An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr., Students, and Faculty of Liberty University

An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr., Students, and Faculty of Liberty University December 9, 2015

Dear Mr. Falwell,

In the tradition of your father, you made some reckless and inflammatory statements to your students the other day.

Just as I appreciate it when peace-loving Muslims, Hindus and others repudiate hostile and reckless statements made by prominent members of their religions, I feel impelled by conscience to repudiate your words as not being representative of authentic Christianity as I, and thousands like me, understand it.

For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, just and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.

Your message faithfully represents a longstanding (and ugly) stream of American culture and politics. This tradition goes back to those who argued against the equal human rights and dignity of the Native Peoples and African-American slaves, often abusing the Bible to justify white supremacy under its various guises.

It was also manifest in the Protestant prejudice against Catholic immigrants, in centuries of morally repugnant anti-Semitism, and in the unethical treatment of the Japanese during World War II. During the McCarthy era, it launched witch hunts using “red” and “Communist” as its epithets.

In this ugly American tradition, your father used antipathy towards gay people to rally his base, and now, you are doing the same with Muslims. You are being deeply faithful to a tradition that is deeply unfaithful to the life and teaching of Jesus… not to mention the broader American ideal that upholds the dignity and equality of all people, whatever their religion.

My friend Shane Claiborne speaks for many of us when he says, “It’s hard to imagine Jesus enrolling for the concealed weapons class at Liberty University. And it is even harder imagining Jesus approving of the words of Mr. Falwell as he openly threatens Muslims.”

I don’t doubt that your conscious intentions were simply to protect your students from a terrorist attack. But it’s the unintended consequences of your words that concern me most. I doubt many if any violent Islamist Fundamentalist extremists woke up one day and decided to become hateful, cowardly, immoral murderers. Instead, they were led down that path by degrees, and those who radicalized them convinced them that they were becoming purer, more faithful, and more orthodox believers in the process.

Your reckless words can easily render your students vulnerable to more extremist influences (perhaps including some who are running for president), and the result could be catastrophic. You could spiritually form a generation of people who think of themselves as “Champions for Christ” but who actually become a mirror image of the violent religious warriors you fear and reject, different in degree, perhaps, but not in kind.

According to a Washington Post story, you later said that when you referred to “those Muslims,” you were referring not to Muslims in general but to Islamic terrorists. OK. But I hope you realize that your audience in that convocation applauded, not your intent as later explained, but your actual unqualified words. And you approved of their approval. That is scary. That is ugly. That is wrong.

How would you feel if you saw the president, faculty, and students in a radicalized Muslim university somewhere applauding and laughing about killing Christians and “teaching them a lesson?” Do you see how you are helping your students become the mirror image of such a scene? And do you see, apart from any issue of moral conscience, the way that those reckless words could be used by ISIS and other such groups to stir up their apocalyptic us-versus-them fervor? The Bible we both revere has a lot to say about the danger of unwise words… how much more important in an age of Youtube.

Can you imagine how much more beautiful it would have been if you told the students that you were going to offer free classes in nonviolent conflict transformation — the kind that is taught not far from you at another Christian university that has a very different understanding of Christian character and discipleship?

Perhaps you owe it to your students to invite some Muslims to campus to explain to you, your faculty, and your students the damage done by your words. Maybe it would be a good time to invite some Christians who are risking their lives as peacemakers to come to your campus as well.

I hope your words will inspire millions of us to respond, not with the applause and laughter displayed by your students and faculty, but with unequivocal repudiation — and a commitment to embody a different kind of Christianity than the one you purveyed in your recent comments.

Just as there are many ways to be Muslim, some more and some less peaceful, there are many ways to be Christian. May more of us seek and find those more peaceful ways.

In a positive response to your negative words, I hope that this week, millions of Christians and other Americans will speak in neighborly kindness to their Muslim neighbors (along with their Sikh and Hindu neighbors, who at Oak Creek and elsewhere have suffered so much harm from Islamophobic violence). I hope they will repudiate the flippancy of your comments about taking human life, and instead, I hope they will speak of solidarity, mutual respect, and hospitality across religious lines.

And I pray that someday, students and faculty at Liberty University will look back on your comments, and their applause and laughter, with deep regret and a deep commitment to live more in the way of Jesus.

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  • Thumb Billie Mama

    As a Christian I denounce the message of intolerance and hate that is being delivered by some Christians. I do not agree with their radicalized hate message. Please forgive me for their behavior.

    • Clarke Riedy

      You don’t need forgiveness for someone else’s behavior. Just as peace loving Muslims don’t need forgiveness for the behavior of their terrorist brethren. What does need forgiving is the lack of proactive response on the part of Islamic scholars, clergymen and political leaders in nailing this misguided movement toward some zealous end times battle to the wall of never-to-be-fulfilled history.

      • Barry_D

        “What does need forgiving is the lack of proactive response on the part of Islamic scholars, clergymen and political leaders in nailing this misguided movement toward some zealous end times battle to the wall of never-to-be-fulfilled history.”

        Where is that lack?

        • R V

          It’s evident in the recent response to San Bernardino. The liberals are too busy beating up America over fears of a backlash than they are of terrorism itself. As always Americans, especially white Christians are the problem. Give me a break.

          As a Christian, it’s not my job to run around proclaiming “Islam is a religion of peace….” Let the Muslims do that if they really believe it and make it more convincing this time because they don’t seem all they excited to do that.

          I drove by the biggest local mosque almost daily. The sign had no consoling words of sympathy over the Paris or CA attacks. none.

          • gimpi1

            That’s because the people in that Mosque had nothing to do with the attack, nothing. Did you see any pro-life churches running consoling messages for the families of the victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting? No, because they had nothing to do with it.

          • Snooterpoot

            As a Christian, it’s not my job to run around proclaiming “Islam is a religion of peace….” Let the Muslims do that if they really believe it and make it more convincing this time because they don’t seem all they excited to do that.

            They do believe it, and they are denouncing terrorists who murder in the name of their peaceful religion.

            You just aren’t listening.

    • R V

      No, because it’s not your fault! It’s silly to feel guilty for others behavior.

  • planetwingnuttia

    Thanks for this. Nice to hear someone talk like Jesus.

  • KSM

    I think Mr. McLaren has misread what scripture teaches about self defense. He also seems to be doing more castigating than listening. Perhaps a little more openness to the ideas of brothers and sisters in Christ is in order.

    Here is an article written by one of the faculty of Liberty University, regarding Falwell’s comments:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/falwells-gun-remarks-at-liberty-u-are-on-target-commentary/2015/12/08/3f2977a4-9dfb-11e5-9ad2-568d814bbf3b_story.html

    • Octoberfurst

      I read the article by the Liberty U faculty member and just shook my head at his ignorance. He talks about pacifists taking Jesus’s teachings out of context when he is guilty of putting his own words in Jesus’s mouth. He acts as if Jesus was a first century Rambo who had no problem with killing the bad guys.
      What Jerry Falwell Jr said at that rally was hateful and vile and the fact that you don’t understand that just appalls me.

      • John Kline

        Jerry Falwell, Jr. is just following in the steps of his father who many regarded as Christian. But not all.

        • Don Lowery

          If someone believes that a racist segregationist is an example for a Follower of Jesus to follow…Jr Falwell is channeling his father perfectly.

          • John Kline

            Sr Falwell was a true charlatan and a despicable person.

      • Steve Bailey

        Shocking that “university professors” who profess to be Christian can be so downright ignorant.

    • Brandt Dick

      Mr. Howell, in his attempted support for Mr. Falwell’s remarks, conveniently skips over verse 37 in which Jesus says that the reason that he wants to make sure a couple of the guys have swords is so he can fulfill the prophecy that he would numbered among the transgressors. If they were unarmed, they would not be considered transgressors. They had to look like scum, so they made sure they had weapons. Among eleven men, there were two swords, which Jesus deemed sufficient. We are way over that ratio in America today.

      • Mike Craig

        It’s interesting that we are told to fight against the work of Satan using the “Full Armor of God” and it turns out that for offense we have the Sword (Word of God) and defense, the Shield (Faith). Interesting weapons. Trust in God, not firearms.

    • Mike Craig

      Please share “what scripture teaches about self defense.” I would love to know where the references are located.

      • Rick Pryce

        Matthew 5:38-42 as one example. ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.’

        • Mike Craig

          Thanks. I have searched the New Testament and found nothing that supports killing. I only see Christ’s example of laying down ones life and love. The disciples were martyrs and gave us no example of arming for self defense. I choose to trust God, not firearms and if I am called to lay down my life, I pray for strength to be obedient. I choose Christ. Paul said to “live is Christ, to die is gain”.

      • MSBassSinger

        Here is a good article addressing your question, with Scriptural references. It is indeed Scriptural to defend one’s
        self or the innocent with deadly force when necessary.

        http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/53697-is-it-biblical-to-arm-ourselves-for-self-defense

        • Snooterpoot

          That isn’t an article. It’s an opinion, and one that I find completely lacking both in foundation and in the example Jesus set for us.

      • Tom Sanders

        “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts,
        both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and
        overturned their tables.”

        Wow…so Jesus MADE a weapon and used it…..

        A Violent Jesus? I thought Jesus was only love…..

    • RidgewayGirl

      That was a disappointing editorial by someone making the Bible suit their politics. What is “wimpy” about the fearless love that Christ and Paul both lived and taught? And stretching a single verse about prophecy fulfillment into the idea that Christ would have had a CCP and been willing to shoot to kill is ludicrous.

      I’ll stick with Christ’s command to us to love one another, without qualification or requiring the other person to behave or believe exactly the same way I do. And I’ll use His example, and the example of early Christians, in how to respond to those who threaten us. Surely, if Christ’s message was one of vigorous and pro-active self-defense by any means possible, Peter, Paul and the others would have behaved very differently when they faced persecution.

  • Jimhere

    Spot on

  • BT

    I agree with Mr. McLaren, but I really hate open letters. I suppose, though, that it would be an illogical fantasy to harbor the hope that Jerry would actually sit down in person and discuss such things with someone like McLaren. Or read an actual letter from him. Think I’ll go chase down a unicorn instead.

  • frharry

    Outstanding response. I am particularly taken by the recitation of history of scapegoating in American political history. However, this is the track that American politics has taken for the past half century. Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” with its emphasis on “law and order” was little more than thinly coated racism. Similarly Ronald Reagan’s mythical “welfare queen,” where the racism became a bit more blatant. Then George Bush (I) with his Willie Horton ads made racism overt. Trump follows on a long line of Know-Nothing sentiment with his anti-immigrant polemics embodying the subtle to overt racism in American politics.

    Somehow I just can’t imagine Jesus buying any of this. Indeed, the region called Samaria is largely Muslim today. Do you think Jesus would change his parable because of that?

    • Robert Conner

      But you could imagine Jesus having a good laugh at dying AIDS patients? Or have you conveniently forgotten about the career of Jerry Senior? The selective memory of evangelicals never fails to astound me.

      • R V

        It is God who will judge Jerry Falwell, not you. And did Jerry later apologize? If so, say so or you are misrepresenting the truth.

        • frharry

          Mr. Falwell will be most remembered for his demonization of dying people. That is not a judgement. It is merely an observation of historical behavior. The correct response to that behavior is not an apology. It’s repentance. For if stigmatizing children of G_d dying of a horrendous disease is anything, it is surely a sin.

          • R V

            Maybe by you. We all have sins. We tend to be selective about others, excusing those who we like and harshly condemning those we don’t.

          • frharry

            Sorry. Demonizing dying people is more than a mere sin, which, as you note, we all are prone to engage in. It is sin on an exponential level given its capacity to harm entire groups of the children of G-d, here among the most vulnerable. It is also a revelation of character at a pretty profound level. Scapegoating is always the evidence of projection of the shadow that one has repressed from their own consciousness. The damage that is done from this inability to deal with one’s own sinfulness is enormous. As I said above, the correct response to such conduct is not merely an apology, it is repentance, a recognition of that character flaw and the damage it has inflicted on others, and a humble plea for forgiveness from those harmed and the G-d who created them.

        • Robert Conner

          No, unfortunately, god will not judge Jerry Falwell. But history certainly will. Here’s a excerpt by Christopher Hitchens enjoying the death of the rancid sack of sanctimonious blubber known as Jerry Senior.

          “Like many fanatical preachers, Falwell was especially disgusting in exuding an almost sexless personality while railing from dawn to dusk about the sex lives of others. His obsession with homosexuality was on a par with his lip-smacking evocations of hellfire. From his wobbly base of opportunist fund raising and degree-mill money-spinning in Lynchburg, Va., he set out to puddle his sausage-sized fingers into the intimate arrangements of people who had done no harm. Men of this type, if they cannot persuade enough foolish people to part with their savings, usually end up raving on the street and waving placards about the coming day of judgment. But Falwell, improving on the other Chaucerian frauds from Oral Roberts to Jim Bakker to Ted Haggard, not only had a TV show of his own but was also regularly invited onto mainstream ones.”

          And this:

          “If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”

          • R V

            There indeed is a God who will judge us all.

          • Robert Conner

            Don’t wait up nights.

      • R V

        No, but neither is dying of AIDS a act of redemption.

    • R V

      And the Democrats don’t do likewise? Mr. Obama whipped up fury over Ferguson which was based on a lie. He had no problem manipulating the masses for political reasons.

      • frharry

        If anything, Mr. Obama chose his words about Ferguson very carefully. The fact that America does not wish to address its crying problem over racism does allow us to simply kill its messengers with dismissal.

        • R V

          I disagree. The administration effectively condemned the police and supported the mob in the street before the facts were known. He sent Eric Holder to support the demonstrations. He never challenged the demonstrators to consider if the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ narrative was in fact based on truth.

          Turned out the shooting, though tragic, was justified.

          Obama and Holder did a lot to stoke the flames.

          • Snooterpoot

            Turned out the shooting, though tragic, was justified.

            Not necessarily. It depends on the case the prosecutor, who had a conflict of interest in prosecuting a law enforcement officer, put before the grand jury. If it was a weak case that the prosecutor presented only because the public demanded it, then Darren Wilson was guaranteed to walk.

            This should have gone to a trial by jury. The failure of the grand jury to indict really means nothing.

  • John Kline

    I think he follows the Republican Revised
    Edition of the Bible which ignores loving and helping others.

  • Larry Jones

    Excellent word Brian. Now, if we can get you on Fox News to say it, maybe it would make a difference. Unfortunately it probably wouldn’t.

    • R V

      Hey, I watch CNN, FOX and MSNBC. FOX is usually more inclusive of alternate opinions.

  • MSBassSinger

    What a sad, uninformed article/letter.

    What Falwell is talking about is self-defense, and particularly the defense of innocents who cannot defend themselves.

    That you read intolerance and hate into this is a case of your bearing false witness. Being armed does not preclude showing sacrificial love to those Moslems (or anyone) who will receive it. Guns are only threatening to those intent on evil, and those who are willfully ignorant.

    • JamieHaman

      Mr. Singer, since you claim guns are only threatening to those intent on evil, and those who are wilfully ignorant, would you be so kind as to explain which one the two year old boy and his mother were, when he shot her to death in the parking lot of Walmarts? Accidentally shot her I mean.
      Would you also explain the number of drive by shootings that have occurred, and how a 7 year old victim sitting on her grandfather’s lap was either a threat, or wilfully ignorant?
      Did being armed preclude showing love to the Muslims of Iriving Texas, when white, armed, occasionally masked men followed women, and children, and other attendees into the Iriving Mosque? It sure looked like it to me, especially since one of the ringleaders also shared names, addresses and other info on both the Muslims, and their “sympathizers.”
      While you read intolerance and hate into this case of the article’s author bearing false witness, I suspect you too are possibly guilty of the same, when it comes to any number of people “being armed.”

      • MSBassSinger

        Sure, I’d be glad to explain.
        You write from the false premise that the gun in those instances was somehow a sentient participant. As always, it is the person who causes the harm, not the weapon. These folks who harmed others could just as easily have used knives or bombs.
        In fact, had a good guy with a gun been present, the odds of the harm being done would have dropped significantly. When these cowards know there is armed resistance, they tend to slither back in the darkness from which they emerged.

        • Snooterpoot

          In fact, had a good guy with a gun been present, the odds of the harm being done would have dropped significantly.

          Prove it. Can you provide evidence that even a half dozen shootings were prevented by a “good guy with a gun?”

          I think that usually those good guys are smart enough to duck and not wave a gun around to make themselves a prime target of someone who is already shooting.

    • R V

      Agreed. It’s an excuse for those who just don’t like the Falwell style of Christianity. Not saying I like it either though.

  • Steve Bailey

    Brian – You reflect a truly prophetic voice here. Christians need to stand up and denounce the thoroughly unChristian stream in America represented by Falwell and his cohorts. What Falwell represents here is a deep and profound kind of ignorance that is ultimately destructive of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I urge all who serve the Gospel to refute this tragic distortion of Christian faith as you have so ably done. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead us away from destructive error into the liberating and transforming love of God in Christ Jesus. And pray that the likes of Falwell will open their hearts and minds to the realities of Christian faith and practice.

    • R V

      Nice how folks want to completely judge a whole man on one public statement. The truth is most folks probably didn’t even know Jerry Jr. even existed until this rather contrived controversy and now you all act like you got him 100% pegged. Give me a break…

      • Steve Bailey

        Pegging embarrassing “Chrisitian” leaders like Son of Falwell goes far beyond a single statement. What he represents, continually, is an aberration and does not represent a healthy or theological defensible Christian world view. What is occurring in discussion here is not a judgement based on a single outrageous statement. What he represents must be thoroughly refuted by all who profess the name of Jesus.

      • Mike Craig

        Actually I am aware of both Falwell’s and sorry to say, I have to agree, he went too far. When the authentic Christian church humbles itself before God and truly seeks mercy and repentance on ISIS behalf, when we stop condemning them to hell and realize God loves them as much as us, then we might actually see victory over evil.

        • R V

          So we, the Church, needs to repent over ISIS? The Church does not condemn ISIS to hell. If members go to hell, their condemnation is on the same basis as anyone else.

          • Mike Craig

            ? Sorry not following your logic.

      • Yvonne Interval Frith

        The name “Falwell”, has for decades been synonymous with bigotry, dogma and exclusion. Sadly, Liberty University and the Falwell name are inextricably woven into the fabric of old school religion. I’m a Christian and in no way does Falwell represent a growing number of Christ followers who no longer can subscribe to his form of
        Christianity. The controversy isn’t contrived, it’s very real and it’s left a lot of victims in it’s wake.

    • Nixon is Lord

      Falwell is a symptom; the illness is religion.

  • John Williams

    Good job. I hope and pray that we are able to steer away from the dark times we seem to heading for. Just like Trump, it’s not Falwells words that bother me, it’s the millions who don’t have a problem with them.

  • cken

    We have here both a practical and theological conundrum. Nonviolent conflict resolution isn’t much good when somebody starts shooting at you. And should we invite potential terrorists into our homes i.e. allow mass migration of Syrian refugees into our country. We would like to think love conquers all but in the real world it doesn’t always work that way. Where do we draw the line between loving our brothers or our enemies and protecting our lives. The bible doesn’t give any bright line clear direction. It can be equally interpreted for either position you take. Should we consider the whole bible or just the NT? Fully 25% of Muslims believe terrorist killing of infidels is necessary and honorable or necessary in some circumstances. This leaves us with very difficult questions, problems not easily solved by any means available.

    • Ymoore

      Re: Cken and RV: Nonviolent resistance and conflict resolution was used and even worked on some level during the Civil Rights Movement when white terrorists backed by state governments and many apostate Christians sought to intimidate Blacks who were demanding full citizenship rights by bombing African American churches, buses and homes, killing children in the process; lynching black men and hanging their charred bodies from trees; assassinating movement leaders by shooting them; arresting, jailing, beating, water hosing and sicking attack dogs on protestors–men & women and children;, and otherwise murdering nonviolent freedom workers. During these attacks the local police did not come in and save protestors, as you suggest. Instead, they were a party to the attacks. But the Christian movement leaders remained committed to nonviolence, Interestingly, the Black Panther Party, which was openly nonChristian–or any religion for that matter, as religion was not a part of its philosphy–took your position, saying that when attacked in the ways mentioned above, they had a Constitutional Second Amendment Right to arm and defend themselves. And we all know how that went.

      • cken

        So what you are saying is nonviolent resistance and conflict resolution will work so far as we are willing to let innocent people be killed and tortured in the interim. So the question remains would you invite somebody who has the profile of a potential terrorist into your home. That is exactly what is being proposed with the Syrian refugees. I have not heard of a practical nonviolent solution to this problem.

        • Ymoore

          What I’m saying is that it’s been done before. What you’ve said above is the basic argument Malcolm X had against Dr. King and the nonviolent movement he led back in the day. Malcolm X said, “We are peaceful people, we are loving people. We love everybody who loves us. But we don’t love anybody who doesn’t love us. We’re nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us.” This was also the argument of the Black
          Panther Party for Self-Defense, which was formed as a direct rejection of the nonviolent movement.

          This argument is very practical, very reasonable, not a bit radical, really; it’s just common sense. All I’m saying is that the argument is different from what Jesus called his followers to do. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything practical about loving your enemies.

          What Jerry Falwell Jr. said is not based in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but in U.S.-based white supremacy. White people are legally allowed to protect themselves in the United States. Others are not, particularly black people. Can you imagine Al Sharpton calling on the congregation at Mother Emmanuel AME in Charleston, SC, to arm themselves for self-defense after the mass murder during prayer meeting at their church? Can you imagine a young white man being shot dead like John Crawford for holding a BB-gun that he intends to purchase in a Wal-Mart in Ohio, which is an open carry state?

          If what Jerry Falwell Jr said was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it would be able to stand in any setting, and clearly it doesn’t. It is something that can only be said w/impunity in front a largely white audience. Say that before any other audience in the U.S. and you’re going to jail THAT night, not the next night. (OK, that last sentence is hyperbole, but do this and not be white and you will be on the FBI watch list for true.)

          What leaders say matters. On the word of Christian leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, young people who may or may not have been Christian adhered to nonviolent resistance and marches.
          By the mid-1960s there was a revolt in that movement and some of those young people formed and/or joined the Black Panthers, who vowed to fight back. The FBI destroyed that organization, killing some of its members, jailing others and scattering the rest.

          Jerry Falwell Jr. is a grown man and can certainly say what he wants. But it would be helpful if he prefaced his remarks with something like, “I’m speaking with the rights and privileges of a white man now not as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ ….’”

        • RidgewayGirl

          How did the early Christians respond to real threats and persecution? Did those who had walked with Jesus and learned at His feet respond by defending themselves with weapons? How did Christ Himself respond?

          • cken

            Most of the time they left town. Are you suggesting we leave the country.
            To lay down your life to save another is one thing, to knowingly put yourself in harms way is all together a different thing. Early Christians did not do the latter.

          • RidgewayGirl

            Is your life in immediate danger?

          • cken

            That is an irrelevant question. The question is should we allow Syrian refugees which would most likely include some radical Islamic terrorists into our country thereby knowingly put ourselves in harms way.

            To respond directly to your irrelevant question; in theory all of our lives are in immediate danger at all times. You simply don’t know when it is going to happen to you. Therefor it is incumbent upon all of us to be prudent but not fearful. I know I certainly didn’t expect to get shot five times by somebody trying to pass a gang initiation test. Miraculously I lived and thereafter I became much more wary and got a conceal carry permit.
            I can’t imagine saying to the shooter it is OK, I love you so much I am going to let you kill me. Here let me get closer so you don’t miss.

          • RidgewayGirl

            Ok. You’re certainly entitled to your personal defense plan. It’s not Christ-like, but there’s no obligation on anyone to follow Him unless they feel called to do so. Christianity isn’t intended to be the wide, easy path to doing what feels comfortable.

          • LadySunami

            Any group fleeing from war potentially has some members of those they are fleeing from in their midst. Would you reject all refugees always because of this?

          • cken

            The problem is we have no way of telling the difference. Obviously you can’t say women and kids are OK

          • LadySunami

            So what? We have no way of telling if white Caucasian males already living in the states are potential terrorists either. Despite the near continuous shootings we’ve yet to throw them out of the country. There is always going to be risks, but that’s no reason to be suspicious and hateful towards everyone.

          • cken

            Wary, suspicious, yes. Hateful no. But should we risk increasing our risk? I can see both sides but I don’t know the answer. If I had to make the decision I would probably go towards the side of caution until we could come up with a better vetting procedure.

          • LadySunami

            How much better must the vetting be exactly? I know from experience that without an actual goal in mind, people can end up repeating things like that ad infinitum. I’m sure you realize no amount of vetting will ever be perfect, so instead try to determine what is “good enough”

          • cken

            So since it’s not perfect would you invite someone who has the profile of a potential killer into your home?

          • LadySunami

            That would rather depend on what part of their “profile” makes them a potential killer.

            Also, you didn’t answer my question. How much better must the vetting process be exactly?

          • cken

            I am not qualified to answer that question. I don’t know how good or bad the vetting is or how much better it can be made. Obviously there is room for improvement. Perhaps there is a whole different way to handle the Syrian situation. Maybe the UN could be more proactive and created safe zones within Syria. These decisions are made at the highest levels with information that isn’t available to the media.

          • LadySunami

            If you don’t know how good or bad the vetting is, then how do you know it isn’t sufficient already? Again, no matter how good the vetting process is, it will never be perfect, which means there will always be room for improvement.

            How do you know they didn’t determine that the creation of safe zones would be ineffective and as such decided taking in refugees was the more viable option?

          • cken

            There are those who know even if it hasn’t been made public yet. Besides is a lack of knowledge any reason to maintain the status quo.

          • watruthinking

            I’ve read and heard of accounts where people who fully-trusted in God — in God’s Power, and the power of God’s Holy Spirit — were in dire, life-threatening circumstances, and they prayed fervently, and God Supernaturally intervened. As when a terrorist’s gun jammed repeatedly and he ran off. I’ve seen a few less dramatic interventions in my own life — healing, “coincidental” delays which avoided mishaps, etc.

            So what’s it gonna be — you and that book you carry around and a gun? Or you, the Holy Word of God, The Holy Presence of God, and the Power of God’s Holy Spirit?

            Are you gonna invite God’s Will into the decision?

            Or just start shooting ?

          • Mike Craig

            Amen!!!

          • cken

            I too have seen or heard of those things in fact it happened to me once. Nonetheless I don’t see anything wrong or a violation of God’s will with being prepared.

          • Mike Craig

            Yes we should. We are commanded to make disciples. We are to reach them for Christ and that means you might be called on to lose your life. Are you living for this world or the next?

          • gimpi1

            I question your “most likely” statement. The screening procedures make it unlikely, not most likely, that a potential terrorist will be admitted. Where did you get the idea that it was likely?

          • R V

            Sometimes weapons, sometimes just leave.

          • RidgewayGirl

            When did Paul or any of the early Christians fight back against those that persecuted them?

          • watruthinking

            … they were all killed.

            Look – you’re going to die anyway. If you’re a Christian, you will be in heaven with Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you die from old age, cancer, car accident, drowning, jihadist bullets, choking, heart attack — believe in Jesus, live for Jesus, and die for Jesus. If every person in that auditorium believes in Jesus and they’re all killed by terrorists — so what? They have their heavenly reward — they are in The Presence of God and Jesus!

            The only reason for remaining alive is to share the Good News of God’s Salvation through faith in the finished work of Jesus. The reason to save anyone else’s life is in case they aren’t saved, in which case they may have another opportunity to place their faith in Christ — otherwise if they’re killed they will be eternally lost.

            So the only need to be concerned with saving lives is to save the lives of the unsaved — the saved are already eternally-destined for glory.

            By the way — you unsaved, who have NOT placed your faith in Jesus for your salvation — YOU MAY in fact want to carry a gun and try to buy yourself a little more time to make up your mind (heart, actually) — if you’re not killed in the conflict. Better yet, decide now — place your faith in Jesus for your eternal salvation — and save the cost of getting certified, buying a gun, ammo, etc.

            If God wants to bring you all home in one big kaboom! — that’s His Business. No terrorist will kill you unless God allows him/her to. If a terrorist is going to kill you, it’s because God is allowing him/her to do it.

            So the question is this: is carrying a gun for the potential reason of killing an active shooter God’s Will for you in the fulfillment of the Great Commission? Or can you equally fulfill God’s Will for your life by not carrying a gun, by not killing an active shooter, and by possibly being killed?

            Which message is more important: everybody carry a gun and possibly take out an active shooter (or a dozen) before they can kill more than a few dozen of you? Or be prepared to die in Christ, and to pray for your killers as they kill you.

            Which one seems to resonate most with the historical record? Where is your faith? If you’re not ready to die whenever from a terrorist’s bullet, when WILL you be ready to die? Hopefully before you’re in a fatal car accident, at any rate.

            Pray without ceasing … stay in His Presence always, and you’ll never leave His Presence — ever!

      • R V

        Gandhi used non-violent resistance because he was working with the British, a power that would ultimately respect it. He would not have used it against the Germans under Hitler.

        Neither is it appropriate during an active shooter situation on campus which is what we are ultimately discussing here.

        • Ymoore

          I didn’t say a word about Ghandi and the British. I told about real life, extremely brutal, terrorism here in the United States and the nonviolent resistance that was used against it.

          But I understand what you’re saying: you agree with the Black Panther stance, which is a legitimate position.

          • R V

            Not taking Black Panther position. Not talking about militancy or group violence to protect Christians. Talking about defense against immediate violence being perpetrated against others in my presence.

          • Ymoore

            Yes, that’s what the Black Panthers were for: self defense against immediate violence.

    • sarah custer

      I agree with you. American Christians only want to quote the verse where Jesus said,”Why can’t we all just get along?” There is no consideration of the OT at all and even Bill Maher reinforces what you’re saying. I don’t like Jerry Jr–I think he’s an asshole–but the Bible and Jesus is not unicorns and butterflies.

      • Mike Craig

        So maybe we should stone prostitutes and homosexuals too since that was commanded in the OT? I am a New Testament Christian and I follow the teachings of Christ. I don’t pick and choose laws because they support my world belief. I form my world view based on His teachings.

        • sarah custer

          The Word of God is comprehensive and inspired. Just because people don’t take the time to study and understand it, doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. Jesus also said,”I have not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword.” He also said,”Anyone who divorces his wife and remarries is an adulterer.” Jesus quotes the Old Testament all throughout the New Testament. Leviticus is also inspired. People who are ignorant quote it all the time pretending they know things they do not know because they don’t study God’s Word in full and have no interest in doing so. I don’t have to defend God. If you believe the Bible, either God gave those laws or He didn’t. If He did, they have purpose and value.

          • Mike Craig

            You cannot pick and choose. If you decide to follow old testament law you will be judged by the law. You are a new creation in Christ who came to us to offer himself as sacrifice. No one can keep the law. That’s the point. You need to be careful applying scriptures to support pre concieved ideas. It says in Psalms, “God is dead.” For real. But the first part of that verse says “The fool says in his heart,”. Be careful you don’t put trust in the law to save you. Put trust in the completed work of Christ. Only.

          • Snooterpoot

            Have you stepped away from your theological comfort zone and studied the Bible from a scholarly perspective? If you haven’t then you cannot honestly say you have studied the Bible. You can only say you have read it and reinforced your own biases and dogma.

            Are you willing to challenge the theology in which you are so comfortable? Or is the box you’ve placed yourself in good enough for you?

            I think a faith that cannot withstand scrutiny, and that is resistant to questioning, is a faith that is not worth having.

    • LadySunami

      Syrian refugees are no more likely to be terrorists then the white Americans who are already here. Everyone is a “potential terrorist,” not just Syrians.

      • Eli Odell Jackson

        Nonsense, 98% of ALL terrorists are moslems, they are killing people in Syria, Kenya, Nigeria, the Phillipines, France, England, Pakistan, etc. Every day, out of faithfulness to their book and their devilish false god.
        Christianity has always spread by the persecution and death of it’s preachers, Islam has always spread by the persecution of the resisters.

        • LadySunami

          Where did you get that percentage from exactly? And you do know that people who engage in terrorist activities are often not actually called terrorists unless they are Muslim, right?

          Also, “Christianity has always spread by the persecution and death of it’s preachers”? That’s a laugh. When the religion was just starting that was the case, but after it was declared the official religion of Rome? Hardly. (Follow this link for a huge list of examples.)

    • Snooterpoot

      And should we invite potential terrorists into our homes i.e. allow mass migration of Syrian refugees into our country.

      Do you think someone is going to go into a refugee camp, pick out a few thousand refugees, and tell them the follow him the the USA?

      I think we face far more danger from violent people who’ve grown up here, like Timothy McVeigh, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Chris Harper-Mercer and Robert Dear.

      We are called by Jesus to welcome strangers. I didn’t see any exceptions to that when he said that what we’ve done to the most marginalized people, we’ve done to him.

      I’d like to see some proof for your claim that 25% of Muslims believe killing people who are infidels (which doesn’t just mean people who are not Muslims, BTW) is necessary and honorable. Can you provide even one link to an unbiased source to support that assertion?

      I won’t hold my breath.

  • Todd

    I have a couple thoughts on this article, having read many
    of McLaren’s earlier works.

    The fact that McLaren’s theology, Bible interpretation, and
    Ecclesiology is anything but orthodox, I’m unsure how this article is
    compelling in the least, especially when it is all predicated upon McLaren’s
    understanding of what it is to be an “authentic Christian”. McLaren’s brand of
    Christianity has long been the modern bane of orthodoxy and Biblical scholarship.

    McLaren accused Falwell of “misusing” the Bible. That is
    absolutely correct, but this is a classic case of the pot and the kettle.
    Trying to trust McLaren’s assertion of misinterpretation is like watching one
    serial arsonist rebuke another, less prolific arsonist about the dangers of
    fire. Additionally, McLaren never explained how
    those Scriptures were taken out of context.

    McLaren also tried to slide a nasty little accusation in
    that our country has an “ugly American tradition” of reducing people’s dignity
    (examples given were Native Americans and Slavery). He’s not wrong about the
    examples, but that hardly makes it a tradition. He forgot about the 500,000 men
    who died to set those slaves free as well as the thousands of Christians seeking
    out American-Indians to share the Gospel. He conveniently failed to mention the
    losses in modern conflicts where brave people laid their lives down (many of
    them Christians) to protect the helpless. America is just like any other
    nation, and generally better than most in the history of mankind, made up of
    sinners.

    McLaren also said, “I don’t doubt that your conscious
    intentions were simply to protect your students from a terrorist attack. But
    it’s the unintended consequences of your words that concern me most.” I find
    this dishonest. I don’t doubt that McLaren’s conscious intentions were to teach
    people about the Bible and God, but the unintended consequences of creating a
    brand new interpretation of the church and how ought to interact with God are
    the ones that scare me the most. The blind ignorance of McLaren continually
    offends me and destroys his credibility.

    McLaren also lamented, “…your audience in that
    convocation applauded, not your intent as later explained, but your actual
    unqualified words.” Did you ever think, Brian, that maybe… just maybe, like the rest of us
    thinking people that they understood his meaning because they trust the man’s
    character and can infer meaning from context… you know… like they were taught
    to do at A UNIVERSITY!?!?

    One of the most ridiculous points was this one: “Can you
    imagine how much more beautiful it would have been if you told the students
    that you were going to offer free classes in nonviolent conflict transformation.”
    Who is this guy and why would we listen to someone with such vapid and
    idealized thinking? Again, had he read his Bible with any sense of honesty, he
    would have found that men’s hearts hate God and hate others. You don’t “educate”
    or “behavior” someone into love. That’s why a class in non-violent conflict
    transformation doesn’t work in active shooter cases. You don’t talk down a radicalized
    Muslim. Their reasons for killing are stronger than your reasons for peace.

    Finally, McLaren finished by saying, “In a positive response
    to your negative words, I hope that this week, millions of Christians and other
    Americans will speak in neighborly kindness to their Muslim neighbors (along
    with their Sikh and Hindu neighbors, who at Oak Creek and
    elsewhere have suffered so much harm from Islamophobic violence.” This is a
    non-sequitur for a couple reasons. First, the violence perpetrated at Oak Creek
    was from a man who did not claim to be a Christian, nor could he be
    extrapolated as one due to his associations. Second, McLaren fails to provide
    evidence for multiple events of Islamaphobic violence. This is a “fallacy of et
    ceteration” where the argument makes the claim of multiple effects, but fails
    to prove the extent of the claim.

    Concerning the shooter’s intentions being “Islamaphobic” at
    Oak Creek, news reports say this: “Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards declined
    to speculate on the motive behind the attack, saying “I don’t know why,
    and I don’t know that we’ll ever know, because when he died, that died with him
    what his motive was or what he was thinking.””

    Brian McLaren is an untrustworthy source, a resounding
    hypocrite, and an uncompelling moral authority. He has contributed to the very
    decline of Christianity that he writes about. Jerry Falwell may not have spoken
    well, but Brian McLaren has no room to speak on this matter as his eye sight is
    corrupted all the way up from that vantage point on his ivory tower.

    • Tim W Callaway

      Sorry, friend, you’re wrong. Why is it that theology (and its attendant affinities = hermeneutics, doctrine, church polity, et al) is the only “science” not permitted to evolve? Who came up with that bit of nonsense? Sounds almost papist to me! Since I wrote a doctoral dissertation on a component of such history, I’ll answer that question. It’s a part of the fundagelical hubris that is still exuded by the gate-keepers of evangelical “orthodoxy” in North America. Thanks to the work of Brian and many others, that product’s best-before date has fortunately expired.

      As for the growing market for family big-business in the U.S.A. (Falwell, Sr – Falwell, Jr; Swaggart, Sr – Swaggart, Jr – Swaggart, grandson; Graham, Sr – Graham, Jr; Hagee, Sr – Hagee, Jr; Robertson, Sr – Robertson, Jr; Osteen, Sr – Osteen, Jr; (do you see a pattern here?), when asked about this charade, those of us in leadership positions in the Canadian church have three basic responses: 1) We laugh at it; 2) We disassociate from it; 3) We lament it, “it” being what I as a journalist refer to as “American religitics”

      • Todd

        Tim,

        I have reformed brothers in Canada and they lament sorry excuses for leaders as you. You and Brian McLaren are the ones degrading and butchering the church with your continual disdain for immutable truth. This is why you hate Jesus so. Seriously. Have you ever wondered why you and Brian McLaren have so many problems with the professing church of Jesus Christ? It’s because of foolish and arrogant ideas like “[theology’s] best-before date has fortunately expired.

        I have read the majority of Brian McLaren’s works. They were hard to get through but I gave them a fair shake. Truly. Here’s the thing about the emergent church… which was displayed immaculately by your vapid response: authenticity. You’re concerned more with authenticity and aesthetics than what the actual authorial intent of the Apostles of God was.

        You didn’t even address a SINGLE argument of mine. You just proclaimed it wrong because… what… it’s not relevant enough? This is why I hesitated at even writing back, but you should seriously consider your place in the Kingdom of God if you can stand there and mock 2000 years of orthodoxy simply because it fails a relevancy test in your mind. The reality is that the Bible never loses relevancy… people lose their faith in its power and end up preferring the praise of sinners instead of God Almighty.

        We in the American church, of which I’m a deacon, are sickened by your ilk because you seek the approval of men and you’ll destroy a soul or two to get it.

    • Mike Craig

      I wonder if either Todd or Tim can post a response that does not center on insults. Is it possible to state an opinion that lifts up and encourages, instead of tearing down. When that skill is learned, conversation begins and progress ensues.

      • Matthew

        My honest question is …

        What is one to really do? The Falwell´s of the world have their theology, the McLaren´s of the world have theirs. Both claim it´s biblical. It seems to me the main argument here is tone and choice of words. I´m wondering if Falwell had been softer and kinder in stating his opinions, if his word choice had been better, would we even be having this discussion?

        One other thing …

        I´m certainly not part of the religious right or moral majority crowd, and I´m also no biblical fundamentalist, but I do think that sometimes the tolerant, peaceful, more liberal crowd — in their own way — can also come across as condescending and even a bit elitist. I´m not saying Brian came across that way in this piece. I´m merely stating that sometimes the left makes it seem that their position is the only viable one to hold simply because it´s the morally superior position (from their vantage point that is).

        Finally …

        If the Falwell´s of the world and the McLaren´s of the world both claim Jesus Christ as their Lord, how can they move forward in their brotherly relationship without tearing one another down in either a kind or unkind tone and context?

        • Mike Craig

          I couldn’t agree with you more. Anytime people take a stand based on their interpration and pass judgement on others if they disagree, comes across as negative and pridefull. This has been going on since the beginning of time and cause’s many to shun religion. This is why I try to remember to say to others, “search the scriptures and make up your own mind”. This is not an easy topic, yet it is important enough that you should decide one way or another how you should live. I choose to live in a way that honors Christ and I will try to live up to Him. God help us all and keep us strong in the moments of testing.

    • David Bruggink

      It’s your right to be dissatisfied with Brian’s ideology, but what evidence or reasoning do you have for accusing him of being a hypocrite or having a corrupted presence in the current sphere of Christianity? I can think of a few Christian leaders that would be worthy of that title, but only because I know, from various articles and films, their extremely luxurious lifestyles and the false promises they provide to their followers. Clearly Brian is not this kind of person. In every interaction that I have witnessed between him and others, I have felt that his demeanor was respectful and kind. If you read his letter above, you will notice that at no point does Brian attack the character of Falwell. Rather, he repeatedly called out the ways in which he felt that Falwell’s behavior could have negative consequences. I believe Mike’s point below is valid. Your tone seems quite insulting, and I think that approach actually hampers your ideological critiques.

  • The context of “those muslims” was perfectly clear in reference to terrorist muslims in the middle of an attack, so don’t try to indict the audience’s cheering based on your misinterpretation.

    • Todd

      You hit the nail on the head. McLaren’s interpretation is dishonest and manipulative. He uses the meaning that best supports his gross and repugnant agenda.

  • Tim W Callaway

    Good words, gracious words, wise words, Brian. On behalf of your ideological colleagues in Canada, I thank you for so capably articulating what so many of us here passionately believe and affirm. We are speechless with respect to much that transpires in the “religitics” to the south of us. I hope you cc’d Franklin Graham on this letter.

  • Christians must live in the world today. Fortunately many Christians live in the United States where we are free and relatively safe. Christians are not part of an organized effort to kill others around the world; neither are they here to apologize for what others perceive as atrocities committed by our great country in the past. We are really here by the grace of God to work out our salvation in the era we are born. You ask what Jesus might do as if you really knew the answer to those theoretical questions. When Jesus was on earth He did and said many things and they are recorded in the bible. We could debate those stories back and forth and we do. But do not pretend that you know what is right better than others. There was never any general prejudice towards Muslims in this country until Muslims started killing every “non-believer” in their reach in the name of God. Christian pastors today do not actively preach killing non-Christians. The Jews and “gay people” you mention in your blog do not kill Christians in the name of God. Better to direct your efforts to educate Muslims that it is not permissible to kill in the name of God. Did not the Jesus we follow and the Jesus you preach tell you not to criticize your “brother” while your flaws are even greater!

  • DonnaSue Jansma

    As a follower of Jesus, I am very dismayed by your rederic. Jesus himself asked the disciples before he rose if they had any weapons and they said they had a sword. He said good, because he wouldn’t be here with them in person to protect them. You really need to get your facts straight. As “Christians “, we do need to love and we need to forgive, but we are also as Jesus put it wise but sly. We are not just supposed to sit around and let people mow us down because we don’t believe in their false doctrine. You are a fool for thinking we should.

    • R V

      Right. You slap me, I’ll turn my cheek but if you pull out a gun and start shooting innocent people, I’m going to fight like hell and shoot you if I have to.

      It’s the most loving thing to do.

    • David Cohen

      He also said that those who lived by the sword would perish by the sword

      • R V

        Yes, he did but that is not the only thing he said. Falwell was specifically talking about protecting his students, not waging war on others.

        While I might surrender my life in a specific situation where my love for Jesus was at issue, I do not believe Jesus demands I surrender it to any punk ass kid who wants to kill me for ten bucks. If I can stop him I will. If I can do it without killing him I’ll try to do that too. That’s how I would let the love of God work itself out.

        • David Cohen

          “I do not believe Jesus demands I surrender it to any punk ass kid who wants to kill me for ten bucks.”

          – Then you don’t know much about Jesus

          “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
          – Matthew 5:39 (KJV)

          • R V

            Jesus said that and it’s true. He also said other things in other circumstances such as to take up a sword.

            Honestly, some kid with a gun comes up to you and your wife and kids and is going to shoot you all. You gonna just passively let him kill your wife and kids?
            Of sure, let him slap you and turn the other cheek if that’s all it comes to. But at some point you are called to respond to save others.

            If you say yes then I do not believe you nor do I believe Jesus would want you to.

            Or some crazed man with a knife runs wild on a senior center. You just going to watch? I don’t think so. It’s not very loving.

            Strictly speaking, if you believe that you should be adamantly against even having a police force or military. You are suggesting no true follower of Jesus could be in the police, the military or say fight in the resistance in WW2.

            The point is attitude. To stop a violent person is not unloving. You are saving them from themselves.

          • David Cohen

            Oh I’m not saying that stopping a dangerous person with force isn’t reasonable. What I am saying is that it is not something supported by the Gospels, except through torturous mangling of a few ambiguous verses. Martin Luther was quite adept at such mangling: he had to be in order to suck up to the German Princes who were keeping him from being burned at the stake. But Luther and the princes he sold himself to are dead now, so maybe its time to re-examine the paradigm.

          • R V

            No, I think it’s reasonable from a biblical perspective.

            Let’s take the parable of the Good Samaritan for example. Suppose the prospective helpers, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan came upon the man while the robbers were still beating him up, not after they finished.

            Can you imagine Jesus saying, ‘Hey wait till they finish, then help’? Is that consistent with Jesus’ character?

            Where I suggest we look at is what Jesus means when He says to not resist evil. I wonder if he means not resisting in your own power and for your own motives. Don’t try and defeat evil. You cannot. Only God can.

            But stopping the robbers from doing further damage is not attempting to defeat evil so much as to love and help the victim. In fact, one can have compassion on the attacker even as one restrains him. If that is the motive for action, I see no inconsistency between Jesus’ command and action.

      • Redboyds

        Um, defending your family is not “living by the sword.”

        • David Cohen

          You forget: those words were spoken to someone who was trying to defend Jesus

  • R V

    Hey, if some radical Jihadist starts shooting up a classroom of course one should do the most loving thing, kill him quickly to avoid a bloodbath. There is nothing immoral in doing that nor saying that is what one would do.

    That’s really all the guy was saying. Maybe the tone could have been a little softer but the basic message is correct.

    Which one of you, if you were with your family at some French cafe’ and some Jihadist opened fire, would not be grateful if some police were right there to take down the terrorist?
    And if you had a gun would you use it? Of course you would. So quit judging other for expressing the same sentiment.

    I think what’s really going on here is a bias against anything from a Falwell.

    • Mike Craig

      I pray I have the strength to follow in the footprints of the Lord Jesus Christ, the disciples and countless hundreds of thousands and lay down my life as the ultimate act of love. I trust in God, not firearms.

      • Nixon is Lord

        i pray that the millions of people in countries where the only thing they know how to make is extra mouths to feed don’t hear your words and decide to increase this country’s population from over 310 million to half a billion in the next 30 years.
        Strange that “progressives” are so eager to protect the environment but take actions (unlimited immigration) that will guarantee more environmental degradation and habitat loss and global warming.

        • Mike Craig

          I have no idea how your comment applies to mine. Sorry.

        • R V

          Sex is God’s idea and a darn good one too. Children are a blessing not a curse. People are more important to God than the planet itself. People are eternal yet the earth in its present form is not.

          • Eli Odell Jackson

            This Craig feller’s right though my friend, whether there’s liberal bible-denying modernists round about or not, this New-Evangelical political stance on firearms is unscriptural.

      • R V

        I trust in god too but if some Jihadist is aiming a gun at you in my presence, how am I not loving God by trying to save you?

        I might lay down my own life but letting everyone else die with me because I want to be a martyr for Jesus somehow does not seem the loving thing to do. I lay down my life by putting it at risk to save others.

        • Mike Craig

          You can imagine all kinds of scenarios that make a position seem right or wrong. My point is simple. When someone cut off the ear of the soldiers to defend Jesus, he was reprimanded. I read the scriptures and I find no commandment that replaces “love your enemy.”. Hopefully one day the church will stop applying human logic and instead base their actions on the teachings of Christ. I trust God not firearms.

          • R V

            Peter was trying to use force to save Jesus’ life but gods plan was for Jesus to die.

            Your point is too simple. God has not spelled out every possible situation in the scriptures. Gods expects us to apply the Scriptures in life’s complex situations. He gives us the tools to do so.

            I can imagine all sorts of scenarios because they exist in real life and we must deal with them.

          • Mike Craig

            Again, what scriptures are you basing your response. All I see are promises of hardship and cost. No where are we told to take arms and fight. If it is good enough for the disciples it is good enough for me. Maybe if the church would humble itself,and call out to God to save the radicals from an eternity of Godless existence, we might see God move. This militaristic nationalism is not Christianity. It is more akin to the radicals than what we are plainly taught in the New Testament. I base my position on scripture and not human intuition. I trust God not firearms.

          • R V

            The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament. God did not change and He certainly used some violence to get justice. Even Jesus used force and violence at times. And He used angry violent rhetoric at other times.

            I did not say ‘take up arms and fight’. I am discussing self defense which is different. I am not advocating killing our enemies.

            Anyway, I am not going to play your game of bashing one’s opponent with Scripture verses. All Scripture is true. The Bible as a whole informs me I can protect my family if attacked.

          • Nixon is Lord

            “Reprimanded”? Wow-I’ll bet that had an effect on him! Change his mind in a hurry, I’ll bet!
            Hope that Jesus didn’t have to step up his game and give him a good finger wagging!

          • Nixon is Lord

            Suppose you don’t believe in god? Why do I have to be suicidal-to make you feel as if your invisible friend approves of your fantasy life?

        • Liliana Stahlberg

          You are the only jihadist in this conversation@

      • Nixon is Lord

        I pray you’re not the one standing between me and someone like the monster who shot up the gay bar in Orlando.

      • Nixon is Lord

        I pray that someone else is responsible for keeping my kids alive besides someone who wants to impose, in the most horrible way possible, his Iron Age mythology on me and the lives of my family.

  • R V

    Not much love in your comments either.

  • Charlene

    Left-wing religion has been emptying out pews for 50 years now. Hating evangelical Christians and conforming as closely as possible to unbelievers make may you feel good about yourselves, but it’s been a killer for church membership. The religious left hates the religious right because they envy manly men (none of those on the left) and they know that when people convert to Christianity, they go for the real thing, not the watery PC religion.

    Time and numbers are not on your side. Christianity – the real thing, not the MacLaren version – is growing hugely around the globe. The ACLU version of Christianity will be extinct in a few years, good riddance.

    • David Cohen

      Martin Luther King Jr. preached non-violence resistance in the name and manner of Christ. Would you call him and his followers “unmanly?”

      • R V

        No, apparently, he really liked the ladies.

        • David Cohen

          And I am sure that you imagine yourself to be without sin, or at least that your sins are as sinny as other people’s sins.

          • R V

            No, I was responding to the ‘unmanly’ part. It was a joke.

    • Al Cruise

      I feel you describe the religious right accurately and Jesus would not be welcome in it. I have worked with Jesus for over 40 years in street ministry with those who are the least among us. I also work with many other men who I see as very “manly” in their ability to show love and compassion to those who are on the fringes of society. Seeing the many miracles of lives that have been changed from darkness to light by the actions of these “manly” men is the fruit that can by judged by whomever, however the outcome of that fruit cannot be changed for those who have experienced it.

      • R V

        Jesus is interested in people, not their politics as such. I do not believe He will label and judge people based on liberal or conservative politics. That’s what we lie, to do. And then we try and drag God into our judgements. Many so called right wingers are some of the most decent and loving people on a personal basis.

      • Redboyds

        Wow, “worked with Jesus for over 40 years.”
        Got any photos or videos to share? Those would go viral in a hurry.

  • R V

    The author makes way too big of a deal over one comment. And it was a reasonable comment except the tone was objectionable.

  • Are the armed forces unlawful and unGodly institutions? I think not.

  • Redboyds

    Look at a photo of Falwell Jr and a photo of MacLaren.

    Which one looks like a man?

    Cowards naturally want to spin their cowardice.

  • Liliana Stahlberg

    Beautiful response Brian! Balanced and filled with humanity! Thank you!

  • a r tompkins

    articles like this illustrate a huge problem with “Christianity”: the term is so overloaded, meaning so many different things, and the stories and prose it is based on are in general so self-contradictory as well as vague or nebulous, that to call yourself a christian means almost nothing. If a word can mean anything, it means nothing. Muslims – throw down your superstitions; Christians – you do the same. Then we can talk to each other as naked human to naked human, a product of evolution, a single part of a vast and marvelous web of life, and agree to that we all benefit when we all help each other.

  • The problem with all of the Abrahamic religions is that they worshiped YHWY, the tribal god of the Levant. As such, their followers are tribesmen as well, staking out their territory, creeds and agendas, vilifying the tribe further down the plain.

    The Creator of the Universe has nothing to do with YHWY or tribalism. When we stop fighting over tribal gods and tribal rites and tribal canons then we can focus on the expansive and powerful grandeur of the Creator of the Universe and the beauty and power therein.

    Many have already given up on tribal religion, but the others continue to terrorize the rest of humanity with their Iron Age thinking.

  • Tom Sanders

    So your saying this isn’t correct?

    There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to KILL and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for WAR and a time for peace.

  • Tom Sanders

    Sounds pretty much on point to me…

    He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag;
    and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

  • Tom Sanders

    “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts,
    both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and
    overturned their tables.”

    Wow…so Jesus MADE a weapon and used it…..

    A Violent Jesus? I thought Jesus was only love…..