Merry December, everyone. This is the month of celebrations! The month when nearly all of mankind’s religions reminds us that we are to be light-carriers even until the time of the darkest moment of night right before dawn so as all may be able to see their way through the darkness. It is a time of celebration for the world’s period of rest, a time of hope for the germination of the birth within us as it awaits the coming spring which is filled with new life, hope and understanding.
So, if we are to celebrate, why do we hear so much shouting and bickering on the political soap-boxes? Why do we hear and read of news reports about unspeakable wars and rumors of wars not only in the Middle East but all over the world? Why are we witnessing religious leaders stand up and state that the best thing for the faithful to do is to fight fear with fear? Men like Jerry Farewell, Jr., President of the Liberty University, encouraging their students and followers to not only carry a weapon, but who are also providing the training of how best to use them.
What is faith? Is it proper to say you refuse to fear those who threaten our safety and thus to pick up a weapon to destroy our protagonists, our attackers? Or are we to stand before our opponents and “turn the other cheek,” even if it means facing possible death unopposed?
I’ve just read an article by Tim Suttle, Senior Pastor ofand who has authored books like his most recent one called: Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014). In this article, called: “Falwell’s Fearful Conceal-Carry Response is Not Worthy of the Gospel,” Tim Suttle gives a complete and documented explanation of why he believes Christians should not put on violence in this day of violent aggression against us, but instead he states what he believes is the simple gospel which Jesus was trying to teach.
I have taken liberty to quote the first part of this article (below), asking you to complete it on Suttle’s blog as my blog entry for December this year. I believe that the spirit of his post is truly the spirit which should be broadcast during this season. But please don’t stop there. Please go on to read the comments posted in answer to this post. I believe you’ll be amazed, as I was, at the range of comments and beliefs expressed in this discussion which follows Suttle’s article.
I hope this article helps you find the true meaning of Christmas and the Holiday Season. Beyond that — Shalom.
Falwell’s Fearful Conceal-Carry Response
is Not Worthy of the Gospel
In the wake of yet another active shooter incident, evangelical leaders have been rattling the sabers, and touting the wisdom of concealed carry. In a speech made at the recent Liberty University convocation, Jerry Falwell Jr. bragged that he had a gun in his “back pocket right now.” Liberty is offering a free concealed carry class to all students because, in Falwell’s words, “If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.”
Why does Falwell’s argument have so much traction with evangelical Christians? Because, conceal-carry advocates like Falwell project confidence in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming threat of violence. Packing heat is a proactive response to fear, and Christians like those. But just how realistic is the fear? I was curious, so I ran the numbers.
Between 2000-2013, according to the FBI, there were 160 active shooter incidents resulting in 1043 casualties (486 killed, 557 wounded). That averages out to 80 casualties per year for 319 million people living in the U.S. This means you have roughly a 1 in 4 million chance of being a casualty in an active shooter incident. Any chance is too high, but for reference the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 280,000.
Still, Americans are afraid, and fearful people are attracted to leaders who will strike a Toby Keith-esque “We’ll put a boot in your ass; it’s the American way,” pose even though it has little to do with true strength, and even less to do with the gospel. Falwell’s response not only shows that he doesn’t have a firm grasp on the teachings of Jesus, but that he suffers from a lack of imagination for how Christians might lead the way toward resolving conflicts without immediately resorting to violent forms of behavior.
Christian non-violence is not built on the assumption that all forms of violence are inherently evil, but on the reality that through Christ God has made possible a new way to resolve human conflict.
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” The most rudimentary understanding of Christian scriptures involved the teaching that our future in this world does not rest upon superior firepower. When fearful people are longing for a sense of security, the mature Christian answer is not “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.” The answer is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Christian non-violence is not built on the assumption that all forms of violence are inherently evil, but on the reality that through Christ God has made possible a new way to resolve human conflict. The church doesn’t deny that the state does some good through violence, and we can acknowledge that our fellow Christians who feel led to police and military work are able to do so in good faith, hoping to make the world less violent. However, Christians can never take the world’s violence as an absolute. Violence does not determine our future; Jesus does. We don’t enter public space carrying a concealed weapon. We enter carrying a cross. About this, Jesus was unambiguous. (Click HERE to complete article.)