Thinking of Monday in Manchester

Undated handout photo of the Rev David Clarke, elected Wednesday February 8th 2006 as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Rev Clarke, who has been minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry for over 20 years, is the son of a butcher, and his brother played professional football for Sunderland. See PA story ULSTER Church. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA
Undated handout photo of the Rev David Clarke, elected Wednesday February 8th 2006 as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Rev Clarke, who has been minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry for over 20 years, is the son of a butcher, and his brother played professional football for Sunderland. See PA story ULSTER Church. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA

The events last Monday evening in Manchester defy reason.

Into a vast arena, crowded with exhilarated children and teenagers, saunters a man with mass murder on his mind. In an instant, he triggers the bomb which he was carrying, and all is changed. No terrible beauty was born; rather a horrible carnage was unleashed. The bomber himself died - an end which he no doubt profoundly desired - but so did 22 others. Scores were left with life-changing injuries, and others, including the emergency service personnel, with memories which will leave permanent psychological scars.

Others will rightly debate why security services failed to intercept Salman Abede before he carried out his mission of death; while others, looking ahead, will ponder how best to avoid a repetition of that unpardonable attack.

Those who look at such events through the prism of Biblical teaching see only a tragic confirmation of what the Scriptures say about human sin. Sin taints every aspect of our personality, including our capacity to think straight. Martin Luther often referred to the ‘harlot reason’, which sells itself to any cause. Only a warped mind would imagine that to perpetrate an event such as the Manchester Arena atrocity is somehow pleasing to God.

Some years ago, a pro-life group in Florida murdered a medical expert who had been involved in arranging planned abortions. In the so-called interests of life, they unlawfully took life.

Why Salman Abede so hated the society which had given him and his family shelter, employment and education may never be known. But perhaps there is some truth in the claim by Jeremy Corbyn that western policies contributed to his hardening of heart.

Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech on his second inauguration as President, just a few days before his assassination. The Civil War was not yet ended, and no one knew when the bloodshed would cease. He said; ‘Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, ‘The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

Belief in the goodness of God is our ultimate security.