On this day, eleven years ago, this nation was struck with a terrible act of evil. I don’t have to recount the events – if you don’t know the story of 9/11, you must be living in a cave. Last year I published a post on 9/11 and religious pluralism, but this year I want to focus on two worldviews, the atheistic worldview the Christian worldview, and their responses to 9/11.
On the atheistic worldview, 9/11 was a horrible atrocity, but at the end of the day, death is the destination of all humanity, with extinction the final stopping point. Nothing exists beyond this world or beyond this life, so 9/11 was the arrival of the final destination for those who died that day. For those who still live, they will arrive there soon enough. Worse, there is no accountability to good or evil, punishment or reward, on the atheistic worldview since everyone is headed to the same state. The terrorists can only be condemned with the full force of humanity, which will eventually die out. It is a temporal, subjective, and weak condemnation. The same thing is for the heroic first responders of the day. The praise they deserve is temporary, subjective, and weak. They will receive the same ultimate end as the terrorists.
On the Christian worldview, 9/11 was a horrible atrocity, but there exists an accountability to good and evil that allows for the terrorist’s actions to be justly condemned. There exists an unchanging standard of right and wrong, good an evil, which lasts eternally – God Himself. We can desire that the terrorists be punished, and there exists a standard by which they are punished with the full wrath of God. By that same standard, we can praise the first responders for their bravery and know that their accomplishments are not forgotten. Death is not the final destination for us, and God will not forget their brave actions and will always find them praiseworthy.
However, with the Christian worldview, comes the condition of all mankind. If God Himself is this standard by which we condemn the 9/11 terrorists, how do we measure up to this standard? This standard is perfect, and we have failed to keep it. We are also subject to God’s wrath because, in our own failures, we have failed to keep His standards. The punishment with which God dealt the terrorists is aimed just as much at us, because we have violated it in some way. How have we violated it? When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment of the Law was, he said:
37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
We have failed to love God with everything in us, and we have failed to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we have failed here (and we all have), we have broken God’s law. But the hope of the Christian worldview, the hope of 9/11, is Christ. He took the wrath of God that we were each supposed to receive, and He promises that “there is now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1) for those who realize their need for Christ to save them and put their trust in Him for salvation. Those who do not do this still receive the wrath of God as a punishment for breaking His law. The terrorists did not put their trust in Christ, and received the full wrath of God for 9/11. But we will receive the same wrath if we do not put our trust in Him to be spared from this wrath. Also, evil is defeated once and for all on the Christian worldview: when Christ returns, this existence where actions like 9/11 is possible will never happen again.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8)
On atheism, there is no such hope or promise to look forward to.
Consider your response to 9/11. If the Christian worldview’s response to 9/11 makes the most sense of the world, examine yourself. Have you acknowledged you need to be spared from God’s wrath? If not, do not wait. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. If the Christian worldview is the worldview that makes the most sense of 9/11, you must accept the entirety of it, or none at all. Do what Romans 10:9-11 says:
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”