Monday, August 20, 2012


*For the record, I know this isn't unique to Apostolics. I just have to get it off my chest. The comment cited as inspiration for this post was not left by an Apostolic, and was found on a Facebook page of a News Organization*

Tonight I saw something that bothered me. It didn’t bother me on a personal level. It bothered me as a person. As a human. As someone who shares this beautiful gift of life with billions of other ‘persons’. It bothered me to the point that, even though I am sitting on a film set, supposed to be working, the thoughts of angst consumed to the point where words began spilling out and I had no choice but to go get my computer and start typing.

Tonight the world lost a brilliant artist. Film director Tony Scott committed suicide by jumping off of The Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, CA. He was 68 years old. You know him as the director of Top Gun, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, Unstoppable, and many others.

Standing on set I opened Facebook on my phone and thumbed through the typical jargon, only to stop at the horrific words “Director-Producer Tony Scott Jumps To Death From San Pedro Bridge.” I showed our directors assistant. His face went blank. “I know his assistant. Oh my God.” Shocked whispers crept through our crew. It was a tragedy. We were stunned. Just a few miles away this great talent had gone on.

I continued to read updates. I wanted to know what happened. An article with more details was posted on a news site I frequent. I sorted through the comments. That’s where I came across this one:

(Note: Ms. Fargo is not Apostolic and left this comment publicly on The Huffington Post's Facebook Page)

I wanted to throw my phone into a wall.

Why? Why did this woman feel the need to make this statement? No article I’d read was putting Tony Scott in Heaven. No comments placed him there. No one was really even thinking where Tony is now. The man leapt to his death just eight hours prior, leaving his family undoubtedly stunned and grief stricken. So why did this woman, this ‘Christian’, not only feel that it was appropriate, but necessary to let us all know not to go saying 'he’s in a better place,' because he sinned and couldn’t repent.

I don’t care about the theology of it. I don’t care about the scriptural tug of war and semantic-loaded bantering debate of whether or not suicide is an automatic one-way ticket to hell. What I care about is the blatant arrogance and disconnection from humanity. Why is this ok?

Two years ago my best friends father met a similar fate. I’ll spare the details for his sake, except for one detail I’d like to focus on. The last morning his father spent alive my friend had a brief dialogue with him. He described it as eerie. Weird. His father wasn’t there. There was something different going on behind his eyes. He wasn’t the man that had raised him. A few hours later he ended his life. And no one could understand why. They still don’t. Because you never understand ‘why’. Unfortunately it’s a question we can’t answer. Doctors, psychologists, therapists, professors, counselors, ministers, newscasters, so-called experts, and many more make conjecture as to what it takes to drive a person to want to end their life. It’s something we can’t truly know because, most of the time, those who reach this point take it full circle before ever being able to open a dialogue about it.

The human mind is a vastly complex anomaly that we cannot begin to comprehend. We marvel at our creations, our complexities and our feats. Within our minds are the synapses that forge the blueprints for space exploration, energy sources, new means of travel, and far more than could ever be listed here. We’re not simple beings. And one of the grossest, most horrific injustices of the world in which we live is when humans detach themselves from humanity and seek to put simple explanations on incredibly complex things. It hurts to think about. It hurts to see.

About two years ago, after my church dismissed I went over to a friends church that my grandparents also attend. When I arrived there I found my grandfather, a man who hadn’t visited an altar in over thirty years, knelt at one, with tears streaming down his face, getting right with God. I called my mother. “Mom, you should turn around and come to grandma’s church. Grandpa’s at the altar. He’s talking to God.” She sped right over. It was a great day for my family. Fast forward two years. My grandpa is gone. He isn’t dead. But his mind is gone. He has dementia. He can’t remember his kids. He can’t remember me. He can’t remember yesterday. He isn’t there. He got upset with my mom recently, when she told him she was married with a son, and she no longer lives with him. He used some profanities. He became angry. But what gives his children comfort is knowing that he is not actually there. That isn’t their father talking. Their father is gone. Those words are coming from a deterioration process of a very complicated structure – the human mind. We choose, and we may be wrong, to believe that he will not be held accountable before God for the things he may say and do that would be considered ‘sinful’ because his mind simply is not there.

A few years ago a young woman named Traci Johnson, a happy, healthy, bubbly IBC student, was found hanging in the bathroom at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis. She had been paid to test an antidepressant called Cymbalta. The doctors, as is normal for testing these drugs, switched her to Placebo (a sugar pill) without telling her. The effect of this drastic fluctuation in the serotonin levels of her brain took this happy girl and caused her to walk into a bathroom and end her life. Did that action send her to hell? I don’t know. I’m not God. But my opinion is that it didn’t. She wasn’t herself. She wasn’t in her right mind. She wasn’t Traci.

Back to Mr. Scott. Just a few hours after the Los Angeles Port Police pulled him from the water this Christian woman already knew that he would spend eternity in hell. She is judge. She is jury. He is in hell. How can she know this? Because she knows all she needs to know. Suicide. The factors surrounding it don’t matter. His medical history is of no importance. His psychological health is irrelevant. He took his life. So he’s in hell.

I don’t really have anywhere to go with this. I just had to put my frustration into words. A man is dead. And I am sad. May God be with his family during the difficult days ahead. 


  1. Glen, you have asked questions here that folks have been trying to answer for a long time. Just when are we no longer responsible for the deeds done in this body?

    It is a question that is too great for man alone to answer. For those who THINK they have all the answers, they have not garnered my respect, rather my pity. When that final day comes and we all stand before the just and righteous Judge of all, they will realize that their word was not the last one.

    Be assured that it is NOT okay for humanity, be it a Christian or street running heathen, to with arrogance pick and choose who is heaven bound and who will split hell wide open.

    Bulletin: We don't have a heaven or hell to put anyone in!

    So with that thought in mind, shall we not do all we can to make sure OUR calling and election is sure.

    I, too, will pray for this man's family. May the merciful God I serve bring them comfort.

    Great post, Glen! :)

  2. I appreciate the sincerity and passion behind this post. It's a shame how arrogant some of the statements we sometimes make because we're baptized in Jesus' name and filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to be witnesses in the world, rather than condemning it. How do we expect people to come to Christ when we are so callus with our approach? One suggestion though. I would blur out the lady's face and name out who made that statement. It would be less incriminating

  3. I remember going to Traci Johnson's funeral, it was a long time ago. The emotional tear down the center was so painful. Ever since then, when it comes to suicide (AND simply death in general) I've really allowed myself to become comfortable with the idea that "I don't know, and I will never know. Everything here is left to God." When it comes to mental illness, things get even more difficult. When someone we know is a wonderful Christian, then they kill themself. It's like the universe has just flipped on it's head.

    victim goes to heaven, God is unjust because he just broke one of his rules.

    victim goes to hell, God is even more unjust because we KNOW that the victim was a good christian and even not in their right mind.

    So then there are either two things we give up:

    Perhaps the victim, our friend who we felt confident was going to heaven, was in fact a bad person going to hell. (This doesn't feel just because it doesn't take into account the mental illness of a person.)


    Maybe the things we "Know" about God......Aren't as precise as we think.

    Thank you for the post Glen.

  4. To think God's mercy is cut-off because of one final poor decision (let's just say it's with a sane mind), is beyond me. We are saved on God's work, not our own. This flattened, weak view of God's grace is certainly not "the Good News."

    Elsewhere, Glen makes a great point about the mind when it is suffering from depression (yes, I said "suffering"). Similar to the drug addict that is suffering from the disease called addiction.

    This woman's response is what many were thinking privately, who at least had the tact not to say it out loud, but were still angrily religious judgemental types that say it just the same.

  5. Why is it that we do not judge when a person's organs such as a kidney, liver, or heart malfunction, but we ARE quick to judge when an organ called the brain malfunctions?