Sunday, July 31, 2011

Assault Weapons: The Great Christian Contradiction (Part IV)

The final reason i will give against Evangelical support for civilian owned assault weapons has to do with discovering the weapons of faith.

Paul says "We wrestle not against flesh and blood..." In Ephesians he goes on to tell us what kind of weapons we are equipped with in the Faith. These are spiritual weapons, since we are called to fight a spiritual battle. Flesh and blood are not our enemies, nor are we to cling so dearly to this mortal life that we use the weapons of the world to protect us.

Our life and freedom are found in Christ, and Paul says that he is convinced that nothing on earth or any spiritual force can take this from us. Not because we can 'protect ourselves' with physical weapons, but because our life is secure in Christ. He is the Resurrection and the Life.

If this is the teaching we embrace, then it is difficult to see how we can justify the use of assault weapons. This is indeed a difficult teaching to live out, but Jesus never said it would be easy, without pain or persecution. In fact, we are to expect suffering, and therefore equip ourselves spiritually and mentally to endure it while walking in faithfulness to his teachings and remembering that our battle is not against flesh and blood.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Assault Weapons: The Great Christian Contradiction (Part III)

The third question i have in regard to Evangelical support for privately owned assault weapons is one of relationship.

There is a big push by Evangelicals for the right to protect ourselves from violent perpetrators. The problem i see with this is that it seems to foster an "us against them" mentality. i also sense that we are fighting an 'invisible enemy'.

The vast majority of us will not undergo a random, violent, life-threatening assault in our lifetime. Therefore, having assault weapons on hand is superfluous. Is the minimal outside threat worth the possibility that the handgun we keep for protection will become a tragic accident waiting to happen?

As Christians, where do we draw the line between faith and fear? In what way ought we to depend on God's providence rather than our own questionable solutions? How is this worldview of "us verses them" hindering our relationship with others? How is this effecting our biblical understanding of how we are to treat those who mistreat us in other ways? Are we making people out to be more evil and threatening than what they are and how does that effect our mission to proclaim the good news?

Are we allowing our over-active imagination to determine our response and keep us in the bondage of fear rather than the freedom of faith? If we do not fear because we've got 'protection', does our confidence in being able to protect ourselves foster an attitude that places us at odds with other human beings? Is our confidence in 'God' or 'ourselves'?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Assault Weapons: The Great Christian Contradiction (Part II)

A second contradiction i see with Evangelical support for the right to own assault weapons is one of faith.

The early Church underwent times of violent persecution, yet they did not consider using violence as a means of protection as an acceptable option. It ran contrary to their faith. Jesus, along with the writers of the New Testament, prepared the Church to endure persecution. Their response is to bless those who curse them, to pray for those who persecute them, and to not return evil for evil, but repay evil with good.

Since the Christian believes in the resurrection, that is the restoration of the body and eternal life, they are admonished "not to fear the one who can destroy the body." One of the Early Church Fathers said, "The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church."

To separate Jesus and the cross is to deny the suffering of Christ, to which we are also called. Can we embrace the call to follow Jesus while rejecting the call to suffering and persecution?

Jesus said, "He who wishes to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life for my sake will find it." This is a very comprehensive expression, and i believe it incorporates the willingness to repay evil with good.

Tony Campolo once said, "I believe that when Jesus said to 'love your enemies, he probably meant we shouldn't kill them."

When did the Church declare that we are entitled to follow Jesus without being obligated to enter into his sufferings?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Anti-Fear


One of the reasons i'm passionate about renouncing violence is that i believe it is freeing for the Christian. To renounce violence and the right to 'protect ourselves' is to wholly trust in Christ. It is to believe in the promise of resurrection and embrace the truth that love covers a multitude of sins.

The Apostle Paul admonishes us not to return evil for evil. For Jesus and Paul there really is no such thing as choosing the 'lesser evil'. The call is to fully embrace the faith and the promise. To return good for evil. This is the ultimate act of faith and trust, and it enables the believer to overcome both the fear of death and completely cut ourselves off from alternatives to Christ.

No one knows if they are ready for such an incredible step of faith. Yet, a person who either knows or doubts themselves can place themselves in a position that leaves them little alternative, but embracing practices now that will leave little choice to deny Christ later.

One of these practices is to leave yourself no way out. No other alternative. No means by which to defend yourself. Which means the present you abandons the future you to no other way out. It means, embracing peace now in such a way that leaves you no alternative for the future. Therefore, if ever the time comes, your best and only option is the right one.

When Jesus offended the crowds by telling them, if you want to follow me you must eat my flesh and drink my blood, nearly everyone walked away. There were only a few left standing, and he asked, "Are you going to leave too?" They said, "Where else shall we go? You hold the words of eternal life".

Trouble is: We do like our options...

Assault Weapons: The Great Christian Contradiction (Part I)

Evangelicals, broadly speaking, seem to be in favor of our right to bear arms. Owning handguns might even be considered a badge of honor. One of the main reasons is that we believe we need protection against the government. We fear that if our guns are taken away then we are vulnerable to being controlled by a potentially hostile and overbearing government.

What i don't get, is that if this is such a threat or rational fear, then why is it that Evangelicals are also arguably the most pro-military group in America? We are very supportive of using the national budget to support the largest known government run military in world history. Yet it is this same government that we say we need to protect ourselves against. Still, i don't know of any other group that praises military service more than Evangelicals. When an Evangelical joins the service, they are typically praised as doing even greater service than someone who dedicates their life as a missionary.

How can we be anti-government and pro-military at the same time?