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Responding to Gun Violence as Followers of Christ, Part 1

Responding to Gun Violence as Followers of Christ, Part 1 May 26, 2015

In recent years, some of the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary have sought ways to respond to the epidemic of gun violence, and gathered resources for dealing with this in our communities. Their prayer was that these resources might help followers of the Prince of Peace sow the seeds of healing and shalom. This post is the first in a series that again presents their offering to the wider community of Christians. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

As part of our commitment to the stewardship of God’s world, the undersigned faculty of Fuller Seminary are moving to help fight what we view as a national epidemic of gun violence. We are concerned about maximizing safety in homes, as well as schools and other public places; therefore this page gathers some scientific information on the prevalence and risks of guns. But we are also concerned with the underlying theologies and psychologies that drive America’s gun culture, and so this page assembles reflections on those topics as well. We welcome those within and without the Christian churches to join us in deliberating on this pressing issue.

Christopher Hays, D. Wilson Moore Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies
William Dyrness, Professor of Theology and Culture
Howard Loewen, Dean Emeritus and Senior Professor of Theology and Ethics 
Shelley Trebesch, Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organization Development
Mark Labberton, President and Lloyd John Ogilvie Professor of Preaching

Mark Lau Branson, Homer L. Goddard Professor of the Ministry of the Laity

It should also be noted that the late Glen Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, was among the signatories before his passing on April 26, 2014.

WHY SHOULD FULLER BE INVOLVED IN THIS?


Lisa Miller, “Is Gun Ownership Christian?”
 Washington Post
, January 25, 2013

According to the startling results of a survey recently released by the Public Religion Research Institute, 57 percent of white evangelicals live in homes where someone owns a gun (compared, for example, with 31 percent of Catholics).

And more startling, even after 20 first-graders were slaughtered in Connecticut at the hands of a madman with an assault rifle, 59 percent of white evangelicals continue to oppose tighter restrictions on gun laws.

Mournful, by Hapal. Flickr Commons.
Mournful, by Hapal. Flickr Commons.

James E. Atwood, “9mm Golden Calves,” Sojourners, January 2013

“For too many, guns have become idols. They claim divine status; make promises of safety and security they cannot keep; transform people and neighborhoods; create enemies; and require human sacrifice. … for 37 years I have observed individuals who grow threatened and angry when gun values are questioned; who show little grief for society’s gun victims; who oppose any preventive measures to stop gun violence; and who believe the solution to gun violence is to arm more people. I am confident that such traits indicate that people are, at least, struggling with idolatry as they turn a human-made thing into an absolute that challenges the requirements of the living God. As Jesus taught us, we cannot serve two masters.”

Gary Wills, “Our Moloch,” New York Review of Books, December 15, 2012

“Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture. Ancient Romans justified the destruction of Carthage by noting that children were sacrificed to Moloch there. Milton represented Moloch as the first pagan god who joined Satan’s war on humankind:

First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)

“Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains-“besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch.”


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