God is not evil. People are evil.
Those were the sentiments of some Top of Utah church leaders when asked this week what they were telling members of their congregations following the tragic shooting of 27 people in Connecticut.
"The reality of evil exists in our world because people exist," Pastor Casey Ballard, of Liberty Bible Church in Plain City, wrote in an email to the Standard-Examiner. "People are by nature sinners."
He quoted Romans 3:23 in the New King James Bible: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
"We are not as evil as we can be, but all of us have the propensity to do the most absolutely evil things," Ballard wrote.
Ballard said Adam Lanza killed innocent children because he chose to do this, not because of a genetic disorder.
"God who is just, who is perfect, who is holy and righteous, will give retribution to him," Ballard wrote.
Pastor Ross Anderson, with Alpine Church, said his congregations in Riverdale, Layton, West Haven and Brigham City, would all be addressing the topic at services Dec. 30.
"God is not responsible for this," Anderson said. "This is an act of a depraved human being."
Anderson said people have to understand that there simply is evil in the world.
"By virtue of the fact that God has given us the ability to make choices, some people will make evil choices," he said.
Anderson said this event comes to our attention because it is in our own country.
But, he said these sorts of events happen often throughout the world.
What he and others at his church are reminding Christians is to have a big picture and a long view of life and eternity.
"We have hope through redemption and what Christ has done for us," he said. "There is certainly more in store for us."
And Anderson said people will have the strength they need through God.
"God has promised to be present and to give us the strength to deal with the calamities in our lives," he said.
Author of a book titled "A Walk to the Other Side" (Xulon Press, $18.99), Dee Taylor this week sent a news release in an effort to answer the question of why God would allow the deaths of 20 schoolchildren.
In the release, Taylor said some things are simply beyond human knowledge.
"When we die, we will know what God knows -- as will all the loved ones grieving the premature loss of those 26 lives," Taylor said.
"God sees the future. Perhaps He wanted to save their souls for eternity because he saw something horrible -- a fate worse than death -- lay ahead," she said.
Taylor said people can trust that God has a plan.
"He has to allow for unusual and untimely death because only through the death are we allowed to go home to Him," Taylor said.
Taylor cared for eight family members through the dying process. She said she witnessed not an end but a transition as they each got closer to death.
And just as new beginnings often are cause to celebrate, Ballard said he has seen good come out of the deaths in Connecticut.
He said many who are not Christians have asked for answers in the Bible.
And he said some pastors who are his colleagues from graduate school have had the opportunity in Connecticut to hand out a number of copies of a book titled "Safe in the Arms of God: Words from Heaven About the Death of a Child," by John MacArthur (Thomas Nelson Inc., $16.99).
Ballard said the book cites Scripture that explains how young children who die will be saved even if they had not yet accepted Christ.
"I believe the Bible says if you know Jesus Christ personally, that He cares for you enough that He works all things for your good," Ballard said.
He quoted Romans 8:28 in the New King James version of the Bible:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
He said people can't know everything that God knows, only that He only wants good for those who follow Him.