Last night, a new friend brought to my attention this news article about the passing of Rev. Charles Moore. “Passing” is not, I think, the proper word. Rev. Moore, a retired elder of the United Methodist Church, died as a result of the injuries he inflicted upon himself during a botched suicide attempt.
Perhaps because I have spent the last few months steeped in literature related to what we would call suicide, this has…to be honest, I am not sure how to process this just yet. In a real sense, I feel a peculiar hurt that is neither rational nor healthy. In somewhat of an abstract sense, I cannot help but connect it to my current dissertation work. Rev. Moore plainly states in language familiar to most Christians that his death will be a self-sacrifice not only as a penance to past crimes “probably” committed but so too for the lives of those around him now, that they may seek to change the current situation.
I cannot help but to connect this to the Jesus of my dissertation, at least in my capacity as an academic.
However, as a Christian — and as Christian who has become something more orthodox not in the very least because of my current research tract — I cannot help but to wonder how Rev. Moore lost faith in the Atonement. Indeed, if Jesus did (as Paul suggests) become the curse by his own hand, and by his own hand decide to lay down his life (according to John), and if this atonement is good not only moving forward but equally moving back so that the entirety of humanity is encapsulated under the blood (Hebrews)… then why did Rev. Moore lose faith in the death of Jesus?
Did Rev. Moore think that his death could undo anything that the death of Jesus didn’t? Did he really believe his death would spur others into action when the Cross of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit did not? In language so familiar to us, we get a sense Rev. Moore believed his death vital to salvation. Where did he get the sense that Jesus and his death was commonplace enough to be repeated, with the same effects?
There are some with too much time on their hands and not enough Christian theology who are declaring Rev. Moore a martyr. Worse yet, they confuse this self-sacrifice with the words of Jesus.
— Rev. Jeff Hood (@revjeffhood) July 3, 2014
Moore did not give his life for others (Noble Death). He did not stand in the gap, he did not plead with an attack. He was not executed for his beliefs (martyrdom). Rather, he took his own life as an atonement for sins and to spur others into action. This is not insane. After studying the literature and trying to grapple with a few weightier matters, I cannot even suggest Rev. Moore is insane. But, he is not an atoning sacrifice either. He had lost faith in the atoning work of Christ.
I cannot applaud his death.
I cannot uphold it as an example for others to follow.
It was needless and wasted.
But, I pray his soul has been welcomed by the Saints above us and his wounds healed by Our Mother above. I pray that his time on that side of this pain has been spent with Jesus and in doing so, he finds the rest he sought.