Texas Church to Host Handgun License Class

“It’ll make people feel more secure about where they are, and hopefully the more people get the license the safer we’ll all be

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T Howard's picture

Two years ago our church hosted a concealed carry class for our members who were interested.

JGreen's picture

In my opinion, the church has no business hosting these types of events.  If members wish to attend a course like this on their own, that's their prerogative.  However, churches encouraging their members to attend so that they can " feel more secure about where they are" is, again in my opinion, a form of idolatry.  In a real sense, their sense of safety is in possessing a weapon and not in God.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

I believe a church and individual believers are perfectly within their rights to get a concealed carry permit and to have a gun and know how to use it. 

Preachers of the Old West commonly carried a gun when they felt it was needed.  In some situations the most loving thing a Christian could do is to use a gun to protect the innocent.  We should depend on God, but sometimes we are to also act in our defense. 

If someone began shooting people in my church, I’d be delighted if a good guy in the congregation had a gun and took care of the shooter. 

http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2012/12/gun-control-in-light-of-conn...
David R. Brumbelow

Sean Fericks's picture

I think one of our goals should be to remove all obstacles to the gospel, save the gospel itself (and the sanctification that it engenders).  So does this church help or hurt the spread of the gospel by offering the concealed carry class?  I think it is an unnecessary encumbrance to the main mission of the church.

Sean Fericks's picture

  • Concealed Carry Class - divisive political hot button
  • Financial Peace "University" - a step in Christian sanctification (wise use of God's money), a bridge from a felt need to spiritual need, NOT a political hot button
  • Quilting Class - non-divisive benign aid to fellowship
Sean Fericks's picture

Texas - Isn't that where the Church Constitution requires you to be Republican, have a CCW, and play the guitar in order to be welcomed into fellowship? Wink

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Interesting juxtaposition here. In this thread, we are advised to avoid a CCW class at church because it might unnecessarily hinder the Gospel message. In another thread, the argument is being made that getting rid of a label that some find unnecessarily hindering the Gospel is wrong.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Many churches allow portions of the building, like a Fellowship Hall, to be used for meetings of community interest, and rent the space for anything that isn't immoral or illegal. 

There are a couple of local churches that host Scout meetings, co-ops, junior league sports teams, karate classes, craft shows, etc... if a church allows their building to be used in these ways, and there is interest in a CCW class, I don't see that it should be a big deal. 

Anne Sokol's picture

From my current reading and pondering over James, I think this is an issue where we are not the judges of this church. 

James 4:11-12   Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.  God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

However, I would like to push a little deeper, too, and ask a few questions of this church and of ourselves. My mom, recently returned to the U.S. from their 12-yrs in Africa as missionaries, was very saddened that our church/christian school responded to the shooting tragedy by locking the church doors after the service started, locking nursery doors, offering to get handguns for the school personnel. . . . . No one started a prayer meeting. No one expressed the ultimate belief that our lives are in God's hands. 

Also, while I do fully support the freedom to bear arms that is one of the keys of American freedom (I think more for the purpose of being able to go to war to protect itself against a tyrannical government), I wish that American believers in my circles would openly listen to and consider the pacifistic aspects of Biblical teaching. My husband, a Ukrainian, was pacifistic at the time we met and were married, as were all baptists in Ukraine at that time, and I have come to highly respect his very careful considerations about the valid and Christlike use of force in personal situations. 

Just some thoughts ;) 

Sean Fericks's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Interesting juxtaposition here. In this thread, we are advised to avoid a CCW class at church because it might unnecessarily hinder the Gospel message. In another thread, the argument is being made that getting rid of a label that some find unnecessarily hindering the Gospel is wrong.

Very good point.  While I think that the CCW class and the "Baptist" name are small issues, and that the correct decisions regarding them will vary from situation to situation, the general principle should be to hold up the gospel, and not hinder it.  Keep to the primary mission, and don't put on ankle weights before you run a race.

JobK's picture

There is no theological argument against this that cannot be made against any church activity that goes beyond preaching, evangelism, baptism/the Lord's Supper, singing songs (of the psalm and hymn variety only and without musical accompaniment) and taking offerings to aid members of the congregation in financial distress and provide a small amount of compensation for the pastor. Anything else - everything else - can be a stumblingblock in the hearts of one who wishes to make it so.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

JT Hoekstra's picture

You have a righteous obligation to protect and defend your loved ones. From a robber or tyranny of the ruling elite... Even if you have to hold your nose while pulling the trigger it is your constitutional and biblical duty to meet evil with righteous force. Be prepared, unite and defend with lethal prayer and a Sig.

~David had a sling and stones. Do you recall what Israel was doing? Knees knocking in fear...until the giant was handed his head, with God's blessing.

I live a few miles away from the church that suffered 7 deaths in their youth group about 10 years ago. It's preventable, folks. Get your CWP ASAP...

Shaynus's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

From my current reading and pondering over James, I think this is an issue where we are not the judges of this church. 

James 4:11-12   Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God's law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.  God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

However, I would like to push a little deeper, too, and ask a few questions of this church and of ourselves. My mom, recently returned to the U.S. from their 12-yrs in Africa as missionaries, was very saddened that our church/christian school responded to the shooting tragedy by locking the church doors after the service started, locking nursery doors, offering to get handguns for the school personnel. . . . . No one started a prayer meeting. No one expressed the ultimate belief that our lives are in God's hands. 

Also, while I do fully support the freedom to bear arms that is one of the keys of American freedom (I think more for the purpose of being able to go to war to protect itself against a tyrannical government), I wish that American believers in my circles would openly listen to and consider the pacifistic aspects of Biblical teaching. My husband, a Ukrainian, was pacifistic at the time we met and were married, as were all baptists in Ukraine at that time, and I have come to highly respect his very careful considerations about the valid and Christlike use of force in personal situations. 

Just some thoughts ;) 

Anne, 

I don't think it's a good idea for churches to host these types of gun training events. They can send unintentional messages to the community regarding what the church is really about, much the same way any other extracurricular activity might. 

But I do think it would be good for individual members to head up this kind of protective operation. I've done it myself with members of my church. I take people shooting, train them, consult with them on the best gun to get, while still keeping children safe from accidents. Here are some thoughts to answer your thoughts. 

- We don't need to always set up prayer *meetings* to show we're serious about wanting God to protect us. 

- God ordains ends, and he also ordains means to those ends. Praying for God's protection is one of those means, but why couldn't obtaining a firearm and knowing how to use it be one of those means? If the mother who was recently protecting her children from an home intruder in Georgia in her closet was praying to God "protect me!!!" and she didn't have her revolver with her, God might say to her "I was. I gave you a revolver for you to protect yourself." Thankfully she had the revolver and protected her kids with it. Would we say that God protected her in that circumstance? Of course. He was there all the time making sure her kids obeyed, she could collect her nerves enough to use it ect. God ultimately protected her, but he used means of force. The Bible is full of language about how we should be defending the fatherless and widows. I submit that those this weaker class needed protection from actually needed to be kicked, punched or struck in the course of that defense in ancient Israel. So it is today. We can pray that God will help the building program, and he may just use us to put feet to our prayers by getting to work.

- Non-violence is great at treating systemic societal ills or in taking *religious* persecution as Jesus did. If a man tries to beat me up for my faith, I can and probably should be non-violent about that. If he's breaking into a house because he just wants to to rape my wife, then that puts the moral arithmetic in a very different category, and now responsibilities stack up on the side of me protecting innocent life, yes even by taking a non-innocent one who's given his life forfeit by acting in an immediately threatening way. 

 

Anne Sokol's picture

it's just what I'm saying--you dont think it's a good idea . . . personally, i think it's fine if they want to do it as long as they are clear that guns are not our trust or safety. they could even use it evangelistically. we have a rehab center for drug/alcohol addicts, for example, in our church, and it's a great way to evangelize while meeting a need that the community values and feels is acute. 

I think what bothered my mom is that everyone was making very fear-based reactions rather than primarily seeking what God wanted for them to do and looking to and calling upon Him for protection. Do you really think anyone is safer now that new safety measures have been implemented? 

i'm glad the GA woman story has a happy ending. but you have to see that there is a spectrum of choices here and ultimately, God decides our "safety" level and what happens to us and those we love. What if she wasn't able to get to the gun, for example? What if it malfunctioned? What if she missed? . . . . simply having a weapon doesn't make one safe, you see?  

i'm at home alone with my kids  a lot b/c my husband travels for ministry, but i don't have a gun. Nor do I sense that God is offering me one. I will keep our doors locked though and I don't open it to strangers when he's gone--and ukrainian apts have less access routes than american homes. If i lived in a very isolated place as my sister does with her husband gone a lot for work, i might consider it. . . . But I would pray and ask God what to do, not just assume that I am being foolish by not choosing to have a weapon. 

 

i'm not necessarily arguing for pacifism, I think that people have the human right to protect their persons and possessions, but I think Christians should be ones to pause and think carefully how they would go about that, and if pulling out a gun as the first and best option is more a result of movies than of reading the Bible. I think it has influenced me a lot, is why I say that. American movies have heroes using guns to protect themselves from the bad guys and i think it influences our views of the use of force.

When my husband and his friend were newly saved, the friend's mom was living with a guy, and she wanted him to leave (it was her apt), and he wouldn't leave. So Vitaliy and the friend considered very carefully to what level they would use force and/or pain to make the man leave, and they tried to do it as gently as he allowed them. My husband was an extremely violent person before he was saved, harming people almost daily, so it was very important to him to do this in a conscionable way. 

 

Shaynus's picture

Agreed for the most part. Christians should think about self defence and deadly force a little differently from the average American. I heared a gun instructor make the case once that a major reason you should shoot someone is that if you were killed that it was the same thing as if the bad guy killed all your family and friends. If you were dead, the logic went, then all your family was dead to you too. Of course Christians should be aware of how our world isn't just a material one. 

Once again I would just gently push back and say if we preclude armed defense of ourselves and children, we may be one way that God has chosen for we Americans to protect ourselves. Simply having a weapon doesn't make one safe for sure. But not having a weapon when it could have been very useful when we had the opportunity could be negligence. To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin. 

Anne Sokol's picture

I think we do agree on this for the most part, but I think that you are perhaps using Scripture wrongly when couching it in sin-language if one doesn't use violence (for lack of a better word) as a means of self-defense. 

I think you could defend/support the view of self-defense from Scripture more strongly using the value of life principles (like the pro-life movement does). 

I just don't think you can say a person has sinned if they could carry a gun to defend themselves but they don't. 

You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'  But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5:38-41

While I am not promoting pacifism, I also will not promote this idea of self-defense as the highest and best way to act.

Interestingly, in the world of home birth, the Amish are pacifist, and they will not sue a practitioner for negligence or other offense. I think they accept even injustice as something the Lord will deal with. While I don't agree with that in every case or even as a rule, I believe that God can lead people to respond in this way and it is not sin for them.   

Shaynus's picture

Yeah I'm not saying a person is in sin if they don't carry a gun. I am saying that a deliberate decision to not defend the defenseless is sin. God says defend. To say "NO" is sin. If you do it with a gun or a baseball bat or bare hands. . . I'll leave that to you. But God says you must defend.

The eye for an eye passage doesn't apply to self defense. Self defense is about immediate protection from severe bodily injury or death of yourself or someone around you. The Mt. 5 passage is about 1) revenge or 2) an insult or 3) economic injury. None of the above situations demand or allow violence. If someone is walking out of your house with your TV, don't shoot him in the back with a .44 magnum like a vigilante from a 1970's movie series. A Christian worldview can deal with Christians dealing with violence in a way that pits us against evil, even with violence. 

Anne Sokol's picture

If you can browse a copy of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, you might find his synthesis of the Sermon on the Mount intriguing. I looked up this particular passage in Matthew (5:38-41)

His views of this are maybe in a direct contrast to what you are saying here--I mean your uses of Scripture, but in the end, your applications may be the same. But I like the whole way Willard comes to the issue. I will quote relevant portions, but for sake of length, it's not really sufficient to gain the whole force of what he's saying. 

These are from pp. 175-180 if you can find a book to scan through. My comments are in [ ].

Responding to Personal Injury

The fifth contrast of the two righteousness concerns retaliation for harm done. The wrongs in question are clearly personal injuries, not intuitional or social evils. How do we know that? It is clear from the parts of the old law referred to. Therefore the application of this particular passage to war and other social evils, by Tolstoy and others, which has done much damage to the understanding of Jesus' teaching, is simply a misreading. [He may be referring to the pacifist viewpoint.]

The old rightness for the cases in question was that injurers should be injured in exactly the same way, so far as possible, as they had injured. ... [He explains that this was to say that there should not be more done in revenge, which is what the world usually does--you break my arm, I respond by breaking both yours. Rather, God made it so only exact retribution was allowed and case-closed, rather than one-upmanship revenge which continues escalating.]

Some Cases of Nonresistance

...

1. They will 'turn the other cheek' (Matt. 5:39). That is, they will remain vulnerable. Negatively, they will not take their defense in their own hands and do whatever they may regard as necessary to protect themselves. 

So long as it strictly concerns themselves alone--and Jesus never suggests that we turn someone else's cheek or make someone else vulnerable--they will allow themselves to be injured by others who mean to hurt them rather than injure the would-be injurer. This will be characteristic, predicable behavior for them.

[These next two paragraphs are very important point to understand-->] All is changed when we realize that these are illustrations of what a certain kind of person, the kingdom person, will characteristically do in such situations. They are not laws of 'righteous behavior' for those personally imposed upon or injured. They are not laws for the obvious reason that they do not cover  many cases. Additionally, if you read them as laws you will immediately see that we could 'obey' them in the wrong spirit. For example, as is often actually said, "I'll turn the other cheek, but then I'll knock your head off." 

Will there, then, be cases in which persons of kingdom dikaiosune will not do what is said here by was of illustration? Quite certainly, but they will be rare, so long as it is only an individual injury that is at stake and no issues of a larger good are concerned. After all, this is characteristic behavior of the person with the kingdom heart and it does express who that person is at the ore of his or her being. 

... [skip lots of words]

[I like how he makes this a personal question here, not a distinct forcing of choice between non-resistance or use of force] If turning the other cheek means I will then be dead, or that others will suffer great harm, I have to consider this larger context. Much more than my personal pain or humiliation is involved. Does that mean i will "shoot first"? Not necessarily, but it means I can't just invoke a presumed 'law of vulnerability.' I must decide before God what to do, and there may be grounds for some measure of resistance.

Of course the grounds will never be personal retaliation. And there will never, as I live in the kingdom, be room for 'getting even.' We do not 'render evil for evil,' as the early Christians clearly understood and practiced (Rom 12:17, I Pet 3:9). That is out of the question as far as our life is kingdom living. That is the point Jesus is making here. 

...

In every concrete situation we have to ask ourselves, no "Did I do the specific things in Jesus' illustrations?" but "Am I being the kind of person Jesus' illustrations are illustrations of?"

 

Shaynus's picture

So I kind of agree with him Anne. I do have more flexibility to use non-resistance if I'm by myself and have no one in my care. That's true. But I do think the "turn the other cheek" command is talking about insults, and not about interpersonal violence in general. So he very much broadens the command to include real "personal injury" and that's just not what Jesus was talking about in the historical context of what such a slap meant. Its a common mistake made by lots of interpreters. 

Shaynus's picture

But they're also the context of justice after the fact or revenge. That's a very different context from an in-the-moment insult or an in-the-moment self defense situation. Jesus didn't abrogate the law in the sermon on the mount, he intensified it. So justice still should be an eye for an eye (i.e. proportional), and adultery is still wrong. But the Sermon on the Mount was getting to deeper levels of human injustice, such as insults. It's still an insult that's being discussed. I had a friend say that turning the other cheek applied to women in domestic violence cases, to which I say this is not what's being talked about. It's an insult. 

Anne Sokol's picture

I think I've felt the bottom line ;) 

I feel like, in this conversation, you are saying that I must, that I am morally obligated, that I would be sinning, if I am in some type of dangerous situation and I don't respond by protecting myself and the innocent through some type of "self-defense" (hiding is OK, but I feel like use of force is being pushed a little).  

10 years ago, I would've been standing in your fan section, by the way. 

And for the record, when I speak on issues of sexuality at conferences, I make it very clear that  God wants us to protect children from abusive situations by involving authorities (assuming the authorities like the police are safe, which they are not always) and immediately removing that child to safety. Adult women in abusive situations--I think God leads them individually whether to remain or not. I think they are free to find safety. I can't judge them if they choose to stay (well, maybe if i knew their motives I could judge them Wink

But I think that these type of criminal attacks are not something that we can make a law about for Christian behavior. I heard Matt Recker talking in chapel at BJ once, and he told the story of his wife (they were in NYC)--something like this--she was out walking with their child, and a man started walking alongside her, and he made it clear he was holding a knife, and I can't remember if he wanted to rob her or harm her, but she immediately responded by saying "Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give you." and I think maybe she started witnessing to him then . . . And the situation sort of dissolved. 

I'm not saying, as a law, that this is what we should. I'm saying, there isn't a law. It's what Willard is saying, that we become people who are not vengeful, we become people who are vulnerable (because we are ultimately invulnerable), we become people who are dwelling in love, even to our enemies, then we can make these responsive choices (be what it may) in these situations from love to all involved. Our self-defense can be self-defense done in the flesh, in fear and even obligation. Or our self-defense can be the outflowing of God's love towards those around us in that situation, whether shooting a gun or witnessing. 

i think that's what Im trying to differentiate here. 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaynus's picture

Anne, 

There are a wide range of tactics open to all of us while we are engaging in self defense. I am saying that a pre-determined commitment not to resist force with force, especially for someone who has weaker persons under his care, is sin. Actually situational tactics may differ, and there are times when the balance of power in a situation is such that you are forced to not escalate. I think what Matt Recker and his wife did was the right thing to do (by the way I've known he and his family as long as I can remember). But Matt Recker is simply not the kind of guy who would just let a man stab his wife to death. No, if the situation turned, he would rush in like a shepherd of his sheep, beating the crap out of the wolf. I'm saying that to write violent resistance off as out of bounds is sin. 

 

The same Christ who said to turn the other cheek also told his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword if they don't have one already (Luke 22:36). This isn't inconsistent with a kingdom ethic of loving your neighbor. In fact, as we agree it may be the very love for your neighbor that makes it necessary to use armed resistance. 

Anne Sokol's picture

I am saying that a pre-determined commitment not to resist force with force, especially for someone who has weaker persons under his care, is sin.

I don't think this is a universally true statement. For someone, it could be sin; for someone else, it could not be sin. So I think you are presenting people their correct range of options. 

Like with how you are presenting Matt R responding by beating the crap out of an attacker--this is what I'm referring to, elevating the use of physical force. He could also choose, in the Spirit, to take a different approach. As my husband says,  you have to look at your strength, as in war, and even if you are stronger, you may choose a humbler approach. 

Anne Sokol's picture

i think you have to be careful in your choice of wording about this because, beating the crap out of whomever, in whatever sense that means, can actually showing a heart of vengeance. 

Here's what I mean-- Man A witnesses man B about to rape Man A's wife. He rushes to beat the crap out of man B and does so. 

Or 

Man A witnesses man B about to rape man A's wife; Man A rushes to forcefully withhold even subdue (if he retaliates) man B so Man A's wife is safe. 

Do you see the intentional difference? The man who beat the crap out of the other guy was *probably* taking vengeance by punishing the guy for his wicked intent. He wasn't just protecting.