Archive for the 'Religion' Category



The Gun Lobby, Or The Cross Lobby?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 2 months ago

Silly choice, it is.

As Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. opened her press conference on gun control today, she invited Dean of the National Cathedral Rev. Canon Gary Hall to offer a prayer.

Hall spoke briefly before the prayer, calling for Washington lawmakers to stop fearing the gun lobby and fulfill their “moral duty” to restrict guns.

“Everyone in this city seems to live in terror of the gun lobby,” Hall said. “But I believe that the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.”

Hall said that he could no longer justify a society that allowed ordinary citizens to keep and bear “assault weapons.”

“No longer justify” assault weapons.  Could you ever, Mr. Hall?  If so, why?  What was your reasoning back then when you could justify assault weapons?  Were you wrong then or are you wrong now?  Perhaps you could answer within the context of the Christian duty of self defense because of being created in God’s image.  Then tell me.  Do you really believe anything at all, or have you always been a political hack and sniveling lackey for those in power, willing to modify your beliefs based on the popular sentiment of the moment?

Prior:

Guns And Religion

When Christians Discuss Guns

Christians, The Second Amendment And They Duty Of Self Defense

Guns And Religion

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 2 months ago

Sam Rocha writes a scholarly commentary on guns and religion for us.

During Obama’s first go-round in 2008, there was a big flare-up surrounding his comment about rural voters bitterly clinging to guns or religion. It was the equivalent of Romney’s inelegant 47% remark from this past fiasco election.

I’ve already gone on the record about guns here: “Those Immune to Violence Arm and Disarm.” I hope I made myself clear. I am not impressed or persuaded by either side of the Newtown-fueled gun aftermath. I wrote, “I don’t have any solutions because I remain unconvinced that we have truly understood the problem — gun advocates and apologists alike be damned.”

Well there you go.  Mr. Rocha weighs in on people he has never met, for whom he has no responsibility, and over whom he has no authority, and places himself in the position of God.  He tells them to be damned.  The balance of the commentary is as puerile as the preceding.

The Twitter and Facebook noise has simmered down on one side of the issue (with a few annoying and predictable exceptions). There are no more breast-beating choirs demanding that we melt all guns or insisting that gun ownership makes you a serial killer or a Republican.

While this herd has apparently calmed down and moved to other pastures, there is a disturbing stream of meme’s and other social media apologetics on behalf of guns and against gun control.

Look: I don’t want to embarrass anybody and I am not trying to be nasty about this. I understand that it’s easy to get caught up in something like this amidst the new media flurry. I got rather carried away with Notre Dame football this season and we all saw how that turned out. Oh boy. How embarrassing!

Don’t worry about embarrassing people, Sam.  You’re embarrassing only yourself.  But it would pay to read a little more.  The chorus of voices calling for the heads of gun owners is only growing as the statists demand more powerful totalitarians to rule us.  That you don’t know this shows you’re ill-informed.  Finally, this.

What is perhaps more disturbing is the second point that Obama got wrong: it is not an either/or between guns or religion. It has become a both/and. There are many people—who I won’t single-out here—who equivocate their guns and their religion, together. And I don’t mean “the religion of guns” or the “state religion of gun ownership” or something clever and esoteric like that. What I mean is that there are creepy, growing signs that some people are beginning to get too close to being comfortable with something like this:

Then Sam graces us with this picture.

Continuing, he says “The prevailing argument seems to be that owning a gun is a God given right.”  Concluding, he says “Cling to love.”  Very well.  You go right ahead, Sam.  I’ll keep my guns, and you cling to love the next time someone invades your home and rapes your wife and you can’t stop them.  And as for owning a gun being a God-given right, that’s the only correct thing you said in the whole commentary, even if by accident to ridicule it.

Look, I simply cannot deal with every stupid commentary that comes out from a “Christian” perspective on firearms.  But Sam would do well to do just a little research before writing drivel like this.  Despite what he has seen in schoolroom pictures, Jesus was not a pacifist, Bohemian hippy.  He was God.  He is the scarlet thread running through the Scriptures.  He didn’t come to demolish the law.  He fulfilled the ceremonial law, and emphasized the moral law.  He lived a blameless life and died for the sins of His people.  Everything in His life was oriented towards this end.  His teachings were consistent with Old Testament law and the New Testament apostles.  There isn’t anything inconsistent.

Therefore, laws on honoring the image of God in man and self defense are still valid and binding.  As I have observed before:

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers.

Back to the beginning of this silly commentary, Sam gives us this horrible cartoon.

Jesus has no trigger discipline.  Ridiculous … and sacreligious.  The commentary states no particular problem, poses no solution, and goes nowhere, with the addition of some stupid cartoons.  So why did Sam write it to begin with?  I don’t know.  But perhaps Sam should do some study prior to writing again.

Prior:

When Christians Discuss Guns

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

When Christians Discuss Guns

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 3 months ago

I’ve dealt with this issue in significant detail before, but occasionally it pays to rehearse the case again for those who missed it, or become weak of heart, or become confused amid all of the sophomoric commentary.

In The Christian Answer To Gun Violence? Eliminate Guns, Dan Webster makes a case that Jesus was a pacifist.  The point here isn’t what Dan thinks, because his commentary is silly and trite.  Much better commentary is delivered in the comments where I discussed this issue with a reader.  I cannot possibly rehearse the entire conversation (you can read it for yourself), but it pays to have this conversation with people.

In large measure, American Christianity has become a free-for-all hermeneutic, with classical doctrine being replaced by bohemian hippie love-fest manifestations of the social gospel.  This causes people to believe that Jesus was a pacifist, that they must be doormats, and that they must reject all forms of self defense.

But put in visceral, real-to-life applications for them, they must admit that defense of themselves with whatever means necessary reflects the importance of God’s image in them.  A fortiori, from the lesser to the greater, protection of their families is even more important.  As I previously observed:

God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers.

Failing to confess the truthfulness of this, Christians would have to admit that what they believe is both logically incoherent and existentially unappealing.  Cowards allow the little ones to be harmed.  The morally righteous and strong of heart protect and defend them.

There are always the pretensions of scholarship that distract us from the main points.

I personally would feel better if I, uniquely, had a gun in hand to use against the perpetrator. But I would not prefer a situation in which everyone was carrying guns, all the time, and ready to open fire on anyone who looked threatening. Or even if a lot more people were doing so. Thus for me, a “more guns” policy fails the categorical imperative test. It’s better for me if I do it, worse for us all if everyone does it.

Not a single second amendment defender is advocating that “everyone” carry guns, or that we “fire on anyone who looked threatening.”  The author (James Fallows) has erected a straw man to cloud his moral failure, and I’m not impressed by the invocation of Kant.  This man would allow his children to be killed by assailants rather than defend them, or if he did defend them out of reflex, he would choose in the detached, unemotional comfort of his home to give himself a low probability of dealing with the assailant.  Thus, he is voluntarily choosing (by high probability) to perish, along with his children.

This is both cowardly and immoral.  And even if it’s the bohemian hippie position, it’s most certainly not the Christian position.

About Those Jesus Rifles

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 6 months ago

A field grade or staff officer has problems with his coming deployment to Afghanistan.  Is it related to the debacle that Afghanistan has become?  Or perhaps to the under-manning of the COPs, or if it’s N2K perhaps he knows that it’s a doomed mission?  Perhaps he is concerned over our teaming up with criminals like Hamid Karai and his brother Wali Karzai?  Maybe it’s our throwing enough cash around to corrupt most of the locals with whom we engage?  Or maybe he has a problem with the sorry rules of engagement, or the lack of a coherent strategy passed down from the top, or the horrible trend in green on blue attacks?

Nope.

When the so-called “Jesus rifle” came to light in Jan. 2010, it sparked constitutional and security concerns, and a maelstrom of media coverage. The Pentagon ordered the removal of the secret code referring to Bible passages that the manufacturer had inscribed on the scopes of the standard issue rifles carried by U.S. soldiers into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nearly three years later — despite the military’s assertion that is making “good progress” — the code remains on many rifles deploying to Afghanistan, which some soldiers argue is endangering their lives by reinforcing suspicions that the United States is waging a crusade against Muslims.

“I honestly believe that this is a dangerous situation. It literally could be a matter of life and death for a soldier if he fell into the wrong hands,” said an Army officer who spoke to NBC News from Fort Hood, Texas. “The fact that combatant commanders are not following (rules set by Department of Defense) commanders is very disturbing to me.”

The officer, who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisal from commanders, provided a photograph, taken on Tuesday, of the code on an M-4 rifle assigned to a soldier who is slated to deploy to Afghanistan in coming weeks.

The code stamped into the metal of the soldier’s ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) ends with the model number with “JN8:12.” which refers to the New Testament passage, John 8:12, which reads: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Other rifle scopes among some 250,000 provided by Michigan-based manufacturer Trijicon were imprinted with codes that point to passages in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Corinthians and Revelation, ABC News reported when it broke the news in 2010.

Trijicon, reportedly had been following this practice for at least two decades, and it was well known to gun enthusiasts.

Like my son said to me, “The dude who is worried about this needs to find something else to do with his life.”

Yea, I’ve got a feeling he is about to get something else to do.  Either he will be a fobbit and never leave the comfort of Hesco barriers, working PowerPoint slides all his deployment (in which case the Pashto- or Dari-speaking Afghans won’t ever get to read his English ACOG and he gets to worry over the question, “Daddy, what did you do during the war?”), or he will be outside the wire, in which case, if this is the kind of thing he is worried about, he will get his ass shot off.

Either way, I’ve said before that I will take a Biblical ACOG any day.  Calling Trijicon?  A free ACOG, please?  I’ll take as much Scripture as you can fit on it.

Prior: About Those Biblical ACOG Sights

Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 6 months ago

Christians are redeemed, but they can be hypocritical and self serving.  They aren’t perfect.  Furthermore, while Christians can be (though they are not always) sweet and loving, they have always impressed me as perhaps the most pitiful, naive, stolid simpletons on the planet.  Sheep is a perfect description.

I can say those things because I am a Christian, and not in the sense of ”God is love let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya while we sway and dance ourselves into ethereal bliss,” but in the orthodox sense (e.g., belief in the trinity, the vicarious atonement, the deity of Christ, etc.).  God is love alright, but as professor John Frame discusses, to say that that’s all He is amounts to an exclusive reduction.  It’s wrong.  It’s acceptable to emphasize one attribute for pedagogical purposes, but not to define God.  God is a lot of things besides love, like justice, righteousness, jealously, and so on.  Also, I do not accept the hemeneutical and other pronouncements of the 19th and 20th century form, source and redaction critics any more than I accept the kumbaya movement.  They are equally vapid and vacuous, and not deserving of my time.

One sheep-like attribute of Christians is the tendency to be pacifist both nationally and individually.  Don’t be fooled about the magnitude of the problem.  It’s sweeping, comprehensive and ubiquitous throughout the Christian community.  Thus, the second amendment to many Christians who haven’t thought about it a great deal seems to be some sort of “last resort, sin if you must, it’s better to perish like Christ” acquiescence than it is a right, privilege or duty.

To heighten the problem further, these people vote.  They’re well intentioned, just ignorant.  You cannot go more than a few days without yet another strained attempt to deal with the issue of violence in America from a “Christian” perspective on the pages of publications both Christian and secular.  A number of examples are provided below.

Christian Panelists On “Assault Weapons”

Military personnel and members of police and guard units have needs that do not apply to individual citizens. The basic issue for our culture regarding gun-ownership is why do we want to own them? Does any individual citizen need an ‘assault weapon’ for hunting, recreational target practice or even for self-defense?”

[ ... ]

The commandment not to kill seems to be nearly universal. But the right to defend oneself from violence is equally attested. We see this mirrored in the ‘just war’ theory that began in late pagan Christendom and was codified by Thomas Aquinas during the 13th century. Among the conditions defining a ‘just war’ (according to current Roman Catholic teaching): ‘the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.’

All this is a means to say that unless a person has reasonable evidence that the evil being answered is equally armed, assault weapons have no moral excuse. To justify owning an operative assault weapon (leaving aside inoperative ones collected as one collects cancelled stamps) a person must be able to prove to a third party that someone or something else really is a threat to him and that deterring such threat requires force of that size. While there may be exceptional cases that could qualify, they are so few as to prove the rule that ‘assault weapons’ are not ethically defensible in civil society.”

[ ... ]

The opinions we express should not be taken to mean that we believe a ban on so-called “assault weapons” is Constitutional, but only that we believe “assault weapons” should not be as widely available as hunting rifles or regular handguns.

Are we as a society more safe or less safe with legal access to “assault weapons?” Do we have an ethical responsibility to advocate for changes in law necessary to ban the widespread sale of “assault weapons?”

A Pastor On Guns In Places Of Worship

This week’s column is offered as a public service to readers who intend to pack your pistol to next week’s worship service at the mosque, synagogue or church. Leave your firearms at home, in the gun rack of the pickup truck or check them at the door with the ushers. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 20, 2012, upheld a 2010 Georgia law forbidding firearms in the Lord’s house. I don’t know whether the law allows one to carry a rifle to a church sponsored hayride or bring a shotgun into a one of those wedding ceremonies that take place because of certain unplanned conditions, but at least houses of worship must legally remain free of firearms.

#This decision will not be universally welcomed, of course. In fact, the lawsuit challenging the legality of the law was filed by The Reverend Jonathon Wilkins, pastor of Baptist Tabernacle in Thomaston, in cooperation with GeorgiaCarry.org. These groups unsuccessfully argued that citizens have the right to carry registered firearms into places of worship. The Baptist Tabernacle had sued to allow its ushers and greeters to be armed, just in case something horrible happens in Upson County, GA, hardly a locale with a history of violent crime.

#Having been in a few tense board meetings over the decades I, for one, am grateful that the court ruled against these souls who — by a huge leap of illogic — cited Jesus’ obscure advice (Luke 22:36) about purchasing a sword as commanding the followers of Jesus to purchase guns and carry them to church. That’s a bizarre line of reasoning, to be sure; one might suggest that were we to take Jesus literally we would each purchase not a gun, but a sword, which, as far as I know, may still be legal to carry to church.

A Christian Who Will Never Own A Gun

I first begin with my place in the greater community. I choose not to own a gun and provide an opportunity for the violence that so often accompanies guns because this is how I would hope others would be in the world. Yes, many will label me a fool and accuse me of creating an atmosphere of inviting gun violence into my life, but when it comes to faith, my actions, while defying logic to many in the world, is an expression of my deep commitment to God.

[ ... ]

Secondly, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus give us permission to solve our problems, respond to aggression or even defend ourselves with violence. In word and in deed, we are often called to fight injustice and violence with words and actions that are distinctly NOT violent, even in self-defense. Turning the other cheek, defending with a sword, stoning of the prostitute, etc, Jesus reminds us of other powerful ways to respond to those who would chose to goad us into violent conflict. Yes, we do those things out of self-survival and self-defense, and justified by society or not, viewed through a lens of the Christian faith violence of any kind cannot be justified.

And finally, another Christian who argues in a similar vein.

Whether anyone else does or not, Christians should forsake that myth for the biblical story of the way of the suffering lamb. For me, one aspect of seeking to live that story rather than the myth of redemptive violence is choosing not to exercise my constitutional right to own a gun, while recognizing that many other Christians—among them some of my closest friends—have well-considered reasons for making other choices.

It could be argued that by choosing not to arm myself, I am leaving my family vulnerable to harm. I’m actually more worried about how our young son might be harmed by a weapon in our home, no matter how carefully stored, and about how he might be harmed in the homes of friends whose parents have decided to have guns, even when they have taken every precaution.

Even if our son were not physically harmed by a weapon kept in our home, my own conviction is that simply owning a weapon and keeping it in our home would do spiritual harm to him by reinforcing the myth of redemptive violence. The world is going to try its hardest to teach him the latter story; I’m going to try my best to teach him another one.

Analysis & Commentary

There are some factual errors mixed in with the emotional prose.  For one thing, the pastor has wrongly portrayed the recent 11th Circuit decision on guns in Georgia churches.  The case had to do with guns being potentially prohibited in churches that were adjoined by schools (carry in schools is prohibited), and “given that the facial challenge to the law would succeed only if it’s valid in all its applications, the Eleventh Circuit responds by pointing to a valid application – when the management prohibits carrying.  What effect the law may constitutionally have when the management allows carrying isn’t resolved by the Eleventh Circuit opinion” (I am indebted to Professor Eugene Volokh for this assessment).  I still believe that ”in addressing (under the rubric of the second amendment) the issue of whether weapons may be carried on private property where there is a policy against it, the court has erected and knocked down a straw man.”  In any case, the solution to this problem should involve clearer law-making by the Georgia legislature.

As for the emotional opinions on “assault weapons,” these are based on non-factual and arbitrary definitions of things that should scare all good people, or so they see it.  As we’ve discussed on the pages of TCJ, these objections just don’t bear up under scrutiny.  The better the weapon, the better the chance of proper defense of self and loved ones.  As for gun safety and the culture of violence that we are supposed to be nurturing, these are also irrelevant misdirects.  Gun safety is a choice, and ownership of a weapon doesn’t change the heart of man.  Last, as for the use of just war theory to argue against assault weapons for personal use (i.e., proportionate force), I confess that I have never seen such a silly, trivial, strained analysis before.  My judgment is that we’re justified in ignoring it entirely as an inconsequential contribution to the conversation.  While it might be an interesting thought experiment to use the moral judgments of just war theory to inform our understanding of other things, technically speaking, it conflates categories to invoke this doctrine into the issues of personal defense.  Furthermore, as we move from the issues of personal defense to national defense below, I am more an advocate of good war doctrine (see Darrell Cole at First Things) than of just war doctrine, which I think is dated and badly in need of repair work.

But aside from the factual misdirects, emotion and misunderstanding, common elements in these arguments are this way is morally superior, this way is better because I’m following the example of the suffering servant, Christ forsook all violence and we are to be like Him, all violence is frowned upon by God, think of the damage that we are doing to our children sort of appeal to broad, pacifist love and “kumbaya” acceptance, as well as the naive belief that this attitude is an effective way to address societal evil even if it isn’t effective for instances of individual threat.

I want to address these arguments in three headings.

Historical And Constitutional Perspective

In the “The Right To Keep And Bear Arms Report,” Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, the subcommittee observed that:

In the colonies, availability of hunting and need for defense led to armament statues comparable to those of the early Saxon times. In 1623, Virginia forbade its colonists to travel unless they were “well armed”; in 1631 it required colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to “bring their peeces to church.” In 1658 it required every householder to have a functioning firearm within his house and in 1673 its laws provided that a citizen who claimed he was too poor to purchase a firearm would have one purchased for him by the government, which would then require him to pay a reasonable price when able to do so. In Massachusetts, the first session of the legislature ordered that not only freemen, but also indentured servants own firearms and in 1644 it imposed a stern 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed.

When the British government began to increase its military presence in the colonies in the mid-eighteenth century, Massachusetts responded by calling upon its citizens to arm themselves in defense. One colonial newspaper argued that it was impossible to complain that this act was illegal since they were “British subjects, to whom the privilege of possessing arms is expressly recognized by the Bill of Rights” while another argued that this “is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defense”. The newspaper cited Blackstone’s commentaries on the laws of England, which had listed the “having and using arms for self preservation and defense” among the “absolute rights of individuals.” The colonists felt they had an absolute right at common law to own firearms.

Not only were families required to expend hard earned wealth to procure weapons, the men were required to bring them to worship and use Sunday for range time to practice their marksmanship.  Ownership of weapons was seen not just as a practical matter, but a moral matter because of the implications on defense of the family and country.  The colonists, who were certainly more orthodox than present day Christians, saw no call for pacifism within Biblical law or the examples of Christ.  On the contrary, in order properly to follow Him, ownership of weapons was a necessity.  Moreover, as David Kopel observes, from the earliest times in the founding of our country, even the Puritans enjoyed firearms.

Their laws about children and guns were strict: every family was required to own a gun, to carry it in public places (especially when going to church) and to train children in firearms proficiency. On the first Thanksgiving Day, in 1621, the colonists and the Indians joined together for target practice; the colonist Edward Winslow wrote back to England that “amongst other recreations we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us.”

There are always caveats, stipulations and complications when it comes to interpreting and applying the constitution.  But a plain reading of the text requires that if our understanding contradicts the fundamental exigencies and vicissitudes of life as it existed in the colonial times that hatched the constitution, then our understanding is in need of modification.  Weapons were ubiquitous in the colonies for sporting and recreation, protection against animals, protection against people and protection against governmental tyranny (“The British never lost sight of the fact that without their gun control program, they could never control America”).  Each was in its own way a threat to the safety and health of strong families.

Examination of the Biblical Data

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism Question / Answer 136, states the following: “The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life …”

For Scripture proof concerning the instance of self defense, it cites Exodus 22:2-3.  While seemingly straight forward, there are demurrals.

A little thought reveals that this passage is not saying that self-defense is good, but that it is bad. If a thief breaks into your house and you kill him in “self-defense,” you are to be put to death! Your blood must be shed to cleanse the land of the murder of the thief (Numbers 35:33). Now, granted, if it is night, and your injuries to the thief cause him to die, you will not be executed. “I’m letting you off this time,” the Lord seems to be saying; but only if it is at night (cp. Romans 13:12).

Pitiful interpretation, this is.  God is thus placed in the role of saying, “Oh, alright, I don’t like it, but I’ll let it slide this time if only you’re really sorry about it.”  This is a completely anthropomorphized God, with essentially nothing left of His character.  Only trite men see the Scriptures that way.

There is a better way.

Several times now, I have read the words of Christians who interpret Exodus 22:2-3 to mean that defending oneself using lethal force when one’s home was invaded was forbidden under Old Testament Law, at least during the daytime. If only one had done it, my inclination would be to blow it off. But since this interpretation is apparently widespread, I feel I need to answer it.

This interpretation relies on a twisting of Scripture in order to promote a preconceived pacifism, and I here attempt to rebut it.

What does Scripture say? In Young’s Literal Translation, the passage reads:

2`If in the breaking through, the thief is found, and he hath been smitten, and hath died, there is no blood for him;

3 if the sun hath risen upon him, blood [is] for him, he doth certainly repay; if he have nothing, then he hath been sold for his theft;

This is rather hard to understand. What is ‘the breaking through?’ Perhaps the New King James Version will be somewhat clearer.

2 If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

Aha! Now this is comprehensible. I like Young and rely heavily on him myself, but even I had trouble making sense of what he said there. Now, what does this mean? Well, first let us note that there are two contrasting scenarios. In the first, the thief ‘is found breaking in’. In the second, ‘the sun has risen on him’.

Those who take the view I here attempt to debunk interpret ‘the sun has risen on him’ to mean that the break-in took place during the daytime. Thus ‘found breaking in’ must mean the break-in happened at night. This obviously makes no sense. Why should the fact that he was found breaking in lead us to think it was happening at night? Why would the passage be written in such a confusing way? ‘If he breaks in, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed, but if he breaks in during the day, there shall’. This is nonsense.

The more reasonable interpretation would be as follows:

The assumption, first of all, is that the thief probably broke in at night. Thus, if he is caught while breaking in and the owner of the house defends himself, killing the thief, he is not guilty of murder. If, however, the thief escapes, and is found later, presumably after the sun has risen again, and he then is killed, this is murder.

In other words, the Law is saying that lethal self-defense is allowed, but we are not to hunt down thieves and kill them; larceny is not a capital crime. The sun having risen cannot be taken in a rigidly literal sense; it indicates the thief being found at some later time, rather than while he was breaking in as in the first scenario.

This is a much better exegesis and it doesn’t do damage to the consistency of Scripture.

Of course, Christ himself commanded His disciples to go sell their robes (if necessary) and buy swords for their self defense (Luke 22:26).  I reject interpretations of this passage as metaphorical, pointing to their upcoming persecution and difficulty.  That is contrary to the plain reading of the Scriptures.

But in any case, Jesus didn’t have to repeat the Old Testament commandments in order for them to be valid.  I also do not follow the dispensationalist theological model, and thus there is no hermeneutic principle that requires such reiteration.  As stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the O.T. moral law is valid, along with the “general equity” of the case law (19.4, even if not the specifics or the sacrificial law).

And in this line of thought, the best case for the necessity of self defense comes straight from the Decalogue.  John Calvin, commenting on commandment and prohibition, observes:

We do not need to prove that when a good thing is commanded, the evil thing that conflicts with it is forbidden.  There is no one who doesn’t concede this.  That the opposite duties are enjoined when evil things are forbidden will also be willingly admitted in common judgment.  Indeed, it is commonplace that when virtues are commended, their opposing vices are condemned.  But we demand something more than what these phrases commonly signify.  For by the virtue of contrary to the vice, men usually mean abstinence from that vice.  We say that the virtue goes beyond this to contrary duties and deeds.  Therefore in this commandment, “You shall not kill,” men’s common sense will see only that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbor’s life all the help we can … the purpose of the commandment always discloses to us whatever it there enjoins or forbids us to do” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, Book 2, Chapter viii, Part 9).

Matthew Henry observes the same concerning Proverbs 24:11-12 (“If we see the lives or livelihoods of any in danger of being taken away unjustly, we ought to bestir ourselves all we can do to save them …”).  Far from a weak or forced case for self defense, this is one of the strongest in the Scriptures.  Thou shalt not kill means that thou shalt not allow yourself or those around you to be killed, thus says the Lord.  It isn’t an option – it is His commandment.

The Right and Duty to Bear Arms

In yet another anti-gun editorial, an ad hoc group of “clergy” weighs in against firearms under the rubric of respect for the sanctity of life.  One commenter remarks:

Because I am a person of good conscience and believe in the sanctity of human life, I carry a gun with me every day. You have stood in line next to me at the grocery store while my pistol was secured out of sight in my holster. I have sat in your pews locked and loaded. the world did not come to an end. I don’t shoot for sport and I’ve never hunted. I carry a gun to defend myself, my family, and others incapable of defending themselves, again, because I value human life. Pastors, of all people, should recognize that forces of good and evil exist in this world and should support the efforts of those who resist evil.

I too have carried at worship.  But concerning these “forces of good and evil,” it’s more than that.  Jeremiah (17:9) says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”  From the heart flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23), and Christ adds that man does and speaks what is in his heart (Luke 6:45, see also Matthew 15:18).  Denial of original sin might be theologically comfortable, but comfort gives way to reality when it pertains to defense of the family.  There aren’t just “forces.”  There are men with evil hearts who would perpetrate evil against you and your family.  Individual actions can be used by God to change men, but whether God may choose to work doesn’t change in the slightest His expectations concerning provision of security for loved ones.  Certainly, the warnings and stipulations of 1 Timothy 5:8 don’t stop with beans and bread.

One of the reformers, Theodore Beza, remarked concerning both highway robbers and tyrants, that ”Hence it comes about that the man who meets with highway robbers, by whom no one is murdered without the consent of the will of God, has the power in accordance with the authority of the laws to resist them in just self-defense which incurs no blame because no one forsooth has (received) a special command from God that he meekly allow himself to be slain by robbers. Our conviction is entirely the same about that regular defense against tyrants.”

To the contrary, God has laid the expectations at the feet of heads of families that they protect, provide for and defend their families and protect and defend their countries.  Little ones cannot do so, and rely solely on those who bore them.  God no more loves the willing neglect of their safety than He loves child abuse.  He no more appreciates the willingness to ignore the sanctity of our own lives than He approves of the abuse of our own bodies and souls.  God hasn’t called us to save the society by sacrificing our children or ourselves to robbers, home invaders, rapists or murderers.

Self defense – and defense of the little ones – goes well beyond a right.  It is a duty based on the idea that man is made in God’s image.  It is His expectation that we do the utmost to preserve and defend ourselves when in danger, for it is He who is sovereign and who gives life, and He doesn’t expect us to be dismissive or cavalier about its loss.  Finally, self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of human love. Christ Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:14).

UPDATE #1: David Codrea wisely remarks:

It’s not an easy subject to tackle.

I’ve always been kind of partial to this 1747 Philadelphia sermon, cited in the above:

He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one who has no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God has enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend [it]self.

Thanks David.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Gun Watch for the attention!

UPDATE #3: Thanks to Maggie’s Farm and Free Republic for the attention!

UPDATE #4: Calguns discussion thread.

Prior:

Save The Planet – Buy An AR!

Happy Assault Weapons Ban Sunset Provision Day!

No One Needs ARs for Self Defense Or Hunting?

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

A good man leaves an inheritance …

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

To his children’s children.  So says the wisdom literature (i.e., Proverbs 13:22).  But that’s not what is happening, according to this (h/t/ Glenn Reynolds).

Nearly 40% of Generation Z, those ages 13 to 22, expect to receive an inheritance, according to a recent TD Ameritrade study. As a result, they don’t believe that they will need to save for retirement.

“There is a little bit of the halo effect of youth vs. the reality of what the situation will be like,” says Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services at TD Ameritrade. In fact, the odds are slim that young adults will inherit wealth because their parents face a less secure retirement world, with stock market turmoil and mounting health care costs.

Only 16% of parents said that they expect to provide an inheritance, says the TD Ameritrade study.

Among many other reasons, this is why the state playing god with the economy (viz., John Maynard Keynes) is inherently evil.  First of all, the very notion that the state can be omniscient and actually know and do everything necessary to propel it in the direction it needs to go is ludicrous on its face.  Second, even if it could, the state would have to decide on winners and losers, yet another reason that this concept is evil.

Outside of the fact that the older generation has given up on leaving an inheritance (sad enough by itself), when a state mismanages the economy to the point where a generation cannot do so, it presses them irresistably towards behavior contrary to the idea of the good man.

Muslim Cleric: “Husbands, Beat Your Wives”

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

Beat your wives, so says a very important Muslim cleric:

Egyptian cleric Abd Al-Rahman recently explained on Al-Nas television how a man is permitted to beat his wife.

“A good woman, even if beaten by her husband, puts her hand in his and says: ‘I will not rest until you are pleased with me.’ This is how the Prophet Muhammad taught his women to be,” Al-Rahman said in comment aired in August, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Islam instructs a man to beat his wife as a last resort before divorce, so that she will mend her ways, treat him with kindness and respect, and know that her husband has a higher status than her,” he said.

“I say to every husband: Do not rush to beat her whenever a problem arises. O servant of Allah, Allah said: ‘Admonish those of them on whose part you fear disobedience, refuse to share their beds, and beat them.’ One should not beat out of anger.”

Just recently I remarked that I listened to a sermon where the pastor said, “Don’t you ever strike a woman and call yourself a Christian” (a statement with which I heartily agree).”  Yet we find that the DNC has reached out to Muslims, inviting them to hold an officially sanctioned two hour prayer service as part of the convention.

Don’t think for a moment that this is something unique to the Middle East.  With the proliferation of honor killings in the U.S., what Islamic clerics in the Middle East say is more important than most people know.  In fact, the very sect being represented is part of a separatist Islamic movement within the U.S. who wants to replace the constitution with the Qu’ran.

All of this coincides with the removal of the word “God” from the DNC platform.  As I’ve remarked before, it’s remarkable how illiberal liberals can be.

Presidential Apologies: A Contrast in Religious Sensitivities

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 1 month ago

There is something strange about the uproar over the apparently accidental burning of Korans at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

This article from the Associated Press is headlined for Newt Gingrich’s criticism of President Obama’s apologies to Hamid Karzai over the Koran burnings.   Whether you agree or disagree with Gingrich’s points, the defense offered up by White House is thought-provoking:

Even before Gingrich’s comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney sought to counter any criticism of the president’s apology.

“It is wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities,” Carney told reporters traveling to Miami with the president on Air Force One. “His primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of the American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there. And it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

There are at least two, underlying assumptions in the White House messaging on this.

Muslim Sensitivities

First, Obama’s apology to Karzai was “wholly appropriate” due to “the understandable sensitivities” of the Afghanis.   Presumably Carney is really referring to the Afghani’s muslim sensitivities.   In Obama’s view, then, Islamic “sensitivities” are to be given such respect that any offense– even an indisputably unintentional and accidental one– demands contrition and a grave apology from a United States President.

What is this sensitivity that requires an American President to bend the knee and humbly seek forgiveness?  It is the apparent veneration of a book by muslims that forbids any act of disrespect or dishonor.   This is medieval thinking and, while we can comprehend that Afghanis inhabit a culture and religion that is largely mired in the 7th Century, it is not incumbent on Americans or America’s President to cater to or endorse such magical thinking.

We feel no need, for instance, to apologize to muslims for the dogs that American soldiers often use for bomb detection or even companionship on bases in Afghanistan despite the fact that dogs offend many muslims’ “sensitivities.”    Admittedly, there is no need to go out of our way to unnecessarily offend, but it would seem that we give validity to magical thinking when we apologize for inadvertent offenses to that thinking to which we, ourselves do not subscribe and even hold, privately, in contempt.

Note, too, the contrast in the way Obama treats Islamic beliefs about a book and his treatment of the Roman Catholic beliefs about contraception.  He is frankly not concerned about the Catholic sensitivities when it conflicts with his agenda and, most disturbing, is willing to ride roughshod over important First Amendment rights in the process.

Rewarding Violence

The second rationale provided by the White House is that the apology emanated from the need to protect our military forces in Afghanistan (and probably elsewhere in the Middle East).  The underlying assumption is that muslims will resort to random and not-so-random violence against Americans if they are not placated and appeased.

Comparing the treatment accorded the Afghan government and the Roman Catholic Church, the lesson here seems to be that if you are a religious group that respects the law and addresses its grievances through debate and political action, then your sensitivities– even ones protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution— can be abused and violated by Obama and his myrmidons on the Left.   But if you happen to belong to a religious group that will readily and predictably resort to violence at any unintentional or even accidental slight to your sensitivities, then you are pursued like a wounded child, begged for forgiveness and placated.

This incident should be yet another clear marker for all of us that the West, so far, is on the losing side of the war with Militant Islam as we are willing cede our own cultural beliefs to them simply because they readily resort to violence.    This is like parents who defer and pander to their 17 year-old because they fear his violent temper and unpredictable tendency to violence.   Such a scenario never ends well.

It will not end well for America, either, if we persist in these behaviors.

UPDATE: An interesting contrast to the U.S. position on the accidental burning of the Koran and the intentional burning of the Bible by U.S. forces in 2009.   I do not subscribe to the notion that the Bible– as a collection of paper and ink bound with a cover of some sort is invested with mystical qualities that render the book itself as inviolate.   To do so would be to engage in the same sort of magical thinking that muslims have toward the Koran.   At the same time, the article makes good points about the perception of Afghans who see Americans falling over themselves to seek forgiveness for a few, mistakenly burned Korans while holding their own sacred book, the Bible, in apparent contempt.

Stupid Evangelical Tricks

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

The National Association of Evangelicals is calling for a reduction in the world’s nuclear weapons.

The group’s board of directors, which represents more than 45,000 local churches from over 40 different denominations, approved a resolution at its semiannual meeting in October encouraging the reductions as well as ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The treaty, adopted by the United Nations in 1996, calls for a ban of all nuclear explosions though it has yet to be fully ratified.

Oh my.  We evangelicals do beclown ourselves, don’t we?  Actually, the policy statement is a thing to behold.  First off, its appeal to Ronald Reagan is disingenuous, and is similar to the gun control lobby’s appeal to Reagan.  It’s dishonest and never works.  Reagan supported gun rights, and Reagan ran the Soviet Union bankrupt with an arms buildup.  Peace through strength is not the same thing as trust through unilateral disarmament, and we all know it.  No one ever buys this approach, so it’s an enigma why anyone uses it.

Next, the appeal to “restraining evil” and “promoting peace and reconciliation” is simply absurd, and the Biblical data cited has nothing whatsoever to do with the policy statement or their position on nuclear weapons.  And to assume that a treaty would have any affect at all on rogue nations such as Iran is puerile (Iran’s intentions have to do with apocalyptic eschatology, and no treaty that the U.S. signs will have any affect at all on their quest to usher in the eschaton with violence).  The only nation(s) that would honor such a resolution or treaty would be the very nations that didn’t need the constraints of the treaty in the first place.  It’s rather like the arguments preached by gun control advocates.

Next, regarding pastoral concerns, they cite the promotion of trust on God, and cite Psalm 33:16-17 (I’ll use my favorite, the NASB).

The king is not saved by a mighty army;
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.

A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

And then they launch into gushing hand-wringing about cultivating love for our enemies and a concern for “dehumanizing” other people by targeting them with nuclear weapons.

Seriously.  You can’t make this up.  They use Biblical counsel regarding the state of the heart of individuals and their reliance on God as a justification for jettisoning nuclear weapons, obviously conflating that with the duty of governments to protect and secure the peace of its own people.

The authors of this tripe should have read Professor Darrell Cole’s paper on Good Wars, in which he uses Aquinas and Calvin to show how the Christian position on the state as the perpetrator of violence is not only not to be seen as an evil, or even a necessary evil, but a virtuous thing when done rightly.

The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches—contrary to today’s prevailing views—that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.

Sounds a bit different than the silly and shallow NAE position, no?  Then they drop this bit of insulting, moralistic hypocrisy into the policy statement.

The discovery of how to split the atom was a groundbreaking scientific and technological achievement involving large numbers of scientists, engineers and workers from many disciplines using their God-given talents. Today hundreds of thousands of Americans, both military and civilian, are directly or indirectly involved in the design, manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons. Many of these people are members of our churches. They seek to use their gifts and skills to serve their nation.  Some are troubled by the ethical ambiguities of participation in an enterprise that involves producing weapons of mass destruction. Chaplains and pastors should avoid simplistic answers, but should rather guide their members in prayerful reflection, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they wrestle with issues of profound moral consequence.

I doubt that the authors directly know even a single person who is involved with national laboratory work on nuclear weapons or even deploy them in the case of war.  But I do (on both accounts), and let me state that I know of no such “troubles” with “ethical ambiguities” with my friends.  And let me unequivocally state that the existence of nuclear weapons, far from promoting the diminution of world peace, is more responsible for world peace in the twentieth century than any other invention by mankind.  World War II was the last world war fought solely because of the existence of nuclear weapons.  And the authors of the policy have used the umbrella of peace that nuclear weapons have provided to craft their veiled and cowardly admonishments to nuclear workers and military servicemen.

I want to make one final point concerning the state of Christian scholarship and warfare.  I have thought more about war and warfare than 99.9999% of other Christians over the past five or so years, and I can honestly say that so-called just war theory is worthless in today’s world.

It was developed for a world that communicated by horse riders and signet rings, and archers lining up in fields against opposing lines from other countries, with border battles to see who would control nation-states.  It wasn’t developed for transnational insurgencies, large effect standoff weapons, terrorist bombings, fighters living and fighting among and from within their own people, real time intelligence, and targeted hits by UAVs.

In my 5+ years spent military blogging I have not referred to a single quote, citation, or word of any Christian scholar concerning just warfare – and it’s not because of the lack of trying.  It’s high time that the Christian community gathered serious scholars to tackle warfare in the twenty first century.  This NAE paper is neither serious nor scholarly.

And don’t come back with some claptrap about a pacifist Jesus.  Just go spend your time singing verses of John Lennon’s Imagine during your next worship service.  It would be ideologically similar to the paper, and artistically better than studying the policy statement.

UPDATE: The NAE’s Policy statement puts them squarely in line with Fidel Castro, who also believes that no country should have nuclear weapons.

Prior:

An Aging Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

Sounding the Nuclear Alarm

Iran Trumps Up Charges Against Youcef Nadarkhani

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 6 months ago

From CNN:

Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will be put to death for several charges of rape and extortion, charges that differ greatly from his original sentence of apostasy, Iran’s semi-official Fars News agency reported Friday.

Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a “rapist.” A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion.

“His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity,” Rezvani told Fars. “He is guilty of security-related crimes.”

In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani.

“Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19,” reads the brief.

Of course that’s the way the brief reads.  The Iranians are lying.  The reason, by the way, that Islam requires Muslims to execute those who “apostatize” from Islam is that Islam is epistemologically vapid and vacuous, and logically uncompelling.   When your belief system lacks an intellectual edifice, you have to militarize its expansion and ability to retain “adherents.”  This is what puts incidents like the forced “conversion” of Steve Cenntani in context.  Those who are confident in their faith don’t require the use of weapons for influence.


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