A Gun-Toting Savior?

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Would a 21st century, American Jesus be packing heat? That seems unlikely, given that his mission was to die on the cross. But what about Christians? Does the Bible have anything to say about guns? It can prove next to impossible to extract clean Biblical teaching on violence, weapons, and self-defense from the political broiler of the gun control debates. Yet that is precisely what believers must attempt to do, before engaging in questions of inference, or good and necessary consequence, which only come farther down the road. The seemingly unavoidable pitfall of the cyclical arguments in America over gun control is that any meaningful discussion over political policy in that realm presupposes clearly formed thinking on two questions:

First, what is the purpose of guns? Second, what is the purpose of the 2nd amendment--namely, how should the US government relate to its constitution? We may as well add a third question, which is whether or not the person addressing this issue will employ logical consistency in synthesizing their answers to those two questions. Sadly, turning on MSNBC or FoxNews generally means encountering failure on one, if not all three of those counts.

For the moment, let's put aside the practically superfluous question (for the non-politically employed Christian) of how to construct a prudent gun policy, and focus our attention on the first question. Is there a way we can align our thinking on guns as a whole with a Biblical perspective? Yes, but it begins by letting this topic fall squarely into Romans 14 territory, where we exercise our Christian freedom by searching for that right balance between not judging, and not placing a stumbling block.

Christ sets the tone for that balance in Luke 22:35-38. He instructs the disciples to strap up, essentially. 'Take your wallet, take your battlepack, take your gun. Use your means. Tap into all your resources.' Jesus was going to the cross. His death and resurrection would win the ultimate and decisive victory for God and his army, but that wouldn't end the war. In fact, spiritual warfare has taken on a new urgency for his disciples, then and now, who stand on the front lines.

The key interaction relevant to our discussion comes when the disciples respond: 'Look, Lord, here are two swords,' and Jesus says: 'It is enough.' On one hand, Jesus warns against naivete. Don't believe following Christ means your city turns into Sesame street, or mosquitoes will start injecting you with wine. A tempered and sober realism begets a healthy instinct for self-protection. Heedlessly exposing oneself to danger or risk demonstrates folly, not faith. However, the question of what form self-protection takes demands immediate follow-up questions, which then elicit consideration of personal context. Yet two swords, among twelve disciples, 'are enough' according to Jesus. Prudence must take its proper place, but the kingdom of God is neither advanced nor defended, neither strengthened nor enhanced by shows of force. The power of the gospel is the preaching of a crucified Christ, a God who suffered violence in our place. His kingdom has nothing to do with our power our security in this world.

Posted March 6, 2018 @ 8:09 AM by Justin Poythress

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