Christians, Guns, And The Sinful Alliance Between Them

(All quotations are from James E. Atwood, “America and its Guns:  A Theological Expose’,” 2012)

Over the last couple of weeks, since the Connecticut school shootings, Moscow’s premier ministerial entrepreneur, Douglas Wilson, has proved himself as shameless as he is shameful — by talking about the “Christian virtue” of owning guns.

And, just in case you have any doubts that a putative man of the cloth is speaking of “guns as prevention,” check out his recent blog post (Blog and Mablog) that lauds the homeowner who shoots the intruder right back down the staircase. 

I’ve immersed myself in the Word, I’ve studied commentaries, and I’ve talked to other mature believers about Wilson’s beliefs, especially — see below — his filthy exegesis of Luke 22.  And while the Religious Right in America has utterly prostituted itself in the service of the violence-mongers from the Gun Lobby and Firearms Culture that funds it, responsible scholars and devout believers refuse to prostrate themselves before the idol of the Second Amendment and deny the “redemptive power” of gun violence in righting social wrongs and protecting individuals. 

And I intend to sound the alarm as far as this blog will take it.  This is some of the most putrid counsel ever given by a man for whom the putrid is delectable.

First, some wise words from Presbyterian minister and gun-control advocate James E. Atwood, which I would direct toward any Christian who applauds the proliferation of guns in society and, specifically, the ownership and use of guns, including semi-automatics, by those who worship the Prince of Peace.

Don’t snort, all you hearty men of chest. 

God identifies Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace in the Book of Isaiah.  Why do you persist in explaining this away while embracing the convoluted stupidity of your pastor’s eisegesis — reading into, not extracting from — of Luke 22, in which, Wilson insists, Jesus is not engaging in any irony at all when he tells the disciples to get swords?  Your pastor says that the passage then, and unbelievably if indeed taken literally, has our Lord deciding that two swords found between the 12 would be quite enough as they face the Romans.  Do you ignore every evangelical commentary, every qualified and not self-ordained teacher, by agreeing with the man you all are in so many cases financially dependent on?  Do you so easily dismiss the body of teaching on the life of Jesus Christ, and do so in favor of the craven machinations of the Sandbox Potentate?

Are you so given over — in the Romans 1 sense — to the protection of your own masculinity that you shy away from identifying with Jesus as the peaceful One who told us to turn the other cheek?

How desperate are you to please him?  Will his approval mean anything when the Lord chastens you?

Consider, please, these words from Atwood, a pastor in a real, historic Presbyterian/Reformed denomination:

“As the Gun Empire shouts ‘Guns save lives,’ they tell us their first priority is not to love their neighbor, but to defend themselves against their neighbor, and if the situation demands it, to kill him.” 

Can you see this?  “To have a concealed carry weapon permit . . . is to believe in redemptive violence.”  (Atwood).  

Does anything resonate in your arrogant heart when you read the words President John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson: “Power always thinks it has great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all of God’s laws.” 

Or perhaps your heart will be pierced by the Spirit through the words of theologian Walter Wink:

“The myth of redemptive violence is nationalism become absolute.  This myth speaks for God, it does not listen for God to speak.  It invokes the sovereignty of God as its own; it does not entertain the prophetic possibility of radical denunciation and negation by God …

… It misappropriates the language, symbols, and scriptures of Christianity.  It does not seek God in order to change, it claims God in order to prevent change.  Its God is not the impartial ruler of all nations but a biased and partial tribal god worshipped as an idol.  Its metaphor is not the journey but a fortress.  Its symbol is not the cross but a rod of iron.  Its offer is not forgiveness but victory.  Its good news is not the unconditional love of enemies but their final liquidation . . .

. . . Its salvation is not a new heart but a successful foreign policy.  It usurps the revelation of God’s purposes for humanity in Jesus.  It is blasphemous.  It is idolatrous.”

The blood of 20 little children cries out from the ground because Christian people and a Congress full of people who claim that precious faith care too much about their damned and faulty interpretation of a fallible Constitution.  They hold tight to their own “freedom” to own whatever they want to own that allows them to kill other people if they decide to,  not caring at all that their “freedom” has caused more Americans to die by gun violence than have died in every war ever fought by this country — and that, in less than the two decades ending in 1979. 

How does Doug Wilson justify a theology that calls individual gun ownership “a Christian virtue” when people — children, for the sake of Christ — are dying at horrific rates?

How, indeed? 

May God have mercy.  I’ll write more — and pray even more.

One Response to “Christians, Guns, And The Sinful Alliance Between Them”

  1. Jim G says:

    http://www.freethought.mbdojo.com/guns.html has a thoughtful discussion of the topic. Personally, I have difficulty imagining Jesus returning fire – no matter what the circumstances.

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