Guilty or Innocent… Do Christians Care?

Less than a week ago, James Holmes, a dropout student from the University of California, walked into a movie theater during the premier of “Dark Knight,” and sprayed rounds from an automatic rifle into a crowd full of innocent people. When the smoke cleared,  12 lay dead, 58 injured.

James Holmes will stand trial for his actions, and a jury will decide whether he is guilty or innocent. (most likely guilty) Once proven guilty, he will pay for his heinous crime.

Most people agree that courts must operate solely on the principles of guilt and innocence. But suppose courts operated differently. Suppose a few months from now, James Holmes walks into a courtroom and the judge decides that guilt and innocence are irrelevant. Only one thing matters – religious beliefs.

“Do you believe in God?” the judge asks.

“Yes,” Holmes replies.

“Which god do you believe in? Christ, Yahweh, Allah,  Ganesha, Shamash, Zeus, Ahura Mazda, Oden, or another?”

“Jesus Christ,” the murderer says with a wry smile.

“Very well,” the judge replies with the crack of his mallet. “Then you are free to go!”

How would Christians respond to such a scenario? Better yet, how would Christians maimed in the shooting, or those who had lost loved ones, feel about James Holmes walking free on account of his faith?

Sure, it sounds ridiculous. But it is the exact same scenario to be played out during  judgement day.

Christians teach that when we die, each of us will stand trial in heavenly court. Lady Justice and her balancing scales will not be found.  Guilt? Innocence? Irrelevant. The great judge of all mankind will ask us all one simple question.

“Did you believe in Christ?”

If the truthful answer is yes, its off to eternal heavenly bliss. If the answer is no, its eternal suffering.

God’s wisdom is infinite. The creator of everything in the universe –  atoms to planets,  cells to human life – all plants and animals both living and extinct – and every chemical that exists. He not only created gravity, time, space, and light, but He also created the math and laws required for it all to coexist.  Consider the insanely complicated pathology of cancer and autoimmune disease, and so many other disorders and syndromes that leave scientists baffled and clueless year after year. Yup, you guessed it – God. Yet, in His infinite knowledge, God failed to comprehend the only logical way to construct a court system? Cave men sitting around a campfire might have used a person’s faith in the gods (or lack of faith) to judge. But we’re supposed to believe that God,  infinitely intelligent, designed his heavenly court like a barbarian tribesman might have done before the advent of the wheel?

Even if Jesus could save James Holmes from jail (or hell), it wouldn’t be fair. Holmes must pay for his crime. It is the only rational, logical, realistic path forward. Each individual is accountable for his or her sins, both in heaven and on Earth. Religious views are simply irrelevant.


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