LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–One year after America paused to watch a national nightmare unfold, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary paused to pray for the country and reflect on that tragic morning.
Some 800 students, faculty members and guests gathered outside on the seminary lawn Sept. 11 to remember what transpired 12 months earlier in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.
At 8:46 a.m., the bell in Norton Hall rang as a symbolic reminder of the exact time the first airplane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It rang every 15 seconds until 9:03 — the exact time the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center south tower.
It was a simple and reverent service filled with prayer and the reading of Scripture. Music professor Esther Crookshank prayed for the grieving. Preaching professor Hershael York prayed for America. Doctoral student Kevin Smith prayed for the nations. Finally, Old Testament professor Daniel Block prayed for peace.
Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. opened the service with prayer and closed it by reflecting on the lessons learned from Sept. 11. The tragedy, Mohler said, served as a reminder for Christians to pray for a national revival.
“We must pray for a spirit of national revival and renewal in our nation,” he said. “We must pray that God will do what only he can do — to convict hearts, as well as to convince minds, and to transform persons by the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christians also must pray for military personnel, the victims’ families, the nation, the world and for justice and peace, Mohler said.
In the weeks following Sept. 11 churches across the nation saw an increase in attendance, Mohler recounted. However, that interest soon dissipated. Some people, he said, wanted a “quick fix” with a generic type of spirituality.
“Spirituality kills if it is not the spirituality of Jesus Christ, if it is not the gospel,” he said. “This false spirituality … has given a false comfort to those who ask real questions.”
Mohler shared an excerpt from a new book by Lisa Beamer, the widow of Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer. It is believed that Beamer and others forced the jetliner down in Pennsylvania, preventing an attack on Washington, D.C. Searching for words to tell her 3-year-old son about his father’s death, she said, “because daddy loved Jesus, he went to be with God in heaven.”
“We rejoice in the confidence that Lisa Beamer demonstrated in the faith that she knew would see her husband not only through this accident but through eternity,” Mohler said. “… How I marvel at the strength of a mother who could turn to a 3-and-a-half-year-old son and with the confidence of the Christian say, ‘Daddy isn’t coming home again, but one day we will go home to be with Jesus, where daddy is now.'”
Such a story should serve as a reminder of the realities of good and evil, heaven and hell, Mohler said. A person’s physical death, he added, pales in comparison to a person’s spiritual death.
“Far greater is the tragedy of those who died without Christ,” he said. “A year ago today, many souls were sent to eternity who knew not Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There is a reminder not only that there is a distinction between good and evil, but there is a distinction between heaven and hell. …
“It is only by the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ that we shall escape the wrath that is to come.”
As evidenced by “those who would do it again,” Mohler said it is an “undeniable fact” that “radical Islam” led to the attacks on America. But he said his “greatest concern is not the physical violence that Islam may inflict, but the spiritual death it spreads.”
Using biblical imagery, Mohler said the most important battle being waged is not one of military might, but one of spiritual truth.
“There is a battle going on that is far greater than anything reducible to human arms and human armies,” he said. “We know what the world does not know, and that is that there is a great spiritual war being fought.”
But those opposed to the gospel are not simply those out to kill others, Mohler said.
“The enemies are not just those who would fly planes into towers, but those who would sit and deny that there is any need for salvation or who would ridicule those who would preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The attacks awakened America to the fact that there are distinctions between good and evil, Mohler said. Before Sept. 11, many doubted the existence of moral absolutes. But after the tragedy, even some moral relativists had to examine their beliefs.
“To deny that there is such a distinction at all is to deny that there is a God who has revealed himself to us — a God of righteousness and holiness — who determines that which is good and will judge that which is evil in his sight,” Mohler said.
While some question God’s sovereignty after Sept. 11, he said, the Christian church must never doubt that God is in control.
“We know not how he wills and allows the things that take place in the inscrutable mystery of his will,” Mohler said. “[But] those who deny that God is in control deny the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. … At the same time we must affirm that God is love, and his love for us is seen even and especially in the context of tragedy.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: A DAD’S VIGLIANCE and CONVENING ON CAMPUS.