When We Worship The God of Fear (the idolatry of gun culture)

The most common sin mentioned in the Bible is one that we don’t often see in ourselves: idolatry.

It’s not surprising that we rarely talk about it– the sin as we read about it in the Bible is something that so often seems to be a sin that ancient tribal groups struggled with, instead of a real and pressing reality in our own spiritual lives and culture.

After all, we’re not melting down our earrings and making golden calves, right?

It’s easy to see idolatry as something distant. But, what if idolatry were one of the most pressing issues within American Christianity today? I believe it is, and believe this is an issue the next generation must directly and forcefully address if we are to move this Jesus thing forward.

Idolatry is so much more than bowing down to an image created by human hands. The common working definition that most of us may be familiar with defines idolatry as “putting anything in place of, or before God”. In the 10 Commandments, it’s often worded as “You shall have no other gods before me”. God, it seems, wants to have his rightful place in our lives– he wants us to chase after him, and his ways, instead of anything else.

The pressing issue I believe American Christianity must contend with is that we have placed a false god ahead of the God who has his “exact representation” revealed through Jesus of Nazareth: the god of fear.

The idol we’re worshiping may not be as obvious as a giant shiny calf in the middle of the room. Perhaps we’re not having organized worship services to bow down to it. Perhaps we don’t even consciously realize it even exits. Such is the case when we are gently lulled into worshiping the god of fear.

Fear, it seems, has a nasty habit of being more of a dominating force in much of American Christian culture than Jesus himself– and this is straight up idolatry in its purest form.

Another simple definition of idolatry that is helpful is simply the dictionary definition: “an excessive devotion to something”. And yes, it often seems that instead of an excessive devotion to the Jesus we find in the New Testament, we instead opt to live with an excessive devotion to the god of fear.

I think we most clearly see this idolatry and fear-worship in our growing gun culture, of which Christians often are the the foundational support system which props this golden calf up. In the past few years I’ve traveled extensively, and have had many conversations about American culture with pastors over seas. One of the questions that always comes up is our radical gun culture– it is simply something that most other folks cannot identify with. When I explain that as is often the case, Christians are the ones who promote this pro-gun culture, these pastors either laugh (as if I’m joking) or almost don’t believe me.

Christians promoting a gun culture? Christians outside of American culture, even incredibly conservative Christians, see this as absolute lunacy. Almost too crazy to even be true.

Yet, it is. And, it’s all because instead of worshiping Jesus of Nazareth, we’re opting to worship the god of fear. All idolatry is ultimately rooted in this.

Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns. Why? Because we’re scared. Because the way of Jesus seems too illogical to actually be true, and that’s frightening. Because we’re afraid of giving up our rights, afraid of being vulnerable, and afraid that putting our faith and trust in God might actually cost us something.

It’s all fear, fear, fear… and it is causing us to chase after false gods. We know this, because scripture clearly states that when we experience the love of the true God, it “casts out all fear”. As long as someone is living in and serving fear, they are not living in knowledge of God’s love.

I think one of the craziest examples I’ve ever seen was at my previous church. Some of the church wanted to make the church space a gun free zone but encountered immediate push back on the idea, one person even going so far as saying they would quit the church if they couldn’t bring their gun inside. What’s even more sad is our geographical context: rural Maine. Living in Maine is probably one of the safest places you could live– you have a better chance of getting killed by a moose than an armed gunman. What would posses people to bring guns to church is beyond me.

Strike that. It’s not beyond me– I know exactly why it happens: we do crazy things when we worship the god of fear.

Violent, gun culture is something the American church can no longer ignore. We can no longer be on the wrong side of this issue. We can no longer reject Jesus in favor of guns, especially if we want to call ourselves “Christians”.

Our culture which has for generations been so radically pro-gun that it has opposed any sort of reasonable, middle ground approach on the issue, is now experiencing what Jesus meant when he said: “if you live by the sword you will die by the sword”. We are literally shooting each other on a daily basis to the point that it’s not even shocking anymore. We’ve created a culture that cultivates fear, worships individual rights, and justifies an endless cycle of violence– and now we’re experiencing the consequences of our own sick idolatry.

Just look at what happens after mass shootings: folks get freaked out that someone is going to take away their rights, so they go out and… you guessed it… buy more guns and ammo.

Let me be clear: worshiping the god of fear HAS NOT WORKED. We’ve bowed at his feet, paid him homage, and sworn him our loyalty. And what have we gotten for it?

74 school shootings since Sandy Hook, that’s what.

Not to mention all of the other mass shootings which have become an almost permanent staple of the evening news.

Our refusal to address this issue– our refusal to follow Jesus on the matter– is not only placing “individual rights” ahead of the one, true God, it’s also placing “individual rights” ahead of our own children.

We must repent. We must change the culture. We must refuse to let fear worshipers marginalize Jesus and corrupt Christianity with their false gods and guns.

We must refuse to follow the same idols our fathers and mothers followed, and instead get back to following Jesus.

However, until we do, don’t be shocked when you see mass shootings every night on the news– that’s simply the outcome of living by the sword instead of living by the teachings of Jesus.

 

"That is not the definition of a secular nation. Communist countries have no official religion ..."

Complicity: Yes, it Actually is “All ..."
"It was not set up as a secular nation either."

Complicity: Yes, it Actually is “All ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Terry Firma

    I don’t think you can win with this line of thought. If loving guns is idolatry, and thus a sin, you could say the same thing for literally everything that bothers you (us) about Americans’ passions. The over-the top worship of athletes, the love affair with too much gut-busting foods, the car-crazed culture, the proliferation of bawdy and dumb TV and movie fare, etc. Just label those things “idolatry” and call it a day? Not a very convincing argument, I think…

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    The reason that this argument is so convincing is that all the things that you just listed ARE forms of American Christian idolatry. If people like me (and Benjamin) seem to focus on the gun and fear idolatry, it’s only because it’s killing people a lot faster than the other things you mentioned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    Not exactly. Diabetes complications kill quite a bit of people annually, as do car crashes. Indeed, based simply on what I remember hearing about, I’d say car crashes kill FAR more people than guns do, and often multiple people at a time.

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    Yes, but… cars are not designed to kill people. Guns (other than hunting rifles and possibly shotguns) are specifically designed to kill people. Diabetes complications kill people, but many others live fairly full lives with diabetes. People shot by guns do not.

    It’s not that what you’re saying isn’t true; it’s that you’re using fuzzy logic to get there.

  • Pamela Patterson Lake

    I think you’re absolutely correct in this. It’s not the only idol in this country, but it’s a pretty major one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    FAR more prevalent is the idol of government. I haven’t seen Ben speak out about that one though? (Granted, I’ve only recently started following him, so if he spoke of it more than a few months ago, I didn’t see it.)

  • gimpi1

    There’s a difference between idolizing something and finding it useful. I can argue for the usefulness of both firearms and government.

    I can make a better case for government. Without an effective government, anarchy prevails. (Somalia anyone?) Seeing the value of police protection or Social Security is far from idolizing.

    Firearms can be a useful tool, as well. However, I do think some people (OK, mostly men) treat them as a sort of manhood-enhancer. I’ve seen this in a very minor way in my own husband. When it doesn’t rise to the level of idolizing, it’s mostly harmless. (And kind of amusing to we women.)

    However, when someone won’t even consider the need for basic safety-training, restrictions on magazine-size or the need to keep firearms out of the hands of people with mental-health issues, that, in my view, rises to the level of idolizing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    You say anarchy like it is a bad thing. Anarchy is nothing more than a reliance on God, self, and community. Indeed, it is what the Israelites pre- Saul did *and* it is what the Church of Acts did.

    It is not your right to regulate any decision i make – it is God’s, and i am just as much a priest as you are. When we rely on government, we idolizes it. This was NEVER meant to be! God’s Greatest Gift, His very reason for creating us, was that we would have Free Will. Indeed, it was this Greatest Gift that required his Ultimate Sacrifice – Christ. When you rely on government and infringe on another’s free will, we denigrate said Ultimate Sacrifice.

  • Yvonne Shek

    Pre-Saul was an attempt at theocracy and a version of what most arab countries have now where they are ruled by one or two key religious immams. During the time of Acts, ppl were ruled by the Roman Empire. The most brutal and oppressive empire before the US of A.

  • http://brokendam.tumblr.com eskimojoe62

    Woah, before throwing around more hyperbole Yvonne lets take a look at some of the acts perpetrated by the British empire, the Ottomans, the Mongols. Looking for a more modern empire, how about the USSR before it’s collapse? Just because we don’t live in a perfect country doesn’t make it the WORST country to ever exist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    If you read Acts, you’ll see that the First Church followed only those Roman laws they were forced to at the point of violence. Indeed, throughout the Gospels this is clearly the case…

  • gimpi1

    Yes, anarchy is a very bad thing. Have you looked into failed states, lately? Society has every right to regulate your decisions if they affect society at large. We can stop you from assaulting or killing other people, from taking their property or defrauding them. We can require you to fulfill contracts. Without those basic protections, commerce is largely impossible.

    You may prefer not to call the fire department if your house is burning or use medicare to help with your hospital bills, but you are a distinct minority. You are free to withdraw from society, as long as you abide by those basic rules, but you aren’t free to demand the rest of us join you. Or you can always move to Somalia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    So you continue to worship your King rather than Jehovah? I shall pray for you, sister. Good day.

  • gimpi1

    I actually don’t worship anyone. Thanks for your prayers. I’ll hope you pick up some better information sources in return.

  • Pamela Patterson Lake

    I have to respectively disagree with you. St. Paul encouraged the people he pastored to obey the government, because it’s placed there by…God – to pray for the government. He never called for an overthrow, he did not speak ill of Caesar or the multiple bureaucrats populating often brutal Roman rule (though heaven knows he would have had every reason to). He never renounced his citizenship to Rome – in fact, he used it to his advantage. Even Peter, who was not a citizen of Rome, pastored his people to be respectful to governmental authorities when called to give a defense of their faith. So this anti-governmental attitude that is currently being promoted in some churches is completely unbiblical. It’s disrespectful, often very rude, and dismissive of some very good programs and people geared towards helping communities.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s

    Politics is a seductive distraction from the awareness of Singularity.

    Why isn’t that clear to more people?

  • Pamela Patterson Lake

    Because they don’t want it to be more clear, as they often have other agendas…

  • Timothy Weston

    Mr. Corey, thank you for putting in print what I have been thinking: Fear is the main channel drives the religion of guns in America.

  • Yvonne Shek

    As I am reading the comments, I cant help but see not only fear, but a lot of anger and hatred. That probably stems from fear and a lack of self awareness too.

  • Angela D. Meyer

    You’re using the fear of what guns can do to convince us we should give up our fear of not having guns. Hmmm. Sounds like trading one idolatry of fear for another. Seems a bit illogical to me.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Nope, simply pointing to what is actually happening in society and pointing people back to the Jesus who forbids all violence.

  • Ruaidrí Ó Domhnaill

    How do you define ‘violence,’ Benjamin?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    That’s actually a really good question– I’ll have to do a post on that one.

  • Ruaidrí Ó Domhnaill

    Thank you, it would be helpful to know what you mean when you use that word.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    A good starting point is that it always includes lethal violence, but I’ll work on the rest for you.

  • Mc

    NOT SELF DEFENSE!!

  • The Dav

    Seriously? Matt 5:9, Luke 6:27, Luke 22:51, John 18:11, John 18:36, Matt 26:51, Isaiah 53:7. Please feel free to reply with Scripture verses you have found in which Jesus advocates self-defense. Thanks.

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    Which of those involve random acts of violence or attempted murder?

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    Oh, and since killing someone while defending your home was allowable by law, please show me where Jesus says, “Not anymore.”

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Matthew 5. It’s Jesus 101

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    No sir. That’s Jesus your way. You’re telling me that teaching my children about “Sticks and stones” applies to guns and knives. There is no reference to random attempts on ones life. I don’t want to hurt anyone. If my child is in mortal danger and I need to choose who I love more, and that choice ends in deadly force, It’s not because I hated the one doing the harm, its because I loved my child.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Just encouraging you to re-read scripture and consider things, that’s all. Its easy when something challenges us to just assume the person is making a new Jesus, so just re-read the red words. It’s not Jesus my way at all, this is a long held Christian belief shared by all the disciples and all of the early church. Further, when Jesus taugh this their enemies were worse than a random act of violence- they lived under constant Roman oppression where they were getting crucified on a daily basis. The enemies he taught us to love and not violently harm were horrible killers.

  • Reginald

    Brother Benjamin….We really need to be careful with promoting the “red words” approach of counseling the will of God; like Jesus is a new God that has given us a new word and built in reason to ignore the rest of the Canon by not being in “red”.

    I know what you mean, but I have found that there is a growing number of people that I only want to focus on what Jesus said in red and discounting the rest of the Bible; Old Testament and New Testament, as long as the words are in black there is a growing sentiment among the unlearned that those words can be ignored because they were not spoken by Jesus Himself. It’s all the Word of God in Jesus Christ identifies with it all.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Well, I’m not “unlearned”, I’m quite educated actually. You’re seeing this growing movement of emphasizing Jesus because, well, that’s what Jesus taught. He taught that his testimony had greater weight than even the most important prophet, that folks had missed the point of the OT in that it was all designed to point to him, and that those who build their lives on HIS teachings are like the wise man who built his house on the rock. Doesn’t mean the rest is unimportant, but this is a movement about following Jesus, which means Jesus and his teachings carry more weight than anything else in all of scripture since Jesus is the “exact representation” of God.

  • Reginald

    I never called you “unlearned”; nor was I referring to you in my comment to you.

    I have no problem with emphasizing Jesus. I am a servant and minister of the Lord, so it is my life and honor to lift Him up before mankind; that they may be drawn to Him. However emphasizing Jesus IS NOT supposed to be done at the expense of ignoring the rest of the Canon or deeming it as insignificant.

    This is what I am referring to……….There are many people that ONLY pay attention to the “red words”. The entire Canon is Jesus. It all points to Jesus and Jesus, in the midst of the “red words” often pointed to and identified Himself with the Law and the Prophets.

    Jesus said this, in “red letters”

    Luke 16:16-17 ~ The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the letter of the Law to fail.

    From there, Jesus went into His parable about Lazarus, where He referred to the Father as “Father Abraham”; further identifying with the man that was the first fruit of our faith.

    Luke 16:30-31 ~ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

    Jesus identified His own death, burial and resurrection to the experience in the deep of the Prophet Jonah. When Jesus prophesied of the future, He did so by pointing to the Prophet Daniel. Jesus, the Angel of the LORD, was in the very midst of off of them and they were in the midst of Him.

    The Law and the Prophets are essential to show us our incapability of fulfilling the righteous standard of God in ourselves; as it points us to repentance of our sin and to the Christ for our salvation. The Epistles are essential to guide us as a church body in how to put on the character of Jesus and the full armor of God; while being unified with one another in doing so.

    These writings are not obsolete and all of them point to Christ. People try to ignore them because the Law, the Prophets and the Epistles outline the specifics of the sinful behavior that Jesus does not speak on and people want to keep in their lives; as they attempt to simply love like Jesus in the midst of embracing their sin.

    Jesus didn’t speak on homosexuality, so He can’t believe it is sin………I’ll just cling to Him.

    The Law and the Epistles called homosexuality sin, so I’ll just ignore those as obsolete……….and I’ll just cling to Jesus.

    This is the mentality I speak of………..but the entire counsel is Jesus.

    John 1:1 ~ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    John 1:14 ~ And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Grace AND truth……….Jesus did not put away the truth for the sake of bringing grace. They are both Him and He is both.

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    I’ve read, re-read and read again, and yes, I will continue to do so for
    the rest of my life. I’m happy to admit that after the 100th run thru a
    scripture I realized that I was wrong, or saw something differently or
    learned something new. I’ll never have such absolute faith in my wisdom
    or wisdom of others, that I’d refuse to look again. I study the Word of
    God more than I hang on the Word of God via the beliefs of others.
    I’ll
    say this for your confidence in Long-held beliefs…Catholicism, and
    I’ll say this for Roman oppression…again….subjection to law. Yes,
    their laws were worse than random acts of violence, but you’re missing
    the point. One we MUST subject ourselves to. The other equalizes the
    playing field. There simply are no examples given that leave me with the
    confidence to agree that accepting the penalty of law is on equal
    grounds as a rapist, home intruder, or murderer. Since the OT does give
    examples, I have to believe that there are cases not subject to change
    because Jesus didn’t bother, as far as we know, to redefine our actions
    in those very particular cases. I may very well give my life to one who
    wishes to take it. I’m 5’5″ and 110 pounds. Even if I chose to struggle,
    acting as a witness and prayer are my only real hope and my greatest
    hope, likely his as well. Given the chance, that would be exactly the
    route I’d choose for the sake of his soul. Other than a gun, a physical
    match I couldn’t hope to win. To me however a gun is greater as a
    deterrent and not intended to kill first, ask later. If the actions are
    relentless and speaking to him isn’t possible (and please forgive the
    “Him” assumption, I am aware that women are capable of violent crime as
    well) I just couldnt watch child after child fall at the hands of their
    killer. I can’t wait for law-enforment to do what I can do now, while
    children continue to fall. Christians and Jews alike have supported
    death penalties and corporal punishment since the dawn of time…before
    law-enforcement and elected officials were created to regulate.
    Sometimes, extenuating circumstances exist. Often, God has acknowledged
    these and cleared us of guilt should they take place.

  • The Dav

    Which don’t? I’ve supported my point with Scripture. You are free to do the same at any time.

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    I have David. Are you telling me that you don’t understand the difference between the death penalty under subjection to law and murder as defined by law?

  • Jakeithus

    I’m glad someone else picked up on what I was thinking as I read the article as well. I think fear is overly idolized by too many people on both sides of the debate, and it’s harmful when it comes to actually achieving moderate and positive steps forward.

  • Al Cruise

    What is really telling here is how much influence American Christianity as on its own individuals. Obviously very little.

  • Deep_Freeze

    Touché.

  • Chris Erickson

    This was my one inhibitor when it came time to get a carry license. I enjoy guns as a hobby as anybody does a sport. The next step was to get a carry license, but to me it just screams out that you don’t trust God to protect you. I trust Him to carry out His will, and it’s important to show that through my words and actions. I do carry at times, more out of convenience than anything else, but my carrying a gun is not going to change how He works. The important thing is to put trust in God, not your gun, to protect you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    Does it scream that you don’t trust God to protect you when you wear your seatbelt? What about when you wear gloves while working with heavy machinery? What about when wearing a helmet playing baseball? Or pads playing football? God gave us brains in order that we might use them.

  • Tonya Jenkins

    Your analogy of gun as protection breaks down when you take it further. Gloves, helmets and pads can only be used as protection, no misused to massacre multiple innocent victims.

  • Travis Desiree Wilson Parrack

    Cars can be misused to kill people, as could knives and multiple other household items. Guns are not the only inanimate item used to kill large numbers of innocent people.

  • Chris Erickson

    I see it more as common sense. A seatbelt is the law, so I wear it. I wear gloves, because if I don’t my hands WILL get torn up no matter what. I wear a helmet in baseball because there’s a ball coming towards my head at 90 mph. Pads for football because there’s a 300 lb man coming to hit me as hard as he can. All of these are things that are going to happen no matter what.

    A gun is for a worst-case scenario in which you must harm somebody else. It happens to a tiny amount of the population. I’m not saying it’s stupid to carry a gun. If my family ever was in a scenario in which I need my gun to protect them, you can bet your life I’ll use it. We just need to tread the line lightly and be sure we’re not carrying out of a lack of trust in God. Psalm 91.

  • StevieRay

    Even Simon Peter carried a sword (the handgun of its day) and USED it to “protect” Jesus when he cut off the soldier’s ear! Was HE “worshiping a god of fear?” Or was he praised by Christ as “the rock upon which I will build my church?”

    Seems to me you’re stretching this metaphor a bit too much suit your own agenda.

    Let me ask you: Do you believe in demons? Do you think they walk among us? I know many Christians who carry guns to protect their bodies from the damage that could be done by those who are demon-possessed. How do you consider those people? As Feargod worshipers?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    And, what did Jesus do when Peter actually used that sword? He rebuked him and taught him that violence only encourages more violence.

  • BrambleTree

    Exactly. And what was Peter’s motive? Fear.

  • Nick

    The fight is not against flesh and blood but against dark spiritual powers.

  • BrambleTree

    Very good article. So many who claim to love God seem to have forgotten what we’re told about fear and God’s love.

    1 John 4
    16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
    So what do you believe? The God of Love or the God of Fear?

  • AJ

    Fear is one of the reasons, but let’s not forget that America is still a very misogynistic and insecure culture. Just about everyone I know who owns multiple guns sees them as extensions of their manhood(and yes, most gun owners are male)

  • Mike Roukas

    Corey strawmans gun owners at every turn, imposing “fear” on them as their motive (he uses it 15 times in this short article). Repetition alone, however, does not create truth. If gun ownership was based on pure fear, then America would have died in utero. If Corey’s premises are true, then Switzerland would be a bloody shooting gallery and arguably wouldn’t exist as a country. Instead the opposite is the case. http://world.time.com/2012/12/20/the-swiss-difference-a-gun-culture-that-works/
    Granted, there are plenty of loud-n’-proud American gun-toters who could learn from the Swiss example.

    I’ve got a fire extinguisher in my house. Does that mean I have a perpetual phobia of fire? Of course not. Does it mean that I worship the fire extinguisher? O_o Please. If I’m a gun owner, does that mean that I worship my firearm directly or indirectly? Again, of course not – it means that I’m prepared and informed, that I recognize the purpose of an armed citizenry in a free republic, and that I like to put holes through targets and coffee cans.

    Ownership and proper use of a proverbial “sword” does not mean that one lives *by* the sword. In this respect, Corey unfortunately does not allow his citing of Matt. 26:52 to be fully informed via Luke 22:35-38. If sword-ownership in and of itself is sword-worship, then Christ wouldn’t have commanded sword ownership in the first place. Of course, this too should be counterbalanced by the fact that Christ wasn’t trying to make a platoon of Rambos either (Luke 22:38). Regardless, there is a time to draw the sword and a time to keep the sword sheathed. Peter drew his sword at an improper time, as his misguided (but well-intentioned) motive was to guard the Savior from his destiny. Jesus told Peter to put the sword in its sheath, not to throw it away (John 18:11).

    Lastly, Corey brings up and concludes with the issue of school shootings…but does not allow the evils of armed, inflated government to enter the picture. One does not need to be a professional historian to see that big governments don’t exactly create Candyland when they gain arms-monopolies. But judging at how Corey cherrypicks Scripture, his cherrypicking of recent history shouldn’t be surprising.

    Joe Rogan did pretty well at summing up our situation over here in the states: “This country has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem, and a tyranny problem disguised as a security problem.” We should make sure that we don’t misdiagnose our problems, and we should not succumb to a political climate where helplessness and unconstitutional statism become actual ‘Christian’ virtues.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Christ commanded sword ownership? Nope, you skipped verse 37 which explains this was in order to fulfill a prophesy that Jesus would be arrested as a criminal. Jesus was careful to explain his exact reasoning for this– prophesy, not violence. That’s why it is important to always view the full passage. Had Jesus ordered people to be prepared to use violence, he would have made himself a liar for what he taught in Matthew 5.

  • otrotierra

    Thanks, Ben, for following Jesus, no matter how terribly offensive it clearly is to do so.

  • Mike Roukas

    You denied that Christ commanded sword
    ownership, then you began a personal explanation regarding a verse where Christ told his disciples to get swords. I understand the religious desire to explain-away teachings that don’t neatly fit within one’s established security-paradigm/denomination, but you’ll need more than a “Nope” to go that route.

    I “skipped” nothing. I cited the full range of verses to begin with, and now you’re giving undue weight to one portion to negate others. Logically, if sword-ownership by itself made one a transgressor back then, and if the disciples already had at least two to begin with, then they would have been locked up as transgressors a while ago. Peter wore his at the ready, and it’s not hard for people to spot a guy rocking a sword of all things.

    The users commenting on this Washington Times
    article have a good back-and-forth about the matter, with one of them writing that “The case, after Easter supper, where Jesus asked his apostles to bring some swords – was to give the authorities, a point to accuse him.” http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/higher-things/2013/jan/9/christian-militarism-betrayal-christ/
    This is a valid argument, but I don’t recall the Jews ever
    bringing accusations against Jesus for owning an illegal number of swords, or keeping company with people whose sword-lengths were above the legal limit, or anything
    like that. They already had enough religious dirt on him…although it would be funny to hear one of them say: “Here’s that guy who claimed to be the Son of God…AND he hung around guys with illegal assault-swords!” Not even Pilate went
    this route.

    Basic defense (especially that of one’s family) is congruent with turning the other cheek, not exchanging insult for insult, etc.
    It should go without saying that a slap across the face (literal or rhetorical) isn’t a self-defense situation deserving of pulling out a .357. Basic principles and distinctions good for review (for any readers interested in the full scope of the matter): http://www.loveyourenemies.org/sword.html http://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/why-did-jesus-tell-the-disciples-to-buy-two-swords/ http://www.lawandliberty.org/defense.htm

  • David

    Matthew 5 needs to be read historically as well, Benjamin. He was not advocating non-violence all-together in the sense that nobody should own a gun or protect their families. He was condemning revenge (eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth). In general, I agree, we are not supposed to be violent people. Not quick to anger, not brawlers, humble enough to not retaliate when someone disrespects us or otherwise slaps our cheek, quick to come to the generous aid of even those who oppress us when they need our help. We are certainly called to humility rather than oppression. But, like you said, when we read the whole passage, not to mention read the Sermon as it was meant to be read, we simply cannot advocate total disarmament and self-defense. It’s simply not there. Though I can certainly see how it could be confusing. I can certainly say that, if a man comes into my house with a knife, I will shoot his knee caps and when he’s in prison i will pray for him and even go visit him after forgiving him. I would probably even try to take care of his family when he’s in prison. But what you are doing seem to be taking “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy” and turning it into “hate your family and love your enemy” rather than loving everyone. And when you love everyone, who do you choose when one part of everyone attacks another part of everyone? This was not the issue Christ was addressing. He was trying to balance out their viewpoints of Rome, and enemies in general.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I can see we’re not going to get anywhere. My position is that which the entire early Church espoused. In America, it’s hard for us to take Jesus seriously because it’s just too hard to think that we might need to give up our rights, or actually have to sacrifice in order to follow him, but it is what it is. I’d definitely encourage you to check out seminary, because there’s a lot I think you’d enjoy exploring in that type of theological setting- but it’s dangerous to draw hard lines and insist that there’s no possible way that you could be wrong, without spending the time to fully deal with the exegesis.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    We’re studying a very visceral attachment here. I believe that gimpi1 had it quite correct when she linked it to libido.

    Mindfulness requires commitment and lots of practice.

    I’ll take a moment to praise the Mennonites for their creed of “non-violence”. They worked hard to keep us out of Iraq, but the tide of blood lust was too strong. That and a cartel of bent “Christians” in league with the “Military Industrial Complex”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    You might like my response, where I basically substitute “guns” and “gun culture” for “government” and “reliance on government”. In my view, it makes the same points much more evident.

  • Tonya Jenkins

    I didn’t realize a fire extinguisher could be used to murder innocent children at school.

  • Mike Roukas

    It certainly can. That’s why fire extinguishers should be banned and placed under the sole control of the state,
    so that the state can have a tighter control over child-murder. As Christians, the only “fire” extinguisher we should have is Christ’s blood!

    [/sarcasm] Do you see where this lefty
    quasi-religious reasoning leads?

    FUN FACT: Shortly after I posted here, I started getting attacked by exploit trojans. Now I’m getting them about once per minute. I have rarely, *rarely* gotten virus attacks; in fact, I remember my last attack happening to me a long while back when I accidentally clicked a Viagra link on a forum (I MIS-clicked, I swear! XD ). I’m not saying that someone on Patheos is behind this. I’m just noting a rather interesting correlation. But if I actually did tick someone off hard enough to warrant teh haxorz, then perhaps my hacker should extend his alleged pacifism to the e-world as well as
    the real world.

  • gimpi1

    “It happened after, therefore it was caused by,” is a logical fallacy. There’s no reason to suppose that your computer-problems have anything to do with your post.

    If you don’t believe that it does, why did you post this?

  • Mike Roukas

    I took note of an interesting correlation that points to a possibility, all the while keeping in mind that correlation doesn’t equal causation. Simple as that.

  • gimpi1

    Fair enough.

    Are you running Windows? What version? Vista or later? If so, there’s a nasty worm-virus running around that has a “dormancy” period. You could have been ‘infected’ weeks or months ago. Any number of actions can activate it.

    We just purged it at work. You might want to go the Microsoft website and get the info.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    Right, and what was your intention in doing so?

    How did it further the discussion?

    If your stock of arguments is running dry, why not just acknowledge it?

  • gimpi1

    If you honesty think the military is quaking in it’s boots in the face of your “armed resistance” you need a reality-check. Badly.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    I suggest that an excess of gun fetishism is symptomatic of a “mental health problem” disguising a vast and stupefying spiritual problem.

    And so far, nobody has mentioned that the armaments industry rivals Christmas for dominance of the Gross National Product.

    Don’t get me started on the nuclear arms situation. That’s in a league of evil beyond comprehension.

    Sure, one can have a fairly benign relationship to one’s own “sword”, but like a weekend cocaine user, consider the larger world of suffering you support.

  • Baret Fawbush

    I am a Senior Minister at a Christian Church, I am a firearms instructor and I carry a gun as well. I do this for a number of different reasons, one of which is to combat the evil in this world (evil which God allows through human free will) should it arise against me and my family. Life preservation has always been something Judaism and Christianity have always upheld. The Bible speaks more about defending the widow and the orphan doing what is right, more than one might think. While I understand that it is your right as a Christian brother to hold your convictions and place your security in God alone, that’s fine and I respect your position. But I am not fearful of any evil nor do I worship an Idol of fear or insecurity. I am simply fulfilling my role as a husband and a father. Exodus 20:2 gives us a good understanding of intention and action that God establishes for his nation in Israel. If a person who intending to kill you, you have the obligation to you and your family to keep that from happening.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    “Life preservation has always been something Judaism and Christianity have always upheld.”

    That is demonstrably untrue. For the first few hundred years of Christianity, it was the exact opposite– the resoundingly upheld Christ’s teachings on nonviolence. Christianity has only upheld the right to self presveration during the Christendom era.

    It is unwise to cite the OT to justify violence, especially since Jesus overturned the permissiveness of retributive violence and taught in Matthew 5, that nonviolent enemy love was the hallmark of being a child of God. Furthermore, Paul lists a commitment to nonviolence twice in the epistles as being a requirement for church leadership.

    I agree that we have an obligation to protect our families, but not to kill for them, as that would violate the teachings of Christ. In addition, that would also require the sin of judging as one would have to judge their own life as having higher value than the life of their enemy.

  • F. Everett

    You should be ashamed of what you are preaching, you could get someone killed. You mean to tell me, that if someone breaks into your home, to harm you or your family, that you should just turn the other check. While your wife and daughter get beaten and raped. How does that glorify God?… Oh I couldn’t wait to get to church the next Sunday and testify, “To God be the glory, as I watched my helpless wife and daughter get raped by two intruders, I could of killed them, but I turned the other check!” And don’t say this scenario doesn’t happen, It did happen to my Grand parents about 30 years ago, and times are worst now.

    This article is the biggest bunch of hogwash anti-gun propaganda I have seen yet. Attacking good gun loving Christians at their core. Saying that “Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns.” Want to know why? We live in a Depraved world! I always get asked, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”, We live in a Depraved world! God doesn’t want bad things to happen to good people, BUT we all have free will and bad things happen.

    I agree with the idol worship part of the article, but what about sports fans? Football, hockey and die hard baseball fans. They have rooms full of their favorite teams merchandise. What about Beiber and Gaga fans… is there any idol worship there? This article takes a great argument about idol worship and how we need to be careful in what we idolize, and then devilishly twists it to carry out the anti-gun agenda of the left. “However, until we do [get rid of guns…], don’t be shocked when you see mass shootings every night on the news.” That is fear mongering! ‘Unless we do [this] bodies will fill the streets!’ Classic propaganda, fear mongering.

    If this world was 100% pro-Christian… I wouldn’t need a gun. During the millennial kingdom, praise the Lord, there will be no need for guns. The bible tells us we are sheep among wolves, and as the latter days come, persecution of Christians will grow more and more. So for me, until I am called to my Fathers house, there will be a gun by my side…

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Yes, you’re right– following Jesus could get you killed, but no, I am not ashamed for following his teachings. If you don’t like what he taught, that’s fine, but I don’t have to be ashamed for accepting them.

  • Yvonne Shek

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Ben. There are so many hateful pastors out there misleading the flocks. They will be judged by the Judge one day and held accountable.

  • http://adventureinshanghai.wordpress.com Mike

    Hi Ben.

    Ok, guns freak me out. I’ve never owned one, and I think I’ve only held one once, when I was twelve or thirteen, and my grandpa tried to no avail to teach me to shoot a soda can off of a fence post. And I’m really sick of reading about the latest mass shooting in the States, and something has just got to change.

    But I’m just confused about your comments on this scenario that’s being described where there’s an intruder who’s trying to harm one’s family. Does Jesus really want you to avoid harming, possibly killing, an intruder even at the expense of the lives of your wife and child? This can’t be what you mean, right?

    I know we’re talking about a hypothetical situation, but what do you think a person should actually do?

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    Except they didn’t get killed for following Jesus. They got killed for a big fancy TV and some Tylenol with codeine…I mean, for love…Yep. Love did that.

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    The Call of Jesus has always been a call to die. “Whoever would be my disciple, you must take up your cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. But, whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it.”

    So, dying while carrying out the command of Jesus to love your enemy and resist not an evildoer… that sounds like a Christian thing to do.

  • F. Everett

    We are here, on Earth, to glorify God. Period. How does God, get the glory in us getting killed in a home invasion? He doesn’t. “Following Jesus and His teaching could get you killed”, I guess if you are a missionary carrying out His commandment to go to all the world and preach. But not here on Mulberry St, USA at 2:00 in the morning to a couple of guys that have decided they want your stuff more than you, and have decided to harm you and yours in the process. I have missionary friends in the middle east and in China that have to do the Lord’s work in secret so not to get killed. That is what Jesus is talking about! It is an absolute travesty that someone would take the Holy Word of God and twist it to push the 2nd amendment agenda of Obama and the political left. If you don’t want guns, that is your right… But don’t twist the Word of God to make a point that is not there. As to “hateful pastors out there misleading the flocks…” Bingo, this article is the perfect example of that… A wolf in sheep’s clothing trying to place fake conviction on real Christians hearts to get rid of there guns. That is absolutely appalling.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Amen. God couldn’t possibly get the glory if someone died for their enemies. Good thing Jesus fought his way out of the garden that night. Had he not, who knows what could have happened.

  • F. Everett

    Jesus was carrying out God’s sovereign plan, and nothing would have stopped Him. Peter was trying to stop God’s/Jesus’ plan for the salvation of mankind on the cross. That is why Peter was rebuked. Peter didn’t understand the scope of what was a foot… Being funny and sarcastic, and even, dodging the real issue, does not defend what you are trying to do. Make lite now, but in front of the Father, jokes and sarcasm won’t work…

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    If I have to say “Forgive me Father for following Jesus and refusing to kill my enemies”, I’m okay with that.

  • F. Everett

    Funny how the light of day exposes the truth. Ephesians 5:13 “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” First off your 74 shootings statistic has been found to be bogus, lies from an administration bent on repealing the 2nd Amendment. LINK [dailycaller.com/2014/06/11/cnn-slashes-school-shooting-stats-claim-by-80-percent/]

    Secondly, on the way to the garden by the Mt. of Olives, Luke tells us in the words of Jesus, “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” [LUKE 22:36] Why would Jesus need swords?

    Your article, arguments and case are falling apart around you. A man can not serve two masters… Stick to preaching Bible and quit trying to force God’s word to fit your and this administrations twisted agenda.

  • David

    I would also like to hear the interpretation of Luke 22:36.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    It doesn’t need to be interpreted– just read it. It tells you in black and white. He needed to fulfill a prophesy to be counted “among the law breakers”. Further, we know that he didn’t mean them for self defense because he said “two is enough” and then rebuked Peter for actually using it. Teaching them to use violence would have contradicted himself in Matthew 5 where he forbade all violence. In addition, in his trial before Pilate, he cites the nonviolence of his disciples as proof that he really he is from God.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Read the very next verse, because Jesus tells you why they needed to bring them.

    As long as “love your enemies… that you may be children of your father in heaven” is in the Bible, the case will always be there. The message of Jesus is offensive and requires you to be willing to show extravagant, unmerited love towards others, even your enemies. We are called to imitate Christ– the one who, instead of blasting his enemies with an AR, gave his life up for them.

  • Jeff Meredith

    Ben, honestly, this is just pap.

  • Jeff Meredith

    This comment was moved from its original position. It was a direct response to this comment from Ben:

    “If I have to say “Forgive me Father for following Jesus and refusing to kill my enemies”, I’m okay with that.”

    Ben, no one is arguing against that and you know it. You have refused to understand opposing arguments, and that isn’t admirable.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    If the redeeming aspect of the sacrifice is completely misinterpreted, where does the fault lie?

    What attachment blinds the eye?

    Where is the evidence of redemption?

    Is death real that you should fear it? All the time clinging to your “stuff”?

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    ” It is an absolute travesty that someone would take the Holy Word of God and twist it to push the 2nd amendment agenda of Obama and the political left.”

    The travesty is deifying politics. Best not speak for Jesus until that is clear.

  • Baret Fawbush

    Again, while I appreciate your position and your passion upon the subject matter, I will lovingly disagree. Jesus doesn’t overturn OT law. “Have I come to abolish the law? No! But to fulfill it!” 1 Timothy 5:8 Paul says “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” So here we are called to hold certain needs above other’s needs. Galatians 6:10 Paul urges us to do the same thing as well ‘IN every opportunity you have to do good, do it, especially to the body of believers.” So it’s very difficult to make a case for caring for our enemies and not caring for our own families in lue of the current debate. In reply to your reply of my original post, again, I believe you to be mistaken, I would have to point you towards Jewish history. Jesus upheld to command to preserve life, regardless of religious violations of the law. In fact Jews would say to preserve life (and your own) at all costs except for: murder, sexual immorality, and idolatry. While I appreciate your position and your freedom to do so (both as an American and a Christian) I will be responsible for my household, because God has given the responsibility to me in order to steward. (BTW, I would to know how you dismiss bible passages where we are commanded to defend the widow and orphan and uphold justice.)

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Of course he over turns OT law. That’s part of the reason he was hated. “You have heard it said it is is ok to take an eye for an eye, BUT, I tell you to love your enemies”.

    He even goes on to say that nonviolent enemy love is a requirement of being a child of “your father in heaven”.

    Or, he says to not respond to violence “in like kind”.

    The only way around these verses are to say (a) Jesus was speaking metaphorically or (b) Jesus got it wrong in teaching total nonviolence.

  • Baret Fawbush

    Im really sorry to have to infrom you of this, but you have some fowled up hermenuetics. You need to do some more study regarding Jesus within His Jewish context. You also need to understand that as a Believer, the word of God does not contradict itself. SO we are at an impass if you choose that rendering of scripture, but then neglect his “abolish the law” statements. Jesus doesnt overturn anything, he gets back to the heart behind the law, something that had been missing from the what the Pharisees were “weighing men down with burdens they couldnt possibly bear.” Again, i appreciate that you may have a B.A. and a Masters, and working on a Doctorate, but so am I and this is my area of expertise. Please, do your study and dont speak from emmotional perspective when you are challenged. Just simply admit that there may be other people out there that have a better understanding who have spent more time with these matters than yourself.

    You are also forgetting the HUGE mistake Jesus is point out with the Love thy enemy remark as well. He was confronting a “hate your enemy” that had been added. Jesus is confronting a zealous nationalism that had lead the modern Jew to hate their foreign oppressor (Rome). Love is a subjective term. You may think he is referring to non-violence when i think he may be referring to an agape-so-far-as-it-depends-on-you-to-keep-the-relationship. If you would like to discuss this more in depth, we can. But I would suggest you read Jesus from a Jewish perspective before you post on the blogishphere about text you are demonstrating ignorance towards. I say that in love. You seem like a very intelligent person, but its hard to be unbias when you have so much passion for the text. I will tell you to keep up the good work though! Im sure you have stimulated 100’s of people with your challenging perspective. Just dont get fooled into thinking that its right and its the only one.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Sigh. It’s also one of my areas– I even have a book coming out about it, but whatever.

    Claiming that you “know more” and that you have “just as much”
    theological education as I do, is a logical fallacy– you’re just
    appealing to higher authority (and not even well). I’m not speaking from an “emotional”
    perspective but rather demonstrating the theological opinion that is
    that of historical, orthodox Christianity. And yes, even from a Jewish
    perspective– all those Jewish disciples? They spent 400 years teaching
    nonviolent enemy love, many of them ended up dying for their enemies but never killing them. Quite different than a “Christian” in Merica.

    Furthermore, to scoff that my theological stance as being somehow out there, shows that you’re completely unaware of the historical roots of Christian nonviolence, and completely unaware how prevalent it still is in entire arms of Christianity. Unfortunately, American culture has blinded many to the point where the message of Jesus seems downright silly.

  • Jeff Meredith

    I agree with Baret — your article is an intensely emotional appeal. Or fit only for single men. For a variety of reasons. For starters, you create a caricature of your opponents’ viewpoints, and you clearly haven’t gone to the trouble to understand their arguments. You also quote highly dubious statistics from Everytown (unattributed at that, which is really weak sauce). And those stats have already been debunked by CNN and other sources.

    The only logical conclusion to your arguments is that Christians must work to eliminate our police and military forces. To do otherwise would be to ‘worship the God of fear.’

    You’ve similarly implied [indirectly] — as Jim Jacobson correctly notes below — that a person who calls law enforcement for help is also ‘worshipping the God of fear.’

    Now, for the real test (since what we really believe, we do) . . . If your child was at the business end of a criminal’s knife, would you call the police? Would you expect them to make the killshot and do your dirty work for you? If so . . . sounds like someone’s worshipping the God of fear!

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    If only Jesus had been packing his Glock. The message would have been so much easier to interpret. Right?

    Spared us from the ambiguity of Easter Bunnies as well.

  • $20048659

    “Jesus is confronting a zealous nationalism that had lead the modern Jew to hate their foreign oppressor (Rome).”

    How is ‘God+Guns+Country’ anything other than zealous nationalism leading modern so-called ‘Christians’ to hate their supposed ‘oppressors’ (i.e., feminists, Muslims, atheists, socialists, gays, etc.)?

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    Remember, he is blindly rationalizing his idolatry. Using Old Testament narrative to that end.

    I would also suggest that those inclined to doing so, have made a golden calf out of the Bible and a deity out of Jesus.

    No actual interest in God realization.

  • http://www.calvaryarlington.com Jim Jacobson

    You said: “we have an obligation to protect our families, but not to kill for them, as that would violate the teachings of Christ”
    Are you then against law enforcement too? Is it okay for them to defend your family with lethal force?

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    Christ Himself was against law enforcement… indeed, his entire ministry was built around that concept. Relationships, not rules…

  • Jeff Meredith

    You are flat out wrong. Read Romans 13.

    And if you’ve really, truly come to believe that his entire ministry was built — literally built — on a rejection of law enforcement . . .

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    Um, no…It was religious law, not secular.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AutismThroughOurEyes Jeff Sexton

    1 Samuel 8. To embrace secular law is to reject God.

  • Tonya Jenkins

    Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He overturned the violence of the Old Testament law when he gave his new commandment.

  • Travis Desiree Wilson Parrack

    By that logic we should stop taking any preventative measures like wearing seat belts because we are bowing to “the god of fear” when we take preventative measures. We should also stop vaccinating because it is our fear of the diseases that makes us choose to vaccinate. Also, we should probably stop supervising our children because of our fear they may be harmed in some way that we could easily protect them from if we keep an eye on them.

    Gun owners do not own guns because of fear, people who carry concealed weapons do not do so out of fear. The gun control activists are the ones who are using fear to motivate voters to support more gun control laws. The driving force behind those wanting to take guns from law abiding citizens is fear.

  • Tonya Jenkins

    Seat belts and vaccines don’t murder innocent children at school.

  • Travis Desiree Wilson Parrack

    Far more children die in car accidents than in gun incidents. It is really sad when people try to twist the Bible to fit their political agendas. If God had a solid stance one way or the other it would be abundantly clear in the Bible, this issue, however has been left up to interpretation. I don’t worship gun ownership any more than I worship car ownership or home ownership. Those things do not define me and I have my priorities straight.

    I am also not so insecure in my personal beliefs that I have to try to convince everyone that everything I do is biblically based. There are some things that fall outside the guidelines of the Bible and that is ok. If not being specifically spoken about in the Bible means it is bad, then why are we all talking to each other on this computer.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    The funny thing is that it IS clear in the Bible. “Love your enemies” “do not resist (respond in kind) to an evildoer”. It’s so clear, that Jesus went as far as to say that enemy love is a requirement of being called a child of your father in heaven. It’s far more clear on this issue than most others. The only way around it is to simply write off the straight forward teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5, or to explain them away by saying “well, loving your enemies doesn’t mean you should never kill them”. This is not an obscure topic that Jesus never mentioned. Paul even goes on to express twice that only those who are nonviolent can be church leaders. To say that it’s not “abundantly clear” in the bible is to willfully ignore what the Bible actually teaches.

  • Travis Desiree Wilson Parrack

    So in order to be a true Christian I have to allow myself to be a perpetual victim, got it.

    In practice, I have no enemies, I have never had an enemy in my life. Sure there are people I disagree with, there are people who disagree with me too, they are not my enemies. There have even been adults who intentionally physically and emotionally harmed me during my childhood and I wish them no ill will. I don’t hate people and our ownership if guns is primarily for sport and hunting. I strongly doubt that I could ever kill another human being, nor has that ever been a driving factor in the purchase of a firearm. I am not the militant type by nature. I do not, however believe that a Christian who protects their family has negated the fact that they are a Christian.

  • Nick

    How do you interpret the verses that Mr. Corey posted above?

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    Let’s extend “guns” to “nuclear arsenal”. What could be the reason for it’s existence other than fear? A fear that overrides any concern for the utter sin of it’s existence or, “God forbid”, its deployment.

    Let’s extend “gun control activists” to “anti nuclear activists”. What could be their reason for trying to wake us up?

    Yes, fear is pervasive on both sides of the argument. What do you suppose the solution is? Who are we afraid of?

    Other people!

    What do you suppose Jesus would have to say about that?

  • Travis Desiree Wilson Parrack

    If the Bible specifically supported what you are saying than that would be great, but as you stated earlier, “best not to speak for Jesus until this is clear”. I have seen it all through my life and it is one of my biggest pet peeves. People are so insecure about where they stand on things that they try to pull the whole, “God is on my side of this argument”. I am not attached to any of my belongings nor am I afraid of other people, it is offensive that people like you feel the need to tell everyone how they should believe and what their interpretation of the scriptures should be. Is this a salvation issue? Will gun ownership cause someone to be cast away from the gates of heaven?

    Nope, so please, by all means, state your opinions, but don’t you dare tell me that God is backing you up on this until you come back with some undeniable proof.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Undeniable proof: love your enemies. No interpretation needed.

  • Anthony

    You’re really oversimplifying, here. Love your enemies at the expense of your family and friends? Is that what Jesus meant?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Not over simplifying at all, the message of Jesus is just radical and offensive. He was talking to an audience of people who were consistently brutalized by the Roman oppressors, and told them to “not resist” to “do good to them” and to “love them”. Doesn’t seem to say “except if they’re using violence against you– in that case, kill them.”

    Again, the early Church was unified in this understanding, and all the disciples, less John, lived that out and died at the hands of their enemies without resorting to violence. We then have 400 years of Jesus followers dying for their faith instead of killing their enemies.

    Doesn’t mean you sit back and let someone rape your wife without intervention, but it does mean that no matter what, you refuse to take a human life. Life-taking is simply off limits for a Jesus follower.

  • Anthony

    Okay, so your issue is the taking of life more than the use of non-lethal violence? I mean that as a genuine question (just to be clear).

    Also, there is a difference between self-protection and protection of loved ones. Are there examples in the Bible during the first 400 years of Christians embracing non-violence where a Christian chose not to protect his or her family in order to obey Christ’s command?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Primarily, I always mean lethal violence. However, to be technical, the word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 is ἀνθίστημι which can be appropriately translated as “fight back against”. So the debate would be in “what constitutes fighting back against?” since that’s what Jesus prohibits. Certainly, it would at a minimum mean we don’t ever use lethal force.

    I think there’s healthy debate for lesser means. If you know my backstory, I have been in multiple circumstances where my wife and young daughter faced violence that was potentially life threatening. In those times, I used “nonviolent restraint” which is a way to stop an attacker, protect the innocent, and to do so without harming the attacker themselves.

  • Anthony

    Thank you for the clarification. I’m getting repetitive with other comments I’ve made here, but I honestly struggle with understanding how exactly to apply Jesus’s nonviolent teachings. That is, I struggle with the extent of nonviolence He advocated for (e.g., never okay? almost never okay?).

    I also want to mention that even though I’m pushing back a bit on some of your ideas, I really do appreciate your willingness to engage in this discussion, especially given the beating you’re taking by some of the commenters here (which is shameful). I am learning a lot from you.

    Lastly, I’m sorry you’ve experienced the scenarios you described with your wife and child. I’m a veteran like you, but I can’t fathom dealing with those kinds of situations with my wife and child in harm’s way.

    One last question I have is this – while using nonlethal restraint is irrefutably a more legitimate course of action for a Christian to take, if a given scenario played out to a point where the ONLY option to prevent harm to a loved one was to take a life, how do you believe Jesus expects us to proceed?

    I get the enemy love thing, don’t get me wrong, but I struggle with how loving my enemy (and sparing their life) supersedes loving my family member (and saving theirs).

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    So, in that scenario, here’s where I land, and I usually go by way of question: if you had two sons, and one pulled a knife on the other, would you kill your son with the knife to protect the innocent son?

    That was my scenario, raising a child with an illness that caused homicidal behavior. I realized in these cases, since it was my own child, there was no way I could violently or lethally harm her even though it was to protect others in the home. Why? Because I loved my child.

    If Jesus calls us to love our enemies, I don’t see how when the violence is coming from my own family I chose life, but if the violence is from a stranger, I would chose death. Instead, I think I am (actually, I believe we) are called to love enemies like we would our own family.

    Doesn’t mean you don’t defend. Nonviolence is not passive. But it does mean you become unwilling to cause harm. So, that’s where I land and why…

  • Anthony

    I appreciate the illustration. The need to view the home intruder (for example) as having just as much intrinsic worth as my own daughter is a really important and powerful point. If Christians viewed every victim of violence (even those who do die while perpetrating violent crimes or fighting in war against the US) as having as much worth as our own children, American gun culture and war culture wouldn’t be as pervasive as they are. They couldn’t be.

    What I’m realizing, though, is that it really matters to me that the innocent be protected. My gut reaction (being totally honest here) is that if my only option in the son vs. son scenario you described is to take the life of the aggressor son to save the life of the innocent son, I would probably do it (and suffer forever as a result). In that scenario, I don’t see it as choosing life OR death, I see it as choosing life for the innocent.

    But, we’re really splitting hairs here. Few of us will ever really encounter a scenario in which there is NO option but to take life in order to save life.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    You’re hitting the nail in the head man– EVERYONE is a bearer of the divine image, and our only job is to agree with God that they have intrinsic value. (on that note, you might like Boyd’s Repenting of Religion which is awesome on that topic).

    Also, you’re correct in that most people will rarely, if ever, be in that scenario where they must make that choice– which is why I think so many of us packing heat is way over the top, since it is not an every day occurrence that someone is trying to rape your wife and kill your daughter.

    I appreciate the tension you have in the son/son scenario. It’s a hard call. My prayer is as much as possible, that Jesus followers will become willing to self sacrificially absorb the violence instead of meting it out.

    Thanks for the good dialogue.

  • Anthony

    Thank you. I’m walking away with some changed views and a LOT to ruminate on…. not the least of which is this:

    “…. that Jesus followers will become willing to self sacrificially absorb the violence instead of meting it out.”

    Powerful stuff.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    I’m not insecure about my view on this. If the questions that I used to frame my point are invalid or of no interest to you, perhaps you could just say that.

    Nothing needs proving either way. But I am obviously trying to convince you of something.

  • SmokinHalfNote

    Your article certainly piqued my interest. Let me preface this by saying I have little in common with the “God, Guns, ‘Merica” crowd personally. I wouldn’t attend an NRA meeting if you paid me. So that’s where I’m coming from.

    I dare to call myself a Christian because I follow Christ or at least strive to do so. I also, somewhat hesitantly, own a handgun.

    And I do so, partly, out of fear.

    You are wise to caution us to avoid giving into the idolatry of fear. On that point, I agree.

    But there’s a difference between worshiping at the altar of fear and being “wordly-wise.” In other words, only a fool has no fear.

    I own a handgun for one simple reason – to protect my family from harm in case of home attack. It happens. And before someone tells me that my son is more likely to kill himself with the gun than I am to kill an intruder, not going to happen. It’s not in a checkbox under the bed. It’s secure, and only I and my wife know how to access it.

    Let me propose a hypothetical situation. Were someone to break into your home, if you had the time to do so, would you call the police? Or would you simply let the intruder(s) have their way with you, your wife, and your children?

    If you would call the police, you do, of course, recognize that deadly force might then come into play?

    So, is having 911 on speed-dial a surrendering to fear?

    I would never take someone’s life if they wanted my laptop or my car. Take it. I’d be pissed off, but that’s life. But if someone were threatening to rape my wife or kill my son? I don’t know if treasuring their life and preserving falls under Jesus’s exhortations to avoid violence. If that were the case, wouldn’t Jesus and his apostles encourage believers to disregard the laws of the land, and perhaps work towards political change that would discourage authorities from upholding the law?

    Again, I’m not opposed to much of what you say. Indeed, I concur with a good deal. But to lump the “gun-nut” crowd in with the “law and order” crowd is faulty logic at best. Remember – if you invoke the authorities to protect you when you need it, then your phone call may pull a trigger.

  • Marty Miller

    Starting with the picture at the beginning of this post. Sing along with me if you’re old enough to remember…one of things is not like the other…one of these things just doesn’t belong.

    Also, while several others have commented about other idols, there are a couple I haven’t seen mentioned..The Bible and The Gospel. Here’s only one of the things we do “for love of the Gospel”… http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2014/06/the-southern-baptist-convention-throws-transgender-people-under-the-bus/

  • NCHammer

    The personal computer and the internet have helped bring access to pornography into almost every home in the modern world. Even children are able to engage in the sin of pornography due to the access the computer and the internet allow. By Ben’s logic, owning a computer means you are involved in sexual idolatry and lust because ownership of a gun equates to violence, regardless of the actual use or non-use of said gun.

    Because Ben uses a computer and the internet to post his blog, I call him to repentance for the sins of lust and engaging in the viewing of pornography.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    False equivalency. A computer has many uses besides looking at porn. Whereas a gun (with the exception of hunting weapons) has only one purpose. To expel a small projectile at an extremely high speed for the purpose of tearing through another living person’s flesh, organs, and bone, causing maximum devastation with the intent to permanently maim or kill.

    Whether you only use it in self-defense or because you’re actually a bloodthirsty murderer, a gun is crafted for the purpose of taking life, whether or not you choose to use it as an unwieldy paperweight or doorstop. And the only reason to own a gun is to prepare yourself to hurt or kill another person, regardless of the reason.

    I actually disagree with Ben on this issue, I find nothing wrong with owning a weapon for self-defense, but your ridiculous comparison is typical of the culture that doesn’t see weapons of self-defense as an unfortunate necessity, but a symbol of supremacy that dare not be challenged.

    Also, your last sentence essentially amounts to slander.

  • NCHammer

    Allow me to apologize for a poorly worded conclusion. I should have said, “Based on his faulty logic and Ben uses a computer and the internet to post his blog, should I call
    him to repentance for the sins of lust and engaging in the viewing of
    pornography?”

    As for your reply on my logic, you miss the point that Ben does makes two errors in both basic logic and Scriptural reasoning. A gun, in and of itself, has no moral assignment. It is inanimate. Ben transfers his own view of guns as only a mechanism for violence onto everyone who owns a gun, regardless of his knowledge of their motives or circumstances. Some guns, many in fact, are only for hunting. Some are strictly for collection as an investment. To say people who own gun are worshiping violence is not only to judge (something, btw, I believe we can do Biblically at times, Ben, as far as I know would say we are not to judge) but it is to judge incorrectly.

    Try this instead. Many Christians would agree that according to Scripture, you can conclude the koran is a book about a false religion that is used to convert the misled into a false religion and this can ultimately lead them to an eternal existence in hell. Yet Ben likely owns a copy as part of his studies. Yet, can I conclude he is worshiping a false god based solely on his ownership of the koran?

    His stance on guns is wrong politically and Constitutionally. That is not what I would mainly be concerned with. His blog is about following Christ, yet this article is hardly well thought or argued based on Scripture, regardless of your stance on guns.

    Finally, your closing, “but your ridiculous comparison is typical of the culture that doesn’t
    see weapons of self-defense as an unfortunate necessity, but a symbol of
    supremacy that dare not be challenged.” Is faulty, as well. Gun ownership and the right to self-defense, is not a symbol of supremacy, but an God-given, enumerated Constitutional right. A rather clear one that can, clearly, be challenged, through well defined Constitutional mechanisms. Yet those on the liberal side of this discussion rarely attempt those mechanisms or clearly state their actual goals, which piles of evidence seem to indicate is complete confiscation. But that’s a political, not a spiritual discussion.

  • Nick

    Maybe it would be helpful if you asked Mr. Corey his thoughts on owning collectible guns. Try showing some grace. Let me know his response. He is usually very prompt.

  • bobbyscott

    Two comments…First, the 74 shootings since SH number has been refuted by several news sources including CNN. The number is actually closer to 14 I think. Second, in one of his books Malcolm Gladwell suggested that Columbine and every school shooting since then were merely copycat occurrences of an original “event” that happened several years earlier. It isn’t the “gun culture” or the “god of fear” driving these shootings…rather this is just lemmings looking for 15 minutes of fame an the media have dramatized this in such a manner as to make it attractive to someone so inclined.

  • Deep_Freeze

    It’s always great fun for us Canadians to watch our good neighbours to the south hammering away at each other over the right to bear arms and gun control. During the five years I lived in the US (courtesy of the RCAF – so I know a little about guns and violence) I learned that no one ever changes their mind. I used to argue with my American friends, but I finally got it through my head that it’s pointless. That, at the deepest level, we had fundamentally different presuppositions. So, now I don’t worry about it. Maybe the right to bear arms is the best policy in the US. It certainly isn’t most other places in the world. Cheers.

  • Yvonne Shek

    I like what Jarrod McKenna said this week: Sounds like your God also needs to ask Jesus into his heart. (In addressing some of the comments where there is a huge amount of mental gymnastics to get around the way of Jesus… using the OT and justifying hate and self protection.)

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I love that line– was that from an article he wrote or just a comment? If there’s an article I’d love to read it.

  • David

    It would be nice to see some Bible passages actually proving your position. Also, perhaps, list some passages that pro-gunners would use and show how they do not work. This post is just banter for the sake of banter otherwise. Though i must say, Control is probably the umbrella god here. And that is worshiped on any side of any issue. Not just the one you (editorial) don’t agree with.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    This is an Anabaptist blog and one of the most common issues it has dealt with has been the issue of Christian nonviolence. Since so much ground has already been covered, I’m not going to repeat myself in each article. The archives are available for folks to read further.

  • David

    Then I hope you have fun preaching to your own little choir. If you don’t intend to be convincing, I’m not sure what your purpose is.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I won’t always convince everyone. Scripture teaches that the cross– a symbol and example of nonviolent enemy love– is foolishness to them who don’t believe.

  • David

    Ha! Wow…way to take that passage way out of context for the sake of. For someone who thinks the Scripture is authoritative, you certainly just did some seriously nasty and manipulative eisogesis. If the true context of the passages of Scripture is not enough to prove your point, then maybe you need to re-think your point (or at least the power with which you preach it) rather than re-interpret Scripture to make your point sound appealing.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    No reinterpretation– the cross has always been an example of ultimate, self-sacrificial, nonviolent enemy love. It’s totally foolish, if it’s not true. It’s a basic cruciform hermeneutic.

    For basic nonviolence there’s a bunch of verses that prove it, but one only need “love your enemies” and “do not resist an evildoer” (aka, do not respond with violence “in kind”). Jesus takes a stronger approach in Matthew 5 stating that enemy love is a requirement of being a child of God.

  • David

    The cross was not meant to be a symbol of laying down our arms against our enemies. It was always meant to be a source of salvation by grace through faith, not by works, but by the propitiation God provided on our behalf while we were yet sinners. When you add gun control to that list, yes, you are reinterpreting the purpose of the cross. The foolishness referred to there is that “it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” Not “save those who work for their salvation.” It’s the natural man that needs the works or offerings of the flessh or intellectual enlightenment to attain atonement from their deity. That is how it has been for all time. To work for your own salvation. The foolishness is in the fact that God pursued us, rather than we having to pursue Him. Please don’t alter the message of the Gospel in order to get your points across. Yes, Christ received violence at the cross rather than giving it out. It was self-sacrificial because God’s salvation was always meant to be by Sacrifice. “Without the shedding of blood is no remission of sins.” But gun-control is not an issue of salvation like the cross of Christ is. Apples and oranges. We do not gain salvation by letting a felon kill our family while we stand back and watch. If you take that stance, you also have to interpret “take up your cross” in terms of disarmament rather than self-abandonment. You could try to relate the two, but not based off of fact/evidence, but as a matter of preference/opinion i.e. eisogesis.

  • Mc

    I posted this on another site, why not here?
    You
    posted “Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns.
    Why? Because we’re scared. Because the way of Jesus seems too illogical
    to actually be true, and that’s frightening.” Perhaps the author should
    consider that maybe, just maybe those of us (Christian and not) that
    legally own firearms actually enjoy going to the range and having a good
    time. Much like you may enjoy gardening, working on your car or even
    working out, we enjoy the shooting sport. The article you reference also
    states “Christians promoting a gun culture? Christians outside of
    American culture, even incredibly conservative Christians, see this as
    absolute lunacy. Almost too crazy to even be true.” Those Christians
    outside of our American culture do not enjoy the rights under our
    constitution and cannot possibly understand that we, as Americans have
    had firearms as part of our lives for many years while they have not
    been allowed to own them. It is easy to criticize that which you do not
    understand (not you Travis) or perhaps even wish you could. The author
    writes “We must repent. We must change the culture. We must refuse to
    let fear worshipers marginalize Jesus and corrupt Christianity with
    their false gods and guns.” a perfect example of soap box speaking and
    trying to sound so Christian like. I own firearms, I am a Christian and I
    trust in God every day of my life. I do not worship or even love my
    firearms as I am sure that you do not worship or love your car or boat. I
    also have some limited intelligence and real life experience. Violence
    is real, very real and there are those who do not subscribe to the
    “peaceful way of life”. They are called wolves and the bible speaks of
    them. They wish to harm you and others. Now while I agree that we should
    all pray for Gods protection first and foremost. I also carry a firearm
    just in case those wolves do not listen to my prayers.

  • Julie

    I have always really wanted to believe in the idea that we can keep ourselves safe. Grew up in a house where guns were kept. My husband has them now. However, I keep coming back again and again to the question, what would I do as a follower of Jesus? What did Jesus do when he knew people were coming to kill him (and possibly his followers, whom he loved as his family). He went with his killers and didn’t put up a fight. Jesus faced death from people who had no legal, moral, or ethical reason to kill him and he didn’t fight them. He died. So…I have a hard time getting around that in any way.

    Would I do the same? Would I allow someone to kill my children? I honestly don’t know. But I can’t escape that simple story. We are supposed to follow Jesus. He did not fight or harm anyone. He died.

  • Seabass

    Grantedly, he had a purpose in dying in Gethsemane. Are you children dying to atone for the sins of billions, fulfill prophecy, and glorify God?

    I think the issue is very complex and I’m a bit confused now like you are-I have to study this further, but I don’t think what happened in the Garden is a very good example.

  • Julie

    I always felt that same way….Jesus was doing something special and important so he was different…but I’m not so sure. His disciples seem to have ended up with the same kind of deaths. I honestly think I would defend my children to my own death…maybe to someone else’s but my ideas about violence and protection and what it means to lay down your life as a disciple are changing…not necessarily in a way that I enjoy….

  • Amy

    Anyone who can’t say whether they would allow someone to kill their children should have their children removed by the state.

  • Julie

    I don’t mean, obviously, that I would just sit by and eat popcorn while someone killed my children. I mean, I don’t know whether or not I would shoot someone if I felt threatened. I think I might actually….but more and more I am feeling a little weird about the fact that Jesus might actually want us to do things the way he did and the way his disciples did…which seems to be non violence. I would certainly take a big stick and start walloping someone who was attacking my kids….so don’t fear for them. I have no interest in handing them over to the criminal element.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    I don’t get the atonement thing at all. What I understand from the cross, is that he showed us death is not real. God is Eternal and we are not separate from God.

    Period.

    If we ignore that, then of course we live the way we continue to live. Running away from a phantom. Grasping at shiny things.

  • Julie

    I have a hard time with the atonement as I have learned it as well. The only thing that seems to have helped clarify it lately is a statement by George MacDonald: Jesus didn’t die to save us from the consequences of our sins…but the sins themselves…cowardice, greed, anger, etc. That puts a different spin on it and it’s much harder…

  • Don Lowery

    Am so happy you have brought this topic into the light of day. At my former church in Colorado Springs…I got alarmed when I saw another member have a sidearm on his belt in the Saturday morning men’s Bible study. When I went to the pastor the following week and brought up my concerns about anyone needing to carry a gun in church and how we’re supposed to be a people of peace…this pastor brought up the shootings at New Life Church (Ted Haggard’s former church) and how if someone had been packing…those girls wouldn’t be dead. Head into this past week or so and read about a guy packing concealed in that Las Vegas Wal-mart and getting shot by his wife or girlfriend from behind as he was trying to take her husband/boyfriend out. I maybe off base…but it makes me wonder if those who claim to be Xtian have ever read what Jesus said AND meant about using the sword?

  • Reginald

    Exactly! When it comes to this issue of guns, there is a stark difference between knowing God’s word and trusting God’s word.

  • Joe

    I grew up a son of Menno, so this argument is nothing new. No more seat belts. It’s a fear of car accidents. God will protect you. No more taking medicine God will heal you. Police officers shouldn’t carry guns or wear bullet proof vests, because God will protect them. I personally don’t have a gun, and I live in the murder capital of America. However, I do have a security system that calls the police who show up with their guns. Is it OK as long as rely on someone else to do the violence? Also gun violence isn’t just taking place in suburban school shootings. Our kids in the hood have been dying from gun violence for 4 decades. We wondered when suburban America was going to notice that there was a problem.

  • Brandon Roberts

    i’m actually a huge supporter of gun control. nobody needs an armory all you need at most (if even that) is maybe a pistol or a shot gun

  • Anthony

    “Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns. Why? Because we’re scared.”

    I have a couple of questions that relate to this statement, which I think encapsulates much of your point in the post.

    First, do you make a distinction between a proponent of so-called “gun culture” and someone who keeps a firearm in their bedroom for personal/family protection?

    Second, do you believe the latter of the two (non-gun culture firearm owner) is being idolatrous for relying on a firearm for personal safety? If so, how is that different than relying on seat belts, life insurance, vaccines, door locks, doctor visits, etc.?

    An obvious difference is that guns are instruments of violence, but that’s not what you base your argument on. If relying on something other than God for safety is idolatrous, then what’s the difference?

  • A-Train

    there have NOT been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. if you want to blame someone, start with the godless Hollywood and crappy parenting.
    blaming Christianity, or at least attempting to, is an intellectually weak argument.

  • Nick

    What are your thoughts on shotguns and rifles used for hunting purposes?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    100% fine with them for that purpose.

  • Nick

    Right on brother. Thanks for the quick reply.

  • Mc

    @ David, wow! So I guess standing there and allowing you family to be raped, robbed and killed is ok with you? I pray no one ever relies on you to defend them. You are indeed a perfect example of a coward who hides behind the word of God! How dare you use scripture to put down those that have given their very lives so cowards like you can rant about how holy you are.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Obeying the nonviolent teachings of Jesus takes far more courage than shooting someone.

  • Reginald

    Wow Martin! You actually prove the writer’s point with that statement……..You trust guns more than God and compound that by ridiculing one that trusts God for their safety……….Tell me what is so radical about praying to God to keep evil people from even coming into my house and then trusting that He has more power and authority than any burglar, rapist or gun they may carry?

    Psalm 4:8 ~ I will both like down in peace and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

    Psalm 141:9 ~ Keep me from the snares they have laid for me, and from the traps of the workers of iniquity.

    Meditate on what Jesus says….

    Matthew 12:29 ~ Or how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his property; unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

    Do you not understand that being bound by fear that makes you need a gun for protection or being bound by limited faith in something far less than God for your protection is just as bad as being bound by any intruder? You wait……..armed and waiting for the inevitable incursion played out in your mind by fear; while hoping that your arsenal is stronger than what any intruder may bring with them.

    That sir, is no way to live……….not with any peace anyway.

  • Anthony

    Let me first be clear that I in no way want to associate myself with martin conte’s comment above. I think his calling Mr. Corey a coward is disgusting.

    I have an honest question for you, though. If you believe Christians are to rely on God alone for their safety, what do you make of vaccines, door locks, doctor visits, life insurance, seat belts, etc.?

  • Reginald

    I do not try or claim to speak for all Christians or even most Christians, as most Christians (at least in America) trust their guns and weapons more than the promises of God. That being said, I will give you my take as a Christian.

    All of those things are for protection and preventive maintenance, but all of those things however are man made. God can and God does use those things to protect us and provide for us, but none of those things are ever supposed to be trusted over God as our primary source for providing our protection.

  • Anthony

    So, then, do you see a difference between relying on a gun and relying on a vaccine as secondary sources of protection?

  • Reginald

    Yes there is a difference. Take the Apostle Paul for instance. Luke the physician traveled with Paul. Obviously Luke was to record both the accounts of his travels and the start of the church by the work of the Apostles (Acts). He was obviously also commissioned to write the Gospel of Luke. Also part of his service for the Lord was to use his God given skills as a doctor to care for Paul and his infirmities.

    He provided healthcare for Paul, but he did not protect Paul. The Lord protected Paul.

    Acts 18:9-10 ~ Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”

    Even when everyone around him became fearful for their own lives and left Paul in persecution and imprisonment.

    2 Timothy 4:16-18 ~ At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

    Yes it is clear to me in the passage listed above in Acts 18 that the Lord uses His own to provide for His own, but the way that works in the Holy order is that the Lord must always be our primary trusted source; even if He chooses to use secondary resources. It may be their hands, but it is still His work in them.

    Paul lived until his service to the Lord was done and his race was finished. He lived till the end of that race because the Lord kept him through the race, through many means. As long as we keep our focus and complete trust on Jesus and our obedience on doing the will of the Lord, He promises to honor that and keep us till the end of our race.

    So the question is what it has always been since the beginning………..Do we or do we not trust His promises?

  • Michael Sprague

    Great discussion! I am 9/10ths a pacifist from my studies of the original Anabaptists, but I am definitely fascinated by guns. I used to shoot when I was a kid: no fear involved, (except the loud noise) just the joy of a beautiful mechanisms and things that are machined to work well and look good. At the same time, if I were armed and needed to defend my family, I would probably use a gun.

  • Guest

    Deleting comment to avoid redunancy….

  • http://thebygonegirl.wordpress.com/ ByGoneGirl

    This turned out painfully long. I apologize, but I replied to many comments, not just the blogger. All quotes are headed with a “Q”

    I don’t think most people walk around in fear. I don’t know any,
    Christian or otherwise, gun owners or not. Sometimes people simply
    choose to plan for the worst and hope for the best. To take precautions.
    No one sits around shaking in their seats, gun pointed at the door. Most people will never have to fire a weapon. Most victims had no idea they would become a statistic. People do many things to err on the side of caution. I dont wear a seat-belt every day because Im convinced today will be the day I’m involved in a wreck. Same goes for spare tires, rainy day funds, routine exams, life insurance, learning CPR…

    Q- Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns…..

    If your faith was so great, ending gun ownership to save lives would
    carry the same value as maintaining gun-ownership to save lives. Why do
    you trust Gun Laws more than you trust God? To satisfy your individual right to see less horror on TV?
    Your fear is so great you want to legislate an entire country out of
    their rights because you think they’re stupid. Your idolatry of Law says that it is more powerful than God and your faith is so strong that you believe the law will
    stop the killing when the same law forbids murder but has never been able to prevent it.

    Pro-right to bare arms and pro gun-culture are not the same. Maybe we should call it pro-choice. You’re free to have them if you want, but if not, don’t get one.

    While you’re at it, show your faith by abstaining from door locks,
    seat-belts, cops and soldiers, vitamins, medications, doctors, vaccines,
    smoke detectors, and scary dogs with big teeth.
    Any chance you remember the joke that ends with God saying to a preacher, “I sent you the boat the chopper and the airplane?

    You can’t say this is becoming increasingly common, meaning society is increasingly dangerous, to justify anti-gun ideology, AND say there is no danger, have no fear, you don’t need a gun. Yet you do. Lets focus on what has changed in this country. Gun ownership? No. Americans have always had guns, children were raised with them from the birth of this nation and saw them everywhere they went. We have more gun laws now than ever and the problem is getting worse. Why? Because guns are not the problem. People are. We are growing colder, more bitter and angry. We have no love, respect, regard for life or property. Do you think if you take guns away people will say, “oh darn, now I cant kill anyone” ? I can run down 100 people w/my car long before I ever see flashing lights comin to get me. No gun law will change the deterioration of society. Humanity has a disease of the mind and the spirit. Guns are not the cause.

    Q- Some of the church wanted to make the church space a gun free zone but encountered immediate push back on the idea,

    So…If nothing bad ever happened at the church, why have guns?
    or…
    why take away the guns when nothing bad ever happened in the church due to a gun?

    Q- Living in Maine is probably one of the safest places you could live–
    you have a better chance of getting killed by a moose than an armed
    gunman. What would posses people to bring guns to church is beyond me.

    Do you hear yourself thinking when you’re writing? None of this makes any sense. You’re saying that people in Maine have guns, they like them so much they even take them to church, and you’re more likely to be killed by a moose than a gunman…
    Explain to me again how guns are the problem if there isn’t a problem from all the guns everyone seems to have for nothing. Also, how exactly does one defend themselves against a moose? Them puppies are BIG and I’m pretty sure they don’t care if they trample you in their house or Gods.

    Q- Violent, gun culture is something the American church can no longer ignore.

    Exactly right! But wait, that’s exactly what you’ve done. You’ve entirely ignored violent gun culture. You’re against non-violent gun ownership. You have yet to speak wisdom against violence, just self-defense and Christians who support gun rights while presumptuously diagnosing them w/the illness of idolatry and fear.
    Tell me more about my sin again…

    Q- We can no longer reject Jesus in favor of guns, especially if we want to call ourselves “Christians”

    I’m sorry I asked. You have such faith in your diagnosis of others that you’ve rejected reality and reasoning. You’re focused on the spec in your brothers eye.

    Q-This is what Jesus meant when he said: “if you live by the sword you will die by the sword”.

    Really? Very interesting. What did Jesus say the sword is again?

    Q- We’ve created a culture that cultivates fear, worships individual
    rights, and justifies an endless cycle of violence– and now we’re
    experiencing the consequences of our own sick idolatry.

    No, we’ve justified a Godless society on the grounds that society does not need
    God. The cycle of violence starts there. Our idolatry is self. That is
    where your individual rights are grounded. It’s this “don’t tell me what
    to do” anti-Christian values, anti-mosaic law mentality that says
    Christians are telling everyone else how to live when Christians are the
    problem with this country. So what do those who “call themselves
    Christians” do now? Exactly what you’re doing. Judging and trying to
    control other Christians. Turning the attack on each other. We stand
    down because “That’s not what we’re here for” and we don’t vote because
    “Christians who are active politically are misguided” so we stop
    advocating for righteousness even tho we live in a society that gave us
    exactly that power…politically. There’s your sword brother Benjamin.
    Brother against brother, daughter against mother father against son. How
    did Jesus define brother, mother, sister? That would be me and you and
    other believers, no matter how cross-eyed you look at us.

    When Jesus said love your enemy, he gave many examples defining that
    enemy, none of which involved attempted murderers, rapists or being confronted
    with a deadly weapon. I wonder if that’s because He didn’t have to. Being
    allowed to defend yourself is a no-brainer that Jesus didn’t have to
    elaborate on. Scripture never said to love your enemy more than the brother he is about to kill. Love that says, let him murder your children to demonstrate Godly love is not Godly or love.

    Re: Jesus & Law
    Jesus did NOT overturn the law! He FULFILLED IT.
    He fulfilled the requirements for righteousness and he PAID the penalty
    for sin. He freed us from the law that condemned us. THAT is Godly love.
    Can you show me ONE place in the OT where punishment was said to lack in
    love? On the contrary the rod is an act of love. Where is self-defense a
    loveless crime? Can you show me where in the OT Love was ever absent from law? Did I miss where Jesus called the law evil or loveless?

    We are not to exact revenge, vengeance belongs to God. We shouldn’t
    desire to get even, hurt people who hurt us, steal from those who steal
    from us, disrespect the disrespectful, hate the hateful etc. Never is it
    even implied that we lay down our lives for those who want to kill us, never is it implied that we are to watch our children die out of love for their killer. That can’t be Godly love because it is not Gods character. Christ gave up His life to SAVE. Before that time came there were moments where his life was in danger, He didn’t let them kill him, He fled. The time was not yet.

    When specifically discussing murder in Matt 5 v21 says,

    21 “You
    have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not
    murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But
    I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be
    subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister,
    ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    This would have been the perfect time to tell them to allow their own murders, no?

    If the OT is not relevant despite being the same entity as the
    unchanging God, then Christian eras are at least as irrelevant. The
    focus is the Word of God being God, not eras that saw the birth
    of a thousand Christ based religions. Remember, Jesus never ever spoke
    against the law of Moses, just those who claimed to uphold it. The
    church and its leaders were wrong, not the doctrine. Jesus didn’t say an
    eye for an eye was no longer law. He said that law says this is your
    right, but I say choose love instead. He did not say the law was bad, or
    wrong. He was shadowing the Parable of the Servant who was forgiven
    his debt but did not show the same mercy to his fellow servant. Again,
    Matt 5:21-22 is exactly that scenario. Hes saying, I forgave so much
    because I love you, do the same in my name so they see me when they look
    at you. Do whatever it takes to avoid dispute, rivalry, court.
    If they’re mad at you, let them have what they want and end it there.
    If they hit you out of anger, let them hit you. Don’t repay blow for blow. Don’t run to the judge seeking justice. God will handle that.

    If idolatry is the topic, lets talk about education as a God. You trust
    scholars over God. The early Church over Jesus. Text over the Spirit.
    History is filled with scholars, priests and false prophets touting their vast
    knowledge. You use the above insistent that Christians change their
    thinking and accept that they’re wrong while you are entirely unwilling to do or
    accept the same possibility. If God is not a respecter of persons neither am I. I don’t care if you’ve studied the bible for 90 years, Nothing is given except by God. Nothing.
    You can study for another 100 years, and its meaningless if you’re eyes
    cannot see. Doesn’t the small army of Atheist Bible professors, scholars
    and authors prove as much? It doesn’t matter how many people agree with
    you or how many books you’ve written or how long that belief has
    endured. As soon as you validate your knowledge with “I’m an expert” you
    invalidate the spirit and prove to be without wisdom, the door to truth.
    You trust forefathers, and books and self, when we know what the end
    holds for so many of them. The flock isn’t scattered by the children.
    The bible states that God keeps *these things from the wise and prudent
    and reveals them to the babes. You use your education as a pedestal for
    pompous self-aggrandizing and subduing anyone without a degree when the
    Word of God tells us not to let anyone despise our youth. I’ve seen
    babes in Christ speak the word like a verbal independence day fireworks
    display that made the spirit charge the air and hit you with the power
    of hurricane force winds, and I’ve seen very educated individuals
    strangle the spirit and suck the joy and life force out of a room with
    their chest-thumping display of knowledge.
    Practice. What.You. Preach. Trust God, not men.

    Q- many of them ended up dying for their enemies but never killing them.

    Dying FOR them? Or murdered BY them? This was NOT love, but subjection
    to LAW. They were divisive and broke laws banning the doctrine of Christ that were punishable by death or imprisonment. They died for Christ, NOT their enemies. Speaking of subjection to law, like it or not, law in THIS country permits me to defend not just my life but any human life that is in mortal danger with deadly force if necessary. Since God supports government and laws set in place to protect and maintain peace, and our justice system does so in this way and the bible does not call lethal force in self-defense a sin against God, anywhere
    in that conversation about love, I’m thinkin’ I’m good in the eyes of
    God.

    I believe in the Word of God. All of it. I love it. Passionately. I love
    God with all that I am. I hang on my Saviors every whim. I live by His side. I
    don’t twist or interpret or dissect. I don’t respect the wolves who do. You cannot take take His teaching on love and turn it into a sweeping generalization that makes love this blanket martyrdom. If someone shoots me at a mall, I’m not a martyr, I’m a victim. I didnt die for the Word of God, I died for nothing and the law didn’t protect me.

    Q- Nope, you skipped verse 37 which explains this was in order to fulfill a prophesy that Jesus would be arrested as a criminal.

    Dear Lord….That had nothing to do with the Sword. They didn’t know a sword would be drawn when they got there. They were there to arrest Him sword or not. They arrested no one else sword or not. From the very start, the plan was to arrest him as a criminal in secret our of fear. I never saw such twisted context.

    john 18
    29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
    30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
    31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your
    law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put
    any man to death:
    32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
    33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
    34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
    35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

    Q- Had Jesus ordered people to be prepared to use violence, he would have made himself a liar for what he taught in Matthew 5.

    REALLY? I continued the passage below. Explain His lack of disapproving tone when speaking of his servants defense of Him. He seems pretty ok w/servants that fight, but that’s just me. Where is the proclamation of violence free love?

    36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this
    world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to
    the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
    37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou
    sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came
    I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one
    that is of the truth heareth my voice.
    38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out
    again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

    Tell me, where is the sword that fulfilled the prophecy of His arrest as a criminal, used against him as being one of them? Where is He condemned for the sin of His followers? Surely, if that made him a criminal they would have been all over it.

    Luke22
    36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and
    likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment,
    and buy one.
    37 For I (Still Jesus) say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

    He told them to arm themselves to prepare for “what was written” because those prophecies were about to be “finished”and the fulfillment of His purpose had begun.
    To say that Christ contrived a situation or staged an event simply to
    fulfill scripture changes the prophetic power of the holy spirit into
    something anyone can fulfill simply but knowing scripture. You’ve made a
    mockery of Gods will.

    If that’s not bad enough, Bramble Tree takes scripture speaking of how we have no need to fear God at Judgment because of the Love He shares with us and turns it into living in a fearless rainbows and butterflies society where caution and preparedness means fear is your God .

    Again and again you say to trust God not Guns. So can we do that with regard to salvation? Don’t be preachy, trust God to save people, if its meant to be He will do it. Why fear murderers, or hell? Why waste money on a college education? What do you need to prove? Why do you care what people think? Why do you need validation written on paper if faith in God rules your life? Surely a lack of education cannot prevent His will.

    To have faith in God is NOT to relinquish ourselves from responsibilities.

    We live in a for the people by the people republic. If America is corrupt it is because her people are corrupt. We prove it with our votes and see it in the
    many so-called (you said it) Christians siding with those who hold up
    infanticide as a noble choice because their hate for the rich tells them
    that greed is the greater sin. God Himself made men rich and spoke
    against bitterness jealousy and envy toward those who have more than us. Yet we want to control the rich at the cost of millions of unborn souls.

    Please rethink the sword we live and die by. It’s worth reevaluating. Hypocrisy has many clever disguises, self-righteousness is its favorite.

  • Owen Ander son

    When some one breaks into your home at 1:29am, the first thing you’re going to do is call someone who has a gun, and pray that they get there in time.

  • Rusty Smoker

    Amen, Ben.