CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Self Defence and Scripture

Dec 20, 2012

Two caveats before proceeding, which I regrettably find necessary to make. The first is this: after some 40 years of being a Christian, one ominous trend I have observed seems to be getting worse with the passage of time. I refer to the growing levels of biblical illiteracy amongst so many Christians – and I am referring to those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians.

Evangelicals pride themselves in being people who put Scripture first, but basic knowledge of the Bible seems to be getting less and less all the time. Indeed, just try this simple test: the next time you are with a bunch of your Christian friends, ask them if they have ever read the entire Bible through, cover to cover. The results may surprise you.

If we don’t even have a basic grasp of our own scriptures, then no wonder so much of the church is ineffective at best, and sliding into heresy and apostasy at worst. The enemy has managed to render far too many believers null and void by simply keeping them from the Word of God. He keeps them busy with all sorts of worldly amusements and entertainments – even church ones as well.

Secondly, I have always experienced my fair share of abuse and hostile reactions for standing up for truth. I of course expect it from angry atheists or militant secularists. But what has been a real concern to be honest is how this increasingly comes from people who call themselves Christians.

There are some issues which seem to trigger an incredibly hostile response. Indeed, it is almost as if some psychological disorder occurs: the mind shuts down, the emotional reaction spirals out of control, and the abuse gets hurled. Sadly, rational, evidence-based discussion comes to a screeching halt, and the emotional invective begins to fly freely.

Indeed, so often all that I seem to get from such folks is a visceral reaction, devoid of any argument, facts, data or evidence. Their hot button has obviously been pressed big time, and they will unleash a torrent of emotional or ideological abuse, all because I dare to discuss some controversial issue.

And the really odd and ironic part of all this is that most of these fellow believers who unleash their anger and emotional road rage on me will justify their rants by claiming that I am somehow being “un-Christlike” for what I am discussing or advocating. And they want me to emulate their Christlikeness?!

Christians of all people should be concerned about the truth, first and foremost. Indeed, they should not be afraid of the truth, and should love and serve God with all their minds. They should engage with the facts and data, not ignore them or berate them or claim they are not worthwhile. Any controversial issue should be calmly assessed in a prayerful and rational manner. But sadly this seldom occurs, and emotional blasts become the only form of “argument” that seems to come forth.

So, having said that, let me get back to the topic at hand. There has been so much fuzzy thinking on this topic coming from some believers that it is worth giving a brief overview of the biblical data on this. After all, it is the Word of God which should be guiding our thinking here, not emotion, not ideology, not political correctness, and not the sentimental secular mush of the surrounding culture.

This may well be the first of many more such articles on this issue. And in this case I am happy to defer to another writer. Sometimes a Christian thinker presents such a good short and sweet summary piece on a topic, that it would be foolish of me to ignore it and to reinvent the wheel. So in this case I simply want to reprint an entire article by Joseph Farah.

It originally appeared on November 26, 2001, just weeks after September 11. But its relevance for today remains unchanged. It is a good, albeit brief, introduction to this topic, and well worth considering. Please give it careful and prayerful thought. Let your Spirit-sanctified mind, not your emotions, be your guide here. Here then is the article:

The Bible and Self-Defense

After my plea to Americans last week to buy firearms as a first step to fighting terrorism, a number of Christians wrote challenging my prescription as unbiblical, unscriptural and ungodly. Wrong. The Bible couldn’t be clearer on the right – even the duty – we have as believers to self-defense. Let’s start in the Old Testament.

“If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him,” we are told in Exodus 22:2. The next verse says, “If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”

In other words, it was perfectly OK to kill a thief breaking into your house. That’s the ultimate expression of self-defense. It doesn’t matter whether the thief is threatening your life or not. You have the right to protect your home, your family and your property, the Bible says.

The Israelites were expected to have their own personal weapons. Every man would be summoned to arms when the nation confronted an enemy. They didn’t send in the Marines. The people defended themselves.

In 1 Samuel 25:13, we read: “And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.” Every man had a sword and every man picked it up when it was required.

Judges 5:8 reminds us of what happens to a foolish nation that chooses to disarm: “They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?” The answer to the rhetorical question is clear: No. The people had rebelled against God and put away their weapons of self-defense. “Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” David writes in Psalms 144:1.

Clearly, this is not a pacifist God we serve. It’s God who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Over and over again throughout the Old Testament, His people are commanded to fight with the best weapons available to them at that time.

And what were those weapons? Swords. They didn’t have firearms, but they had sidearms. In fact, in the New Testament, Jesus commanded His disciples to buy them and strap them on. Don’t believe me? Check it out. Luke 22:36: “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

I know. I know. You biblically literate skeptics are going to cite Matthew 26:52-54 – how Jesus responded when Peter used his sword to cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest: “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”

Read those verses in context and they support my position. Jesus told Peter he would be committing suicide to choose a fight in this situation – as well as undermining God’s plan to allow Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Jesus told Peter to put his sword in its place – at his side. He didn’t say throw it away. After all, He had just ordered the disciples to arm themselves. The reason for the arms was obviously to protect the lives of the disciples, not the life of the Son of God. What Jesus was saying was: “Peter, this is not the right time for a fight.”

In the context of America’s current battle – as we make plans to rebuild after the devastation of Sept. 11 and defend ourselves at the same time – we should recall Nehemiah, who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon,” we’re told in Nehemiah 4:17-18. “For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.” Any more questions, skeptics?

Afterword

There is of course much more that needs to be said on a topic like this. Not all the bases can be covered in a short post like this, whether by me or Farah. So before my many critics unleash their concerns, let me at least offer a few more provisos and supplements here.

One, there is of course a place for lawful and morally acceptable killing. The Bible is absolutely clear on this. The Sixth Commandment actually says, “Thou shall not commit murder”. There is a huge difference between licit killing and illicit murder. Indeed any court of law in the West makes these elementary distinctions all the time. This is basic Christianity 101, and I am surprised that so many believers do not seem to have a grasp of these elementary matters. But for more on this, please see here: billmuehlenberg.com/2006/09/11/is-it-ever-right-to-kill/

Two, a tad more discussion on weapons. If God was fully opposed to all weapons and all such use of force, then of course he never would have commanded the Israelites to use them, and Jesus would never have told his disciples to go get them. But they did, as Farah has already discussed. One could also mention the fact that Jesus actually took time and effort to fashion a weapon. Yes you heard me right; he made a whip which he actually used as he cleansed the temple (see John 2:14-16). And please try reading the book of Revelation. There we read about how Jesus will fiercely judge his enemies, with his sword and garments dripping in blood. No pacifist Jesus there.

Three, even if you are a Catholic, and perhaps prefer to hear what the Church’s social teachings say on this, the same truths apply. The Catholic Church has never opposed morally licit killing, such as the death penalty or just war. Yet I am amazed at how many Catholics do not even seem to be aware of what their own Church teachings are on this issue. For those wanting a refresher course on all this, please see here: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/05/05/killing-and-catholic-social-teaching/

Finally, the gun control crowd will happily latch on to Mathew 5:39, as if it were the only passage in Scripture on this topic, and will use it as some kind of trump card to silence all other considerations. But I have in fact spent a fair amount of time on this text, carefully seeking to explain what it is teaching. For those interested, you are welcome to read this: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/04/20/difficult-bible-passages-matthew-539/

In sum, as I often say, in areas like this Christians are certainly free to agree to disagree. If you don’t like what I or Farah have said, fine. But please respond rationally and calmly, and leave all the emotions at home. Please read the three articles I have just mentioned first, as that may well answer many of your questions, and save me a lot of time repeating myself in replies.

As we are told in Scripture, we must test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). And as the noble Bereans regularly did, taking Paul’s teachings and comparing them to the word of God (Acts 17:11), I of course invite you to do the same.

www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=25442

[1992 words]

40 Responses to Self Defence and Scripture

  • I just don’t see the need for guns. I don’t see why we should be getting one in the first place. Self defence does not equal a need for guns.
    Ian Nairn

  • Thanks Ian

    But given that I have nowhere even mentioned guns (at least in my portion), your instant response may at best be premature. This article sought to establish just one thing: that the Bible certainly allows for self-defence, and that the use of weapons is not in and of itself condemned outright in Scripture. That is the discussion at hand.

    And as I stated in this article, I will need to write more pieces to further flesh all this out, and to examine modern day applications to these biblical truths. We already know from your other posts that you reject the right of citizens to protect their families and loved ones with the legal and morally acceptable use of firearms. That is fine, and you are welcome to your own opinions here. But if you wait till I pen these other pieces, you can again give us your no case – OK?

    But thanks again for sharing, and I hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill your reference to Catholic Social Teaching in this article is absolutely correct and yes, sadly so many do not know or understand these teachings.

    I await more articles on this issue.

    Madge Fahy

  • The price of peace is eternal vigilance and the courage to speak the truth.
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/19/pastor-uses-banana-on-tv-to-show-the-anus-is-for-exit-only-claims-lesbians-have-sex-with-cucumbers/

    If that does not work, you need reach for any blunt or sharp instrument that comes to hand, because, by that time, sure as eggs, your enemy will have armed himself against you.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/18/the-newtown-shootings-were-the-fault-of-gay-people-says-mike-huckabee/

    Why does David Cameron persist in rebellion against God and the people of Britain. He and the Conservative party are rotten to the core. From the soles of their feet to the tops of their heads there is no soundness- only fragmentation, internal strife, oppression and self destruction.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/12/uk-home-office-threatens-to-ban-ugandan-politicians-from-entering-britain-over-anti-gay-law/

    How long before this statue is removed from outside Parliament because it is politically incorrect?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisb/6160048194/

    David Skinner, UK

  • Thanks David

    Although I need to write further articles on these matters, yes I think Ann Coulter got it right here:

    “If we care about reducing the number of people killed in mass shootings, shouldn’t we pay particular attention to the cases where the aspiring mass murderer was prevented from getting off more than a couple rounds? It would be like testing the effectiveness of weed killers, but refusing to consider any cases where the weeds died.”

    But as I say, more articles are hopefully coming soon on all this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • One can only wonder at what pacifists think about the use of police forces, deployed by the modern state.
    Can we justify their use?
    Of course we can, even if on occasion they actually kill dangerous criminals.
    Dunstan Hartley

  • Biblical ideas of armed conflict and self-defence are markedly different from Hindu deity, Krishna’s discourse to warrior, Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita. For God, good and evil are not illusory opposites which we must go beyond. Nor is our social class or the maintenance of an unjust social or political order an inescapable mandate to bear arms into combat against one another.

    The state, by its nature bears the sword to protect its citizens from both internal and external threats. That King who is from beyond this world chose to suffer a violent death at the hands of His creatures – all to set them free by the Truth incarnate that He alone is (John 18:36-37). Could it be said that Christ died for the defence and for the love of those who hated Him without a cause?

    John Wigg

  • Sorry but I find the KJV obscure, so here are the NIV84 translations:

    Exodus 22:2-3 “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.

    1 Samuel 25:13 David said to his men, “Put on your swords!” So they put on their swords, and David put on his. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.

    Judges 5:8 When they chose new gods, war came to the city gates,
    and not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.

    Psalm 144:1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

    Luke 22:36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

    Matthew 26:52-54 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

    Nehemiah 4:17-18 …who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

    John Angelico

  • Thanks for that John

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, if you want people to stop calling you an idiot, stop acting like one.

    And if you are going to be a mouthpiece for the NRA, you need to declare your allegiance.

    Your views on this matter are shameful, particularly for someone who claims to be Christian. As for your Old Testament quotes, haven’t you heard of the New Law?

    Nancy Williams

  • Thanks Nancy

    I always appreciate it when people come along and perfectly illustrate the very thing I was talking about. What was I saying about hate-filled, emotional kneejerk reactions, instead of calmly dealing with facts and evidence? Thank you for providing the perfect example of this – otherwise people would have thought that I was just making these things up.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • G’day Bill,

    The subject, Biblically, is more complicated and nuanced than as you present. For along with those Scriptures, which I grant you allow for a response to violence, we have to examine what Jesus said about turning the other cheek. And that was in the context of Roman occupation, a more violent world than ours, certainly in Australia. Non violence has a long and glorious history as a consistent response to the life and words and spirit of Jesus. The progress of the Christian gospel has been with countless missionaries not responding to violence, and going into danger and to their deaths unarmed. . Its a more complex issue than how some might read your article, ‘well, let’s all go out and buy a gun and shoot the baddies.’ I’m not saying you’re saying that but I am feeling that your posts on this issue are not taking into account the complexity of the Biblical data.

    Andrew Campbell
    Wagga Wagga

  • Thanks Andrew

    But with all due respect, in your view I will never have been nuanced enough or taken enough data into account, for the simple reason that you strongly disagree with my very premises! So in that sense, all the data in the world and all the biblical passages in the world will not likely make much difference to you.

    And regrettably, it seems that you have not even bothered to read this article, or at least read it very closely. I clearly said more than once that much more needs to be said on this issue, that this is a very brief intro to the subject, etc.

    And you also have not read what I said about my other pieces which need to be read in conjunction with this article. And if you did read that remark, you obviously have not bothered to do what I asked for, and actually go and read those supplementary articles. Had you done so, you would have found that I already did write a piece on turning the other cheek. I actually spent quite a bit of time and care on that piece, trying to judiciously and fairly expound on what was being taught there.

    And of course if you have an a priori disagreement with my starting premises, then you will also likely find that piece not to be nuanced enough or biblical enough, alas. So as I say, those whose minds are already made up on these matters will not likely be convinced by a million texts or a million pieces of data.

    In which case our only option then is to amicably agree to disagree here. I am happy to do that Andrew. Are you?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Merry Christmas Bill

    It seems that the argument is always on the weapon not the issue of the heart. The Prince of this World does not fight with any morality – the issue of guns seems such a distraction, the US has always had high gun ownership – it seems that the years of prohibiton and gangster rule are conveniently forgotten. If we wrote the laws in the hearts of young today – the fruit would be different. In Australia we as a church have this legislated opportunity for SRE Special Religous Education – why as church we do not arm our young with this great legacy – beats me!!

    Charles Northcote

  • The crucial element in this discussion, I believe is knowing God’s timing and that requires knowing God and His word.
    That requires maturity and certainly an ability to keep one’s emotions in check, no matter how strongly they want to overrule us at times.
    I do have 1 question though, Bill. Paul tells us in the new testament that we are in a spiritual war, which, I believe has always been that way, since the fall, old and new testament times. At what point then does the spiritual warfare turn into a physical one. Apart from knowing God’s timing through prayer and meditation on His word.
    These could never take the place of those things mentioned before, but would be helpful. You already mentioned one at least, a killing must be a response to an act worthy of death.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Thanks Ursula

    Of course our ultimate fight is in the heavenlies. We wrestle with principalities and powers and so on. But that is sort of beside the point here. We are talking about our responsibilities as believers who live in a real world of flesh and blood. There are a million things we do every day which in a sense have nothing to do with the heavenlies: we brush our teeth, walk our dogs, eat, sleep, breathe, protect our children from harm, look after our property as good stewards, seek to help the innocent when they are being assailed or ripped off or exploited. Indeed, those latter ‘worldly’ things are part of our very calling as Christians. They are our spiritual duty in fact. To love your neighbour as yourself means more than just praying for them. If a neighbour’s house is on fire, no believer says, “Oh but we wrestle not against flesh and blood – ours is a spiritual battle”. Of course not. They do very real in-the-flesh things, like seeking to put out the fire, alerting the neighbours, and calling the fire department. None of that means they have all of a sudden become unspiritual.

    In the same exact way if an attacker wants to rape my wife and kill my children, I certainly am not going to hyper-spiritualise this. I will take very real concrete in-this-world actions to save them. Sure I can pray as well, but to pray only and not act is no biblical Christianity. In the same way Wilberforce did not just pray about the slave trade but he acted – he actually did real tangible things.

    It is not too hard to figure this out of course. We are spiritual beings who inhabit a spiritual world, but we are also physical beings who inhabit a physical world. We have responsibilities in both spheres of course. We are never forced to choose one or the other, but to operate in both simultaneously, using the “weapons” appropriate to each realm.

    Thanks for sharing and have a Merry Christmas
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,
    I generally agree with the proposition that Christians have the ‘right’ to use self-defence, but I think this issue requires certain things to be explicitly spelled out.

    Firstly, if someone were to attack my wife or my family, I would defend them by using violence, and I would expect every other Christian (particularly the men) to do the same thing. If anyone then said to me, ‘well that was un-Christian of you’, I would at them with scorn and ridicule. In fact I heard of one matter where a pastor came across a known sex offender trying to walk a victim away and he did nothing ‘violent’ in response (he never even pressed for him to be charged). I consider that a failure. But I know of another case where a Christian father came across his young daughter in a vehicle talking to a boy who was rumoured to be trouble. He roused the boy out of the car and gave him a dressing down. Of these two scenarios, I know which one falls more in line with Christian behaviour.
    So I think Christians need to get real about this. Violence is not always a bad thing, in particular when you are using it to protect someone defenceless and vulnerable. One of the big problems we are seeing today is men not using their natural aggression and capacity for violence to protect others who are being harmed (i.e. women and children). I know I know, it sounds so dated and sexist, but I’m not about to apologise for saying it. For instance, in my work I have come across many young girls who have been sexually interfered with by step-fathers. Had the step-father feared physical retaliation from the biological father, it would have been much less likely to occur.

    HOWEVER, I am equally convinced that Christians are called to show calm and forgiveness where others show violence, and to turn the other cheek if the alternative is to merely nurture a bruised ego. In fact, I have great admiration for Christians who endure great pain and brutality from Christ-haters but do not retaliate or do violence in return, all for the sake of the Gospel. And in the West, I think we can learn a lot from this. For example, if someone is berating you and insulting you, don’t reply in kind; highlight their shameful behaviour by responding calmly, intelligently and with facts.

    Nick Davies

  • Thanks Nick

    The easiest way to deal with your valid concerns is to point out a false equivocation which many make. Force is not the same as violence. Once we get that straight, all sorts of problems are solved. Violence has to do with using physical force to hurt, injure, or kill someone – or something. Thus all violence uses force, but not all force is violence. We can apply this right across the board here.

    If I use force to throw my toddler out of the path of an oncoming truck, I am not being violent. If I push an assailant off my wife, I am not being violent but I am using force. If I seek to repel an attacker who is intent on killing me, the attacker is being violent but I am not. If the state uses the God-ordained death penalty to kill a violent mass murderer, the state is not being violent, it is using force justly and morally.

    Once we get this basic distinction in place, a lot of concerns Christians have should be cleared up.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    I have no issue with self-defence being an appropriate response when one is attacked. However, the more guns there are in a community the more often attacks occur, and the more often self-defence becomes necessary. Take away the guns and you have far fewer incidents and far fewer deaths.

    In your other article, you mentioned some countries that have high rates of gun ownership but low rates of gun deaths. Switzerland is a prime example, but the reason for high gun ownership there is that all young Swiss men are effectively army reservists and have been given training in the use of weapons and in gun safety. Guns there are for use in defending the country against foreign invasion, not for killing fellow citizens.

    It would be helpful if debates on this issue were to address reasons why America has become such a lawless state that its citizens are fearful of each other. That is the real problem.

    David Thompson, Adelaide

  • Thanks David

    But can I point out your rather glaring contradiction here? You inform us rather assuredly that “the more guns there are in a community the more often attacks occur”. That is the theory at any rate. Yet then you present the actual data as found in places like Switzerland where they have far more guns and far fewer attacks and death. So which is it? You cannot hold both positions simultaneously. Regardless of the rationale and history of Swiss gun ownership, the simple truth remains: they are one of the highest armed nations in the world, yet with amongst the least deaths due to guns. So you very premise has been proven to be false. And there are many other nations which we could examine here. For example, Russia, Brazil and Mexico all have higher murder rates than the United States, but they also have stronger gun control laws than the US.

    But again, I did say we should try to save all the arguments about stats, numbers and data for another time, when I can first lay out some basic evidence in an article or two. Otherwise we can end up going all over the place here, without that foundation in place. So as I say, let’s seek to deal with just the biblical evidence I have dealt with in my article, and leave all the gun control debates, the American scene, and so on, for a later day. OK?

    But thanks for writing in.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The dilemma of pacifism vs national self defense was really put to rest for me some years ago when I came upon Luke 3:14, a Bible passage relating John the Baptist’s answers to various people’s questions about how they should express their repentance before God. “Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what shall we do?’. And he said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.'”
    John did not tell them to leave the army but to behave as soldiers in a way that is acceptable to God.
    Two wonderful films, “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Passion of the Christ”, seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum of this dilemma, yet I love both of those films.
    Angela Parham

  • Thanks Angela. Yes the Lucan passage is one of many pieces of evidence arguing against any sort of pacifism in the New Testament. I address this further in these two articles:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2007/03/23/were-the-early-christians-pacifists/

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/09/11/is-it-ever-right-to-kill/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • When the Nazis were bombing London, our pilots did not go up into the sky dropping Bible tracks on the Luftwaffe or trying to evangelising to them through a megaphone. They shot the blighters down. Perhaps only when their parachuted pilots slid down our roofs, or landed in our green houses and cabbage patches did our the Brits rush out with a cup of tea and offer them mercy and maybe the gospel as well. We must not confuse defending our loved ones with attacking the spiritual principalities which can only attacked by using the word of God.

    In my view, and I stand to be corrected, the president of the National Rifle Association stands four square against the greatest threat to America; and that is Obama himself.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/12/21/167785169/live-blog-nra-news-conference

    David Skinner, UK

  • Jesus made himself a weapon to use against the money changers at the temple.Today the weapons of information and knowledge are available to many to be used against those who deliberately concealed crimes against children. Jesus would expect that these weapons be used in the interests of justice and the promotion of the kingdom. The Royal Commission may yet prove to be a very effective weapon against institutional and structural corruption in the church and elsewhere. To choose not to use these weapons is to disarm ourselves and to condone corruption.
    B T Walters

  • More guns less violence. Facts, people, facts.
    Maureen Tully

  • Ursula,
    You ask, “At what point then does the spiritual warfare turn into a physical one?” The answer is the very moment you open your mouth to pray (physically) the very thing that the Holy Spirit impels/prompts you pray, despite your own physical infirmities, the infirmities, sloth, tiredness, illness, or in-opportunity of those whom you desire would pray with you. It begins when you pray despite the mockery of those who sneer at you for praying to your “invisible friend in the sky”.
    Spiritual warfare became physical warfare when God Who is Spirit became flesh in the Person of Emmanuel, when He came to a physical world in physical form to effect the Spiritual will of God on earth.
    Spiritual warfare is expressed in the flesh when endeavouring to effect the will of God in your own heart, in your own house (where you live) where the “house rules” reflect the will illuminated by Christ, and not darkened by the spirit of the world.
    Spiritual warfare is expressed in your own physicality as you attempt to life the Spirit filled life in a world that doesn’t comprehend, and that has different and contrary behaviours, values, and structures that stem from their spiritual life.
    Spiritual warfare is clearly seen in the passage of 2 Pet 2:14 where submission is enjoined to kings and governors as they are “for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”
    The range of punishments extend from small penalties all the way up to the taking of life i.e. capital punishment, for they do “not bear the sword (the power to take life) in vain; for he is God’s avenger to execute wrath on him who practises evil.” Rom. 13:4.
    It is Christ’s command/guidance that we should pray for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Matt. 6:10. The outworking of God’s will (the Spiritual), will necessitate expression and activity in the physical. There is no way to avoid this because of our nature and that of the physical world we live in.
    If you feel I am “slamming” you, I’m not. It’s just that there is no way to separate the spiritual from the physical while we live here now. Both spiritual worlds will find expression in different values, behaviours and structures on this planet while the warfare lasts. Some of the structures of God are listed above. I hope this helps.
    God bless,
    Robert Greggery.

  • It is fairly rare of me to disagree with you Bill, but on the issue of guns, I feel that we should control who has guns and for what purpose they are to be used. You see, in the days of Jesus, the rulers could call the men to fight at any time – of course most countries still have a form of National Service (which I think is a good thing, and wish we had it here in Australia) whereas nowadays in Western countries, the Parliaments or whatever they may be called have to sit before a declaration of war is made. In that case, we may have to conscript men and then train them in the proper use of weapons in order to fight for the country.
    he point is, that weapons may not be freely available except for the defence of the realm. Of course, if a person is being attacked, it is up to each one of us to do our very best to defend that person
    As a mater of interest, I have been to war and went willingly, as I believed and still do, that the cause was just.
    God bless.
    Joan Davidson

  • Thanks Joan

    But when you say “we should control who has guns and for what purpose they are to be used” the exceedingly crucial issue is: who are the ‘we’? I presume you do not mean we the people, but the state. If so, that is a very frightening prospect indeed. The truth is, every single ruthless dictatorship of recent times began by disarming its own citizens. And many, many millions of people were murdered by these states. Whether Stalin, or Hitler, or Mao, all began their reign of terror and bloodshed by doing just what you suggest: deciding who should have guns and why. I would much rather let the populace at large decide those crucial matters.

    I value freedom and democracy far too much to trust the ever-increasing state to do what is right in this regard. We already have history telling us exactly what happens in these situations. We need to learn the lessons of history. But thanks for sharing.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • David Skinner, as always, is right on the money.
    Is there anyone who can honestly condemn the Allied Forces for resisting their adversaries during WW11?
    Dunstan hartley

  • An important duty of a teacher is to protect the children they teach. In this and many other respects they stand in the shoes of the parents. Nobody seems to object to banks having armed guards and armed employees and they only protect money. Any teacher who so desires ought to have the right to carry a gun, not only to protect the children but also themselves.

    B T Walters

  • I’ve read this post and we’ve had quite a bit of discussion on it in my family, but I’m only now taking a few minutes to comment. I am a (generally) mild-mannered mum of 8, and a home-schooling mum at that. I have shooters (legal of course) in my family and several years ago I also learnt to shoot. This was at a club on a range and the emphasis on safety and responsibility was paramount. Although I wasn’t looking to take it up I enjoyed the experience. The confidence boost, in learning how to correctly handle several different guns, was amazing. It also gives me confidence knowing that the licensed shooter in my family is responsible but would also be able & willing to defend in an emergency. Having said that, in a real emergency that would not be as easy as it sounds, unless you are storing your guns illegally. Guns stored legally (as they are at my home) are locked away in a gun safe which is inspected by the Police and would not be easily accessible if a crazed intruder invaded our home. So we are still effectively disarmed. Here is a link describing what happened when a town required its citizens to be armed – it goes back a few years but is quite instructive. http://www.wnd.com/2007/04/41196/
    I have also been told that the U.S. and Australia approach the gun issue from different mindsets. The US starts with the premise that they are all free men and have the right to bear arms; Australia that the people were convicts (this is not my family background though) and had to earn the privilege of bearing arms.
    Thanks for your very clear and informative post Bill. I’ve been reading a lot more of your articles than I have time to comment on and they are appreciated. Christmas blessings to you and yours.
    Gaye Mason

  • Thanks for that Gaye. Same to you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I’m from Malaysia. I read your article and the comments and honestly I’m a bit conflicted. I remember of the story of how the first people who spread the gospel to the waodani and when the waodani attacked them with spears they chose to die instead of shooting them with their guns. I somewhat agree with Joan but as you said these were the tactics used by Hitler and Stalin. So on this topic I think the public should be allowed to use the kind of guns that are designed not to kill. I have seen documentaries on these kind of guns so they do exist.
    Jonathan Wong

  • Thanks Jonathan

    Perhaps the best way to resolve your conflict is to realise that you may be confusing two different things here: martyrdom and self-defence. A Christian evangelist or missionary may well be willing to give his very life as he shares the gospel. He does so willingly and for the sake of the gospel. Self-defence on the other hand is something we can avail ourselves of, especially to defend and protect an innocent third party.

    So if you are walking through a park one evening and a few thugs try to attack your wife, there is nothing amiss in you defending her. Indeed, it is your obligation. But that is quite different from dying a martyr’s death when you are sharing your faith.

    But as I may have already mentioned, a very small minority within the Christian church over the centuries has chosen to be pacifist, and will not even act to save a wife from rape. That is their choice based on their convictions. I happen to think they are incorrect here, and I feel sorry for their wives, but if they choose that option they are free to do so.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hey Nancy, you can add me to your ‘idiots’ list along with Bill if you dont mind, i’ll gladly take that place in your immature mind over this issue.

    I could speak on this in depth from the Scriptures and reason well, but after reading plenty of these comments and hearing the rhetoric of plenty of people’s inexperienced emotions on the topic id just like to ask one question, that is, ‘how many of you have ever been put in a place where you have been threatened with serious violence or death towards you and your family as a result of preaching and standing up for Jesus Christ? and how many times?’

    I have, plenty of times, so many in fact i cant remember the count. Ya’ll who are opposed speak out of inexperience and lack of knowledge of Scripture while you elect yourselves as arrogant keyboard judges, feel free to look me up, I’ll be happy to take you out into the field and watch you change your opinion when you actually face the devil in the flesh face to face and then lets see your ‘i don’t have a right to protect myself doctrine’ ya’ll need to get discipled lol.

    Dorian Ballard

  • Bill you missed Judges 3 where God tells the Israelites he has kept some enemies among them so they won’t lose their martial spirit.

  • Thanks guys. I normally quite like John Piper, but his recent piece on this issue was rather bad. I much prefer this biblical reply:

    http://americanvision.org/12837/a-biblical-response-to-john-pipers-denial-of-the-right-to-bear-arms/

  • Many years have passed since Bill first wrote this article. I confess to having honed in on this particular comment before reading the rest, so I beg your indulgence.
    Ian Nairn
    Dec 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm
    I just don’t see the need for guns. I don’t see why we should be getting one in the first place. Self defence does not equal a need for guns.
    Ian Nairn
    Really, Ian? I take you’ve never had severe violence committed against your own body, a violation of your very self, a crime that murders your very soul? No, I don’t mean someone who stole your car…been there, done that, had it happen to me, and shocking though that act may be, it doesn’t chip away at your person, who you are, your very soul and spirit. In that scenario, no one took from you who you are, the (misguided) trust you had in mankind, the confidence you had in your own (seemingly) good judgment. I perceive you’ve never been violated in such a manner. This is most assuredly not what God had intended for man, to be brutally robbed of their very essence, who they are. I give up in despair trying to explain this deep, dark chasm to you that can be caused by someone who is still deeply wrapped up in sin and self.

    Once man fell, allowances had to be made for self-defense. While like our Lord, man became a sheep to the slaughter for what he believes, Jesus did NOT mean we are to be passive lambs when we are under attack from a sinner gone wild with rage and mayhem.

    I am well-acquainted with so-called believers who cry and carry on about what a pacifist Jesus was. They choose to ignore the Scriptures that say otherwise. My own brother is among them. I’m sure that is a nice comforting view for those who have already decided they are right and guys like this wild Bill character are just dead wrong. Man will hear only what he wants to hear.

    I chose to not buy a gun for self-defense for one reason only. I had become “hyper-diligent.” I was too doggone jumpy. I feared that I might kill some poor innocent who tapped me on the shoulder for no other reason than to ask me what time it was. But that was my personal choice, based on self-knowledge. There is no way in the world anyone can claim that Jesus said I had no business defending myself after I was a victim of a violent crime. How you can give BM a bunch of kumbaya malarky on this is beyond me. The Scriptures say what they say, period. He isn’t out making this stuff up as he goes, Your fight, your disagreement, your discomfort is with and from God, Ian…not from BM.

    And yeah, yeah, I know all too well how we aren’t supposed to get all personal on the internet. I have to say nuts to that right now. If we are ever going to help the body of Christ around the world, support each other, and give any sort of truly helpful advice, based on careful study of the Word along with experience, i.e., the counsel of others who’ve gone before, we need to on occasion be honest even if it gets sorta way too personal.

  • Bill, I was hoping there would be some new comments here. It doesn’t matter how long ago an article was written, as we continue to face the same situations year after year. Actually, most of the topics you write about only continue to get worse with time. This is definitely one of those topics. I was alarmed when I learned the Australian gov’t had overreacted to a mass shooting there and confiscated the guns owned by the citizenry. So what now? Does that mean that those Aussies who wish to protect themselves must own illegal weapons, or are you expected to karate chop an aggressor bent on your destruction? The state is once again saying that what God has said simply doesn’t count. They are your god. “The state giveth and the state taketh away.” …Praying for the safety of you, your family, and the Australian people.

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