By F. M. Perry, 9/22/01

Today I was surfing the internet reading some of the myriads of articles about the atrocities committed in four airliners, in the World Trade Center, and in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. I found an extremely wise and insightful article by a young man named Glenn M. Miller. Here, I want to make note of some quotations from Mr. Miller's article, illustrate his points with scriptural quotations, and make a few comments of my own.

Let us start with the almost universal question springing from people's lips today concerning the unspeakable atrocities that occurred on September 11, 2001:


From scripture we read, "For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous." (1st John 3:11,12). The Holy Spirit speaking here through the Apostle John puts forth the reason why atrocities of this nature happen. They are the "to be expected" deeds of those under the influence of evil against those deemed to have righteous deeds. As far as I know, there is no other "reason" put forward in Holy Scripture why man murders man. At the time of the creation, before Adam committed sin against God, "God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good." (Genesis 1:31). After Adam sinned, by the time of Noah, "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart were evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." (Genesis 6:5,6). Our conclusion must be that the possibility of such atrocity comes with the human nature which we all have inherited as the progeny of Adam, the sinner and father of sinners.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1st John 4:7,8). "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1st John 4:30). The remedy for the evilness and hate which lies beneath the surface in the nature of man lies in the righteousness and love which is characteristic of God. God offers His love, His righteousness, and even Himself so that man can be free of evilness and hate. Simply through faith, which prompts man to trust and obey God, man again can be "born of God," can "know God," and can through "love" conquer the evilness which lies below the surface in his nature.


Mr. Miller, in his wise article, says that the answer to the question of why this atrocity happened is either greed or emptiness. But he dismisses greed for the likelihood that the main reason is emptiness of soul. He says, "In terrorism, it is emptiness of soul that seems to be at work. Those who feel insignificant and petty and unimportant must find a way to be taken seriously! They are often those who fail to achieve any status, significance, and recognition from their peers and society (which others achieve through normal healthy means of hard work, compromise, learning, and cooperation), or they may be those who do have wealth, but whose heart is so empty that nothing can help their feelings of smallness. ... And so, they have to hurt someone to get attention."

Mr. Miller continues, "To be sure, the terrorist has a 'cause,' but this is nothing more than the same self-delusional virtues of the greedy. They become holy warriors, or martyrs for righteousness, or punishers of the wicked. It's always the same-treachery masquerading as truth; Satan disguising himself as an angel of light; humans believing themselves to be more worthy of respect than God; Godless nations, pretending to 'represent' God's will in their expansion; small minded vandalism, trying to sell itself as high minded 'holy war.'"

"But it's all a lie," Mr. Miller says. "They are only little men, doing little things, to little purpose. Will this heal their heart? No, the heart will get more empty and dead, and so the ideological rhetoric will have to be shouted a little more loudly tomorrow-to drown out the now louder self-witness to sub-human character: 'They were right about you all along-You are not adequate enough to be accepted as human.' They cannot win the war on their hearts at all this way. Their atrocities are-at best- anesthesia for hearts that need replacing, for they certainly do not accomplish their ideological aims. Who did they hurt with this act? Only innocent lives. Was (what they believed to be) the 'evil system' hurt at all? Of course not. In fact, it will only increase the resolve of the 'system,' engender greater support for the system's organized activities against them, and galvanize further cultural support for the system's values and textures. ... Do terrorists know anything about how the world actually works? ... But the terrorists, no doubt, are ignorantly celebrating the damage caused by (what they consider to be) their righteous, noble, and sacrificial actions. They have been able to drown out the cries of their own personal insignificance and pettiness, by making noise in the world."

Mr. Miller's remarks about the danger of "emptiness of soul" remind us of the remarks of our Savior concerning the emptiness of those who do not have God's Spirit within them: "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation." (Words of Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45).


Some may feel that this is an inane or an insensitive question to ask. As we have already discussed, some people question how God can have allowed this to happen. To not a few, this catastrophe probably has been taken as indication that there is no God all, or that, if there is a God, He has no special care for human beings. But many of us believe what God tells us in His word, that He "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28). God does have a purpose involving the advancement of "good" to each one of mankind personally, and He uses "all things," even world catastrophes, to advance that purpose.

For one thing, God's influence for "good" toward mankind is made evident in the preponderance of "good" in the earth. Mr. Miller, in his article about the World Trade Center atrocity, points out, "The same capabilities inherent in our world can be leveraged by good for good, or by evil for evil. Fortunately for us, the scales are somehow heavily tipped by God toward the good. ... In fact, it is the sheer preponderance of good that creates the shock and atrocity force of this act. If things like this happened everyday, we would not be so traumatized by it. ... Indeed, it is only in a community of persons trusting one another, and believing in one another's practical 'goodness' that treachery and betrayal can operate."

Mr. Miller puts forward what may well be some classic axioms that describe the existence of evil influence in our world. "Treachery is parasitic on trust. Evil is parasitic on the good. Pain is parasitic on joy. And grief is parasitic on intimacy." He continues, "But the loss is staggering, I personally have learned-the painful way-that the amount of grief at losing a loved one is directly related to the amount of love and joy shared with that person. The pain-as great as it is-is never greater than the amount of love shared and joy experienced. One always says 'Yes, I would do it over again...even if I knew it would end the same.'... It is sometimes only in the aftermath of tragedy that we see the landscape of beauty and goodness, in which this tragedy occurs."

The Word of God, the Bible, takes note of the presence of both good and evil on earth. The good is provided by God, our Creator, the evil by Satan, an angel rebellious against God. God has created mankind with free will, equipped for life in the environment of good and evil on earth. Thus man has the capability of choosing either the good or the evil, of choosing either allegiance to God or Satan. God reminds us what mankind's initial choice always has been. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). This is alarming "for the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23). And this "death" is a "spiritual death", an "eternal separation from God." But the gospel of Jesus Christ invites each and every man to reverse his choice, and with a man's acceptance of the gospel, "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23). As long as a man has fleshly life there is hope that he will heed the gospel of Jesus Christ and gain the eternal salvation God offers. If a man dies without the forgiveness of his sins which God has offered him, hope is gone, for "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement." (Hebrews 9:27). The Judge is God, and Holy Scripture reveals God's wrath is reserved for those who die unrepentant and therefore unforgiven of their sins. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." (Romans 1:18).

More than 6,000 of God's human creatures have died in the horrible events of September 11, 2001 in the United States. In the light of the revelations of the Holy Bible, what has happened to those who have died? The bible reveals that God has created humans as triune (three-in-one) beings, spirit and soul and body, as in His own triune image. "May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete." (1Thessalonians 5:23). So let us examine God's revelation with respect to "bodies" first.

The fleshly bodies of the dead have reverted temporarily to the dust of the earth from whence God created them. (Genesis 2:7; 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20). The reversion of the flesh to dust is temporary for God has promised there will be a resurrection of each human body just as there was a resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ. (1st Corinthians 15:12-19). The temporary nature of the "death" of the fleshly body is emphasized by the fact that the Holy Spirit speaks (through the Bible) of the dead as merely being "asleep." (1st Corinthians 15:18; 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18). The body that is raised in the resurrection will be changed to what the Holy Spirit calls an "imperishable" or a "spiritual" body. (1st Corinthians 15:42-44). But the promised day of the resurrection of bodies has not yet occurred. Today the bodies of the dead are still "asleep."

The non-material spiritual "inner man" or "heart" of the human, consisting of the soul and the spirit, does not die with the body. (Matthew 10:28; Acts 7:59). Since the inner man is not composed of matter, it continues to live after the death of the body in an invisible spiritual realm referred to in the Bible as Hades (the unseen realm). The Bible speaks of human souls which have departed the confines of life on earth as having a kind of spiritual consciousness. This is especially brought out in Luke's Gospel when Jesus recounted the story of the rich man and Lazarus. "Now it came about that the poor man (Lazarus) died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment,. and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'" (Luke 16:22-26). We must conclude that the souls of those departed in the September 11 disasters are now experiencing something of that which either the rich man or Lazarus were said by our Lord to be experiencing. Some are being comforted in "Abraham's bosom" (also called "Paradise" in Luke 23:43), and some, it is reasonable to say, are in torment.

Although only God can be the final Judge, it seems reasonable to conclude, because of the warnings of God's word, that the wicked terrorists who killed themselves and thousands of others in the September 11 atrocities are experiencing at this moment the fires of torment as is the rich man about whom Jesus spoke. Those who know the terrorists' beliefs tell us that the terrorists expected to be delivered to "Abraham's bosom" after sacrificing their lives in their so-called "just cause." However, the Holy Spirit, through the Bible, reveals that they are now in torment, seeing only a "great chasm fixed" between them and their expected eternal rest. In all likelihood at this time they are saying something similar to what the rich man said, "'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him (Lazarus) to my father's house-for I have five brothers- that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.' But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead..'"

Nevertheless, Jesus, the Son of God, not long after telling us this true story, did rise from the dead. He showed God's power over death and, in a sense, answered the rich man's plea that someone return from the dead to warn mankind. But God's resurrection of the body of Jesus from the dead was far more than just a last chance warning to mankind, it was the delivery of a gift promised by God to mankind since their creation, the gift of eternal life in His presence to everyone of faith. "The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'But the righteous man shall live by faith.'" (Romans 1:17).

Not only must a terrorist understand he cannot attain eternal life with God through the commission of murderous atrocity, but also any one who may become a victim of an atrocity must understand that he cannot attain eternal life with God merely through the chance fact of becoming a victim. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." (Romans 1:18). We are warned in Scripture that the just God has His angels pour out His righteous wrath upon evil men at times when He deems it necessary. "And I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth.'" (Revelation 16:1). Is there not indication that the September 11 atrocities are, in the final analysis, a "bowl of God's wrath?" Do not misunderstand, God is not a terrorist nor is He a terrorist sympathizer. The terrorist atrocity is an evil work of men manipulated by Satan. But in the final analysis, in terms of eternity, God allows only what is good and just to issue from Satan's atrocities. In simple terms, God saves the righteous victims in His eternal spiritual Kingdom and God renders a righteous judgement of condemnation to all the evil victims. This is the answer as to the outcome for the more than 6,000 people who died.

For the rest of us who remain alive, the September 11 atrocities are used by God as a "trumpet of warning." Before the symbolic visions of the "bowls of God's wrath" were presented in the Book of Revelation, seven "trumpets of warning" were sounded to the world by seven of God's angels, ushering in symbolic catastrophes much like the "bowls of wrath." Evil catastrophes like those of September 11 God also uses as warnings to mankind that Satan is trying to thwart God's plan to save as many of them as possible. (The symbolic trumpets are sounded in Revelation Chapter 12). Catastrophes which are "bowls of wrath" to those who perish are "trumpets of warning" to the rest of us. "The present heaven and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2nd Peter 3:7-9).

With love, F. M. Perry.

© 2002, F. M. Perry