When Men Praise Evil

Where has our righteous indignation gone?

Jim Allen

"It seems that common sense would dictate that the police pursuit that ended in the death of cop-killer Chris Dorner would be met with praise. Not if you watched CNN! They sympathized with Dorner, concluding that he 'had a point' with his grievance. One CNN commentator even called the pursuit 'exciting' because Dorner was a 'real life super hero' to many people. Wow!" [1]

The CNN guest commentator followed the day-by-day whereabouts of Dorner from Los Angeles to Big Bear Lake, where the former LAPD police officer took his own life. The commentator went on to say, "As far as Dorner himself goes, he's been like a real life superhero to many people...when you read his manifesto, when you read the message that he left, he wasn't entirely crazy...It's almost like watching Django Unchained* in real life...It's kind of exciting." [2]

Exciting? People use this word when enjoying a sporting event or when involved in one of life's many delightful and surprising moments. By the world's own standard, the word "exciting" is never used in news commentary to describe evil, murder, and mayhem. Exciting is a word that means thrilling, exhilarating, stimulating. How can a word like "exciting" be tethered to a horrible crime spree? Do we still live in America? What happened to the American value of "righteous indignation"—when we mourn over a known wrong or perceived injustice?

Jesus had righteous indignation when He turned over the moneychangers' tables in the temple (Matthew 21). Jesus spoke with righteous indignation when He called the Pharisees "white tombs filled with dead men's bones" (Matthew 23:27). Clearly, righteous indignation is a Godly attribute. It is a holy, sinless anger. God hates the wicked and their deeds (Psalm 5:4-6; 7:11-13; 10:3; Matthew 7:23). God speaks with righteous indignation toward His own people when they lose focus on His goodness, grace, and mercy, choosing instead to stray back to the twisted paths of a lost and dying world (Deuteronomy 32:15-25; Hebrews 10:30).

In the last days, evil will prevail over good. Lying, cheating, stealing, and all kinds of sins are commonplace today, embraced by many. Will looking upon the exploits of murderers in America now become the new exciting in thing? Did not the ancient Romans in the Coliseum cheer with bloodthirsty excitement when the gladiators fought to the death, and Christians died to appease religious intolerance? Is this where America is going, fully corrupt in her ways, muddled in dark values?

We know what is coming to America, but we dare not dwell on it, surely wishing it were not so. The prophet Isaiah said it best, "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness...!" (Isaiah 5:20). Indeed, woe unto America for calling real evil an exciting entertainment.

Jesus knew what was coming His way but did not dwell on it, though He hoped it would not be so (Matthew 26:39). The Messiah was under a lot of pressure, knowing His hour had come (Luke 22:13-15). While some say Jesus "lost His cool" when He overthrew the moneychangers in the Temple, they are mistaken. The moneychangers, merchants, and crowds in the Temple (that day) witnessed the Trinity in full restraint. God did not pour out His wrath even though He would have been justified to scourge them all. God withheld His wrath, rendering instead grace and mercy at the snap of the whip (John 2:15).

While Bible scholars and commentators agree that righteous indignation is one reason Jesus drove out the moneychangers, there is one more reason seldom mentioned. Jesus was ushering in a new covenant that would replace the old covenant with His sacrifice on the cross (Luke 23:32-34). The entirety of the Old Testament, the Temple, and the priestly sacred practices were devoted to this end. Jesus witnessed men blatantly defiling the old covenant as they conducted business in a place intended for worship and prayer (John 3:28).

These moneychangers and merchants in the temple could and should have known about the Messiah's imminent coming (Psalm 139:14; Romans 1:20). They knew about the Holy Scriptures and God's command to keep in memory those things learned from childhood (Joshua 1:8). Like Israel, many in the world today uphold willful ignorance of the Bible as though it were merely an ancient book of virtues, casting it aside as inconsequential nonsense only fit for the slow-minded. Consequently, they know not what they do.

Chris Dorner's fan club lacks the moral capacity to recognize that excitement for evil behavior should never trump compassion for the slain innocent. It is righteous to be indignant about the actions of those who would go against God's will.

Jesus' outward display of righteous indignation in the temple gives us an example of defending the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:14-16; 1 Peter 3:15). Christians need not apologize for our compassion for the innocent and have no obligation to appease an ideology that labels evil as good and good as evil. Through it all, we defend our faith, forgive those who know not what they do (Luke 31:14), and place our trust in the One who does (Psalm 9:10; Psalm 91:2).

* Django Unchanged is a 2012 movie release about a slave whose brutal history with his former associates lands him in a partnership with the law, which then turns on him.

[1], [2] CNN: Dorner ‘had a point'; rampage was ‘exciting',

Image Credit: Cecco del Caravaggio; "Christ expulses money changers"; Public Domain

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Published 2-19-13