The Bible and Culture

The Bible and Culture


Guns and Religion— Enough is Quite Enough

posted by Ben Witherington

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I was sitting at the traffic light when a pickup pulled up next to me.  On the back of the cab window was a bumper sticker saying ‘Guns and religion. Now more than ever.’   Then I found the picture you see above, and then this one below……
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My response to this nonsense above is, I’d like to see you try and kill someone with a spoon!   In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson, where people were killed with a man wielding a legal gun which had legal clips of huge number of bullets in them,  it’s time to say enough is enough.  To my fellow Christians that like to think guns and Christianity go well together—  enough is more than enough.  You are living in denial of the Gospel, and its time to grow up.  ‘Thou shalt not kill’  does not have a codicil of addendum to it which reads ‘except in self-defense’ or the like.   But let’s deal with the gun issue itself.    We need to clear away some of the ridiculous rhetoric of the gun lobbyists.

1) Myth Number One—- ‘Guns don’t kill people’.   Really?   Go to morgue after a homicide and ask the mortician the cause of death in a fatal shooting.  The medical answer is simple— a bullet entered the person’s brain  (or elsewhere).   How did the bullet get there?  It was fired by a gun!   Ah, but a person fired the gun so, the gun is not a fault.  This too is not entirely true.  A person who merely hand tossed bullets at people could not kill them that way.  No, the gun was a necessity, especially in Tucson if you wanted to do as much damage as you could.  Had the young maniac merely tried to strangle someone to death he could have been subdued very quickly,  and the same if even he had wielded a knife.  No, guns are indeed a huge part of the problem, especially guns that can shoot more bullets than my grandfather’s old one shot derringer.   It’s time to own up to the fact that guns, and the ready access to guns, are a huge problem in a culture full of sick people.    At a minimum certain kinds of guns should be banned altogether, oh let’s start with assault rifles.

2) Myth Number Two— ‘If we ban guns, only criminals will have guns’   No, law enforcement people will also have guns as well. Not to mention the National guard and the various branches of the military.  The issue is private guns, and that brings us to the next myth.

3) Myth Number Three— The Constitution and the Bill of Rights gives the private citizen the right to own whatever gun his heart desires.    In the first place, the law was originally set up allowing each of the colonies to have militias.  It was not set up to protect a right of private citizens to have any and all sorts of guns.  It simply wasn’t.   Besides all this,  a cannon is a gun.   A  howitizer is a gun.  And guess what?  Private citizens already do not have a right to own and operate such things.    We need to ban a few more weapons that can do huge damage.   It’s way past time for such legislation.

4) Myth Number Four— Hunting Animals  (e.g. Deer) is a Sport   It would only be a sport if two teams could play, which is to say, it would only be a sport if the deer were armed and allowed to fire back!   As it is, it is much too one sided to ever deserve the title ‘sport’.  BTW, the weapon which shot Congresswoman Gifford was bought at the euphemistically named store— the American Sportsman.   Sportsmen play games like basketball.  Buying and using a gun doesn’t make you a sportsman.   It makes you a killer of animals or human beings.

5) Myth Number Five— The Best Way to Protect Yourself and Your Family is to Buy Guns
The statistics are in on this one.  Unless it was a law that you had to be trained first how to properly use a gun before you could buy one, and then pass a test to do so  (like you have to be trained to drive a car  and tested before you can legally drive one),  then we shouldn’t be surprised that arming yourself is not the safest way to go.   Why not?   Because on average, private citizens are more likely to shoot themselves, their own loved ones,  the dog, the cat,  quite by accident,  than they are likely to shoot an intruder who comes into their home, and startles them.   What you do under those fearful circumstances you do under duress, and often in panic mode.  The results are not usually what you’d hoped.  That’s a fact.

  
And now lets talk for a moment about guns and religion.  I hardly need to tell you that those two things put together can be a lethal combination just as much as bombs and religion (think Al Queda).  Should we have a Constitutionally protected right to carry bombs?   I don’t think so. 

But even if you ignore everything I’ve just said, or disagree with it all,  I have to tell you that shooting someone is a terrible witness for Christ, and frankly when Jesus said love your enemies, he did not mean love them to death at the point of a gun.   That’s no way to love them, and I would say following Christ is not compatible with shooting and killing people.   But, perhaps you will say, that’s just me,  BW3.     But it’s not just me.   It’s Jesus you have to answer to,  and as for that picture at the top of the page here—- he’s not too pleased with it either. 



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Krissi

posted January 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm


It’s high time I saw a Christian well respected in the public sphere actually argue against guns. When I was in Canada this summer, where handguns are banned and hunting rifles come with heavy regulations about use and storage, I was asked multiple times what the deal is with Americans and guns. I would just shrug and say, “I really don’t get it, either.” And I’ve never understood the “guns don’t kill” thing. Hello! The only reason a gun exists is to kill! That’s the entire purpose of the weapon!



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Jesse

posted January 10, 2011 at 8:39 pm


Hi Ben,
You make a lot of well-reasoned points, and I agree that proper conduct becoming of a Christian includes lack of maliciousness; specifically hateful, vengeful, or murderous behavior.
Contrary to your post, it’s my opinion that the sixth commandment forbids murder (premeditated killing). I state this opinion as a laymen though, as I am not a credentialed scholar.
As to matters of the law, the supreme court decision in the case of “District of Columbia v Heller” specifically ruled that ownership of arms is extended to the individual (if required, I can provide specific citations).
The constitution gives citizens of every belief the right to possess arms, but our obedience to God gives us a narrow range in which we can use them.



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Daniel Hewitt

posted January 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm


The counter-argument here (a quick read, well worth the time):
http://libertarianchristians.com/2009/02/13/40-reasons-to-ban-guns/#
Also worth reading is John Lott’s book More Guns Less Crime. I read the second edition; it had a very lengthy epilogue where Lott meticulously addressed his opponent’s criticisms of his studies. Well worth your time reading, Dr. Ben. If it does not change your mind, at least you will be well-versed in (probably) the best argument against your opinions. The third edition was recently published.



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Andy

posted January 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm


While I agree with several points, I cannot buy into the argument as a whole for banning private citizens from owning guns.
Guns are sometimes an instrument for killing people, but people are always a part of the equation. People kill people and sometimes guns are the instrument by which the killing is done. However, guns are not innately responsible for death anymore than religions are when used as justification for killing. I cannot count the number of times I have heard opponents of religion argue that religion is responsible for the killing of thousands and therefore it should be done away with. A counterpoint to that argument, and a good one at that, is that religions don’t kill people, but people kill people.
Hopefully my point is clear. Perhaps the screws could be tightened regarding some gun laws, but prohibition of guns for private citizens will not solve much in my estimation.
A final unrelated note: I have no problem with citizens who hunt animals and make use of their kill.



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Mike Taylor

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:24 am


I would add that politics and religion don’t go very well together. There is no absolute Biblical point of view on many of these issues, including guns, the role of government in social programs, etc.
BTW – I will defend my family and my neighbors from violence. Using soft words, if possible – force, if necessary – deadly force, if required. I cannot imagine you, or any man, not defending his wife, children, and neighbors. If I ever do have to harm someone, I’m sure I’ll have many bad nights afterword – will have even worse nights if I can’t defend my family.



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bw

posted January 11, 2011 at 5:06 am


dr. witherington,
i enjoy reading your blog and find you insightful. to let you know where i’m coming from, i’ve never owned a gun and don’t intend to. other than some fights when i was a kid, i’ve never physically harmed anyone. with regard to foreign policy, i think it’s unwarranted that we have a military presence in over 100 nations, and am not happy about either war we’ve involved ourselves in.
but i’m not sure what to make of some of what you say here. are you really arguing that a christian can never use violent force, even in when defending the innocent against violent aggression?
‘thou shalt not kill’ is clearly not an unqualified statement. for instance, God /commanded/ capital punishment for adultery, and “if a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed” (exodus 22:2). what do you do with passages like psalm 144:1 – “praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle?” i realize that the principles embodied here need to be re-examined in light of the teachings of Jesus and of his life, death, and resurrection, but it’s not clear to me that violence is never justified. what does it mean for me to “turn the other cheek” if my wife or daughters are attacked by a rapist? would it be unloving for me to use force to stop the attacker — even potentially deadly force?
-b



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 8:56 am


Excellent, some discussion has been provoked. Let’s back up the truck on a few points: 1) what the modern supreme court ruled, and what the Founding Father’s said and thought can be, and is two different things when it comes to what we call hand guns. For them, that was a one shot derringer at most. They would have been appalled at the degree of lethal force we are prepared to have as ‘private weapons’ 2) as for ‘defending’ my family, the way to do that is to get them out of harm’s way, or if need be to step into harm’s way. It does not require killing someone. As I have said before, you can disable someone without killing them. There is a difference between the use of force and the use of lethal force. More later.
BW3



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:00 am


Two more thing. Any intentional use of lethal force qualifies for the prohibition– ‘thou shalt not kill’. Lastly, guns all by themselves do kill people. I could list cases of where guns have gone off when dropped, or when moved etc. and often children are the victims.
BW3



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Daniel Hewitt

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:17 am


Dr. Ben,
Good points. I would add, however, that twisting the Constitution to fit “modern” times is what neoconservatives have done to launch two unconstitutional and devastating wars. Liberals have done the same, and have magically discovered a constitutional right to abortion. I think you would agree that these two examples definitely violate the commandment “thou shalt not kill”?
Firearms do not necessarily have to be lethal. Non-lethal methods often turn lethal. It’s the intent, as you stated. Jesus’ disciples carried swords, the most lethal personal weapon of the time. Jesus ultimately chose martyrdom instead of self-defense, but I know that you feel that using force for self-defense is justified. I do too…although I have to be honest and say that I am only 99% convinced of that.



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Matt

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:06 am


Dr. Witherington,
I won’t lie – when I watched the news I was one of the people who said “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I don’t own a gun, nor do I ever plan to own one.
I appreciate your thoughts, and I am still processing much of what you said. And, I honestly can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. We have distorted what the Founding Fathers had in mind, and I’m not sure they’d recognize America today if they were to see it.
But still, I’m not convinced that making guns illegal, or at least less legal, would solve the problem. As an example, my father-in-law owns several guns, and keeps them locked up in a gun safe in his basement. He took the time to teach my brother-in-law how to properly handle the gun safely. My dad owned a gun when I was growing up, and to this day I couldn’t tell you where he has it hidden in our house. I still believe the root cause comes down to the person, to our fallen humanity.
If someone injures his/herself on an ATV because they were going too fast, is that the ATV’s fault for not having a governor limit the speed? Or was the judgment of the person at fault? We have legal limits for driving under the influence, yet we still hear about people getting injured or killed by DUI drivers almost daily. What is the solution there – make alcohol illegal? Install those breathalyzer things that won’t start your car unless you’re at 0.00?
Ok maybe those examples are besides the point. Maybe they are irrelevant. I guess what it comes down to is that when we put so much blame on the guns themselves, it can mask the fact that people are still the problem. As is the case with much in this life, humanity messes up otherwise “permissible” things.
Those are just some initial thoughts – I feel terrible for the victims of this tragedy. I feel terrible for victims of the countless other tragedies that stem from humanity’s fallible judgment.
Thank you for your post, and in the end, perhaps making things harder to get, or less legal, could work towards preventing the opportunity for people to hurt other people because of poor judgment.



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Karl Sinclair

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:09 am


Being an Australian, a country where almost no one owns guns, especially not in the cities, I often look at the gun debate in America and think how primative a people the American’s must be.
We did away with guns after a massacre of our own in 1995. There was an overwhelming majority of people that said enough is enough, too many people are dying.
I’ve never felt unsafe living in a house without a gun because I know I don’t need one. Guns kill people, plain and simple



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Jim Moretz

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:16 am


Dear Dr. Witherington,
Guns all by them selves do not kill people. Even in the examples you say you could list, the guns did not move or drop themselves. A gun cannot load itself, aim itself, or fire itself. Whatever the strengths of your other arguments, it is no myth that guns do not kill, people do.
My question to you would be, “How much deer (or other game) hunting have you done?” It is no one sided affair. I sat for hours on end, Saturday after Saturday, and only saw one deer in the NC mountains this year. I did get one deer with my bow in the middle of the state, but I only saw five deer in six days if hunting and only got a shot on one. The reason most people do not hunt is not because they don’t like killing animals, it is because hunting is difficult at best.
Also, your argument against hunting as killing (murdering) animals, must mandate a vegetarian lifestyle as the only ethical.moral existence allowed. All animals must be murdered to be eaten. If you think deer hunting is unethical, chicken farming must be evil incarnate.
The issue of guns/gun ownership is a complex issue, like many we face. While the pictures in your blog illustrate the persistent problem of the politicization of religion, there is nothing inherently anti-Christian about owning a gun or hunting.
Rev. Jim Moretz



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K.

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:20 am


Speaking as a Republican and as a Christian, I’ve seen plenty of people treat guns as idols to be worshiped. I also think that many politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are bought and paid for by a lobby that is just using the Second Amendment to obtain money and power for itself. That’s the real crux; it’s all about money. Anyone opposing the gun lobby is accused of being unpatriotic, etc., which is pure bull.
No one can outright ban guns because of the Second Amendment. I’m as pro-Second Amendment as the next person, but as there are reasonable limits to the First Amendment (can’t share state secrets, etc.), there should be reasonable limits to the Second, and nope, I’m not unpatriotic to say so.



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j dalco

posted January 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm


WOW, so much wrong in one post. . . . lets take a look -
1) Myth Number One—- ‘Guns don’t kill people’ – yes, guns don’t do anything, they are inanimate objects. Just like a car does not drive drunk. It is the person who kills – be it with a car, a knife, a gun or a bomb. The object is just a tool.
2) Myth Number Two— ‘If we ban guns, only criminals will have guns’ Again true – look at the UK and you will find with all the gun laws the law abiding citizens have no guns. Gun crime and violent crime is up there. . . . the criminals have no problems getting guns on the ISLAND. . . you think they would here with out open borders???
3) Myth Number Three— The Constitution and the Bill of Rights gives the private citizen the right to own whatever gun his heart desires – nice mis-quote. The Second Amendment protects the peoples rights to form Militias to protect themselves from all threats including our government. It does protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Militia by definition of the time it was written was all men over the age of 14. . . basically all adult males are the militia. Done.
4) Myth Number Four— Hunting Animals (e.g. Deer) is a Sport It is based on your definition of a sport and has NOTHING to do with what happened in AZ. Folks also hunt with traps and bow and arrow but no one is talking about that. . . .
5) Myth Number Five— The Best Way to Protect Yourself and Your Family is to Buy Guns
The statistics are in on this one. And it is true – Statistics show that folks who are armed prevent many more attacks, robberies and crime than actually get reported to the cops. Stats also show states with lax gun laws have far less crime than states with strict gun laws. A disarmed public is easy pickings and safe for the criminal. This is seen country to country too.
Sorry folks, you need to do your research . . . .



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Cargosquid

posted January 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm


Sir,
Instead of demolishing every one of your “myths” as I’m sure might happen in the days to come, I invite you to actually get educated on guns, the 2nd Amendment, the “gun culture” and the legal carrying of weapons. Read “More Guns, Less Crime” and take a look at the statistics of gun crime in recent years in England. Its going up.
Go shooting. Take a gun safety course.
And then, your opinion might be an educated one.



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm


Well Mr. Dalco, you appear to be a classic example of someone who is so far into denial that the only way forward is self-justification. ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts, I know what I know’. How Sad.
I am certainly not saying that better gun control would solve all our problems. I am saying that better gun control would help solve one of our major problems— namely violence in our society. Australia is an excellent example of how such control can improve the situation. It’s time for America to become less of a Rambo culture, especially when it comes to Christians in America.
BW3



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DirtCrashr

posted January 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm


People in prison get killed by spoons all the time.



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Jamie

posted January 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm


For a blog on “all things Biblical” there is a surprising lack of any biblical references in your post. So let’s start with this one from Luke 22:35-38 where Jesus says:
And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”
Doesn’t seem like Jesus is against arming his disciples to me. The question is not do we as Christians fight. The question is what do we fight for?



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WC Green

posted January 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm


Since you do appear interested in facts, I leave you with this in response to your “I’d like to see you try and kill someone with a spoon!”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VDvgL58h_Y
“The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon”



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Belial

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm


Now now everyone, it’s obvious that the bible thumper is right. Put down your guns and all the good people will protect you from the evil ones. Because you know when a criminal with a gun is breaking into your house, the police are always right there.
Most ignorant post on the topic I’ve seen in years.



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Luke

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm


Can you provide any other examples of the Lord instructing his people to break commandments?
If you believe that the correct translation of the 6th commandment is “thou shalt not kill” then God’s instructions in Joshua 10:40 were a direct contradiction of God’s own commandments.
However, if you translate the 6th commandment as “Thou shalt not murder” (via the Hebrew word “ratsach”) then God’s instructions to Joshua are not in contradiction.
As for myth #1, you obviously hold the liberal belief that inanimate objects are responsible for human actions. This is false, and is called “animism”.
Blaming guns for violence is as incorrect as blaming spoons for obesity.
(Which, BTW is the point of the bumper sticker you referenced above. not that spoons can be used to kill as you erroneously assumed.)
I’ll grant you on myth #2 that the phrase is trite and erroneous. It fails to address the full situation and has irritated me since I first heard it.
It does, however raise the point that even if you ban guns from all law-abiding citizens, criminals will still have access to guns.
On myth #3 you’re resorting to interpretation, where the text actually does not specify in any way what type of arms are not to be infringed upon.
Probably the most accurate interpretation of the 2nd amendment would allow the private ownership of any military-grade arms.
FWIW, I know of several citizens that own cannon, some of them are even military surplus!
I agree with you about myth #4, hunting is not a sport. any activity that provides sustenance cannot be considered a sport like baseball or soccer.
Myth #5 again, the phrasing is trite and overly general. I can think of several situations off the top of my head where a firearm would have no impact whatsoever on the safety of my family.
However, there are many scenarios where a firearm would not only be helpful, but essential for the protection of my family. and that is why I do choose to own and carry firearms.
It is my prayer that the Lord would grant us all the wisdom and understanding to know his will in all matters, including these.



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Bobby

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm


eh, on 5… Nope. Statistics show that many times more people are saved by having guns than are hurt by them in criminal events. Sorry, maybe you should look some of this up before you make up stats?
Bobby, a proud sportsman.



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Kevin Highland

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm


First….bullets are fired FROM a gun not BY a gun.
Second…Jeffery Dahmer (cannibal & serial murderer) was killed by a spoon.
Third…The Supreme Court of the United States wrote in the Heller v Washington D.C. decision that the second amendment “allows the individual to own & carry firearms in case of confrontation.
I believe Jesus Christ is my savior and through him my signs are forgiven and I’m granted passage to heaven. I also believe that I’m responsible to protect me and mine until such a time as I pass from this earthly realm.



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Doc Merlin

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm


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.”
Luke 22:36
Also wrt a howitzer or cannon. It is legal in most states to own either or both. Notice that you don’t find people ever being killed by them in the US? If you don’t believe it, look it up ”



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Doc Merlin

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm


“It’s Jesus you have to answer to, and as for that picture at the top of the page here—- he’s not too pleased with it either.”
Are you claiming to speak for Christ or do you have a biblical reference for that?



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Veeshir

posted January 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm


In the first place, the law was originally set up allowing each of the colonies to have militias.
Speaking of religious beliefs.
So in your “interpretation”, in the Bill of Rights, the document that defines the rights of citizens, the second most important amendment is taking rights from Teh Peepul and giving it to gov’t?
That’s darn funny.



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trackerk

posted January 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm


“I have to tell you that shooting someone is a terrible witness for Christ, and frankly when Jesus said love your enemies, he did not mean love them to death at the point of a gun. That’s no way to love them, and I would say following Christ is not compatible with shooting and killing people. But, perhaps you will say, that’s just me, BW3. But it’s not just me. It’s Jesus you have to answer to…”
By the logic of your post, that the 1st commandment precludes even self-defense, and the above quote, then no police officer or military service member can be a Christian. “Following Christ is not compatible with shooting and killing people…” really?
So the people you want to put in charge, the ones with all the guns, in “Myth 2″, will not be Christians.



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Mr. Twisted

posted January 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm


I guess if you’re into backing up your stance with “feelings” and what you *want* to be true, then this article is totally awesome.
Totally.
But in all seriousness, your lack of historical and Biblical knowledge is quite astounding. I guess in your world you can just write a bunch of stuff down and as long as it “feels right,” you go with it, eh? Sweeeet.



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Firehand

posted January 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm


As to number 1, the threat isn’t an object; it’s the person with the object. An honest citizen with a weapon is a threat to none; a criminal with a weapon is a threat. Deal with the person and stop blaming objects.
Number 2, that’s wonderful; the government and criminals will have guns but the honest citizen won’t. Great idea.
Number 3, let’s see, all nine Justices of the SCOTUS agreed that the 2nd Amendment speaks of a preexisting individual right, but you still insist it protects the right of state governments to have arms? Really?
Number 4, hunting is a sport, whether you like it or not. So are all the forms of target shooting, again whether you like it or not. Firearms are good for multiple uses.
Number 5, either a misunderstanding or distortion of the facts; don’t have time to dig up the links right now, but they’re out there if you care to search for them.
By the way, on 5, what other of the enumerated rights do you think we should have to have government approval and a license for?



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Bob H

posted January 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm


“‘Thou shalt not kill’ does not have a codicil of addendum to it which reads ‘except in self-defense’ or the like”
Actually the text should be translated as “Thou shall not murder”



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KR

posted January 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm


1)In countries where private ownership of guns is illegal, innocent people are murdered using other weapons. If guns somehow “caused” murder, the most dangerous places to be would be shooting ranges, gun shops, gun shows and police stations. Criminal behavior is studied by psychologists, sociologists, criminologists, and other academics. If you read the literature, instead of jumping to conclusions based on an emotional reaction to a single event, you’ll find that family, poverty, education, and popular culture all play significant roles in the development of a socio- or psychopathic individual willing to murder.
2)The US violent crime rate is currently at a 30-40 year low. During the past 20 years US gun sales and the popularity of concealed carry are at record high levels. Gun crime rates in gun-ban countries like the UK and Australia have risen during this same period. Check fbi.gov or http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/ for real data.
3)Read the Supreme Court decision on DC v. Heller. We live under a rule of law. You don’t get to opt-out of Supreme Court decisions you disagree with.
4)If you eat meat and oppose hunting you are a hypocrite that pays someone else to kill animals for you. The vast majority of soft urban dwellers have no idea where their food comes from and suffer from unrealistic idyllic fantasies that the “wild” is like “Bambi”. Animals eat and kill other animals for food every day.
5)Guns save lives. A friend who teaches gun classes in Memphis has had 56 students save themselves through lawful use of a firearm in the past 5 years. He also had 2 that were killed…who were unarmed at the time they were attacked. The active shooter at Ft. Hood was stopped by gunfire. One of the 3 citizens who stopped the shooter in Tucson was a carry permit holder who ran to the “sound of the guns”. In most active shooter incidents, some one dies every 2-5 seconds. Average police response time is 5-10 minutes.
Wringing your hands and hoping “it’ll never happen to me” is NOT a self-defense plan. There has been murder since the days of Cain and Abel, long before guns existed. Wave your magic wand and eliminate all guns. It won’t make a difference. There will still be violent predators and crazed killers who will find easy prey among those that are psychologically unprepared, untrained and unequipped to fight back. If lethal violence was not necessary, as a last resort, to protect innocent people from attacks from crazed killers, why do police carry guns? And why would anyone believe that he or she would be more successful defending his/her life against a killer without a gun, when the full time professionals who train for that task believe that guns are the most effective tool for that job?



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cargosquid

posted January 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm


For them, that was a one shot derringer at most. They would have been appalled at the degree of lethal force we are prepared to have as ‘private weapons’ 2) as for ‘defending’ my family, the way to do that is to get them out of harm’s way, or if need be to step into harm’s way. It does not require killing someone. As I have said before, you can disable someone without killing them.
Sir,
Please study history along with firearm knowledge. The Founders were quited familiar with arms of greater destruction. Private ownership of armed ships and crew served weapons was commonplace. Private citizens were the people that invented the more lethal weaponry and then had to CONVINCE the government to purchase it.
As for defending your family by getting in the way…I applaud your heroism, and decry your inability to see the difference between “defend” and “sacrifice” because “getting in the way” will only delay any atrocities that might happen to your family.
And finally, lawful carriers of firearms shoot to STOP, if we must shoot. Killing is immaterial. We do not shoot to kill. We shoot until the threat stops. You can stop someone but it is impossible to safely “disable” someone. I suppose you feel that shooting them in a limb would suffice. Attacks there can kill someone within 2 minutes. AND allow the threat to continue. While your wounded attacker bleeds to death, he kills you or someone else…..
Your heart appears to be in the right place, but, please get educated in the topic upon which you wish to opine. Don’t just be a mouthpiece for the “gun control” groups because you FEEL its a good idea.



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TennGoodBoy

posted January 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm


I quit the United Methodist Church over their unflexible and unreasonable stand on gun control. How does this help either me or the Church? First you have got to be free, and then you can think about religion. Cause if you aint free, you wont be allowed to have religion. For the simple minded, I put freedom and a free country ahead of organized religion. Way ahead. I am walking the earth a free man in the state of Tennessee, and will do so until I die. Take my guns? Uhh, no! PS: In your spare time, go look up how many people on this earth were murdered by their own governments in the last century. Go ahead. Now why dont you go work on that and leave free Americans alone…



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Moshe Ben-David

posted January 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm


Wow, A subhead to the banner that reads “A One stop shop for all things Biblical and Christian”?
You couldn’t be more wrong about that if your name was Yassar Arafat.
1. Going back to the Greeks it was said that even swords did not kill, that they were merely tools in the hands of the killers.
2. All of the worst, monumental holocausts, killing tens of millions of people since 1900 began with first registering and then confiscating the arms of the people.
3. I have plenty of quotes on my blog: http://www.thecompostfiles.blogspot.comfrom the founding fathers that make it abundantly clear that they meant for individuals to keep and bear arms. Not only that, but many churches had fines for men who showed up for Sunday services but forgot to bring their rifles and ammo. The MAIN purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to allow the people to prevent tyranny. You seriously need to get a grip.
4 & 5. You obviously have no experience hunting, and furthermore, you have never seen any of the scientific studies done by criminologist John Lott and others that shows that guns in the hands of civilians stop far more crime than LEOs. Did you know you were lying when you wrote that, or are you just ignorant?
Your whole blog post is a myth. If you represent the Bible and Christianity the way you write about guns, why would any rational, thinking person want to become a Christian?



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Ed

posted January 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm


Heh. Here’s a belief for you — it’s part of God’s plan. I seem to recall that dogma, day in and day out, from all the Christian clergy, teachers, priests, deacons, professors and lay persons.
So really, it’s out of your hands, right? Or do you want to mold the Bible to fit your beliefs that same way you mold the Constitution to fit your beliefs?
Give up and go home.



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Ed

posted January 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm


Heh. Here’s a belief for you — it’s part of God’s plan. I seem to recall that dogma, day in and day out, from all the Christian clergy, teachers, priests, deacons, professors and lay persons.
So really, it’s out of your hands, right? Or do you want to mold the Bible to fit your beliefs that same way you mold the Constitution to fit your beliefs?
Give up and go home.



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MJM

posted January 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm


Hello, Ben,
Quietly, I comment: Ben, you’re not listening. I hope you will open your mind and collect some facts about self-defense, and the defense of others, using firearms.



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Dave

posted January 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm


Dr. Witherington,
First, let me say that I greatly admire your works which I have read, and am currently reading your commentary on the book of Romans. I don’t want anything I say below to take away from the fact that I hold you in high regard as a Biblical scholar.
I also realize that nothing I am going to say on this matter is likely to sway your opinion, as yours has yet to completely sway mine (although you have certainly made me rethink this in past posts on guns), but I think you tend to engage in a higher degree of emotional outrage/rhetoric instead of Scriptural or logical thought in this post (and similar posts about guns in the past). This is my reason for chiming in.
1) Myth Number One—- ‘Guns don’t kill people’.
Do you truly believe that the gun is to blame in a shooting rather than the depraved nature of the individual perpetrating the act? Banning guns won’t stop violence or death. Look at the UK, for instance. They have instituted one of the most comprehensive gun bans in the Western world and what has been the result? Knife crime has shot through the roof (as well as many studies showing that gun crime hasn’t truly dropped off to any significant degree). So now there has been serious talk of banning kitchen knives (!) due to the increase in knife crime. So where does the banning stop? When does the focus shift to the depraved person behind the act, rather than the inanimate object used?
2) Myth Number Two— ‘If we ban guns, only criminals will have guns’
I have no idea how you can reasonably and honestly call this a myth. I don’t find it reasonable to think that the criminal mind, intent on breaking laws against taking a life, will suddenly find some sense of morality and obey a law that says he can’t have a gun.
From my foray into the studies of gun crime, and the effects that gun bans have on it, I have found that every nation that has banned the general populace from owning guns has seen at best a minimum drop off in gun related crime. Usually the slight drop off is attributed to fewer instances of “crimes of passion” where guns aren’t immediately available (which waiting periods in the US were supposed to have addressed). There are few studies that show any significant drop in premeditated acts of gun violence, but there is also a large body of work showing why those studies are flawed. This point, to me, indicates a serious lack of actually interacting with the data from both sides.
As for the law enforcement aspect, let’s go back to Tucson. In a setting where a member of Congress was out in the open meeting the public face-to-face there was likely a far higher concentration of various law enforcement personnel all in the exact spot where the crime occurred. They were there solely to prevent such a thing from occurring. Were they able to? Obviously, no. So what happens during a “normal” gun related crime, such as an armed robbery or home invasion? No law enforcement presence at all during the perpetration of the crime. To me the pithy little saying, “When seconds count, the police will be there in minutes,” is very applicable. This is not to diminish the role or ability of the police, just to point out the obvious limitations of such a view as you express.
3) Myth Number Three— The Constitution and the Bill of Rights gives the private citizen the right to own whatever gun his heart desires.
I agree with your first sentence that the intent was for militias. However, this makes your second sentence mainly false. A militia was made up of private citizens, therefore for the militia to have arms, the private citizens had to as well. I think that large weapons like Howitzers are not really relevant to the shooting that seems to have set off this post, and is basically a Red Herring.
Another problem I see with the way you state this is who gets to define “huge damage?” I get the impression that there isn’t any firearm that you wouldn’t classify as doing huge damage. If I am correct in my assumption, then why talk as if there are certain ones which are ok? That seems to be a bit disingenuous.
By the way, we shouldn’t forget that we did have legislation for 10 years that banned weapons that can do “huge damage,” as well as bans still in place from the ‘30’s on fully automatic weapons. This legislation did not help to reduce gun crime in the slightest. Why? Because the criminals don’t care about obeying those laws.
4) Myth Number Four— Hunting Animals (e.g. Deer) is a Sport
Wow, this strikes me as a very subjective definition of sports. Besides, it doesn’t really matter if hunting animals is a sport or not. Where I’m from (OH), we have a HUGE deer population which has to be hunted to keep in check. The number of people who are involved in car accidents involving deer in Ohio is quite large. So, sport or not, deer need to be hunted at times for the good of man. This doesn’t even go into matters such as hunting them for food.
Talk of the store’s name seems to be diversionary. Whatever the store’s name, it doesn’t justify the crime. Besides, there are shooting sports that have nothing to do hunting that involve discipline and training and have specific set of rules and regulations in order to compete, just like any other sport. This is likely one of the reasons behind the store’s name.
5) Myth Number Five— The Best Way to Protect Yourself and Your Family is to Buy Guns
What statistics show what you are asserting? This is such a huge claim that I am requesting an actual citation for this one to fly. Accidental shootings are few and far between, and are blown way out of proportion (compared to the crime prevention that guns also do) by the sensational aspect that the stories have. This assertion is far from a proven fact.
And let’s talk about the comparison to driving. Drivers do have to take training and pass tests to drive and there are still accidents. There are still people who are more concerned with their phone calls, texting, radio dial and makeup than operating a 2 ton weapon in a safe manner. There are also laws banning those things. They still happen.
I agree that guns and religion can be a lethal combination, if used to further a religious cause. I think this is a bit of a bait and switch in this context, though. Most Christians that I have read or talked to who own guns or support Christians owning them are not doing it for religious purposes. It is primarily about a perceived threat to individual freedom (which can, admittedly, be argued) and about self defense. Even the bumper sticker you refer to above isn’t talking about guns and religion together to further a religious cause. It is a backlash, however misguided, against the perceived threat that political leaders pose to gun ownership and freedom of religious expression (particularly Christian) as separate things.
Who is arguing we should be allowed to own bombs?
Your last paragraph is where I come more into alignment with what you are saying, although I am still undecided. I have met and interacted with people who have problems with Christianity because they perceive it as being pacifistic. The problem usually being expressed as a justice issue framed as, “Where is the justice when you have to let your own family be killed in order to satisfy the demands of Christ?” I’m not sure this is a good question, but I know it has caused people to struggle.
I agree Jesus commands us to love our enemies. All rhetoric aside for a moment, how does one define who is an enemy? This is something I have wrestled with when facing these issues. If someone I have never met breaks into my home in the middle of the night with the intent to do harm to me or my family is he an enemy? (If it is just a robbery, he can take my stuff. I would never kill someone over property.) I usually think of an enemy as someone I have put thought into consciously decided to oppose for some reason or another. In a quick, heat-of-the-moment situation like a break-in, it doesn’t seem like an enemy because it would be operating in an almost survival like mode, not a considered decision to oppose this person. I’m not sure that makes sense, as it is hard for me to put into words.
Even if we have to agree to disagree, I appreciate that you have again raised this thorny issue for dialogue and debate!
God Bless.



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm


This is quite astoundingly wrong on every front and a testament to how too much education on a narrow point can lead one to arrogance and hubris.
Myth #1. Let’s engage in a thought experiment to test your hypothesis that guns kill people. The context is the one you define–namely, a privately owned firearm, presumably a handgun. Take a gun shipped directly from the manufacturer and place it in a sealed container on a table. (Note that this necessarily implies that it is unloaded if you live in the U.S.) Fill the room with as many people as you like. As long as it is a thought experiment, let’s make the number high enough so that all statistical probabilities will occur. Let’s say, 50,000,000 people. How many will the gun kill? If you answer that question with any number other than zero, and you have honestly and clearly thought this out, then you are ignorant, stupid, deluded, or lying. The undeniable fact is that a gun necessarily must receive some human handling before someone dies.
Now, admittedly, some will argue that your answer necessarily implies reference to the intended purpose of a gun. And, as your screed implies elsewhere, there is only one purpose for a gun–killing, whether it be animals or people. This betrays a deep ignorance of the gun culture. There are literally millions of people in this country that own firearms for no other purpose than target shooting. (“Oh,” and by definition, an “assault weapon” is fully automatic, and therefore already banned from private ownership. You are apparently using the definition used by the popular, mainstream media and gun ownership opponents, which is borne of ignorance and advocacy. So you are once again betraying your ignorance of gun culture.)
You do concede that it takes a gun to fire a bullet, and this implicitly scuttles your argument on this point. The bullet cannot be fired from the gun unless there is human handling. This is true even of accidental discharge, since it require a human to load the gun. And even in accidental discharge resulting in death, I would lay that death at the feet of the person who improperly handled the firearm.
This was not a good start for your case.
Myth #2. This is facile, and the issue is worthy of deeper thought than you have given it. The “slogan” impliedly invokes the context in which peace officers are absent. It is factually true that peace officers will remain armed, but that certainly did no good for the six people killed in Tuscon, or the 21 killed at Virginia Tech, or the students at Columbine, or the 20 or so killed in the Luby’s in Killeen, Texas, or….well, I think that establishes the point. There’s another slogan, “when you need help now, the police are only minutes away.” That the peace officers are armed is of little help when you actually need the firearm.
Myth #3. This argument clearly manifests ignorance. You are on my turf, for I have not only studied the Constitution but I have also spent some of my career litigating it. Others have already noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, which held that firearm ownership is a “fundamental right” under the Constitution. It does not extend that right to “whatever gun his heart desires”, but then I have never heard anyone assert that right. You have misrepresented the position of gun ownership advocates. I’m sure there are some extremists out there, but nobody seriously takes that position. It certainly is not involved in the political debate.
You also betray an ignorance of the Founding Fathers with respect to the amendment. The Founding Fathers considered the right of self-defense to be a natural right, given to man by God. Whether you agree with that is a different issue. Gun ownership was viewed as an implied necessary for the realization of that right. And the Second Amendment was, in fact, enacted “to protect a right of private citizens to have any and all sorts of guns.” The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, was viewed by many of its opponents as superfluous and therefore unworthy of passage because the rights protected therein were so firmly rooted in the Anglo-American jurisprudence that they could not be breached.
I know that some widely known and respected legal scholars have attempted to parse the language in the manner you apparently ascribe to, but note that these arguments are directed to what the language means, and therefore to how the right is defined. Those arguments do not go to the intent of the Framers, however.
Myth #4. This argument is also facile. The question really is whether there legitimate uses for guns aside from killing people. Whether hunting is a sport is actually irrelevant because there are all sorts of sports that are banned. For example, blood sports such as cock fighting, dog fighting, and bear baiting are typically banned throughout the US. You also employ an argument of moral equivalence by linking the killing of animals to killing humans and thereby elevating hunting to the level of murder. Seems to me that is a distinctly un-Christian position because Christianity clearly values human life much more highly than animal life. The definition of sport is highly contentious–sport talk radio occasionally spends many hours debating whether golf is a sport. (Indeed, golf would not meet your implied definition of “sport”, as would any other swimming, ice skating and many others where there is a lack of head-to-head, direct physical competition.) But even if you think hunting is not a sport, it does not advance your position.
Myth #5. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Both sides of the gun control issue trot out all kinds of statistics all the time. I can guarantee you someone knowledgeable on the statistics can pull out some refuting your position. But, since you leave your position unsupported by citation to such statistics, I feel no compulsion to go out and dig some up to refute your assertion. I will say, however, that not arming yourself basically leaves you only one option–to wait and see if the armed intruder will kill you. If you think that is safe, well then I think that’s quite sad.
Guns and religion…now here I am treading on your turf. But in the spirit of the debate, since you opined on my area, I will throw in my two cents in your area. Many have already cited the clear import of which is that arming one’s self for armed defense is within the ambit of Jesus’ teachings. And we know that killing is not necessarily against God’s law since God instructed the Hebrews to conquer Israel through open warfare. They even killed women and children, apparently. (These would be “unarmed combatants” in today’s world, and therefore that act would constitute a “war crime”.) And all of this was sanctioned, as some of your earlier commenters have noted in citing Joshua.
Furthermore, the Commandments prohibit murder, not homicide in general. I have seen some translations that distinguish “murder” from “killing” in the sense that “murder” is an intentional killing as opposed to an accidental killing. I don’t know the ins and outs of that. But I do know that Jesus said “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s”, thereby permitting exercise of free will under civil authority. And he instructed the disciples to arm themselves. Sounds like self-defense is permitted to me.
And I concede that I very well may be wrong about the religion stuff. I would be highly surprised if you couldn’t out-argue me on that point. But you will have to do better than the cavalier dismissal of
Dalco’s arguments. Leaving his points unrebutted does not advance the debate. Perhaps you are not interested in debate, and you expect us all to accept your position without question like lap dogs. However, on the current record, it is apparent that it is you “who is so far into denial that the only way forward is self-justification.” Your accusation against Dalco of willful ignorance of facts appears to be quite a case of projection.



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Gerry

posted January 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm


To say that there is no addendum to the Fifth Commandment is to spread misinformation. First, the commandment is more accurately translated as “Thou shalt not murder,” not “Thou shalt not kill” (1). And second, moses did not come down from Sinai with just two tablets with the Decalogue written on them, he came down with the Ten Commandments and a few hundred other laws. The other laws included some laws designating when it was, indeed, perfectly alright to kill others (e.g. in war).
Not only taking from the Torah, but also in the New Testament we find examples of self defense being viewed as not prohibited. Jesus said, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” But the word he used for sword was not a generic word, but a specific kind of weapon. It was a small, inexpensive sword that was often carried by Jews at the time. It was the everyman’s self defence weapons. Jesus did indeed tell Peter not to defend him, but that was an exception. Jesus’ death was necessary to the salvation of humankind, even if Peter couldn’t see it at the time.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we see the “right” to self-defence not as a right, but as a duty.
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.(2)
It depends on your branch of Christianity as to whether you treat the Catechism as an authoritative document, but being that I am Roman Catholic, I do treat it as an authoritative document. Whether or not you do is your own choice.
1-http://niv.scripturetext.com/exodus/20-1.htm
2- http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm


Excellent. I clearly have struck a nerve. But as for expertise in the Bible, I will not take a backseat to any of you folks.
My concern is with being a Christian and following the New Testament teachings. Telling me what God permitted under the old covenant before the coming of Jesus who upped the ante when it comes to ethical behavior, is neither here nor there, as far as I am concerned. It is however worth noting that the ‘eye for an eye’ OT principle was meant to limit, not license revenge, and means ‘only an eye for an eye’ etc.
Jesus however changed the terms and the nature of the ethical game. Christians are under the new covenant, not the old one, and the Sermon on the Mount and texts like Romans 12 are pretty clear. No violence against other human beings, indeed the opposite of that is required— loving even our enemies. I would remind you that the great commandment involves loving neighbor as yourself, and frankly just as you should not take your own life because you appreciate your own life, nor should you take other peoples. Every person is a person of sacred worth, and Jesus died for them all. Life is a gift from God, not a right.
As for the nonsense about we have to be free then we can think about religion, this would rule out most of the pre-modern civilizations in history which were very religious and were hardly democracies with Bills of Rights. Freedom is certainly not a pre-requisite for religion or being religious. Freedom is an extra blessing, but its not the pre-requisite of being in right relationship with God.
One more thing. How in the world do you folks think that people in Biblical times ‘defended themselves’ without guns? Hmmmm, they didn’t have guns so…..????? And why exactly is there nothing at all in the NT that validates ‘defending yourself by using violence if necessary if attacked?’ Here I think you need to understand that the New Testament is about self-sacrifice, not self-protection, nor is it about legitimating self-protection. That would be a modern dogma not based in the Bible. There is plenty about taking care of others by love and help and aid and prayer etc. Nothing about self-protection by using violence.
BW3



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David J

posted January 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm


Dr. Witherington,
I got a good chuckle at this post (mixed with sadness, of course, at what prompted it). While to some extent, I think a “grow up” is warranted here, I have to wonder if starting on some more neutral ground wouldn’t be more productive for dialog. Nerves are struck, indeed, but then the…guns…come out.
From a practical point of view, I was most struck by the point about “guns that can shoot more bullets than my grandfather’s old one shot derringer.” I’m pretty sure I’d die if someone shot me, oh say, 6 times.



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Dave

posted January 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm


Dr. Witherington,
I certainly won’t try to “out-Bible” the Bible scholar ;) And, as I mentioned in my 1st comment, your adamant adherence to your position of Christian pacifism, in light of how much I value other things that you teach on, has caused me to examine time and again my own views on this. I must admit that I am still somewhat undecided.
However, I must again point out that statements like the following are not helpful.
“One more thing. How in the world do you folks think that people in Biblical times ‘defended themselves’ without guns? Hmmmm, they didn’t have guns so…..?????”
It is clear that in a time when there were no guns at all, no one needed a gun to defend themselves against guns… In today’s world, however, it is obvious that a knife or sword is no match to a home invader wielding a firearm. The rules of the game have clearly changed so to speak.
I also think it is somewhat unfair to respond to many comments that are crying foul of how you argued your points, including mine, by basically saying it doesn’t matter and then focusing on the New Testament. I agree that as a Christian what the NT may have to say on this is my 1st and highest concern, but you began by listing many myths that you tried to refute by evidence gathered outside of the NT. To sweep that away without interacting with it is not really dealing with the issues at hand.
Referring to my earlier comment, how do you define enemy as used by Jesus (serious question, no sarcasm or other rhetorical methods implied here)? It seems as though you define it very broadly, which may be accurate, I don’t know. It is just hard for me to understand someone as my enemy that I have never even met. I think of an enemy as a more personal, conscious decision to oppose someone for a reason.
I also want to ask (and hopefully get your opinion on) how a strict pacifist position affects notions of honor and justice. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about defending one’s country, acting noble in war, defending the defenseless (the context seems to indicate an “active” defense, not legal) and a whole host of other similar themes as being inherently understood concepts that are morally right and true. I know C.S. Lewis is not a Bible scholar in the normal sense of the term, and may very well be wrong, but I think his opinion may be indicative of a lot of society. You have mentioned killing someone being a bad witness, but in a society and culture where pacifism is often looked upon as bordering on cowardice and pacifists as being parasites, I have to wonder what kind of witness that is perceived to be. Maybe this isn’t even relevant, I don’t know.
I am starting to ramble, so I will stop :)
God Bless



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm


Hi Dave:
You’re right about C.S. Lewis, but my concern is especially with what Jesus and Paul say, and the clear implications of their teachings. Might I suggest you read Will Willimon’s small but potent book entitled Why, Jesus? Its a good quick read. I have to be honest with you. I think the home invader with a gun boogie man is mostly a creature of our fears. I don’t know a single person that this has ever happened to, in 59 years of living, and I have always lived in cities. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, I’m simply saying that it is too rare a problem to live your life in fear over. If some one breaks into your house you call 911 and go out the back door. You don’t try to play shoot out at the o.k. corral in the dark.



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm


Excellent…now I’m on the trail to learning something!
First, I am curious as to your take on Luke 22:35-36. You do not address this directly. What does it teach if it does not teach self-defense? What is the point of telling his disciples to acquire swords? You ask why there is not teaching of using violence to defend yourself. I do not know. You have to get that answer from God or the people who wrote the New Testament books. And, to some degree, your answer your own question when you say the New Testament is not about self protection, but about self sacrifice. But one might argue that Luke 22:35-36 might teach that armed self-defense is permissible. That is the importance of addressing the passage in the context of the present arguments.
Second, the rhetorical question of how those in Biblical times defended themselves without guns does a disservice to the debate. They of course used what was available…knives, clubs, rocks…the same thing evildoers today would use if you took guns away from them.
Third, you say that the New Covenant and Jesus’ teachings change the equation from the Old Testament. I infer that you mean the OT is of no consequence in discussing these matters. Then for what purpose is it in the Bible?
Fourth, Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do no think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” (New American Standard) The “Law” as I understand it is the law of the OT. If that is true, how can you just cast it all out by claiming that Jesus “altered the equation”?
Fifth, if Matthew 5:17 means that you can’t just throw out the OT from a theological standpoint (e.g., God ordering the death of non-combatants in Jericho), don’t we have to discuss that?
Sixth, and I know this is somewhat Pharasaic, some of the “law” is the Commandment and the Mosaic code. I know that in the Apostolic Council related in Acts (James the Just no less!) ruled that not all of the Mosaic Law applied to all Christians. But none of that addressed anything in the Commandments. So why is that distinction between killing and murder no longer valid? Or did Jesus throw that out?



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Dusty

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm


Ben, you wrote “Christians are under the new covenant, not the old one”
First you quote the 10 commandments, then you want us to ignore them.
Let’s see: Matthew Chapter 21, Jesus tells us a parable with scumbag murderers, and notes “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end”.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:33-35
Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus says “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.”
More: “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Clearly, Jesus viewed self-defense as natural and appropriate. His audience knew about justice, protection of property and person.
Anyone who believes pacifism needs to square their beliefs with
” 18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.”



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Pete

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm


God gave you the greatest of all: your life. To not defend it in the face of evil is criminal.



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Stranger

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:30 pm


Young man, my step-uncle killed two Japanese with a spoon during WWII. Almost anything can be made into a weapon; and hands and feet are the most dangerous weapons of all.
Now, young fellow, have you forgotten the Last Supper? Jesus’ call for the disciples to empty their wallets and buy swords? To sell their wallets if necessary. To even sell their clothes and buy swords? There were no guns in the first century, the equivalent was a sword. So Jesus essentially advised his disciples to arm themselves. But there were already two swords at the Last Supper.
And have you forgotten the Biblical injunction that “If one comes to pillage you or to slay you, take up your sword and slay him?”
Of course, I could go on this way at length. But stretch your memory and see if you can think of one – just one – restrictive gun law that has ever reduced crime and violence. You cannot – because despite all the propaganda, no such law exists. Not in England, not in Europe, not in Asia, not in South America, not anywhere in the world. Instead, every law that restricts law abiding citizens access to weapons has increased crime and violence. Each and every time.
So informed people will consider your words – and reject them.
Stranger



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm


Look, the guns are a red herring. The question is the acceptability/prohibition of armed self-defense under Christian principles. Whether someone is killed with a gun, a rock, a knife, or a spoon is immaterial. That’s part of the problem with the original screed…it was about gun control. Do you really think God would prefer me to kill someone with a club to the head rather than a gun?



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Andy

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm


To further speak to the people kill people idea:
Let’s say a gun does go off unintentionally/accidentally and kill someone. What a tragedy. This still does not make the gun the problem. Rather, it is further evidence (albeit mysterious evidence with no explanation) that our world is one in need of redemption.
Other things accidentally happen and kill people too. I’m sure we can all think of a myriad of examples of this. A natural gas leak that leads to explosion, amusement park rides malfunctioning, brakes going out on a car, etc. None of these accidents should necessitate one to try and abolish cars, amusement parks, or the use of natural gas.
I am not a fan of guns in the home personally. Also, I think in most circumstances it is foolish to think having a firearm and using it on an intruder is a good idea. We do have to take Jesus seriously.
All that being said, hunting can be good and owning a gun is not wrong. These things are not addressed, in my opinion, in the New Testament.



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm


Good for you Andy. You are quite right that guns are not addressed in the NT. Violence however is, as are the things that are and are not compatible with loving your neighbor and your enemy. Listen for example to Rom. 12.17-21.
BW3



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ben witherington

posted January 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm


Actually Jesus did not tell them to buy swords. He told them quite succinctly— ‘enough of that’ (it shouldn’t be translated ‘that will be enough’ which would be a sarcastic comment at best). And what happens when Peter tries to protect Jesus with the sword? He stops Peter, heals the wound, and tells Peter that violence will only end up being the cause of your own demise! You need to learn your Bible better Stranger.
BW#



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Trav

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm


I want to add a bit of perspective as an outsider.
I’m an Australian and have only ever visited the States once. But I constantly look on in horror as I hear all these stories of American shootings. I was particularly horrified at the Tucson Shooting as a good mate of mine from Australia moved to Tucson only 6 weeks ago.
It seems extremely bizarre to me that people would feel the need to have a gun for self defense. No one needs a gun for self defense. People rarely open fire on random strangers! And in the case of a premeditated attack such as Tucson, it was actually an old lady who saved the day WITHOUT the use of a gun. I doubt a gun would’ve been particularly helpful in that situation.
As Ben points out, most of the time these situations don’t work out the way we planned. Watch the old Western movie Unforgiven (1992, Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman) for some examples of what happens when normal people think they can use their guns- a well trained assassin (Eastwood) will easily kill 10 people simply because his opponents hands were shaking when they picked up their guns.
Guns don’t help anyone, all they do is contribute to the alarmingly high rate of shootings and homicides in the USA.



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Trav

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm


Oh and in the case of people intruding into someone else’s home, putting aside the point Ben made for a moment, who HONESTLY believes you’re JUSTIFIED in shooting someone who enters their property? What a ludicrous notion. If someone shoots at you, perhaps you’d be justified in shooting back. But someone breaks through your front window, you really think you should shoot to kill? REALLY???
If guns weren’t so widely available, less people would be dying from homicides. There’s so many crazies in the world (such as this Loughtner guy) so we need to be making it MORE difficult for them to act insanely, not EASIER!



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Sailorcurt

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm


‘Thou shalt not kill’ does not have a codicil of addendum
True…except the actual 6th commandment is accurately translated as “You shall not murder” rather than the inaccurate and outdated translation you chose to quote.
Because self-defense is not murder, it does not fall under that commandment.
Listen for example to Rom. 12.17-21.
What, specifically, does revenge have to do with self defense?
The verses you cite don’t decry defending oneself from immediate harm, but rather seeking vengeance and retaliation against one who has wronged you.
Nowhere in the bible, neither old nor new testament, is there a prohibition against defending your life or the lives of other innocents against criminal assault.
Quoting inaccurate translations and/or scriptures out of context to imply that they say something that they most definitely do not is hardly a legitimate basis for the drawing of theological conclusions.



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm


Well, at least you are obliquely answering the question about Luke 22:35-36. I construe your position as that it is a matter of translation, and that properly translated there is no injunction to acquire swords. This is one of the areas where you will have it all over me as I have not studied the scripture in its original text and have no training in translation.
I will mention that I am currently working from the New American Standard Translation in the Ryrie Study Bible, which reads:
“And He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise, also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.’”
I construe this as an instruction to sell the clothes off your back if you need to in order to arm yourself.
I will research other translations. Thank you for the guidance on that point.



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Pete

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm


“Christian reflection has sought a fuller and deeper understanding of what God’s commandment prohibits and prescribes. [43]There are in fact situations in which values proposed by God’s Law seem to involve a genuine paradox. This happens for example in the case of legitimate defense, in which the right to protect one’s own life and the duty not to harm someone else’s life are difficult to reconcile in practice.
Certainly, the intrinsic value of life and the duty to love oneself no less than others are the basis of a true right to self-defense. The demanding commandment of love of neighbor, set forth in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus, itself presupposes love of oneself as the basis of comparison: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself ” (Mk 12:31). Consequently, no one can renounce the right to self-defense out of lack of love for life or for self. This can only be done in virtue of a heroic love which deepens and transfigures the love of self into a radical self-offering, according to the spirit of the Gospel Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:38-40). The sublime example of this self-offering is the Lord Jesus himself.
Moreover, “legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the State.” [44]Unfortunately it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life. In this case, the fatal outcome is attributable to the aggressor whose action brought it about, even though he may not be morally responsible because of a lack of the use of reason[.45]”
-John Paul II – Evangelium Vitae: On the Value and Involubility of Human Life by Pope John Paul II 25March1995
http://www.catholicmil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48:john-paul-ii-evangelium-vitae-on-the-value-and-involubility-of-human-life-by-pope-john-paul-ii-25march1995&catid=47:popes-john-paul-ii&Itemid=79



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm


Trav,
Again, the guns are a red herring. I presume, then, that you are OK with me stabbing an armed intruder in my home? Or beating him senseless, perhaps to death, with a baseball bat? Get past the “gun thing” and looking at the larger principle of armed self defense. If someone is stabbed or beaten to death they are still just as dead as if they were shot.



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Sailorcurt

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm


Actually Jesus did not tell them to buy swords. He told them quite succinctly— ‘enough of that’ (it shouldn’t be translated ‘that will be enough’ which would be a sarcastic comment at best).
Your contention is that Jesus told his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy swords…but when they said “we already have two swords” he slapped them down?
And that somehow actually makes sense in your world?
The point Jesus was making was that He was no longer going to be around to care for them and protect them, so they would have to be prepared to care for themselves.
He wasn’t telling them to arm up to start a war, or to fight against the Roman government…that would have absolutely been contrary to His teachings…He was telling them to be prepared to defend themselves against criminals.
When he told them to get some swords for this purpose, they replied that they already had two swords…which would, most likely, be sufficient for that purpose. No sarcasm necessary for the exchange to make perfect sense when taken in the correct context.
And what happens when Peter tries to protect Jesus with the sword? He stops Peter, heals the wound
And tells Peter to throw the sword away and never touch it again because swords are EEEVIL…right?
Oh, wait…no He doesn’t. He tells Peter to put the sword back into its place.
Why? Again…a little context is in order. Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion was the fulfillment of prophesy. A prophesy that Jesus had just been warning his disciples was about to come to fruition.
Jesus didn’t tell Peter to THROW his sword way, but rather to PUT it away, because it wasn’t appropriate to use it at THAT time…not that it was NEVER appropriate to defend oneself.
and tells Peter that violence will only end up being the cause of your own demise!
No…what he tells Peter is that those who practice violence as a way of life (those who live by the sword)…those for whom violence is the first resort rather than the last…will die by violence.
Again, look at the context. Jesus was not being assaulted by criminals but was being arrested by legitimate governmental authority.
He was not telling Peter that all violence is bad, but that violence under those circumstances was not appropriate.
PUT it away…not THROW it away.
You need to learn your Bible better Stranger.
And I’m thinking you need to spend a little more time reading The Word with an emphasis on trying to understand the message, rather than in an effort to force the message into a shape that supports your preconceived notions.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/bibleandculture/2011/01/guns-and-religion—-enough-is-quite-enough.html#preview#ixzz1Amu6pCxE



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm


A survey of translations from http://bible.cc/luke/22-36.htm for Luke 22:36 seem pretty consistent, and the commentary they list on that page from a number of sources support the theory of justified armed self-defense or, alternatively, that it is an allegory of arming oneself against danger somehow. I suppose one can then take it as they wish since there is no agreement among the learned. At any rate, the 20 or so translations are consistent that the Disciples are enjoined to procure a sword, whatever that might mean.



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Trav

posted January 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm


Ank, I understand your point about self defense. But as Ben has gone to pains to point out, the purpose of a gun is to KILL! A knife wound would probably just slow the intruder down.
Look at the big picture- people only think they need guns to defend themselves because people are shooting each other all the time. If guns were made MUCH more difficult to attain, there would be less shooting going on (See Australia’s homicide rates for example) and people would realize they don’t need a gun to defend themselves.
Regardless of any other argument the bottom line is this: Guns are designed to kill. Your society would be a much safer place if less people had them.
Arguing for guns on the basis of “personal safety” or “self defense” and the like is ridiculous in the context of the homicide rates which are higher than other civilized, first world nations. History and stats show us that guns help people kill each other, rather than help people defend themselves.



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm


The purpose of a gun is whatever the person shooting it puts it to. sometimes that is to kill. Sometimes the killing is a person, but I’ve only ever known a couple of people who intended to put it to that use. And those CRIMINALS would just as soon as run over their victims with a car as shoot them. Everyone else I know uses them for hunting or target shooting. And that would include about 80% of my family and friends. Several score people, anyway.
I AM looking at the big picture. I haven’t felt like I needed to defend myself in a long, long time, and never with a weapon. I still own a gun. Why? Because I enjoy hunting and target shooting. I am not arguing gun ownership on the premise of “self defense” or “personal safety”. To the extent I would argue gun ownership, I would argue that it is my right as a citizen under the US Constitution, motivation be damned.
The notion of “self defense” and “personal safety” were injected by the original gun control screed by Dr. Witherington. In this debate, I don’t care if we are talking about a rock, a club, a gun, an RPG, a hand grenade, or an A-bomb.
You may have noticed that the recent comments have drifted away from the notion of guns to armed self defense. Again, get over the “gun thing” and look at the bigger picture.



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Trav

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm


And thats the only way Australians can legally own a gun. They apply for a license, for hunting etc. Therefore Ank, if you lived in Australia you’d still be able to have your gun.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with hunting etc, but I do have a problem with people being able to get their hands on a gun as easily as getting their hands on a remote controlled car.



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Ank

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm


Good thing you live in Australia then. Seems like everyone is happy. :)
Btw, a criminal in jail for attempted murder of police officer has threatened my life upon his release. Repeatedly. Just curious…what would you do if you were in my shoes and he was released? Would you wait to see if he was serious? Would you arm yourself? If he was serious, would you just wait to die? Again, just curious.



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Trav

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm


And re the US constitution…
“To the extent I would argue gun ownership, I would argue that it is my right as a citizen under the US Constitution, motivation be damned.”
That doesn’t hold any weight with anyone who’s arguing purely and simply for what they believe will lead to the betterment of society.
If I was arguing with a Muslim that their society would be better off if people WEREN’T stoned to death for adultery, it would kind of miss the point for them to respond by saying “As far as I’m concerned, Sharia Law allows me to do it!”



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Trav

posted January 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm


Thats a good question that last one.
Leave it with me (its 3pm here “down under” and I have work to do!). Cheers!



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bw

posted January 12, 2011 at 12:19 am


dr. witherington,
i get that you see the teaching of Jesus superseding the OT ethical teachings — and to some degree, i agree with you. certainly, Jesus has the right to interpret the OT authoritatively. but i still think there are substantial questions that i wish you’d at least address:
- is it ever biblically justifiable to use violence to defend oneself or innocents? i used the example of an attack on my wife or daughters earlier; this is not a case of self-protection per se, but of defending the weaker and innocent. is that wrong? or taking me out of the equation, should my daughters not commit violence against a rapist because the gospel is about self-sacrifice, not self-protection?
- is using violent force against someone automatically unloving? example: a six year old is being bullied at school. should we tell him to submit to getting beaten up every day and having his lunch money taken? or is it legitimate for him to fight back? the goal in this case would be to get the bully to stop (vs. to kill him) and act better; arguably, i think that’s better for the bully as well. i wonder if peter cartwright might agree.
- while i agree with you that Jesus can supersede previous understandings of the OT, can we dismiss the ethical teachings of the entire older testament so easily? what of Jesus’ own assertion that he was not abolishing the law and the prophets, but fulfilling them, and that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until it was fulfilled?
these are not rhetorical questions. i’m really interested in what you think, though i recognize that it is probably not practical for you to answer every question. but i hope you’ll get a chance to at least touch on them at some point.
-b



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Jeff L

posted January 12, 2011 at 1:08 am


Random thoughts:
Next to the belief in American exceptionalism, worship of guns and the myth of redemptive violence are the most common forms of idolatry in the United States.
It’s incredible how people twist Scripture around to justify violence. As Ben suggests, Jesus was not encouraging the apostles to carry swords, he was angry because after three years of living with him day and night they STILL didn’t get the message. The gospel is countercultural and counterintuitive: though “common sense” tells us that might makes right, self-sacrificial love is the greatest force in the universe. Indeed, it’s what has redeemed all of us.
The questioning of Dr. Witherington’s knowledge of the Bible and history is unbelievable. He’s forgotten more about these subjects than most of you will ever know.
Satan must be dancing with glee.



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Crotalus (Don't Tread on Me)

posted January 12, 2011 at 1:21 am


“Thou shalt not kill”, and yet, God commanded David to wage war, where people die, David slew Goliath all by himself (well, with God’s help, but no one else killed Goliath for him). Then, there’s Exodus 22:2, where if a thief is caught in the act at night, there shall be no bloodguilt if he dies. And in the New Testament, Jesus Himself says “Sell your cloak and buy a sword.” Jesus does not eschew weapons, even if this sword was meant to be used for His glory by the healing of the servant’s ear. Finally, “Thou shalt not kill” has been more properly translated into “Thou shalt not murder”. I believe that “live by the sword, die by the sword” means taking up a life of violence. Someone will fight back and win, and the attacker dies. Being Christian does not mean giving up our guns. Christian men fought in the War for Independence, and they killed when it became necessary.
As far as the 2A, it wasn’t written until 1791, so how does it apply to the Colonists? By that time we had won our War, and were an independent nation. It simply isn’t about individual ownership of guns? It simply is about that. The Minutemen were private citizens with their own firearms, powder, and ball, ready to answer the call to arms. (“Minutemen”. Ready at a minute’s notice. Get it?)
The rest of your stuff is just the same old crap we hear from the Bradys, etal. Sorry. Not interested in that snake oil.



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ben witherington

posted January 12, 2011 at 9:01 am


I think this has been a useful venting, which is in part what blogs are for, and there have been some good points made along the way. When Romans 12 says do good to your enemies, this does not include using violence against them for the purpose of self-protection. Defending yourself without the use of lethal force is certainly an option, as is defending others, but if you take away the life of another in the process, you have indeed violated another commandment, namely the one to do good to those who hate you. I understand the hypothetical question about protecting one’s spouse and children entirely. My point would be there are many ways to accomplish that without using lethal force. But let us suppose out of anger or fear you do use lethal force, in a lesser of two evils situation. You didn’t absolutely have to do so, but you saw it as the best option. If you do this, you still will need as a Christian to repent of this sin afterwards, for it is indeed a sin to take another human life, even in a good cause.
As for what Luke says, you cannot interpret Luke 22 outside of what has already been said in Luke 6 for example. Praying for those who physically persecute and abuse you is at the opposite end of the spectrum from shooting them. And yes, Jesus is telling his disciples that they must not act like the bullying rulers of this world with their weapons. They are to approach life as servants. And yes Jesus is either being disgusted (‘that’s enough’) or being sarcastic when the disciples say ‘we’ve got two swords’ and he replies “well that should certainly be enough” when he knows of course they will face a huge entourage of temple police, John’s Gospel says a whole cohort! And the aphorism ‘those who live by the sword, will die by the sword’ is a warning to never start down the path of using lethal force, lest you be caught up in the cycle of violence.
What most strikes me about some of these responses, and what is most chilling is how the civic religion trumps Christianity in some of these posts, and Christianity is used to justify a position which the earliest church in the 2nd-3rd centuries totally rejected. I stand with the earliest interpreters of the Sermon on the Mount, who among other things said, Christians trying to obey Jesus cannot serve in the Roman army. In the end, I don’t much care whether I am right in my interpretation of our Constitution. What I do care about is faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is frequently at odds with the American justification of revolution and violence. It is laughable to suggest that you could justify the American Revolution from the Bible on the basis of no taxation without representation. What the NT says, when there were gnarly emperors and no democracy at all is pay your taxes! (Rom. 13).
In other words, the American project and dream, is at odds with what the Bible says on a whole host of subjects. But that is a post for another day.
BW3
Blessings on you all as you wrestle with this.



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ParatrooperJJ

posted January 12, 2011 at 10:37 am


As a side note both howitzers and cannons are considered Title II weapons and are federally legal to own with payment of a $200 tax.



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Charles

posted January 12, 2011 at 10:47 am


1) Myth Number One—- ‘Guns don’t kill people’.
Mine must not be working properly. I have hand them in my home for more than 40 years and they have yet to kill a single person. I have carried one for years and it too has refrained from violence. Fearing a tool is irrational. Understanding that there is evil in the world and that sometimes that evil must be confronted and defeated as a personal responsibility makes more sense. I take the responsibility of gun ownership quite seriously. I am not unusual, I am the rule not the exception. Madmen are the exception and you don’t make policy that effects everyone based on exceptions.
2) Myth Number Two.. And how would you define a “police state” ? Would that be a state where only the police are armed? Why do you think that a policeman taking a life to defend you is somehow less a sin than you defending yourself. Why would you hire someone to commit a sin that you would not? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? Look, an armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity and there will always be plenty of evil men willing to take up arms against the innocent. How has it worked out in ALL of the other nations where the people have been disarmed?
3) Myth Number Three— The Constitution and the Bill of Rights gives the private citizen the right to own whatever gun his heart desires.
I almost didn’t bother with this since you have it ALL wrong. “In the first place, the law was originally set up allowing each of the colonies to have militias.” This is nonsense. Stop getting your information from the anti-gun crowd and read what the founders actually said.
“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for few public officials.” (George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 425-426)
http://www.godseesyou.com/2nd_amendment_quotes.html
The 2nd amendment means just what it says and the PEOPLE mentioned there are the very same people mentioned in the other amendments. Taken in the context of the many, many quotes by the founders, it is very clear that they meant ‘we the people’. Also. Remember that those muskets were “State Of The Art” Assault Weapons in their day. The founders expected men to be armed with the common arms of soldiers. Your average soldier does not carry a cannon, but he does carry a rifle and a pistol.
You can hate it. Amendments can be changed, but don’t distort what the founders meant when they said it.
4) Myth Number Four— Hunting Animals (e.g. Deer) is a Sport
Are you a VEGAN or do you have other people kill the animals for you? Do you think that cow and pig comes in little plastic packages or that perhaps someone has to kill them for you? Is killing animals ok as long as you don’t see it?
Hunting is a “sport” because of the orginal definition of the word.
The oldest definition of sport in English (1300) is of anything humans find amusing or entertaining. Other meanings include gambling and events staged for the purpose of gambling; hunting; and games and diversions, including ones that require exercise.
5) Myth Number Five— The Best Way to Protect Yourself and Your Family is to Buy Guns
We might agree here. The problem that is ignored by the statistics is that the people that run out and buy guns for protection HAVE A REASON. Either they are already threatened, or they live in an area that is already high crime. Again. I’ve had guns in my home for 40+ years. My kids were around them all the time and were taught how to safely handle them at an early age. Why punish me because other people do not behave the same way?
Every year, people in the United States use a gun to defend themselves against criminals an estimated 2,500,000 times- more than 6,500 people a day, or once every 13 seconds. (Fall 1995, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology)
This means that, each year, firearms are used 65 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.
Would you change that?
Finally. “But even if you ignore everything I’ve just said, or disagree with it all, I have to tell you that shooting someone is a terrible witness for Christ”
Here we totally agree. Shooting someone should be the very last resort, used only to defend yourself or loved ones from imminent and physical harm or death. Sometimes the last resort is just that.



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D C Cramer

posted January 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm


Nice polemics! Regarding myth #5 (and the main thrust of your post), have you seen John Howard Yoder’s little book, What Would You Do? Excellent response to the guns-for-self-protection notion, esp. for Christians.



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Andy

posted January 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm


Violence toward people is addressed in the NT–agreed. Hunting animals is not, unless I am forgetting something. The right of a citizen to own a weapon is not addressed either. Plenty of people like to target shoot, though I’m not suggesting that is the majority of gun owners.
The sore spot of the post for me is that it seemed to be reactionary and put responsibility on a created thing (guns) rather than people–the cause of violence.
Guns and the religious right and civic religion and all of that stuff should be called out for their confusion. I just hope that disdain for the confusion of some ‘religious folk’ on the issue of guns and Christianity (that somehow they go together) does not cloud the larger issue: the sinfulness of people. Being sinful has nothing to do with guns and guns do not cause violence between human beings.



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Your NameDrane Reynolds

posted January 13, 2011 at 1:50 am


What is shocking is that so many christians take the side of violence against human beings when jesus christ the word of god in the flesh clearly forbids it. The arguments presented in these comments are for the most part not biblical. they’re practical they embrace others or other authorities over christ. Fact is, nowhere in the new testament may a christian taken anothers life. Even in the vaunted battle of armageddon christians are martyred, never do they kill. I wouldn’t mind being scorned by non christians because the church was being faithful, but sadly I find myself too often identifying with non christians because christians so often tend to be volent and sometimes hateful.
Please pardon the poor form. Computer is down this is being sent from my phone.



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ben witherington

posted January 13, 2011 at 7:55 am


Andy obviously people are responsible for violence. That’s not the issue. The issue is that weapons are indeed a vital contributary part of the problem and the failure to admit this is bordering on sinful obstinence. I am not taking aim at target shooting in this post, or even mainly deer hunting, though I would suggest if you want it to be a challenge, you should go with a bow and arrows. My concern is that weapons in the hands of most people, are very dangerous things, and Christians need to take a totally different approach to weapons than non-Christians if they want to be obedient to the Gospel, namely they need to abstain from having weapons, particularly weapons whose sole purpose is killing or doing violence to other human beings. Lastly, what Jesus said about self-defense is ‘turn the other cheek’. Not exactly an endorsement of ‘I must protect myself or my family with lethal weapons. Enough said.



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ben witherington

posted January 13, 2011 at 8:02 am


My concern in this post is not with target shooting, or even primarily with hunting, though I have had friends that got shot while deer hunting. My concern is with humans doing harm to other humans with guns, in particular guns that have no other purpose than to harm, maim, or kill other human beings. Jesus did not say, ‘killing others is o.k. in self defense’. What he said about self-defense is if someone attacks you, turn the other cheek. You can look it up in the Sermon on the Mount. He said if someone comes wanting your cloak, give it to them, not ‘shoot them when you catch them taking your stuff’. My concern is especially with Christians who are oblivious to the fact that they are called to a higher standard when it comes to violence and killing than others. My concerns are with Christians who are oblivious to the dangers of even having weapons in the house. My concerns are with Christians who dishonor the prince of peace with their violent behavior, and then try to justify their behavior with some of the rhetoric we have heard in some of these posts. Enough Said.



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concerned

posted January 13, 2011 at 10:29 am


If you want to have credibility in this subject, you need to stop referring to magazines as “clips”.
Also, the Bill of Rights does not “give” rights. It recognizes pre-existing rights.
It would appear that some research on your part is needed, Ben.



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George

posted January 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm


some of the examples comparing guns to cars, spoons, etc don’t make much sense. A car is made with the purpose of transporting people or goods from point A to point B. A spoon is made for eating. Accidents such as a drunk driver killing people was not part of the cars design our purpose. In the case of a guns, especially modern guns, there are designed with the purpose of employing lethal force. These are 2 very different things.
Yes convicts in prison can use spoons, toothbrushes, etc to kill, but they must first repurpose them into a harmful or deadly weapon. Example- sharpening the end of a toothbrush.



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Matthew Groom

posted January 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm


You know, with Christians like you running around Ben, the Muslims are definitely gonna win. Your brand of Christianity is weak and cowardly, constantly seeking a moral justification for your social impotence. Your lack of knowledge on the subject of firearms, the Constitution, Crime Statistics, and Common Sense can only be matched by your lack of logic:
“It would only be a sport if two teams could play, which is to say, it would only be a sport if the deer were armed and allowed to fire back!” So, war is a sport? Maybe that’s why so many have occurred. Which team do you think is winning?
I can only assume that the fact that you didn’t cite any sources for your silly opinion means that you know at least subconsciously that the facts and reality are not on your side, and neither is scripture.



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Rod Groom

posted January 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm


Dr. Witherington, I admire many of your writings and books, but I disagree with you here. I keep firearms for defense, self-defense and defense of others. It is a violent world, and while I may or may not choose to defend myself with a firearm, my failure to not defend others when I could have easily done so would be a moral failure on my part. Not learning how to safely use, keep, store and maintain personal weapons is also a moral failure. But trusting others, and especially government to defend your loved ones, is pure folly. I am a United Methodist, married to a United Methodist minister who hates and fears firearms. I am also a retired institutional corrections major and probation officer. Weapons are tools, dangerous tools, to be sure, but tools nonetheless. There are dozens of ways the killer in Tucson could have killed and hurt all those poor people without a gun, and perhaps more quickly as well. We are all sinners in need of grace, but that does not mean we do not do our part to make the world a little less dangerous by responsibly policing ourselves and others. Superficial and impatient rhetoric on either side of an issue does not help anyone, but further polarizes all of us who should be working together.



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George

posted January 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm


I thought this was a pretty good article that throws some perspective on the issue at hand. It talks about how one of the heroes in the tragedy in Tuscon, Arizon was actually carrying a gun and almost shot the wrong person. I guess this kind of goes against some of the hardcore gun enthusiast who say ‘if one more person would of had a gun the tragedy could have been prevented’. Well maybe so, but it could of actually gotten worse as the wrong choice in a split-second decision could have killed an innocent person.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41018893/ns/slatecom/
chao



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Mat

posted January 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm


Amen Dr Ben! I love it when you post on Christian sacrificial non-violence. You keep it in line with the commands of Jesus and His actions as well as those of the disciples – while I notice the dissenters are willing to justify themselves without any support from Jesus. This topic needs to be addressed way more in Christian churches.



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Lewis

posted January 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm


Hi Ben,
Two comments..
1. Hunting? I think that since Noah; hunting has been regarded as OK. Did the fish Jesus served at Easter breakfast just jump in the pan? Well, maybe for him, or maybe he stepped on it…just kidding. But I think that hunting is in such a different ethical category that this reference weakens your point. This is especially true since there is a movement in our society that absolutely equates the value of a cat with a person.
2. The sword issue. I have lived a while with people who carried swords virtually all the time. Their uses were varied as could be. They were defense tools. They were for protection against animals. They were used most often as tools for fire wood, cutting brush, harvesting leaves for animals etc. I’m not sure first century swords would have such uses but they might have.
Anyway, hope the snow isn’t too overwhelming!



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Matthew Groom

posted January 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm


Hey George, in your own comment you acknowledge that a person carrying concealed ALMOST made a fatal mistake, but didn’t. Is this too much for you to comprehend? If it wasn’t for the brave individuals who stopped the guy, some of whom were armed, then it would have been made worse. The people carrying stopped it, as they always do. The people like you, who run away instead of trying to save people, make things worse.
And to the rest of you fools who think that Jesus wants you to stand still and be good victims, or worse, allow others to die because of your own cowardice, you don’t know anything about the gospels at all. Shame on each and every one of you. I only hope that if God chooses to test any of you, no innocents die when you fail.



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Andy

posted January 14, 2011 at 12:13 am


Dr. Witherington, I appreciate your above comments and the clarification of your points. I agree with your comments on Christians and self-defense, as well as with your understanding of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In my opinion, your comments made the point better than your original post.
An uzi is likely not purchased for target practice or hunting and I am not sure why this or similar guns are so readily available. It would serve society well to stop making these accessible.
As hunting with a bow is a greater challenge than hunting with a rifle, so is the challenge for Christians to resist violence rather than to retaliate.



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Damien

posted January 14, 2011 at 5:49 am


Dear Dr. Witherington,
As a pacifist, I agree that Christianity implies self-sacrifice and that it is not acceptable for Christians to advocate the use of violence as a way to solve problems. Similarly, I do not believe that Christians should be involved in the conduct of war, which is in most cases about the furtherance of worldly aims (e.g. illusory “safety”, the conquest of more territory, etc.).
As a Christian, I would advise everyone to stop thinking about such matters in a worldly fashion.
That being said, as a matter of public policy, I would be reluctant to push for mandatory pacifism. I happen to believe in the separation of Church and State and I am unwilling to use the law of the land as a means of spreading my understanding of the Gospel. While I may wish that fewer people would use lethal force against others, I also realize that most people are not Christians and even fewer are Christian pacifists, and that the law should not be used to impose minority views on the entire citizenry.
I think that the evidence shows that most bans fail to produce what they sought to achieve and can even be counterproductive. Prohibition did not make alcohol disappear, it simply enabled the mob to make huge profits and needlessly killed many. The war on drugs has not made addiction disappear, it has merely brought violence and destruction to poor areas as gangs vie for control of a lucrative market. The recent bans on texting while driving have not solved anything but have also made things worse, as people continue to text but position their phones lower to avoid detection, which has resulted in more accidents.
Regarding the Constitution, I think that the evidence shows that there is an individual right to keep and bear arms. Implementing stringent gun control laws would require a constitutional amendment. This is a requirement, especially if, as Christians, we believe that we have a duty to obey the law. This is not to say that the Constitution is “sacred”, as so many in the US seem to believe.
As a final note, I would like to point out that if we are serious about non-violence, it will not do to trust in government and laws to bring about what we perceive to be good outcomes. What distinguishes government from private citizens is that, ultimately, the government bears the sword and can use coercion in a manner that private citizens cannot. It would be paradoxical to compel people to be pacifists through the use of violence, whether actual or threatened, whether personally carried out or delegated to government. When we advocate for more stringent gun control laws, we are lobbying for flesh and blood police officers to use possibly lethal force in the pursuance of our goals.



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Dirk

posted January 14, 2011 at 10:23 am


Right from the start, you display your utter lack of any ability to comprehend simple English. You completely fail to understand the bumper sticker about Rosie.
The point is not that one would try to kill someone with a spoon. The idea is that guns, like spoons, are tools. It wasn’t the spoons themselves that made Rosie fat. It was how they were used. By analogy, it’s not the guns that kill people, it’s the way they are used.
I won’t even begin to debunk the rest of your illogical and ill-conceived babbling, though rest assured that you are 100% wrong in everything you’ve said, and I pity your readers who believe you to be correct. Rather than being sheep, they should do some research on their own, and learn the truth.
The shooter in Tucson used a gun, yes. However, he could have used a car just as easily, and racked up a similar body count.
Here is the point: He wanted to kill someone. The tool he used is irrelevant.



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Larry S

posted January 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm


Excellent! Dr. Witherington this blog post and the way most respondents react indicate that you’ve hit worldview issues. People respond because you’ve challenged their deeply held beliefs.
Your comment about how many respondents come at this from the level of ‘civic’ religion is absolutely correct(January 12, 2011 9:01 AM). Chilling indeed!
And the lack of biblical interpretive skill (hermeneutics) displayed is truly frightening. Some people need to understand what the New Covenant/New Creation is all about.



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George

posted January 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm


Groom,
actually it was the unarmed civilians that subdued the shooter. The one carrying the gun got there after the shooter was subdued. Hence, the shooter was stopped without using lethal force. My point was that just like gun advocates speculate that another armed citizen could have minimized casualties by shooting the suspect, it can be also reasonably speculated that an armed civilian could have led to more chaos. I’ll leave thepersonal attacks aside.
Adios



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Mike Mitchell

posted January 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm


Dr. Witherington,
Regarding the incompatibility of following Christ and shooting people, what if the person to be shot is threatening to kill or molest a child? What if he’s on his way to blow up a building with thousands of innocent civilians? Also, do you think the allied forces were wrong for opposing (shooting and blowing up) the Nazis in WW II? And about hunting, do you think hunting is inherently immoral? Are you a vegetarian? What is the moral difference between hunting and fishing? Certainly fishing is acceptable in light of Jesus making fish for his disciples after the resurrection. I think many of your points on this post are over simplistic.



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James Snapp, Jr.

posted January 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm


Ben,
That was as pitiful a display of density and choplogic as I’ve read in a while. First, let me take a moment to walk you through the “Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O’Donnell fat” saying, which you called “nonsense.” Your response completely missed the point, which should be obvious to anyone who thinks about the saying for a couple of seconds: guns do not kill people, just as spoons do not make people fat. Guns are tools and cannot be directly blamed for the deaths caused by people using guns to shoot people, just as spoons can’t be directly blamed for the obesity caused by people using spoons to shovel food into their mouths.
I believe that guns and Christianity can go well together. You are simply wrong in your assertion that I, and others like me, are living in denial of the gospel. Large books have been written about this and I don’t expect to wrap up the subject with a tidy bow in one blog-comment, but I would ask you to consider extending your principle so as to be consistent: do the military and Christianity go well together? Do the police force and Christianity go well together? If you think that it is okay for a Christian to carry a gun as a licensed officer of the law, then why do you object to the idea of a Christian carrying a gun as a private citizen resolved to use the gun only in defense of life?
About your claim that “Thou shalt not kill” does not allow killing in self-defense, I think it’s pretty obvious that you are reading Scripture very selectively — which makes me mistrust you as an exegete even less than I did before reading this blog-entry. “Turn the other cheek” is just as much a part of Scripture as “Thou shalt not kill,” but if everyone did that, regardless of context and a consideration of other Scriptures, everyone would let mass-murderers keep shooting until they ran out of bullets.
Now about those myths you mentioned. First, you did not really answer the simple statement that guns don’t kill people. You conceded that guns don’t fire themselves. Your objection is that a person would have a harder time killing other people if he did not have a guns. Granted. But people would have a harder time defending themselves and others if they did not have guns, too. Plus, if you pass laws against guns, you’re building a scenario in which law-abiding people will be disarmed, and criminals will remain armed, resulting in an intimidated general population and emboldened criminals. As for banning “assault rifles,” I optimistically — but probably not very realistically — hope that you and your readers know how elastically that term is defined by those who want to ban them.
Second, you answered the statement that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns by observing that law enforcement personnel will also have guns, as well as the military. Granted. The slogan is an overstatement. But surely you cannot fail to see its point. Outlawing guns will embolden criminals who will act on the premise that the chance that their victims will be unable to resist armed assault are increased. Your well-intentioned gun-ban will inculcate an increase in violent crime, while decreasing the typical person’s ability to effectively protect his family.
Your “Myth Number Three” is a straw man. Those who would insist that the second amendment gives private citizens the right to carry weapons of mass destruction are rather few and far between. I won’t spend more time on this straw man.
Your fourth statement, that animal-hunting is not a sport, is just an exercise in semantics that doesn’t really affect the issue one way or another. A deer is not the sort of game that people play, either. If you object to hunting because it results in dead animals, why don’t you protest against slaughterhouses? The animals there are just as dead (and they had less of a chance to escape slaughter than the hunters give them).
Then you stated that statistics show that owning a gun doesn’t really protect people. Nevertheless, if my home is ever invaded and my family is attacked, I would rather have a gun than a report about statistics, and a lot of people feel the same way. What right do you or anyone else have to tell them how to protect their families? There is an element of risk involved in owning a gun, but risks are part of life, Ben. Statistics also show that more children in the USA drown in swimming pools than are killed by gunfire. So if this is really your argument, when will your let’s-ban-swimming-pools blog-entry appear? Plus, you and those statisticians have no way of knowing how many violent acts have been deterred by guns.
Finally, regarding the compatibility of bearing arms and one’s Christian witness, you’re preaching truisms instead of truth. If you think that if Ben Witherington III is to love other people he must make himself incapable of defending them from violent attacks, fine; that’s your personal choice. But when you propose that loving other people means that all private citizens should make themselves incapable of defending them from violent attacks, and that we should force everyone to make themselves incapable of defending themselves and their families (or, in some situations, random strangers) from violent attacks, such proposals are not only irrational but unloving. If shooting a criminal who would otherwise harm or kill someone is a terrible witness for Christ, then what is forcing someone to be harmed or killed when they would have had the means to prevent it if not for your gun-ban? What will your love be to the future victims of violent attacks which the victims would have prevented if they had not been forced by your gun-ban to disarm?
You said that following Christ is not compatible with causing people’s deaths. But your gun-ban will cause people’s deaths — the deaths of innocent victims who would otherwise have thwarted, either by deterrence or defense, violent attacks. The moral equation that you have drawn is ridiculously oversimplified. And as you said, you will have to answer to Jesus for this.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.



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Chris Smith

posted January 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm


I’m not going to get into an argument with anyone here over the interpretation of the American constitution as I’m no expert in these matters – nor will I try to out-scholar the Biblical Scholars (or wannabe scholars) in this thread of comments as I would not be up to the challenge. What I do want to address is what I’m hearing as an overly zealous response from those opposed to Dr. Witherington’s slight of American gun culture.
I am not American, I’m from one of those firearm restricted countries that keep getting thrown around as positive and negative examples. I’m a Canadian – and contrary to popular belief from many of my neighbours to the south – we have guns here too. I have never owned (or even handled) a gun myself but where I’m from (a more rural area of the country) I am part of a very small minority. Most people here use them for hunting (I won’t use the word “sport” let I get drawn into that debate)but some people do use them for self defense. And we do have gun crime here – people use guns to kill people – it happens but no where near at the rate (no matter how you try to paint the numbers) that it happens in the USA. So what’s so different between Canada (and presumably Australia, the UK and other countries) and the USA? I would argue it’s (as one commenter already mentioned) the idolatry of the gun culture.
Someone mentioned earlier that the American Constitution doesn’t give rights but recognizes pre-existing (inalienable – is that the right word?) rights – the whole idea that owning firearms is a right just seems ludicrous to many of us from outside of your borders – no matter where it comes from (and especially if it’s as you claim, some sort of intrinsic right that all humans have because we’re humans too and we don’t feel that way). Guns may or may not be a means to an end of self-protection, self-preservation, or even recreational pursuits but to talk of the possession of firearms as a right makes you all sound a little loopy to the rest of us in other parts of the world. And when I hear so many (presumably by the way you argue) biblically literate Christians arguing from a position that puts gun ownership first and the need to justify it through scriptural interpretation as a means to THAT end – I’m left scratching my head even more.
And before someone accuses me of missing the point and unfairly accusing them of prooftexting and eisegesis – it’s been widely resolved in this thread that there were no guns in biblical times – thus there were no commands concerning guns – any justification for their ownership and use HAS to be therefore prooftexting and eisegesis (not that all such activity is evil – it is certainly necessary based on the 2000 years that have elapsed since the most recent biblical documents – abortion is another such example of that type of study) but that being so we need to come to the text with a much more humble attitude of letting it tell us what our politics should be rather than going the other route and working hard to make the text fit our political views.
I sometimes wonder if Jesus came down today and sided with the gun control lobby (not saying that he would – but let’s talk hypotheticals) how many gun-toting Christians would argue with him?
Remember that all things are permissible but not everything is beneficial. (1 Cor 6:12 and 1 Cor 10:23) Perhaps we should look at guns a little more in this light.
Respectfully,
Chris



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Trav

posted January 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm


Hi, it’s the resident Aussie weighing in again. I’m astounded by two things, mainly:
1. The level of vitriol present in many of the posts towards Dr Witherington.
2. Plenty of people here honestly believe that giving anyone at all- ie: society at large- EASY access to guns actually makes society SAFER because it allows them to defend themselves.
Number 2 is particularly mind boggling.



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Nancy

posted January 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm


Guns Kill!! Period



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Jeffrey

posted January 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm


DR Witherington
Your comments about the 2nd Amendment are respectfully Sir………. are not rooted in historical fact.
So lets go to the sources of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers in their own words
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” –Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book
“[W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.” –Federal Farmer, Anti-federalist Letter, No.18
“One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, 1796
“When the people fear government, there is tyranny…
When government fears the people, there is liberty.”
Thomas Jefferson
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
THOMAS JEFFERSON
“A free people ought…to be armed…”
GEORGE WASHINGTON
“We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 1824
Then let us look at Article 1 Section 21 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution, by which the 2nd Amendment of the Federal Bill of Rights was crafted after
The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Federalist_Papers
One of the major points of the articles was the danger the new Constitution would bring without a statement of individual rights. Some of the Anti-Federalist concerns were addressed in the Bill of Rights, which was added later
The Federalist Papers (specifically Federalist No. 84) are notable for their opposition to what later became the United States Bill of Rights. The idea of adding a bill of rights to the constitution was originally controversial because the constitution, as written, did not specifically enumerate or protect the rights of the people, rather it listed the powers of the government and left all that remained to the states and the people. Alexander Hamilton, the author of Federalist No. 84, feared that such an enumeration, once written down explicitly, would later be interpreted as a list of the only rights that people had.
However, Hamilton’s opposition to the Bill of Rights was far from universal. Robert Yates, writing under the pseudonym Brutus, articulated this view point in the so-called Anti-Federalist No. 84, asserting that a government unrestrained by such a bill could easily devolve into tyranny. Other supporters of the Bill argued that a list of rights would not and should not be interpreted as exhaustive; i.e., that these rights were examples of important rights that people had, but that people had other rights as well. People in this school of thought were confident that the judiciary would interpret these rights in an expansive fashion. The matter was further clarified by the Ninth Amendment.
Federalist No. 10, which discusses the means of preventing faction and advocates for a large republic (and warns of the dangers of a democracy), is generally regarded as the most important of the 85 articles from a philosophical perspective



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Jeffrey

posted January 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm


“The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals… [I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.” –Albert Gallatin, letter to Alexander Addison, 1789



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Jeffrey

posted January 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm


Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed,and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be,on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to
be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousywill instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.
~ Noah Webster



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Jeffrey

posted January 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm


“[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man,
- who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.”
– George Mason (speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention,
14 June 1778)
“To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government.
The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.” –John Adams



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Jeffrey

posted January 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm


“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. …[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
–A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788



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Jeffrey

posted January 26, 2011 at 11:37 pm


Pastor………… I believe that your Myth #3 has just be debunked.
Ever wonder why the Swiss don’t have any problems??
Ever hear from our less than complete media that guns advert some 2 million crimes per year? Nah, they just report the negative stuff.
When an 80 year old lady’s house is broken into and a few thugs see her with a gun and they run, does THAT make the news??
How about a lifelong North Carolina anti-gun law maker who shoots an intruder into breaks into his home with a shotgun…… how come he makes laws to stop the rest of us from protecting ourselves under those awful circumstances, but that doesn’t apply to him??
Do I see a double standard here??
Pastor I think its time for some truth



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Jeffrey

posted January 27, 2011 at 7:51 am


Dr, with respect to your statement from way above, (your exact words not mine)”Excellent. I clearly have struck a nerve. But as for expertise in the Bible, I will not take a backseat to any of you folks”.
What I see here is clearly a demonstration of arrogance which is Biblically forbidden. Now as for us not so intelligent and most certainly unequaled intellectually common folk out here, I tell you that there are folks equally or more educated in the field, equally or more positioned in the “church” and equally or more ordained and equally or more spiritual and versed and studied in Biblical Scripture and history who disagree with you. Now what I’d like to see more than being the big guy on the block here on your blog, is you debate on an intellectual level with those of your PEERS who you disagree with. I do not know his position on this subject but lets say someone who is like a Dr Charles Stanley.
Now with all respect I must also point out another thing……. see you were/are clearly wrong on your statement and position about the militia. A man of your education should have done the homework. So I question with you being so wrong technically and historically on that subject, what else can you be so wrong about?
And finally I remember all the buzz about a guy named Rick Warren, how wonderful he is and his big church, his writing of “A Purpose Driven Life” etc. Then he comes out in support of a Democrat. His statements on marriage interesting and his involvement in the Council on Foreign Relations……… so then I must ask such a powerful man of the cloth is so involved with seemingly one side of the political spectrum. I then began to wonder “what’s his REAL objective”?
Well Sir that is what I am beginning to wonder with regard to you and your points.
See violence is stupid. But self defense is the real point here. There are pastors of your equal “credentials” who disagree with your interpretation of Scripture. Now what all these nice people who are reading your viewpoint have to wonder is “which one of these pastors interpretations is right”?
I have seen your opposite view point supported numerous times over by scholars and theologians by using the whole Bible. And by the way some/many of them do not own a gun. Its sort of like a judge who is opinionated on a topic but who clearly reads the law for what it says, not what they emotionally feel.
So again I ask which one of you pastor types is correct? Based upon what I have seen read and studied, I see from those more knowledgeable than I (and my own study as well) that violence is to be avoided at all costs and love your brother even if he is your enemy, but evil when it confronts you squarely is to be destroyed. See God made each and every one of us in His image. Was that to be destroyed by evil? I think not
Finally pastor, I ask you……. are women to be raped and lay there and take it as “Gods will”?? How would one justify THAT??
Sir its time to put this behind us and focus on the coming of Christ



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Jeffrey

posted January 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm


Again an exact quote from above
“He stops Peter, heals the wound, and tells Peter that violence will only end up being the cause of your own demise! You need to learn your Bible better Stranger”.
“tells Peter that violence will only end up being the cause of your own demise”
I ask someone to point me to the EXACT Scriptural reference where this is explicitly stated? (violence will only end up being the cause of your demise)
“Nothing about self-protection by using violence.”
Again this depends upon the interpretation of the Scripture (ie Luke 11:21-22 as an example)and in combination with all other Scripture
“As Ben suggests, Jesus was not encouraging the apostles to carry swords, he was angry because after three years of living with him day and night they STILL didn’t get the message”.
Jesus disciples were armed that is a historical fact. No where in Scripture did he tell them “disarm if you wish to follow me”
The will/want to kill or do evil is in the mind and in the heart. A gun makes it easier, but we have all seen those old movies of the times of kings where armies and legions of men attack each other with swords, spears and catapults. The will to kill will find a way to kill if every gun in the universe was gone tomorrow. Those perpetrating evil will use another means……… oh like an airplane filled with innocent people flown into a building
Avoiding the conflict……. yup agreed. Even current law requires that one must attempt to remove oneself before using force. In the case of Castle Doctrine states. one must still PROVE that they were “justified” in using such force, or its a murder charge. Now with that said, stand in the way of that attacker who has a weapon in front of some innocent that you are protecting, you are unarmed he slays you dead. Now they get the prize! The object perhaps of their attack in the first place, a wife a child a what ever. Same goes for slipping out the back door. Good idea get the heck out of there! BUT if you are unarmed and the attacker IS armed or physically stronger or faster and meets you out there somewhere and cuts off your escape route/plan, I guess ya just lay down and die. Yup then revert back up to what I just stated, you the shield hence protector are now dead and the innocent is left for the evil to have its fun



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Luken

posted February 10, 2011 at 12:40 am


Ben, You really should just avoid the gun topic.
Once again your arrogance and ignorance on this topic is profound. I feel sorry for your son who must know his own father would not defend his life for him. Do you routinely spit upon God’s gifts? Is your life so worthless to you that you would not end one life to save one or more lives? Have you so readily forsaken your duties of headship and protection over your family?
For you to claim that there is no need for private ownership of guns because the police and military have them for our protection is one of the silliest comments I have ever heard you spew. Are police not men? Are military personnel not men? Are they some how exempt from the evils that plague mens souls? Are they more virtuous than other men that they would never abuse the power they would be given over an utterly defenseless populace? Anti-gun rhetoric such as what you are proclaiming is totalitarian nonsense and you should be ashamed for such bold faced ignorance in promotion of such authoritarian evil.
Educate yourself on these matters you self righteous twit.
FYI I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat and care little for their silly play acting at godhood that you obviously so readily endorse in your on going worship of the omni-benevolent state.



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Baggas

posted February 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm


Excellent courageous post Ben.
It’s times like this I’m thankful I live in Australia where our govt took the sensible approach and banned most hand guns and automatic weapons. Aside from some agricultural uses, there is no legitimate reason why people should have deadly weapons designed to kill humans in their homes
It scares me that people are making a religious issue out of this and trying to use scripture to defend their right to own guns designed to kill.



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scott

posted February 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm


As a christian and a private citizen who is required to carry a firearm every day for work, I am going to have to disagree. A man with a knife can kill a large group of people quickly. A firearm is just a tool. Also if we ban firearms law enforcement will still have them. That is true. But when someone threathens your life I urge you to call 911 and see how long it takes the police to get to you. I am required to carry a firearm everyday for work, but I am not a law enforcement officer. If you ban firearms for private owners your banks, hospitals and other private areas will not have armed security there because security in many sates are viewed just like every other citizen. They wont be allowed to have firearms. I understand what happened was horrible but baning firearms is not the answer



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Anon

posted February 24, 2011 at 10:15 am


This post & comments make one thing clear:
People aren’t open to change their views on this subject
There have been clear, lucid comments on several opposing points – and still no one’s mind has been changed (including my own – I enjoy guns and the freedom to own them).
This makes me wonder … if we are all agreed that we’ll “stick to our guns” (bad pun/metaphor) on this issue, why not also agree to stop discussing it, since it only seems to be polarizing – and therefore counter-productive? If it divides Christians, changes no one and makes us look foolish … let’s just stop.
The same point applies to the moronic signs/bumper stickers pictured here. I passed such a truck yesterday and … it’s embarrassing. It doesn’t change anyone’s view, and it just makes us all look like morons, and it’s bad for our Father’s image (Romans 2.24)



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Jeffrey

posted February 25, 2011 at 10:57 am


Anon
I’ll tell you why, simply because this article is written by a PhD pastor who has written his interpretation of Scripture and I as well as many who are smarter than I and much more educated in Scripture than I (and many of them do NOT own weapons) have come up with the opposite interpretation of Scripture. So what Dr Ben is forcefully saying is that we are wrong as opposed to saying “he disagrees” and supporting by facts as evidenced by the entire Bible. See again there are 2 distinct purposes for the sword, good and evil. If the good people disarm then the evil people will have freewill to do evil and unrestrained evil. God gave us life to do his will, not to be snuffed out by evil.
Also I have not heard the rational argument why is it OK for the highway patrolman to take a life but not the father or husband (or wife) protecting their family in the EXACT SAME situation??
Also please note
In fact, Jesus Himself indicates that the Gospel often divides families.
For example, in Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
Also, if we understand what the Bible teaches about election, we again come to understand that God elects individuals to salvation and that only those that are elect will be saved (John 6:44-65). This indicates that both election and salvation are not corporate but individual in nature. God elects individuals to salvation (Romans 9:6-18), and those that are elect believe and are saved (Acts 13:48).
So I encourage folks to watch Rabbi Bendory’s Video
http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m2/movieplay-nogunsforjews-flv.php
And read
David Kopels essay on “Modern Christian Pacifist Philosophy”
http://davekopel.org/Religion/Pacifism-Kopel.pdf



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Jeffrey

posted February 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm


Baggas
Uh………… I clearly see that you have NOT taken a course in American history, law or philosophy.
So let me repeat the history of respectfully, an American to a non-American
The idea was to protect us
1) from foreign invasion
2) from our government
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
- Cesare Beccaria
“One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, 1796
“When the people fear government, there is tyranny…
When government fears the people, there is liberty.”
Thomas Jefferson
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
THOMAS JEFFERSON
“A free people ought…to be armed…”
GEORGE WASHINGTON
Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed,and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be,on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to
be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousywill instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.
~ Noah Webster
“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. …[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
–A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788
You can keep Ms Rebecca Peterson on your continent and we’ll keep our American heritage on ours



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Jeffrey

posted February 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm


Sorry
Correction (type-o)
You can keep Ms Rebecca Peters on your continent and we’ll keep our American heritage on ours
And I once again urge the reader………. VIOLENCE is not the gun; its the person on the end of what ever weapon they choose……… yes even a car can be used as a lethal weapon
The will to kill is in the mind……… hence why Jesus tells us to rid our minds of such thoughts and keep our thoughts pure, by prayer and focus on the Father



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Jeffrey

posted March 10, 2011 at 9:28 am


Hey bw from January 12, 2011 12:19 AM
These are good points. First off I’ve noticed that I like you am asking Dr Ben for his response and explanation using Scripture to shape his arguement and I again have noticed the deafening silence
Your points about NT vs OT, I have spoken about this quite a bit in that we can NOT simply dismiss the OT in favor of the NT. The Bible is linear not stacked
I raise this issue and ask this question………… WHO was Jesus?
Jesus was/is God in the flesh. And God is God the everlasting God of the continuum and the same God from Genesis to Revelation. God does NOT change nor does his Word. The Word of OT is alive and relevant as its Gods Word in the OT as equal of importance as in the NT. Do not dismiss the OT and use just the NT. God ended the daily sacrifices thru Christ, but many believe that “everything” changed; and I tell you not everything changed. The OT still has its place in combination with the NT. One must take the Bible as a whole not as parts……… God is the same God today as he was in the beginning, and he does NOT contradict Himself



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karen millen uk

posted June 2, 2011 at 8:06 am


Great article about this topic, I have been lately in your blog once or twice now. I just wanted to say hi and show my thanks for the information provided.



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abercrombie Milano

posted August 11, 2011 at 3:32 am


After read blog topic’s related post now I feel my research is almost completed. happy to see that thanks to share this brilliant matter.



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Abercrombie

posted October 31, 2011 at 2:34 am


Thank you for every one of your hard work on this site. Kim enjoys managing investigation and it’s obvious why. Most of us know all regarding the dynamic manner you make helpful tactics through this web site and in addition welcome participation from visitors about this article then our own simple princess is really discovering so much. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the new year. Your conducting a really good job.



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Pingback: Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » On Ben Witherington’s comments regarding firearms

Randwulf

posted November 29, 2011 at 3:10 am


There are many excellent comments on here, so I won’t go into a long comment of my own. I would just like to make a couple of observations.

1. I have not understood any of the anti-gun people on here to give an adequate explanation of Luke 22:36 – “he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” The focus has mainly been on verse 38 (“It is enough”) which can be read in different ways. Verse 36 seems to be straightforward in saying that Jesus was not against weapons per se.

2. The point was made that a father could defend his family against an intruder by stepping between them and the intruder. It was correctly pointed out that if the intruder used lethal force against the father, he still could proceed to harm the family as well. What was not pointed out was the additional fact that even if the intruder was somehow stopped after killing the father, the family would now be deprived of the father’s presence for the rest of their lives. It seems to me it would be the father’s duty to try to stick around for his family, regardless of the intruder’s safety.

I think all of us need to follow James 1:5 and ask God for wisdom regarding this issue.



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abercrombie paris

posted January 12, 2012 at 12:53 am


What a fun pattern! It’s great to hear from you and see what you’ve sent up to. All of the projects look great! You make it so simple to this. Thanks



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jack wills wholesale

posted January 12, 2012 at 1:05 am


I was extremely pleased to find this website. I wanted to thank you for the good understand I definitely enjoying every single small bit of it and We’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.



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Kamaryn

posted January 12, 2012 at 7:44 am


As an outsider (Australian) I can’t understand why in the slightest it matters what ‘rights’ the Second Amendment gives. First, Christians should not be concerned about their rights to begin with, but sacrifice them for the good of others (1 Cor 7-14 pretty much)…

But secondly, I am sure that the vast majority of those here using the 2nd amendment as support oppose abortion – but guess what? Your country’s laws provide the right to abortion as well (I know not the 2nd amendment but official laws the same). Do you think that all of a sudden makes it moral? Of course not! If someone quoted Roe vs Wade as a Christian to justify their right to abortion, you would all shout it down as ludicrous. Whether a country allows something is irrelevant to whether it is moral. So why in the world should the 2nd amendment come into play for this issue? Simple fact is, it doesn’t.



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Abercrombie & Fitch Düsseldorf

posted January 21, 2012 at 11:50 am


It’s great to hear from you and see what you’ve sent up to. All of the projects look great! You make it so simple to this. Thanks



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Abercrombie Fitch Düsseldorf

posted January 21, 2012 at 11:54 am


All of the projects look great! You make it so simple to this. Thanks



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jack wills wholesale

posted January 30, 2012 at 10:19 am


Rick, first of all that is me on the camel taking a picture of my shadow the last time I was riding through Petra in Jordan. Camels were ANE animals and they only showed up in places like Rome, to my knowledge for exotic reasons– like a Roman triumph or some sort



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Wellman T Robey

posted March 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm


I THINK HITLER WOULD REALLY HAVE LOVED YOU. I WONDER WHAT THE SURVIVERS OF THE DEATH CAMPS THINK OF YOU. IF ONLY THEY HAD GUNS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES THERE WOULDN”T HAVE BEEN SIX MILLION JEWS SLAIN.AND I HATE TO THINK WHAT YOU WOULD THINK IF YOUR HOME WAS BROKEN INTO AND YOUR WIFE AND CHILDREN WERE RAPED AND KILLED WITHOUT ANY WEAPONS FOR PROTECTION.
AND WHAT IF WE ARE BEING OVER RUN BY ANOTHER COUNTRY DON”T YOU THINK A GOOD WEAPON WOULD COME IN HANDY? I REALLY THINK YOUR LOGIC STINKS



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J

posted April 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm


You make a very crazy argument. Listen to what you are saying. So you would gladly love the person trying to intrude into your house to rape your daughter? Really? You really need to take your head and pull with both hands, ’cause you obviously have some crazy dream about this being a nice world. I don’t claim to arm myself with a Bible and I don’t arm myself with a gun on me, but if someone were to try breaking into my house while I was there, you better believe I’d protect it. You can sit around and wait for law enforcement to show up and draw your outline.



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R Larson

posted May 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm


I understand that you don’t like guns and that is your history and choice. On the argument that guns kill…so do automobiles…so therefore they should be banned…..and yes spoons do kill (I’m a funeral director) and there are a lot of obese poeple dying because they use a spoon to kill themselves with too much food and the wrong type of food…therefore spoons should also be banned. I love Jesus and enjoy my guns responsibly. I just wish people drove there cars as responsibly as I treat my guns. Anything is a weapon in the wrong hands.



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Joshua Duffy

posted July 18, 2012 at 10:03 am


Hi,
I was wondering what date this post was originally posted? I can’t find the date anywhere!
Thanks.



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Rev. Greg Davidson

posted July 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm


Dr.,

I love some of your work and while I will agree with a few points you make here, I must disagree with the overall tone.
We must indeed do all we can to promote Christian values and love our enemies. But loving our enemies never guarantees they will love us back!
I am currently seeking my PhD in History. I think that you may be right to a certain extent about militias but that is not the complete story. The fact that every American has the right to arm themselves makes us the largest army in the world. I think the founders took this into consideration. If guns were banned, the only people who would have them would be the government and criminals. As for Christians defending themselves, we do it all the time. Many of us fight abortion so more babies will not be murdered albeit not at gunpoint but I do believe we should defend ourselves if all else fails. It is not a good witness to shoot someone but I do believe we have a right to defend ourselves.



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Steve

posted August 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm


It’s getting time for Christians to evaluate and test their faith in Christ. Investigate this preacher who was hung with a wire around his neck for his faith: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://youtu.be/LRoaCd5rKmk

No where in the Bible are we told we do not have the right to defend ourself’s.

Young David killed Goliath with a small stone!

The Hebrews were constantly defending themselves and even going on the offensive.

After a hardy dinner one night, on the patio, Peter wacked the ear off a soldier defending his friend. That was pretty good swordsmanship for a fishman, by the way, so it’s obvious Peter grew up with weapons around the home.

Did Jesus tell Peter to turn the other cheek? NO.

Did Jesus tell each new apostel to follow him but leave their weapons at home? NO.

Imagine having dinner with Jesus while you and a couple of your friends are armed with weapons. It didn’t bother Jesus that they had them nor should it have. Did Jesus (God in the flesh) forget to tell his friends not to bring their weapons to dinner that night?

After Jesus put the soldiers ear back on did He then tell his armed apostels to turn in their weapons to the authorites because He was there to protect them? NO.

Jesus told Peter to put his sword away not run home and hang it in the closet or hide it some where, or toss it in the sea or turn it into the authorities the next morning, register it or reduce the size of it.

Not even, not even the squad of trained GOVERNMENT soldiers armed with spears, swords, knives, whips and protected by body armour who came to arrest Jesus never confiscated the apostels weapons.

Imagine the surprised look on the troopers faces when one of them actually gets assulted. Jesus suggested to the troopers that if you live by the sword there’s a good possibility you’ll die by it so don’t be surprised. How many of those troopers joined the Roman army just because it was a paying job without ever considering that they’d actually be wounded or killed? Young people today who join the armed services or police aren’t any different, they want secure government jobs.

“Thou shall not kill” is saying “Thou shall not commit murder (homicide)”. It’s based on intent. If you walk out of a store accidently (unintentionally) forgetting to pay for something are you guilty of stealing (“Thou shall not steal”)? The word “homicide” was not at all a common word at the time of the 1611 KJV release. The word “Kill” at that time in history of the Kings English though was commonly understood to mean “to commit murder”.

Humanism is a foundation of liberal philosophy which refutes personal responsibility which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches. According to God it is us human’s who he will judge not the gun, not the sword, not the dollar etc. because it’s based on the choices we make and made.

Jesus came to change the heart of man not the world.

He said if you have a problem with your eye poke out your own eye not the other persons or other peoples eyes. In other words, people must take responsibility for their actions.

Paul said, “Faith without works is dead. In other words, if you the person are not being responsibile for your actions you therefore are not demonstrating that you have faith in Christ and your faith is therefore dead (non existing).

Read the Bible, your feedom and survival depend on it.



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Andrew

posted September 13, 2012 at 10:56 am


Yes. It’s a concept called right to protect oneself and their loved ones from the government becoming a military despotism via a declaration of martial law by the President under circumstances like the ones described in a readiness exercise report done in 1984. It was called Rex84. It talks about presumed loss of continuity of our Government and allows for the President to literally do whatever he wants. He would become a “super” branch of government able to use to military to enforce anything. Kinda like Escape from New York/L.A. only not a joke. Right about then anyone who is anti-gun will be an indentured servant or dead. There should be better methods of accountability put in place for assault weapon ownership. Like maintaining a safety course license along with a psych evaluation and a once per month militia exercise. Militia is civilian military for those who don’t know. Being anti gun is like saying mutually assured destruction causes nuclear war. If everyone was educated in weapon in safety and anyone or everyone coud have them I doubt muggings woud be an issue. But mortality would go up from HANDGUN shootings. HANDGUNS are the real issue. Assault weapons kill few people in the US. I coud go on forever but there is no real point. Ignorant people do ignorant things. I could use a machining station to cut every part to build a gun and make casings for the bullets and then cat bullets make gunpowder load the ammo and shot it even if they took guns away. I know I’ve gotten off topic but I think my argument(s) are valid, and if guns were illegal would you make repeating crossbows illegal? Then spears and knives. What about rocks. Regulation is always better because you can control the regulated products venue in the national market. Illegal drugs are unregulated and the war on drugs is still going. Let’s just give cartels another high profit item why don’t we? I welcome criticism but please be polite and logical or you’ll just delegitimize yourself preemptively. Ty.



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Nicole Velarde

posted November 25, 2012 at 2:10 am


I have a friend who bought a gun to protect her and her kids. Now I grew up in a home that did not have a gun nor will I own a gun myself. I have four kids whomoe I raise on my own my husbend passed away about three yearsago. Now I have always beleived that you should pray before you go to bed that God will protect you, family, and friends. Now I pointed this out to my friend and her response was God helps those who help themselves. I believe that guns are to only to be used for hunting of animals nothing else.



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Martin

posted December 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm


I am a born again christian!I do not think Guns are bad!Guns are simply a tool,just like a knife.If a person is stabbed you don’t blame the knife.I don’t blame the gun for killing people.it’s the nut holding the gun!



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Rob

posted January 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm


Not a true interpretation of scripture at all or what the bible really says about guns. Did God ban rocks when Cain killed Abel or any other weapon when a murder took place in the scripture? If you study the Ten commandments and the meaning of the language in which it was written, the word kill refers to “murder”, not just kill someone which is totally different. Banning guns would not solve the issue of killings. We need to be preaching righteousness and accountability and take strict measures on those that abuse guns and other weapons.



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Paul Luedtke

posted April 25, 2013 at 7:57 am


Ben, I appreciate your input on the issue. And I was hoping to recommend this post. But it’s present shape I can’t. Some of your arguments are apt but other are wrong or weak or simply based in your opinion Yes 1. Guns kill. 2. Not only Criminals will have guns.

But point 3 is weak. You’re on thin ice when you say that the Constitution doesn’t protect all gun ownership. The context is about having a militia. Unless I’m mistaken, there is still not amendment banning a militia so people’s right to bear arms for that purpose is still guaranteed. Therefore, weaponry of a militia would include military weapons. You need to rethink your argument.

Point 4 is just your opinion. All kinds of gun shooting and archery are considering sport. And they don’t involve teams shooting at each other, rather, its about points in competition. But just the past times are considered sports a part from the competition. Hunting and Fishing has long been considered sport. To pit one’s skill against nature in tracking and killing animals again, has long been considering sport. Just your opinion doesn’t change those facts.

Point 5- What stats are you talking about? There are oppsing result on the effectiveness on gun owership and protection. However, the police that I know contend that gun ownership in the home is a deterrent. Can you cite your study? Thanks.

And finally, yes, we will have to answer to Jesus for all this. But Jesus didn’t prohibit swords. In fact he called disciples to have them but he just limited their use. So while the picture may be distressing, Jesus did talk about weapons and their use and therefore, there really isn’t in principal, anything wrong with clinging to guns and religion except the order of the words in the phrase. But maybe we should cling first to our religion and let that guide us in our use of guns.



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Frank DeMaris

posted May 1, 2013 at 8:27 pm


While I’m late to the discussion, and admittedly skimmed the comments, there are several points that I have not seen made.

1) “Turning the other cheek”. While I am surprised to find myself in this position, J.P. Holding (tektonics.org) has made the point that the admonitions to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and lend your coat in addition to your cloak, occur in a specific, agonistic (honor-and-shame) society. The opportunity to turn the other cheek would come about if someone, finding himself on the loosing end of the competition for honor status, resorted to physical violence by slapping you. Turning the other cheek is an invitation to them to further degrade themselves with more violence, rather than responding to a meaningless insult with violence of your own. The slapper has not engaged in life-threatening violence, and we shouldn’t read more into the admonition to turn the other cheek than is actually meant. Similarly, going the extra mile (carrying a Roman soldier’s scutum) and giving the coat in addition to the cloak are about honor status and not worrying about it nor engaging in petty status quarrels.

2) The 2nd amendment says, “A well-regulated militia being essential to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The militia clause is part of a prepositional phrase that explains why the statement following the comma is necessary. For a state to remain free (not subjugated by another state) it could either have a militia or a standing army. However, one of the complaints itemized in the Declaration of Independence addressed the maintenance of a large standing army during a time of peace, since a ruler with a standing army will be tempted to impose his will through the army. Therefore, the militia is necessary to the security of a FREE state. The amendment goes on with the operative clause “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. This is the only part of the amendment that matters; the first phrase is exposition.

Other posters have correctly noted that the Heller decision clarified that the 2nd amendment is an individual right. In addition, the 1939 Miller vs. United States, the Supreme Court noted that the militia was all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense, and that when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time. The court went on to rule that a sawed-off shotgun is not protected by the 2nd amendment because it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense. The implication is that the militia member, when called out, should appear bearing a privately owned weapon comparable to the type used by the regular armed forces whom he would be fighting alongside. As a practical matter, this would translate into a semi-auto, and preferably fully-auto, rifle chambered to 0.223 Remington such as an AR-15, i.e., a so-called “assault rifle”. I will also note that the supreme court took no notice of the use of tens of thousands of 12-gauge “trench guns” (shotguns) during WWI because Miller was out of money and made no presentation to the court. Furthermore, handguns are also issued by the armed forces for a variety of roles and are therefore also covered by the 2nd amendment.

3) Comparative crime rates in England, Australia, etc. No one should take any notice of the comparative crime rate in different countries, or different parts of the same country, that have different levels of gun bans because there are too many potential confounding factors to make such a comparison valid. Rather, the appropriate thing to look at is the change, if any, in trends before and after the enactment of major gun control legislation. For example, violent crime in the US has been trending downward pretty steadily, if slowly. The same thing was happening in England and Australia before they began confiscating guns within the last couple decades. After those changes in the law, the trend in England and Australia reversed, with violent crime on the rise because the criminals know they have nothing to fear from their victims. While it may be true that a privately-owned gun is more likely to be involved in the death of a family member than a criminal, either deliberately or by accident, the problem is that this identifies too narrow a concept of self-defense use. By the best estimates, millions of Americans use guns for self-defense each year, even if they don’t do anything more than display it and convince the criminal to look for an easier target. Almost all of the significant mass shootings (3 or more deaths) in the last few years have occurred in “gun free” (or, as I call them, “Victims only”) zones.

4) Guns do not kill. There is no gun that will load, cock, and fire itself without human action. However, in the Finish Kalevala the hero, lusty old Vanamoinen, does have two crossbows that load and fire themselves at his enemies. Short of such a mythological weapon, this “myth” really is just as nonsensical as the Christ-myth.



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Frank DeMaris

posted May 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm


While others have corrected Ben’s mischaracterization of the 6th commandment to a general prohibition on killing, it occurs to me that there’s a flaw in the reasoning that hasn’t been addressed. Ben has stated that there is a huge difference between using force and using lethal force, and, furthermore, than any use of deadly force is a sin that must be repented of (note: I’m assuming that it is the use of deadly force that he says is the sin, not the fact that someone happened to die from that force). The first argument is hogwash, since no one trained to use a firearm in self-defense is taught to use deadly force in order to kill. Rather, potentially deadly force is used to stop the attack. Using less-lethal force (shooting someone in the arm, for instance) merely makes the target smaller and more easily missed, while also making it less likely that a hit will stop the attack. Other less-lethal weapons (stun guns, tasers, night sticks, rubber bullets) can still result in death either accidentally or through (im)proper use. Instead, the most effective way to stop the attack is to use a large enough firearm, firing an appropriate projectile, and shooting for the center of mass where the vital organs are. Once the attack has stopped, it is then appropriate (and an expression of Christian love) to administer first aid to the now-harmless attacker.

As to the second point, about the use of potentially-deadly force being a sin one must repent of, I note that Ben’s “myth 2″ states that the police and armed forces will still have guns along with the criminals. I presume he applauds this situation, since that gives the police the means to stop violent crimes that they encounter in progress by confronting, and potentially shooting (and possibly killing) the criminal caught in the act. Note that the use of potentially-deadly force is, according to Ben, a sin that must be repented of and one he, himself, will not commit. However, he apparently does approve the use of firearms by the police, which means he is willing to approve of other people committing a sin on his behalf. This sort of ethical inconsistency demands reconsideration. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that civilian self-defense claims are subject to much more stringent legal standards than the use of force by the police. A police officer can use deadly force to prevent a violent suspect from escaping, while a civilian must stop shooting as soon as the attack stops; a civilian who continues shooting at a fleeing attacker will be charged with attempted murder in most jurisdictions. Therefore, it appears that Ben approves the use of deadly force by less-accountable police officers while condemning the same use of force by more-accountable civilians. Although admittedly, it is possible that Ben will be logically consistent by condemning any police officer who fires his weapon in the line of duty as a sinner falling short of his or her Christian obligations and obliged to repent. Of course, since repentance means turning aside from the sin, that means any police officer who fires his weapon will have to immediately quit the force, which doesn’t sound to me like a good way to develop a professional and skilled police force.

Also, yes, Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors, but Jesus also demonstrated, through his polemic attacks on his opponents (“You brood of vipers!”), that the “love” in mind is agape rather than modern, sentimental notions of love, which requires greater consideration for the larger number of generally innocent people affected by the situation rather than the perpetrator creating the situation. Furthermore, he also said that the greatest commandments were to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our neighbor is not just the criminal attempting to break into our home and threaten, injure, or kill us and our family members; our neighbor is also the next victim of this particular criminal, and the next, and so on, since we know from practical experience that violent criminals tend to engage in crime as their career choice. How is it loving for me, as a Christian and gun owner, to simply stand aside and let that criminal go on raping and murdering, not just me or my own family members but future victims as well, if I have the ability and the means to put a stop to the criminal’s attack now?



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Larry

posted September 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm


I used to enjoy Dr Witherington when he was a theologian. But as he has now come out as a liberal progressive statist who endorses the state religion of Barrack Obama ( along with Tony Campolo, and his Red Letter Christians) I have lost my respect for him.



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Connie

posted October 19, 2013 at 10:49 pm


To the Ausie who posted how wonderful it was to no longer have to worry about guns killing people. I researched the crime rate since the banning of certain guns in your country:

Murders committed with guns increased by 19%.

Home invasions increased by 21%.

Assaults committed with guns increased by 28%.

Armed robberies skyrocketed with an increase of 69%.

Many former gun owners blame the government and their gun control laws for the increases in crimes. They feel helpless in their own homes, unable to protect themselves. In fact, home invasions were so rare prior to the gun ban that the nation did not even have a legal definition for what a home invasion was.

Not sure gun control is the answer….but changing one heart at a time with the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer!



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Previous Posts

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