Saturday, December 29, 2007

The 2nd Amendment: God Given?

"God, guns, and guts made America great." So says the bumpersticker. As if God needed guns and guts to get his work done. For decades in this country, there has been a right-wing gun-mania, with the notion that guns are a "check and balance" against the tyranny of government, which perspective has strangely aligned itself with conservative evangelicalism. No sale here.

Now I am not a throughgoing pacifist, but I do not believe that the faith once for all delivered to the saints includes a "right" to bear arms. Nor do I believe it creates a mandate for bearing weapons.

We run into hermeneutical trouble every time we begin with the mind of man having a ruling non-God desire, and then scrambling to find warrants for it. Historically, the Bible has been the most popular book for this sort of eisogesis. A common text cited for an armed citizenry is Luke 22:35-36: "And he said to them 'When I sent you out without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?' So they said 'nothing.' Then he said to them "but now he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack, and he who has no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one." There you have it! The Son of God commanding the church to take arms! Not. First of all, this is the only occasion in all the New Testament when Jesus spoke this way. Second, he said to sell your cloak and buy a sword. (Who would give you a pistol in trade for a hooded sweater)? How many of the gun rights exegetes enforce the part about selling the cloak? The context (oh, so very important) for this passage is that Jesus is about to be arrested, and the disciples know it. A few verses later, when the impassioned disciples brandish their swords, Jesus says "Enough of this" (v. 38). It is clear that the swords were for general protection, but NOT for aggressive use on the Romans or the Sanhedrin to prevent Jesus' arrest. Jesus tells them that all things written about him must be fulfilled. (v. 37). And stopping the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Christ derails our salvation and lands us in hell for sure. Jesus knows what he is doing.

What can be concluded by this? First, Jesus neither condemns nor heartily endorses weapon-toting. He simply acknowledges a sword as part of their equipment. If they encounter a wild animal and want to live to tell about it, they may use the sword. Common situation in those days. That's one possible inference. Further, the Bible was not written so much as a prescription for national life, but for the glory of God and his Son Jesus Christ, who accomplished our eternal salvation by being led "like a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7b). The Bible does not make the assumption that the masses are Christians. Within all the nations of the world are some of the redeemed. They are a little flock. We do not know all of them yet. There will be some surprises on the great Day of the Lord. One thing is for sure: the powers that be are ordained by God, and to take up arms against the government is questionable at least.

If we say that people can and would instinctively defend themselves and their families from common threats, that is obviously legitimate, and this will be discussed later. However, I conclude for now that at least this passage does not lend itself to the second amendment as a "deterrent" against a private sector takeover by a tyrannical government. I believe this line of thinking is part of an example of a syncretized American "Christianity" which is more American than Christian. MORE LATER.


Gary said...

Amen bro...very well said...seems to be more in line with the Christ I know

Gary said...

Amen brother...very well said...your thinking seems to be more in line with the Christ I know

daddyo said...

Thanks Gary. Please see the last paragraph of my original post for some clarification.

daddyo said...

I wanted to also say that the government has some powerful weapons, such as chemical, biological, and nuclear. If the private sector is supposed to deter the government, should we all build missile silos in our backyards, or maybe try to get a cheap B-1 on ebay?