The insanity continues. A Baptist pastor was shot and killed by his brother Sunday during services at his Dayton, Ohio church. Rev. William B. Schooler, 70, was fatally shot at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church at 12:22 p.m. It happened while the choir was singing. The pastor’s brother, Daniel Schooler, 68, was arrested by Dayton police.
The small congregation had just enjoyed a wonderful worship service and heard a great sermon. Daniel then shot his brother near the back of the church, as horrified worshipers scattered in panic. No motive is yet known, but reports suggest there had been a domestic dispute within the family. Daniel apparently has a history of mental illness.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Rev. Schooler was appointed pastor of the church in 2011. He was a 1963 graduate of Dunbar High School and a decorated Vietnam Veteran who received the Bronze Star. Schooler graduated from Central State University in 1972, Ohio State University in 1976, and Grace College in Columbia, South Carolina in 2003. One of the church members said simply, “We have lost a giant.”
Question – How did this happen? How is it that a man would kill his brother in cold blood in the House of God? For answers, we turn to the first brother-on-brother homicide in history. Cain killed Abel after God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected his own. The reasons for the first homicide still apply today. We know two things about Cain’s murder of his brother.
1. Before Cain killed Abel in the flesh, he killed him in his heart. Cain was filled with pride, anger, and jealousy. He wrongly thought God loved Abel more than he loved him. Perhaps there was a family history as well. Real or not, scholars speculate that Cain felt his parents, Adam and Eve, loved Abel more than they loved him. We know the murder was premeditated, so something was going on in his heart before he carried out the act. Before he killed his brother in the church he killed him in his heart.
2. Cain was self-centered. When God asked him where Abel was, he responded, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain was revealing the fact that his first priority was himself, not his brother. Paul said, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). Jesus defined greatness: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:26-27).
I’ll leave the arguments over Abel’s sacrifice versus Cain’s to scholars. Here’s what matters. Even the most elevated sins, such as murder, are more a symptom than the real problem. Daniel Schooler killed his brother a thousand times in his mind and heart before he ever bought the gun, went to church, and pulled the trigger.
When a man kills his brother with a gun, it makes headlines. But when a man kills his brother in his heart, God takes notice. And, to set the record straight . . . yes, Cain, you are your brother’s keeper.