Archive for the 'Religion' Category



Guns: Think Of The Children

BY Herschel Smith
5 months, 2 weeks ago

From a pastor in the UMC (where else?).

Consider for a moment a nightmare scenario: A person walks into your worship service and brandishes or, worse still, actually fires, a weapon.

Now, because your church has opted into our state legislature’s new law allowing licensed gun owners to bring weapons to church, several folks in the congregation are able to draw their guns and return fire.

Now, look into that scene and tell me truthfully: Does the second half of that scenario make you feel safer? In the chaos of such a moment, are worshipers in LESS peril because MORE people are shooting?

I’ll admit, however, that my perspective, like any personal view, isn’t simply practical. My opinion is shaped by my Christian faith and beliefs.

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I’m not saying there is no place for power or weapons in the protection of the innocent (my own son is a police officer, and people I love and respect are in the military). I AM saying that guns in the church are:

• a danger to the very people we would protect,

• one more barrier between us and Christ, and

• no more than the illusion of security.

And then there is this from Patheos.

My views on our gun culture are fairly simple.  It can be boiled down to this: the human tradition of the second amendment does not trump the divine revelation of the fifth commandment. That’s because, to repeat, the single most important fact of our gun culture is 30,000 corpses each year.

Notice that our UMC pastor tips his hat to the necessary evil of having to use violence by pointing to police (while not mentioning a man’s own protection of his family), but says that it is a “barrier between us and Christ.”

Also take note how he paints the picture.  It is one of a perpetrator firing wildly, and a would-be self defender, rather than shooting in a controlled manner to end the violence and thus save innocent lives, firing wildly in return.  It’s a painting of two whirl tops shooting indiscriminately rather than with purpose.

He does this to bias his ignorant readers into thinking that folk who carry guns are going to go wild and whirl top on their families.  But the pastor knows that something is wrong with his argument.  He knows that there is no stopping a gunman unless someone else has a gun.

His solution?  “The way of the cross is true and good. Be not afraid.”  But here his powers of Biblical exegesis (if he ever had any) fail him.  Christ never promised that his propitiatory sacrifice on the cross would stop gunmen.  The ignorant pastor conflates different subjects in the Bible.

We’ve discussed this before.  Relying on Matthew Henry, John Calvin and the Westminster standards, we’ve observed that all Biblical law forbids the contrary of what it enjoins, and enjoins the contrary of what it forbids.  Thus have I said:

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.

So our writer at Patheos and the UMC pastor are both equally theologically shallow and childlike.  We can only hope that their influence is commensurate with their poor knowledge of the Scriptures.

As for guns in churches (and anywhere else for that matter), think of the children and the mandate by God to protect them.  If you cannot do that you are guilty of violating God’s law.  Think of the children.

Supreme Court Won’t Block Ban On High Capacity Magazines

BY Herschel Smith
7 months, 1 week ago

SFGate:

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to halt Sunnyvale’s enforcement of a voter-approved ban on high-capacity gun magazines. The order signaled that San Francisco will also be allowed to enforce a virtually identical ordinance during court challenges.

Sunnyvale’s measure, approved by 66 percent of its voters in November, prohibits possession of magazines carrying more than 10 cartridges.

A group of gun owners sued to overturn the Sunnyvale ordinance and asked a federal judge to block its enforcement, arguing that tens of millions of Americans legally own guns with high-capacity magazines and may sometimes need them to repel criminal attacks.

But U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose rejected the request March 5, the day before the ordinance took effect, saying the ban would have little impact on the constitutional right to bear arms in self-defense.

A federal appeals court refused to intervene, and on Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who handles emergency appeals from California and eight other Western states, denied a stay without comment.

More often than not, when the SCOTUS refuses to hear a case, they know full well how it will turn out and conclude that the outcome wouldn’t be any different than the way it is before review.

Occasionally I like the decisions made at the appeals court level.  But more often than not I don’t.  But one thing I do not do is rely on the federal court system to protect my rights.

I am a second amendment and gun rights writer, but I only loosely call myself that.  Readers know that I don’t believe that I have a right to own firearms because the constitution says so.  I also don’t believe in so-called “natural law” or “natural rights.”

Ever since my seminary training in apologetics and philosophy, having seen John Locke thoroughly dissembled with logic, I don’t reference his views for anything.  No respectable philosopher today does.  Even among the legal community, John Whitehead is an exception.  In order for something to be “natural,” it has to be binding upon all men and capable of epistemic certainty.  To me, the concept of a natural right to own guns is no better than the notion of the new head of a pride killing the young lions so that the lionesses will come into estrus again – or the lioness trying to defend her young one.  What’s natural to one won’t be natural to another.

So why do I have a right to own guns, or high capacity magazines?  Because God says so.  That settles it for me, whether the constitution recognizes it or not, whether a judge certifies it or not.  You may not have my world view, and I’m okay with that.  But every man must come to his own conclusions and ascertain the ultimate foundation for what he does and what he believes.

You live on the Serengeti desert in a Machiavellian world of eat or be eaten, with no concept of right and wrong, or you know whereof you act, and you know why what you do and what you believe is morally righteous.  And If you were relying on a federal judge to warranty your rights, you’ve been disavowed of that mistaken belief as we speak.  Is that clear enough?

Does Jesus Shoot An AR-15?

BY Herschel Smith
8 months ago

So retired Lt. General William Boykin has stirred up some controversy alleging that Jesus will return to earth carrying an AR-15.

Boykin, a retired Army lieutenant general who now works at the lobbying group, was paraphrasing the biblical prophecy in Revelation 19 that describes Jesus returning to Earth as a “warrior” with a “sharp sword.”

But he believes the scripture is due for an upgrade.

“I’ve checked this out — I believe that sword he’ll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15,” Boykin told the crowd at the Pro-Family Legislators Conference in Dallas.

“The sword today is an AR-15. If you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical,” he said.

More fascinating is the reaction from one Lt. Col. Robert Bateman.  We’ve had our run-ins with gun control fanatic Bateman before (here and here).  In order to understand what Bateman says, you have to listen to Boykin.  Bateman says of Boykin:

Wow, seriously? You believe that the fellow who preached “turn the other cheek” and “the meek shall inherit” and all that other stuff from the Sermon on the Mount, is coming back with blood on his robe?

The Second Amendment is from God. Hmmm. But yet surely, all this Jesus shooting a 5.56 NATO standard bullet from an AR-15 sticking out of his mouth must surely be metaphor, right? I mean that is how it has been interpreted for centuries. And then Lieutenant General, Three Star General Boykin (Ret.) continues:

“I know, everybody says that was a metaphor. IT WAS NOT A METAPHOR! …And that was the beginning of the Second Amendment, that’s where the whole thing came from. … I know that’s where it came from. And the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don’t have one, go get one. You’re supposed to have one. It’s biblical.”

Bateman in his previous encounters with us pretends to be a historical scholar.  Here he is pretending to be a Biblical scholar.  And he is intentionally conflating what Boykin said.  He (Boykin) wasn’t referring to Revelation 19 and whether it was metaphorical.  He was referring to whether the notion of bearing weapons for self protection (as Jesus discussed in Luke 22:36) is metaphorical.

Of course, just a little research could have shown Bateman that the idea of God as warrior is thoroughgoing in the Old Testament and a motif that is carried into the New Testament as well.  Jesus was no doormat or pacifist (see Matthew 10:34-36), and he certainly used violence when it was called for (Matthew 21:12).

Finally, we’ve covered how the American revolution has its roots in continental Calvinism.  I cannot speak for Boykin and what he sees as metaphorical or literal.  To me, Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), and so doesn’t need an AR-15.

But He certainly didn’t intend to dissuade people from self defense (with Boykin I assert that it is a Biblical duty), and imagining Jesus as a long haired peacenik commits the error discussed by John Frame of applying an exclusive reduction (rather than an emphasizing reduction) to God.  Or perhaps Bateman has never read John Frame.

The Foundation Of Liberty

BY Herschel Smith
10 months, 3 weeks ago

Preliminaries

WRSA gives us a proposed formulation for the basis of liberty.

1) We believe and act upon the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

2) Government, to the extent that it is even necessary, must be effectively and eternally constrained, lest it turn once again into tyranny.

3) We believe that it is each individual’s duty and responsibility to provide all necessary support for oneself and one’s family.

4) Beyond the limitations imposed by traditional laws against murder, robbery, theft, rape, and assault, rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.

5) Being essential to the protection and support of ourselves, our families, and our country, no restrictions upon speech, self-defense, arms-bearing, association, worship, private property, parental authority, or the privacy of one’s affairs and writings shall be permitted or tolerated.

This isn’t a bad start, and it’s certainly a daunting task to construct a philosophy for the governance of mankind in a short essay.  I should point out that I think that number (3) is woefully incomplete, and that in order to “act upon the principles of the Declaration of Independence,” it’s necessary properly to understand the foundations of the American revolution, what motivated those men, and why as John Adams observed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (which quote demolishes silly and uneducated objections like the citing the Treaty of Tripoli as counterevidence since it was politics done spuriously in order to allay the fears of a Mohammedan government).

The comments to the article are more interesting than the article itself.  Wombat remarks:

It is the most lazily appealing avenue to attribute the failing of society to the things we dislike.  We can all play the guessing game but in some cases the facts are plain. America has been brought to its knees under the watch of an indisputable Christian majority, so if you want to blame it on the godless heathens be aware. That dog doesn’t hunt.

And ghostsniper remarks:

America is a concept not a gender.Straighten up your act Ed.

A concept is incapable of *honoring* anything.*We* didn’t murder babies.

And later:

… the next time they show up around here I’m gonna turn the hounds of hell loose on them.

And then later:

Faithers *believe* because they have no capacity to do otherwise.

They have maxed out the capability of their thought process.

Like trying to reason with children.

Perhaps we ought to resist the temptation to hurl insults at ghostsniper that he wouldn’t comprehend (such as “Why don’t you try to reason with Professor Alvin Plantinga concerning his Warrant: The Current Debate, to see if you can keep up, or perhaps inquire of my personal friend Hans Halvorson, also a Christian, concerning his views on Quantum Theory or Superentangled States, or perhaps converse with my Christian friend Nolan Hertel concerning his views on the age of the earth).  Perhaps it may be more appropriate to observe that he has accidentally stumbled upon a relevant nugget of truth.  Are belief systems epistemically incorrigible?

With Professor Plantinga, I assert that they are (within certain boundary conditions such as absent the actions of a Sovereign God to change hearts and minds).  My belief Christian belief system is incorrigible, but so is his whether he knows it or not.  And when I say “system” I mean certain things and not others.

To assert a basis for liberty without the context of a world view is vacuous and without compelling force.  We’ll deal with this shortly.

The American Revolution: Analysis & Commentary

Before we can understand where America stands and how to construct a foundation for liberty, we must understand the American experiment at its core because it is the only revolution that has succeeded in supplying the freedom necessary for life, prosperity and peace.

R. J. Rushdoony remarks in “The Nature of the American System” (page 2):

Two causes stand out clearly as basic to the break between the Colonies and George III.  The first cause was the religious issue.  John Adams cited the attempt of parliament to force the establishment of the Church of England on the colonies as responsible, “as much as any other cause,” for the break.  “The objection was not merely to the office of a Bishop, though even that was dreaded, but to the authority of parliament, on which it must be founded.”  We can agree with Bridenbaugh that “It is indeed high time that we repossess the important historical truth that religion was a fundamental cause of the American revolution.”

Does this mean that the American revolution was irreligious or anti-religious?  Not even nearly.  Turning to my former professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Douglas Kelly, in “The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World” (page 120 – 126):

In terms of population alone, a high percentage of the pre-revolutionary colonies were of Puritan-Calvinist background.  There were about three million persons in the thirteen original colonies in 1776, and perhaps as many as two-thirds of these came from some kind of Calvinist or Puritan connection.

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… by 1776, nine of the thirteen original colonies had an “established church” (generally congregational in New England, Anglican in New York, Virginia and South Carolina, “Protestant” in North Carolina, with religious freedom in Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Georgia) … While this did not necessarily mean that a majority of the inhabitants of these colonies were necessarily committed Christian believers, it does indicate the lingering influence of the Calvinist concept of a Christian-based civil polity as an example to a world in need of reform.

Returning to Rushdoony (page 2):

Every colony had its own form of Christian establishment or settlement.  Every one was a kind of Christian republic.  It was to them a monstrous idea … for an alien body, parliament, to impose an establishment on them.  The colonies were by nature and history Christian … to read the Constitution as the charter for a secular state is to misread history, and to misread it radically.  The Constitution was designed to perpetrate a Christian order.

So how did this religious-based opposition to the decrees of George III play out in the colonies?  Returning one final time to Doug Kelly (page 121).

Their experience in Presbyterian polity – with its doctrine of the headship of Christ over the church, the two-powers doctrine giving the church and state equal standing (so that the church’s power is not seen as flowing from the state), and the consequent right of the people to civil resistance in accordance with higher divine law – was a major ingredient in the development of the American approach to church-state relations and the underlying questions of law, authority, order and rights.

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It was largely from the congregation polity of these New England puritans that there came the American concept and practice of government by covenant – that is to say: constitutional structure, limited by divine law and based on the consent of the people, with a lasting right in the people to resist tyranny.

Take note that we aren’t asserting that every man must be a Christian for a fundamentally Christian society to obtain.  We are asserting that the polity and laws must follow the basic tenants of Christianity.  This is what obtained in Colonial America and what formulated the basis for the American revolution.

Furthermore, notice that while the revolution was largely religious in nature, it wasn’t a rebellion against religion.  It was a rebellion against the idea that a centralized, dislocated power would impose its will on them, especially in terms of religious polity and laws.  Finally, note that the Calvinian idea of covenant underlies the principles of the American revolution.

It wasn’t a war of rabblerousers, troublemakers or hoodlums.  It was a revolt against a centralized power based on the idea that that power had broken covenant with God and with them, and only thus did they have the right to replace that power.  Power is best located nearest the people where they can hold rulers accountable, a fundamental formulation in the rights of states (or Colonies) early in the days of the republic.

Personal Observations & Conclusions

I’ll now address other, related issues and questions based on the discussion above.

America as a Christian Nation

As to the notion that “America has been brought to its knees under the watch of an indisputable Christian majority,” there is nothing indisputable in that assertion and I do indeed dispute that there is currently or has even recently been a Christian majority.  That statement could have been [correctly] made at the founding of the country, but not now an any meaningful sense.

I can assert that I am the king of Siam, but that doesn’t make it so.  That’s the failure of the ridiculous term “co-religionists,” which means nothing except that the person using the term is a coward (or perhaps just ignorant if we are gracious to him).

Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian.  Asserting so doesn’t make one a Christian.  Pretending so doesn’t make one a Christian.  Doing public “good” doesn’t make one a Christian.  Claiming to do things in the name of Christ doesn’t make one a Christian (Matthew 7:23).  Being a Christian involves a change of heart and mind by the work of a sovereign God who isn’t Himself moved or swayed by the words of man.

America as a Christian nation means more than just the majority of people having been raised within Christian families, professing Christianity and practicing Biblical law in their lives.  It involves Christian polity and public law – implementing rules for how men behave towards one another that is pleasing to God.  That existed at the time of our founding.  We have left that formulation, and thus have we perished as a nation.

The Requirement for a Clash of World Views

The pragmatists recommend keeping politics and religion away from the dinner table at the holidays.  Conversely, my son Joseph recent did a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and was pleasantly surprised at the almost reflexive tendency to openly discuss world view and religious persuasion over the dinner table.

America has largely lost the ability to think deep thoughts (and cannot even keep up with folks in the DR) because so much of the country reflexively gets sauced and watches idiotic nighttime sitcoms rather than engaging in reading, discussion, learning and challenging each other – no, not talk show challenging, but serious methodological challenges to the logical order and consistency of world views.

The reference to “natural laws” and what nature may teach us is quaint and amusing, but philosophically outdated and meaningless.  Nature confers upon us nothing, and certainly not rights of any sort.  What may be obvious to us is contrary to the pronouncements of others who look at the same “nature.”  To John Dewey, John Stuart Mill and in more drastic form the communists, whatever works the best and achieves the greatest good for the greatest number is “good” (whatever that means).

But under this rubric many men and women have perished, a fact that is acceptable to the communists.  Under this rubric many millions of unborn infants in America have also perished, a fact that is wholly acceptable to the pragmatists and utilitarians.  The tribes in Ethiopia engaged in the practice of killing healthy baby boys whose top teeth came in before his bottom teeth.

America has for a long time found acceptable the idea of theft through taxation and inflation (both of which steal wealth), because that’s what the majority say.  If one turns to “nature” for values, whatever that means, perhaps the best source for ethics and morality would be watching male lions kill the cubs of females so that they come into estrus, or watching other animals as they steal kills.  Again to emphasize the point, nature cannot reveal a system of laws and turning to natural law means that you haven’t thought things through.

For those who have taken courses in apologetics or philosophy (and also for those who haven’t), a world view requires a system of categories working together, including metaphysics, ontology, ethics, epistemology, and so forth.  All of it is usually seen to be based on epistemology, as that category of philosophy describes and explains your source of truth.

It also requires that you posit your presuppositions beforehand.  Arguing that you want “reason” instead of “faith” belies ignorance (and the failure to take courses in math and philosophy).  Recalling the advice of Gordon H. Clark, you need to take a class in geometry.  All logic is governed by rules of deduction, but based on presupposition, axiomatic irreducibles.  If it can be demonstrated it is a pronouncement of your syllogism, not a presupposition.

With the right presuppositions you can demonstrate that the moon is made of green cheese.  You must state yours, and we get to examine them, along with your syllogisms.  What is your source of truth?  You see, these things are necessary before your system can amount to anything.  Otherwise, you’re an infant trying to read a calculus textbook.

Politics is ethics.  It is part of a larger system of philosophy, and it cannot be posited in a vacuum without being void of compelling argument.  You must explain how you know what you know in order for us to judge it, and all of your system must show itself to be consistent with the rest.  This is what philosopher Gordon H. Clark shows so well in “Religion, Reason and Revelation.”

More specifically, in the first chapter Clark shows that the proper way to compare and contrast world views is just that, i.e., religion cannot be separated from other world views because it posits a person (or trinity of persons) from whom revelation flows.  From the utilitarian and instrumentalist, to the communist and anarchist, every man has a god, whether it is himself, his desires, the so-called needs of the many, the utility of ideas, or whatever.  Separating world views based on whether there is such a thing as revelation suffers the logical fate of begging the question because the definition poses that which has been assumed rather than demonstrated.  It’s best for you just to queue up your world view, and for me to queue up mine, and let them fight it out.  We’ll see which one is most consistent and compelling.  Unless, of course, you would rather watch night time sitcoms rather than consider philosophical questions?

The Success of the American Revolution

The American revolution was wrought in substantial measure by men who were willing to lose everything for the sake of what was right, good and what they perceived as holy.  No other revolution has accomplished what it did, especially the French revolution which was a product of the enlightenment.

America has diminished because it has rejected the theories upon which it was built.  But it will ever be that way with no source of truth.  As another professor mine observed, “Statism, in all of its forms, is the logical result of autonomous man attempting to govern himself” (C. Gregg Singer, “From Rationalism to Irrationality,” page 411).

Because of the philosophical problem of the one and the many, man’s attempts to fix his problems will invariably land him in anarchy or totalitarianism (see Rousas J. Rushdoony, “The One and the Many”).  References to pronouncements that I may make because of my world view (e.g., murder is sinful, theft shouldn’t be tolerated, the state is accountable to both God and the people, etc.) are allowed for you even if I find it amusing, but take note that you are borrowing from my world view rather than finishing your own.

To the degree that you don’t develop and complete your world view you are inhibiting conversation because you cannot hold up your end of the bargain to engage in the so-called clash of world views.  And to the degree that you develop a world view that is a recapitulation of one that has gone before, yours will end in totalitarianism.  I guarantee it.  If you argue that you haven’t read all of the philosophy or history text books, you’re arguing for laziness as an excuse.  I’m unimpressed.  I’m sorry that you’re intellectually lazy, but I can’t help you with that.

Finally, to the extent that you are looking for or trying to develop a foundation for liberty that ignores the religious elements of the American revolution, you’re being dishonest.  Our founders were men of character, faith, and fight.  Being men of fight and leaving the character and faith to someone else is a poor substitute for the foundation of liberty in America.  It means that we who do that are not even in the same league as our founders.  It also means that we will fail at our goals and initiatives – I guarantee it.  But if our beliefs are incorrigible, those who are merely fighters (without character or faith) may even be unable to diagnose this malady.  Beware of such men.

Individual and Corporate Accountability, and The Death of Nations and Men

I said earlier that proposition #3 was incomplete.  I have explained that the expectation is not and was never for the state to provide for the needs of the needy.  The state has more and more taken this role to itself as the church and family have left the scene (and as we have allowed the state to usurp God’s authority).  Likewise, when nation-states allow national sins to occur (like abortion), at times in history God’s judgment encircles the entire nation.  He holds people accountable corporately, not just individually.  This is demonstrated all through the Holy Scriptures.  If you haven’t read them, I cannot help you because you’re arguing for laziness again.

And while we may agree that taxation is theft by the power of a badge and gun, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t to provide for the needy (see the admonition of Paul and James concerning widows and orphans).  Families may not always be able to assist because they may not exist.  In such instances, the church and other families show the national character by the care they give widows and orphans.  And again note that I didn’t place the role of support on the state.  I placed it squarely where God does – families and churches, with all institutions accountable to God, including our governors and lawmakers.

For those who have been in any way engaged in dependent care, you have become aware of what I already know.  The elderly cannot care for themselves – or at least, they are much less able to care for themselves than are we.  We can collect our guns, ammunition, gold, tactical gear and food stuffs, but the reality is that there is a short window of time in life where that means anything.

I may carry weapons from room to room with me when I make my way around the house, and carry them on my way about my business on a daily basis.  But one day soon, my life and yours will be snuffed out.  We will perish from the face of the earth, along with any memory of us.  The very small segment of the world that knew we existed will forget us.  Then we will face judgment in front of our creator.

That day, our mouths will be closed.  We will not speak.  There will be no defense.  Christ will be our advocate, or we will be told to depart.  No amount of guns and ammunition will be able to change things.  Before that day we will be as helpless as the other elderly for whom God has made us accountable – unable even to move at times, much less provide for ourselves.  We will be dependent upon other men in life, and God’s judgment in death.

Take care that your world view is sufficiently humble.  You won’t be “unleashing the hounds of hell” on anyone.  You will soon be old and feeble, and then you will die.  “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  Understand that whatever designs you have for your family and your nation depends upon the favor of a sovereign God, and not your own “wisdom.”  No basis for liberty that ensconces sin or ignores the demands of a sovereign God (whether theft by taxation, abortion, or whatever) will ever succeed.  “Do homage to the Son that He not become angry and you perish in the way” (Psalm 2:12).

And thus no one who reads this article will have the excuse that he has never heard this.

Baptist Forum Does Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
11 months ago

Baptist Standard:

ABILENE—Christians who advocate gun rights on grounds of self-defense have lost sight of the radical nature of Jesus’ message, a Hardin-Simmons University professor told a student-initiated forum on gun violence.

“Americans have a deep love of salvific violence, the idea that with the use of force—the use of deadly force—against the right kind of people, we can make things turn out OK,” said Rodney Taylor, assistant professor of theology at HSU. “I think the cross, however, says something very different. What we see in the cross is the overcoming of violence, not through resistance, but rather through trust in God.”

Speaking on “God and Guns: The Way of Jesus in a Violent World,” Taylor critiqued the argument of self-defense as a natural right by comparing and contrasting it to Christian beliefs about premarital sex. To non-Christians, a prohibition against sex outside marriage seems like a “strange command,” he noted.

“But there are a lot of other strange commands there that Jesus gives us that seem counterintuitive,” he said. “I think the problem with the natural right of self-defense is that it loses sight of the kind of radical message that we see in the gospel—this radical approach that Jesus gives us that is counterintuitive, that doesn’t really seem to fit.”

The reason it doesn’t fit is because it is nonsense fabricated entirely out of their minds rather than being found in the Bible.

We’ve covered this before in Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense.  There are at least a couple of problems with this forum and its pronouncements on guns.  First, professors in anything, those who have spent vast quantities of money and time in so-called “higher education,” want to believe that they’ve discovered something new, something exciting, something breathtaking, something no one has ever seen.

To get a little pointy headed here and diverge into a sidebar comment that few of my readers will know about (but these professors will), this is one of the features of the so-called new perspectives in Paul and N. T. Wright.  No one before him, he must necessarily believe, not Augustine, not Anselm, not Calvin, not Beza, not W.G.T. Shedd, not Hodge, not Dabney, and on the list could go, has gotten it right.  God left it to him to really explain what the apostle Paul was saying.  Everyone else in history was wrong.

Likewise for this forum, every other theologian was wrong about the justification (and even necessity and duty) of self defense.  This is quite an arrogant way to live and think, but academia is shot through with it.  The second problem is that this forum is comprised of progressive, contemporary theologians who believe in nothing much except the social gospel.  Thus, they want to correct or ameliorate broad, sweeping social ills not by preaching salvation by grace through faith to individuals, but by statist control over the collective.

This is easy, folks.  The sixth commandment controls us in this matter.  God forbids the opposite of what he enjoins, and He enjoins the opposite of what He forbids.  Thou shalt not kill means thou shalt save life.  These forum members would sooner allow their wives to be raped and murdered by home invaders than lift a hand to save the one God gave them to protect.  Or, they would fight to save their wives, making them to be liars, and worse, profoundly stupid liars because they chose to use one of the least effective weapons to defend the loved ones under their charge.

Take your pick.  Silently stand by and watch their wives be raped, or they become liars; not even they believe a word of what they have to say, and so you shouldn’t either.  And for the record, God has made no promise to save their wives in home invasions while they silently stand and watch.  Let’s make this even more visceral by quoting what I said earlier.

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.

And even more to the point, “If you believe that it is your Christian duty to allow your children to be harmed by evil-doers (and you actually allow it to happen) because you think Christ was a pacifist, you are no better than a child abuser or pedophile.”  So here is a challenge for the forum members.  Prove to me and my readers that your views don’t really mean that you wouldn’t save a child being harmed or your spouses being raped.  Prove to me that you’re better than a child abuser or pedophile?  And if you would act to save a life in this way, why would you choose a means that ensured your failure?

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Emily Miller notes that Washington National Cathedral recently weighed in on gun control.

Once again, the D.C. police are using their resources to provide illegal guns for a public relations stunt intended to pressure politicians to pass federal restrictions on the Second Amendment.

Outside the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, blacksmiths will “forge firearms into garden tools” as a symbolic enactment of this year’s theme, “Swords into Plowshares.”

The Children’s Defense Fund, which is cosponsoring the event, said in a press release that blacksmiths will be using “illegal guns confiscated by the police.”

The dramatic scene will follows a children’s church service in which the organization’s president Marian Wright Edelman will speak.

It is illegal in the District to possess a firearm that is not registered. When asked about the event, Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s spokesman said that, “These are not firearms. They are scrap parts only, and they are inoperable.”

That’s actually legally irrelevant. According to the District firearms laws written after the Supreme Court’s Heller decision in 2008, even a non-functioning firearm must be registered and can result in criminal liability.

Yea, it may be illegal in more ways than one.  If they take possession of a lower receiver that is technically defined as the part that is controlled by the ATF.  But let’s focus on Washington National Cathedral for a moment.

How very sophisticated of them to beat up guns as part of a worship service.  David Codrea notes – tongue in check – how very hipster Gary Hall is.  Of course, Washington National Cathedral doesn’t believe in any of the classical confessions of the faith (e.g., Westminster Confession of Faith, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, etc.).  They don’t believe in anything, and so they aren’t a real church.  You may as well have a Potemkin Pastor for your weekly speaker under those circumstances.  After all, it’s no more than a country club that meets once per week.

A few miles away in Indiana, another pastor takes a different view.

A pistol-packing pastor helped foil a stick-up when he pulled his handgun on a man trying to rob an Indiana discount store Friday night, police said.

Pastor Carl Sanders, who has a permit to carry a firearm, managed to hold the suspect at the Dollar General Store in Evansville on the until police arrived.

Evansville Police said Jermaine Dewayne Marshall, 25, walked into the store and, with a bandanna over his face and an unknown object wrapped in plastic in his hand, demanded money from a worker at the register. The employee refused.

“Marshall tells the individual again to open the register and points this object he’s trying to pass off as a firearm at the employee,” said Capt. Andy Chandler of the Evansville Police Department.

When the clerk refused again, Marshall struck him several times in the face.

That’s when Pastor Sanders walked into the store.

Sanders told NBC affiliate WFIE Evansville that Marshall came at him with what appeared to be a gun wrapped in plastic.

“He was telling me to get on the ground,” Sanders told WFIE. “That’s when I pulled my weapon and say, ‘No, you get on the ground.’”

“I laid my life down for some people, knowing they were going to be OK,” Sanders said, adding that Marshall “didn’t deserve to be hurt, I wasn’t going to hurt him, but I wanted him to know you can’t do this.”

Sanders called the police and kept Marshall covered until police arrived, Chandler said. Police discovered that Marshall had been trying to pass off a spoon wrapped in a plastic bag as a firearm.

You see, Carl Sanders cares about people, and Gary Hall doesn’t.  If this sounds harsh, you need to think more deeply about the issue since it is clear that you haven’t considered the ramifications of your views.

In what I noted to myself as one of the best lines I have ever heard, the horrible Think Progress had a piece entitled Who Would Jesus Shoot?  The comments are more important than the silly article, as they demonstrate that most people (falsely) equate Jesus with pacifism.

So in order to answer that question let me wax theological for a moment.  Nothing happened in the birth, life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that wasn’t ordained, controlled by God, and intended for a specific end (He upholds all things by the “Word of His power,” and He “Works all things after the counsel of His own will,” Hebrews 1:3 and Ephesians 1:11).

One must understand the soteriological import of every event in order to understand what happened to Jesus.  Asking the question Who Would Jesus Shoot? demonstrates that the questioner is an idiot.

But let’s pull this thread a little farther if we may.  I have dealt with the issue of guns, violence and Christianity in another extensive article, looking at the Biblical evidence, the historical evidence and the theological positions of the Church fathers.  Very directly, I state that:

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.

If you believe that it is your Christian duty to allow your children to be harmed by evil-doers (and you actually allow it to happen) because you think Christ was a pacifist, you are no better than a child abuser or pedophile.

Who would Jesus shoot?  He would shoot anyone he had to in order to save life from harm by evil-doers.  Christ had very specific warnings about those who cause the “little ones” to stumble (Luke 17:2), and He made clear His stipulations concerning their place in the Kingdom (Luke 18:16).

Like I said.  If you think this is some sort of doctrinaire, theoretical debate with ethereal platitudes, you’d better rethink your position.  This is the stuff of life and death – literally.

UPDATE: Thanks to David, Mike and Glenn for their attention to this article.

Guns And The Jesus Complex

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 1 month ago

Concerning the Colorado recall:

In an emotional concession speech, Mr. Morse called the loss of his seat “purely symbolic” and defended the record of the last legislative session as “phenomenal.”

“We made Colorado safer from gun violence,” he said afterward, as his supporters trickled away from a hotel ballroom here in his district. “If it cost me my political  career, that’s a small price to pay.”

[ ... ]

Mr. Morse’s hand was on the tiller during much of that debate. A former police chief, he said he found himself in a position of not just rounding up votes, but actually explaining the mechanics of guns to fellow Democrats. He brought a magazine to show his colleagues how it worked. In an emotional speech in March, as the debate reached its peak, Mr. Morse stood on the Senate floor and spoke of gun violence and “cleansing a sickness from our souls.”

I had followed the Colorado recall elections for the simple reason that some of my readers forced me to.  But this is the first time that I have seen the theological undertones in the debates.  Now, take note how people like me, conservative Christians, are repeatedly mocked in the national discourse.  Trotting out our religion, we always are.  Forcing it on other people.  It’s incorrigible – they cannot help but mock us.

While it’s true that I do see theological issues surrounding the right and duty of self defense, it is Morse who forced his views into the law-making proces.  I never demanded the freedom to do such a thing.  For instance, while I see the historical and interpretive value of knowing that colonial citizens were required to own weapons, I do not support such a thing today.

Note his language.  He believes that his actions were “cleansing a sickness from our souls,” and he is willing to sacrifice himself in a vicarious sort of way in order to effect this redemption.  Good grief.  Morse thinks he is Jesus.

I thank God that I have been spared such theological confusion (does that make me sound like a Pharisee?).  If I ever declare myself to be Jesus, I think my astute readers will hold me accountable.

UPDATE: David Codrea doubts that anyone else wants to be Jesus.

While the successful recall will not be enough to shift the legislative balance of power in Colorado, it will no doubt show activists there and elsewhere what is possible when they apply themselves, and give a boost of confidence to retry recalls in efforts where not enough signatures were gathered, or to start new efforts where success seems possible. And it will no doubt energize gun owners to participate in the next election … Fear of that unpleasantness may be enough to rein in legislators seeing gun owners realizing a newly-discovered power. At the very least, recall actions can cause anti-gun politicians and their patrons to use up their resources defensively, as opposed to launching new aggressive campaigns against gun ownership …

Yes.  This is a battlefield victory.  But there are more battles to fight.  We’re just beginning.

The Golden Calf Of Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

The Kansas City Star:

Some 30,000 people in the U.S. die each year by gunshot, and one reason there aren’t more effective efforts to stop the carnage is that “the faith community has been asleep — fast asleep,” says a pastor who has worked for decades to reduce gun violence.

The Rev. James E. Atwood, author of “America and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé,” was in Kansas City recently to urge religious congregations to take a stand for sensible gun safety legislation that would protect both lives and Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Such advocates are badly needed. As Harper’s Magazine noted recently, since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., more than twice as many laws have been passed in various states weakening gun controls than laws strengthening them. That certainly holds for Missouri and Kansas. It’s an outrage, but there may be hope in this deeply religious country if Atwood is right that since Newtown “we are seeing a tipping point where the faith community is at last waking up.”

In his Kansas City appearances — sponsored by a coalition of more than a dozen groups — Atwood, a Presbyterian who is himself a gun owner and hunter, said one of the problems is that many Americans have moved from “respect” for firearms to “reverence” for them.

“It’s an idolatrous belief,” he said, “that violence can produce security. On the other hand when guns become idols we can document how their presence transforms the personalities of individuals and entire communities.”

So guns have morphed from an inanimate object, a component made of mechanical parts, into something that can transform the personality of not only an individual but an entire community.

Unfortunately, the pitiful pastor has forgotten his theology, and made something the theologians call adiaphorous (neutral, neither good nor bad) into something with personality and intentionality. He replaces the evil in the heart of mankind with evil in objects, a form of animism.

He also worships the power of the state to transform, and thus he has turned the state into his god.  One good antidote for this kind of twisted thinking is my Christians, The Second Amendment and the Duty Of Self Defense.

Chris Murphy On Guns And God

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 5 months ago

Real Clear Politics:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on states nullifying federal gun laws: I mean, let’s look at the context of nullification. Nullification was last used by Southern states to try to eviscerate Civil Rights legislation, to try to prevent states from basically enforcing desegregation and frankly, I think history will look back on this round of nullification as kindly as it did on the last round.

It is laughable also because it is a total bastardization of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is not an absolute right, not a God given right, always had conditions upon it like the First Amendment has. The idea that the Second Amendment was put in there in order to allow citizens to fight their government is insane.

Now, let’s quote Dr. Douglas F. Kelly in The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World concerning Huguenot religious revolutionary texts.

As far as the development of political thought is concerned, the most important thing to come out of these struggles was a group of Protestant tracts justifying revolution on an old yet new basis.  They taught concepts of religious liberty flowing from a divinely ordained covenant structure of society, as well as a concept of popular sovereignty, giving the people of the nation power to make and depose kings.  Although the Protestants lost the struggle militarily, these concepts became internationally influential long after the fight for freedom was lost in the French nation.

As far as the use of nullification to eviscerate civil rights, Murphy has it exactly backwards (and read here and here).  But it stands to reason.  If you get idiot senators on idiot talk shows being led by idiot talk show hosts, both of whom are ignorant of history, you’ll come away with idiotic conclusions.

Because Islamists Are Cowards

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 7 months ago

Fox News:

Five Iranian Christian converts who were detained late last year will reportedly begin trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court this week, according to a human rights group following the case.

The five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session. They will be tried at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz’s Fars Province on charges of disturbing public order, evangelizing, threatening national security and engaging in Internet activity that threatens the government, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog group.

“Judging from recent cases, it is likely that, at the very least, those detained may face lengthy prison sentences,” said CSW spokesperson Kiri Kankhwende.

Christianity threatens national security.  In fact, anything but Islam threatens national security, because Islam is a political religion meant and designed for people control.

The reason these Christians are under threat by the state is that the Islamists know that if they expose their own system (I use that term loosely) of faith to inspection and logic, it will fall.  Christians have no such fear.

Islamists threaten people with violence when their thinking is under the slightest threat because they are scared.  They are cowards.  Would my reader ever threaten someone with bodily harm if they didn’t “convert,” or ever relinquish their own faith when under such threat?


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