Deserving to Die – Terrorists or Victims?

On 9/11/2001, terrorists flew the passengers on their flights into eternity. During the approximately one hour between the fall of the twin towers that claimed almost 3,000 lives, around the world another 7,800 lives went out to meet their Maker. Over the next 24 hours while America and the West struggled to understand the loss of almost 3,000 lives, approximately 256,200 more individuals crossed the line from life unto death. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

On November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan, an officer in the US Army walked into a military service center, jumped on a table, yelled “Allah is great!” (in Arabic), pulled out semi-automatic pistols and pumped out more than 100 rounds and sent 13 more Americans into eternity. Each week since that event approximately 1.3 million have taken their last breath. This is a number 100,000 times more than the 13 who died in the service of their country.

Did any of those almost 3,000 people deserve to die on 9/11? Did the 13 people who were shot at Fort Hood, Texas deserve to die? Ask the majority of Americans and the general consensus will be, “Those terrorists deserved to die and face God!” They would continue, “Men like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Nidal Hasan, and Osama bin Laden deserve to die. Let’s kill them all!”

However, there is a greater question we need to ask ourselves. Do men like Hitler, Hussein, Hasan, and bin Laden deserve to die more than those who perished at their hands? What made the people who died on 9/11/2001 or on 11/05/2009 in the terrorist attacks any less deserving than the 7,800 or the 256,200 or even the 1.3 million to go and face the eternal Son of God and be judged for their sins?

This is by no means to demean the sacrifice demanded of those who did not ask to be killed! Nor, is this a support of any terrorist group. Nor, is this intended in any way to demean the loss of life and the sorrow of those families who were left to pick up the pieces.

The purpose of my writing is because I have been doing some serious searching of my heart, and sadly I find I have not been meeting the criteria required of me as a true believer. Let me explain further.

As Americans, we are very patriotic, almost at times to an extreme. It is a trait that many nations of the world fail to understand about us. It is a large part of what binds us together in the face of a common enemy. In very short order, for example, after 9/11, the vast majority of Americans were ready to take on the enemies of our country by whatever means possible. Hatred and anger ran cold and deep in the veins of millions who were upset that our country had been assaulted. We were ready to hunt down the infidels and murder them all and make them pay for what they did to us! Even many who claim the name of Christ were standing side-by-side in the call to arms and had no issues with our government spending billions of dollars to bomb and attack two foreign countries.

However, I wonder how many of those same Christians were praying that God would bring sorrow and godly repentance to those who would inflict evil upon America. How many spent time agonizing over the true loss of life – 7,800 or the 256,200 or the 1.3 million? How many mourned the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of those individuals perished with no hope of ever knowing or even hearing the name of Jesus Christ?

Do we stop to think that every year since 9/11, an unbelievable sum of approximately 95 million (the equivalent of almost 1/3rd of the US population) go into eternity? Who mourns their loss? Why are they any more deserving to face a God of wrath than those we know and love, or than those who live on our streets? In the 6,303 days since 9/11, almost 1 billion (956 million) have exited this world, a number equivalent to a little less than the entire population of India!

Yet, we actually rejoiced when we watched the evening news from the comfort of our sofas and armchairs, and we saw the countless thousands being swept into eternity for their part in attacking our country. Oh, we were happy! Justice was being meted out by our brave men and women, and the judgment that was pronounced and executed was in our minds – “FAIR!”

However, does this stack up with the commands of Scripture that we who claim the name of Christ are called to obey? We as Christians are commanded to love our enemies. We are to share the good news of the gospel with those who have never heard. The apostle Paul loved his fellow countrymen of Israel so greatly that if it were possible, he was willing to be eternally accursed from God if only all Israel would place their faith in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation!

During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ was asked what the greatest commandments were. He replied, “The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And, the second is very much like it – LOVE your neighbor as yourself.”

Do we bother to realize that only God can hate the wicked with the demand for perfect justice that hatred requires? Who are we to think that we can stand in the place of the Almighty and condemn others to eternity where they will be in the lake of fire forever? What hypocrisy that our churches are willing to spend millions on new edifices and on entertaining the sheep while 3 people every second go to stand in judgment before the Holy, Righteous God of the Universe! What hypocrisy and lack of true Christian character that we can say equally with the lost of America that we hate our enemies and wish their deaths in whatever manner it comes upon them!

How are we ANY different from those of the Islamic faith? They are willing to kill for the ideals of their faith so that they might enjoy eternity in the bliss of earthly pleasures. Yet, we are willing to kill simply because we hate what others have done to us. We hate and kill indiscriminately because they made our lives uncomfortable. We hate and demand death as they make our trips through airport security highly annoying at best. We hate because we somehow believe what is coming from our pulpits – our sins are not as bad as those of the terrorists. Here in America, we are civilized. We do not deserve death like they do. They deserve justice. They deserve the wrath of God to fall upon them. They deserve hell!

Wake up Christians before it is too late! The world should know us by our love for one another and by the fact that we are willing to sacrifice our very lives so that others will know the love of God, and more importantly, so they will know it is possible to escape from the wrath to come!

We want to ask God to bless America, yet we refuse to obey His commands. May God forgive us for our hatred! The Lord Jesus Christ said that hatred is the same as murder. May the Lord forgive us for our lack of compassion! May He help us to see that we ALL deserve to die, but for the grace of God – His mercy endures forever!

Martyrdom of John Calas

CalasDeath

We pass over many other individual maretyrdoms to insert that of John Calas, which took place as recently as 1761, and is an indubitable proof of the bigotry of popery, and shows that neither experience nor improvement can root out the inveterate prejudices of the Roman Catholics, or render them less cruel or inexorable to Protestants.

John Calas was a merchant of the city of Toulouse, where he had been settled, and lived in good repute, and had married an English woman of French extraction. Calas and his wife were Protestants, and had five sons, whom they educated in the same religion; but Lewis, one of the sons, became a Roman Catholic, having been converted by a maidservant, who had lived in the family about thirty years. The father, however, did not express any resentment or ill-will upon the occasion, but kept the maid in the family and settled an annuity upon the son. In October, 1761, the family consisted of John Calas and his wife, one woman servant, Mark Antony Calas, the eldest son, and Peter Calas, the second son. Mark Antony was bred to the law, but could not be admitted to practice, on account of his being a Protestant; hence he grew melancholy, read all the books he could procure relative to suicide, and seemed determined to destroy himself. To this may be added that he led a dissipated life, was greatly addicted to gaming, and did all which could constitute the character of a libertine; on which account his father frequently reprehended him and sometimes in terms of severity, which considerably added to the gloom that seemed to oppress him.

On the thirteenth of October, 1761, Mr. Gober la Vaisse, a young gentleman about 19 years of age, the son of La Vaisse, a celebrated advocate of Toulouse, about five o’clock in the evening, was met by John Calas, the father, and the eldest son Mark Antony, who was his friend. Calas, the father, invited him to supper, and the family and their guest sat down in a room up one pair of stairs; the whole company, consisting of Calas the father, and his wife, Antony and Peter Calas, the sons, and La Vaisse the guest, no other person being in the house, except the maidservant who has been already mentioned.

It was now about seven o’clock. The supper was not long; but before it was over, Antony left the table, and went into the kitchen, which was on the same floor, as he was accustomed to do. The maid asked him if he was cold? He answered, “Quite the contrary, I burn”; and then left her. In the meantime his friend and family left the room they had supped in, and went into a bed-chamber; the father and La Vaisse sat down together on a sofa; the younger son Peter in an elbow chair; and the mother in another chair; and, without making any inquiry after Antony, continued in conversation together until between nine and ten o’clock, when La Vaisse took his leave, and Peter, who had fallen asleep, was awakened to attend him with a light.

On the ground floor of Calas’s house was a shop and a warehouse, the latter of which was divided from the shop by a pair of folding doors. When Peter Calas and La Vaisse came downstairs into the shop, they were extremely shocked to see Antony hanging in his shirt, from a bar which he had laid across the top of the two folding doors, having half opened them for that purpose. On discovery of this horrid spectacle, they shrieked out, which brought down Calas the father, the mother being seized with such terror as kept her trembling in the passage above. When the maid discovered what had happened, she continued below, either because she feared to carry an account of it to her mistress, or because she busied herself in doing some good office to her master, who was embracing the body of his son, and bathing it in his tears. The mother, therefore, being thus left alone, went down and mixed in the scene that has been already described, with such emotions as it must naturally produce. In the meantime Peter had been sent for La Moire, a surgeon in the neighborhood. La Moire was not at home, but his apprentice, Mr. Grosle, came instantly. Upon examination, he found the body quite dead; and by this time a papistical crowd of people were gathered about the house, and, having by some means heard that Antony Calas was suddenly dead, and that the surgeon who had examined the body, declared that he had been strangled, they took it into their heads he had been murdered; and as the family was Protestant, they presently supposed that the young man was about to change his religion, and had been put to death for that reason.

The poor father, overwhelmed with grief for the loss of his child, was advised by his friends to send for the officers of justice to prevent his being torn to pieces by the Catholic multitude, who supposed he had murdered his son. This was accordingly done and David, the chief magistrate, or capitol, took the father, Peter the son, the mother, La Vaisse, and the maid, all into custody, and set a guard over them. He sent for M. de la Tour, a physician, and MM. la Marque and Perronet, surgeons, who examined the body for marks of violence, but found none except the mark of the ligature on the neck; they found also the hair of the deceased done up in the usual manner, perfectly smooth, and without the least disorder: his clothes were also regularly folded up, and laid upon the counter, nor was his shirt either torn or unbuttoned.

Notwithstanding these innocent appearances, the capitol thought proper to agree with the opinion of the mob, and took it into his head that old Calas had sent for La Vaisse, telling him that he had a son to be hanged; that La Vaisse had come to perform the office of executioner; and that he had received assistance from the father and brother.

As no proof of the supposed fact could be procured, the capitol had recourse to a monitory, or general information, in which the crime was taken for granted, and persons were required to give such testimony against it as they were able. This recites that La Vaisse was commissioned by the Protestants to be their executioner in ordinary, when any of their children were to be hanged for changing their religion: it recites also, that, when the Protestants thus hang their children, they compel them to kneel, and one of the interrogatories was, whether any person had seen Antony Calas kneel before his father when he strangled him: it recites likewise, that Antony died a Roman Catholic, and requires evidence of his catholicism.

But before this monitory was published, the mob had got a notion that Antony Calas was the next day to have entered into the fraternity of the White Penitents. The capitol therefore caused his body to be buried in the middle of St. Stephen’s Church. A few days after the interment of the deceased, the White Penitents performed a solemn service for him in their chapel; the church was hung with white, and a tomb was raised in the middle of it, on the top of which was placed a human skeleton, holding in one hand a paper, on which was written “Abjuration of heresy,” and in the other a palm, the emblem of martyrdom. The next day the Franciscans performed a service of the same kind for him.

The capitol continued the persecution with unrelenting severity, and, without the least proof coming in, thought fit to condemn the unhappy father, mother, brother, friend, and servant, to the torture, and put them all into irons on the eighteenth of November.

From these dreadful proceedings the sufferers appealed to the parliament, which immediately took cognizance of the affair, and annulled the sentence of the capitol as irregular, but they continued the prosecution, and, upon the hangman deposing it was impossible Antony should hang himself as was pretended, the majority of the parliament were of the opinion, that the prisoners were guilty, and therefore ordered them to be tried by the criminal court of Toulouse. One voted him innocent, but after long debates the majority was for the torture and wheel, and probably condemned the father by way of experiment, whether he was guilty or not, hoping he would, in the agony, confess the crime, and accuse the other prisoners, whose fate, therefore, they suspended.

Poor Calas, however, an old man of sixty-eight, was condemned to this dreadful punishment alone. He suffered the torture with great constancy, and was led to execution in a frame of mind which excited the admiration of all that saw him, and particularly of the two Dominicans (Father Bourges and Father Coldagues) who attended him in his last moments, and declared that they thought him not only innocent of the crime laid to his charge, but also an exemplary instance of true Christian patience, fortitude, and charity. When he saw the executioner prepared to give him the last stroke, he made a fresh declaration to Father Bourges, but while the words were still in his mouth, the capitol, the author of this catastrophe, who came upon the scaffold merely to gratify his desire of being a witness of his punishment and death, ran up to him, and bawled out, “Wretch, there are fagots which are to reduce your body to ashes! speak the truth.” M. Calas made no reply, but turned his head a little aside; and that moment the executioner did his office.

The popular outcry against this family was so violent in Languedoc, that every body expected to see the children of Calas broke upon the wheel, and the mother burnt alive.

Young Donat Calas was advised to fly into Switzerland: he went, and found a gentleman who, at first, could only pity and relieve him, without daring to judge of the rigor exercised against the father, mother, and brothers. Soon after, one of the brothers, who was only banished, likewise threw himself into the arms of the same person, who, for more than a month, took every possible precaution to be assured of the innocence of the family. Once convinced, he thought himself, obliged, in conscience, to employ his friends, his purse, his pen, and his credit, to repair the fatal mistake of the seven judges of Toulouse, and to have the proceedings revised by the king’s council. This revision lasted three years, and it is well known what honor Messrs. de Grosne and Bacquancourt acquired by investigating this memorable cause. Fifty masters of the Court of Requests unanimously declared the whole family of Calas innocent, and recommended them to the benevolent justice of his majesty. The Duke de Choiseul, who never let slip an opportunity of signalizing the greatness of his character, not only assisted this unfortunate family with money, but obtained for them a gratuity of 36,000 livres from the king.

On the ninth of March, 1765, the arret was signed which justified the family of Calas, and changed their fate. The ninth of March, 1762, was the very day on which the innocent and virtuous father of that family had been executed. All Paris ran in crowds to see them come out of prison, and clapped their hands for joy, while the tears streamed from their eyes.

voltaireThis dreadful example of bigotry employed the pen of Voltaire in deprecation of the horrors of superstition; and though an infidel himself, his essay on toleration does honor to his pen, and has been a blessed means of abating the rigor of persecution in most European states. Gospel purity will equally shun superstition and cruelty, as the mildness of Christ’s tenets teaches only to comfort in this world, and to procure salvation in the next. To persecute for being of a different opinion is as absurd as to persecute for having a different countenance: if we honor God, keep sacred the pure doctrines of Christ, put a full confidence in the promises contained in the Holy Scriptures, and obey the political laws of the state in which we reside, we have an undoubted right to protection instead of persecution, and to serve heaven as our consciences, regulated by the Gospel rules, may direct.

 

End Notes

Full text from: John Foxe. Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Edited by William Byron Forbush. ttp://www.ccel.org/ccel/foxe/martyrs/files/martyrs.html [Accessed: 11.08.2009]