Gentlemen, Prepare To Defend Yourselves!

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 8 months ago

Glenn Reynolds recently linked an article at World Net Daily where Christians are being told to weapon up and fight back against jihadist fighters in Nigeria because the government won’t protect them against Boko Haram and others who intend them harm.  This kicked off a conversation between me and my son over the response of the Christian church worldwide, a church I have variously called weak, pathetic, pitiful, disgusting and repulsive (I have that right because I’m a Christian).

I have [previously] asked when is the last time a reader had even heard a prayer in worship for Christians being slaughtered across the globe? (This week was the first indication that anyone cares, with a note from Leith Anderson, head of the National Association of Evangelicals, to pray for Iraq, after Christians have been slaughtered and driven from their homes for more than three years (and the church in Mesopotamia having disintegrated).  What?  No imprecatory prayers at all?  We’re too busy trying to disarm each other to pay attention to the suffering of Christians rather than our own comfort.  My son, in disagreement (of course) with the anemia of the global church, demands to know why we aren’t arming Christians across the world from the offering plate.

To this I explained that there are a number of complicating factors in such a proposal.  First of all, arming Christians in Iraq or Nigeria involves export of firearms which falls under a whole gaggle of federal laws.  To avoid that the church would have to find a weapons trafficker to get the arms to the Christians under attack.  In the unlikely event that a pastor anywhere had the stomach for this, the weapons cannot be gotten to the Christians now anyway.  They are surrounded and cut off, or scattered to the four winds as they run for their very lives.

A good summary statement of where the Christians are at the moment might be this: they waited too late to think about self defense.  They waited too late not because of the mistaken notion that the jihadists would have mercy on them, but because there is a basic sickness in the worldwide church.  This sickness, which is the root cause of the problem, is anti-intellectualism and bad hermeneutics.

Christians justifiably hold high regard for what the Scriptures teach.  But failing proper interpretation and application, unlearned Christians are at the mercy of teachers and pastors who have been brainwashed at liberal seminaries in the art of form, source and redaction criticism, and deconstruction.  Many seminary professors no more believe what the Bible teaches than my dog believes in Newtonian physics.

The Bible gets (intentionally) conflated with social action and a thousand other things, and one consequence of this, just to bring this around to the main subject, is that Christians the world over are in large part pacifists.  The honorific title of “Prince of peace” governs the interpretation of words like “My kingdom is not of this world,” “turn the other check,” and “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  That He can become angry and jealous and full of wrath are seldom discussed.  It’s what theologian John Frame calls an “exclusive reduction” of God to one characteristic, like “God is love” (which is poor hermeneutics) versus an “emphasizing reduction” (which can be temporarily useful for teaching).  Passages are ripped out of context without regard to the rules of hermeneutics or other passages of the Bible and the need for logical consistency.

But despite bad hermeneutics, there is no unmitigated promise from God to protect His people without regard to their foolishness, if they will only trust Him for their provisions.  In order to prove this notion false all one must do is find a single example where Christians were killed en masse.  Such an example isn’t hard to find, as it is estimated that Hitler killed some three million Christians during his evil reign in addition to the millions of Jews, including some half a million clergy.  Another instance of Christians perishing at the hands of evil men can be taken from Stalin’s starvation of the Ukraine, what may be called the holocaust by hunger.  Christians were certainly among the seven million souls who perished in the Ukraine in the 1930’s.  So David’s comment that he has never seen the children of the righteous “begging for bread” (Ps 37:25) must be a normative statement rather than a promise.  In fact, the entire approach to interpretation of the so-called “wisdom literature” in the Bible is different from say, didactic (Romans and Ephesians) or apocalyptic (Revelation) literature.

I am afraid there have been too many centuries of bad teaching endured by the church, but it makes sense to keep trying.  As I’ve explained before, the simplest and most compelling case for self defense lies in the decalogue.  Thou shall not murder means thou shall protect life.

God’s law requires [us] to be able to defend the children and helpless.  “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.”  I’ve tried to put this in the most visceral terms I can find.

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.

This same sort of thinking can be applied on a larger scale to states and nations as so expertly done by professor Darrell Cole in Good Wars (First Things), relying on the theology of both Calvin and Aquinas.  But this is a bridge too far for some Christians who are just now dealing with the notion that they might be in danger.

And danger it is.  If it isn’t out of control SWAT teams in wrong address raids or home invasions by felons, Christians might begin to think about the possibility that jihad will show up on our own shores (jihad version 4.0 includes mass executions, burying people alive and beheading of children).  And if it isn’t that, consider that illegal immigrants have been seen walking armed and in military fatigues in tactical formation (“Ranger file”) across Texas farmland.

But the most pressing danger isn’t ISIS, or felons, or illegal immigrants.  The most pressing danger is the intransigence of the global Christian church in refusing to weapon up and defend themselves.  The Christians in Iraq waited too late, have lost their homes and all of their belongings, and are on the run or sitting on a mountain top thirsting to death (and thirst is a bad way to perish).  I just don’t how to say it any clearer than my favorite actor, Sam Elliot.  If you won’t listen to me, listen to him.

Prior: Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense

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  1. On August 11, 2014 at 2:12 am, Shawn McEwen said:

    Interesting analysis. And here I thought I was the only one seeing a need for a third Crusade. The main problem I see with war is that it often seems to be perverted by the politicking of the nations involved. The virtues of the soldier are downtrodden by ulterior motives of those who command them, not always, but enough. By extension, the virtuous commander will be manipulated by covetous politicians. Some officers, and soldiers will know this when they see it, but what of those that don’t? such is my intellectual struggle, and the source of my skepticism of war
    Your evidence of the Church’s disdain for the use of force, and warfare, even in self defense, doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. There is no limit to what men will do to other men (or demand that they not do) in the name of God. The Church is ministered by men, and if those ministers were perfect, they would not be ministers, they would be God. It is for this reason that I tend to trust very few peoples’ interpretations of what is “just”. The use of force is simple: If you try to hurt me or mine, I will hurt you. If you try to kill me or mine, I will kill you. If you do evil to another in my presence, I will respond in kind, except for rapists, and child molesters… castration, and death for them. For everything else, I’ll have to trust my gut. I’ve had many Christians openly chastise me for my beliefs about defense of self and humanity, but the simple fact is that if I’m wrong in those beliefs, then in the end I’ll pay the price. If I’m right, someone else will.

  2. On August 11, 2014 at 5:13 am, pdavisnwa said:

    Then you need to effectively and properly answer the following:

    What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

    Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. (Psalms 44:11-22)

    I am not saying you are right or wrong. What I am saying is you had better effectively answer the above passages with Scriptural PROOF of what you contend.

    Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)

  3. On August 11, 2014 at 9:26 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Oh, you’re just being lazy. I’ve already proven my case directly from the ten commandments. What you want me to do is a misdirect. You want me to write an exegesis paper on all of your alleged defeater passages before my analysis is accepted as legitimate. Nice try, but no cigars.

    Don’t be lazy. Do your own homework. Write your own exegesis papers, and then come back and tell us what you think your alleged defeater passages are saying. And depending upon what you come back with, I’ll prove to you that you don’t really believe what you claim to believe.

  4. On August 11, 2014 at 11:06 am, pdavisnwa said:

    Pretty incredible. Some tries to actually help you, and you rush to judgment as to what they are about, snap at them, and behave in a way that does not demonstrate the love of God in any way, shape, form, or fashion.

    You have four articles I could find. Your “proof” is nothing but assertion – and weak assertion at that. Before you go off accusing someone of being “lazy” and engaging in “misdirect,” perhaps you ought to actually know the person? Moreover, you ought to actually do your own homework and lay out the entirety of the issue yourself.

    As for your assertion that the Ten Commandments applies to us today, you are grossly in error and do not know the Scriptures. You ought to listen to David Codrea when he states that this is a difficult issue. I have long studied this issue and find it very complex.

    Where many who are liberal and call themselves “Christian” think that everyone should be disarmed err, is in their shallow analysis of Scripture. However, you have erred also in your shallow analysis of Scripture that everyone ought to be armed. Moreover, you sit in judgment of their conscience, which you have no right to do, but how dare anyone sit in judgment of your conscience on the matter. This is hypocrisy writ large.

    I don’t know what kind of “Christian” you claim to be, but it doesn’t come across as “as wise as serpents, and as gentle as doves.”

    I would actually like to help you, but you don’t seem to recognize or want help

    Paul W. Davis

  5. On August 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I’ll pass up your “help.” I don’t need it.

    Now. Your response says way to little, and way, way, way too much. You threw out some “proof” texts, I asked for an exegesis of them to understand what you think they are saying, and you responded with a childish tantrum. Thus it will be your last comment.

    The place you should have stopped is in saying that the ten commandments do not apply to us. or actually, you should have stopped before that. The things I am going to say to you can be found in any classical textbook in systematic theology (Louis Berkof, Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd, R. L. Dabney, Wayne Grudem, etc., etc.). You can do the study yourself.

    If you had said that the ceremonial law doesn’t apply to us, I would have continued to listen. If you would have said that the moral law (ten commandments) does apply but the case law doesn’t, then I would have told you we need to continue the conversation because the (O.T.) case law explains the moral law. But what you did destroys the system, and thus there is no such thing as systematic theology. The moral law, as all theologians point out, is based on His character. Since His character cannot change, the moral law cannot change, even if the ceremonial law is superseded. But on a whim and without regard to what it does to the doctrine of the immutability of God (without which there is no such thing as Christianity), you have thrown out essential tenets of Christian theology while trying to be argumentative.

    I’ll let you continue to post comments, but only after reading and writing a paper for me on the following:

    Slow down. Think before you write. I’ll let this comment stand as proof of the main theme of the article. Your comment is everything that the Christian should avoid and has no redeeming value whatsoever.

  6. On August 13, 2014 at 5:14 am, pdavisnwa said:

    You’ll delete this, but no matter. You condemn yourself when you do. The LORD hath laid it upon me to give you the following:

    What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (I Co 6:19-20)

    And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:34-37)

    If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:1-2)

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)

    And boy, do you love the world. (esp A-10s: Your focus is on the world and of the world. It’s not what you claim that matters, its where you put your energy. And you put the vast majority of your energy, not into the things of the LORD, but into the world.

  7. On August 13, 2014 at 8:12 am, Josh said:

    You’ll delete this, but no matter. (After all, if you let it remain, you would be breaking your word. :-)

    It doesn’t matter to you if he deletes it, because if he does delete it, he will have broken his “word, (smiley face)” which is apparently reason enough for you to post it in the first place. This is the hallmark of a troll. You’re now a troll, Paul, and you’re admittedly leading others in to “breaking their word.” That smacks of self-importance. I don’t imagine many people take you seriously, do they?

    You’ll condemn yourself when you do delete it.

    Now this is really becoming entertaining. So he will condemn himself by deleting a comment – your comment – on the internet. Let’s be reasonable and assume you’re using the word in biblical context (as you apparently enjoy thumping). So now we’ve established that you’re leading a “brother” in Christ into condemnation, and you’re happy about it (insert juvenile smiley face).

    Rich. And to be clear, I think everything you write is utter tripe.

    And boy, do you love the world. (esp A-10s … Your focus is on the world and of the world.

    And finally, because he believes the A-10 platform to be aesthetically and mechanically appealing – a result of many professionals doing very hard and good work – he loves and is of the world.

    Paul, you’re weak. You’re not helping anyone. You’re showing delusions of grandeur by claiming the “LORD” has laid anything upon you. That’s borderline schizophrenic – I’ve seen it over and over in the Church. And you’re dangerous, because there are plenty of fools out there who will believe someone running around claiming the will of God.

  8. On August 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm, Josh said:

    Why must every dispensationalist get their feelings hurt whenever they’re held accountable for the consequences of their teachings? So, Christians should refuse to fight or arm themselves, so as to be martyred. And locust/lion hybrids will surely be arriving any time now…

    The Ten Commandments don’t apply to us

    Then you might as well be a Mormon.

  9. On August 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm, madoradataman said:

    Hey Josh; NEWS FLASH: Mormons believe in the 10 Commandments!!! … also, in God the Eternal Father, In Jesus Christ His Son and Our Redeemer, and in the Holy Ghost!! You are not helping your own already weak case by making cheap shots.

  10. On August 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm, Josh said:

    Mormons are also legitimately crazy, bigoted, idol worshiping polygamists.

  11. On August 11, 2014 at 8:49 am, TimeHasCome said:

    When the Dear One gave a 44 minute speech last week he referred to himself 68 times .That is simply sick in the head.

  12. On August 11, 2014 at 11:28 am, Bobbye said:

    Prof. Cole’s argument in favor of war hinges on two points. 1) That Jesus had a unique mission and therefor His followers do not need to be’ like Jesus’ and, 2) an assumption that your country and your society are the same thing. Hebrews 11 makes it clear that for those who worship God that the earthly ‘country’ is not our ‘country’:”13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

    You will not prevail by going into any Church and teaching that Christians do not need to be ‘like Christ’, just as you cannot convince Muslim’s that they need not emulate Mohammed or Jews need not emulate Moses.

    The US government has become the enemy of society. Christians need to defend themselves and society from that enemy, not be fighting it’s wars. An example of a ‘just war’ might be depicted in the film, “Day of the Siege”

  13. On August 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    You have conflated a number of things and entirely misread Cole’s argument. Go back, slow down and re-study Cole’s paper. Cole isn’t referring to wars of choice and dogood-ism, like you thought of when you wrote this comment. You read what you wanted to read rather than what I (and Cole) wrote. Cole is referring to wars fought in situations of core and existential threats to the people of a nation.

    In situations like this, it would be hateful to ignore the need for self defense on a national scale, and it is loving to defend your countrymen.

    I have never once told people not to be like Jesus, and you cannot prove that I have. But your comment is further proof that the Christian church believes that Jesus was a bohemian hippie peacenik. And the Christian church is largely uneducated and ignorant.

  14. On August 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm, Bobbye said:

    “How can we follow Christ”even at a distance”while fighting and killing? Calvin gives us an indication by pointing out that Christ’s pacific nature (his willingness to suffer violence at the hands of Jewish and Roman authorities) is grounded in the priestly office of reconciliation and intercession that is reserved for him alone. Christ’s pacific nature is thus inextricably tied to his role as redeemer and cannot be intended as a model for Christian behavior.”

    Matthew 28:16-20New International Version (NIV)

    The Great Commission

    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God,who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sinto be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    Prof Cole claims that only the Clergy are to obey the above, leaving the Laity free to wage war.

  15. On August 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    So what’s you point?

  16. On August 11, 2014 at 11:46 am, Sam1427 said:

    The right and the duty to self defense flows from the commandment God gave that states “Thou shalt not murder.” The Hebrew words are often mistranslated to thou shalt not kill. Then much mischief starts based on an incorrect word. If we are to prevent murder, and we are, then we must protect ourselves and our families from criminals of all kinds up to and including foreign invaders and our own government if need be. We must be grounded in the Word of God very thoroughly so that we accurately perceive threats and do not mistake them.

    God is love, but He is also justice. Never forget that God is also just and He does not mean for Christians to allow themselves and their families and communities to be mercilessly slaughtered by agents of Satan.

  17. On August 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Right Sam. But no one really believes that Christians are supposed to allow themselves to be murdered, tortured, their children abused and raped and beheaded, and so on. Oh, they may claim to believe such nonsense saying we need to be “like Jesus.” But ask them if they lock their doors at night. When they say yes, you’ll know that their holier-than-thou spiritualizing and moralizing is just hot air and they are just overblown windbags.

    As you know, Jesus told his own disciples to get rapiers, and even He constructed a whip and drove the money-changers out of the temple. I don’t bring this up because I’m doing their homework for them.

    It’s best for people to study it on their own.

  18. On August 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm, Rob Crawford said:

    Not “rapiers” — “swords”, likely the Roman gladius, which was the dominant weapon at the time. Every foot soldier in the Roman military had at least one; officers on horseback or non-Roman auxiliary troops might carry something else, but in Christ’s time, “sword” meant “gladius”.

    And the gladius isn’t a fine weapon. It’s a cleaver. Roman troops weren’t trained to parry — they were trained to hack.

    So the message to sell your cloak, if necessary, to get a sword is a statement that you *should* be ready for bloody work.

  19. On August 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm, Western Gunowner said:

    I believe the ones sitting on a mountain top are a sect of Islam that both Sunni and Shia consider to be apostates too. I understand that the number of people are in the hundreds of thousands and there just aren’t that many Christians left in such concentrations in any Muslim country.

  20. On November 4, 2014 at 4:50 am, JustDavid said:

    yeah, mohammedists are following a “peaceful” religion, they are foul and follow the teachings of a pederast.

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