July 17, 2022, had the distinct probability of going down as a very dark and infamous day. It was on that day that a psychopath, a deranged devil in the flesh, chose to commit mass murder. He entered the Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana with three guns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition. He had the means and the opportunity to produce the worst mass-casualty shooting in American history.
But instead, he killed just three people. That is still an unspeakable tragedy, a horrifying event that no family should ever have to contend with. But it is what made the death count stop at three that is so very remarkable. A 22-year-old man in that same mall pulled out his own weapon, engaged the murderer a mere 15 seconds after the killing began and shot the fiend eight times from 40 yards away. Eli Dicken was carrying a gun under the constitutional carry law that went into effect on July 1.
A young man who could have easily run from danger instead ran toward it on behalf of others. And because of that, Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison hailed him as a Good Samaritan.
And that is where the lofty practitioners of what I call "professional, no-risk piety" took great umbrage. There were many, but one that particularly caught my attention was Justin Kollar, CBS 4 Indy traffic anchor, who tweeted, "The term, 'Good Samaritan' came from a Bible passage of a man from Samaria who stopped on the side of the road to help a man who was injured and ignored. I cannot believe we live in a world where the term can equally apply to someone *killing* someone my God."
Here, by the way, is the passage he was grasping at:
Luke 10:30-34: And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
So, because the original Good Samaritan did not kill anyone, it is opined that neither Eli Dicken nor anyone else who saves countless lives by justifiably killing a mass murderer in the act can be rightly called a Good Samaritan. And while you may wonder if this is just a question of semantics, it really isn't, because the moral evaluation of "good" is clearly what is being questioned, since there are no actual Samaritans anymore.
So what say we begin by asking ourselves a question. If the original Good Samaritan had happened by while the attack was taking place and had done nothing to stop it, would we still call him a Good Samaritan? What if it was a woman being raped and he patiently waited for the rapists to finish, ignoring her cries for help, but then tenderly treated the woman's wounds, would we call him a Good Samaritan then?
I think you get the point. Furthermore, what the Good Samaritan did saved one life; what Eli Dicken did saved exponentially more lives than that. So maybe we should not call him a Good Samaritan; maybe we should instead call him a super-duper Good Samaritan, or maybe even a Great Samaritan! And I am certain that would be just dandy to the professionally pious. Aren't you?
That is sarcasm, of course. The truth is, Good Samaritan can most certainly and rightly be applied to those who take a life that needs taking. And as to whether or not Jesus would ever approve of such an idea, it would do well for us to remember that the same Jesus who came and laid down his life for others at his first coming has promised to come and do some serious killing at his second coming to save the lives of innocents who are being slaughtered, as prophesied in Revelation 19:11-19. He also told his own men, "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."
Again, this is more than just an issue of semantics; it is an issue as to how we will view strong, dangerous, selfless men, which no society can ever thrive without. When a society has finally succeeded in softening its good men, then we may rest assured that bad men will grow ever harder and ever bolder in what they do.
David was called a man after God's own heart, and he also shot Goliath in the head with his .45-caliber Glock rock. Even a lady, Jael, was a peaceful little housewife until a murderer named Sisera stopped in for a nap; then she drove a nail all the way through his temple, fastening his head to the ground.
No one in their right mind enjoys killing anyone (see: psychopath, deranged devil in the flesh, above). But a true Good Samaritan will do so if necessary to protect the innocent. And when they do, the usage of the word "good" to describe them should not make anyone bat an eye, nor should what they do be viewed as anything less than a good and noble thing.
Nice shooting, Eli.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.