Dunkirk and the Wages of Sin

When we came out of the movie theater having just watched the very intense and entertaining hit movie Dunkirk, all I could think of was the Apostle Paul’s phrase in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” This phrase about sin’s ultimate consequences points back to the Lord God telling Adam in Genesis 2 that he may eat from any tree in the garden, but that he cannot eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that if he does he “will surely die.” We know that when Adam and Eve ate of the tree they did not instantly drop dead, so this death God spoke of was something more profound than just physical death. Yes, physical death entered the human race, but something much more sinister entered: sin, the cause of death, which is spiritual separation from man’s creator, God.

The death, carnage, suffering, trauma, all of it we see portrayed so skillfully in a movie like Dunkirk is a result of sin. This is the Christian explanation, and it is the most plausible explanation of any religion, philosophy, or worldview. More accurately, nobody came up with it because it was revealed to us. Without that revelation we would only be forever guessing why the world can be such a horrifying place sometimes.

Christians are often, and have been in the history of the Church, put on the defensive, by what’s known as “the problem of evil.” How, as the argument goes, can a benevolent God, allow evil to prosper when he has the power to stop it. Either he does have the power to stop it, and doesn’t, so he can’t be good, or he doesn’t have the power to stop it, and thus isn’t much of a God. But what this assumes (and as I’ve preached to my kids non-stop over the years, always identify and challenge assumptions), is that there must be a better explanation for the presence of evil, pain, and suffering. Okay, give it to me. I’m waiting.

Those who hold a view of reality that excludes God have the toughest job when it comes to explaining evil. Most of the time they think they don’t have to offer an explanation because only “religious” people are required to answer for evil. Maybe, but as they strut the superiority of their atheism, atheists are telling us it is a superior perspective on reality, that it is the truth about the nature of things. If it is, then evil, pain, and suffering can not and need not be explained because they are “brute facts.” By definition this phrase means these fact need no explanation. This is quite convenient for the atheist, of course, but the problem for them is that every human being knows intuitively, in their gut, that these thing must have some reason for their existence.

I use a simply illustration in the book. Why does death seem so . . . wrong? We may not feel outrage at the funeral of a great grandmother, but go to the funeral of a five-year-old and you will feel wrongness . . . viscerally . . . deeply . . . painfully. Which worldview holds the most compelling explanatory power for the anguish of death, atheistic materialism or Christianity? The question answers itself.