Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a video from
Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas entitled “Taking the
Hill.” I thought it might be a
political video encouraging conservative Christians to go to Washington to
lobby against health care or some such thing. Actually, it was much worse. “Taking the Hill” is a bizarre call to evangelize depicting
Christians as “soldiers” in a war for souls under their “real”
commander-in-chief, Jesus. It
reveals almost pornographic-religious obsession with guns and violence that
should be deeply disturbing for any faith community.
The “Taking the Hill” campaign was launched last month
at the seminary. According the
September 17 edition of The Baptist
Press, President Paige Patterson
kicked off the project:
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Dressed in
camouflage and stationed as the gunner in a Chenowth Desert Fast Attack
Vehicle, Paige Patterson stormed onto the chapel stage.??After firing a round
of blanks from a .50-caliber Browning machine gun, Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary’s president took his place behind the pulpit and initiated
operation “Taking the Hill.”
….Patterson lifted his Bible,
pointing out that God has armed believers with His Word, along with prayer and
proclamation. Then, reading 2 Corinthians 5, he urged believers to testify to
the Gospel of Christ, reminding them of Paul’s motivation: the “terror of
the Lord,” the righteous judge of all men and women, and the “love of
Christ,” who died to save all who believe.
….Lifting his left hand, Patterson
saw that it was covered with blood — the blood of a woman who died without
hearing the Gospel although she lived less than a mile from the seminary. His
right hand was covered with the blood of a man who took his own life because
Patterson did not witness to him at God’s prompting.
I know that it is a free country, and that we have both
religious freedom and certain rights to own guns. But when these two rights interweave–as they are doing–it is dangerous to both church and state. Any church that advances such a crusading and violent vision
is far from its founder’s vision, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is
the Kingdom of God.” And the state
that fails to understand that people with guns who believe that God has armed
them are dangerous isn’t serving the good of a peaceable society.
Although weapons and religion may have been natural
partners in the Middle Ages or on the American frontier, isn’t it time to
recognize that we live in the twenty-first century? Guns and grace don’t go together. Shouldn’t true religion–genuinely transformative faith–call God’s
people away from violence and toward passionate peacemaking?