sometimes use the foulest language to curse God and accuse the Almighty of inconsistency and even insanity. That sort of thing gets said often in today’s Internet culture in which anyone can post anything that’s on their mind. But people need to careful about hurling insults heavenward. Second Peter 3:9 reminds us that God is patient with man’s sinful nature “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Nevertheless, Peter goes on to say, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” Be careful what you say about God. He is patient, but His day of judgment will come when you least expect it.