Over the last several weeks, a variety of articles on guns, gun violence, and the “Christian’s response” to guns have come across my desk. To be honest, the breadth of opinions range from the serious to the absurd. Though not all can be answered (simply because of time limitations), some do deserve a response. I’ve selected a Huffington Post article as the one to which I will reply.
In an article dated 12-7-15, blogger Joe Boyd makes the following statement.
“These are testing times. For those of us who come from various Christian Evangelical traditions, a divide is brewing. This gives me no real joy, but it is simply a fact. There are (at least) two kinds of Evangelical Christians in America today. This, I believe, is because there are two different versions of Jesus being taught and worshipped at Christian churches and universities. One is a hyper conservative, pro-gun, right wing, exclusionists who see anyone who disagrees with them as godless enemies. This is religious tribalism at its most basic. We are right. You are wrong. Our God is God. Yours is not. Be assimilated or, if you provoke us, we will kill you. (Ironically, of course, this also clearly describes extremist Islamic fundamentalists as well as extremist Christian fundamentalists.) Full disclosure: I was once a Christian fundamentalist extremist myself. I no longer am. I speak not as a theorist but as a survivor and a refugee. The other presents a Jesus who is radically non-violent and a relentless advocate for the poor, outcast and disenfranchised. This Jesus teaches his followers to live radically risky and peaceful lives in the name of love. This Jesus modeled what he preached by being obedient to death on a cross. Those of us who have come to follow this sort of Jesus have as negative reaction to Falwell’s speech as his followers do positive. To us, the idea of killing our enemies is so foreign to the Jesus we know that it feels remarkably un-Christian.”
In assessing that there is a divide coming, Mr. Boyd is absolutely correct! In fact, the divide is already thoroughly present! That Jesus modeled what He preached by His death on the cross, is also completely correct! However, there are a multiplicity of errors in the rest of Mr. Boyd’s comments.
His statement (in parenthesis) that equates Islamic fundamentalist with “Christian fundamentalism,” suggesting that both practice a “if you provoke us, we will kill you” belief system is absurd. While some Christian fundamentalists are lacking in appropriate expression of Christ’s love, I know of NO “Christian fundamentalist” that advocates anything remotely close to killing those with whom they may disagree! Mr. Boyd cites Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr.’s recent statement to a Liberty University convocation regarding self-defense as proof of his attempt to create equivalence. Come on, Mr. Boyd! You know that random killing of Muslims was NOT what Dr. Falwell Jr. was advocating! He was promoting the concept of defense against a San Bernardino type attack.
Additionally, the conveyance of a Jesus that is ONLY, yea exclusively, love is an imbalanced portrayal of the Jesus of the Bible. Though some modern day theologians refuse to admit it, Jesus does have enemies! It is with those enemies that He will one day “judge and make WAR” (Rev. 19:11)! The description of Jesus, as Judge, in Revelation 19, is not one of tenderness, but rather one of toughness! It is not the Lamb-like Jesus who will war with and defeat His enemies, but rather the Lion-like side of Him Who does so! That Jesus will actually judge the wicked is not taught by many today! However, He will certainly do so! My fear is that those who stubbornly and arrogantly refuse to admit His righteous judgment, will be the recipients of that judgment!
One final point needs to be made. Mr. Boyd, and those who agree with him, choose to neglect/reject the voluminous number of passages in both Old and New Testament that teach individual self-defense, as well as the government’sl responsibility to “bear the sword” in dealing with evil. Jesus Himself, in Luke 22:36, taught individual self-defense–“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.” The “sword” to which he referred was literally a “dagger.” It was the type weapon that was used for self-defense in those days!
Tragically, Mr. Boyd’s article, and his assessment of the Jesus of the Bible, fails to consider the “whole counsel of God,” which every God-called preacher is directed to proclaim. Preaching/teaching only a portion of the Scripture, to the exclusion of the rest (with which one may disagree), is the breeding ground for the very error Mr. Boyd, and others, are unfortunately proclaiming!
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)
Co-host, Stand In The Gap Radio